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Daken and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year (Life)

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“I’m doing what I can,” Johnny says, fear in his voice. “This is bad dude. Real bad.”

It is bad.
I’m lucky my good ‘friend’ has stepped in to help.

The room is cold. In the corner, there's a little red light on the security camera- flashing. Every five seconds- I've counted. 

Beside me, there's an IV tower, a heart rate monitor, and a cart set up that houses the various materials to clean my wounds. 

The room itself is small, small enough to only allow three people to see me at a time. Usually Johnny, Laura, or the nurses. 

None of which I want to see right now, if we're being honest. 

“Can I get another lawyer?” I ask in what I hope is a patient tone.

“Your lawyer is a friend of your dad’s. Top notch. To get another one would be a major step down. And...” Johnny leans back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling. “Fuck it, Daken. Why’d you have to do this? This? Of all things?”

“They had it coming.” I hiss.

I don’t understand why I’m here. Or where here is- exactly. I blacked out and I woke up here- restrained to a bed with a shit ton of nurses and one extremely annoying doctor. Nothing is medically wrong with me. I demanded they release me at once. However, they just started talking about lawyers and court dates. Medications. Sedatives. Ungrateful bastards. This is the very last time I try to help someone. The VERY last time.

As cute as Johnny is- as much as I enjoyed our night together when he asked for my assistance- he’s not worth this. Whatever ‘this’ happens to be.

They think me crazy. Fuck sometimes I think I’m crazy.

But they- the ones over this- saw my actions (that I did to help Johnny)- and deemed themselves fit to enact some sort of fucked up justice of their own. Fuck them.

Fuck the nurses with their notepads and tubes and IVs and bedpans and fucking hand feeding.

Fuck the doctor and all his ‘calming’ words of ‘peace’ and ‘understanding’.

And most importantly- FUCK all of those goodie goodies who sent me here. Don’t want a job done correctly? Don’t ask for fucking help!

Fuck!

It makes me so angry!

Then Dr. Knowitall comes in and sedates me because I’m not ‘mellow’ enough for him.

I saved those kids. Me. I’m the last person that needs to be punished.

Not a single kid was a)killed or b) sold. I’d say I did a pretty fucking fantastic job if you ask me.

Fuck.

Johnny looks back at me. “I know what you did was in your mind heroic.” He says. “And really- Sue, Reed, and I thank you. We do. But there are police for this. Those men-“

“Those children would be dead if not for me,” I growl, tugging slightly at the restraints. Damn things won’t budge. Whatever they implanted in my skin won’t let me pop my claws… and the injections they keep insisting I take all but block any use of pheromones. It’s been quite annoying. More so than I think they thought it would be. If they want me to be ‘calm’ they’re going the fucking wrong way about doing it.

“I know,” Johnny says gently. “I know.”

“Those men-“

“You could have hurt them, you could have beat them, you could have turned them over to the cops- all viable options,” Johnny says. “What you did…”

What I did.

I did nothing short of what they deserved. I don’t understand why I’m being punished. I did the right thing.

“I stopped the bad guys,” I say simply. “Isn’t that what you heroes do?”

I did what I was supposed to! I found the kids! I found the perps! I took care of the problem. Because of me, those men can hurt no more children. None. I stopped an evil from literally preying on the innocent. So why am I strapped to a bed with my powers blocked?? I should be rewarded! They should have some sort of parade in my honor!

This is fucked. It’s completely fucked. Fuck these capes. This is why the law sucks. This is why it’s so much easier to be a quote ‘bad guy’. Fuck them. Fuck Johnny and his ‘helpful’ tones. And his shining blue eyes. And his ‘soothing’ voices.

Are you hungry? Do you need another blanket? How about some of your water? Your dad wants to see you- will you see him? What about - blah. blah. blah.

Fuck him.

Fuck them.

Fuck…. fuck me. God. How did I let this happen? How the fuck did I let this happen?

I’ve always been careful. I’ve always been smooth. But I fucking stayed! I blacked out at the scene of the crime in some kind of I don’t know… they’re calling it ‘shock’. I’ve never blacked out in shock before! They have me on video. I fucking cried. ON video. I don’t know what the fuck that was about! It’s never happened before! Usually after a job- especially one that involves blood and gore- I’m fine. I take a shower, get something to eat, crawl into bed- I’m fine. I went crazy at a fucking murder scene… and stayed. They talked me into their vans. They talked me into the cuffs. They brought me here and drugged me to hell. And FUCK. FUCK.

FUCK.

“Yes.. but we don’t do what you did. They have you on video- Daken. You tortured those men for 72 hours. Killing every one of them but the one who’s too traumatized to speak.”

Good. “As well he should be,” I say.

Johnny sighs. “Why’d you do it?” 

“To save-“ 

“Not to save the children.” Johnny cuts me off. “The children were saved when you originally gave us the information. You went back. You lured them into one spot. And you,” He motions to me, “I mean you,” He’s at a loss for words. “I mean…. fuck. I don’t know what I mean.”

“They were baby fuckers. The law would have let them slip through. Minimum sentences. That’s how that works.” I spit.

“I’ve never seen you react like that. And how you reacted afterward….”

I freeze.

“It’s like you were broken.” Johnny reaches into the bed and takes my hand- still encased in its glove and housing its various IVs. “You didn’t even recognize me.” His free hand pushes some hair back from my face. “Laura’s told us some of your … reasoning behind this,” he says gently. “Why you did it. Why you did it so happily. Why it broke you afterward….” Johnny pauses. “You didn’t see those men- did you?” He stares at me, blue eyes shining. “You saw someone else. Someone personal. Someone from your past? You weren’t punishing them. You were punishing someone else entirely.”

“You said Val and Franklin were missing.” I hiss, avoiding his eye contact. “I found them. I made the men who hurt them pay. I tracked down the other children. I don’t understand why I’m being punished.”

“I know you don’t.” Johnny soothes. “I know.”

There’s movement outside the hospital room. “I did what heroes do.” I try again.

“No… no dude. That’s not what heroes do. That’s what a bad guy would think a hero would do…. you… I don’t know what I’m trying to say.” He exhales, running a hand through his mussed hair.

“Am I going to prison?” I ask, my voice hollow.

Johnny looks me over. “No.” He says finally. “There’s an alternative…. but only because one of those little girls was the judge’s daughter. He…. doesn’t think he can try you fairly. They’d get another judge…. but half those kids were in somehow related to every judge they could put over your case. Commander Hill is demanding you get a fair trial…. but no one is going to sentence you. Not after what you did for those kids.”

“So why am I here?” I ask in a growl.

“You tortured six men- to death,” Johnny says. “Six.”

“And?”

“And.. you can’t torture people to death, Daken,” Johnny says. “You have to work within the law. It’s obvious that this is some sort of deep-rooted issue for you- I can see it. They can see it. Everyone judging your case can see it….”

I wince, internally. They know my motives? No. They know nothing. They have nothing. I am innocent. 

“So they came up with another option,” Johnny says, petting me again. He looks at the heart rate monitor. “Your pulse picked up…. try to stay calm- okay?”

I nod. “Fine. Other option. What is it?”

“It’s a good option,” Johnny says, still looking at the monitor.

Johnny’s dressed in a hoodie, sweatshirt, and a pair of shorts. Looking like he’s drastically underdressed to be out in public.

They took my clothing. Underneath these blankets, I’m wearing a flimsy hospital gown. I’ve asked if someone could bring me some of my clothing… but no one’s responded.

“Oh?” I try to sound hopeful… but I don’t feel hopeful. Not in the slightest.

“But… you won’t like it…” Johnny glances down.

“Oh?” I press more firmly.

“You’re…. unhinged,” Johnny says carefully. “There’s a place that deals with dangerous people… and makes them less dangerous. Some people can get out- some people can’t. You’ll be serving a reduced sentence… maybe a year or two- definitely no more than three- okay? No more than three. It’s not a prison. It won’t go on any record. It’s run by-“

“SHIELD” I hiss. “It’s run by SHIELD”

“It’s run by SHIELD” He agrees. “And Hill PROMISES that you’ll be able to leave- okay? It’s not forever. It may be even shorter if you go.. voluntarily.” He winces as he says this.

“Like fuck I’ll volunteer to be committed,” I growl, tugging at the restraints. The heart rate monitor attached to my chest picks up with my struggling, sounding a small alarm. “What is that?” I hiss, pulling as hard as I can.

“Now, calm down.” Johnny hushes. “Just lay still. It’s picking up on your accelerated pulse…. when you get angry- it gets worse… and you know what happens then…” he shushes. “You haven’t had anything to eat yet. Calm down until supper- okay? Please? I’ll feed you. I won’t let the nurses do it- I know you hate when they do.”

Enough is enough!

“Johnny- listen to me very carefully.” I try to sound calm, but the machine is giving away everything. “I need you to undo these restraints… take me to a surgeon so I can take out whatever fucking implants they’ve put over my claws, and let me go.” I lock eyes with him. “Please. Please, Johnny. I didn’t mean it. I won’t do it again. Just let me go- okay? Let me go.”

Johnny bites his lip. “Daken… I can’t.” He looks down. “Maybe this will be good for you? You’ve got a lot of baggage. This could… lighten the load?”

“You’re not listening.” I try again- sorely missing my pheromones. “I don’t need to go somewhere to have my ‘load’ lightened. I need to go home. With my things. I saved those kids- I did what you asked- the last thing I need to be is punished. You said the judges don’t want to try me- so… just let me go. Okay? Just let me go.”

“I can’t.” He says. “I really can’t. I’m sorry.”

“Just let me go.” I try again. “Please, Johnny… please. Let me go.”

“I can’t.” The heart rate monitor starts beeping again. “I know you’re upset….” He soothes. “It’s okay to be upset…. but you were in the wrong, Daken. You were. There are consequences for your actions…. you can’t just run around and do whatever you feel like doing to whoever you feel like doing it to.”

“Please,” I beg. “Please- Johnny. Please.”

“It’s okay.” Johnny soothes. “It’s okay... it’s okay to be scared. This has to feel horrible for you… after your surgery and everything.” He runs a hand over my useless knuckles. “But…. three years- or less- they’ll take those plates out… get you weened off the power suppressant… used to some medication-“

“Get me out of here!” I yell. “I’ve done nothing wrong! You can’t let them do this to me!”

“But… I mean.. honey.. you have. You understand that, don’t you? After I’ve explained it to you? You know what you did was wrong?”

I struggle harder- attempting to tip the hospital bed on its side.

The machine makes a series of obnoxious beeps.

“Daken, you’re going to call the nurses in here,” Johnny says. “Calm down. Okay? Nice and easy. The other option is prison. You don’t need to go to prison. I can’t visit you in prison.” he offers a smile. “I can come see you three times a week at this-“

“Fuck you!” I snap, trying my hardest to flip the bed.

“Daken, please.” Johnny soothes. “Please. Just calm down-okay? Calm down. It’s all okay. It’s okay. You’ll go- you’ll get some help at… resolving some of your issues and-“

“Fuck you!” I repeat. “Let me go!”

“Please, Daken, please,” Johnny begs. “Please. Calm down. Okay? Calm down. It’s gonna be okay.”

“Get me out of here,” I demand. “Now, Johnny!”

“I-“

“I can see someone’s all worked up.” The doctor from before comes in. “Daken, I’ve tried telling you this as often as I possibly can, but we’d like for you to try your best to remain calm.”

He's someone. Someone in the superhero community. I think he's worked with Osborn in the past. I'm a little offended that they have him working with me. I'm nothing like Norman. Not at all. 

He's big. Tall. Strong. Green hair. 

Definitely someone who screams 'mutate'. 

Today he's wearing khakis and a green polo. Thank god it's not a white lab coat. I freaked out on him last time he wore one. 

I don't know why... but it made it feel so much... more real. If he's dressed like this I could pretend he's anyone. If I don't want him to be a doctor- bam. He's not a doctor. 

“Fuck you,” I growl. “Let me out of this… hellhole!”

“You can curse me all you want.” The man with the shocking green hair says. “But I’m the one who has this.” He brandishes the syringe I’ve come to hate. “And we all remember what it does, don’t we?”

“Don’t you dare,” I growl. “I haven’t done anything wrong. You can’t keep me here.”

“You’re a little worked up… honestly, if this happens every time you have a visitor, we’re going to have to limit your visitation hours.”

“Len-“

He shakes his head at Johnny. “We can talk about it later.” He offers. “Now,” He turns to me. “Are you going to eat for us or are we going to have to sedate you?”

“I’m not doing shit for you.” I spit at his feet.

“That’s nasty,” Len says. “The nurses told me you were a spitter.” He picks the chart up from the end of my bed. “And a biter?” He raises his eyebrows. “Says you bit three people… all hard enough to break the skin.”

“Let me go.” I’ll admit my voice is shaky.

The monitor beeps louder and louder. “Just let me go. It won’t happen again.”

Len puts the chart down. “Are you aware of the five stages of grief- Daken?”

“Fuck you.”

“Bargaining is one of them.” He smiles. One could call it almost charming.

“I haven’t done anything wrong.” I hiss. “You can’t keep me here. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t-“

“But you did,” Len says gently. “But it’s my professional opinion- which is the one I’m giving to the judge and the social workers by the way- that you honestly didn’t know any better. You had a .. unique upbringing from what I’ve learned from your father-“

“My father knows nothing about my upbringing!” I yell.

“Ah yes. Your ‘daddy issues’. I’d love to spend more time on that- Daken. But as you know the two of us have already gone around that circle several times. We’re not making any progress. When you’re ready to discuss him in a more reasonable fashion, I’ll be happy to reopen the subject.”

“Johnny please.” I turn to him instead. “Please.”

Johnny bites the fingernail of his forefinger. "Daken-" 

“Johnny didn’t get you into this mess,” Len says. “He can’t get you out of it.” he claps his hands. “Now… are you going to eat? Do you want me to let Johnny feed you? Or do we have to bring in the feeding tube?”

“Go to hell.” I hiss.

“Of course you can go to bed without supper if you so choose. I understand that anxiety and food don’t always go well together.” He smiles. “We’re serving breakfast for dinner tonight. Eggs. Pancakes. Sound tempting?”

I turn my head to the side.

“Perhaps you’d be willing to let me check on your surgical wounds?”

I don’t answer. “Daken? I know you don’t like us touching your hands….”

“Because you implanted something inside of me without my fucking permission.” I snap.

Len bows his head. “I know. I know we did. That wasn’t my decision, I assure you. I can only imagine how violated you must feel by all of this.”

“Then let me go!” 

“Let me check your hands.” He counters. “Do you promise to stop tugging at the restraints long enough to let me look?”

“Why aren’t they healing?” I counter. If he's not going to listen- the least he can do is give me some solid answers. When I ask about the stitches around my wrists and knuckles, I'm told that it was 'for the best' and 'for my safety'. They don't say what metal they used. They don't say how it was implanted. If the metal is harmful to me. What it looks like. And most importantly- who gave them the fucking right to operate on me without my consent. So many laws are being broken here. So many. The fact that no one is calling them on this shit is downright scary. 

“The metal we used … your father said it could slow healing abilities down to … normal speeds. I’m sorry about that. But other than a slow heal- it won’t hurt you. We keep you on some painkillers for a little while so it doesn’t hurt-“

"No one gave you the right to do that." I growl. 

"We gave ourselves the right to do that." He says. "And I know it's violating. But it's not forever. And honestly, everyone involved- yourself included- are much safer with your powers contained." 

Safer??? Everyone is safer???


"Now-"

“Let me go!” I cut him off. The machine beeps some more.

“Calm down,” Len says. “Johnny- why don’t you say goodbye.” He says. “I think it’s best if we sedate him for now.”

“Sedat- sedate me??” I struggle harder. “LET ME GO!”

“It’s about time for lights out anyway.” The man says. “Do you want to say goodnight to Johnny?”

“I WANT OUT OF HERE!” I yell. “I’ve done nothing that those goodies goodies wouldn’t have done!”

“Now Daken, no one’s going to respond with you screaming like this.” The man says. “Tell Johnny goodnight- okay? We won’t make you eat tonight. I promise. No tubes. No force-feeding- we’ll put you under for a nice little rest-“

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!”

I hope other patients hear me. I hope the authorities hear me.

If they won’t listen to me- I will make them listen.

“I’m talking to you rationally at a reasonable volume. “ the doctor says with a smile. “You continuing to yell at me and…” he watches me struggle. “Are you trying to tip the bed?”

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!!!” I yell.

“Oh yes.” He flushes the syringe. “I thought we could handle a little bit of time conscious… but I can see I was wrong. You just can't do with this much stimuli. I’m sorry about that, honestly.” He takes the syringe to the port of the IV in my arm.

“No.” I pull away. “No… no... NO”

“It’s all okay.” The man shushes. “Everything is juuuusssst fine.” He injects the tube- which in turn sends the sedatives into my bloodstream.

“Get away- get away from me!”

He reaches over and starts to prod around my stitches.

“Don’t fucking touch me!” I yank as hard as I can- finding it increasingly more difficult.

“These are healing nicely… they look good.” He smiles.

“Let me… out .. of-“

“Goodnight.” The doctor says pleasantly. “I’ll be in with breakfast in the morning. We can finish this discussion then…. if you behave. If not…” He shows the now empty syringe. “I’ve got tanks of this stuff. All supped up to match your healing factor. You wanna play? We can play alllllll day long.”

My eyelids feel like they’re made of lead.

“Johnny-“ I groan. “Johnny please- please. Plea-“ My head lolls forward.

“Goodnight sweetheart.” Johnny leans over and kisses me. “Thank you for your help- really. We owe you…. you have a hearing tomorrow…. I’ll try to see you before and after- okay?” He pets my hair. “Get some sleep.”

“He’ll be just fine, Johnny.” the doctor tells him. “This will keep him out all night, he’s got a ton of nurse’s to watch over him while he sleeps, and his claws are permanently restrained for the time being. He can’t hurt anyone- including himself.”

“That’s good.” Johnny seems unsure. “Uhm… did Commander Hill happen to say anything while I was with him?”

“Close your eyes. Don’t fight it… it’s so much worse if you do” The man says to me- I assume. “It’s allll okay. We’ll get you nice and taken care of, I promise.”

This is bullshit. I didn’t do anything wrong! Johnny wanted my help. He BEGGED for my help. Now when I help him they turn around and pull this shit!
Three years? What’s this about three years? I’m not giving up three years of my life! That’s basically the time those jackasses would have had to do anyway! I’m being punished for their-

Oh god. I can’t .. finish my… thoughts… I- so… sooo… fucking…

tired.

“That’s right,” Len says. “There you go. Good night. We’ll see you in the morning.”

Fuck.

Chapter Text

“Good morning.” 

 His voice drags me from half pissed to fully pissed in less than three seconds. It's got to be some kind of record. His time only being topped by Logan- who has to do nothing but breathe to piss me off.  

 “Listen to that.” He whistles as the machine picks up my heartbeat. “Not my biggest fan- huh?” 

If I ignore him…. maybe he’ll just go away. 

 I keep my eyes shut. 

 “That’s okay.” He pats my knee. “That’s 100% okay. You’re not happy in your situation and I’m the one you perceive to be making your life hell- it’s understandable.” 

 Will he ever shut up??

 “Easy now.” He soothes. “Easy.” 

 I let my anger cool into something a bit more… useful. Like disdain. I hate this man. I refuse to do anything he tells me to. No matter what it is. 

I need to control my breathing, heart rate, and facial expressions. I cannot afford to slip up on any of these fronts. 

 “I know your thoughts on me ‘shrinking’ you when you first wake up… and I apologize for what I’m sure is the twentieth time at this point in your stay- but I have to ask you the usual questions.” 

 Fuck. 

 “Shall we begin?” 

 If I could just turn away from him….

 “Maybe if you are well enough today, we can let you take an actual shower. Supervised, of course. But it would be better than us sponging you down. Johnny said your personal hygiene was something you took great pride in.” 

Fuck him. 

He won’t bribe me into behaving. 

 “A shower would mean time out of that bed.” He says with a lilt to his voice. “You were asking for a walk yesterday and we, unfortunately, couldn’t let you. I would be more than willing to let you go around the block this morning. If you behave.” 

Fuck him. 

 He sighs. “I know you’re awake.” 

 A smell of something… sweet drifts through the air. Accompanied by his own scent of cologne and aftershave. He must have moved closer to me. 

 “I’m not above aggravating you into responding to me.” He says with a chuckle. “I’m told it’s one of my more… unique abilities.”  

 “What do you want?” I groan. 

 “Questions.” He says simply. “Then breakfast. Then a shower. If you behave. You feel like behaving today, don’t you? You didn’t like being sedated yesterday. You don’t want it to happen again if you can help it.”

“The last man who threatened me is now recovering from multiple amputations while wrapped in a straight jacket.” I keep my eyes closed. “I’d tread carefully.” 

 “Threatening the psychiatrist. A bold move. Not necessarily a step in the right direction in regards to shower privileges or time out of the bed... but bold none the less.” 

 “I’ll take my chances.” I snort. 

 “Open your eyes for me.” He orders. “Let’s see how alert you are this morning.” 

“Why don’t you go fuck yourself instead?” 

 “I brought you a treat.” He tries a different tactic. “Johnny said it was your favorite.”

That.. tempts me. But I’m keeping my eyes shut. 

 “You don’t want it?” He teases. How the fuck is he teasing me?? This man has serious balls. If I weren’t strapped to this bed- I’d have his fucking head. “It’s yummy.” 

 Yummy? Pass. “I’m not hungry.” 

 He hums to himself. “We’re starting you on a round of medication today. I thought you’d like something on your stomach. Unless you enjoy being nauseated. Then by all means…” 


“I’m not taking any medication,” I growl. 

 “Judge said-“

“I don’t care,” I say. “I’m not taking it.” 

“Judge's orders.” He says simply. “We could bring your lawyer in here… but the woman has very little desire to see you. I think your unpleasantness has scared her off.” He chuckles. “And I’m told when you want to be you can be quite charming.” 

 I’m more ‘charming’ with my pheromones. 

Fuck him.

Fuck them for taking them from me.  

 “How about you use some of that charm?” Len asks. “Open your eyes for me.” 

 “Go fuck yourself.” 

 He sighs. “Open your mouth for me?” 

 “What?” 

 I’m surprised by the change in his request. 

 “You’ve got to eat.” He says with a laugh. “And you bite the nurses.” 

“Then they shouldn’t put their hands near my mouth,” I growl. 

 “Or, counter offer, how about you control yourself and not behave like an unruly toddler?” 

 “Fuck you.” I spit in his direction. 

 “We have mouth guards. You seen ‘Silence of the Lambs’? Looks a lot like what they made Hannibal wear. Ya know- the cannibal?” 

 “I know who Hannibal is,” I growl. 

 “Good. Now, do you want us to treat you like a cannibal?” He chuckles. 

 “Fuc-“

"Fuck me. I got it already.” He laughs. “Open up. You’ll like it. Johnny told me you would.” 

 Johnny? 

 “Johnny?” 

“Mmhmm. He’s really worried about you. He brought them by himself.” 

Johnny brought whatever this mystery item is? Interesting. 

 “If you were to eat a little bit I know it would make him happy,” Len says. “If you won’t do it for me- do it for Johnny. Can you do that?” 

 I crack my eyes open. “Maybe.” 

 “Maybe? Maybe is better than ‘no’.”  He laughs again. “Little more…. hmm? Can you open your eyes a little further?” 

 “I don’t want to open my eyes.”

Because I’ll still be in this hellhole. Every morning I wake up hoping it’s all been some sort of nightmare. Every morning for the past two weeks- I have been proven wrong. 

 “You don’t like the scenery.” He says. “I know. Your room doesn’t really afford for many things to look at. We could bring you some flowers…” 

“I don’t want flowers.” I snap. “I want to go home.” 

“I know you do.” He says gently. “And that’s all been taken care of.” 

“What has?” 

 “Your apartment. Your finances. Your belongings.” 

“What?” My eyes snap open, landing on his face.

“Your dad and your sister are taking care of everything,” Len says calmly. “You’ll be gone for a while…. I’m sure Johnny told you.” 

 Three years. Three fucking years. 

 “I want to talk to my lawyer.” I hiss. 

 “A reasonable request.” He says. “She’ll be by later to take you to the hearing.” 

“Hearing?” 

Johnny did say something about a hearing. 

“Hearing.” Len nods. “Sounds better than ‘sentencing’.” 

 “I haven’t had a trial.” My voice is hollow. 

 “And you’re not going to get one,” Len says smoothly. “The judge, several members of the superhero community, Commander Hill, your father, and the lawyers all have decided that it would be too much on you in your fragile state. They’ve come together and decided the best method of treatment… given that you really did- in your mind- try to do the right thing. We can’t put you in jail. You said yourself- you don’t understand what you did wrong. How can we punish you like that if you don’t comprehend why we’re doing it?” He smiles. 

“But- you... I mean they- you can’t- they can’t-“

“Open up.” He says far more gently. “I promise you’ll like it.” 

I look at his hands, holding a small container.

“What is it?” 

 “Strawberries. Johnny said you liked them. Sometimes eating foods we like can make us feel better.” 

 “I can eat an entire field of them and not feel better about this.” I gripe.

 “Lucky for you-“ he chuckles. “We only have a few. Take a bite. I promise I washed my hands.” 

He picks one of the berries up from the container, holding it in front of my face. 

 I go completely still.

It's not like they're going to hurt me. They don't smell off. They don't look off. If anything this is a step up from the shit they've been shoveling down my throat. Johnny knows how much I've hated the food. He probably got them from the market near my apartment. I haven't been in quite a few weeks- but he knows I prefer all of my food to be fresh if I can help it.

The berry looms in front of me. Taunting me almost.  

 “Open up.” He says. “And don’t try to bite me.” 

 I turn my head away. 

 “Johnny said you liked them. Especially in the morning. We’re going to be pumping you full of drugs today. You’ll need a little something on your stomach.” 

I'm not taking drugs. 

 “Go to hell.” I hiss. 

"Open up." He says. "They look delicious." 

"Fuck you." I whisper. 

Really. Fuck him. 

Thinking he can treat me like this. Thinking he can treat anyone like this. 

“I’m sorry?” 

I stay silent. 

"You said something." He presses. "Turn to talk to me." 

I keep my head turned. 

"Come on... don't clam up now. We've got a whole day to get through. A day that starts with you eating these berries, might I add." 

"Fuck off." I say, no louder than before. 

"I can't hear you." He says again.

I remain facing away from him. He doesn't have the right. None of them have the god damn right. 

“I didn’t hear you.” He puts his hand on my face, to turn me back towards him- I jerk out of his grasp and capture his hand between my teeth- nailing him as hard as I possibly can. 

 “Fuck!” He jerks his hand out of my mouth and pulls it into his chest. “What did I say about biting??” 

 I’ll admit I’m feeling a little smug. 

He drops the berry that he was holding in his hand, almost dropping the entire container in his mad dash to get away from me- but holding onto it at the last minute. 

 “You’re going to eat today.” He growls. “I promise you that. You can eat the strawberries- that we both know you like- or I can go get the oatmeal and force it down your throat. Your choice.” 

 I glare at him. 

 “Berries or oatmeal.” He says, shaking his hand which I’m unhappy to note- is not bleeding. 

 Some time passes as I sit here in stubborn silence. 

 “I’m asking one final time, Daken,” Len says. “Are you going to eat the berries or am I going to go get the oatmeal?” 

 I open my mouth and spit at him again.

“That’s it.” Len snaps. “That is it!” He leans over and pushes the nurse’s call button on the wall. “Spit at me, bite me, refuse to cooperate- you are digging yourself into another hole. You seem incapable of just complying! Serious problems with authority. You’ve been here for barely two weeks and your file is full to the brim with instances like these.” 

 “What can I say?” I glare at him. 

“Oh, I know what you can say.” Len crosses his arms. “‘Sorry’.” 

 “No,” I say simply.

“No?” 

“No.” 

 “Apologize, Daken.” 

“No,” I smirk. 

 “Then you’re not getting out of that bed today.” 

“But you said I had to go to the hearing,” I say smugly. 

 “I will bring the hearing to you.” The man threatens.

“You can’t do that.” I chuckle. I’ve got him in the corner this time. 

“Apologize.” He snaps. 

“NO.” 

 “Daken-“ 

 “You rang doctor?” A pretty woman stands in the doorway dressed in purple scrubs. 

Len glares at me. “Sit his bed up.” He says. “And restrain his neck.” 

That sounds… unfavorable for me. 

“Restrain his neck?” The woman sounds unsure. 

“We’re going to nip the biting habit in the bud,” Len says with a nod. “Sit his bed up, restrain his neck, and inject him with a mild sedative.”

"That's an overreaction," I say drly. 

"No- and overreaction would be removing your teeth." He growls. "Which is looking like a pretty decent option right now." He shakes his hand again. "They'd probably grow back though. It wouldn't be a permanent solution." 

He wants to take my teeth??? 

"Because I bit you??” 

 “Yes.” He snaps. “Because you bit me.” He puts the container of strawberries down by the bed and starts to leave.

“Where are you going?” I don’t know why- but I suddenly feel a little worried. 

“To get your breakfast.” He says. “Which will not be at all what I intended for it to be.” 

 He walks off in a huff.

The nurse, a plump woman, starts to maneuver the bed around. “Alright.” She says when I’m sitting up. “That’s good. No fuss. That’s really good.” She smiles. “Now- lay still for me.” She goes to the cabinet in the room and starts digging through some materials I’d rather not think about, finally retrieving a velcro strap. “I guess this really will take care of the biting.” She muses. “I wish he’d go about it another way, though.” 

She pulls it tight across my neck, fastening it to the side of the bed. The feeling sends me into an instant panic.

“I can’t breathe.” I hiss. 

“Yes you can.” She assures, patting my shoulder.

“I can’t fucking breathe!” 

 “Yes. You can.” She insists, going to the cart that holds the wound cleaning materials and grabbing something underneath it. A syringe of some sort. “Be right back.” 

“Wait!” I cry after her retreating form.

She doesn’t stop. 

I can’t breathe. They’re going to crush my windpipe- they’re going to suffocate me. Fuck. I can’t- 

 “There, there.” Len comes back in and looks all too smug. “It’s all okay.” 

“I can’t breathe.” I try to tell him.

“If you can’t breathe- you can’t talk. You’re talking so obviously you can breathe. The strap just freaked you out.” 

“I can’t-“

“You can,” Len says, taking a seat in the only other available chair. It’s the one Johnny always sits in. I hate that he’s in it. 

In his hands he’s got a bowl of oatmeal- it doesn’t smell unpleasant. But it doesn’t smell appetizing either. “Now.” He drags his spoon through it. “This has to cool down. Maybe, in the meantime, you can tell me why you’re refusing to behave today.” 

“I can’t-“

“You can breathe.” He insists. “Calm down.” 

The nurse comes back, the syringe in her hand now full of something.

“Go ahead, nurse.” Len nods. 

She sticks the needle into my IV- and I hate her instantly. 

 “Let’s let that set in.” 

It doesn’t take long. The nurse leaves and I don’t even hear her exit. 

Things become hard to track. I feel… weightless. 

 “Here we go.” 

It takes me a second to remember what he’s talking about.

I’m reminded by the flavorless mush that’s pressed into my mouth.

My first instinct is to try to spit- which is becoming increasingly more difficult.

