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The Grim Reaver

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Chapter One

The one thing Rainy never regretted was signing up for the experiments.

She hadn't been sick or dying, but she'd heard tell of an odd man in black approaching random civilians and offering them the world at their feet. Most of them obliged because they had nothing left to lose, she assumed, so what harm could something of the sort do? Most of them were never seen or heard from again, but that could have meant anything. It didn't mean they were dead.

She was curious, though, and wondered what was being given to those lost souls, and when she caught wind of an organization that was playing around with genes and mutating them, well, she couldn't help but feel a spark ignite in her heart.

They were tinkering with the mutant gene and fast-tracking evolution. Of course, she was no dummy, and knew that mutants couldn't be "created". You either had the X gene, or you didn't. It was that simple.

She'd never heard of the gene being dormant, though.

If they were asking what appeared to be random strangers with no mutant abilities whatsoever to get involved in these experimental studies, then what was stopping Rainy from being tested on? No powers had ever manifested for her as a young child and her teenage years were going, but if the gene was dormant, then maybe hers could be turned on, too?

It took weeks to track down the man in black, always missing him by a day or two. The frustration was getting to her, so much so that she thought the rumors she'd heard were just that—nothing more than a story to get people talking. Rainy was close to giving up her search for the phantom man.

It was her last ditch effort. This was the last night that she was going to spend looking for the guy, and as she strolled through the streets walking passed bars and eateries, she saw him; or at least, she thought she did. A man in a black suit and tie waltzed out of an old school-for-girls-turned-bar surrounded by a few body guards.

It had to be him. He looked too official, too strange, and very out of place. So she followed the uncanny man in black and stopped him before he slipped into his black sedan, before he could disappear again never to be found by her again.

His bodyguards pounced on her the second she announced herself, but when Rainy told him her motives, what she wanted, he had them release her.

He'd looked at her. Smiled at her.

Asked her what her name was. Handed her a card and was gone.

Nothing was on the business card except for a set of numbers, which she immediately dialed. She was given the address of some place she'd never heard of, which ended up being an old warehouse, and a meeting time was set up. They told her not to bring anyone or anything, and when she got there they gave her a gown and told her to strip.

They strapped her to a gurney and rolled her through the dark and damp building, the light fixtures old and rusting above her. It reminded her of a horror movie, which she had to admit, kind of terrified her.

Where were the white walls and floors? Where were the impeccable laboratories? None of it she saw.

But what should she have expected? To be in a well-known hospital with renowned doctors and nurses where everything was sterile and well-kept? She was only fooling herself.

Rainy thought maybe they would take a few samples of her DNA, do some bloodwork to determine if she had the gene at all. She thought maybe they'd do some sort of noninvasive type of testing where they activated gene promoters or worked with receptors, but none of that they did.

When the head of operations came to see her, she was surprised to see tall, handsome, and British standing above her with a bored expression on his hard face as he poked her with a needle.

"I'm injecting you with a serum that activates any mutant genes lurking in your DNA," he'd told her. She nodded. It made sense. "For it to work, we need to subject you to extreme stress."

Stress. Rainy thought he meant physical exertion, like running an obstacle course or simply putting her in stressful situations, not what came next.

"This is how it's going to work," he explained. "Adrenaline acts as a catalyst for the serum, so we're going to have to make you suffer. If you're lucky, your mutant genes will activate and manifest in a spectacular fashion. If not, well, we'll have to keep on hurting you. In new and different ways, each more painful than the last. Until you finally mutate. Or die."

In the months that Rainy was there, she experienced it all—the beatings, the waterboarding, the never ending ice-baths and unbearable heat stricken saunas, the pools of chemical sludge, the small cages... the list went on.

"Yours is a stubborn one," Ajax, the man running the show, had smiled at her. "It shows itself and then it doesn't."

And the pain would begin again.

Over and over.

Screaming. Bleeding. Freezing.

Then there was burning. She saw the flames from her small tomb, saw other bodies burning, but there was no escape. Smoke spilled into her room and it was thick and suffocating and hurt her lungs.

She woke in a pile of ash and never looked back, not knowing what mutations she'd acquired, if any. She didn't stay to see who survived and who hadn't; she wanted out of there.

Like Ajax had said, her mutations were stubborn ones, but they had manifested.

For a long time she hated him for all the pain he'd imposed on her, but what would she be without him?

Rainy often scolded herself for thinking about him that way, like he'd done her a favor, but the fact of the matter was that she'd never know what his intentions were for her, or for any of them, and so she felt indifferent about him. Although, if she was being honest with herself, she hoped she'd never run into him again.

Thirteen years had passed and the mutant race had been reduced to nothing more than an inconvenience, to being forced into hiding from the traps set by large corporations like Transigen, who were ostensibly doing shady experiments of their own. There were rumors circulating about them and how they sent out mercenaries to catch some mutants and kill others. Their numbers were dwindling and Rainy didn't know where she fit into the puzzle.

All those long years later and she found herself actually confirming those rumors. Rainy was running from them now and not doing a very good job at it. She'd done okay at hiding herself, but she never really thought they'd come looking for her. Being in the country, she could mind her own business where there were less people to run into, but it never really mattered because she was never there for too long.

Well, mercenaries were hunting her. She figured they were there to kill her, and so she wasn't going to stick around to find out and so she ran. They chased her through an abandoned warehouse that smelled of molds and other growing things that eerily reminded her of a similar one. Though, with its crumbling walls and disheveled state, it gave them plenty an opportunity to point and shoot.

Rainy had her mildly heightened senses, but the Reavers were many. While some of them, if not all, were simple jarheads, the one that lead them was not. In good conscience, she wished he was as dumb as he looked, with his golden hair and eyes hidden behind those god-awful yellow lenses. Gold even glinted in his mouth when he spoke, the sun hitting the precious metal of a single lateral incisor encased in the stuff.

What a joke, she thought, though there was no malice or disdain behind it. There was more pity in it, and for herself, because she knew she was in serious shit if they weren't aiming to kill.

It was wishful thinking on her part, and wishful thinking hadn't ever done her any favors in life. Rainy wished she had joined the X-Men when a place was offered to her, but then maybe she wouldn't be here now; she didn't know. If not for their guidance and teaching, who knew what she would have become.

She also wished she was out of this rotten warehouse. The sounds and smells emanating from it clouded her already waning senses and was nigh enough to give her tetanus. But she knew something wasn't right with her mutations, and that whatever it was, it had to do with the genocide of her kind. Her body could heal itself, but not in the way one might think; it wasn't Wolverine standards by any means.