“You can spit it out if you want,” Len says. “There’s more.” 

I want to tell him to go to hell- but he just shoves the spoon back in when I try. 

 “That’s it.” He soothes.

I can’t talk with my mouth full- and I refuse to swallow. 

 “You’re going to have to swallow it at some point.” He says, almost teasingly, cramming the spoon back into my mouth.  

I can’t even turn my head. I could let him cram this down my throat and vomit it back up- that would be spiteful. But then they’d just have to wash me off. And without being able to take a shower- the smell would linger. That would drive me crazy. 

I’m mulling it over in my head and there is absolutely no way to save face. None. 

 “Swallow.” He says. “Come on. You’re going to choke. Swallow.” 

Maybe I should let myself choke. Maybe that’s the way to save face. 

 “Swallow.” He repeats. “It can’t taste that good. It’s literally just oats.” 

 I take a moment to decide what to do before deciding that maybe childish is the way to go. 

 I go to spit, but he puts his hand over my mouth. “Swallow.” 

 Now it’s getting hard to breathe again. I struggle as much as the restraints will allow.

“Fine.” He pinches my nose- blocking air completely. Now it’s swallow or suffocate. This can’t be legal. There’s no fucking- 

Fuck. I can’t breathe. I can’t- 

 “Swallow, Daken.” he presses. “Or you’ll pass out. And while you’re passed out, we’ll run a tube down your throat- through your nose- and fill your stomach anyway. Trust me- this is the easier option.” 

 I have no choice.

I swallow my pride as well as the mush. 

“All gone?”

I try to answer- but his hand muffles my speech.

“Good.” He lets me go and returns to his seat. “Now, let’s try this again.”

“This isn’t legal.” I spit. “I’ll sue you. I’ll-“ 

“Here we go.” He crams the spoon back into my mouth. “Are we gonna fight with this all day- or are you gonna cooperate?” 

 I try to spit it out- but have little success. 

“If we have to, we’ll insert a tube and leave it in overnight.” He pauses. “Do you want that?” 

 I have to begrudgingly swallow. 

 “Good. Now,” he pauses, spoon in hand. “Are you sorry for biting and spitting?” 

 I look down. 

 “Daken?” 

 The spoon clinks against the bowl in his hand.

“Are you sorry?” 

 I say nothing. 

 “Do you see what you did was unacceptable and that your actions have consequences?” 

 “no.” I barely breathe it. 

 “I’m sorry?” He refills the spoon. “I didn’t hear you.” 

 “fuck you.” 

“What was that?” 

 “I said,” I clear my throat. “FUCK YOU.” 

 The man sighs. “We can do this all day. You have two other meals to go. Not to mention snacks you’ll have to eat to keep the meds down.” 

 “I’m not taking any medication!” I snap. “And I’m not eating any more of this shit!” 

 “I offered you the strawberries- you refused. This was the other option. I was quite clear.” 

 “You didn’t say it would taste so terrible!” The bland after taste lingers in my mouth. I'm fairly certain it's on my face as well. It's hard to make yourself be taken seriously with food on your face. If we weren't at odds right now, I'd be asking him to at least have the decency to wipe my mouth for me. 

 “Show me you’re going to behave and you can have the strawberries.” He offers. 

“Fuck you.” I'll not bargain with him. I'll not give him the satisfaction. 

 “That’s not the answer I want to hear.” He pushes the spoon back in my mouth. 

 “I don’t care what you want to hear!” I spit it back out. 

Len exhales slowly, filling the spoon back up. “Do you know how depressing it is to have to do this to a fully grown man?” 

 “Do you know how much I don’t fucking care?” I sneer. 

 “Look.” he shows the still very, very, full bowl. “Say you’re sorry. You won’t have to eat this.” 

 I look up at the ceiling. 

 He exhales loudly. “When Logan finds out about this….” He says under his breath, filling my mouth with mush once again. 

“What?” 

 “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Len says. “It’s gross.” 

 “What did you say about Logan??” I swallow quickly. 

 “He’s uh... here.” Len fills the spoon again. “I saw him when I was heating up the oatmeal.” 

“You…” He saw him? That means he’s on the floor. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” 

 “Are you sorry?” 

 “No!” 

“Then I can’t stop.” He says smugly. “Open wide.” 

 “Stop!” 

 “You’re embarrassed. Acting like this to me and the nurses are one thing. Doing it in front of your father is another. Apologize. Or I’ll go get him to finish this.” 

 “You wouldn’t dare.” I hiss. 

 “Apologize.” He raises an eyebrow. “All I have to do is page a nurse and get her to bring him in here. It’s clear you’ve been giving me a hard time. We’re going to have to wash you up. You’re wearing more of this than I’ve managed to get into you.” He chuckles a little. “Apologize.” 

 “No!” 

 “Why are you so stubborn??” Len snaps. “You were wrong. Admit you were wrong!” 

 “NO!” 

 “Then I will go get Logan and he can either finish this up or watch me finish it up. It’ll be your choice.” 

No. No. He can’t. 

“You can’t.” 

“Apologize.” He fills the spoon up again. “Or… open up and don’t give me any more trouble.”  

 I keep my mouth shut.

“Daken…” he says in warning. “Apologize or don’t give me any more trouble. Or… I will go get your father.” 

“Don’t,” I beg. “Please.” 

“Then just say you’re sorry.” He says calmly. “You were wrong. Admit you were wrong and apologize.” 

I have to stay silent and bite my tongue. 

 “I don’t want to do this to you.” He says gently. “I know you’re miserable. It’s not my intention to make it worse.” 

 He could have fucking fooled me. 

 “I don’t want to embarrass you.” He says. “I know this is humiliating enough. You’re having a rough time. There’s no need to make it harder on yourself. Just say you’re sorry. Okay? Say you’re sorry.” 

 I can’t.

I’m not sorry.

He can’t make me feel something I don’t. 

 “Take a bite for me?” 

 “No.” 

 “Say you’re sorry?” 

 “No.” 

 “Then you’re really leaving me with no options here. You’ve got to eat. You’ve got to behave. There is no other option. You can’t do what you want whenever you want to do it. You’ve got to function in society. A society that isn’t centered around you or what you want. You have to play by the rules. They’re there for a reason. I know it’s not the way you were raised-“

“FUCK OFF!” My temper flares without my meaning for it to. 

 “That’s it.” He stands to his feet. “There is obviously no other option with you.” 

 “Please- no,” I beg again. 

“Say you’re sorry.” He demands. 

“No!” 

"Promise not to give me any more trouble.” 

 “No!” 

 “Then…..” he turns around and freezes. “Oh.” 

 I want to sink into the bed. Straight through it, actually. Down through the floor. Into the ground. 

 “What’s going on in here?” His voice sends me into a panic. Usually- I could stab him. I could defend myself. Now? Strapped to the bed? Powerless? He can do whatever the fuck he wants to. The ball is in his corner.  

 “Uh,” Len looks at me. “We’re having a few minor setbacks.” 

Logan crosses his arms in the doorway. “Yea? What’s the problem?” 

 “He spat at me, bit me, refused to cooperate, and now refuses to apologize,” Len says. “I was going to feed him strawberries, but he pitched a fit. So I was feeding him this-“ He motions with the bowl in his hand, “And he’s still pitching a fit.” 

“I see.” 

“I was actually going to come get you and see if you could… make him cooperate.” Len smiles. “Guess you heard us?” 

“Oh, I heard you,” Logan says. “He’s acting like a brat.” 

“He’s acting like a brat.” Len agrees.

“Give that to me.” He points to the bowl. 

 “Sure.” Len hands it over a little too quickly for my taste. 

 “Give us the room.” Logan orders, stirring the oatmeal. "I'll handle this." 

 Len nods. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes…. do you think that’s enough time?” 

 Logan looks at the bowl. “We’ll only need ten- tops.” 

Len nods, not looking back at me. “We’ve got him restrained and semi-sedated. Honestly the fact that he can fight this hard with those sedatives in him is daunting.” 

 “Oh, yea. He’s so big and tough.” Logan mocks. 

I want to die.

This couldn’t get any worse. 

 “Don’t.. upset him too badly,” Len says. “We’ve got to get him to the courthouse.” 

 “Think that ship has sailed,” Logan says. “Send the social worker.” 

Len nods. “We could do that.” 

“Send her with a report of just what’s happened this morning.” 

 “I can go!” I try to interrupt. 

 “Can you?” Logan walks past Len into the room. 

“Yes.” 

 “Then you’ll apologize to the doctor?” 

 I can’t say yes. I can’t say no. I have to remain silent. 

“Didn’t think so.” He takes the seat the doctor had been sitting in. “You look like a child.” He says. “Covered in food.” 

“I’m not eating any of that,” I growl. 

 “Yea- you are. You’re eating all of it. Then you’re going to take whatever meds they give you. Then you’re gonna lay here and behave.” 

 “No.” 

 He smirks. “Then you’re going to be a brat.” 

“I’m not-“ 

“Like hell you’re not.” He snorts. “Open your mouth. And keep it open. Got me?” 

 My skin feels like it’s trying to crawl off of me. I feel flushed. 

“Yea you’re embarrassed,” he comments. “I’m embarrassed for you. Acting like this. Biting people. Like some kinda mad dog.”

That hurts. 

 “You don’t like that- do ya?” 

 I look down. 

 “Well?” 

 He loads the spoon. “Open your mouth. No problems- okay? Or we’re gonna have a problem. And you don’t want to start anything with me.” 

 “You can’t-“

“Is that trouble you’re starting?” 

 “No-“ 

 “Then be quiet and eat your food.” He says gruffly. 

 “I don’t want to,” I say. “Please. I don’t want to.” 

“It’s too late for that now.” He puts the spoon to my mouth. “Open your mouth.” 

 I wish I could turn away. 

“Son, do as I say.” 

“Log-“

He shoves the spoon in my mouth- clinking it against my teeth on accident. Or was it on purpose. Hard to tell with him.

“Ow!” 

“Chew with your mouth closed.” 

The oatmeal is cold- making the act of eating it ten times worse. 

“Don’t you dare spit that out.” He’s ten steps ahead of me. “Swallow it. Now.” 

 I find myself complying against my better wishes. 

“Good.” He praises. “Now do it again.” 

 This goes on for the longest ten minutes of my life. And that’s saying something. 

“Now,” He scrapes the spoon on the bottom of the bowl, “When the doctor or any of the nurses decide to feed you-you will not give them a hard time. We can’t trust you to feed yourself- the least you can do is cooperate. Understood?” 

 I stay silent.

“Do you understand?” He pushes the last spoonful into my mouth. It’s even colder than when we started. 

 I swallow quickly- to get it out of my mouth. 

 “Daken?” 

“Yes,” I answer coldly. “I understand.” 

 “Good.”  He sets the bowl and spoon beside the strawberries. “You should have just eaten the fucking berries. But no. You had to act like a child.” 

 I feel this urge to… apologize. It’s a new feeling for me. I’m so embarrassed that I’ll do anything to get him to leave.

 “You’re gonna miss your hearing.” He says. “And you’re going to tell the judge why. Got me? You’re going to call him up and explain what happened.”

“No-“ 

 “Yes.” He cuts me off. “Or I will sit in here for every feeding, bath, and anything else you don’t want me to see. To make sure you don’t give these people a hard time.” 

 I exhale slowly. “Please-“

“Every single one of them. I’ll sleep here, I’ll eat here, I’ll shower here. You will have no privacy.” 

"I’ll talk to him,” I whisper. 

 “Good. Now let them clean you up. No fussin’.” 

 I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut. 

 “Understood?” 

“Yes.” 

He smiles. “Good. You can be reasoned with. I was gonna come talk to you about some shit- but it seems you’re not in the right ‘mental state’.” He makes quotations with his fingers. “So I’ll leave it here. Stop being a brat. Got me? You’re a grown man. Act like it.” 

He reaches over and removes the restraint from around my neck. 

“Nod if you understand.” 

I stiffly nod.

“Good.” He stands to his feet. “I’ll be watchin’. The second you step outta line I will be all over you. Do you understand?” 

I nod again.

“I know this was hard on you.” He says softer than his other statements but still gruffly. “It’s only gonna get harder. Don’t embarrass yourself more than you have to.” 

I could curl up and die. 

 He looks me over. “I’ll see you in after while. Be good.” 

That’s insult to injury. 

Like a twist of the knife. 

 He stops at the door. “Don’t think I don’t love you.” He says quietly. “I do. But you’re backward. You need straightening out.” 

I look down.

“Get clean.” He says. “And tell them you need your bedpan dumped.” 

Definite twist of the knife. 

Utterly and wholeheartedly humiliating. 

If this how today starts… I don’t think I want to see how it ends.

Chapter Text

Logan’s ‘intervention’ this morning has sat poorly with me all day. 

It’s been in the very back of my mind- reminding me of how ‘involved’ he could get. 

It’s kept from doing anything… drastic. 

I allowed them to bathe, feed, and dress me with little to no retaliation on my part. Logan’s made his rounds several times- including the few moments he called the judge and made me give my version of what happened this morning.

A version which he quickly derailed with ‘what actually happened’. IE his point of view. For some reason, the judge was more prone to believe him than he was me.

That’s fine.

I guess it worked in my favor.

The lawyers and social workers made their rounds as well. All extremely unpleasant. The lawyers going out of their way to stay as far away from me as possible. One even refused to come into the room. What a wonderful impression I make. 

Johnny came after the hearing-which he was surprised to not see me at. He’s been acting a little… off this morning. I’d hate to know what’s going on in his head.

I hate him seeing me like this.

Him. Of all people. 

It’s hard to make a serious case for yourself when you’re being cared for like an infant. The bathing, the feeding, the order-driven ‘naps’. It’s been maddening.

Logan said it would get worse. I’d hate to see anything ‘worse’ than this. 

“A little more,” Johnny says gently. “You’re doing great.”

Another pointless meal down.

However, doing this for Johnny is a lot less painful than doing it for anyone else. I think that they’re starting to realize this as well. 

“You like soup- huh?” Johnny says. “You eat it a lot better than the oatmeal.”  

Soup is better than oatmeal- but I’d prefer something with a little meat on it. However, they’ve got me on some kind of… almost liquid diet. I’ve noticed it over the course of today. They phased out most solid foods. I’m almost too scared to ask why. 

I take his words in stride and swallow. 

“Wonderful.” Johnny praises, taking the spoon and refilling it. “Maybe in a few days, you can get them to untie your hands long enough for you to feed yourself. I know you’re tired of eating on someone else’s schedule.” 

That’s… true. 

But I don’t respond. 

“Ready for more?” 

He’s the only one that insists on asking that question. Most the time- when I’m not fighting- these meals go rather quickly. 

“You’re almost done.” He fills the spoon again. “I’m so glad you’re eating.” He says happily. He doesn’t know about this morning. I’ll take this morning to my grave. “You’ve been so well behaved today.” 

I roll my eyes. 

“Here you go.” He puts the spoon back in my mouth. 

At least it’s not chicken broth. I’m tired of chicken broth. Tomato was a nice change. I can tell it’s come out of some kind of cheap can- however. Johnny may have heated it himself. I didn’t hear any microwave while I smelled it cooking. 

Johnny’s got that look on his face… the one he’s been wearing all day. 

“What’s wrong?” I finally ask.

Johnny looks at me. “What do you mean?” 

“You’re thinking something.” I nod to him. “It’s making you sad.” 

“I am thinking something.” He agrees. “I don’t know when the right to time to bring it up is.” 

“So it involves me.” I watch him carefully. 

“I… uh… wanted to talk to you about something.” Johnny says. “Something… delicate.” 

I raise an eyebrow. 

“We’re…” he stops. “I mean the two of us,” He motions between us with the spoon. “we’re not exclusive- are we?” 

I stare at him.

Johnny averts his gaze, staring at the soup instead.

“We’re not boyfriends. We’re barely lovers. It’s more of a … fuck buddies kinda thing. Right?” 

“I mean- yes,” I say. 

“So we’re not exclusive. You’ve had other lovers besides me.” 

“I’ll admit that you’ve been the flavor of the month,” I say dryly.

I don’t like where this is heading.

I can see ‘trainwreck’ written all over this. 

“But you don’t want to date me date me.” He says. 

We sit in silence.  

“No,” I say finally. “We’re not exclusive. I don’t want to date you.” 

“You didn’t want to be exclusive. You don’t like having significant others.” He says. 

“I didn’t and I don’t.” I agree.  

He nods. “So umm…. uh… I’d like to visit you… in the hospital- if that’s okay.” 

I just nod. 

That’s a given. Isn’t it? 

“And I want nothing but the best for you…” 

This is a joke. 

So…. what’s the punchline? 

“But… at the same time… I thought you should know that I’m uh… I mean… I’m seeing someone.” 

That…. is shocking. And.. hurtful? 

“You’re…. seeing someone,” I repeat.

There’s the punchline.  

He clinks the spoon against the bowl. “I still really care about you.” He says. “But… I need something a little more… stable?” 

“Stable,” I repeat. 

“Stable.” he nods. “And well… I mean… three years in maximum security psychiatric hospital doesn’t exactly scream stable.” 

“Less than three years with good behavior,” I say dryly. 

Some joke. 

Ha. Ha. Ha. 

“Your behaviors not that good and we know it.” Johnny teases.

“This isn’t funny, Johnny,” I growl. 

“Hey,” He soothes. “Hey... it’s okay.” He smiles. “It’s okay. I still care about you. I just.. need something else for a while.”  

“Something else,” I say. “Something ‘stable’. When I did this for you in the first place.” 

“I asked for your help,” Johnny says. “I didn’t ask for,” He motions around him, hand clutching the spoon and sending some dribbles of soup to the floor, “This.” 

“You didn’t specify,” I say coldly. 

“I didn’t think I had to.” He says gently. “It’s just… it’s been fun. You’ve shown me a whole new side of myself…. and there’s a person who’s been helping me the past few weeks… and well… we went on a date last night… and I want to see where it goes. They’re interested in something… exclusive. I told them I’d think about it… but I think I really want to give it shot.”

Oh please.

Gag me. 

“Do I know them?” I ask, detached. 

“Ya,” Johnny says. “You met them in passing before.” 

“Man or woman?” 

Johnny looks down. “Which one do you want?” 

“The truth.” I stare at him, making him hold my gaze. 

“Man.” He says. “An old friend.” 

An old friend- huh? That could be anyone. A goodie goodie no doubt. 

“Are you boyfriends?” I ask coldly. “Going steady?” 

“Maybe.” He says, pushing his uncombed hair out of his eyes. 

“He’ll never fuck you like I can.” I hiss. 

“He’ll do his best, I’m sure.” Johnny doesn’t rise to my bait. 

“After me, he must be a real downgrade,” I say cattily. 

“Don’t be like that.” Johnny soothes. “We’re not exclusive.” 

“You and I or you and boyfriend?” I sneer. 

“Me and you,” Johnny says. “Eat some more soup.” 

“After you just told me you're ditching me??” 

He nods. 

“And you expect me to just take that?? Laying down. No fight. No complaints.” 

“I care very deeply for you,” Johnny says. “And I need time.” 

“In someone else’s bed.” I snarl. 

“I’ll still come see you.” He says. “We’re still friends.” 

“Save it,” I growl. “This is all your fault. I should have said no. I should not have listened to you. You are a disease. You are cancer. You are-“ 

“Chill out.” He orders. “I’m just being honest.” 

“Who is he?” I ask, heat dripping from my words. 

“I’m not telling you,” Johnny says. “For his safety.” 

“For his-“ I snort. “For his safety??? What do you think I’m going to do to him??? From here??? Are you really that scared of me??” 

“Calm down.” Johnny shushes. “It’s okay.” 

“No Johnny. This is not ‘okay’. This is cowardly. This is-“ 

“When you get out…. if we’re both single… maybe we can try to start something up again?” He offers. “I’ll still come see you. I won’t abandon you.” 

“Get out.” I glare at him. 

“Daken-“

“Get the fuck out of my room!” I yell at him.

Johnny sighs and stands to his feet. “Alright. You’re being transferred tonight… in case anyone hasn’t told you. You won’t be able to have visitors for a week…. I’ll come see you then.” 

“Save your pity.” I spit. 

“I’ll come see you.” He repeats. “You’ll be glad for the company. Don’t try to lie.” 

“Get out!” 

“You’re not finished with your supper….” 

“I’ve lost my appetite,” I growl.

“That’s fair.” He says. “That’s totally fair.” He looks over his shoulder as he’s leaving. “I’m sorry Daken…. I just wanted to say something now…. in case… I don’t know. In case you found someone else?”

“Where I’m going?? You think I’m going to be hooking up with some psycho nut case freak???” 

Johnny shrugs. “I thought you’d like to keep your options open… three years is a long time. It’s possible that you might find someone… I don’t want to hold you back.” 

“HOLD ME BACK????” 

“I’ll go.” He says with a visible wince. “I’ll see you in a week-okay?” 

“Fuck you,” I growl. 

“I’ll… miss you. I really will.” 

I close my eyes. When I open them.. he’s gone.

I feel strangely empty. 

He’s.. leaving. But… I did this for him. I … He’s…. leaving. He’s… going. With someone else. The day I’m being imprisoned. He’s…

Oh my god. What’s wrong with me?? 

I risked everything for him!

I got caught- for him! 

I’m being sent to some hellhole- because of him! 

And he leaves?? 

How can he leave???

How can he say he cares about me... and then do this?? 

With someone new?? Who is he with? I thought I was the only man he was seeing! 

How can he do this to me?

TO ME?

I do this to people! I leave! I switch lovers! ME! 

The fact that someone’s turned around and done it to me… no. The fact that JOHNNY has turned around and done this to me… 

Oh, fuck it’s too much.

I’m light headed.

I can’t move from this spot- the restraints block any and all movement. 

All I can do is stare at the ceiling and try my best to remain calm.

Breathe. In. Out. In.

Slow down… too fast.

IN. OUT. 

Fuck. 

I can’t… he left. He left. They’re taking me away. My powers are blocked. They’re pumping me full of who knows what. And.. he’s gone.

What did I do? 

What could I possibly have done?

Why is this bothering me so much? 

Johnny…. oh fuck. 

He’s gone. He’s with someone else.

I didn’t even get to fuck him before he left! 

I-

“Hey,” Someone soothes.“Are you okay?” It’s a pesky nurse. One with a bandaged hand…. so I guess she knows not to get too close. Her hair is pulled into a messy bun and she’s got an accent behind her words. Something from... Puerto Rico? Sounds like it. She’s a beautiful woman. I could… make her- fuck. No, I can’t. I don’t have my pheromones.  “Sweetie…. oh look at you.” 

“What are you talking about?” I say. “I’m fine.” I don’t sound fine. Fuck.  

“Oh dear.” She soothes. “Oh, you poor thing. I heard what happened. I’m so sorry. It happens to the best of us. A guy like you? You’ll find someone- I guarantee it!”

“I don’t want to find anyone where I’m going.” I snap. 

“Then you can wait.” She says. “With your healing factor, you’ll be young for a long while yet. It’s not like there’s a big pressure on you.” 

“I don’t like being alone.” I hiss. 

“Oh sweetie, sometimes you can’t help that.” She offers me a smile. “It’s okay. You’ll be okay.”  

“Go away-“ My voice cracks.

What is happening to me?? 

“Let’s get you cleaned up- hmm?” She offers, almost sweetly. “Breakups are never fun. And right now? At this point in your life?  Oh, you poor thing.” 

“Leave me alone!” I snap at her. “I don’t want to talk about it!” 

“He left with the bowl… did you finish eating? Do you want something else? We’ve got some candy at the nurse’s station….” 

I don’t want her pity. I don’t want her attention. 

“I want to be alone,” I whisper. 

“Not like you are right now.” She shakes her head. “Let’s get you something else to eat- yea? Something sweet. It’ll help.” 

“Please leave me alone.” I try to beg. 

“I can’t.” She holds my hand under the restraints. “Right now? What a horrible time for this. I have no clue what that man is thinking.” 

Right now. Two weeks from now. Two years from now. What’s it matter? He was going to leave anyway. He found someone new. There’s nothing I can do about that. He’s got needs. He wasn’t going to wait for me. No matter what I did for him.

But right now? Today? 

Who is this mystery man? Who’s swooped down in Johnny’s ‘time of need’ and ‘helped’ him oh so kindly? Who’s holding his hands while he figures out what to do with the big, bad, evil, unhinged, Daken?  Fuck him. Fuck both of them. I hope the sex is terrible. I hope he lays awake at night fantasying about what I did to him. About what we did together.

Fuck him.

I’m sorry I helped him.

I’m sorry I ever even talked to him.

I regret everything.

Those kids could have died. They could have been sold. The men who did it could have walked free.

It wasn’t my business.

But I put myself in this situation because of a blue-eyed blonde who in turn ran off with the first piece of ass he could find while I was captured, surgically implanted against my will, and held hostage.

The fucking nerve…  

“You’re handsome. Got a bit a baggage- but the doctors at the facility can help you sort all that-“ 

That’s it! That is the last straw!

“LEAVE ME ALONE!” I yell at her. 

“Don’t yell.” She just looks at me with pity. “You’ll be okay.” She soothes. “We’re about to inject you with some medicine anyway…. might take the sting off for a bit…. I’ll call the doctor first. See if he can’t-“ 

“DON’T YOU DARE!” I snap. “JUST LEAVE!” 

She frowns. “Can’t even get out a good cry in here- can you?” She soothes. “It’s okay. You can be upset. That’s natural. Might even make the doctor happy.” 

Make the doctor… happy? 

“GET OUT!” 

“Hey!” Logan is standing in the hall- and fuck. I didn’t see him.  “What did I say about yelling at the nurses??” 

“GET OUT!!!” I pull at the restraints. 

“What’s your problem this time?” Instead of leaving, he enters the room. “You’ve been fine all day. What little switch has flipped in that fucked up head of yours to make you think this is okay??” 

“Get out,” I say frantically. “I don’t need you. I don’t need any of you. I’m fine. I don’t need him. I don’t need you. You can’t hurt me. You can’t do this to me. You stay away. Stay away-“ He moves closer. “STAY AWAY!”  

“Easy.” Logan holds his hands out in a ‘calm down’ sort of motion. “What’s wrong?” 

“Nothing’s wrong! Why does everyone think something is wrong!? I’m fine. I’m GREAT! I LOVE my life. Everything is PERFECT. It’s going JUST like I want it too!! This is WONDERFUL! I feel so FUCKING HAPPY!” 

They just stare at me. 

“Johnny just dumped him.” The nurse leans into Logan and whispers.

I feel my face fall. 

I need to get a handle on this. Now.  

Logan.. doesn’t look like he knows how to process that. “Now?” he says. “He dumped him now?” 

“Not three minutes ago.” The nurse nods. “Poor thing. Won’t even cry.” 

“He doesn’t cry,” Logan says dismissively. “Never seen him do it.” 

“You’d think that now would be a perfect time…. with everything considered.” 

“Yea?” Logan walks over to the bed. “You okay? I know that had to hurt…. Johnny’s a little bit selfish though. You know that. He’s young. You can work it out. Give him some time to adjust-”

In someone else’s bed. 

“He left him for someone else.” The nurse whispers again. 

Logan starts to say something but stops. Finally settling on an “Oh.” 

The nurse nods. “He wants to be friends.” 

Fuck! “Will you stop giving him a fucking play by play?????” I snap. 

“Johnny… is a good friend to have,” Logan says, choosing his words carefully. “He’s a good kid. Little mixed up right now but-“

“Daken hasn’t been with anyone but Johnny in a few months.” The nurse says again. “I think he feels a little… betrayed?”  

“GO AWAY!” I snap at her. “There is NOTHING more you can do here!!” 

“Don’t yell at her,” Logan says sternly. “It’s not her fault.” 

“It’s MY fault! Everything is MY fault! Climate change?? I did that. Johnny leaving. I did that. JFK assassination- I guess I did that too! It’s all MY FUCKING FAULT. IS EVERYONE HAPPY NOW??? CAN WE ALL GO BACK TO WHERE NONE OF YOU FUCKERS TALKED TO ME???” 

“Easy now,” Logan says. “Easy. It’s okay.” 

“You’re right,” I say a little hysterically. “You’re right. Everything is fine. Everything is great. I’m getting shipped off to the crazy Guantanamo Bay-“

“It’s not-“

“Johnny’s gone,” I cut him off. “I can’t be trusted to a fucking piss by myself. Everything’s wonderful!” 

“It’s okay,” Logan says. “Really. I know the timing sucked.. but it’s okay. Three years is a long time to be apart…. When I was your age-“ 

“FUCK YOU! GET THE FUCK OUT!” I’ve had enough. I don’t want to hear his ‘when I was your age’ bullshit. Logan can’t hold a candle to this. I’m tired of him ‘trying to relate’ to me. We are NOTHING alike. 

“Shh.” The nurse comforts. “It’s okay. It’s all okay.” 

“GET OUT!” 

I don’t know why I’m having to repeat myself.

“What’s going on in here?” Len is now in the doorway. “All we can hear down the hall is you yelling.” 

This is just fucking perfect. Just what I needed. 

“That dumbass dumped him,” Logan growls. “He’s not handling it well.” 

“Oh.” Len crosses his arms. “Oh hell.”

“He needs something else to eat.” The nurse says. “Some chocolate?” 

“NO-“ I try.

“He needs to sleep,” Logan interjects. “He’s exhausted. Look at him.”

“LISTEN-“  I try again.

“Probably another round of sedatives,” Len adds. “To keep this from escalating.” 

“Don’t sedate him!” The nurse admonishes. “He’s just had his heart broken!” 

Heartbroken?? 

“My hearts not-“ I try yet again- quieter this time. 

“Which is why he should go to sleep,” Logan says. “Get some rest. Sleep it off.” He turns to me. “You’re tired, son. You look tired. Take you a nap- okay? We’ll wake you up in a few hours.” 

“I don’t want to slee-“ 

“This won’t do a thing to help his depression,” Len says. “Of all the times Johnny could have picked- he chooses now.”

Yelling at them is not working. 

I have to try a different approach.  

“Fucking idiot,” Logan growls. 

“That… is an accurate description of Mr. Storm’s actions.” Len agrees. “He should cry. That’ll make him feel better.” 

Cry? Why are they so convinced that I need to cry??

“I don’t want to-“ 

“A good cry could be what he needs.” The nurse agrees. 

“He doesn’t cry,” Logan says. “He doesn’t need to cry. He needs to sleep. He’s tired.” 

“I’m not-“ 

“He could do with something sweet.” The nurse says. “Heartbreak always goes down smoother with something like chocolate.” 

“I don’t want-“ 

“Sedatives,” Len says with a head shake. “He’s obviously riled up. And we’ve got the transport coming…. we can’t send him like this.” 

“If you’ll please listen to m-“ 

“Don’t sedate him,” Logan growls. “Natural sleep. That’s what he needs. Are you sleepy Daken? You need rest.” 

“No-“ 

“He needs another round with me,” Len says. “A final session before he goes. I have to turn over my notes to the other psychiatrist. I’ll have to include Mr. Storm’s actions in there.” 

They’re not listening to me!

Speaking calmly is not getting my point across.

“ALL OF YOU GET OUT!” I demand. New tactic be damned. 

“Turn the lights off,” Logan says like I hadn’t said anything. “Get him another blanket. And pillow. And get someone in here to talk to him.” 