None of it mattered, though. She was being surrounded, that much she could tell. She wasn't going to come all this way only to give up when the odds weren't tipping in her favor, though. A chance for her to get out was approaching and she wasn't going to throw it away. All she had to do was slip through a wall where it had eroded in the center and crawl out of a narrow window where the glass had been broken. If she made it, all that was left was a home stretch once she reached the tree line outside. After that, nature would do the rest and conceal her, she hoped.

She could hear the men getting closer; smell their sweat mixing with the biomechanics they sported. Rainy took a deep breath and closed her dark eyes. Her powers were getting foggier and it made it hard to focus; made it hard to find the stamina to move.

One, exhale.

Two, inhale.

Three, exhale.

Something wet and warm slid down and over her lips before she wiped it away, making her shift. She almost stumbled in her crouched position but caught herself with her palms and pushed herself upright along the cement wall until she was standing. Her eyes swept the area quickly, looking for any sign of movement before she trailed out into the open and disappeared through the other side of the wall.

One hurried boost up the partition and she was out of the window and landing on the earthen ground running, but it was too easy. Something felt wrong, but she kept going, reaching for those evergreens that simultaneously felt so close and so far away. Rainy threw her head over her shoulder, her long hair catching in the wind and obstructing her view, but she still saw them coming, heard them shouting.

Her nose was still bleeding and she let the fluid fall to leave trails along her pale face. She was almost there, so close she could almost touch the trees, and then she was through by some miracle. For a split second the fragrance of the saplings and wildlife hit her nose, the chemicals colliding with the receptors and signaling several biochemical events that allowed her to smell it all.

The scent of dirt intensified and her shoulder suddenly ached, burned, throbbed, and her vision was dimming. Her senses dulled and she began stumbling until she fell, the aromas fading.

Warmth pooled under her shoulder and spread over her torso. The whites of her eyes were blackening and she could feel her body's cellular response to the damaged tissue, but that too was all wrong. She rolled onto her back as several footfalls neared her depleted form, one pair of combat boots stopping beside her.

Rainy focused her eyes as best she could and saw the golden, earthen hues of their bright leader hovering above her. For a moment, she thought she was basking in sunlight, but then the glare was gone and all that was left was a golden smirk.

"I want you to breathe," he said condescendingly. "Just a flesh wound, baby."

Chapter Text

The Grim Reaver by Dethroned


 

Chapter Two

Her mind stirred but she kept still and silent with her eyes closed, fully aware she wasn't alone. She could smell blood and sweat, some of it her own, and god did her body ache. Wrists, ankles, neck—all were bound with one piece of interconnecting metal that forced her figure to remain in a fetal position.

An involuntary groan escaped from the back of her throat. It was low and restrained, but it didn't go unnoticed. Whatever they were holding her in, it shimmied and swayed when one of her captors got up and shuffled around, making her believe they were currently mobile, and when a door opened and slammed she knew she was in a vehicle.

There were muffled voices without and she couldn't quite make out what they were saying because her senses were still in disarray, which was screwing with her. It reminded her of before, when she had none of her enhancements, and it was strange to feel so normal. She didn't like it, though it was a vast improvement to what she'd been feeling when she took a tumble outside of the warehouse.

Granted, none of it made any sense. Back at the silo she'd been fine, maybe a little tired and a little faint, but that had been from running and using her powers. When she got outside, it was a wholly different story. Everything was wrong, confusing, and she felt off kilter; felt something she hadn't ever come across before.

Numb. Heavy. Blank.

Like something was removing her from herself.

Those constraints were mostly absent now, and her shoulder needed curing. She willfully reached out to the cells in her body and urged them forward to begin a measured dose of healing, but there was barely a response. Rainy could always sense the change when her body was healing itself and when it wasn't, and right now it was doing the latter.

Something was very wrong.

A door opened up and she let her eyes lift with the incoming figure, silhouetted by blinding headlights farther out shining in the darkness. A gray and rusting metal cage set near the front of the vehicle separated her from her captor as he walked toward her from the back doors. It was a small space compared to the rest of the truck, and they had just tossed her on the floor like a piece of garbage.

Rainy shifted into an upright position as best she could and rested her back against the bench protruding from the back wall, glaring at the man approaching her with the golden tooth, her shoulder aching. She gave him a dirty look and said nothing.

He echoed her expression but added a smirk and squatted down to her level, removing his yellow tinted sunglasses with a mechanical hand, revealing clear blue eyes. "What's your name, mutie?" He said the word like it was any other, though she took it was meant to be degrading.

They had no idea who she was, it seemed, and only identified her as a mutant. She dropped her chin and gave him a shrewd look, masking the discomfort she was feeling. "I thought you nice folks would've already had that information," she noted.

The man before her grinned. "We didn't even know you existed until we was on top of you, baby. Hit the jackpot when you fell into our laps… I guess you was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

He gave her a look that said too bad and Rainy ground her teeth at his use of baby. That was the second time he'd called her that, but she let it slide and instead questioned what she'd done wrong to catch their attention, because she didn't understand—they were in the middle of nowhere. She ran through scenarios in her head, coming up with nothing meaningful. She'd been cautious and had toned down her appearance as much as possible, just in case. There wasn't much, but she knew the markings on her face and the coloration of her eyes would draw attention, and so she hid them.

"Where're you taking me?" she asked, deflecting and thinking if all the stories she'd heard were true. "How did you even know?"

He merely gazed at her, searching her face with a subtle half-grin on his lips, his gold lateral incisor stark against the white of his teeth. What was he looking at? She idly stretched her fingers and brushed them against her cheek as if she had an itch, feeling for part of a single thin line of raised tissue.

There was nothing. Good.

"It don't matter," he said, ignoring the latter half of her enquiry as he watched her hand move. "Now, answer my question, or do you need me to repeat it again?"

She bit the inside of her mouth, irritated with him. "You first," she argued.

He chuckled at that and drawled, "You're in no position."

"I guess I don't have anything to say to you, then," she stated rather dully with a frown on her lips. She had to keep something for herself, even if it was her name, which she undoubtedly knew they'd figure out sooner or later.

He stood from his spot so that he was towering above her. "Have it your way, but don't say I wasn't reasonable."

"Reasonable," she deadpanned, placing her wrists as far in front of her as possible with her palms open. "You call shooting me, tying me up, and tossing me in a cage reasonable?" She didn't know why she was so surprised; they were mercenaries, for crying out loud. Soldiers for hire that would damn near do anything for the right price.

"If it's all the same, I wasn't the one that shot you," he confessed as he eyed her shoulder. "But compared to what's to come? Absolutely, this is reasonable."

Rainy was silent, though her eyes didn't leave his form as he turned and walked toward the exit until he stopped near the end and hovered by the door, turning slightly. He looked like he was about to say something and thought better of it when he popped the door open and jumped out, leaving her to her thoughts.

So, he was going to torture her to get information is what she took from that statement. Well, it wasn't anything she hadn't endured before, thanks to a certain somebody. What could this hooligan do to her that her former tormentor hadn't? Still, the thought made her uncomfortable. Torture wasn't something she particularly enjoyed or wanted to revisit.

Moments later the back door opened again and she thought maybe it was Goldie coming back in to interrogate her some more, but to her dismay two different mercs boarded, both giving her a look of disgust and ambiguity.

"I don't know why he doesn't just kill her," one of them muttered to another who was wearing a dirty bandana on his head. "She's a fucking freak like the rest of them." He jabbed his head toward her, trying to appear macho or whatever as he spat the words.

That's nice, she thought.

If she wasn't folded up like a piece of origami right now and knew why her powers weren't working, perhaps she'd show them how much of a freak she really was. Just a little push here, a little tug there—just enough to make them worry. But she couldn't, though, if they didn't know who she was, they didn't know what she could or couldn't do. She didn't give them that much back at the warehouse.

"Shut up," the one sporting the bandana spoke, "we all know what she is, but it don't matter. If Pierce thinks she's important, then she is, so don't be getting any dumb ideas. Now go and sit down, do your job."

Pierce.

First or last, it made no difference, she had a name and whether it was Goldie's or not, well… she was betting it was. She tucked that piece of information away and watched the two men have their little tête-à-tête as the first soldier answered with vague nods as they both headed toward a row of seats against one side of the truck.

Rainy straightened up with a cringe as they neared her rusting cage, and she rattled her restraints. "Will one of you loosen these things?" The metal was digging uncomfortably into her skin and was already leaving angry marks around her wrists.

Both men ignored her. Fair enough, it was worth a try. "How about some water, then?"

She was thirsty and a little hungry but water would suffice for now. The second merc, the one wearing the headgear, got up from his blue vinyl bench and walked over to a small fridge, pulling out a plastic water bottle. He unscrewed the cap and she heard the seal break.

There was a small gap between the floor and bottom of the cage where the soldier "passed" her the bottle. In reality, he set it down in front of the crate for her to try and grab. He'd rather watch her try and humiliate herself with his partner than show any kind of civility toward her. So be it.

She gave him a look that said fuck you very much as she gingerly lowered herself back onto the floor and pulled herself flush with the gate, hissing at the pain, until she could reach the bottle. She grabbed it with difficulty, righting herself again and taking several long swigs until the small container was empty.

"Where're we going?" she asked, hoping she could get something out of one of them and knowing neither of them wanted to be on babysitting duty. Rainy didn't want to be there, either, and so she was going to make it as miserable for them as it was for her, even though she hated small talk.

"Shut up," the first one threatened her, peeved.

"What's got you in such a bad mood?"

"I said, shut the fuck up," he repeated, not looking at her.

"Or what?" she pushed, her next words impulsive. "You gonna come in here and beat me into submission?"

This time he looked at her, lifting his hand with a weapon pointed at her. "No, all I gotta do is pull this."

She expected a quick flash and a loud pop. She expected to feel metal tearing through her flesh. Instead, she felt a pinprick jab her neck and then a wave wash over her as she reached for what hit her, sloppily pulling out a tranquilizer dart. At first the sensation was faint until it got heavier, her eyelids dropping and head lolling back. Her vision was dimming around the edges and then brightening and it was making her see circles until darkness enveloped her completely and her eyes skated shut.

Chapter Text

The Grim Reaver by Dethroned


 

It was dark inside the militarized truck, though there were grilled windows on the sides and on the back doors, and they were narrow at that, barely letting any light in at all. It was night outside and they'd finally managed to remove her shackles, having done it while she was out cold. She didn't think twice about it because they were off and that's all she cared about for now. Her wrists were sore and her knees ached from being bent for so long and she had indentations around her neck from where the metal collar hugged her throat.

Still on the ground, Rainy stretched out carefully like a cat, hearing that faint humming from the tension in her muscles as they flexed and then relaxed from all the stress. After a minute she sat up and began kneading some of the ache from her legs and arms before fully standing up and sighing heavily at the relief she felt.

Freed from bondage. Sort of.

There was an even larger gap at the top of the cage than there was at the bottom, just enough that she could awkwardly rest her forearms along the metal barrier so they were practically above her head. There wasn't any movement from the vehicle and no one was inside with her, watching.

Of what she could see from the tiny windows, there was a lonely two-lane highway and a single street lamp poorly illuminating the dirt lot they were in. No cars passed by, no pedestrians. It seemed dead, though, now that she listened Rainy could hear the distant ruckus of many voices all speaking at once, their laughter, and music; something you might get at a bar or restaurant. She doubted it was the latter.

How long they'd been on the road, she didn't know because she had no sense of time, but wherever they were it was still in the middle of nowhere. And she was left all alone.

"Hey," she yelled, as she rattled her cage, hoping all the king's men were too busy to give a damn that she was going to try and escape. The silence was almost deafening as she waited for someone to yank open the back doors and tell her to shut her mouth before they stuck a dart in her again.

When no one came, she dared herself to shout again, this time a little louder and with more heart as she banged on the gate. Slow seconds ticked by as she waited… waited… waited.

All right. They were all clearly having too much fun to give her any second thoughts, probably thinking she was still knocked out. Rainy looked around at her surroundings, ignoring the discomfort in her bones as she searched for something that could pop the cage open with enough applied force. Of course, there was nothing like that inside her enclosure because, and she hated to admit it, none of them were that stupid, and so she looked for something within her reach outside of it.

There were plenty of tool boxes and built in cabinets, but those were all too far away and it sucked because the tools to her escape were right before her, taunting her. Not knowing what else to do, she shoved her hands into her front and back pockets, rummaging around for anything that might be of use, like a bobby pin.

The mercenaries had stripped her of all but her clothing—even the little black hair tie around her wrist was missing. At least they let her keep the laces in her boots, but those were of no use to her right now. She took to running her fingers along the metal edging trying to find any flaw that might help her get out of this. Although the cage looked to be rusting and in disrepair, Rainy couldn't find a single screw that was loose, or a jam that hadn't been reinforced.

Well, fuck, these bastards were thorough.

Again, she tried pushing on the cage door, rattling it, kicking it to no avail. Slightly overcome, she plopped down onto the small bench within her confine and sighed, pushing her hair out of her face and resting her head against the hard metal surface of the wall, her shoulder throbbing.

And then she realized it.

The gap between the ceiling and the top of the cage. It was small, but maybe she could force herself through it. The space had to be no more than thirteen or fourteen inches but if it meant freedom, then she was going to squeeze through no matter how tight the fit was.