“The fuck are you talking about???” I lower my voice- managing it this time. 

“Chocolate.” The nurse presses. “We’ve got some candy at the nurse's station. Let me feed him some.” 

“No solids,” Len says distractedly. 

“What the fuck?? Why not??”  

“Getting you used to your new diet.” He says. “No solids.” 

“No solids? For three years???” My mind is blown. 

“Yes. I’m sorry. It’s procedure. They have diets of main soups, Jell-O, some juice, protein shakes- things like that.” 

“That’s horrible!” I pull at the restraints.  

“Oh, this just gets worse and worse.” The nurse says. “You let me feed this poor man.” 

“No solids,” Len repeats. “Limited sugar.” 

So no chocolate. Not that I wanted it really… but him saying I can’t have it makes it that much more appealing. 

I stop yanking on the restraints. I need to make a play. Any play. A way to get out of here. Johnny can’t leave me- not like this. And if they think I’m giving up solid food for three years- they are mistaken. Sorely mistaken. I need real food. Things that I can chew. 

I need to act calm. 

Even though it’s the very last thing I’m feeling right now- I have to pretend to have all of this under control. 

“He’s settling down now,” Logan says. “I don’t see a need to sedate him. You good now son? Let us get you another blanket. Maybe something to watch?”

Something to watch?? That’s an option?? I’ve stared at this wall for two weeks! They never offered me something to entertain myself. 

“We’ve got to give him something,” Len says. “He kicked up quite a fuss.” 

“That he did.” The nurse agrees. “What do you think doctor?” 

“Something for the nerves,” Len says. “Something for the depression. Something for-“ 

“He doesn’t need you to drug him into oblivion.” Logan growls. “He needs some rest.”  

“Transport is in route. It’s standard procedure to put them on something.” Len stands over me. “You okay? Do you want to talk about it?” 

“No!” I snap. “I don’t! And I don’t want the three of you in here arguing over what to do to me like I’m not in the room!”

“Let me feed him.” The nurse insists. 

“He does need food.” Logan agrees.

“No solids,” Len repeats again. “He can have soup, grits, or oatmeal.” He turns his attention back to me. “Do you want any of those things?” 

“No.”  I snap. “I want you all to leave.” 

“How much food did Johnny get in you?” Logan asks. 

I don’t answer. 

“Answer me, Daken.” Logan orders. 

I shake my head. 

“Answer me- now.” 

Fuck him. 

Fuck them.

Fuck everyone on the planet who isn’t me. 

“A good amount from what I could tell.” The nurse says. “Can I get him some Jell-O?” 

“That is acceptable I suppose.” Len agrees. “Do you want Jell-O Daken?” 

I shake my head. “I just want to be left alone.” 

“We… can’t do that.” Len says. “There are some things we need to go over with you… and I’m sorry. This is horrible timing- I know.” 

I stare at the ceiling. 

“Can we go over these things and then give you some time on your own? Like your father said, you look rather tired. Before we sedate you or anything for the ride- maybe it’s best you took a nap on your own.” 

A nap- huh?

A nap??

I could sleep decades and not feel any better about this.

I doubt a two-hour nap is going to do anything in my favor. 

“Daken?” Len presses. 

“You don’t need his permission to give him information,” Logan says. “Tell him. If he listens- good. If he doesn’t- that’s his fault and will bite him in the ass later.”

Information that I actually need?

I grant them my attention. If only for a few minutes. 

“Nurse? Can you give us the room?” Len asks. “It’s sensitive.” 

“Of course.” She squeezes my hand, the one I’ve just realized she’s been holding all this time. “Feel better. We’re all rooting for you.”  She says as she turns to leave. 

I doubt that. Highly. 

“Okay.” Len shuts the door behind her. “We’re going to start off by saying this, you’re being transferred tonight. The judge mandated three years with following outpatient when those three years are up. Obviously, you don’t have to worry about that for a while. There is no parole. There are no appeals. This is written in stone.” He pauses, taking in my reaction. 

I don’t even bother responding.

“You’ll be housed in the psychotic ward…. given your recent breakdowns and failure to comply. Also, it happens to be the most secure of the wards. With your ability to be dangerous- we’ve had to take that into account.” He pats my shoulder. “Tell me if I need to slow down. This is a lot to take in.” 

I shake my head, staring at the ceiling and willing myself to be anywhere but here. 

“No solids. No sharps. Court mandated psychotherapy and medication- doled out at the doctor’s and nurse’s discretion.” 

“Fuck.” I hiss. 

Logan looks at me with an expression I can’t read. That I don’t want to read- if we’re being honest. 

“It’s okay.” He says. “It’s not that bad.” 

Oh yes, it is. 

“You’ll be housed in a block with other men- obviously no women. Some with issues like yours- some with issues worse than yours. However, you will be completely safe.” 

“I-“

“And cared for.” Len continues. “They have excellent counselors. Top notch nursing staff. Access to all kinds of treatment options… really. You’ll get the help you need.” He smiles. “That you’ve needed for a while. Doesn’t that sound nice?” 

Logan rolls his eyes. “They’ll be here in a few hours.” He says. “I’ll ride with you.” 

I stare him up and down. “Why?” I ask finally. 

He smirks. “So you don’t try anything.”  

“I won’t-“ 

“You will.” The two men say in unison. 

I stare at my lap. 

“It’s all good,” Len says, putting a hand on my shoulder again. “After your bumpy start this morning, you’ve really behaved much better today.” 

I glance at Logan, who smirks a little. 

But he won’t be in the other place to make me behave. I can do whatever the fuck I want and he won’t be able to stop me. 

“I want a minute alone with him, doc,” Logan says. 

“Of course.” Len nods. “Try not to wind him up. He’s done very well today all things considered.” 

Very well my ass. 

Len leaves the room, letting us fall into a somewhat awkward silence. 

“I’m sorry dick head left you.” He says after letting the silence sit for a minute. “I know that had to be…upsetting.” 

“Upsetting,” I repeat. “Right.” 

“Don’t act,” Logan says. “I saw your face. I SEE your face. You’re hurtin’.” 

I stare at him blankly. 

“Pull up as many ‘masks’ as you want. You’re hurtin’. You did this for him. You got caught for him. I know that’s got to be a low blow.” 

Low blow. That’s one way to put it. 

Utter betrayal is another. 

“Who’s he seeing?” I ask quietly. “I know you know.” 

“Honestly?” Logan asks. 

I nod. 

“He and Parker have been gettin’ rather chummy for a while now.” 

“Parker?” I ask in disgust. He did say ‘old friend’. 

“Yea. That’s just a rumor though.” Logan says. “Nothing really solid in the ways of evidence. Parker would keep that on the down low anyway. He doesn’t like all of us knowing his business. And after his last breakup… well… he’s gotten rather… desperate?” 

“Desperate enough to switch teams?” I sigh. 

Logan shrugs. “Maybe. I don’t keep up with who’s on what team. If they ain’t fucking me- I don’t usually care. All that high school drama shit is for the rest of you.” 

Fucking him hmm? Like his newest model? His little ‘wife’. God the thought makes me sick to my stomach. 

“How is the step creature?” I ask dryly. 

“The term is ‘stepmother’.” He corrects for the hundredth time. “And she’s fine.” He crosses his arms. “Thanks for asking.” 

“It must be very exciting to be Mrs. Wolverine.” 

“She leads a pretty exciting life of her own.” Logan dismisses. “She wanted to come see you… but after this morning-“ 

“Why would she want to come see me?” I ask suspiciously. 

“Because you- whether you like it or not- are her stepson. She wants some sort of relationship with you. I told her it wasn’t the best idea… but she doesn’t listen to me anyways.” 

“How... quaint.” 

He nods. “She’d like to see you at the new facility. I might let her tag along with me a few times.” 

That’s.. news. In more than one way. “You’re going to visit me?” 

Logan nods. “Of course.” His expression softens to something I don’t think I like. “You thought I’d just let them lock you up and call it a day?” 

“You sure that isn’t the stepmonster talking?” I say cooly. I don’t like emotions. I don’t like his and I don’t like mine. It’s best to leave it where it is. It’s far easier to pick at him and enrage him than to deal with whatever he’s trying to bring about. 

“It’s my idea.” Logan doesn’t rise to my bait. “You’ll be happy for a familiar face.” He pauses. “Even if it’s mine.” 

“Such a good parent.” I scoff. 

“Hey-“ 

“Is she pregnant yet?” I cut him off. “You seem to like your younger offspring over their older counterparts.”  

Logan sighs. “No. And that’s not true.” 

“But you want her to be?” I raise an eyebrow. 

He looks at me for a long time. “Maybe.” He says honestly. “I don’t know.” 

“If she had a baby would you actually raise it?” I ask stiffly. 

“This is why you need help.” He says instead of answering me. “This is why you do what you do. Your brain is fucked up.” 

“My fucked up brain has nothing to do with you wanting another child.” 

“How you perceive me wanting a child is a side effect of how fucked up your brain is.” He says, giving my attitude right back to me. 

“You’d want a girl.” I continue. “You like girls.” 

“I like you.” He says. 

“No, you don’t. You tolerate me. If my mother was alive I’m sure you’d have forgotten the both of us by now.” 

Logan hangs his head. “I would not forget your momma.” 

“You already did,” I say quietly. 

Game. Set. And match. I win. 

“It wasn’t my fault.” He says. 

“That’s your excuse for everything isn’t it? Such a convenient excuse for you to whip out anytime you need it.”

“Don’t lash out at me.” He says sternly. “I’m trying to help.” 

“By what? Giving me a mother? Giving me a sibling? Moving on with your happy little life while I’m left to rot in some institution for the rest of my days??” 

“If we got pregnant- IF- I would want you involved with the babies life. You don’t seem to hate kids as much as you say you do. What you did for the Richards is a testament to that.” 

We both go quiet. 

“They’re gonna put you on some meds.” He says into that silence. “For the ride.” 

As well they should. 

“I’ll stay with you until they make me leave.” He says. “And I’ll be on call. I’ve given the doctors my numbers- all of them. As well as the number of Laura and Ororo… in case they can’t get me.” 

“I won’t need any of those numbers,” I say stiffly. 

“Your sister wants to see you,” Logan says. “And I know for a fact that she’s the only person on this earth you won’t stay mad at.” 

I stare at him. 

“She wants to see you.” He repeats. “And talk to you. She’ll come visit you once you’re settled in.” 

“Does she know you’re trying to conceive?” 

Logan sighs. “I’m going to eat something. I’ll call the doc back in here and let him dose you. If you want something to eat before you go- nows the time to ask for it. It’s a long ride to where you’re going…. You won’t be there until early morning.” 

“I’m not hungry,” I say dryly. 

“Don’t starve yourself to prove a point.” He says. “Eat something.” 

“Or what? You’ll cram it down my throat?” 

“Worked well enough this morning.” He smirks. “Tell the nurses what you want. As long as it’s not a solid- I’m sure they’ll get it for you.” 

“About that-“

“Lodge your complaints with your warden.” He says.

“I thought it wasn’t prison,” I say cooly. 

“Psychiatrist. Whatever.” he shrugs. “Just eat something. It’s a long trip. We’re not stopping midway because you didn’t feed yourself.”  

“I really hate you.” I exhale. 

Logan nods. “That’s fair.” He then smirks. “But you’ll get over it. Half the shit you think I did- I didn’t do. Half the shit you know I did has been skewed up in your mind by-“ 

“Get out.” I cut him off. “I don’t want to talk about this with you.” 

He nods again. “Fair. You don’t have to talk about it with me. That’s what your doctors are for. I’ll get the notes when they’re done.” He smiles. “They’ll tell me everything I need to know.”

“Wait- what?” They’re going to share my files with him??? What the fuck??? I can’t worry about what I’m telling them while worrying about what they’re telling him! That’s too much for even me to keep track of!

He’s already walking away.

“Logan!” 

He doesn’t turn around.

“FUCK.” I slam my hand down as hard as the restraints will allow. 

Today, all in all has turned out to be a very, very, bad day. 

Tomorrow will probably be worse. And the day after that? I can’t even bring myself to think of. 

Chapter Text

The transport arrived at six PM. I was half asleep already- digesting everything that’s happened today.

I’m a little more… adjusted to the Johnny ordeal. He wants to leave? Fine.

More room to move for me.

I’ve countless hours to think of all the things I can say to him when I see him next week. I’m pretty much set on everything I need to say. I worked it all out. Right down to what expression and tone I need to use.

If he chooses to come back after his first visit- I would be surprised. I’m not going to sit by and let him hurt me- repeatedly. I’ll run him off long before then. All it’s going to take is one conversation.

“You’re fidgeting,” Logan says beside me. “Relax.”

“Go to hell,” I growl.

“Stop messing with your knuckles.” he counters.

“Stop telling me what to do.” I sneer.

“Stop being a brat and I won’t have to tell you what to do.” He says smugly.

I glare at him. “Stop calling me a brat.”

“Stop being a brat then.”

I go to punch him, but the motion is restricted by the cuffs. “See? Now stop messing with your knuckles. Those implants are delicate. If you try to rip open those stitches- they’ll just redo them.”

If I could rip open these stitches- I’d take the metal plates out myself. I can’t begin to describe how furious I was when I woke up after that procedure and they told what they’d done.

It goes beyond violation. There’s no possible way that was legal. However, when I brought it up to my lawyer she said, ‘it’s for your own good’. Fuck that.

“I’ll rip open these stitches and remove them myself,” I growl.

“You’ll end back up in a med wing with even more implants.” He warns. “Stop fidgeting.”

We’re seated in a spacious van- him on the left side and me on the right. I was more than happy to get out the bed they’ve had me restrained to for so long. Even happier when they gave me actual clothing to wear. Granted- I never wear sweatpants outside of my apartment. But… one must make do in these situations.
Logan’s now dressed in his uniform- which I found…. odd. I guess he doesn’t want them to know more about him than they should. That or he doesn’t want to be recognized by someone on the inside.

It’s all the same to me. They’ve shown no regards for my privacy. Not that I had much in the way of a secret identity in the first place.

I try to jab my thumb into the stitches- the pain is immediate but there is no give.

Logan reaches over the bench like seating to my cuffed hands, pinning them in my lap. “You’re gonna pop the stitches.” He says quietly. “I told them you wouldn’t try to hurt yourself.”

I glare at him until he removes his hand.

“Since when do you care?”

We’ve been on the road for about ten hours- give or take an hour.

Needless to say, I’ve grown a little weary.

“I’ve always cared,” Logan says, leaning his head back on the seat. “Calm down.”

“Fuck you,” I growl.

“Lay back,” he says gruffly. “We’ll be there in a few hours.”

“You said that two hours ago,” I complain.

“And I’m saying it now.” He chuckles. “It’s still true.”

“Just how far are we going?” I ask.

“Far.” He says.

“You won’t tell me where I’m going?” I glance over at him in the dark. The only light shining through the tinted window is the random headlights of other cars. The number of which has slacked off as it’s gotten later.

“No.”

I lean my head against the window. “Are you going to tell me why you can’t tell me?”

“No.” He says simply.

“Are you getting back at me for being a “brat” to the doctor before we left?”

Logan smirks. “Somewhat.”

That’s fair.

Thank god I’ll be away from Samson. Honestly. I couldn’t wait to rid myself of his… brand of care. The ‘smothering’ approach. I tried to escape when I first woke up- hence all the restraining. I threw one hell of a fit. Which is why they wouldn’t trust me unrestrained. Hence the bathing in bed and feedings. I think I’ll try to play it a little closer to the chest at the new facility. Lest they decide to follow Samson’s ‘guidelines’ he’s sent.

I wanted to look at the notes- but was taken away before I could. He wished me well and told me he’d be checking in.
I promptly told him to fuck himself. Honestly, I don’t think he was expecting anything different. He just smiled, patted my shoulder, and made sure my hands were secured.

“You’re a dick.” I exhale through my nose.

“Been called worse.” He says with great ease.

“I’d stab you if I could.” I look over at him.

“I have no doubt you would.” He reaches over and taps my hands. “But there’s nothing you can do about that now, is there?”

“I hate you,” I growl.

“You’re not the only one, trust me.” He says. 

“God damn it- stop being so….. calm!”

Logan smiles. “It’s worth seeing you get so upset.” He chuckles. “You’re out of your element. It’s… refreshing.”

“Refreshing?”

He nods. “You’re human. You’re scared. It’s like you’re a real boy for once.”

“Oh fuck you.” I snap.

“You’re also really tired.” He continues. “You should go to sleep.”

“Oh, should I? Is that what I should do? Oh wow, Logan. I’ve been sitting here for ten fucking hours wondering, just wondering, what I should do with my last few hours of quote ‘freedom’. It’s so nice of you to bring this to my attention. I should go to sleep. I should waste my last few hours outside of some fucking hellhole- sleeping. You’re so right. Wow. You’re so smart. They must let you lead for your brains. You’re so-“

He puts his hand over my mouth. “Shush.”

I try to bite him, but it’s impossible with how he’s got his hand positioned. So instead, I lick him- making him remove his hand and wipe it on his uniform. “You’re such a child.” He grouses.

“Better a child than a dick,” I say smugly.

“How about a child that’s acting like a dick then?”

I glare at him.

“Keep making faces.” He chuckles. “You’re just proving my point.”

“I hate you,” I repeat.

“Yea? Good. Hate me. Hate me quietly. Lay back and go to sleep.”

“Fuck you.”

“I oughta wash your mouth out with soap.” He says with a chuckle. “Or teach you some new words.”

“I bet I know more words than you do.” I sneer.

“I’d be willing to take that bet. I’ve got a few centuries on you.”

I groan, looking up at the ceiling. “Why don’t you just die already?”

Logan laughs. “I tried that. Didn’t stick. Think I’ll stick around for just a bit longer… ya know. Watch you grow into old age?”

“That’ll take-“

“A while. Yep. I’m counting on it. Gonna keep kicking just to spite you.”

Argh. This man is so infuriating!

“And you’re gonna keep being a brat just to spite me. We’re even.”

“In what world does that make us even?”

Logan smiles. “You missed me. When I died. You missed me.”

“I didn’t miss you,” I growl.

Logan looks over at me. “I missed you.”

“You never miss me.”

He smiles. “You need to go to sleep.”

“Fu-“

“Fuck me. Yea. I’ve heard it.” He says dismissively.

I go quiet, thinking.

This is all Johnny’s fault. But they’re saying it’s mine. But.. it’s not. It’s Johnny’s.

I wish I’d fought harder when they put me in the van. It only took three people. It should have taken more. I don’t want them to think I’m going willingly- I’m not. I didn’t do anything wrong. I believe that with all my heart. I didn’t do anything my father wouldn’t have done. Why isn’t he in one of these places? He’s spent years murdering people for the ‘greater good’. Why has no one ever called him on it before?

It’s not my fault. I did nothing wrong.

“I don’t understand why this is happening,” I say quietly- almost hoping he doesn’t hear it.

Logan takes my hand again. “I know you don’t.” He says gently. “I know.”

“I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done.”

Logan shakes his head. “You’ve got a lot to learn, kid.”

“I didn’t.” I try to reason. “I caught the bad guys. I even let one live and-“

“Yea. Some life that guy’s living.” Logan chuckles. “Finally got him to say a little something. Something involving electricity? You shocked them and used a cattle prod.” He pauses. “And you tattooed him. Quite visibly. That takes a lot of setup work. You planned it out.”

“I want the world to know what he is.”

“A baby fucker,” Logan says. “I saw.”

“Why does everyone want to punish me? Why-“

“Look, if you hadn’t reacted like you did afterward, I woulda pushed for them to let you go. Laura did. She said you did nothing wrong.”

She… “She did?”

He nods. “But you broke, son. It broke you. I’ve never seen you act like that. And how you’ve acted these last few weeks? You need help.”

“I can get help from somewhere else,” I beg.

“Don’t beg, Daken,” Logan says. “Come on, now. Don’t beg. It’s just gonna work you up. Three years is nothing to us- you know that. It’s not like you’re losing that much time in the long scheme of things.”

I try to stay silent, but my guts churn as well as my mind. There was a push for me to be let go??

“Did Johnny think I should be let go?” I ask quietly.

“Do you really want to know?” Logan asks just as quietly.

“Yes,” I say after some debate.

“No,” he says. “He wanted you to go to a treatment facility. Not the one we’re sending you to…. but another one. A less severe one.”

“Oh?” It still sits heavy on my stomach. Johnny saw me as dysfunctional. But… I did this for him. I keep coming back to it. I did this for HIM.

“Talking about him doesn’t help, huh?” Logan asks quietly. “I’m sorry son. You’ll get over him. Maybe not soon- but you will.”

I let a loud sigh.

“You should sleep.” He presses again. “Really. It’s gonna be a while.”

“I’m not tired.” I lie.

“Yes, you are.” He chuckles. “You’re just being stubborn.”

“I’m not-“

He shakes his head. “Go to sleep.”

I ignore him, leaning my head on the glass and watching the white lines zoom past us in the dark.

“It’s getting hotter outside,” I say, feeling the window. It’s easier to talk about the weather with him than any of our other topics.

He nods. “It’s a good bit warmer than where you were.”

“Warmer?”

“Yep.”

“It’s past midnight. How is it still warm??”

“It just is.” Logan reaches over again and pats my shoulder. “Need your pillow?”

I glare at him but I don’t think he sees it.

“I’m being serious.” He says. “Your hands are cuffed. If you want it, I’ll have to position it for you.”

A pillow would feel nice right now…. but…

“Let me get you the fucking pillow.” Logan groans. “Please- don’t be difficult. Again.”

I glance at the fuzzy ceiling of the van, trying to pull my hands apart as far as they’ll go. Which turns out to not be very far at all.

As I shift, my body takes this moment to inform me of more pressing matters than pillows and sleep.

“I have to piss,” I tell him.

“Now?”

I nod.

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” I sneer. “I have to piss.”

I feel his gaze, heavy on me. “If you’re lying-“

“I’m not fucking lying, I have to piss!” I snap.

He sighs, leaning between the driver’s and passenger’s seats- both passengers who’ve been mercifully quiet- and saying, “He’s got to take a leak. You should pull over.”

“There’s a rest stop comin’ up in five miles.” The man’s voice is deep and has a distinct drawl to it.

“Can you wait five miles?” Logan asks in my direction.

“Is there really a choice?”

“We could pull over on the side of the interstate. It’s not like anyone’s around.”

“I’ll wait.” I glare murder at him.

“Fine.” he pats the driver’s shoulder. “Speed up if you can. If he gets in a bratty enough mood he might piss himself in spite.”

“There’s an idea.” I chuckle.

“Boy, I will end you.” He growls.

“You’ve already ‘ended’ me daddy dearest.” I sneer. “Didn’t really stick.”

“Yea? Well…” he stops. “Fuck. Don’t call me ‘daddy dearest’. I don’t like it.”

“Like I give a fuck what you do and don’t like.” I chuckle.

Logan sits back in his seat. “You want your soup?”

“Pass.”

“Gatorade?”

“I’ve got to piss. So pass.”

He settles in. “Why won’t you make this easy on me? You’ve been in this car, stiff as all hell, hands cuffed, sitting upright for ten hours. You’re uncomfortable. Let me help you.”

“Help me then.” I snap. “Make him go faster.”

“Going as fast as I can, sir.” The driver says.

‘Sir’?

How polite. He’s got a vague… twang behind his words. Somewhat Southern. If they take my down South I will revolt. That’s just-

“Where are we going?” I ask him.

“Undisclosed location.” The man says. “Sit tight. I’ll get you to a rest stop quick fast and in a hurry.”

“Thanks.” I mock his drawl- getting elbowed in the side by my father.

“Play nice.” He orders.

“Where am I going?” I ask him again. “I have no phone. I have no help coming. Surely you can tell me where I’m going.”

He leans into the seats again. “Are all phonecalls monitored at the facility?”

“Yes sir.” The man says. “Monitored in real time and corrected as seen fit.”

“What? You’ve got to be kidding me.” I sneer. “They’re going to listen to my phonecalls?”

“You’ll have someone with you while you make them.” The man says, turning on his turn signal and sliding into the unoccupied right line.

“What?” I’m floored yet again. “Does no one understand the meaning of privacy anymore?”

“Privacy ain’t a big trend around our lovely little center.” The man says. “Unless you get a private room… which you ain’t allowed to have according to the judge.”

“Private room?” I turn to Logan. “Why didn’t I get a private room?”

He nods to the man. “He just told you.”

“I want to speak to the judge,” I growl.

“That’s over,” Logan says. “Your case is closed for at least three years.”

I lay my head back against the glass. “It’s still warm outside. The fuck are you taking me?”

“Georgia.” He says after a moment of silence.

“Excuse me?” I surely didn’t hear him right.

“Georgia,” Logan repeats. “That’s why it’s still warm.”

“Fuck this.” I groan.

“What’s wrong with Georgia?” Logan says. “We coulda took you further. It’s the closest one to NewYork.”

“I highly doubt that,” I growl. “You just wanted me as far away from your super beings as you could get me.”

“Why would I want that?” He asks.

“So you don’t have to think about me.” I spit at him.

“I’m not putting you here to forget about you,” Logan says gently. “It’s not like that at all. This is the closest mental facility that serves people with your needs. That’s just the fact. I’m sorry it’s so far away… but that’s how it has to be.”

“Johnny said he could visit three times a week. How’s he going to do that if I’m all the way in fucking Georgia?” I try not to think about his sentiment.

“Jets,” Logan says simply. “Fantastic Four travels as fast as they want to. He could make it in a few hours.”

“Yet we drove.” I grouse.

“Gave you more time to adjust to the idea,” Logan says.

“Gave me time to wear myself out.” I correct. “If I’m tired from a thirteen-hour road trip- I doubt I’ll be able to fight them.”

Logan just smirks. “You’re pretty smart- huh?”

“You’re just now noticing?” I growl.

Outside the window, a blue sign ‘Rest Area’ sign points us in the direction of our exit.

“Nope.” He says. “I know you were smart. You’d have to be to survive what you’ve gone through.”

“Can you not say things like that?” I grouse.

“They’re gonna find out,” Logan says. “I’ve already given them as much as I could.”

“You did what????” I turn on him as much as I can.

“I gave them information to start with. If it’s not correct, then I guess you’ll just have to correct them.” 

Fuck. I can’t say anything at all now. If it’s false and I correct them- they’ll still have something on me. If it’s true and I don’t say anything- they’ll know it’s true and still have something on me. I’m fucked either way I go.

“I hate you.” I spit. “I hate you. I hate you. I HATE YOU.”

“I know you do.” He says with a grin. “I know.”

We pull into the exit, slowing down as we come to a fork in the road, one way pointing for trucks, the other for cars and vans. The driver takes the path to the right and pulls us into an empty parking lot. When we stop, he turns around. “You gonna take him dad or do you want me to?”

Logan shakes his head. “I’ll take him. He’ll probably try to get away from you.”

“Take me?”

“Take you,” Logan says. “You can’t go by yourself.”

“If you uncuff me-“

“You’ll run away.” Logan opens his door and walks around the car, opening mine a few seconds later. “Out.”

“I can go to the bathroom on my own.”

“I know. You’re a big boy.” Logan teases. “Out.”

I want to stay in to spite him for that comment, but I urgently have to piss now.

I stumble out of the van, very ungracefully. Very out of character for me. “If you’ll uncuff me-“

“No,” he says. “Walk.” he pushes me in front of him and walks a few steps behind, keeping his hand on my shoulder.

It’s slightly humiliating. The bathrooms are housed in a large wooden, almost cabin looking building with maps of the state on it.

“We’re near the beach.” I nod to it. “Care to make a pit stop?”

“A few hours away, actually,” Logan says. “We had to take a detour.”

Oh?

“Can we stop?” I’d like to see something decently beautiful before they lock me away.

“No,” he says. “One-way ticket.”

“We can’t stop for an hour?” I ask.

“No.”

“For a minute?”

He shakes his head. “Sorry.”

“No you’re not.” I hiss.

“You’re right, I’m not.” He says. “You’re being punished. You don’t get to do what you wanna do. This isn’t your vacation.”

“Fuck you.” It’s all I can think to say.

“I really oughta wash your mouth out.” He muses.

“Fuc-“

“Keep it up.” He says, pushing me forward towards the restrooms.

“I want to talk to the judge,” I say for the millionth time.

“Because I won’t take you to the beach or because I want to wash your mouth out with soap?”

Now that I’m hearing it, it sounds utterly childish.

“No reason,” I mumble.

“That’s what I thought.” He chuckles.

He pushes me into the men's room. “You want a stall or a urinal?”

“With you watching? I’ll take a stall.”

He nods. “Leave the door open.”

“Are you serious?” I ask in disgust.

He nods again. “It’s just you and me. No one’s going to see.”

“This is bullshit,” I grumble.

“Trust me- I don’t want to do this either.” He says. “All I want is for you to cooperate. Really. You’ve made this whole process fifty times harder than it has to be. I don’t want to watch my grown son- my GROWN ASS ADULT son- take a piss like he’s a toddler. But I have to. Because you made it like this.” He nods to the stall. “Door open. Go.”

“This is criminal.” I turn on him. “It’s perverted.”

“It’s only perverted if there’s something sexual involved. Trust me- I get no joy outta this.”

“It’s still perverted,” I mumble, turning around.

“I’d get used to being supervised if I were you,” Logan says. “Go on and piss.”

I walk into the first stall, closing the door slightly, only to have it opened again. “Nice try,” he says.

“Fuck off,” I growl, adjusting myself and taking the most uncomfortable piss of my life.

“Hurry up.” He taps on the side of the open door. “No stalling.”

I readjust myself and turn around. “Fast enough for you?”

He nods.

Thank god I only had to piss. A liquid diet is good for that.

“Wash your hands.”

I walk over to the row of sinks adjacent to the urinals, struggling to do anything because of the cuffs.

“Let me help,” Logan says gently, turning the knobs for me while I put my hands under the automatic soap dispenser.

I wash my hands as best I can, pointedly not looking at him.

When we exit, I keep my head down. “You’re tired.” He says quietly. “You should get some sleep.”

My stomach growls rather audibly.

“And hungry?” He chuckles. “You could have mentioned that- you know. I’m not going to starve you.”

I very discretely give a nod.

“Hey,” He lifts my chin, making me look at him. “It’s not the end of the world. Okay? It’s not.”

I jerk away from him.

“It’s gonna be okay.” He continues. “Keep your head up- okay? You’ll adjust to this. You always do. Your ability to adapt is stronger than anyone’s I’ve ever seen. Head up. You’ll be fine.”

I feel like he’s trying to give me life advice. While part of me wants to tell him to fuck off- a bigger part is (disgustingly) grateful for the words.

As we walk back to the van, he puts his hand on my shoulder again, controlling the rate at which we move. “Do you want soup or oatmeal? It’s flavored this time.”

Thank god for that bit of kindness.

“Thought you’d like that better. Maybe not see it as a punishment? I don’t like that they had you associating food with punishment.”

“They didn’t-“

“Yea they did.”

“It didn’t stop you from participating,” I say quietly.

“It was that or have you take up all the doctor’s time.” He says. “The food's good this time and you have enough mobility to feed yourself. See? No punishment. We’ve got a battery operated heating mechanism whatever the fuck it is that Reed made. The x-men use them all the time. We can heat it up right here. It won’t be cold. So do you want the soup or the oatmeal?”

“I’d prefer something with meat,” I say quietly.