Standing up, she couldn't reach it; but if she stood on the bench and angled her body just right, she assumed she could do it. Cautiously, she planted her boots on the bench and gripped either side of the crate as she leaned forward and peered through the opening, gauging the measurements. Rainy turned her head so that it was facing one of the walls and carefully slipped her head through the opening, orienting her frame as far forward as she could get until her shoulders hit the sides.

Oh-kay.

She pulled back, realizing one of her arms was going to have to go through before her head and other arm went in, and that was assuming the rest of her would fit. Her left arm went first, the bullet wound protesting, and then her head and just as she was about to pull her other arm through and try and shimmy her way out—the back door opened.

Rainy froze, her eyes wide and heart pounding, and when she figured out they hadn't seen her yet, she quickly tried to pull her body back into the cage, which didn't go unnoticed. Her head banged against the top of the truck and she all but fell back onto the bench she'd so readily perched herself on with a loud thud.

"What the fuck?" Rainy heard as she righted herself, the stomping of shoes a cacophony as they neared her. "What're you doing? Trying to escape?" one of them slurred, their speech pattern clearly influenced by the amount of alcohol they'd consumed.

She was standing now with her back flush against the wall trying to put herself as far from the two men as she could. They both reeked of booze. "No," she bellowed, "I just—well, I mean, yeah—"

"Shut the fuck up," the other one said, and she noticed these two weren't the ones that had been watching her previously. No, they were different. One was big and brutish with a shaved head and the other was smaller in comparison but no less menacing with his whole left arm encased in machinery.

"What'd you expect?" she exclaimed, her voice rising in fear as the brutish man scrambled at his side for a ring of keys until he pulled them free, shoving one into the slot and wrenching the cage door open.

"Grab her," he mumbled as Rainy pressed herself into a corner as far as she could go.

"Wait, wait," she protested, her chest heaving as the smaller one entered into the confines of her cell and reached for her. With nowhere to go and her powers not working, all that was left was for her to get physical.

She swatted the man's hand away from her body and lifted a booted foot and jutted it into one of his knees, making him collapse to the ground in his drunken stupor. That gave her an opportunity to leap over his bent form through the gate, but it was no use because the other guy was blocking her way. She tried to sidestep him, but he seemed to know what she was doing and stuck a leg out that tripped her.

Her chin met the hard flooring with a smack, jarring her head back as she felt the hot warmth of blood spill from the new wound. Momentarily stunned by the pain, she swiftly began crawling away from the two scum pursuing her, the truck undulating with the commotion of their scuffle.

But, as always is to happen, one of them grabbed her by the ankle and pulled her back with enough force to put her where the cage began, her feet crashing into the iron grate. The bigger mercenary spun her around so that Rainy was now under him and looking up at his swollen red face as he tried to hold her there.

"Grab her hands," he garbled to the other as she struggled beneath him, her fingers clawing at his face and neck.

Her heart beat thunderously against her ribcage as she tugged and pulled and twisted, trying to get out of their grip. "Get off of me," she yelled, kicking and throwing her legs, which only got her a fist to the jaw as the bigger man straddled her and the other held her arms down. Blood pooled in her mouth as the blow sobered her, her head ringing.

His hands slid along her waist, heavy and dumb, until they rested at her hips. Fear gripped at her chest and her eyes began to sting. For Rainy, that was the last straw. She was not going to be a victim of this, this thing that shouldn't even be a thought in anyone's head. She gathered the gore and saliva in her mouth and spat as much of it onto his face as she could manage. "Fuck you," she boiled, setting her mouth into a hard line.

She took another hit, this time to her eye, and she forced both of them closed, her head turned into the flooring.

It took all her might to calm her breathing to a somewhat even rhythm, because all she wanted to do was lash out with everything she had. She wanted to so that she could reach deep within herself and will her powers to open the channels and go.

And then something strange happened because she could feel her biology changing, the façade wearing off as the whites of her eyes filled with black and the scarring on her face resurfaced.

Her eyes snapped open and she bored holes into the filth on top of her still fumbling with his own constraints, believing she'd given up. Rainy fumed at him with all her worth, reaching—reaching for a cell, a chemical, a protein to latch onto, but it was so hard. The strain of it was exhausting and there was still something blocking her.

Rainy screamed in frustration, throwing her head back and caught sight of the other mercenary above her. He stumbled backward when he saw her face, releasing some of the pressure he'd been imposing on her arms. She took advantage of the release and snatched her wrists free, both of her thumbs going straight into the bigger dirt bag's eyes.

His shrieks were immediate as Rainy dug her nails further and further into his eye sockets until he knocked both her hands away from him in one rapid motion.

"You little fucking whore," he yelled, covering his eyes as he hovered above her on his knees. Rainy took her own knee and jabbed it upward, hitting him square in the groin and he toppled over. Clambering forward, she got far enough for the smaller guard to reach out and pull her hair, forcing her head to snap back as she faltered to the floor. She turned around as best she could and tried to get a one up on the guy but he grabbed her throat, and not with his flesh and bone hand.

With her air supply cut off, Rainy choked as she slapped at his arm repeatedly, wheezing and straining to suck air into her lungs. She knew that the other piece of shit was recovering, slowly but surely, and she didn't want to stay there and find out what was going to happen to her after what she just did to him, even though he whole-heartedly deserved it. Even above the own sounds she was making, she could still hear his grunts coming from behind her.

Her movements became slower with each swat as the oxygen in her muscles fatigued and her vision darkened around the edges. There was nothing left.

A loud pop reverberated throughout the small space of the truck and she fell to the floor suddenly able to breathe again. Rainy doubled in on herself and began coughing and gasping, grasping at her throat and gagging. She could taste copper resting at the back of her throat.

"What in the fuck is going on here, huh?"

Rainy knew who the voice belonged to before she looked up and saw Goldie standing there with a gun pointed at the animal before her. She glanced to her right and saw the one who'd been choking her slumped on the floor, motionless, before looking back to him. She tried to speak but nothing came out, and so she pointed like an idiot. It felt like she'd swallowed a box of razorblades.

"I can see," he drawled. "I was asking this dumb fuck." Pierce kicked the bastard in the leg to clarify and the man wobbled.

"She was trying to escape. We both caught her," he tried to explain, his words gruff. "Look what she did to my eyes!"

Rainy hunched over again, still holding her throat while trying to ease some of the pain. Her eyes wandered over her body and she realized her pants were undone and skewed. She quickly tugged at them and re-buttoned the top, trying not to draw attention to the motion.

"I see," Pierce said, his voice weighty. Rainy looked up at him then and saw him staring at her, a look of repugnance on his face, though the gun was resting at his side.

Rainy didn't say anything, couldn't say anything, and not a split second later Pierce's gun went off again. She flinched backward against the wall, startled by the noise and flash of light. When she reopened her eyes, the second man lay collapsed on the truck floor and all that was left was the two of them staring at each other in complete silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

He said she deserved the beating she'd gotten for trying to run away, motioning to her mouth and eye where they were already showing signs of discoloration and swelling. He also said she didn't deserve what would have happened to her had he not stepped outside to see what was taking them so long.

Of course he'd turn it around on himself and make him look like the savior. Yeah, he'd "saved" her in a manner of speaking, but who was to say Rainy couldn't have gotten out of the situation on her own? She'd had some training at the mansion but that was never really her focus there and was why she never joined the X-Men. Oh, well; it was done.

Rainy could still see the disgust in his pale eyes when he'd seen her without her guise, her green irises surrounded by pure black and the perfect thin scarring that trailed from opposite sides of her forehead and down her eyelids and cheeks to round and end at each corner of her mouth.

Those weren't part of her mutation, but something else. Something she didn't like talking about.

It was like muscle memory, erasing those parts of her, and she disappeared them without having to think about it. Just like that, she was normal in regard to her appearance again, but the repulsion was lingering.

Pierce jumped out of the deck and left her there momentarily, reappearing with two other men. He stood back and watched as they gathered the lifeless bodies and removed them. Rainy didn't move, didn't speak, she didn't even wonder what they were going to do with the bodies; she stayed backed into the corner of the truck and held her throat as she tried to alleviate the rawness, the pain.

It had been a while since she'd felt so much of it. She almost thought she'd forever be accustomed to the pain after all that Ajax and his sidekick had done to her, but never in her life had she experienced that. Not even the runner of the Workshop went that far, that low, in her torment to mutate her. Those men were at the bottom of all life forms on any planet in any galaxy as far as she was concerned, and was grateful they were dead. They deserved it.

The only thing she wasn't certain of, was why her captor had done it. They were his men. Didn't he hate mutants? Didn't he hate her? And most importantly, didn't he threaten her with worse things to come? Maybe he had a moral code and knew that nothing justified that type of behavior.

At any rate, that's what she told herself.

After the truck was cleaned, they shackled Rainy's wrists together and shoved her back into her cage, Pierce observing behind his blue gaze. She had no idea what he'd told the others about her scuffle with the two now-dead mercenaries, or if there was even a scuffle at all. They were down two men and that was it.

The slack given in her restraints was a welcome respite, though. By no means did she want to return to her previous bonds but she was too drained, mentally and physically, to complain about her new ones. And to top it all off, they hadn't even given her anything to numb the aches, nor had they cleaned her face up.

As they continued on in their grand adventure, the heat steadily rising the longer they drove, nobody sat in the back with her, nobody spoke to her except to bark orders, and nobody even looked at her. She assumed their leader set some new ground rules concerning the package, AKA her, and she had no interest in what they were.

It was fine by her. It gave her time to think about what all had happened and gave her cause to question why her abilities weren't working right. Yeah, she'd been ill with what the companies pumped into the sugary drinks and foods everyone seemed to love so much, but it hadn't been as detrimental to her as it had with the others. Rainy stopped drinking sodas and juices before graduating high school, which was well before they started experimenting with them. They probably got her with things like chocolate and cereal, and so she gave those up too, though after the fact.

The conclusion she came to was that the mercs gave her something. Maybe it was slipped into her food or drink, or given to her while she slept, she didn't know. Having a brain that thought scientifically, the way she was going to figure it out was by experimentation.

Stay awake.

Don't eat.

Don't drink.

Dehydration was her biggest problem and giving up water wasn't the brightest idea. The hotter it got the more thirsty she'd get, and she would end up losing more fluid than she consumed by urinating and perspiring. A person could only survive three days without water under certain conditions and she didn't want to feel the effects of it. Besides, she realized they couldn't be tampering with the water—all they ever gave her were sealed bottles.

After two days, sleep was the easiest to succumb to. All they ever did was drive, and with nothing for her to do, the rocking of the truck and the added heat made her drowsy and to the point where she couldn't keep her eyes open.

No one ever came in except out of necessity, and when they brought in packaged or bagged food for her to eat, she pushed it aside until it went bad and they were made to throw it away. Nourishment wasn't too difficult to avoid for the time being. Glycogen stores and fatty acid deposits were things her body could rely on to keep her going until she figured out if they were putting something in her food or not. Still, her stomach rumbled and panged at the emptiness there.

She lasted three-and-a-half days, and none the wiser on what was blocking her. If they were giving her something by way of food, her body would've finished metabolizing whatever was left during her strike and she would've regained some of her abilities back.

Alas—nothing.

For all her efforts, the parameters weren't right for proper execution. Decidedly, she'd have to try again when her living conditions were better—if they ever got better. She wondered what was going to happen to her once she arrived at her final destination.

Rainy longed to sleep in a comfortable bed, to take a long hot shower, to eat something filling, to just not be here. The hours in the day seemed to drag on for eternity and she thought for a second that they were just driving around aimlessly with a goal to drive her insane.

Of course, that wasn't true, because every few hundred miles they'd find a truck stop or a diner, occasionally a motel on the side of the road, and they'd let Rainy stretch her legs and get some exercise, but only ever at night. It was hard to take in her surroundings with no light to see, but she knew they were in some place dried up and barren, like Texas or Utah.

The only signs she ever saw were ones that offered food, gas, a place to spend the night, and booze.

Sweat clung to her body as they drove on, there being no air conditioning in her little cage. Someone, whomever it was, was kind enough to leave the back open to allow some form of air current through, but she was still baking. Thankfully, the sun was setting because she didn't know how much more of this heat she could take.

Finally, she shouted, "Where the fuck are we going? The south pole?" She was frustrated and tired and that was the first time she'd spoken since her failed escape. It had taken her throat a lot longer to heal than it normally should have and it was still straining from the hurt and disuse. The same went for her jaw and eye, though she had no mirror to tell.

No one answered her but the truck was slowing down considerably and she stood from her bench, her fingers gripping the lattice as she tried to peer out of the open doors on the back. There was nothing to see except for the two trucks following behind hers and miles and miles of desert behind them, the dust and tumbleweeds billowing after them.

The truck finally came to a stop and the engine cut off, the sharp slamming of metal on metal resounding as several car doors opened and closed. All the men were clambering out of their vehicles and grouping somewhere ahead of her where she had no line of sight.

None of the men looked her way, but Rainy tried to engage them regardless of their orders, whatever they may be. "What's going on?" she called out, her voice cracking, but they just kept on walking, disappearing from her view.

She knew asking again would get her nowhere, so she decided to listen as best she could when they began talking.