Logan sighs, walking us back to the brown van. “Can’t do that son. And I’m sorry. I know that’s gonna be the hardest part to adjust to.” He opens my door. “Let’s heat you up something to eat.” He offers. “Oatmeal or soup?”

I look down and stay silent.

“Those are the options,” he says. “Or… I don’t know. We can get you some… fuck.”

He puts me in the van and goes around to the back, opening the trunk and digging through. “They sent some kind of shake thing. Fruits. Sound good to you? Smells decent enough.”

“I don’t want anything liquid,” I growl.

“Well you can’t have anything solid.” He says. “Let’s eat this.” He closes the trunk and comes back to the van, passing a clear bottle filled with purple mush to me.

“There.” He smiles. “Watch your feet.” He closes my door and walks back to his side, sliding in. “Once you finish that, you’re going to bed for the night.”

“So kind of you to make that decision for me,” I growl.

“Lights out is at ten at the facility. It’s past ten. You got a late bedtime tonight. You’re welcome.”

“Lights out?” I hiss.

“Eat.” He orders as the driver puts the van in reverse and backs out into the parking lot.

I should not eat to prove a point…

My stomach makes another loud gurgle- giving away my discomfort.

“Eat.” He says. “It’ll take the edge off.”

I have to half-heartedly agree with him- eating will solve at least one of my problems.

I unscrew the bottle cap and tilt the bottle- dumping some of the dark, berry flavored mush into my mouth.

It’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination-just mushy.If I can get past the texture, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

I like that it’s not purely a liquid. It is- but it isn’t.

I get through half the bottle before feeling a little… odd. Like light headed almost. Like-

Logan looks at me with a small smirk. “They laced it.” He answers my question before I can ask it.

“With what?” I groan.

“Sedatives."

“Why would you give it to me if you knew it was laced??”

“So you’d get some sleep,” he says simply. “Let me get you your pillow.” He positions us to where I’m laying my head in the middle of the seat- between his seat at mine, with a pillow pressed into my face. “And here’s your blanket.”

From this position, I can see the clock on the stereo of the van. I can see it- but my vision is so blurry that I can’t make sense of the numbers.
The half empty bottle falls out of my hand and hits the floor- making Logan quickly lean down and pick it up before it can spill anywhere.

“Goodnight.” He says, patting my shoulder. “You might wake up when we arrive- you might not. I guess it depends on how much they put in there. You didn’t drink the whole thing… so there’s a chance it’ll wear off in a few-“ My hearing goes fuzzy and the world fades out quickly. As if someone had thrown a switch. It’s… rather nice, actually.

————————————————————————————-

The first thing I realize is that I’m moving. I’m moving, but my legs are not. The second is the noise- someone droning on over a loudspeaker that seems to echo off of every wall and ceiling tile.

The third and final thing (and possibly the most frightening) is that I am no longer in the van.

“Y’all get back from the gate.” Someone says. “I’m serious. Back it up.”

I don’t know who this man is or who he’s talking to.

Whoever he was talking that was close to whatever gate he was talking about must have moved in the correct direction, because we keep moving. “Breakfast is in twenty. Keep it down.” He says to someone else. I realize we’re walking past several enclosed spaces- spaces you can see people through- held back by iron grids blocking the doorways.

“Oh, hey.” the man says, having noticed me. “He’s awake,” he says to someone else. “That’ll make processing him a little easier.”

“I thought you’d already processed him,” Logan says off to a side I can’t see. I’m strapped to a gurney, head propped up on a pillow, but arms, wrists, ankles, and legs restrained. It looks like it’s going to be a fun day already.

“What time is it?” I ask groggily.

“Seven AM,” Logan says. “Good morning.”

“Good morning?” I groan. “How is this a ‘good morning’ in your book?”

He chuckles.

The man over me is smiling. He’s got a clean-shaven face with a strong jaw and greenish blue eyes. All in all- he’s not unattractive. But judging from my southern location, I’m betting hitting on another man would be ‘frowned’ upon. Southerners aren’t as… understanding as people from New York. And that’s not saying much in the first place. “I see he’s got some fight in him.”

“Too much fight in him,” Logan says. “He’s gonna give you shit now. I was hoping we’d be able to put him in his bed.”

“Naw. His wards on the other side'a the facility. And he’s still got to go through an entrance interview.”

“Entrance interview?”

The man nods. “Our doctors wanna meet you. Go over the rules. Ask if you have any questions- that kind of thing.”

“Pass.” I groan, wishing I could cover my eyes from these harsh lights overhead.

“No passin’ on therapy- I’m afraid.” The man chuckles.

“I thought you said it was an interview,” I growl.

“Everything leads to therapy in here.” He laughs. “You’ll get used to it.”

“I don’t want to get used to it,” I complain.

“Then you’ll have three years of always bein’ surprised when it happens.”

I would glare at him, but that would mean giving attention to that statement.

Something touches my hand, I try to yank it back but have little success. “Easy,” Logan says. “I’m checking your stitches.”

“Now? Why?”

“You got a little roughed up when we were bringing you in from the van.” He says. “I scraped you up some. I’m making sure you’re not bleeding.”

“We try to keep blood to a minimum.” The man over me says. “It excites some of the patients.”

I myself can get a little ‘excited’ around blood- so I say nothing.

Logan lets go of my hand. “You’re doing great, son.” He says. “This will be over in no time.”

“I don’t need your praise.” I snap.

“And you still have it.” he teases.

“I want to stab you,” I growl. “Very, very, badly.”

The man over me makes a small hiss. “I’ll have to tell Dr. Holmes about that.”

“About what?” I’m genuinely confused.

“About you wanting to hurt someone else.”

“He’s my father. I hurt him all the time.” I try to defend myself.

“That ain’t healthy. I’ll have to tell him even more now.”

“Don’t.” I hiss. “Please. Don’t. I won’t say any more.”

The man clucks his tongue. “You don’t have to be afraid of the doctor. He’s here to help you.”

“I don’t need the help you people seem to think I need,” I say. “I’ll behave- I promise.”

“We’ll see about that.” Logan mumbles.

I turn my head as far as I can in his direction, giving him a murderous glare.

“You two really can’t get along, can you?” The man says.

I shake my head. “He’s an abandoning, child favoring, delusional, piece of shit.”

“And he’s a brat.” Logan chuckles.

“I am not a brat,” I growl.

“And I’m not an ‘abandoning, child favoring, delusional, piece of shit’.” he smiles. “See how mean it is to call someone names?”

“Don’t lecture me like I’m a child.” I hiss.

“I won’t. When you start acting like an adult.”

“This looks pretty fucking grownup to me!” I yell.

“Hey!” The man over me barks. “That’s enough!”

His sudden rise in speaking volume hushes me.

“That’s better.” The man says. He turns to Logan. “Dad, please don’t rile him up. He’s going to need to stay as calm as possible during this interview.”

Logan grumbles something along the lines of an apology and we walk in silence.

The building isn’t what I thought it would be like. The floors are a light colored tile, done in patterns on the floor. The walls are an off white- I was thinking they’d be cement or something- there are even windows lining the wall of the hall we’re walking through. Every once in a while we pass an industrial strength door and have to show I.D. to a guard in a small circular watch room.
The doors seem to line the walls in twos. Two doors, one guard.

We finally stop moving in front of another set of doors- these happen to be made of glass and open into a small meeting room filled with couches and office chairs.
The office chairs surround a small table that extends along the very back of the room underneath a whiteboard. In the corner, there’s a TV on a rolling cart.
More interesting than the room is the people inside the room. Two men and one woman, all in white coats, holding manilla files and clipboards. I’m guessing this is the interview they’re oh so anxious I make.

The man lowers the gurney to a height level that won’t make me fall on my ass and starts to unstrap me. “If you run- you will be sorry.” He says. “Do you understand?”

I glare at him. “If you run- you will be sorry.” He repeats. “Do you understand?”

“I understand,” I say with a growl.

He nods. “Good.”

He lets me get to my feet and I waste no time in turning on my heel and punching Logan in the face- knocking him back.

“Fuck it all, Daken!” Logan yells, clutching the side of his face.

“How dare you let them do this to me???” I order. “I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!”

The strange man grabs me. “What the hell do you think you’re doin'??” He says. “That’s not okay!”

He holds me around the waist, leaving my legs free to nail a few kicks on my father’s chest and legs.

“Stop it!” Logan orders, grabbing one of my feet.

Our struggle has alerted the doctors inside the room, who come rushing out. “The hell is happening out here??” A dark-skinned doctor orders. He’s small. A few inches taller than Logan- but not much.

“He attacked his father.” The man holding me says. “Unprovoked.”

“Unprovoked.” I spit. “UNPROVOKED??? LOOK WHAT HE’S DONE TO ME!!!!!!”

“Logan didn’t do this to you.” The woman, a small Latina woman with large brown eyes, says. “This was all you.”

“No, it wasn’t.” I hiss, struggling again. “LET ME GO!”

I see people pressed against the glass of the room from the other side- a look into one of the many wards- I’m guessing. One man looks oddly familiar… though I can’t place him off the bat.

“Calm down,” Logan says.

“Fuck you!”

“He’s not been like this for a few hours.” He starts trying to explain. “We drugged him in the car... I think it’s wearing off. He’s really easy to calm down if-“

“You don’t need to make excuses for his actions, Logan.” The woman says. “His actions are what got him here. They’re what he’s here to work on. He needs no excuses.”

Bullshit I don’t!

“Daken, you can come into the one on one space with us,” the second man, a man with bright red curly hair and freckles, says. “Or we can strap you back to the gurney and do your interview out here. Fair warning- the one on one room is soundproof and therefore private. Out here in the hallway? Not so much.”

I give a final kick to Logan, who grabs my other foot.

“Daken?” The man asks.

I exhale slowly. “I’ll go with you.”

“Good.” The woman says. “You can be reasoned with.”

I give a slight nod.

“Now… dad’s going to sit with us for the interview, and then he’s going to have to go.” The dark-skinned doctor says. “And you’re going to have to be okay with that.”

“I’m more than okay with it- I’m fine. I’m great. I’m fan-fucking-tastic. He can leave now. He can leave for the whole three years! Wouldn’t bother me any. I’m-“

“You’re rambling. Do you often do this when you’re upset?” The woman asks. 

"Upset?? I’m not upset!! I’m FINE. I’m-“

“If you keep escalating your tone, you will be taken straight to the ward and restrained to your bed. Where we will hold the interview within earshot of all the other patients. And I warn you- that some of what we have to go on is very sensitive. The choice is yours.” She says.

“Fine.” I hiss. “I’ll go with you.”

“Quietly?” The dark-skinned man asks.

“Quietly.” I agree.

“No more violence?” The red-headed man asks.

“I’ll keep it to a minimum.” I sneer.

“That’s not the correct answer.” The man says. “If there’s any violence at all you will be taken straight to the ward and-“

“I GOT IT!” I snap.

He nods. “So… no more violence?”

“No more violence.” I agree begrudgingly.

“In that case,” The woman opens one of the glass doors, “come inside. We’re happy to get to meet you and have you here at our facility.”

“The pleasure is mine.” I snarl.

The woman smirks. “Oh yes.” She says. “I can see that this is going to go swimmingly.”

I don’t know what that smirk is about… but… I don’t plan to figure out what caused it.

Chapter Text

I’ve not said a word in ten minutes. I’m letting Logan do all the talking. If they want to needle someone for information- it sure as hell won’t be me.
I’m trying to decide whether I should be upset- better yet, let them KNOW I’m upset- be quiet, be obstinate, or… find a way to combine them all into something that suits me.

Logan doesn’t seem to mind doing my talking for me. He describes my moods- which he calls ‘rollar coaster mood swings’- my reluctance, my ‘depression’, my ‘past’, my ‘crime’, my ‘confusion’ about my crime- all of the above. The doctors politely take in his every word, every so often looking at me for confirmation. Which of course, I don’t give them.

“He’s not wanting to follow the diet-“

“They never do.” The dark-skinned doctor laughs. “Give him a few days. If he decides not to eat, we’ll handle it. Either way, he will be fed.”

Like hell I’ll follow their diet. I’m prepared to starve myself to get what I want. Starvation is far better than surrender. And as of this moment- I refuse to give them another inch.

Logan nods. “I also brought some of his clothes-“

“We have clothing we administer to the patients.”

“Like prison?” Logan asks.

The woman hisses. “We don’t like to use that comparison. We are not a prison. We are a care facility dealing with the dangerous and often criminal minds. It takes lawyers and connections to get one a spot here. We’ve yet to fail a patient. That being said, it’s easier to manage the facility if there are certain… uniformities within the patients. If we provide them with clothing, it’s less time we have to spend sorting out what they bring with them to see if it’s appropriate. They usually wear scrubs or something close to what he’s wearing right now. It won’t be any more uncomfortable for him than what he’s currently wearing.”

What I’m currently wearing? Gag. I don’t wear sweatpants around other people. Sweatpants are things one wears inside. With the shades drawn. Where no one can see them.

The ones I’m wearing are far too loose and roomy. Not giving my body any of the… definition it deserves.

They want us all to the look the same. To be numbers they can weed through and control. Fuck that. Fuck them. Fuck everything.

I am above this. I did nothing wrong. My time here will be short and sweet.

“My bad.” Logan holds his hands up. “No clothes.”

I try to remain still as a statue. Silent as the dead. Cold, disinterested, and unbothered. …But there are people peering in the window. People who I have no desire to see. Orderlies shoo them away- but it’s distracting, to say the least.

It’s kind of daunting. Very much undermining the attitude I’m trying to make myself adopt. I’m nervous. In my head- I can admit that. I’m nervous. Fine. This is a bad situation. Nerves are fine.

I cannot let them alter me- though.

“His mutations have been dealt with?” The dark-skinned doctor asks, bringing me back to the conversation at hand.

“They implanted metal plates that run over his claws in his knuckles and a band around his wrists.” Logan says. “he’s not happy about it.”

Fuck right I’m not.

“I see.” The man says. “I’m guessing those plates will stay in for the full duration of his stay?”

Logan shakes his head. “They’ll have to be replaced about once every six months.”

The red-haired man nods. “We have a surgical staff capable of doing that.”

“They’ve been pumping him full of power suppressants too,” Logan says.

“Yes, we’re well stocked. Ours is a little more… shall we say ‘potent’ than the brand he’s using.” The woman says.

Logan glances over at me. “Will it make him sick?”

“Some patients have adverse reactions in the beginning… but he’ll be fine.” The red-haired man says. “Just a bit of nausea. It won’t last for long.”

I keep my head down low.

“Daken, you’ve yet to say a word to us.” The woman says. “How are you feeling?”

I keep looking at the floor- counting the tiles, inspecting the dirt that’s been sloppily cleared, and watching the reflections cast by the lights glaring overhead.

“How are you feeling?” She repeats.

I stay silent.

Logan nudges my shoulder. “She’s talking to you.”

I spare him a glare.

“Don’t be a brat.” He orders. “Talk to them.”

“And say what?” I ask finally.

“I believe she asked you how you were feeling,” Logan says smugly. “Why don’t you answer that?”

“How am I feeling?” I scoff. “You want to know how I’m feeling?”

“Yes.” The woman says. “Your expression is… difficult to read. It’s like you’re upset… yet you’re trying not to look upset. Your body posture is muddled as well. Half confident- half scared. What’s going on in your head?”

Oh.. they want to know what’s going in my head- do they? I should tell them. Tell them things that will make them too afraid to fuck with me. Instead- I go back to being silent.

“Daken,” She leans forward in her chair and taps my knee. “How are you?”

She’s not going to drop this. Not anytime soon at any rate.

“Me? Oh I feel great.” I say. “This is exactly where I wanted to be this morning. I love the idea of spending three whole fucking years in this hellhole being analyzed by you fuckers.”

“It’s a nice place once you get used to it.” She says almost reassuringly. “This interview is supposed to be about you… yet you’ve let your father do most of the talking.”

“I have nothing to say,” I say simply.

“Nothing? At all?” The dark-skinned man asks. “Not curious about your home for the next three years in the slightest?”

“This isn’t my home. I would never live here. I’m simply.. misplaced.”

“Misplaced?” The woman asks, jotting down a note or two while she looks at me. “Explain.”

“I did nothing wrong,” I say. “I have nothing to be punished for. Eventually, the judge, the heroes, and you idiots will see that and let me go.”

“We’d be far more likely to ‘let you go’,” She makes quotations with her fingers, “if you wouldn’t insult us.”

I turn my attention back to the floor.

“Are you going to answer our questions… or are we going to have to talk to your father the entire time?” The red-headed man asks.

I stare at the floor.

“Daken?”

Logan groans, leaning his head back against the wall. “Answer their damn questions, son.” He orders. “Now.”

I glance up at him. “But you’re doing such a wonderful job.”

“Son-“

“You know so much.” I interrupt. “In fact- they should just shrink you and let me go. You know exactly why I did what I did and I don’t have a clue. If they’re looking for answers from me- they’re asking the wrong man.” I smirk. “So in theory- since you know everything- I don’t even have to be here.”

“So you’re content to let him do all the talking then.” The woman says. “Whether the information is true or-“

“You don’t care what I have to say.” I scoff. “You wrote me off the second I sat down. I’m just another inmate. You deal with hundreds of people like me every day. Why would you care- let alone believe me?”

“Your outlook is quite pessimistic.” The woman says. “Is there anything we can say to help change your views?”

I look back down. Conversation over.

“Daken?” She asks.

I shake my head.

“What can we say to put you at ease?” The dark-skinned man asks.

I shrug.

“We need to talk to you,” he says. “Not your father.”

I shrug again.

“Son, please.” Logan sighs. “Don’t be difficult.”

I look at him, trying to figure out what to say.

“If you’re going to let Logan do all of your talking,” The dark-skinned doctor says, ”It would seem to get you to talk on your own, we’d have to send him away.”

That… doesn’t sit well with me. If he’s here…. if he’s here… oh fuck. What am I trying to say? He… won’t let them hurt me. I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t want to be shrunk. I don’t want to stay here. I’m still half hoping he’ll change his mind and take me with him. It’s a long shot… but I really didn’t do anything wrong. I know he knows this. He said he knew it- in not so many words.

“Yes.” The woman nods. “It would appear that in order to get you to respond to us, we’ll have to send your father away.” She turns to Logan, “Logan would you please-“ “

No!” I say quickly. “Don’t send him away.” Not yet. I’m not ready yet.

“Oh?” The redhaired man smiles. “I thought you said he could leave at any time. What’s changed your mind?”

I look down at my lap. I don’t know why I want him to stay. I just… do. I’m not ready. He has to change his mind. I know he’s going to. He won’t leave me. He CAN’T leave me. Not again. Not this time.

“I don’t want him to go,” I say lowly.

“Why?”

“I… don’t.” My voice sounds small suddenly. At this point- I’m not even sure what emotion I’m feeling. Let alone- showing. Hopefully, it works out in my favor. If not… well fuck there’s not much I can do about it now.

“Son… you okay?” Logan puts his hand on my shoulder. “Look at me.”

“Just stay.” I hiss. “Ten more minutes.”

“Okay.” He says. “I’ll stay. I’ll stay til they make me go- okay? Does that make you feel better?”

I nod ever so slightly.

“Okay.” he repeats.

“Ten minutes?” The woman asks. “The interview could easily last thirty. Would you like us to send him away before the end?”

I shake my head.

“No? My. Your parental issues don’t seem to be bad at all.” She chuckles. “I expected more of what we saw in the hall.”

“He’s tired,” Logan says somewhat snappishly.

“Relax, dad.” The red-haired man says. “We’re not going to hurt him. He’s completely safe here.”

When people say that, they’re usually lying. Logan’s heart rate picks up ever so slightly. I know he’s thinking the same thing.

“Let’s go over some questions… If you’ll talk to us. If not- we’ll have to send Logan away until you do.” The woman says. “Would you like to start by asking us anything?”

Me? They want me to start? I have a million questions. This is all… someone else’s fault. Johnny’s fault. Logan’s fault. The judge’s fault. And now- their fault. This weak emotion I’m feeling was brought about by them. That makes them the enemy. That makes me in danger. That makes me… scared. Fuck. It hurts to even admit that to myself. I don’t know what’s going to happen… and I don’t like that.

I clear my throat, which is annoyingly tight. Treacherously so, even. “Why am I here?”

“You were sent to us via Judge Trevel and several others for,” the woman looks at her paper, “Torturing, maiming, and killing 6 men-“

“I tortured and maimed 7 men. One lived.” I correct.

“Oh so you know why you’re here, then.” The dark-skinned man says.

“No. I did nothing wrong.” I watch them carefully. “I was a hero.” The last is said quietly. This is not off to the start I was hoping for.

“I see.” All three of them write something down. “And why did you do this ‘heroic’ thing in the fashion that you did?” The woman asks.

“They were stealing, fucking, killing, and selling children.” I defend myself, yet again. “They had it coming. I was a hero.”I restate, clinging to that sentence like a lifeline. “I did nothing wrong.”

“You saved …. let me see here…. thirty children.” The dark skinned man says. “And for that, I, as well as my colleagues, would like to thank you. However backward and devious you were doing it- you did in some capacity do the right thing.”

“Then why am I here?” I ask. “I did the right thing.”

“You tortured, maimed, and killed six people.” He says- like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “That’s not the right thing. Anything that involves taking human life- is not the right thing to do.”

“I tort-“

“Seven but one lived.” The red-headed doctor cuts me off. “You’re very proud of your count- aren’t you? Especially if that’s the part of the statement you want to focus on.”

“I did the right thing. I don’t understand why I’m here.” I growl. Anger is better than despair. And I feel dangerously close to despair right now. If I had my powers, I could push the emotion off. It wouldn’t affect me as strongly. But… I don’t. I don’t have any of them. For three years. Holy fuck. For three years- powerless.

“Therein lies the problem.” The woman says. “Tell me, how old were you when you were abused?”

I feel my eye twitch. “Excuse me?” Anger seems to be the right direction to have gone in after all.

“Oh, pardon me.” She looks back down at her board, “How old were you when you were sexually abused? I know you were also physically, emotionally, and mentally abused- I just want to know about the sexual side for right now.” She smiles. “So tell me. How old were you?”

“I was not,” I lean forward, towards her, “NOT ever in my LIFE sexually abused,” I growl. “I want that straight right fucking now.”

“Son, backup from the lady,” Logan warns, sitting in his seat with his arms crossed.

“She’s telling lies!” I growl at him.

“Lies? Your father said there was undeniable proof that you had been-“ She starts.

“What proof??” I turn to him, cutting her off.

“Some stuff I dug up. It’s no big deal-“

“It is a big deal.” The woman cuts in. “Abuse is very traumatizing at any age, true. But most especially at a young age.” She pats my hand, leaning forward to do so. “How old were you?”

“What ‘stuff’ did you dig up??” I growl at him, ignoring her.

“Pictures. Notes. Journals. Things Romulus said to me personally… it all added up.”

I roll my eyes. “He was lying. You know this. It’s what he does.”

“Who was?” The woman asks. “No one.” I snap, “I’m not talking to you.”

“Daken-“

“It was no one.” I cut my father off. “And it’s nothing. It didn’t happen. It was a lie.”

“Daken, your father has submitted some of this evidence as proof of your mental state during your trial-“

“There wasn’t any trial. Therefore there was no proof. This is all illegal! I want a lawyer. I’m going to sue all of you! I’ll own this place by the time this is all over! Then I will sit here and ask YOU all these stupid questions. How would you like that? How does that make you feel?”

The three doctors look between each other and then scribble more notes.

“Your abuse was documented.” The woman finally says. “Quite thoroughly. I don’t see why someone would document something that lasted for well over fifty years if they weren’t telling the truth. That seems like a needless waste of time and resources. Your caretaker- the man who raised you- abused you. In several ways. One of which, evidence has shown and your actions have proven- was sexual. Most likely at a very young age. Now,” She says. “Tell me, how old were you?”

He didn’t ‘sexually abuse’ me. He taught me. They taught me. How’s one supposed to learn how to manipulate people through sex if they don’t know how to have sex?? I mean… yes. technically I was a little young. And technically it wasn’t always consensual… but those are just technicalities. Why he would go as far as to torment Logan with that information- I have no idea. I was told it was our secret. That he’d never tell anyone what we did. That he didn’t need to. That they wouldn’t do anything about it because it was perfectly natural for a Master and one of his followers to do. It was a learning experience. I’m stronger for it.

I got completely quiet again. They actually let the silence sit.

“He shuts down when they talk about his past,” Logan says. “He doesn’t care what proof we have. He never admits it. The fact is- he loves that man. He loves him more than anyone he’s ever loved in his life and-“

“SHUT UP!” I try to stand to my feet, but Logan grabs me by the arm and keeps me anchored.

“Son- calm down.”

“You are a liar!” I yell at him. “A god damn liar! You know nothing! You don’t get to tell me these things- you weren’t. FUCKING. THERE!”

“That man is the driving force behind all his hate for me,” Logan says. “And there’s nothing I can do about that.” I stare at the ceiling, counting down from twenty.

The doctors have the grace to let Logan’s comment slide… for now.

The woman reaches over and squeezes my hands. “Daken… what are you thinking? You don’t seem to really be in this room right now.… what’s going on?”

“Fuck you,” I growl. “Fuck your little questions. Fuck your ‘facility’. Fuck all of you. I don’t need this. I did nothing wrong.”

“That has nothing to do with the topic of your sexual abuse.” The woman says. “You’re avoiding the topic.”

Avoiding the topic? “There is no topic. It didn’t happen. There’s nothing to discuss.”

“So your father’s information was false?” The dark skinned man asks with a raised eyebrow. I look at him for the first time… really look at him. He’s a young man- maybe in his thirties. Attractive face. Smaller build- however. Not much meat to him. He looks like someone one could consider ‘likable’. If I need a doctor on my side- I’m betting my best chance is him.

“It was.” I nod. “Because he’s a liar.”

The woman pats the hands she’s holding. “I think you’re not being honest with yourself.”

“I was not,” I jerk away from her, “ abused.” I snarl. “Ever.”

“At all?” The redheaded man asks.

“At all,” I growl. “I don’t get it, Daken.” The woman says. “You killed plenty of people with this- we’re only counting the ones you brutally killed. The ones you brutally killed were all pedophiles who were proven to have actually assaulted children. You tattooed their bodies with the words,” She looks down. “‘baby fucker’. The only thing that tied them together was the fact that they abused children in a sexual nature. That would suggest you were holding some kind of personal vendetta against the act itself.”

“And? I did the right thing! Am I supposed to not kill pedophiles? Am I supposed to let them slip through the court system with the right amount of money and-and-”

“Calm down.” She says. “Please.” She watches me, peering over her notes. “Are you good?”

“I’m fine,” I growl. “Stop asking that.”

“I’m sorry.” She says. “Let’s see here, about that night. Well day. Well few days actually. You didn’t kill them on day one. Well, you killed some of them on day one. You tortured them. You amputated limbs and appendages- particularly the genitalia…. which would lead us back to the problem at hand of your personal grudge against these men’s crimes.” She pauses.

“And??”

“And…. you killed several people. But only the pedophiles got this brand of… retaliation. And the way you reacted afterwards seems to indicate that you were in emotional turmoil.” She looks me over. “So you felt something personal towards your crime.”

I lean back in my seat, seething. “That means nothing. I could have been feeling charitable.”

“You’re not a serial killer. You’re a paid killer- or you have been in the past- but you don’t seek out victims out of spite or malice. It’s just business to you.” “I had an off couple of days. Johnny asked for my help. I helped. I don’t know why I’m being punished.”

I don’t. This is far beyond my realm of understanding. I did nothing wrong. I punished the wicked. Isn’t that what heroes do? It’s what my father would have done. It’s what other heroes would have done. Why let literal baby fuckers go free?? I wanted them to pay. Those kids won’t forget what’s been done to them. All those adults will try to make them ‘better’ and it won’t work. I know it won’t work. At the end of the day though- at the end of it all- they can sleep knowing the men who hurt them- save one- are dead. That they can’t hurt them anymore. That they can’t hurt anyone anymore. I stood up for the defenseless. I saw what the did to those children. I know they would have done it again if they got the chance. Who cares how they were dealt with? In my book, they’re not human. They’re scum. Beneath all of us. And now- save one- they’re dead scum. And they suffered. I did the children a favor. I did what the judges and the lawyers wouldn’t have been able to.
Yet here I am. In a ‘facility’ that’s going to imprison me. Taking away years of my life when I… did. nothing. Wrong. It’s fucked.

If this is the way heroes work…. I want nothing else to do with it.

“I’m sure you don’t. When you were done with the men- Afterwards you were speaking in Japanese- we have it on the video… what were you saying?” She asks. “We have the entire ordeal recorded- Including your meltdown afterward. We can play it for you if you need to be reminded.”
I freeze.

Maybe if I say nothing… they’ll drop that part of the conversation entirely.

“Do you remember?” The dark-skinned man picks up the questioning.

I stay silent.
They let the silence sit for all of three very awkward minutes.

“Do you remember, Daken? It was during your episode. It’s okay if you don’t.” The red-headed man says.

God I wish they would give me names. If they’re going to team up on me- the least they could do is introduce themselves.

“I said a lot of things.” I try to play it off, finally breaking my silence.

“I happen to speak a handful of languages, including Japanese.” The red-haired man says. “if I recall, and correct me if I’m wrong, you spoke five different phrases- repeatedly. The most prominent one being, “Not this time”.” He looks at me carefully, considering me, taking me into account. “What’s that mean, Daken?”

“I don’t have to answer that,” I say stiffly.

“You don’t have to answer because you don’t remember or you don’t have to answer because you don’t want to talk about it?” The man asks.

The other two are silent- judging me from a distance. Hands making endless scribbles as they ‘record’ me.

I notice- not for the first time- the camera in the corner of the room. They’ll have this on film. And fuck am I tired of being filmed.

I don’t know what to say at this moment. Do I know what that means? I mean- I guess I do. Do I know why I said it? No. No, I don’t.

“I really-“ I stop. I don’t know what to say.

“You really…?” The man presses. “What, Daken? You really what?”

“I-“
“It’s okay,” Logan says. “It’s okay son.” He puts his hand on my shoulder. “You can tell them. No one’s going to judge you.”

But they are judging me. And Logan? He’s judging me too. Like he has been this whole time.

Do my actions before now have deep-rooted issues he didn’t see? Do my actions towards him have issues he didn’t see? Is there a psychological dysfunction that’s a driving force behind all of our interactions? He wants to know. He wants me to tell him. He wants me to give something away. I have nothing to give away. Because….

I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have an excuse. I have nothing. Nothing to defend myself. Nothing to explain myself. And they’re going to be at me for three years- looking for answers to questions I don’t know how to answer.

“Don’t interrupt, Logan.” The man says. “Let him speak.” he turns his eyes back to me “What does ‘not this time’ mean?”

“I don’t know,” I say. It’s as close to an answer as they’re going to get.

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

This is a mess. This entire situation. How can I fight with them when I’m being attacked on all fronts?

He looks down at his clipboard. “The other four phrases, in no particular order were “Let me go”- which apparently, according to Samson’s reports- you say often when you’re feeling boxed in. “Don’t touch me”- that was the second highest muttered phrase. “Help”- a natural response when one is distressed. And finally, “You can’t do it, I won’t let you”- you said that one twice, towards the end.” The man looks up at me. “Which is odd. It was the most complex of the statements. Your brain seemed to … shut down- as it were. Why did you say those things Daken?”