"What's the problem?"

"Fuckin' piece of shit," one of them answered.

Rainy furrowed her brows, cocking her head to the side trying to better hear. The clamor of metal again and then a hissing. A car door opened and an engine was trying to turn over.

Car troubles, it seemed. This could be good or bad for her.

"Did you change the fuckin' oil like I told you to?"

"Yeah, man, and if you knew anything about cars, you'd know it ain't the fuckin' oil," the guy answered irreverently.

"Then what it is, smartass?"

"The radiator hose blew," a third voice said. "What should we do, boss? Should we go to that truck stop a few miles back, see what they got?"

It was quiet as they all awaited a response from Pierce, who seemed to be taking his time thinking about it. The sky had darkened noticeably since they'd stopped, but the temperature felt like it hadn't dropped at all.

"I guess we ain't got much of a choice," he sighed, irritation etched into his voice. "Macon, grab some of the others and push the truck off to the side of the road so nobody runs into it. Everybody else, pack up your shit, let's go. We'll stay at that motel for the night."

The shuffling of boots and kicking of dirt rang in her ears as everyone played out their orders. She heard the strain of the men steering the vehicle as they yelled and pushed, some of their boots sliding out from under them from the sheer force.

"Come on, you pansies," one of them bellowed.

Rainy watched as the others got back into the trucks behind the one she was in, make a U-turn, and start backtracking the way they'd come, their headlights leading the way. Her own truck rumbled to life and shifted into gear, readying to head out.

"Hey, boss?" someone shouted near the window, "What about the other one?" There was a pause.

"I almost forgot," Pierce bantered, and Rainy virtually heard the smile crack on his face. "Throw him in the back with mine—separate—and watch him."

"Yes, sir."

"And blindfold both of them."

The other one? (Mine?) Him?

What the hell was going on? For a moment, she thought they were talking about another one of the cars, but after that, no way. They had someone else with them, another mutant.

 

Chapter Text

The Grim Reaver by Dethroned


 Chapter Five

The drive back to the truck stop and motel felt a lot quicker than it should've been. She'd spent all her focus trying to feel out the new passenger, but whoever he was, he made no sound and very little movement.

"What's your name?" she dared.

"Another word, and I'll put a bullet in you."

She kept her mouth shut the rest of the short drive, not wanting a second gunshot wound but still tried to get a sense of the other, to reach out to him.

Nothing.

Rainy couldn't see anything as she was led out of the back of the truck, the clinking shackles still gripping her wrists and a calloused hand wrapped around her upper arm acting as a guide.

"Jump," the man ordered, and she did, landing off balance as her hands and knees hit the dirt. He hadn't even bothered to stop her fall but he roughly dragged her back to her feet and started pulling her again. She tripped a few times more until she found his pace and matched it, but by then she was being shoved through a door and forced to sit in a chair while being tied to something new.

Patience was a virtue and Rainy thought she still had some as she waited for her raggedy blindfold to be removed. Instead, she heard retreating footsteps and a door open and slam—then, silence. Left in the darkness with a band across her eyes and her wrists fettered to a radiator (probably), she wondered if she was going to be left like this all night.

She knew there was a bed inside the room, knew it. She knew there was a shower and a TV and probably a mini fridge, but she didn't really care much for alcohol. She just wanted to be clean and at ease, if only for a few hours. At least the chair she was sitting in was more comfortable than her metal bench.

Rainy sat there for a while, waiting for someone to come in. Not because she wanted company, but because she was anxious of what was going on. When she figured no one was coming to see her, she pulled her legs up onto the cushioned seat and tried to rest some. Her chains only let her go so far and she was tired, running on empty.

Sleep is a funny thing when the mind and body are under stress, or simply exhausted. Sometimes sleep doesn't come, no matter how tired your eyes are. The gears in your mind just keep on turning, thoughts pouring out of you like a steam engine, and you fall into a sort of sleep limbo—half-asleep, half-awake, like your own mind's aware that you're sleeping, but not really. Your mind still registers the things happening around you as normal, but you're still half-asleep and so they don't click until after they've happened.

Like a door opening and closing, a touch, or the light tap of something being set on a table.

Those things her mind registered, but she didn't fully realize them until several moments later when she startled awake. Her feet slipped from the seat and she almost fell out of her chair, catching herself on the armrest as she searched the room.

She knew she heard the door open and someone had come in but she sensed no movement and it was still dark inside the room. The curtains hadn't been drawn and no light had been turned on and—wait. She could see. Someone had taken her blindfold off and there was an apple on the table next to her. She looked around one last time before grabbing it and sinking her teeth into the ripe fruit, the juices dripping down her chin.

They hadn't given her anything like this before; it'd always been cheap junk food in plastic wrappers or greasy tidbits left in paper bags she never bothered to look in. Rainy finished the apple in seconds, gnawing it down to almost nothing until she set it back on the table.

Was she finally getting shown a bit of consideration? Maybe they'd let her take a shower and let her sleep in the bed?

Why would they?

She dashed her own hopes. These people weren't her friends and had thusly treated her like an animal. Why would they have a change of heart now?

As she wiped some of the juices from around her mouth, the door to her room suddenly burst open and she jumped at the speed of it, startled. A single hulking figure walked toward her with a look of determination and pure hatred written on his grizzled face, and Rainy immediately saw this was not going to be a friendly visit.

She knew he could see the fear in her eyes because she felt it there herself as she tried to back away from the stranger, but it made no difference as one curled fist made of solid cement collided with her jaw, blood spraying from her mouth from the momentum.

"You killed my brother." He spoke with malice as she fell from her chair, surprised by his attack. He went to hit her again, but Rainy grabbed the chair and held it above her, his knuckles connecting with the wooden armrest as it shattered.

"I didn't kill anyone," she yelled. With her wrists still tied down to the wall, it left her wide open with nowhere to go. The mercenary grabbed the chair with a growl and ripped it from her grip, the rest of it crashing somewhere across the room with a loud, cluttered bang.

"Hey!" she hollered, trying to get somebody to come and help her. There had to be other patrons here other than these assholes. "Help!"

A boot connected with her ribs and she doubled in on herself trying to breathe, the wind having been knocked out of her, literally. Nausea bubbled in her stomach. "You got him killed." He kicked her again and then grabbed her by her hair, pulling her upright so that she was looking at him.

She saw it, the resemblance. The same ruddy face, the same brutish manner. Rainy scowled, the red staining her teeth and lips and she spit—not on the guy's face or on his clothes, just straight down until the discolored slaver hit the carpeted floor. "Your brother was a piece of shit, a rapist, scum of the earth—"

He sunk his fist into her stomach again, cutting her words off and she heaved once, twice, and the third time the apple came back up along with some bile, which was disappointing, but she laughed after that—just laughed. She had to. She could not get a break for the life of her. She looked up at him and saw his arm was cocked back and ready to give her another blow, but it never came. Instead, he released his grip on her hair and she crumpled to the floor.