“I..” I lick my lips. “Don’t know.”

“You don’t?” The woman says. “Interesting. How much do you remember of that day?”

I shake my head. “You remember torturing those men- don’t you? You remember killing them?”

Somewhat. But not... fully. I had these.. flashes. Past and present were... mixing together.

“You don’t- do you?” She smiles. “You never gave a full account of what happened. Bits and pieces but not a full story. It’s a side no one’s thought to dig for.” She looks me over. “I plan on digging for it.”

“We all do.” The dark-skinned man looks up from his seemingly endless notes.

I lay my head back against the wall.

This has gone to shit. I feel like that my trying to give nothing away has actually led to me giving several things away that I don’t understand at the moment. I feel tricked. I feel tired. I feel… nervous. I hate feeling nervous.

“You’re tired.” The red-haired man says. “It’s early and you’ve had a long ride in.”

“He’s been sleeping a lot,” Logan says. “I don’t know how much he usually sleeps- but it’s gotten a bit excessive.”

“Excessive?” The woman raises one perfect eyebrow. “Are you often tired, Daken?”

I shake my head, trying to clear it. “I’d like to talk to the judge,” I say quietly. “I did nothing wrong. I want to see my judge.”

The woman shakes her head. “No.”

“No?” I’m shocked. This is an outright refusal. I haven’t received many of those at this point. “What do you mean ‘no’? I want to see a judge!”

She nods. “No.”

“Why-“

“Your case is in our hands.” The dark skinned man says. “To do with as we see fit. There are no longer any lawyers, no court appearances, no judges, no appeals… Just us.”

“That’s… that’s not fair.” I stammer. “That’s not legal!”

The woman smiles. “That’s S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s often unfair.” Her voice is sweet. “But we are an accredited treatment facility. Our methods are federally tested and approved. The nurses, orderlies, and we ourselves are put through a tedious hiring process. We’re not going to torture you. We’re not going to hold you any longer than you need to stay. Your time here is limited- and we know that.” She motions between the three of them. “What you did was wrong. But it was brave. You don’t know why you did it- and we believe that. We believe that you don’t think you did anything wrong. Unfortunately, it is now our job to show you the error of your ways. After your stay with us, you’ll be more informed about your thought process and be able to process right from wrong just a little clearer.” She extends her hands. “I’m Gabriella Thomas. Doctor Thomas. Gabriella. Whichever one you are comfortable using.” I take her hand hesitantly.

I’m... shocked.

“You’re okay,” Logan says. “It’s all okay.”

The doctors nod.

“It is,” Gabriella says. “It really is. You’re doing just fine. This is a lot to take in. We understand that.” She motions to the men beside her. “Here- Let me introduce you to Ryan and Harry.”

“Ryan Holmes.” The Red-headed man extends his hand, which I take.

“Harry Thomas.” The dark-skinned man offers his hand next. He looks at the woman with a smile. “No relation.”

Ah.

So that’s one mystery solved- my captors have names.

What about my prison? They’ve said nothing in the way of names so far.

“Do I get to know the name of the place I’m being housed?” I ask. “No one’s told me yet. I find that suspicious.” This is a much more acceptable topic than all of their other questions. If I keep them on track- we can get through this without me giving anything else up.

Gabriella tilts her head to the side. “Perhaps. And you are correct. We’ve not told you for a reason. You are right to be suspicious. You have many connections, you see, and I’m worried you’ll try to get out word that you’re here… to get someone to rescue you. And if we have someone try to break in and break you out- then there is a possibility of several other patients- much worse than yourself- getting out as well. Some of our patients do not need to see the outside world until their sentences are up. They are safe here and the world is safe with them here. We cannot release them to the general public. Not yet.”

I look down.

She’s right. I would try to get one of my ‘friends’ to help me. I don’t have any this far down south, however. They’d have to be willing to make the drive. And honestly, lately, I’ve not been that good of a friend to several people. I don’t know anyone who’d be willing.

“You see our reasoning, I’m sure,” Gabriella says. “You’re an intelligent man. We’re only treating you accordingly.”

Good to know.

“He’s got some emergency contacts,” Logan says. “People he can call…you have his list- right?”

What list?

“We have it on file for him. Yourself, his sister, Johnny Storm, Ororo Munroe in the event he can’t get in touch with you.” She taps a finger to her lips. “Does that cover everyone?”

“I think so,” Logan says. “Only.. he probably won’t want to take calls from Johnny.”

“Oh?”

“They had a .. falling out.”

The woman nods. “Oh. How unfortunate.”

Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about. Him and Peter fucking Parker getting ‘close’. I’ve never liked Peter. I’ve never liked the relationship he had with Johnny. Then- I’m a little possessive over my playthings. I don’t like sharing. If they decide to become ‘involved’ with each other I might vomit.

“Yea. He was pretty shook up about it.” Logan says. “Johnny wants to see him still... but I’ll leave that up to you. If you think it’s a bad idea- just give me a call. I’ll talk to the flame brain.”

“I see.” Gabriella makes another note on her clipboard. “And the two of you were romantically involved?” She asks me.

I stare at her blankly.

“So you were.” She makes another note.

I let them finish their note-taking and content myself with looking through the window into the ward. It looks… okay. From what I can see, anyway. Two separate sections of one large room are set up. Each housing several chairs and couches. A nurse’s station on one side of the room, in plain view of both sections. Two hallways, one on the south side of the unit, one on the east. The couches are gathered around two separate Televisions. It looks… passable. I was expecting cells. From what I can see- there are none. There is, however, a sickly looking man- thin and pale- looking at me with an odd look of… smugness. there’s something odd about his attire. Something black around his arms- looking like it’s moving. I know I’ve seen him before.

“Who is that?” I point.

“Hmm?” Ryan looks up from his notes.

“That man.”

“Oh him? Just another patient.”

“I’ve seen him before.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you have,” Ryan says. “He’s run in a lot of the same circles as you have. Especially back in New York.”

“Oh?”

He nods. I sit and watch him, watching him take note of my gaze. He grins, slightly unnervingly, and waves. It’s … eerie. He looks almost.. happy to see me. Amused is a better word. One of my first acts, when I get inside, will be to establish where I know him from, if he’s a threat, and some kind of threat to wipe away his smug expression.

Soon enough, a nurse, a tall woman in gray scrubs with bleached blonde hair, ushers him away to one of the sitting areas. “Ten minutes is up. Passed up- actually.”

Ryan says finally. “Are you ready to come in the ward?”

I look over at him. “Is the interview over?”

He nods. “You’re not going to answer our questions right off the bat. We know that.”

I look at Logan, his face slightly unreadable.

“But-“

“It’s breakfast time,” Harry says. “If you don’t want to eat, that’s fine. But you could go lay down for a few minutes. The nurses will make sure you have everything you need… get you changed. Get you a bed. The others will be going to the cafeteria… you’ll have a few moments to yourself.”

“I thought the interview would last longer.” I’m not ready. I’m adjusting to the idea- yes. But I’m not quite there yet.

“To be fair so did we,” Ryan says. “But you’re a tough nut to crack. And that’s okay. We’ve got three years. You can tell us what we need to know at your own pace. There’s no point in us pumping you for information you’re not ready to give.”

Ah.

“Oh.”

“Little out of your element- huh?” Gabriella says gently. “I assure you, you’ll be fine. I won’t say it’s going to be easy- it won’t. You’re not here for a vacation…. but.. it doesn’t have to be horrible by any stretch of the imagination.”

I nod, not sure where to look now.

“So… Logan. I think it’s time you go.” Ryan says. “Tell him goodbye. You’ll see him in a week or so- if you want.” He turns to me. “You have the right to refuse people’s visits. You have every right.”

I don’t want to refuse anyone’s visits. If they see how utterly miserable I am, maybe they’ll call this off.

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you.” Gabriella is saying. “Thank you for your time. And coming all this way with him. I’m sure it would have gone much less smoothly had you not accompanied him.”

I can’t move from my spot.

“Ya… well don’t count your chickens before they hatch. The more boxed in he gets- the worse he gets. And I gotta feeling you’re about to make him pretty uncomfortable.”

Ryan laughs. “That’s one way to put it.”

I continue looking down at the tile floor. Patterns. Forming almost a cross-like formation. I’m sure it’s just coincidental but if they try to show the love of god down my throat I will murder every last mother fucker in this building.

“Daken?” I notice that Logan’s standing up now. “You gonna be okay? You’re spacing off.”

I stare at him- lost.

“It’s okay.” He tells me. “Head up- remember?”

I nod.

“That’s good. Keep your head up. Work with them. Okay?”

It’s all starting to hit me at once.

“I gotta go now.”

I.. don’t want him to.

“Wait-“

“You gotta go on your ward now.” He says gently. “Remember?”

“I know, I know but-“

“I gotta go.” He repeats. “You gonna be okay?”

I shake my head. “Wait- I need a minute.”

“No… I think it’s best he leaves now.” Harry says. “Visitors aren’t allowed during this part of the process.”

“Process? What process?”

“The one we’re trying to start right now. Get you on the ward, changed, and fed. He’s not allowed to come with you.”

“I don’t understand why he can’t-“

“Daken, your father cannot hold your hand through this. This is a consequence of a decision you made. Your punishment has been doled out and you’re going to serve it. Do you understand?”

“I understand but-“

“If you understand then there is no ‘but’.” Ryan butts in.

Harry nods. “Do you have anything you want to say to Logan before you go?”

I have a lot of things I want to say to him. I want to yell at him for leaving me. Again. Scream until my lungs are sore. I want-

“Don’t go. Please.” Surprises me. I don’t know what expression to use when I’m saying it. I feel like a confused mess. Not composed in the slightest. Maybe that will work out in my favor-though… he can’t be completely heartless.

“I have to.” He says.

“Please,” I beg. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t. Don’t go.”

He has to take me with him. I need to put all my energy into making him take me with him. I’m cut off from my powers- I’ve got to hit him with every ounce of emotion I can pull up. Strangely enough- it’s not proving difficult. I’m far more upset about him leaving than I thought I would be.

He shakes his head. “I’ll be back.”

“Don’t leave me,” I beg. “Please.”

He can’t leave me- not again. Every low point in my life can be traced back to his absence. Maybe connections are being made in mind that don’t necessarily need to be made. I don’t have time to sit here and shrink myself. Not in front of three actual shrinks at any rate.

“Daken-“ Logan’s tone is gentle. It’s working! It’s working! He’s changing his mind! He can’t do this to me. He can’t go through with it. He knows I didn’t do anything wrong! He knows it!

“Please.” I’m trying as hard as I can to keep calm. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Son… it’s okay.” He says. “It’s okay…. you’re okay. Don’t get upset.”

I’ve come this far and only fought the tiniest amount. I… can’t let him do this to me. I haven’t done anything that he wouldn’t have done. I didn’t do anything that Laura wouldn’t have done. I did the right thing! I did what I had to do to keep people safe!

“Don’t go.” I plead. “Please… please don’t leave me.”

“This will not be good for his abandonment issues,” Gabriella says. “I didn’t even think of it.”

“We can’t let him go with him into the ward,” Ryan says. “The sight of a hero might send some of the patients into a panic.”

“We can’t keep Daken in this room much longer either,” Harry says. “He needs to be integrated with the other patients.”

“I have to go,” Logan says. “I’m sorry. I’ll come back.”

I can’t let him do this to me!

“I didn’t do anything wrong.” I sound lost.

“I know you think you didn’t.” Logan starts inching towards the door. I’m quick to grab his hand- holding it between my own cuffed ones. “Daken…” he soothes. “Let go.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” I repeat.

“Let go, Daken.”

“Why are you leaving me here?? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“That’s quite enough.” Gabriella comes and starts to pull my hands back using the links on the cuffs. “Let go, Daken.” She grunts when I hold tight.

“I don’t want to stay here!” I say to him. “Please! You don’t know what they’ll do to me!”

“It’s not about what you want anymore.” She says. “Let go.”

“You can’t leave me!” I plead with him, holding tight. His glove is slick in my hand. If it were any looser I’d be pulling it off by mistake.

“He’s got to go.” Gabriella’s small hands grip mine tightly. “Let go.”

“Please,” I beg him. “Please!”

“Look,” Logan doesn’t move to pull away, he brings down his other hand and puts it on top of mine. “Maybe this isn’t the best idea after all.” He says. “Maybe we can find a less extreme option.” He looks at me. “Stop straining so hard, you’re gonna pop your stitches.”

Yes! he’s on my side! For once in his miserable life, he’s doing something right by me!

“It’s too late for that,” Ryan says. “I’m sorry. But there is no other option. You have to leave and he has to come with us.”

Logan stares at me for a long minute. “He’s mixed up.” He says finally. “He thinks he did the right thing.”

“Yes,” Gabriella says. “Yes he does. And he is wrong because he is unwell. Leave him with us so we can make him well again.”

“No! Please-“ I see him reconsidering, “Father please!”

“You’ve got to go,” Harry says. “He’ll be fine.”

Logan bends down in front of me. “Son… I’ll go make some calls- okay? Let me go so I can go make some calls. We’ll see if we can do anything about this- okay?”

I don’t like the tone he’s using with me... but I don’t stop him.

“Let him go,” Ryan says.

“I don’t want to stay here,” I say. “I didn’t do anything wrong-“ Logan starts to pull away. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Yes. You did.” Gabriella says. “You really did. I know this seems unfair to you- but this is the consequence for your actions. And honestly- it could be a lot worse. So let him go. I’ll take you to the ward, we’ll get you changed and looked over, give you your morning meds-“

“I don’t want any of that!” I grip him tighter.

“It isn’t about what you do or don’t want at this point.” She says. “Come on now. I thought we could reason with you. Remember? You were going to work with us?”

I shake my head. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Let go.” The woman finally pulls my hands away from Logan, pinning them, and me, down to the chair I’m seated in. “Harry, grab his feet and keep him in the chair.” She orders.

The man moves quickly to do as instructed.

“Let … let GO!” I kick him as hard as I can.

Logan stands in the doorway. “Fuck.” He says. “Doc- I don’t think this is the best option. I want to take him with me.”

“Please,” I beg. “Father please- take me with you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t want to stay. I won’t do it again. I’m sorry-“

“You’re only saying you're sorry because you got caught,” Harry says. “You’re not sorry. You would do it again. You can’t help it.”

“I’m sorry.” I feel my throat closing up. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry- please. Please.”

“I think he’s a little tired. And a little emotional. He manipulates pheromones- correct?” Logan nods, not taking his eyes off of me. “Then he probably doesn’t know how to deal with emotions if he can’t pass them off onto someone else. He might get upset,” Gabriella looks at me. “Well… more upset.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong.” I try again, my voice choking up.

“Now Daken, you can’t say you’re sorry and then turn around and say you did nothing wrong,” Ryan says. “It doesn’t work like that. If you’re sorry- you know you’ve done something wrong. If you haven’t done anything wrong- or you think you haven’t- there’s nothing to apologize for. You’re saying you’re sorry because you think it will make us let you go. It won’t. Your actions have real-world consequences.” The man motions to the room. “This is it. This is your consequence. If you don’t want to end up back in a place like this in the future, you’ll listen to what we’re saying and what we’re going to teach you and avoid the same mistakes of the past-“

“I said I was sorry what more do you want from me!!!???”

“Are you… oh hell.” Gabriella bends down. “Don’t get upset. It’s okay. You’re a proverbial emotional minefield. You don’t have a way to push those emotions onto anyone, you can’t be violent, you can’t run away… you’re stuck. It’s okay to be sad- okay? No one’s saying it isn’t. But you have got to act like an adult. You know what you did. You knew someone was going to have to pay for it. You just didn’t think-“

“I didn’t do anything wrong!” I struggle uselessly.

“You’re going to make yourself cry if you keep getting this upset. We’re taking you into the ward regardless.” The woman says. “I’m sure you don’t want the other patients to see you acting like this on your first day.”

“Father please-“ I turn to him. “I’m sorry.” I plead. “I’m really, really, really sorry. Don’t leave me. Please. Don’t leave me again.”

He looks like he’s been punched in the gut. “Get off him.” He says. “Let him up. I’m taking him with me.”

“Logan don’t let him guilt you into something you know isn’t possible,” Harry says. “He’s sad. That’s fine. He’s sad. That’s understandable. But we have people who specialize in depression. Do you really think you could help him more than a professional could?”

“I want to take him with me,” Logan says. “I mean it. Let him go.”

“You can’t openly deny the judge and Commander Hill’s orders,” Ryan says. “I’m sorry- I know this is hard on you. I know you don’t want to hurt him more than you have to- but this is just how it’s got to be. This will only last for a few days-“

“A few days?? He’s going to be like this for a few DAYS?”

“You’ve never dropped a child off at pre-school before- have you?” Gabriella chuckles. “It’s the same principle in a far more serious and adult connotation. You’re something familiar. He’s scared. He wants to stay with what he knows. If you’re here, then he’s not on his own facing this.” She nods to the door. “Head on out. The guards will let you through the doors. They know to look for you.”

“I want to go with you,” I beg.

“I know you do,” Ryan says. “You want to be anywhere but here. Your behavior would change for a few weeks, maybe a month, then you’d be right back at it. People are safer with you here.” He pauses. “YOU are safer with you here. Do you understand? You could get yourself hurt. You could have gotten yourself killed. You don’t have this much attachment to your father and you KNOW you don’t. He’s just a security blanket. You know he’ll keep you safe.”

Harry steps in with, “And he doesn’t have to keep you safe. You are completely safe here. No one’s going to hurt you in any way shape or form. All of our practices are tested. We meet the same guidelines as every other treatment facility- we pride ourselves on that. This is not a prison. This is somewhere you’re going to get better.”

We’re all silent. “Say goodbye to your father,” Gabriella says. “We’ve wasted enough time on this.”

Logan crosses his arms. “I wanna take him with me. I don’t feel right leaving him here.”

“You’re a good father, Logan,” Harry says. “It hurts to see your child like this- I understand. I have kids of my own. But you KNOW it’s best for him. It’s not about what he does or doesn’t want- he can’t make those decisions right now. It’s about what YOU know is best for him. And what’s best for him is that he receives the help he so desperately needs.”

“fuck.” Logan whispers. “fuck. fuck. fuck.”

I exhale slowly.

“I didn’t do anything wrong.” I try again.

“If you hurt him- I will reign hell down on you- do you understand?” He growls.

No- no- “You can’t leave me here!”

“He won’t be harmed. We’ll inform you of everything going on right down to what medications we put him on and if we have to restrain him. You’ll know everything.” Gabriella says. “I promise.”

Logan nods. “I’m gonna go now.”

“Father- no. Please. Don’t leave me. I’m sorry.”

“I know you think you are.” He says. “But… fuck. Behave- okay? I can call you. I can come see you in a week or so- behave until then.”

“Logan- please. Don’t do this to me.” I beg. “Please.” I shake my head, throat tight. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You did this to yourself,” Gabriella says. “All on your own.”

Logan puts his hand on my shoulder, squeezing it. “You’ll be okay. They’re gonna take good care of you.”

“But-“

“I’ll see you in a week- okay?”

Oh fuck this! I tried getting upset. I tried manipulating him. I tried being honest.

I did nothing wrong! I’m innocent! The only crime I committed was helping fucking Johnny. That’s it. Now he’s gone, I’m incarcerated, and Logan is fucking leaving- again! He always gets to leave! Like I’m nothing! Like that’s all I’ve ever been to him!

“Fuck it all! I didn’t do anything!”

“I’ll see you in a week.” He repeats, opening the door.

“Hold him to the chair until the door is locked,” Harry says. “He’s going to try to make a break for it.”

I’m too stunned to move.

“Logan, please… I didn’t do anything wrong- I didn’t do anything that you and Laura wouldn’t have done!”

“I gotta go.” He looks down at me. “You focus on you- okay? Do what you have to do. Do what they tell you.”

I look down, unable to hold his gaze a second longer.

The door shuts with an audible click, locking me into the room.

“No violence,” Gabriella says. “We’re going to let you up. No violence.”

No violence. I resign myself to my fate. For now.

They let go of my hands first and then my feet, backing up until they’re on the other side of the room by the whiteboard.

“All good?” Harry asks.

I just stare at him.

“Come on man. Give me some vocalization. Are we good? Is it safe to come on that side of the room?”

“We’re good,” I say quietly.

“Good.” They make their way back over to me.

“That was harsher than I intended for it to be,” Gabriella says. “I’m sorry for that. I know that must have been hard on you.”

Hard. Right.

“He left.”

“He had to leave,” Harry says. “He couldn’t stay and he couldn’t take you with him.”

“But he left.”

“He did leave,” Ryan says. “We’ve got a few more things to go over…. are you going to be okay?”

“Let’s just get this over with.” I sigh standing up, feeling the cold tiles underneath my bare feet. “Am I going to get shoes at any point or….”

“We’ll give you socks,” Harry says. “They’re thick enough to keep you warm.”

“Oh wow. Socks.” I roll my eyes. “Thanks.”

I can’t believe he left me…. but they’re right. They’re taking me into the ward. I’ve got to get a handle on my emotional state.

“We’ll give you a few minutes to collect yourself,” Ryan says. “Take your time.”

I exhale slowly, looking up at the ceiling and counting the tiles.

“Are you alright with your father leaving?” Gabriella asks. “It must have been painful.”

I glance over at her, really taking her in. “No,” I say finally. “I’m not. He always leaves me. Always.”

“Let’s talk about that.” Ryan picks up his clipboard again. “He always leaves you.” He says. “So he’s left you in the past?”

I think about it long and hard before I nod.

“When did he leave you?” He asks.

“Before I was born…. after he’d found me. After he kil-“ I stop, sighing. “A few times.”

“A few times.” He repeats. “How does that make you feel?”

“Shitty.” I look through the window into the ward. “I don’t want to go in.”

“To the ward?” Ryan smiles. “You can’t help that.”

“How many people are in there?”

“A few,” Gabriella says. “I think… ten?”

“Ten?”

“The ward can comfortably house fifteen,” Harry says. “You’ll be our eleventh patient.”

“How many nurses?”

“Ten each shift.” Harry crosses his arms. “Are you trying to gain information to make yourself feel better?”

I just stare at them.

“You don’t like going in blind,” Ryan says. “I can respect that.”

“How many doctors?” I ask, continuing my quest for details.

“Us,” Gabriella says. “Three doctors to work through eleven patients. We have substitutes for when one of us can’t make it.”

“And you’re always on the ward?”

The woman watches me carefully. “No.” She says finally. “We take weekends off, usually leaving only one of us- which rotates week to week.” Okay so… ten nurses.

Three doctors. One doctor on the weekend. Ten patients.

“I feel that it’s only fair to warn you that there are, quite astonishingly, several patients that you’ve worked with a personal level,” Gabriella says. “I expect you to remain calm when interacting with them. They’re here for the same reason you are. Some of them with sentences much longer than yours.”

The two men to her side nod.

“We’d like to go over the rules with you now,” Ryan says. “Please listen carefully. You will be corrected as we see fit. Any failure to comply will lead to immediate consequences.”

What is it with them and that word??

“There will be no violence in the ward. No physical violence. No verbal violence. None. Whatsoever.” Ryan says.

“If someone comes at me- I will defend myself,” I warn.

“Then you will be punished.” He says simply.

“For defending myself???”

He nods.

“That’s bullshit!”

“You and your attacker will be punished to different degrees- but there will still be consequences. Especially if we discover that you’re baiting someone into a physical confrontation to get them into some sort of trouble.” Ryan nods his head. “We will not tolerate any physical altercations. We have lock up just for those occasions".

I glare at them.

“You can glare all you want,” Gabriella says. “The rule is in place whether you want to follow it or not.

“You will not use manipulation of any form while you are in this facility. This includes threats, extortion, and bribes.” Ryan says.

“Extortion?” I’m majorly confused.

“Extortion,” Harry says. “You’ll hear very personal stories that people don’t want spread. If you seek to use this knowledge against them or try to manipulate them into doing something they do not want to do- you will be punished.”

Like they can tell when someone is being openly manipulative. Please. I’ll make a game out of that- trust me. I’ll have this whole place wrapped around my finger by the end of the month.

“There will be no sexual conduct of any kind while you are in the ward. This includes all forms of PDA, sexual innuendo, sexual threats, sexually explicit language, and masturbation.” Gabriella says.

That… “Come again?”

“Where did I lose you?” She asks.

“Let’s talk about the masturbation part.” I look for a sign in her face that she’s not serious.

“Masturbation is not allowed.” She says. “At all. We have a zero-tolerance policy.”

“You’ll punish me… for touching myself.” I try to point out how stupid this sounds.

“Yes.” She says. “No sexual activity.”

“For three years??”

“For three years.” She nods.

“How can you possibly enforce that??”

She looks me over. “Do you think it’s going to be a problem?”

Uh… “No.” I lie. There’s no way I’m going three years without some kind of sexual relief. That’s just too ridiculous to ask for.

“The punishments are discrete- but there. It’s a rule the entire ward follows. I know this is difficult… but men and women are kept separate for that very reason.”

“Like I need a woman to have sex.” I scoff.

“I know. You’re… Bisexual?” She asks. “Did I read that correctly?”

I nod.

“Which is why I stress this rule. You will not have sexual relations with anyone on this ward. Including yourself. Do you understand?” She asks pleasantly.

“If I say ‘no’ do I get to sit here longer?”

Ryan chuckles. “No. We’ll take you into the ward and let you learn on your own.”

The other two nod.

“Fine.” I lean my head back against the wall. “No sex. No violence. No manipulation. Anything else?”

“You’ve been told about the diet restrictions,” Harry says. “And they’ve already started you on that… that’s good. In the beginning, it’s very hard to get used to.”

“Why exactly can’t we have solids?” I ask. Might as well ask the people at the top. If they decide to answer.

Harry smiles. “We have patients who, believe it or not, can harm other people with food, utensils, other things that come along with eating.” He says. “Plus, it’s a controlled diet that can be easily measured. No real weight gain. No real weight loss. We can make sure the meals are nutritional using very little salt and sugar… and to be honest- it’s easier to feed as many patients as we have if the foods are all liquid. It cuts costs.”

“Oh wonderful.” I sneer. “My diet is compromised because of your bottom line.” As far as hurting people with food- I’ve known one man who could do that. Find ways to make people choke. It’s very entertaining.

“On rare occasions, we will have at least one solid available. But it’s not very often.” Gabriella says. “Holidays, mainly.”

I can’t get my head passed this. I’m about to say something when some sort of… scene erupts in the ward. A chair is smashed against the window into our room, startling all three doctors at once. Luckily, the window is reinforced. By some stroke of magic or luck or science- the chair doesn’t make it all the way through. The strength at which it impacted made a fine web of spider-like cracks- not something you see much in reinforced glass.

“Oh hell,” Harry says. “He’s awake. I told them to keep him out of it for at least two more hours. I can’t get anything done first thing in the morning if he’s awake.”

“Did the chair shatter?” Gabriella moves close to the window. “No.” She sighs in relief. “Getting those reinforced chairs has helped tremendously. There are far fewer causalities when the chairs don’t shatter.”

“Our next step is apparently going to be bolting them down,” Harry says.

“Hmm…” Gabriella says, “But if he got those bolts up… that would be hell.”

“We’d have to watch him,” Harry says.

“We’ve already got people watching him. We have guards trained to handle him and him alone. No one else on the ward has that.” Gabriella points to the ward. “Take a look. He’s still going at it with interference. But no one’s hurt.” She smiles. “Hence, the chairs were a good idea and we probably don’t have a need to bolt them down.”

“If only we could get him to stop throwing temper tantrums this early in the morning.” Ryan groans, joining Gabriella at the window.

“Oh yes. His mid-day, evening, and bedtime temper tantrums are much more fun.” Harry says, slightly smiling.

“What’s he even going off about this time?” Gabriella asks. “I thought we made it painfully clear when he spent all last week in lockup-“

“He doesn’t care,” Harry says. “He’s never cared. We lock him up- he stays the same. We let him out- he stays the same. The only solution is to up his meds- but they’re already so high that we can’t mess with them anymore.”

“We ought to try something else,” Ryan says. “These meds aren’t working.”

“They’re better than the ones he was on when he got here,” Harry says.

“I’m not a hundred percent certain he’s not spitting them out,” Ryan says.

Harry crosses his arms. “I check his mouth. I look everywhere. He drinks like an entire cup of water. There’s no way he’s hiding them.”

“He just has to be. They’re not working in the slightest.”

“Maybe he’s grown adjusted to them?” Harry says. Interesting. My own crises are currently put on hold for something much more interesting.

“As long as nothing shatters and there are no projectiles.” Gabriella sighs. “No projectiles- no problem.”

I try to peer past them to see who’s causing all this ruckus.

“Oh, Joey’s got him. He likes Joey.” Harry says. “No- he tolerates Joey. He doesn’t like anyone.” Gabriella corrects.

“He’s-“ I finally move past them, to their sides, and take a look into the room where several of the chairs have been tossed about and a man is being corralled by at least five nurses and three orderlies.

I know my face must show my amusement.

“Daken?” Harry asks. “Are… you okay?”

“I’d like to go into the ward now,” I say sweetly. I don’t care if they notice the sudden change in attitude. Something like this? Like what’s going on in there now? Too good to pass up.

“Maybe it’s best if you-“

“I’ll be fine,” I assure. “I want to go in.” I smile. “Please.”

The three doctors look at each other and then shrug. “Okay,” Harry says. “If you’re sure…. I mean… yea. Okay.”

He unlocks a door attached the ward, one that leads from our room directly inside. I step through with a feeling of great ease.

“Where the fuck is my food!??” The man throwing chairs orders. He looks just like I left him. Bald head- usually not a look I go for but hey, needs must be met from time to time- and his tell-tale scar on his forehead.

“If you’d calm down-“ One of the nurses says calmly.

“Not talking to you, lady.” he nods to the doctors. “Talking to them.”

“Breakfast has been delayed- yes,” Gabriella says. “However, that is not a good enough reason for you to react like this. I know you know better.”

“The fuck I do! You knock me out, tie me to a bed, and then refuse to feed me. That’s illegal- fuckers.”

“I highly doubt that you’ve decided to start caring about the law,” Harry says dryly.

“Get me some fucking food,” The man says cooly, “Or I’ll wreck all your shit. It’s real simple.”

“You know you can’t eat for twelve hours after your sessions,” Ryan says. “We haven’t fed you just for that reason. If you’d wait for just twenty more minutes, we’d be happy to get you something.”

“Something with meat.” He orders.

“No- no meat. You can have what you usually have.”

The man looks over the nurse’s and the doctors, looking at me. “Fucks he doing here??” his tone is a unique mixed of surprised and pissed. It’s lovely to hear.

But then, I always did like watching him work himself over. Pissed and Lester go hand in hand. It’s a remarkable combination that takes years to get over. I should know. I still wake up half hard at the thought of watching him work. Of making him tick. He’s the best plaything I’ve ever owned. Ironically the best- but the most broken. People that say they don’t like broken toys have obviously never been with the likes of Bullseye. He’s the best broken person I could possibly imagine.

Oh yes.

I move past the nurses, one of whom tries to push me back. “He’s dangerous-“ She tries.

I chuckle. “Oh is he?”