"Crazy bitch," he uttered as he left the room, blood no doubt smeared over his knuckles and his chest heaving.

Rainy stopped her chuckling after he left, replacing the noise with groaning. "Fucking asshole," she mumbled as she wiped the blood and vomit from her mouth and sat up, resting her back against the wall. Coughing made her ribs hurt and so she cradled them as best she could with her bound hands.

It appeared no one was coming to her rescue. So much for playing the damsel in distress. Rainy let her head fall back against the wall and she closed her eyes—eye; the other one was already swollen shut—and sat there in silence for a moment trying to heal herself.

She was beyond annoyed at this point, still in the dark about her powers, or the lack thereof. Mutations didn't just stop working at the drop of a hat, or in everyone else's case, the drop of modified corn syrup into their bloodstream.

The scuffling of boots and ruffle of fabric reached her ears as someone entered the room and stood someplace nearby; she didn't have the energy to open her eye and look to see who was gawking at her, but they ultimately spoke and that familiar twang played out for her.

"Damn, you can take a beatin', baby," he sounded impressed and vaguely enthused, and Rainy could hear the shit-eating grin on his face.

Her good eye opened and she almost rolled it, tired of him already. "Stop calling me that," she muttered, her voice cracking. "It's insulting."

Her throat was parched and her mouth was filled with blood, and so she swallowed it. The taste of copper lingered on her tongue and the residual blood was caking around her nose and mouth.

"Maybe if you told me your name," he instigated, the smile still on his lips, and Rainy saw the bottle in his hand.

He was drunk, or getting there.

She didn't think he'd be the type to let himself go on a job. Didn't he have appearances to keep up? Yet there he was, all grins and glinting eyes, the gold of his tooth visible.

"Tell you what," he said, "how 'bout you go get yourself cleaned up and then we can chat, huh? See how nice I can be? Reasonable?"

She couldn't tell if he was joking or not, but she held her wrists out all the same.

"Those gotta stay on," he spoke, shaking his finger at her. "You're a sneaky little shit."

"I'm still chained to the wall over here," she blankly stated.

"And you still haven't told me your name."

Rainy sighed internally, hoping he was just going to let her clean up and forget about the whole name thing. He was inebriated, wasn't he? Clearly, not enough.

"It's Amy," she lied, eager to get on with it.

"Amy what?" he prodded.

"Amy Weathers."

Pierce gazed at her for a good minute before she broke the silence. "Now it's your turn to hold up your end of the bargain." Her ribs were hurting her and her head was starting to pound with each passing second and she just wanted to get clean.

"Where'd you learn to take a beating like that, Amy, your boyfriend?" His tone had sobered as he scrutinized her.

Rainy stared at him with her good eye, wondering what he was getting at. "I'll tell you all about it after I get cleaned up. Promise," she added for good measure as Pierce sat up from the bed he'd been leaning on. He was towering above her once again, eyes never leaving hers.

"Macon," he yelled toward the front door, and it opened. A tall man with a dark brown beard and his hair pulled back into a tight ponytail walked in. Pierce motioned for something with his hand and the man called Macon dug a fist into his pocket and produced a set of silvery keys, dropping them into his superior's waiting palm, and then exited. Pierce sniffled and set his beer bottle on the table, jingling the keys, debating.

He was appearing less and less drunk with each passing minute and Rainy didn't dare say anything because she knew if she did, all it would do was get her into trouble.

"Amy, huh?"

Rainy nodded even though he had a look in his eyes that said he knew better. Nonetheless, he slowly walked toward her and knelt down before reaching behind her, unchaining her, and backing up again.

"Be quick," was all he said and she scurried off to the bathroom, trying her best not to trip.

 

Chapter Text

The Grim Reaver by Dethroned


 

Chapter Six

The light to the bathroom remained off as the scalding water pelted her body. Rainy didn't want to see what she looked like; she already knew, and it was nothing good. She'd stripped herself of her soiled clothing, which now lay in a dark pile in front of the door, and shielded her body with the cheap shower curtain provided and let the heat soak her.

Cold water probably would've been better for her aching muscles and bruised flesh, but the hot water burned her skin and helped take her mind from said aches and pains. As an added bonus, it was melting all the grime and sweat that had accumulated on her and was giving her a sense of cleanliness.

Long minutes ticked by where she just stood under the showerhead, immobile and eyes closed. I could fall asleep, she thought, as the steam clouded the small room in a heavy mist. She almost felt like she was back at home, safe, with nothing to worry about except for maybe what was for dinner, or if that stray cat was going to come back and see her, or—

A loud knock startled her out of her heat induced reverie. "Time's up," he said, and Rainy sighed.

She didn't know for certain how long she'd been in the bathroom, but she quickly searched the ledges and shelves of the bath-shower combo looking for soap. She pulled the curtain back slightly and eyed the sink, unable to see much, but outstretched her shackled arms all the same, groping for something that felt like it might be soap—bingo.

The showerhead was off within minutes of him speaking and Rainy was out of the tub and drying off with an old, raggedy towel that had been hanging on a rack. She patted her hair dry and wrapped the terrycloth around her frame, and stood in front of the mirror, flipping the light switch on. Time to face the truth.

The mirror was fogged over and so she took a hand and placed it flat on the surface of the glass and swiped. The image reflecting back at her was foreign. Her left eye was completely shut and turning from an angry red to bouts of black and blue, and there was a cut on her cheek that she didn't even know was there. That, too, was inflamed.

Her face had been hit so many times in the past few however-long-it-had-been that she couldn't discern where the old met the new. She was surprised nothing was broken as she probed the bones in her face with careful prods. After that, she stuck an index finger into her mouth and dragged it along her upper and lower gum line, seeing if any of her teeth had been knocked loose, which none had.

Up next for inspection was her shoulder where a bullet had gone straight through, she noticed, when she turned around and looked over shoulder and into the mirror beholding the exit wound, which was good. The wound didn't look so bad, like maybe it was healing, and didn't hurt as much anymore (at least not as much as other areas of her body).

When she removed her towel to dress, she saw a red welt on her stomach and ribs, both of which were tender to the touch. She had no idea if her ribs were broken or fractured, she just knew that they hurt. Rainy hoped they were only bruised.

Grabbing her clothes from the floor, she put them back on with mild disgust. She wished she had closet to walk out to and put fresh ones on, but alas, she wasn't at home and she wasn't among nice company. Dirty clothes were better than none.

Rainy expected to find an impatient mercenary waiting for her to get out of the bathroom, but what she found in its place was an empty room.

Thank God.

She knew he wasn't stupid enough to leave her in a room unchained and with no one around, but she went for the door all the same. It wouldn't open, of course. How, she didn't know because the locking mechanism was on her side of the room, but twisting and pulling was of no use.

It was worth a shot.

But there was a bed—it was a shitty motel room, but a bed despite everything—and it was a welcome sight. She walked over to it and crawled onto the ugly floral bedspread and collapsed, pulling a corner of the fabric over her body. Tired, both mentally and physically, Rainy just wanted one night's rest in peace and quiet. It really wasn't that much to ask for, and with Goldie gone, she thought she may just get it, and so she closed her eyes.

"Hey." A beat.

Again.

Rainy's eyes reopened and she laid there for a second wondering if she was hearing things or not.

"Are you there?"

This time she sat up, the blanket falling away from her. The room wasn't very large and there was no place to hide; the curtains were too short to stand behind and the bathroom door was open and dark inside.

"Are you there?" the voice repeated, hollow sounding.

Rainy shot a look over her shoulder and found nothing. "Who said that?"

"Me," they said. It echoed and sounded small, like a child's voice on the brink of adolescence.

"Who's me and where are you?" She looked up at the ceiling foolishly and glanced under the bed, searching for the person with an unfamiliar speech.

"I'm Max, and I'm in the other room beside yours."

There was a vent near the ceiling above the bed, she realized, and she stood to speak through it. "You're the other mutant," she breathed. "Are you okay?" Clearly, he was alone just as she was or else he wouldn't be daring to talk.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Are you?" he asked. "I heard you earlier…"

"Yeah, I'm good," she answered, not feeling the need to speak about her injuries. "How old are you, Max? I'm sorry, but you sound young."

"It's okay. I'm 13. How old are you?"

Rainy's heart dropped into her stomach then. She'd never been fond of kids, never wanted any, but she couldn't help but wonder what they hell these people could want with a boy. "I'm a bit older than you are," she countered, the boy not needing to know she had more than a decade on him. "How long have they had you for?"

It was quiet for a few seconds before he answered. "I don't know, but I was there when they grabbed you, maybe a few days before that."

Jesus.

"Are your powers working?" she asked, hoping the answer was yes. Maybe there was a small chance he could get them both out of this situation.

"No," he replied, "and I don't think yours are working either."

Rainy shook her head, but Max continued to address her. "Yeah, they wouldn't be. They knocked me out with a dart when they took me, but they shot you—I heard it. I think whatever was in the dart that got me was also in your bullet… some kinda chemical or something that blocks our powers."

"An inhibitor," Rainy muttered, more to herself than to the boy. Now that he'd brought it up, her getting shot back at the warehouse was when she stopping healing properly. Why she hadn't made the connection was irritating beyond all words, and if she wasn't already beaten and bruised, she would've smacked herself.

Putting an inhibitor in a dart was clever. Putting it in a bullet was genius.

Rainy had been shot with both, but a chemical compound would undoubtedly be metabolized and need to be reintroduced into the system every 48 hours or so depending on how rapidly it circulated. Right?

"Are you still there?" he asked, worry in his voice, and Rainy was dragged from her thoughts.

"Have they shot you again?" she wondered aloud.

"No," he replied calmly, "but maybe they're putting something in the food?"

Rainy chuckled a little, gladdened to see that she wasn't the only one trying to figure things out. "No, I've already tested that theory, but good hypothesis."

The boy laughed, too, though it was small and short-lived. "I'm always too hungry not to eat the food they bring me."

That was another stab to the gut. What use could they possibly have for a thirteen year-old boy?

"Hey," he chimed, "I forgot to ask—what's your name?"

"It's Rainy," she answered honestly, a small smile on her lips. She had to get them both out of there, more so for Max than for her. God only knew what they were doing to mutants back at their foriegn corporations, but if she could help one of them, then she was going to try her damnedest to.

"They're coming back," Max rushed, and Rainy heard no more from him.

She slowly lowered herself back onto the bed when the door to her room opened up, and standing in the doorway was Goldie himself, all smiles.

"Did you have a nice shower, Amy? See how generous I am? That was like, what, twenty minutes of alone time?"

Rainy ran her fingers through her wet hair, nodding.

"Good, because it's time to have that chat now. I remember you promising me something... something about being able to take a beatin' so well," he trailed off, closing the door behind him and advancing toward the table she'd been chained to.

She ground her teeth but didn't recoil at his approach, but sat there until he reached the end of the bed. He grabbed her restraints and tightened them, though didn't seem to feel the want to re-chain her to a wall or post.

"So, about that," he started, taking a seat.

She swallowed. "Can I please just sleep first?" She was tired, exhausted, and there was already a bed underneath her.

Pierce grinned, tonguing his gold lateral incisor. "No, we had a deal. But before we get into that, I wanna know why your name's not in the mutant registry database, Amy."

Rainy blinked. She knew it was only a matter of time before he looked her up once she gave him a name. "It is," she said without hesitation. "At least, it was last time I checked."

"Oh, what I meant to say is, the name came up, but the picture associated with that name doesn't belong to you… unless you've grown five inches and let your hair return to its original color? I mean, the likeness is remarkable, but you're not fooling anyone, baby."

No rebuttal came to her, and so she said nothing.

"I don't like being lied to, which you'll find out real quick," he threatened, "but I'll let it slide this time, given your current state."

Such a gentleman, she thought. Thanks ever so much. She almost gagged at the thought.

"You caught me," she admitted, though sarcasm riddled her voice. "So, what now?"

"It's simple, really. You're going to tell me who you are and I'm going to tell you if you're lying or not."

"And if I am?" she questioned.

Pierce sat back in his chair and said, "I'm sure you've heard the whole 'pick a number, break some eggs' thing?"

It was as if she'd been slapped across her cheek, the words stung so badly. She'd heard the saying before, though it had come in a different tone and accent and had come in a similar situation. Rainy slid her eyes back to Pierce's and took measure.

He couldn't know about her having been a patient at the Workshop. He didn't even know who she was or her name, least of all know Ajax. He'd all but slipped off the face of the earth sometime after her escape. He couldn't know.

"I see I have your attention," he said, popping the tension balloon that had been growing around them.

Rainy looked at him a lot longer and harder and saw that he was waiting for her to make a mistake and lie to him again, like he already knew the answer to his own question.

"I've got all night," he maintained.

Debate weighed on her shoulders for a moment, and then she thought about the boy in the next room. It wasn't about her anymore.

"Rainy."

A slow smile spread across his face. "Yes, it is."