“Wipe that smirk off your face.” Lester spits. “What are you doing here?”

I can’t believe my luck. Here I am- thinking my life’s gone to hell. Thinking I’d be miserable! And..

This is too amazing. Too wonderful. I’m finally being rewarded!

“Sweetness,” I coo. “You won’t believe how happy I am to see you.”

“How did you find me?” He demands, breaking free from the nurses and moving closer to me.

“Find you? Who says I was looking for you?” I scoff.

“If you’re not looking for me- why the fuck are you here???” He demands, anger boiling over.

“He’s a patient. Like you.” Gabriella says. “Get out of his face. I mean it.”

“Yes Lester. Listen to your handlers.” I soothe. “They know what’s best for someone of your.. mindset.”

“My handlers? More like your handlers shit for brains.” He mocks. “I don’t have to listen to nobody.”

“Double negative. Charming.” I tease.

“Fuck you.” He hisses. “What’d you do? Why are you here? How’d you get in?” He demands, rapid fire.

“They need to up your meds, darling. You’re far too riled up.”I smirk.

“That’s what you think you smug little fucker.” He takes a step forward.

“Back it up.” Harry orders. The doctors stare at me with a definite ‘oh shit’ look.

I can’t help but grin wider. “You look rather contained,” I say smugly. “All bark and … no bite.”

He picks up another chair and hurls it across the room. There’s a loud crash that he looks vaguely satisfied by.

“So you’re really a patient.” He says. “You didn’t track me down?”

“You were hoping for a rescue I gather.”

“Fuck yea. Pop those pretty little claws of yours and let’s blow this shit hole.” He orders. “Do it nice enough and I might let you suck my dick. Maybe. If you’re good and you ask nicely.”

“Lester- that’s enough.” Gabriella snaps. “That kind of talk is not allowed and you know it.”

“Calm your tits.” The man smiles smugly. “I’m just playin’.”

“Yes well your ‘games’ are not appreciated.” She puts her hands on his shoulders- anchoring him down despite their height differences. “There will be no more outbursts today. Do you hear me?” Lester snorts and rolls his eyes.

She pulls him away from the chairs, yanking him forward. She’s a brave woman- I’ll give her that.

“No more outbursts.” She says. “Or I will call Dr. Shawn and move your appointment up- do you understand me? Then you’ll go another day without eating. Do you want that?”

That makes some of the light drain out of his eyes. Who is Dr. Shawn one wonders? Someone who actually scares Lester dear? Might be worth looking into.

“I see that got your attention.” She says smugly. “Pick the chairs up- put them back where they go, and go to your room.”

He looks over her at me. “Does princess have to go too?”

“Daken’s name is not ‘princess’ firstly. Secondly what he does and does not do is not your business. This is not your ward, Lester. And You would do well to remember it.”

He gets that smile- that maniac show of teeth that I’ve come love- and nods. “Sure thing babe. Not my ward. Got it.” He looks over at her at me again. “Where’s he staying?”

“None of your business,” Harry says. “Go to your room.”

“I’m hungry,” Lester says.

“Your breakfast will be brought to you- the same has it has been every morning for the past ten months. Got it?”

“Ten months?” I whistle. “You must have been a very naughty boy.”

Gabriella whips her head in my direction. “Do not bait him.” She growls. “You’ve done enough for this morning. If you continue with your actions- you will also be punished.

I can’t help but smile.

“Oh fuck.” Someone else says. “Junior’s here? Ah no docs you don’t know what you’ve done!” I turn in the direction of a horrendously scarred man. One whose very presence makes my headache “He and Bulls here bump uglies all the time! They’re like frenemies with benefits. We’ll never get anything done! If he gets a booty call- I want a booty call!”

Lester smirks. “You’ve got whatever your little fucked up thing with Mac is. Don’t get greedy. Princess is my cocksucker.”
Lovely. Just what I want to be known for. I’ll have to correct him later. Show him which of us is the real ‘cocksucker’ in this little power dynamic of ours.

“There will be no ‘booty calls’.” Harry snaps. “That’s against the rules and you know it, Wade. One more comment of a sexual nature by any of you- and there will be consequences.”

“Doesn’t stop him and Venom-“

“Mac and Wade are being dealt with as we see fit. That’s none of your business, Lester.” Gabriella says. “You are on thin ice. Watch it.”

“The fuck it isn’t!” He snaps, walking across the room and picking up another chair and tossing it- seemingly effortlessly- back towards the nurse’s station. Well over the doctor’s heads. Though- at this distance- if he really wanted to- he could easily take them out. “Everything is my fucking business! I’m a fucking god around here and you know it!”

I wonder why he hasn’t thought of it yet. Or maybe he has and he fears the consequences? Doesn’t seem very much his style… but whoever she was talking about a moment ago seemed to almost… frighten him.

“Calm down,” Gabriella says. “Please. You’re obviously very manic. I apologize for that. Us messing with your medication seems to have affected you negatively. Take
a few deep breaths and-”

“Not until you get me some food.” He says. “I’ll destroy this entire fucking building if-“

“You’re hungry so you’re going to throw a temper tantrum like a child?” Ryan says. “Do you see how flawed your logic is?”

“Fuck you.” He chuckles, picking up another chair and tossing it- once again at the nurse’s desk. It seems that the nurses are unbothered by this outburst and happen to have evacuated the station before he could make too big of a dent-

“What are you even aiming at???” Harry says in frustration.

“Psht.” The scarred man whispers. “Check out your fancy computers!” He points to the nurse’s station.

“Oh hell no.” Harry snaps. “Not again!!” He walks over to the nurse’s station, finding all of the equipment damaged. “Why?? Why would you do this??” He turns around, frustration clear on his face.

“Get me some fucking food,” Lester says, picking up another chair. “Or else.”

“Put it down.” Gabriella orders. Lester grins, drawing back.

“Duck!” Gabriella and Ryan yell at the same time. Harry narrowly avoids a chair that hits just where his head was.

In the halls, several other men are gathering. Some familiar some plain. None of which are more entertaining than this trainwreck in front of me.

“That is it,” Harry says, stomping his foot. “Go to your room. Now. Or I will drag you there. Go.” He points down the hall.

“Oh yea? You’re gonna drag me down the hall?? You and what army??”

“I have sixteen guards on call- seven of whom are just assigned to you,” Harry says. “The choice is yours- go quietly, wait in your room, and stop with this childish display of… childishness OR keep it up, get dragged down the hall by the guards, sedated, have your appointment for your next session moved up, and miss out on yet another meal. I know you’re hungry. You started this because you were hungry. So go quietly.”

The other two doctors both cross their arms, looking like solid backup.

Lester exhales slowly. “Fine. But I’m not picking up the chairs.”

“Fine,” Harry says. “Just go.”

Lester glares them down before turning and walking down the hall. “See you around princess.” He says. “Whenever you’re ready to put that pretty mouth to work… lemme know.”

Charming.

The doctors turn their attention to me and the scarred man. “Wade, Daken is your roommate. Show him to your room while we get the technology sorted.”
I know this man’s voice and face anywhere. I guess heroing wasn’t all it cracked up to be for him either.

“Sure thing.” He nods. “Come on junior, I’ll give you the ol’ tour.”

“No tour.” Gabriella corrects. “Just take him to your room.”

Wade frowns. “I’ll give you the very short tour.”

“No tour,” Gabriella repeats. “Just take him to your room.”

“Fine.” Wade huffs.

“Nurse Wanda- please get Daken’s things for processing and meet him there.” The bleached blonde nurse who was dealing with the other familiar man nods and walks off to a room behind the nurse’s station.

Wade watches me for a second before saying, “Follow me. I’ll take you la casa de Wade.”

I survey the room one last time- in all it’s destroyed glory. For the first time in well over two weeks- I feel like something has gone my way.

They want to keep me here for three years? Fine. But I’m going to make them regret every single minute of it.

And that? Well that sounds like fun to me.

I can’t wait to get started.

Chapter Text

“So these are your clothes,” The woman hands me a stack of green scrubs “And-“

“I’m not wearing these.” I snarl, pushing them back in her direction. “Go fuck yourself.”

Never- never- in my life will I wear scrubs. The material is uncomfortable, it does nothing to flatter the body, and it’s thin. Barely even there- if you ask me. It’s not like I’m trying to make a fashion statement- not here of all places. But this is the last part of this situation I can control. If I give them my clothes- then they’ve officially contained every last part of me. And that’s not going to happen. Not now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year- not ever. It’s not a fashion statement- it’s a matter of pride.

She puts her hands on her hips- refusing to take the scrubs. “Take it up with the doctor.”

“Which one?” I ask in disgust. Oh I’ll take it up with them. They want to make me miserable?? I can play that game. I can win that game. I own that game. I’ve made authorities miserable since I was a child.

“Pick one.” She smiles. “So.. these are your clothes. Here’s your orientation packet,” She passes me a green folder. No prongs to hold anything, no sharp edges really, and no pockets. Just two pieces of glorified cardboard folded in half. Interesting. I put the scrubs down on the bed and open the ‘folder’.

“Orientation?”

“Schedules. Rules. Policies.” She says. “Go over them as you like. When you’re done- sign the paper in the back saying you’ve read them. We’ll collect that paper tomorrow morning.”

“And if I decide not to sign it?” I ask with a raised eyebrow.

“Then you will be reprimanded.” She says. “There’s a list of the protocols we use for patients openly in defiance of the rules. I suggest you read it.”

I flip through the assortment of papers. “These would be easier to manage if they were stapled together.”

“Staples are considered to be sharps.” She says.

I can imagine Lester dear getting his hands on something as little as a staple and making someone’s life hell. Or… more likely, possibly sending someone to hell. He’s a bit moody when he’s bored- as evidenced by his little ‘meltdown’ earlier.

“Oh we’d hate for someone to get hurt with a staple,” I say sarcastically.

“Given what one of your fellow patients just did with the chairs- I’m sure you can find it within you to muster up a little understanding.” The woman gives my attitude back to me with a smile.

“Understanding. Right.” I’m just full of understanding. I live to be understanding. It’s my life’s goal to be- god I can’t even finish that thought in my head. Much less aloud.

The room feels small. It’s dark- the overhead light being turned out at the moment, casting shadows over two small beds. Each with charts at the foot. “Why are our charts here?”

“So the doctors can find them.”

“Shouldn’t they have a copy?”

“Oh they do.” She nods. “They have a copy, we have a copy, the orderlies have a copy- there are multiple copies. This one is just for when they deem you dangerous enough to restrain you to the bed.”

I exhale slowly. Restraints. Fun. They just now uncuffed me. I don’t look forward to having my motion restricted any time soon.

“Aren’t they worried we’ll read them?”

“No.” She says. “You can read them if you so desire. They won’t tell you much. Those are the bare minimum. What medications you’re on, what doctors you’re seeing, what treatments you’re undergoing, the last time you ate, the last time you showered, the last time you-“

“I get it.” I interrupt. “I get it.”

“Good.” She smiles. “Now read the packet and sign the page in the back.”

“Does there happen to be a privacy policy in there?”

She smiles again. “No.”

“No?”

“Privacy isn’t something many of our patients can afford- yourself included. You’re a disturbed individual. You need constant supervision.”

There’s a chuckle from across the room, turning my attention in that direction.

“Got something to add?” I growl.

The chuckler smiles. “No.”

“Then shut up.”

Outside the room there are people starting to stir. Doors opening and closing, people shuffling down the hall with tired voices, nurse’s shoes slapping against the floor while they ‘supervise’ everyone. It’s louder than it should be. Inside the room, besides the nurse and myself, Wade is flopped down on his back on his bed, one leg perched on his other knee as he kicks his foot in the air. Like a teenage girl at a sleepover.

It’s…. vexing. Lester? I can understand Lester being here. Lester said something about Mac- I only know one Mac but.. that would make the mystery man from earlier observations make sense. I’ve only seen him without the symbiote a hand full of times. And judging by the weird thing that man had going on about his wrists- I’m willing to bet that they couldn’t remove the whole thing. They’ve ‘tamed’ Venom very temporarily. How is he doing with this ‘liquid’ diet- one wonders. How hasn’t he eaten anyone yet? Mac devoured everything in sight when we were “Avengers”. I can’t imagine they’re feeding him like Norman was. All those missing ‘undesirables’ that seemed to pop up in close proximity to the tower. Oh no. How horrible.

How will he do without a few hookers to tide him over?

Anyway Lester and Mac- understandable. But Wade? Wade fucking Wilson? Annoyance of pretty much everyone he comes into contact with? He’s one of the “good” guys… isn’t he? I mean- I know he’s insane. Everyone knows he’s insane. But what did he do to get himself sent to a place like this? You think one of the heroes would have put in a decent word for him.

“There are surveys to fill out every morning.” The nurse continues. “Things to tell us how you’re feeling, how much you slept, homicidal thoughts and urges- things like that.”

That escalated far too quickly for my taste. Those three things aren’t related in the slightest.

“I’d like for you to fill one out after you get changed. Give us a good reading on you so far. Please be honest. If you’re feeling particularly dangerous- let one of the nurses know. We can give you some medication that can take the edge off. You’re a fighter. We understand that. A lot of the men who come here are. We’re under the impression that you just don’t know any better. It’s a hard habit to break. However, you will find no need to fight with us. We’re understanding to your needs and try to work with you as much as possible. When a need arises, just let us know.” She smiles. “We’re here to help. You’ll only get better if you work with us.”

“Junior’s gonna be just fine Nurseiepoo.” Wade says. “I’ll take greeeeeaaat care of him.”

“I’m happy to hear that, Wade.” The nurse says with a warm smile. “Make sure he knows the ins and outs of how we work. You know how … hard the adjustment period is. We want his to go smoothly. He’s a very special patient.”

Special patient my ass.

Wade nods. “Yep. I’ll be sure to rouse his spirits.”

She keeps her smile. “That’s wonderful to hear.” she turns back to me. “How about you go change, Daken?”

“I don’t see a problem with what I’m wearing,” I say cooly, looking down at my attire.

“It’s not standard issue. New patients wear scrubs. When you’ve been here for a few weeks and we know you’re going to behave- you can have your sweats back.”

“Like hell I’m wearing scrubs for weeks. I’m keeping my clothing.”

I note that Wade’s wearing sweats- meaning he’s been here a ‘few’ weeks. When’s the last time I saw him? When’s the last time I heard about him? I don’t remember. I try to stay so far away from him that his whereabouts are always a surprise. I think he likes it that way. I mean… he works with Logan. Surely the man would have put up a fight to have one of his team members closer to home.

“Daken, you can change your clothing on your own or we can call a couple of orderlies in here to do it for you. Either way, you are changing.” She says. “We just talked about working with us.”

“I don’t want to work with you over something as minor as my clothing. I don’t see a problem with what I’m wearing. The other hospital already checked me over for sharps and contraband. I don’t see a need to do it again. There’s no way I can hurt anyone with these articles of clothing. You’re just doing this to embarrass me. I refuse to cooperate with this power play.”

“Power play? Daken, all we want is for you to comply with the rules.” She chuckles. “You are a suspicious thing, aren’t you?”

I exhale slowly. “I do not want to wear scrubs. I have my own clothing. I would like to keep it.” I say in summary. “This exercise is pointless.”

“That’s not your call, I’m afraid.” She picks the scrubs up off the bed. “You can keep your undergarments. Does that help?”

Help? “No that doesn’t help.” I snap. “In what world would that help?”

“I figured it would make you less uncomfortable.” She says offhandedly. “You don’t have to strip all the way. Not yet. We’re not going to pat you down. You just have to change into the scrubs. We’ve got several different pairs, different colors too- if that helps.”

“I don’t want to make a fashion statement- I want to keep my fucking clothes!”

“That’s not an option.” She says.

“Then make it one!”

“I’d lower my voice if I were you.” She warns.

“Or what?” I snarl. “You’re going to imprison me? Implant things inside of me? Force me to starve? What are you possibly going to do that they’re not already doing??”

“Easy Wolvie,” Wade says. “Nurse Wanda’s a hardass.”

“Wade,” She says in a warning tone.

He holds his hands up. “It’s true babe.”

She sighs. “Don’t call me ‘babe’.”

“It’s not a gender thing.” He clarifies. “I call everyone babe.”

“Since when?” I ask, derailed from my train of thought.

“Since two weeks ago when I decided to start calling everyone babe. Duh.” Wade rolls his eyes.

Nurse Wanda turns her attention back to me. “We can step into the bathroom for privacy. And you can talk to the doctors about your other statements. I’ll be writing them a full report.”

I look around the room- which houses no other door.

“I’m not changing,” I say.

“You are changing.” She corrects. “Go to the bathroom and change your clothes.”

“I don’t even know where the bathroom is!” I snap. “Unless that’s something I’m not allowed to have either. If you’re going to make us shit in the corner like dogs-“

She nods to the doorway. “Down the hall. We’re not going to restrict your bathroom privileges. It’s inhumane to do so. Our doctors would never allow it.”

“We share a communal bathroom?” I ask in disgust, disregarding her other statements about ‘fairness’ and her ‘caring’ attitude. I want a fight. No- not want. I NEED a fight. She’s going to give it to me.

I’m going to get my way. This is something so simple- but I will win. It’s matter of pride. They’ve stripped so much from me already. I refuse to be dehumanized by these fuckers.

She nods. “It’s kept cleaner that way. Better than ‘shitting in a corner like dogs’- right?”

“Eleven men to one bathroom??” I ask in sheer awe.

“It’s a big bathroom.” She promises. “A shower area, sinks, and bathroom stalls. It’s just easier to keep you in line if we can watch you in one place.” She says. “That’s it. It’s for supervision.”

“Keeps us from jacking off,” Wade says.

“Wade,” She says again. “Wording.”

“I’m sorry.” He clears his throat. “It keeps us from pleasuring ourselves most gloriously.”

“They really enforce that??” I ask him.

“Oh yea,” he says. “Greg the schizophrenic says they have chastity belts… but I don’t know how true that is. He’s a schizophrenic after all. Not the most reliable source.”

“Greg is delusional, I assure you,” Wanda says. “There are no chastity devices.”

“That’s what someone who was hiding the truth about chastity devices would say,” Wade says.

“Wade, don’t try to scare him.” She says warningly.

“Not trying to scare him,” Wade says innocently. “I’m spreading the word!”

Wanda sighs. “Down the hall. Let’s go, Daken.”

“I’m not changing.” I cross my arms, packet still in hand. It’s an awkward position but I hold it.

“You are changing.” She says. “There is no other option.”

“There is another option,” I argue. “You can go fuck yourself and let me keep my clothes.”

Wanda purses her lips. “I don’t like being cursed at.”

“I don’t care what you like.” I chuckle.

The room is cold- I can’t imagine wearing scrubs would make it any warmer.

“Empathy is a required skill in life.” She says. “You should care. You should be sympathetic to the other people in your life.”

Like… Johnny? Johnny needed something stable. I’m clearly not stable. I just need to be… understanding of his needs. Fuck if that will happen, however. I’m still pissed at him. More pissed at Parker. I bet Wade would share that sentiment…. they were the worst kept secret in the superhero community. Now his boytoy is with my boytoy and we’re both imprisoned in the same room. It’s like fate is giving me the bird.

“I don’t give a flying fuck what you think is a “required skill in life”. I’m not changing. You can’t make me change. No one can make me do anything. I’m not putting up with any of your shit. And if you have a problem with that- then you can fuck off.”

“I will ask you one more time.” She says. “Just once. Go change your clothes in the bathroom and stop giving me a hard time.”

“Fuck you.” I snarl.

She glares at me. “Stay put.” She turns heel and exits the room, leaving me to stare at Wade who’s shaking his head.

“Shoulda just changed clothes, junior.” He says.

“Shut up.” I hiss, staring at my new bed. Fuck am I sick of hospital beds. A pile of white blankets is folded at the foot of the bed, which is no larger than a twin. I haven’t slept in a twin bed in ages. It’s almost insulting.

“Wanda’s a hardass.” He says. “She’ll make your life hell. We usually try to give her anything her little heart desires.” he plays with the drawstring to his sweats. “She’ll make you miserable if you piss her off. Trust me. She used to hate me.”

“She can try.” I chuckle. “My life’s already hell. I can’t imagine it getting any worse.”

“That’s because they haven’t sent you to Dr. Shocky yet,” Wade says. “That’s who Bullseye sees.” Wade pauses. “Puts the fear of God into him.” He effects a southern drawl. “Damn near makes him piss himself. That only pisses him off worse though- so I wouldn’t bring it up.”

“Dr. Shocky?” I ask. The name is self-explanatory, I’m sure. I just don’t recall that being a method that is ‘federally tested’ in things outside of conversion therapy.

It’s an evil I didn’t think held much weight in the medical world in this day and age.

“Mm-hmm. They got this thing called ‘repulsion therapy’- too. Shows you a bunch of pictures and makes you puke when you look at them. It’s supposed to make you like the sight of violence and blood a little less.” He looks at me. “They do that one to him a lot too. The larger the psycho, the harder they push. I imagine the amazing Dr. Ryan’s going to make Lester dears life a living hell later on today…. he decides who sees who. I’d play nice with him too if I were you.”

Take advice… from Deadpool? I must be insane for even entertaining the thought of heeding his words.

“I didn’t think shocks and repulsion were legal,” I say in repulsion.

“They’re legal in certain circumstances. Cases like assassins who kill people for shits and giggles? The law tends to turn a blind eye.” He nods to me. “You killed all those baby fuckers- right? Tortured them to death for their sins?” I nod. “Oh yea. You’re probably going to see a lot of the repulsion stuff.” he sticks his tongue out. “Nasty shit junior. Nasty, nasty, nasty.”

“Are you trying to scare me?” I ask.

Wade laughs. “Yes… and no. I’m ‘showing you the ins and outs’.” He says. “Trust me- you don’t want either of those treatments to happen to you.” He laughs again. “You know what it’s like to just puke oatmeal and soup? It sucks. The taste never leaves your mouth- no matter how much you brush your teeth.”

“Wonderful.” I grouse. What a kind warning for him to bestow. What a fucked up place this seems to be.

‘Federally tested methods’ indeed. I guess they didn’t tell me in what era those methods were tested in… maybe they didn’t want to say anything in front of Logan. God knows I almost had him taking me with him. Didn’t he say something about making some calls? I wonder if that’s still on the table…. not that I need help. I’ve never needed his help. I will NEVER need his help. It… just … would be nice. It’s not like I’m counting on it. It’s not like I’m going to be disappointed…. I just thought he’d put a little more thought into getting rid of me.

This seems… more insulting than anything.

He’s insulted me plenty over the years. This just seems to take the cake- as it were.

I realize I’ve been spacing off and try to turn my attention back to my ‘roommate’. Wade doesn’t seem to mind. He’s going off about toothpaste and the fact that we don’t get hot water. All seemingly random to me. Though, to be honest, even if I had been paying attention- it probably would still be random. That’s basically Wade’s calling card. “Oh yea- brushing your teeth- that’s a fun fact.” He holds up a finger as if making a point with it. “The toothbrushes are chained to the wall. You’ll have to stand mighty close. Everyone has their own, of course. They take it with you into the bathroom and then chain it to the wall on these little bungee cords. It kinda sucks.”

That is… odd. “What? Why?”

“Bulls blinded one of the orderlies with a toothbrush. Damn near almost killed him. If he hadn’t been so zonked out of his meds at the time and thrown just a smidge harder,” he pitches his thumb and forefinger together. “It’d have been a clean kill.”

“Wonderful” I repeat. “Anything else?”

“Hmm.” Wade sits up in his bed. “The bathroom has stalls- but they stand outside them when you’re using them. So taking a shit is a little awkward. A few days in, however, once all you’ve had is liquids- it doesn’t matter much.” He chuckles. “I haven’t had a solid shit in months. At first, it was a little gross.. but yea. It’s cool. That being said, don’t get in the bathrooms with Mac. Dude will blow that shit up. It’s nasty.” He smiles, almost fondly.

“Oka-“

“Tv’s play three stations.” He says. “Lifetime, PBS, and ESPN.”

“Really?” That’s… random.

He nods. “Really.”

“Why?” I ask, not liking the idea of any of that ‘entertainment’.

“Life lessons and empathy, education, and sports cause you know- guys like sports.” he counts his points out on his fingers. “But if Mac has the remote, we’re watching Lifetime movies all day.”

This is the second time he’s brought Mac up. Odd.

“And does Mac have control of the Tv’s often?” I probe.

“Oh yea.” He laughs. “You’re welcome to try to take the remote… but he’ll probably bite you.” So he does have the symbiote.

“So he’s still Venom.”

Wade nods. “Sorta.”

“Sorta?”

he nods again. “He’s got enough of it left to have teeth and some minor tentacle action. Just enough to do some fun shit. Trust me.” he smiles. “Or don’t. I dunno. We’re kinda unclear about the whole ‘sneaky who’s whose bitch thing right now. I don’t know if he’s jealous or not… and I don’t want you to get bit.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask in confusion.

Wade sighs. “Just because they say we can’t do the dance of no pants doesn’t mean we have to listen. Me and Mac have…. found some ways around it. I’d be happy to show you… ya know. Off the record.”

OH.

Well…. “If you get caught though- you’ll have a bunch of dudes upset with you. It takes forever to find new ways to do the deed. And a lot of dudes get caught ‘exploring’.”

“What happens when they catch you?” I’m truly curious.

“I dunno,” Wade says. “I haven’t been caught. They know it’s happening… but they never catch me. I’m like a sex ninja.” He stops. “Is that offensive?”

“Is what offensive?” I’m confused again.

“Me saying I’m a sex ninja.”

“No…” I stare at him. “Why would that be offensive?”

“Because your Asian.” He says in a whisper. “Ninja’s are Asian.”

“Most ninja’s are Asian. Not all of them.” I frown. “Assuming that they’d be is slightly racist but not offensive.”

“Oh good.” Wade claps his hands. “So… tv channels, sexy times, doctors…” He mumbles to himself. “I’m forgetting something….. OH!” He snaps his fingers, “Don’t go in the private room.”

“Why?”

“Just don’t,” Wade says. “For the sake of everyone in the ward- just leave that room alone.”

“Why?” I repeat.

“Just do.” He says cryptically. “So yea. That’s about it… I think.”

“Fine,” I say. “Fine. that’s all manageable.”

He nods. “OH! Showers- I forgot about showers! They watch you. And pat you down every time you get naked. Check your clothes. Check you for marks-“

“Marks?”

“Dudes get… desperate. They hurt themselves. Took them forever to believe that my scars were there before I got here. “ he shakes his head. “Sometimes it’s straight up pervy.”

I go to say something, but Nurse ‘hardass’ is back with two large gentlemen in tow.

“Daken,” She says. “This is Paul and Simon.” Paul- the one she pointed to when she said the name, is missing an eye. He’s a large blonde man with his hair shaved close to his head. I’m guessing he was involved in the toothbrush incident. It doesn’t look like it’s done much in improving to his temperament.

Simon is a fat brunette man with glasses. Looks like someone who’d be into telling women why feminism is a plague and reading those stupid comic books they produce about the so-called ‘heroes’. That’s just a first impression though. He may be much worse. Who knows?

“I see.” I nod to the men. “And they’re going to force me to change?”

“They’re going to help you change, yes.” She says with a smug smile. “Follow them to the bathroom, please. Don’t make this any harder.” She turns to Wade, “They’re lining up for breakfast. You skipped dinner last night, so you’re expected to eat this morning.”

“I didn’t skip dinner.” Wade rolls his eyes. “I momentarily lost my appetite.”

“That’s not what I heard,” Simon whispers to Paul.

Wade smiles. “I’ll go now.”

I feel like I’ve missed something. Knowing Wade- I doubt it will help to ask. It’s probably best if I just leave it alone.

“Good.” The nurse says, turning back to me. “Pick up the scrubs and follow these men to the bathroom.”

I have very few choices here…. however, I’m not surrendering my clothing. That’s just not an option. What are they going to do? Strip me? They can try. I’m uncuffed. I can easily beat their asses. Logan’s warnings from the other day stick out in my mind. His expression today. His ‘don’t fight with them’ attitude. I must prove to them, and myself, that I’m not going to be bowled over. I’ve already lost ground with my little meltdown when Logan left. I need to not give another inch. Another centimeter, even. If I’m going to be here- fine. I accept that. (Somewhat) However, I do not intend to go down quietly. They want to make my life hell?? That works two ways.

“I’m not changing,” I say, putting the packet on the bed and moving to the other side of the room.

“That’s not an option,” Simon says.

“I’m not changing,” I repeat. “I don’t want to change. I don’t want to wear scrubs. So I’m not going to do it.” I smirk. “Fuck off.”

Paul takes a step forward.

“Annnnnnd I’m out.” Wade squeezes past them, out into the hallway. “Exsqueeze me.” He says. “This is a level of crazy I don’t want to see this early.”

Wanda follows him. “The line is at the other end of the ward, Wade.” She chides.

“I knew that,” Wade says from outside. “I was seeing if you knew that.”

“I do. Now go. You’re wasting time. You know I don’t like it when you waste my time.”

“Sure thing babe.” Wade practically chirps.

The woman sighs, loudly. “Don’t call me babe.”

Their voices move further and further from the door, leaving me with my two new friends.

“You’re going to change,” Paul says. “You’re not leaving this room until you do.”

“Thought I was changing in the bathroom.” If I’m going to change- and that’s a big if- I want to be in the bathroom. I’m not a prude by any means- but I’m not giving these men a show.

“That’s off the table now,” Simon says. “You decided to be difficult. Nurse Wanda has vacated… so we’ll just strip you right here.”

“You’re not stripping me,” I smirk. “That’s illegal.”

Paul chuckles. “And who’s going to report us? You? You’re in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane.” He smirks. “No one would believe you.”
That… is true.

“Let’s try this another way.” I return his smirk. “If you touch me- I will hurt you.” My voice is cold. I know they know what I can do. I’m in here for doing something ‘disturbed’. If they think I’ll hesitate for a second- they are wrong. I may not have my powers- but I can fight. Even if I can’t outweigh the two of them, my technique will more than save me.

“You hear that Simon?” Paul is grinning, looking strangely predatory. “Music to my ears.”

“Oh?” I take a step back.

He nods. “You just threatened us. Now we have to take ‘any measure necessary’ to contain you.”

“Oh?” I repeat, slowly and very unnoticeably, bracing myself for conflict.

“So… now you’re a threat. You could hurt us. You could hurt yourself….. we don’t want that to happen.” Paul says.

“That would be terrible.” Simon agrees.

“We’re all about safety here,” Paul says with a nod. “Now. We’ve got a few choices. We can restrain you, hold you to the bed while we get you into your new clothes and everything. We can sedate you- we really don’t wanna do that one. You’re not necessarily upset enough for it. We can forgo all of these options and you can change your clothes like a big boy and behave. What are we gonna do?”

I glance at them in detest. “I have alternative options,” I announce.

“Oh? This’ll be good.” Simon says.

“You could fuck off. You could go fuck yourselves. Or, you can fuck yourselves and the respective horses you rode in on.” I smirk. “What are we gonna do?”

Paul crosses his arms. “You have a potty mouth.” He says. “And a bad attitude.”

“And you have a few too many missing brain cells.”

“He’s taking a fighting stance,” Simon says. “Something like…. Some kinda Karate… I think.”

Please. Like I would try karate on them. It’s so… basic.

“So you wanna fight,” Paul says. “Right out the gate.” He cracks his knuckles. “We can’t hit you.” He says. “We don’t wanna hit you. We want you to change your clothes. Let’s make this easy on all of us and just do as we say- okay?”

“I don’t give a fuck.” I sneer. “I’m not changing.”

“The scrubs are pretty comfy,” Simon says. “Give ‘em a try before you do anything you’ll regret.”

“I have very few regrets,” I say. “I don’t plan on making this one of them.”

“Then you’ll behave?” Paul asks.

“Fuck off,” I say simply. “Really. Fuck off. I’m not changing. I won’t EVER change. I’ll wear this same outfit for three fucking years if I have to. Just so you don’t get it.”

They look between each other. “Cool,” Paul says finally. “Simon, you hold him down. I’ll strip him.”

They both move at one time, closing the distance between us.

I move just as quickly, punching Simon in the face while turning in a circle and kicking Paul in the gut- I get enough height to land on Wade’s bed. However, the mattress makes for uneven footing. “Get down.” Paul orders, coming closer. I kick him in the face, knocking him onto his ass. Simon grabs my foot and pulls me to the floor, putting his oversized knee in the small of my back and grabbing my arm, twisting it behind me.

I to swipe him with my claws and feel instant pain. “OW!”

“What did you do?” Paul asks. “Go easy on him bro.”

“I didn’t do anything that would hurt him!” Simon defends. I try to use my claws again, only to get the same result.

“My knuckles!” I groan.

“I didn’t touch your knuckles,” Simon says.

“No.. my claws… and my knuckles.. the implants-“ My brain is moving too quickly. Not only have they declawed me- they’ve turned my claws against me! That’s insult to injury!”

“Your… claws?” Simon asks.

“He’s got implants over his claws…. guess he tried to use them and hurt himself.”

“That means he was tryin’ to hurt us,” Simon says.

“But he didn’t. He can’t.” Paul says. “Don’t worry about it.” The man gets up from where I knocked him down. “He’s powerless.”

That hurts like a kick to the gut. Powerless? Me???

“In that case,” Simon grabs my arm more tightly, firmly pushing his knee into my back. “Lay still.” He tells me. “You’re only making it worse. We don’t want you to get hurt again.” he watches me struggle for a minute.“Paul- get his pants.”

I can’t move and that enrages me. “GET OFF!” I try to buck him, but it’s easily 300 pounds of fat on top of me.

Paul moves behind me, out of sight. “Nice and easy,” Simon says. “Minimum contact.”

“Right, right,” Paul says, putting his hand in the hem of my sweatpants. 

This is too much degradation to bear. “GET THE FUCK OFF ME!”

“Easy now.” Simon hushes. “Easy.”

I struggle uselessly.

“If you were to behave yourself, we could stop and let you change on your own. However, attacking us is a direct violation of the code of conduct. You’re going to have to accept any and all consequences that come from your actions.”

Consequences seem to be a buzz word around here.

I feel a draft as they strip me. It only adds to the rage in the pit of my stomach.

“Are you gonna keep fighting?” Simon asks. “You can dress yourself if you promise not to fight anymore.”

“FUCK OFF!” I snarl, bucking against him. 

“Fine.” Paul hisses, grabbing the scrubs off the bed and shoving the pants up my body. The material is less than ‘comfy’.

“Shirt?” Simon says.

“I mean… I don’t know. It’s a t-shirt. Surely he can keep the t-shirt.”

“I don’t know,” Simon says. “They said to strip him of everything.”

“Should we have taken the briefs?”

“No…. let’s not and say we did,” Simon says. “I have zero desire to see him naked.”

Ouch.

“Shirt,” Paul says. “Let’s have it.”

“I’ll have to get off of him,” Simon says.

“Well let him sit up and hold him down by the shoulders,” Paul says with a nod. This is… oh fuck it. This is pointless.

“I’ll change.” I snap. “I’ll change!”

“Nope. We’re gonna do it for you.” Simon says. “You lost that privilege.”

“We’re gonna let you sit up,” Paul says to me. “And you’re gonna behave. Or else.”

Or else? “Fuck you.” I snarl.

“Potty mouth,” Simon says.

“Fuck you, too.”

“People usually try to make friends with us,” Paul says. “You’re going about this all wrong.”

“Sit him up,” Simon says. “I’m done with this. He’s gonna change that shirt and then we’re gonna take him to see Dr. Shawn.”

“Really? First thing?” Paul says.

“Oh yea,” Simon says. “We’re nipping this is the bud. We don’t want another one.”

“Another what?” Paul asks.

Simon nods his head in the direction of the hall. “Another one of him.”

I glance over and notice someone leaning in the doorway. I didn’t even hear him. Who knows how long he’s been there.

“Hate to break it to ya fellas.. but you’re probably just turning him on.” The voice says jokingly.

“Darling… if you could lend me a hand….” I coo.

“Oh, like you gave me a hand?” Lester smirks. “I don’t think so. Help yourself.” His eyes hold a glint to them. “Little helpless without your claws- aren’t you princess? Poor baby.”

“Shut up,” I growl.

“Awh babe. Don’t be like that.” Lester mocks. “I’m just tryin’ to have a good time….”

“You’re supposed to be in your room,” Simon says in a tone very much colder than the one he’s used with me.

“Am I?”

Paul turns his full attention to him. “Yes. You are. And you know you are. So go.”

“Come on Paulie… I’m just having some fun.”

“Go have fun by yourself…. or I swear I will page Dr.Shawn personally.”

Lester goes stiff. “You do that.” He says coldly. “And I’ll take your other eye.”

“Oh boy, oh boy,” Paul says cruelly. “I have been hoping you would say something like that. Like really hoping for it. Praying for it, even.” he stands up, tossing the shirt to Simon. “Think you can handle it?”

Simon pats my back. “Oh yea.”

Paul nods. “Okay man.” He turns to Lester. “You and me. Let’s go.”

This is… amusing. “Go?” Lester snorts. “Where?”

“You know where.”

“You can’t do that.” Lester sneers. “You can’t do anything. You’re a glorified babysitter.”

Paul smirks. “Come on. You and me. Let’s go.”

“Fuck you,” Lester says.

Paul walks over and grabs him by the arm.

“Don’t fucking touch me.” Lester yanks back, moving out of the doorway.

“Don’t make me get the cuffs.” Paul is saying.

“Fuck off!” Lester sounds just a little panicked.

“Christie bring me the cuffs,” Paul says to someone else.

There’s quite the commotion in the hall- all of which I can’t see from my current position.

“Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck the hell off!” Lester says all in one breath.

“Oh yea,” Paul says. “It’s not so much fun- huh? Not when you don’t have the upper hand- hold still. And don’t try any of that cardiac arrest bullshit.”

Oh? I knew Lester had done that before… I didn’t know he could still do it, however.

The man on top of me removes his knee. “That’s all exciting, huh?” He says jokingly. “Paul and Lester have a… difficult relationship.” he hands me the shirt. “Lester is one of the most dangerous patients here…. if he can handle him… obviously, there’s not much room for you to try anything.” I’m offended.

“I’m far more dangerous than Lester is,” I growl.

“Oh yeah?” He lifts the hem of my white t-shirt. “Off.”

I sit up and glare at him. “Take it off, man.” The man says. “Or else.”

“Or else what?” I snarl. “What else could you possibly do?”

“We’re not above carting you away.” He jerks his thumb in the direction of the hallway. “Dr. Shawn has a nice waiting room. It can easily hold more than one person.”

“Who is this doctor everyone keeps talking about??” I demand.

“Dr. Shawn Marcos. Affectionally known as ‘Dr. Shocky’ by your roommate. He’s trying to get the name to catch on. Everyone else just calls him Shocker… the name should be self-explanatory.”

“ECT isn’t a valid treatment,” I say pointedly.

“Sure it is. In some states.” He smiles. “Change your shirt.”

“Or you’ll shock me?”

“Or I’ll put you on a very short waiting list to be shocked.” He says, raising an eyebrow. “Surely a shirt isn’t a good enough reason to put yourself through that.”

I… have to agree. Begrudgingly. All jokes aside, Lester did seem quite.. genuine in his fear. And I’ve seen him scared on about three occasions. It doesn’t happen that often.

“FINE!” I snap. “Fine! I’ll stop fighting and put on the fucking shirt.” I take my shirt off and throw at him, pulling the green scrubs over my head in one jerky movement.

“Now… was that so hard?” Simon asks. “New clothes aren’t so bad- are they?” I resist the urge to punch him.

“Now, you and I are going to go see Gabriella. She’s got your breakfast for you.”

“Pass.” I snarl.

“She’s got you something to drink- then.” He says. “Surely you’re thirsty. You’ve gotta be. Don’t make yourself miserable just to be a pain.”

I glare at him, contemplating my options. To be honest, there aren’t many to contemplate.

“Come on, man,” Simon says. “Let’s go. The other’s are leaving the ward as we speak. You’ll have some time away from the crowd.”

I have to… agree. I need to scope out my territory before becoming a spectacle. This ward apparently doesn’t get very many new patients. The ones who are here seem to have been here for a while. Being new is going to put a giant target on my back.

“Fine,” I say cooly. “I will go with you.”

He nods. “We’re only half serious about the Doctor thing. They’re on the fence about your treatment. Word to the wise? Don’t push them over that fence. Behave. Things are much easier if you do. IF not… well…” he shrugs. “It’s your life man. You wanna make it miserable, be my guest.”

“My life is already miserable.”

Simon looks me over. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He says. “You could talk to someone about it if you want… our doctors really are understanding.”

“Pass.” I snarl getting to my feet and brushing some fine dust off my arms. “This room is filthy,” I complain.

“Yea… that’s Wade’s fault. Patients are encouraged to clean their own living spaces. It gets really bad about… every three weeks. Then we clean it out for him.”

“If you know you’re going to have to clean it- why not just go ahead and do it?” I ask, disgusted.

“We want Wade to take pride in his living environment. And hygiene. Dude can be downright nasty sometimes.”

I glance the man over, waiting to see if he’s kidding. “I want another roommate,” I order. Like hell I’ll be living with fucking Deadpool.

“Nope. The rooms are done in pairs. Five sets of roommates.”

“But there are eleven patients,” I say in confusion.

“Yep.” he nods. “One of our patients has a private room. Big money. Probably a rather short stay… relatively speaking anyway.”

Oh really? “And how much money does one have to have to get a private room?”

He raises an eyebrow. “A lot.”

“How much, though?”

“More than your daddy wants to pay.” He snorts. “Walk. Down the hall to the living space.”

I begrudgingly follow his orders, stepping into the hall and making my way back towards the nurse’s desk.

“Ah. There you are.” Gabriella says, clapping her hands together. “You have two options in the morning- eat with the others in the cafeteria or stay behind and eat in the ward. Sometimes, you lose your cafeteria privileges altogether and have no choice in the matter. For the sake of not overwhelming you- we decided to let you eat here this morning.”

“How kind.” I roll my eyes. She smiles and motions to a long table that’s been set up, surrounded by five chairs. On top of the table is a variety of foods- all liquid or mush. It brings utter disgust to my mind.

“Oatmeal, grits, or smoothie.” She says. “Eat as much as you want… just eat.”

In the middle of the table is a large container of apple juice. “Ah. You gave us juice. How adult-like.”

“Better than nothing, I’m sure.” She pulls out one of the heavy plastic chairs that Lester was tossing around, waving me into it with her hand.

“There’s no silverware,” I say after a brief observation.

“That there isn’t.” She nods, turning to someone else. “I’m told Lester’s been removed from the ward?”

Wanda nods. “Yes ma’am.”

“Pity. But… bring out some silverware. Two sets if you will.” Two?

“Are you joining me?”

She smiles. “As much as I’d love to take you up on that offer- no. I have business elsewhere. However, you will have a fellow patient to keep you company.” She turns back to Wanda, who’s setting down plastic spoons. “Has anyone woken him yet?”

The woman nods. “He… once again, threatened to have my job if we keep waking him up this early.”

“Early? It’s nearly eight.” Gabriella shakes her head. “Don’t worry dear, your job is not in danger here. Remember- he is a patient. You are an employee. It doesn’t matter how much money he has- he is of no threat to you.”

This is…. insightful.

“I know, I know,” Wanda says. “But when he goes off like that…”

“Yes well… we’ll just adjust his meds until he calms back down.” Gabriella smiles, patting Wanda on the shoulder. “Go. Drag him out if you must.”

Wanda nods. “Yes ma’am.”

The woman goes down the very hall I’d just left, to the very end, knocking on the last door to the left.

I hear the occupant yell something at the woman, who sighs and opens the door against his wishes.

“He’s not a morning person,” Gabriella says with a smile. “I apologize for that. I think you’ll find his company very annoying at this time of day.”

“Wonderful.”

She nods. “I’m sorry you had to see what happened to Lester.” She looks down at me. “I assure you, our orderlies are usually quite compassionate.”

“So I’ve gathered by them holding me down and removing my clothing,” I growl.

She smiles. “Ah. Then you’ve learned not to be a pain- haven’t you?”

“Hardly.” I snort. Wanda comes back down the hall followed by what I have to say is the most shocking revelation I’ve come to face in several years. “You? Here?” I chuckle. “This is too…. amazing. After everything, I feel like I’m being rewarded. First Lester then… you? This is too amazing.”

“Shut up.” The man demands.

This man….. who I spent so much time undermining and scheming against and disobeying… who had my ‘leash’ in his hands… and he’s here.

“Apparently they’ll let just about anyone in here, won’t they?” he sneers to the nurse.

“Apparently.” I counter. “Wade, Lester, Mac, Me, and the mighty Norman Osborn. Is this where you disappeared off to?”

He glares at me, his eyes still holding that ‘better than you’ expression they always have. How he can pull it off here? I don’t know where he gets the nerve.

“Where I’ve been is none of your business you low life.” He snarls.

“Norman, please,” Gabriella says. “It’s too early.”

“Then leave me in my room and don’t disturb me. My demands are quite clear.”

“We don’t take your demands.” Wanda butts in. “Sit down.”

He glares at her.

“You’re on the same level as every other patient in this ward,” Gabriella says. “Respect the staff. The rules are quite clear.”

“I’ll respect the staff when they start doing actions worthy of respect.” He sneers.

“Are you well, Norman? You’re looking a little green.” I say slyly.

He turns on me so quickly, I fear for his neck. “Shut up.” He hisses.

“Daken, please.” Gabriella sighs. “Just eat.”

Norman takes a seat while looking all to ‘holier than thou’. “The hell is this?”

“Food,” Wanda says.

“I don’t eat this.”

“Ryan and I have decided that your diet should be the same as everyone else’s,” Gabriella says. “We’ve already talked about this.”

“So you intend to starve me.” He says.

“You’ll not starve, I assure you.” Gabriella hands him a spoon from the table. “Eat. Or we will make you.”

“Make me? Make me?” He laughs- somewhat hysterically. “You can’t MAKE me do anything. I”ll have your job. I’ll have this whole fucking hell hole! And then I’ll make YOU eat this shit.”

“This is a no rambling zone,” Wanda says. “Keep your delusions to yourself.”

“My… My delusions? You’re the delusional one you cow!” He snaps. “Money is everything! It’s power! I have power! You will obey me or-“

“If you continue this tirade, you will be sent to Dr. Mendes.” Gabriella says crisply. “Do you want to continue?”

He shuts his mouth and exhales deeply.

“That’s what I thought.”

Yet another ‘scary’ doctor? Do tell.

“Eat your food,” Wanda says smugly.

“I don’t understand why you’re doing this.” He says snottily. “You let fucking Gargan eat what he wants.”

“Mac is on a special diet to keep him from eating the other patients,” Gabriella says matter-of-factly. “That’s a simple truth. We can’t fully remove the symbiote without it killing him- they’re too bonded. He needs meat. We accept that and he is fed. You are not host to an alien entity. You are not at times a carnivorous cannibal. And, quite frankly, you have too dull of teeth to be asking for a diet like Mac’s. So eat.” Everyone is silent for a minute.

“I don’t see-“

“Mr. Osborn, I will hear no more of this,” Gabriella says. “Eat.”

He starts to grumble to himself while taking some of the oatmeal and putting it into the bowl in front of him. The consistency is basically water. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

“You too, Daken.” She says. “Now.”

I watch Osborn eat in silence. Obviously, the food is rather bland. At least, judging by his face.

I take some of the grits- only to find the same problem. I’ve eaten southern cuisine quite infrequently, but I know this isn’t how this meal is supposed to look.

“Good,” Gabriella says. “Very good.” She pats my shoulder.

I watch my companion. He looks… older. Same red hair, same manic eyes… but a few more wrinkles than when we last saw each other.

It’s… riveting.

“So Venom is here,” I say, testing the food in front of me by putting it onto the spoon and tilting it to the side, watching it slide off. “In full.”

“Partial,” Norman says. “They removed some of him.”

“Pity.”

“You have no idea. We heard him wail for hours. It was pathetic.” He says crisply.

“Empathy, please,” Gabriella says. “Hearing Mac scream was not ‘pathetic’. It was very sad. It hurt him very badly.”

“And yet you did it,” Norman says, eating and not looking at her.

“Yes.” She says. “I did.”

I stare at them, not sure of what I should say.

“Where is the rest of him?” I ask finally.

“Safe.” She says. “He’ll be restored when his sentence is served…. once he learns how to behave.”

“In seven years or more,” Norman says under his breath.

“Isn’t the symbiote alive?” I question. “By separating it from its host- aren’t you killing it?”

Gabriella looks to be thrown. “I… will talk to S.H.I.E.L.D about that promptly.” She says.

“I wouldn’t let it get out- either,” Norman says. “It’ll come looking for him.”

“We are taking precautionary measures- I assure you.” She says.

“Bullshit.” Norman hisses, pouring some juice into a small plastic cup in front of him. “You can’t handle anything. At all. You have no idea how to corral these people. I do. I was their leader. Hence I should be put in charge. I know how they tick.” He nods his head to me. “Even him.”

“No you don’t.” I laugh.

“Yes, I do.” He says. “I’ve read all your psych evaluations. I had them performed on you if you’ll remember correctly.”

…..”And your point?”

“I know you.” he hisses. “I know them. I know how everyone works! I am God! I am power! I am-“

Gabriella tilts her head to the side. “Norman, are we going to have a problem this morning? Your ranting is a little... extra for this time of day. If we’re going to have a problem you should tell me now so we can put you on the proper medication.”

“A problem? Other than the fact that you’re trying to starve me? No, dear. We’re not going to have a problem.”

She sighs. “Finish eating. When you’re done, go get ready for the day. Daken, we’ll take you to the showers so you can bathe, brush your teeth- that kind of thing.”

“Wonderful.”

She nods. “Hurry up. If you stall, the line for the showers grows very quickly.”

I nod, wanting her to go.

When she and the nurse of graciously backed off, I turn back to Norman. “What’d you do?”

He stares at his bowl.

“Come on.” I grin. “What’d you do?”

“None of your business.” He says cooly.

“Something bad?”

He glares at me. “What do you think?”

“Something involving a certain wall-crawler?” I watch his eyes widen just for a brief second. “So it was,” I smirk. “And it got you here. How kind of Mr. Parker to allow you to have your ‘freedom’ in a private suite.”

“My lawyers are working on it.” He says crisply. “I’m leaving soon.”

“Sure.” I nod. “Sure you are.”

He glares at me. “What I want to know is how you ended up here.” He says. “Daddy pull some strings?”

If looks could kill- this man would be dead in his chair.

“So he did.” Norman smiles. “Must be nice to have your father so heavily involved with your life.”

“Shut up.” I hiss.

“I heard the nurse’s talking about your display this morning. Didn’t want daddy to go- did you?”

“Shut up,” I growl. “I’ll not tell you again.”

He motions to my hands. “Stitches. On your knuckles and around your wrists. They took your claws.”

I look down at the physical signs of my numerous violations at this point. “And?”

He smiles. “You’ve been declawed. You’re a mutant… so any minute now they’re going to come around with their syringes and dose you with a power suppressant. Your other little trick will be useless.”

“I don’t need my powers to kick your ass,” I growl.

“Hit me.” He says. “Do it. See where it gets you. Carted off like that maniac.” He motions to a set of steel doors behind the nurse's station. “Getting your brain fried.”

I look back at my food.

“I’ve always hated you-you know,” Norman says. “Really. I despised working with you.”

“And I return that sentiment,” I smirk.

“You undermined me constantly. You were obstinate. You were poorly behaved….”

“Thank you so much for noticing,” I say.

“I can’t wait to see you fail.” He says crisply. “Clinging to a sense of superiority.” He motions to the room around him. “You. Here. Crazy as the rest of us.”

I look around the ward, trying to decide what to say next.

“You’ll try to fight them- I’m sure. But.. you’re not made for this. I can tell. It’ll be fun to watch you break.”
He stands to his feet, pushing his chair out of the way and nodding to me. “Enjoy your breakfast. You’ll need your strength for whatever pointless endeavor you plan on engaging in- I’m sure.”

I glare at his retreating form.

I’m so preoccupied with thinking about what to say to him next, that I don’t sense the men that are suddenly behind me. “It’s time for a shower.” Paul is back.

I look at my half-full bowl. “I’m not done.”

“Breakfast is over.” He says.

“I’m not finished,” I growl. “So breakfast is not over.”

“8:30- breakfast is over,” he says. “It’s in your packet.”

“That I didn’t get to read because someone forced me to the floor and stripped me.” I snarl.

“There’ll be plenty of time to read it,” Simon says, crossing his arms. “After your shower.”

“I don’t want to take a shower,” I say lowly. “I want to eat.”

“We don’t care what you want,” Paul says firmly. “It’s not about what you want anymore. You don’t get a choice. The rules have changed. Now, we,” He motions to Simon and himself, “And your doctors, decide what you want. And we say- you want a shower.”

“But I don’t-“

“Are we going to have a problem?” Paul says. “Again?”

I exhale slowly. “I’m not finished. I barely even started.”

“Snacks will be provided at ten,” Paul says. “You’re not going to starve in two hours.”

“I’m not finished,” I repeat. “Give me five more minutes.”

“No,” Simon says, “You’re slated for a shower now.”

“What are you going to do- drag me into the showers?”

They look at each other and then nod.

“Really? You just get to manhandle us whenever you want?”

They nod again.

“And you have complete control over us?”

“That’s the doctor’s domain,” Paul says. “We just carry out their orders. Harry says you need a shower. You’re getting a shower.”

“I will gladly take a shower,” I say, “After I’ve eaten.”

“You will gladly take a shower now.” Simon corrects. “Let’s go.”

“I haven’t eaten yet.” I repeat. “What part of that are you fuckers not getting??”

Paul hooks me under the arm and pulls me to my feet, pushing the chair out of the way.

“Stop it!” I snarl.

“Walk.” He says. “Bathroom’s that way.” He points to the door beside the steel doors they presumably took Lester out of.

I stumble in that direction, momentarily losing my footing.

“Easy,” Paul says. “Easy there.”

His hand graces my shoulder, pushing me gently.

I have no choice but to be led into the bathroom- a room with large ceilings and very little mechanisms in the way of privacy. IE the showers are no stalls. Just a wall with several overhanging showerheads and knobs built into the wall overlooking a drain in the middle of the space.

“Are you serious???” I ask in disgust.

“Strip,” Simon says. “And give us your clothes.”

For someone who doesn’t want to see me naked- they sure are stripping me a lot today.

But…. I can’t justify fighting them- yet again.

Not so many times in a row. I need… to behave. Momentarily, at any rate.

I need information about my surroundings. I need intel. I need… to avoid whatever they’re doing to Lester.

So I strip, wordlessly. Feeling their eyes on me.

“You like what you see?” I ask coyly.

“Admiring your tat,” Paul says. “It’s huge. How much did that cost you?”

I spare a brief glance at my chest. “A thousand.”

Simon whistles.”You dropped that on a tattoo?”

I nod. “I drop that every time it needs to be redone.”

“Not me,” Simon says. “I don’t like needles.”

“I’ve got a few on my chest,” Paul says. “They’re addictive.”

I have to agree. “Where’d you get it done?” He continues.

“I forget. It’s been a while.”

He nods. “How long does it last before you get it redone? You’re like what- 70 something?”

I glance him over. “I’d say every twenty years.”

“Ah. And how long have you had it?”

“I think since the eighties,” I recall. “At least.”

He chuckles. “The eighties. Great time to be alive.”

“Unless you were gay, a mutant, or a minority,” I say. I happen to be all three.

“Yea, I guess you could say that.” Paul nods to the wall of shower heads. “Soaps in a cubby to the left side of the shower heads.”

“No it’s not.” Simon corrects. “It’s in a dispenser now. Lester tries to choke someone with a bar of soap….”

“Frankie?”

“Frankie,” Simon confirms. “I told him no to work with him.” He says. “Frankie’s scared of him. He can sense it or something. It’s like he’s got a sixth sense. Like some kind of animal.”

“He’s something alright,” Paul mutters.

“Soap’s in a dispenser to the right side of the shower heads. Dudes usually pick the shower closest to it so they don’t have to walk back and forth.”

Lester tried to choke an orderly with a bar of soap? How creative. His meds must be pretty high if he’s failing at killing this many people.

“Get moving,” Paul says. “No funny business.”

No funny business indeed. The one thing I take comfort in is that neither of them gives off even a hint of arousal. They’re scents, heartbeats, and adrenaline stays perfectly stable. This also tells me that baiting them into fooling around with me and costing them their jobs will not be an option. That worked so well back when I was surrounded by H.A.M.M.E.R employees. I suppose I’ll have to find another way to entertain myself.

I walk to the showering area, taking the shower head closest to the metal box in the wall that dispenses soap.
The water is freezing- which I was expecting after my talk with Wade. I try to remain still and ignore the chills, lathering the soap up first on my body and then through my hair.

Part of me wants to test the ‘no masturbation’ rule. See if they would really stop me. A bigger part of me reminds me that I’m trying to behave for right now. And that’s it’s probably better not to test it.

“Hurry up,” Simon says. “It shouldn’t take this long.”

“I’ve got a lot of hair,” I say dryly.

“No you don’t.” Paul laughs.

“I’ve got very thick hair then,” I growl. “It takes time.”

“You don’t have time,” Simon says. “Hurry up.”

I finish washing rather quickly and turn the shower off.

“Where are the towels?”

“Here.” Paul walks forward with a small towel. Barely big enough to wrap up in. It’s.. vexing. Especially now that the room is freezing.

I go about drying myself off, trying to ignore his presence.

“Dry your hair.” He says quietly after a minute.

“I know.” I snap.

“Just trying to keep you from getting a cold.” He says innocently.

“I don’t get colds.” I dry my hair anyway. I’m sure to drag it out as long as possible.

“You’re done," Simon says. “Put your clothes on and we’ll get you a toothbrush.”

How nice of them.

I change back into the offending scrubs and wait with my arms crossed.

I catch sight of myself in the mirror and frown. Green is not my color. Not this green, at any rate. I look pale and washed out. it’s loose where it should be tight and tight where it should be loose. Horrible design. I guess if I want to look halfway decent, I’ll have to play by their rules until they determine I can have my own clothing.

“You look fine.” Paul’s voice makes me jump. “It’s not like you’re going to be picking anyone up here anyway.”

I glare at him.

He finally holds his hands up. “Sorry. You looked upset. Just tryin’ to do my job.”

“Fuck off.” I flip him off and walk over to the sinks.

“Keep it up.” He chuckles. “I can see you’re going to be difficult no matter what we do. And that’s okay man, that’s your prerogative- fine. Just know… you’re making your life hell. You. Not us. we react to your choices. You’ve made some shitty choices- if you don’t mind my saying. So… if you want to be friends- we can be friends. I get no pleasure out of being hard on you. It’s easier if we’re friends. Eat the food, follow orders, change your clothes- we’ll treat you as you make us treat you. Got it?”

I glance him over. “Got it,” I say finally.

He nods. “Simon, go get him a toothbrush.”

The man leaves the room without a word, leaving me to stare at this one-eyed menace.

“You’re gonna be just fine.” He tells me. “Three years is really nothing around here. You got a short sentence served out in one of the safest facilities you could have been placed in. Someone pulled some strings for you. Whoever that is- when you can get to a phone- I’d thank them if I were you. I’ve been to other places. I’ve seen what they do- especially to mutants. Like it or not- you’re lucky.” he shrugs after saying this. “I’d be a little grateful if I were in your shoes.”

Grateful?

It’s probably Logan.

That’s the only person I can think of. Should I thank him? Thank him? For imprisoning me?? I don’t think so.

I owe thanks to no one.

I got a break because I did nothing wrong. I’m sticking to that. They can say what they want… but I did nothing wrong.

As long as I know it, I can show them with time. I won’t be here three years. I’ll barely be here one if I play my cards right. And if there’s one thing I know how to do, it's playing the cards I’ve been dealt. For right now, that’s all I need to know.

Chapter Text

Being on the ward is…. strange. There are men who look like the life’s been drained out of them and men who look like they’re ready to drain the life out of someone else. Some the epitome of beaten. Some the epitome of strength in the face of ‘adversity’.

I think I’m the only one here who doesn’t deserve to be. I maintain, once again, that I did nothing wrong. I refuse to atone for sins I did not commit.

Of course, that’s not what the doctors and various staff members want to hear out of me. So… to save face and argument- I’ve said nothing. Over and over they ask me- and over and over they get the same reply. A few days more of this and they’ll stop asking altogether I wager.

Every two hours they gather us all up, split us into three different groups, and try to make us ‘talk’. And when we refuse to talk- they take us one and one and ‘talk’ some more.

I’ve had one ‘one on one’ session myself. It was incredibly annoying. Almost impossible to say nothing, honestly. They goad you into talking. Remaining silent is my best bet at keeping the little sanity within me that they’re so convinced I don’t have.

This place isn’t much for keeping one sane. The rules aside- there are no attempts to make us happy. No attempts to make the ward livable. We simply exist here in a state of suspended animation- waiting for our sentences to be served.

There’s no food on the ward. No drinks. Nothing that can be made sharp or broken in the first place- at that. There is a cabinet of what I’m told are games… but they have pieces that could be weaponized… so they are locked. There’s paper where one could possibly draw- but the pencils are also kept under lock and key.

It goes without saying that Lester is not very well liked around here. He’s managed to ruin just about anything we could have done for entertainment.

Several of the orderlies have scars or open wounds of some sort. They seem almost happy that he hasn’t rejoined us. I can tell by their whispers. Something along the lines of them enjoying his weekly sessions. I guess they affect him in some way that makes his behavior dull. I’m not sure. I’ve never done the research on ECT before. Never thought I’d have to.

Now that it’s a possibility for me- I need to gather information. I thought about pumping the nurses but they’ve been too ‘busy’ to talk to me. That’s fine by me. They don’t want to cooperate? I don’t have to cooperate either.

Besides the nurses, I’ve noticed several security guards coming through and doing a sweep of all the rooms. A very in-depth sweep at that. Particularly in one of the rooms on the other side of the ward. That one, they pulled the mattress off the bed, They made sure the sheets and blankets were actually sewn to the bed- therefore impossible to pull off. How he gets in- I have no clue. I would like to ask him. They go through his clothing. They go through his belongings- what little he’s allowed to have. Everything- top to bottom. Three times to make sure they don’t miss anything. It’s very thorough. Finally, a guard comes out of the room holding something between his thumb and finger.

I’m seated as close to the nurse’s station as they would allow me to be. Which is actually- surprisingly- pretty damn close. I wanted to watch what the security men were up to. It looks like I’m about to get a show. I really like the possibility of some added drama.

Gabriella looks up from her spot at the nurse’s desk. “Find something?” She asks. The guard, a large black man with several tattoos winding over his arms, nods. He offers the item to her.

Gabriella observes what seems to be some kind of coin. “A quarter.” She says with a nod.

“If you’ll remember- he nearly slit Sam’s throat with a quarter.” The man says grimly.

“That he did.” She says. “Anything else of interest?”

“Few stitches worked loose on the bed.” He says. “Don’t think he could throw it.. but still. He’s workin’ real hard to get those sheets off.” He looks around the room full of bored men. “You tell them about giving him contraband?”

“They don’t give it to him per se. He takes it. By force.” She glances down at her notes. “He’s quite convincing when he threatens to kill them.”

“You tell them about not hittin’ him?”

“If there is a fight I promise you- he started it.” She says.

“Yea. Well they can’t hit him back. If one of his teeth comes loose… that’s how he got out last time. Set the whole place on fire. Guards, doctors- everyone.”

“He’s not going to set us on fire,” Gabriella says. “He’s calming down considerably…. he’s just… misbehaving. Testing limits. As long as we are firm and give him no leeway, we’ll be fine.” She smiles. “Is that all?”

“Hmm.” The man rubs his chin while he thinks. “Might have to go up on the meds.”

“We need him functional,” Gabriella says.

“For the safety of your other patients and your staff- I’d say the more out of it he is the better. Every instance has been survivable only because he’s out of it.”

“I’d like to think it’s because we’re reaching him,” Gabriella says.

“With all due respect, Doc- you ain’t You could never reach him. You WILL never reach him. He’s here because some higher up is backing him. He ain’t like your other patients. You can’t save this one.”

“I disagree.” She says. “I think he’s at least trying to meet us halfway.”

The guard shakes his head. “You’ve scared him. That’s it. That’s all. You can punish him with whatever you like- eventually, that fear is going to wear off.” He nods to the quarter in her hand. “And then you’ll have situations like this.” She looks at her hand with a frown. “Do you know who he was gunnin’ for?” The man asks.

She continues to frown. “He’s clashing with one of the orderlies pretty often.”

“Paul?”

“Yes.” She nods. “Paul.”

“Maybe Paul should work another ward for a while.” The guard says.

“We need him here,” Gabriella says. “I’ll talk to Lester- see if he can’t be reasoned with.”

The guard sighs. “I’d like to put him back in the cuffs. Permanently.”

Gabriella nods her head. “I think that is a temporary solution… but it’s a solution none the less.” She agrees. “We will cuff him when he is returned to the ward.”
Sounds like someone’s in for a rough day. The doctor looks at the wall. “Which should be any moment.” She mutters to herself. “It’s been five hours… I can’t imagine Shawn drawing it out that long. He knows how… unsettling this treatment is.”

“The longer he fries him the better of a week we have.” The guard says.

Gabriella sighs. “I don’t like that we’re having to do this so often. But… nothing is getting through to him in regards to his behavior.”

“He’s not here for you to save.” The man says. “My money’s on someone high up in the Kitchen backin’ him. Someone with cash and connections. An employer of some sort. Probably King Pin and-“

“Don’t mention things like that on the ward.” Gabriella hushes. “We don’t talk about things on the outside.”

“Yea? While don’t be surprised when that call comes in for us to let him go.” He says. “We’re gonna drug him up, drop him back in New York, and pray he doesn’t find his way back.”

“We are in no danger.” She repeats with a sigh. “And he is going nowhere.”

I think they’ve forgotten I’m so close to them. Better for me.

The doctor is severely misguided when it comes to my darling plaything. Severely. She can’t tame him. I could barely tame him. It took work. My powers, vigorous sex, plenty of blood and gore to appease him (most at the cost of my personal well being- as he liked it)…and even then he poorly behaved. He escapes places like this because of people like her.

“He really should be back by now.” She says. “Maybe it’s best to clear the ward for a few moments.”

The guard nods. “It’s time for today’s activity hour anyway. Do you want me to get the nurses to have everyone line up?”

“Yes please.” She nods. “That will do the trick. May even brighten some of these attitudes.”

The ward is quiet for a brief moment as the staff starts to shoo everyone to the door on the side of the ward Lester is housed in. Is it really wise to put him that close to the exit? It’s like these people don’t know what they’re doing. It’s a miracle someone hasn’t been killed. Lester dear must really be slipping. Maybe it’s old age?

Heh. The thought makes me smirk.

The nurses effectively corral patients into lining up in a matter of moments.

Most of the men comply- not wanting to clash with the ‘authorities’. There’s some confusion amongst the ranks. As I’ve noted there always is when we’re moving large groups of people. Like getting them split up for ‘groups’ or ‘snacks’. It’s surprisingly more annoying than I had originally planned for. The room empties out until there’s only four of us left sitting.

Myself, by the nurse’s station, Mac- watching TV, Wade- staring at the ceiling and laughing to himself, and Norman- sitting in one the chairs by the TV while glaring murder at Wade.

Gabriella looks up from her spot with a frown. “Did you not hear the staff? It’s time for activity hour.”

“Pass.” Mac doesn’t look away from the TV. This is the first thing I’ve heard him say all day.

“Mac, we’ve talked about being social and-“

“Too hungry.” He looks over at her. “Pass.”

She sighs. “Wanda, could you please get Mac something to eat?”

The woman moves a little too quickly. I think she’s a bit frightened, to be honest.

“Norman-“

“I don’t do activity.” He says. “Idiot.”

“Please refrain from insulting me.” Gabriella sighs.

Norman glances away from Wade. “You have my sincerest apologies.” He snarls.

She shakes her head in resignation. She knows she’s not accomplishing anything by fighting with him. Instead, she turns her attention to the object of his apparent loathing.“Wade-“

“Heh.” He doesn’t look at her- instead, laughing at the ceiling. “Funny.”

Gabriella puts her hands on her hips.

“Daken then-“

“Please.” I chuckle, enjoying each drop of her frustration. How her brow furrows, how her lips draw into a tight line- even how a small flush comes over her face. It’s all so delicious.

Gabriella crosses her arms. “I hope you know that this is going in all of your charts. Uncooperative patients are dealt with. Mac, Norman, and Wade- you all know better. I thought we had worked on cooperating with the staff. This refusal seems a little out of character. Like you’re showing off… I assure you that if it’s on behalf on your new friend,” she points to me, “ that it is pointless. You’re not here to impress him. You shouldn’t be bothered with trying to impress him. He’s a patient the same as you are. And you’re all-“

“Hungry.” Mac cuts her off, watching the TV screen intently as a Wendy’s commercial plays

“Food is coming,” Gabriella says with a sigh. “Contain yourself, please. ”

His arms, now that I’m looking at him, are black- the symbiote moving up and down them on its own accord. A small bit running up to his jaw. I watch as it slowly extends to the other side of his face.

“Hungry now.” His words have a hiss behind them.

“If you come near me- I will end you.” Norman threatens.

Mac turns to the doctor.

“Food is coming.” She repeats, standing her ground. “Control yourself.”

Mac chuckles deep in his throat. It’s a sound some would consider ‘scary’. I, however, have seen this song and dance far too often.

The smell of something hot wafts through the air as Wanda heats something up in the staff room.

“Sausage?” He sniffs.

“Bacon.” I correct, feeling a little hungry myself.

“Bacon?” Wade lifts his head. “I want bacon!”

“You’ve eaten.” Gabriella looks back down at her notebook, scribbling something.

“Babe, share,” Wade says to Mac, taping on his shoulder. If I were him, I’d watch that hand. Mac is hungry and hands are oh so easy for him to take. Wade, however, doesn’t seem perturbed at all by Mac. He regards him with the same look of fondness (in a fucked up way) that he has the whole time I’ve been here. Which I find odd in its own right. Mac was always the first to jump onto me when I hit on men at the tower. It was just something he did. It made him uncomfortable. Now here he is… with Wade. Of all people. Wade. I guess any port in a storm- or something of that nature. Men get horny. Him being Venom probably meant no one else was quite insane enough to ‘play’ with him. Wade took that challenge.

“No.” Gabriella’s head shoots back up. “No taking food from Mac- Wade. You know that’s a bad idea- so don’t.”

Wade looks between her and Mac. “Babe, share.” He demands again.

Venom- he’s more Venom than Mac at this point- chuckles again, form somewhat bulking up. Not to his true size- no. But definitely bigger than he was.

“Mac…,” Gabriella warns.

“Doctor.” He hisses.

“I have an air horn handy.” She says. “Don’t push it.”

He shrinks just the smallest amount. “Better.” She looks back down at her book.

Everything is silent for a minute before there’s an annoyed huff. “If that gets any closer to me, I will cut it off,” Norman says.

“With what?” Mac teases.

“With my…. Ugh! I rip it with my bare hands! Hows that you blathering idiot??”

Mac slowly retracts a single tentacle that had been slinking from around his ankle in Norman’s general direction.

“Don’t know what you’re bitching about,” Wade says. “They’re fun.”

“I’m not into your perverted sense of ‘fun’, moron,” Norman growls.

“Wade, that was a leading comment. Stop it. Norman- if you continue to threaten everyone around you- You will be sent to solitary.” Gabriella doesn’t even look up.

“FINE!” Norman cries. “Send me to solitary! Please! I’ll have been asking this whole fucking time is that you leave me alone! Yet you insist on housing me with these low life-“

“There is no other ward for you.” Gabriella says. “We’ve been over this.”

“You could put him with the chicks,” Wade suggests with a smirk.

“He is being pretty bitchy.” Mac grins, teeth numerous and pointed. More so than they were a second ago.

“One, I will not stand to hear derogatory remarks towards women.” Gabriella looks up. “And two, be kind to your fellow man. We’ve talked about this today.”

The savory smell of fried meat passes through the air as Wanda comes out with two trays of bacon. Granted- it’s been heated in microwave… but still- it’s meat. And meat is something I’ve not had in what feels like forever. It captures all of our attention.

“Mac.” Wanda sets the trays down at the nurse’s station. “Nice and slow.”

He makes a small screeching noise that makes me want to claw my ears shut and slinks to the floor, getting to his feet- which are now much larger, and walking to the counter. When he arrives, very close to where I’m seated- he’s fully engulfed in the symbiote.

He grabs a handful of bacon and shoves it in his mouth, tongue lolling out, saliva dripping, inhuman jaws working in a precision far too accurate for that of a human.

He grabs the meat in handfuls, shoving it in his mouth with both hands. It’s… something to behold.
When it’s gone he looks at the doctor with what I’m assuming he thinks are ‘puppy dogs eyes’ however, in full venom mode- the look doesn’t translate and he just looks like something out of a horror movie.

“That’s it.” She catches on to what he was doing regardless. “That’s all there is for right now.”

“Little more.” He begs.

How sad.

“No more.” She says. “That’s it. That’s all there is until someone brings in more.”

“That was disgusting,” Norman says cattily. “Truly and utterly disgusting.”

“I was hungry.” Mac whines, the black from his face fading to reveal his true, pale, tiny form.

“It’s okay,” Wade says. “You looked cute. Like a starving puppy.” Gross.

“You would say that.” Norman rolls his eyes.

Wade sticks his tongue out at the man.

Mac hangs his head. “There’s really no more?”

“Not until the next shift,” Gabriella says. “Would you like for one of the nurses to take you to the activity room now?”

“Nah.” He says. “There’s a show about bulimia and I like watching the teenagers throw up. Makes me hungry. And sad.” That is…

“That’s disgusting.” Norman gags. “Truly disgusting.”

Mac looks to Wade as if for reinforcement.

“Yea-no,” Wade says shaking his head. “It’s weird babe.”

Mac frowns. “Whatever.” He slinks back over to the chairs and sets with his legs pulled up underneath him.

“Heh,” Wade says after a moment. “I just realized something.”

“Yea?” Mac turns his head in Wade’s direction.

“You, Normie, Bulls, Junior over there-“ he points at me. “It’s like a team reunion. ya know- from your Avenger days.”

“Heh,” Mac says. “Whattaya know. I guess it is.”

“Yes.” Norman drawls. “How wonderful.”

“All we need is Karla,” Mac says. “I liked Karla.”

I was also quite fond of Karla. “Wonder what she’s up to?” I muse aloud.

“Probably banging some guy in a Denny’s parking lot,” Mac says.

“Mac,” Gabriella warns. “No sexual conversations.”

“Not Denny’s. Something classy.” I say, ignoring her.

“Red Lobster?” Mac asks, looking over his shoulder at me.

“You would think Red Lobster is classy,” I smirk.

“Gentlemen-“ Gabriella tries

“It is! Where else can you see the fear in the little lobster’s eyes??”

We all look at him for a long moment. “What??” He asks. “Like I’m the only one who does that.”

“It’s like going to a farm and petting the cows,” Wade says. “I getcha.”

“Petting the cows?” I ask. “Who does that?”

“I do that,” Wade says. “It’s fun. I like to see the fear in their eyes. Then…” he makes guns with his fingers. “BANG!”

“Wade!” Gabriella snaps.

“I was talking about shooting cows- not people!” Wade defends.

“It’s-“

“Could you shoot a lobster?” Mac asks.

“I mean.. theoretically you can shoot just about anything,” I say.

“Yea… I guess. I like eating them whole though. Not cooked. Just raw. Crunchy.”

“Yes, well there’s a very short list of things you won’t eat, isn’t there?” Norman drawls.

“Nor-“

“I can eat what I want to eat, snob,” Mac says. “Better than what you eat.”

“He eats what you all eat and-” Gabriella tries.

“Not Mac,” I say pointing to him. “Mac eats meat.”

“Mac needs nutrients that he can’t get-“

“Oh so Mac needs nutrients, but the rest of us don’t.” I turn to her.

“That’s not what I’m-“

“I’m on a high protein diet. I need meat too.” I say dryly.

“No-“

“And furthermore, you’ll starve us if we only eat liquids.” I continue.

“I hate to agree with someone like Daken- but he’s right. If we don’t get solids- we’ll starve.” Norman says.

“Solids? That sounds fun! I haven’t had a solid shit in like… eight months.” Wade says. “And there’s only so many kinds of soup a guy can eat before he gauges his eyeballs out with the spoon.”

Eight months??

“Crude- but true,” Norman says. “The diet is a little torturous.”

“You’re not being torture-“

“I’m telling my lawyer about it,” Norman says, inspect his nails in feigned disinterest. “It’s one of the things that is going to get you shut down.”

“Now wait-“

“Shut down? Then we’ll all go to prison, numbnuts.” Mac says.

Norman glares at him. “Don’t call me that.”

“It’s true though- we’ll see time in the big house,” Wade says. “I’m too pretty for that.”

We all stare at him for a long moment.

“It’s inner beauty, thank you very much.” He huffs. “And I am a mother fucking delight!”

“Rigggggghhhhhht,” I say.

He sticks his tongue out at me.

“I wish at least one of you would go to the activity room.” Gabriella breaks into our conversation as we go silent. “Just one.”
She looks relieved that she could actually get a sentence out.

We look at each other.

“Who wants to volunteer?” She asks.

“I vote Normie,” Wade says without hesitation.
“Seconded,” Mac says.

Norman glares at them. “This is not up for a vote.” He growls. “And if it were- I’d say send Wade.”

“Me? Why me? They don’t like me. I talk too much for their ‘structured activity’.”

“Yes you,” Norman says. “Because out of all the men in this room- I hate you the most.”

“Oh and we all do what the great Norman Osborn wants us to do.” Mac chuckles.

Norman turns on him. “You go then.”

“Nah. Show.” He points to the TV.

“Wade then-“

“I think he’s trying to send anybody but him,” Mac says. “He should go. He never goes.” he turns to Gabriella. “There’s your answer. Send Norman.”

“I was actually hoping for a volunteer-“ She says.

“If we’re voting- I would like to see Norman go,” I add my vote.

He turns his hateful eyes to me. “Why don’t you go- Daken? You’re new. You haven’t been yet. Therefore you should have to go.”

“Junior? Nah.” Wade says. “We voted for you. Three against one. You’re voted off the island. You are the weakest link. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.”

I’m pretty sure the last two weren’t game show references but Monopoly ones. But hey- what do I know about board games? I’ve never played.

“Daken is new. Therefore he should go.” Norman says. “Send him, doctor. It will do him some good. He’s been contrary all morning.”

“ME?” I chuckle. “You’re calling ME contrary??” I chuckle.

“It would do his attitude some good,” Norman says with a nod. “I should know. I was in charge of him. Sometimes you have to force him into situations-“

“I’m not going, asshole.” I snarl.

“Well someone has to go,” Mac says.

“I firmly vote for Normie,” Wade says.

“Me too,” I add.

“I’m not going!” Norman snaps. “Send Daken! He’s new!”

Gabriella has been mercifully silent during this exchange. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was recording our interactions with each other.

“I’m not going anywhere,” I smirk. “Not for three years. I’m sitting right in this spot.”

“No you’re not,” Mac says.

“I thought you said you wanted Norman to go,” I growl.

“I do.” He says. “But you’re not going to sit in the spot for three years.”

Want to bet?

“Yes-“

“No- you’re not.” He says. “That’s Lester’s seat. He’ll beat you with it if you take it from him.”

Oh? How interesting.

“Then I guess we’ll both be sitting here,” I say dryly- trying not to act too interested in the idea of getting to get under Lester dear’s skin.

“Or he’ll take the seat and beat you with it,” Mac says.

“No one is beating anyone.” Gabriella sighs. “Daken,” She turns her attention to me, “Norman has a point. You haven’t been to the activity room. You should go. Get out of the ward. Stretch your legs.” She smiles. “You can’t honestly expect to sit here in the ward for three years and do nothing.”

“That’s exactly what I expect,” I say. “I’m ‘reflecting on my actions’.”

“The baby fucker thing? Harsh bro. They deserved it. But harsh.” Mac says.

“Mac,” Gabriella says warningly. “We don’t talk about these things outside of group.”

“How did you know that?” I ask in disbelief. How did Wade know about that- come to think of it? He said something too.

“Wade talks to the nurses…. and we read it in a newspaper,” Mac says. “All about your little ‘breakdown’ too. Don’t worry- they’ve got pills for that.”

I start to say something, but Gabriella interrupts with, “Mac, as misguided as your comments may be- they have reminded me of something. So in a sense, I thank you. In a larger sense, please listen to me when I give you an order and stop this conversation. Now.”

He nods. “Fine. Shows on anyway.”

The other men groan as he turns the TV up.

“Daken, I’ve forgotten the most important part of your stay here.” She says.

“Oh? How terrible.”

She nods. “Your medication… we’ve been talking all morning about what to put you on.”

“Sorry to waste your time and efforts,” I say smugly, “But I’m not taking anything.”

“The judge ordered that you be put on something.” She says. “So we prescribed an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, a mood stabilizer, and some anti-anxiety medication.” She smiles. “All of which are available now and waiting to be taken.”

I grimace at the thought of it. “I’m not taking pills. I don’t take pills. I never WANT to take pills.”

Two nurses come out of the break room. One a short woman with frizzy brown hair, the other a light-skinned man with braids.

“Stephanie and Demetris, wonderful.” She says. “I’ve got a list of medications and dosages, would one you mind fetching them for me?”

The woman steps forward and takes a small blue prescription note from the nurse's station, going over it for a second before nodding.

“Wonderful.” Gabriella smiles. “Demetris if you wouldn’t mind calling Paul- I think I’m going to need some help.”

Bullshit she’s going to need ‘help’. I’m not taking them. Flat out. Simple as that. I’m not taking them. They can’t make me. I can refuse. It’s within my rights to refuse to be medicated.

“I’m not taking any medication,” I state again. “It’s my right to say no.”

“It’s not your choice- I’m afraid. Once you’ve been on them for a few weeks- I’m sure you’ll change your mind about them. They help a lot.” She turns to the other men. “Don’t they?”

There’s a collected mumbling.

It’s very reassuring.

“I’m not taking them.” I turn my head away from her as if she were offering them to me at this very moment.

“You will take what I tell you to take.” She says. “And that’s the end of it.”

Like fuck I will.

“They’re not so bad, junior,” Wade says. “Like candy that makes you numb.”

Wonderful.

“They could be worse,” Mac says.

Norman looks at the ceiling. “They’re dreadful.”

“Norman,” Gabriella warns.

“They make me sick.” He continues. “Yea right.” Wade snorts. “We know you spit them out.”

Norman glares murder at Wade.

“What’s that?” Gabriella asks.

“He spits them out,” Mac says. “He’s got a stash of them in his pillow. That’s why you always have to give them to him in his room. So he can ditch them.” he turns to Norman. “Now what?”

“Norman, is this true?”

“It’s absolutely not true.” he huffs. “These idiots are lying. They’re in it together- like they are in everything else. I’m medicated just as well as the rest of your patients.”

“We will see.” She comes out from behind the nurse’s station and goes down the hall that houses my room.

“Wait!” Norman calls after her. “You can’t go in there!”

“Think she can,” Wade says. “Go on. Go stop her. Snap her pretty little neck…. it’s kinda your thing.”

Norman glares at him. “You have done enough this morning, thank you very much.”

“Have I?” Wade smiles.

“Imbecile,” Norman growls.

“Imbecile with ears alllll over the ward,” Wade says. “I know everything.”

“And yet you still continue to pester me,” Norman says.

“You continue to be pesterable. That’s not my fault.”

“‘Pesterable’ is not a word.” Norman sighs.

“It is as of five seconds ago,” Wade says. “And now it’s trademarked. So don’t use it.”

“Trademarked??? You can’t trademark a fucking word!”

“Think I just did.” Wade turns to Mac. “You can use it.” then he turns to me. “You can use it on Mondays and Fridays.”

“You’re too kind,” I smirk. Seeing Norman so out of his wits is … amusing.

Gabriella comes back to us with a handful of pills. “This is what I could grab.” She says. “There’s more. Of course- you knew that.”

“I didn’t agree to take medication- I shouldn’t have to take it.” He says primly.

“We give this to you so your symptoms don’t come back… and you know this.” Gabriella says.

“I don’t have any symptoms. I haven’t the entire time I’ve been here.” He hisses.

“Not true.” The woman says. “You weren’t yourself when you were brought here- and you know that. You weren’t yourself for the entirety of two weeks. If you want to keep being yourself- you will take the medication. Just because your symptoms are not here presently does not mean they will not come back. Do you understand?”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m a child.” He snarls.

“Then start acting like an adult.” She says crisply.

“Oooooohhhh Normie’s in trouble,” Wade calls.

Gabriella gives him a glare that’s stern enough to silence him.

“I will go get your medication for you and you will take it. In front of me.” She says. “And then you will take your next dose in front of whoever happens to be working that shift. Out here. With the rest of the patients. And if we find that you are spitting out your medication we will move alternative modes of treatment.”

Norman exhales slowly. “I don’t think I should be treated for something I no longer have.”

“You will be treated for the fact that when you came to us, you were under the impression that you were your alternate personality and acted thusly. Maiming quite a few people- might I remind you. You are here because you, yourself, claimed insanity.” She pauses. “Need I go on with your private affairs or is this enough to tide you over until your next session?”

He’s fuming. The three of us stay silent as he seems to be considering his options.

So…. there. Norman thought he was the goblin and acted accordingly. So I was right. This probably had something to do with a certain wall-crawler.

The man who’s become like background noise in the back of my mind… thinking of him with Johnny. Johnny’s a bottom- but he’s only ever bottomed for me. I hate the idea of sharing him with another man. I mean- I would hate the idea of sharing him with a woman just as much, that’s true. But a man? A man like Parker? Fuck. It’s too much to bear.

“Come to the nurse’s station.” She orders. “Now.”

Norman stays in his seat.

“I’m not kidding.” She says. “Please, come.”

At this point both Stephanie the nurse and Demetris return. Stephanie with the medication and Demetris with Paul in tow.

“Daken,” Paul says. “Again.”

I try to look unbothered by his presence.

“Is this going to be a daily routine now?” He questions, crossing his arms.

I avoid his eyes, acting like I haven’t heard him. “Oh you want to play deaf now?” He chuckles. “What do you need from him, doc?”

“He may- we’re not sure yet- need help taking his medication.” She says. “The degree of help he will need is completely up to him, however.”

The man nods. “Where’re his pills?”

Stephanie passes over a small, very small, white cup and a cup of water.

“Whew.” The man says. “That’s a lot.”

Now that? That gets my attention. “How many pills?”

“Oh you can hear now?” Paul asks with a smirk.

“How many?” I growl.

“Four,” Gabriella says. “We’ll adjust as we see fit.” She nods to Paul. “Take your pills.”

Paul moves over to where I’m sitting.

“How do you want to do this?” He asks. “I can cram them down your throat OR you can take them willingly.”

“You can’t force medication on someone,” I smirk. “It’s illegal. You can insist that I take it, you can order me to take it, but you can’t make me take it.”

Paul grins. “Court order.”

“Excuse me?”

“Court. Order.” His grin widens. “We’ve got orders from a judge.”

That… throws me. However, they did say something about this before.

Okay. Think. They’ve got a court order. That means they can use force if I refuse. I could pull a Norman and spit them out- but I’d have to think of a convenient way to exit the situation to do so.

“While we’re at it,” Gabriella says, “Stephanie, go fetch Mr. Osborn’s medications, please. He’s been spitting them out.”

The woman regards him cooly. “Oh really?” her voice is high pitched- almost annoying really.

Gabriella nods. “And from now on, we will watch him take them out here in the open.”

That’s a little distraction from the man in front of me and the looming encounter I’m about to have with him.

“Three patients resisting treatment?” Paul shakes his head. “There must be something in the water.”

“Oh? Three?”

He nods. “Lester’s been spitting his out in the toilet.”

“You’re kidding.” Gabriella gasps.

“Nope,” Paul says. “Shawn got him to confess. I heard him.”

“Got him to confess? That sounds like torture.” I sneer.

“It’s not, Daken. Really.” Gabriella says quickly. “It’s nothing to fear. I promise you. It’s nothing.”

“And it will continue to be nothing if you take this nice little cup here in my hand and swallow all these pretty little pills,” Paul says. “Whattya say? Are you going to behave?”

I feel the eyes of everyone on me. And for once- for once in my life- I don’t like being the center of attention.

“Take the pills,” Paul says. “Please.”

Since he asked nicely….

I hold my hand out and take the cup of pills, staring at their various colors and shapes. There’s a large circular one in green, two smaller capsules, a small round white one. It’s oddly disturbing to me that I’m holding them. Almost offensive really.

“there’s nothing wrong with me.” I say more to myself than anyone else.

“I’m sorry?” Gabriella asks. “I didn’t hear you.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” I repeat.

Paul watches me for a second. “Why don’t you take these now and bring it up with Harry in your appointment later?” He sounds like he’s trying to make a bargain.

“I’m not sick.” I try again.

“You’re very sick,” Gabriella says. “The fact that you don’t recognize it attests to your illness.”

“My illness? I haven’t been diagnosed with anything to begin with! How can you treat me for something without telling what I’m being treated for??”

“A diagnosis can often be harmful to a patient. We tend to not give them out to you…. we will know, of course. And the people involved with your case will know…. but it’s best if you don’t.”

“People involved with my case?” I ask suspiciously.

“Yes. We’ve been over this regimen with your father earlier this morning and-“

“Oh so Logan gets to know what’s “wrong” with me but I don’t???”

Gabriella points to the cup in my hand. “Exactly. Now take your medication.”

“How is that fair???”

“It isn’t.” She says. “I understand that. And I know you understand that. It’s not fair. But that’s how it is. Now, your father is available for phone calls. If you wish to air this grievance, feel free to call him.”

“Yes Daken,” Norman chuckles. “Call daddy. Tell him how awful your time here is with all the bad nurses and the mean doctors and the nasty medications-“

“It’s no different than you calling your lawyer every other day.” Mac snickers.

“I’ll have you know-“

“Norman, come here.” Gabriella orders.

He looks like a deer caught in the headlights. “Let me rephrase, come here or you will be taken off ward for assessment.” The room goes quiet.

“Assessment?” I ask.

Wade makes a zapping noise and makes his body twitch.

“You are not allowed to assess me in that way.” Norman snarls.

“I’m allowed to do what is required to keep you and those around you safe. You’ve actively refused your medication, you’ve refused to participate in your therapy, and you’re being hostile to those around you. This is a situation that can lead to negative consequences. The next steps you take will be crucial to your treatment.”

He stands up from his seat after a minute of tense silence.

“Thank you.” Gabriella comes from behind the nurse’s station and pulls him to the side of the room- where the line for medication usually is.

“That’s very interesting,” Paul says. “But…. now we gotta deal with you.”

I look at the cup in my hands, more enraged than anything. Call Logan? They want me to call Logan? He gets to know this information but I don’t?? He’s not the one taking the fucking pills!

“I’m not taking these,” I say. “You can’t make me.”

“Legally, I have to make you.” He says, bending down over me. “Take the pills.”

“I want to talk to the judge. I never saw him. If I see him, I can argue my case and prove that I don’t need to be medicated.”

“You can’t see the judge. You can’t do anything. Just take the pills. If it helps your pride, tell yourself that you have no choice. You’re not doing it willingly. Your reputation is still intact. It’s all good.” He smiles. “Just take the pills.”

“I’m not taking them,” I growl, shoving the cup in his direction.

“You are taking them.” He pushes them back in my hands. “Now, please.”

“I’m not-“

“You are.”

“Come on junior,” Wade calls. “The anticipation is killing us. Do what you gotta do or take the fucking pills.”

Paul looks over his shoulder. “Wade, please.” He says.

Do what I have to do? What does that mean? It implies that there’s a second option. I liked second options. I really function well with second options.

“Take. The. Pills.” Paul says slowly, clearly, and forcefully.

Do what I have to do. What do I have to do?

I said I wouldn’t go on the ward- they put me in the ward. I said I wouldn’t change clothes- they changed my clothes. I… am losing. I’m fighting as hard as I can but-
Wait. No- no I’m not. If I was fighting as hard as I can- I wouldn’t be here.

I can fight harder. It’s one on one this time. I can beat him. I can get away.

“Take the pills.” He repeats. “Come on man. Take them.”

“No.” I shove them into his hands.

“Yes.” He pushes them back.

I take the cup, ball it up in my hand, and throw it as hard as I can across the room.

Paul frowns. “I honestly did not see that coming.” He says, getting out of my face. “Demetris, can you come get his get his hands?” he looks over his shoulder. “Steph- get his feet.” The nurses are silent but move quickly.

“Get your hands off of me,” I growl lowly.

My hands are pinned to the chair as my feet are pinned to the floor.

“You want water before or after you take them?” Paul asks, walking across the room and picking the pills up off the floor.

“I’m not taking the fucking pills.” I snap, jerking against the hands holding me down.

“This is almost sad,” Mac whispers to Wade. “Let’s sneak off somewhere… private.” The others didn’t hear that. I only did because of my ‘enhanced’ senses.

“Yea…. thanks, junior,” Wade says. “Look at ‘im. He’s so sad.”

“Can’t wait to tell Bulls about this,” Mac adds. The two slink off down the hall, right out of my line of vision.

“Wade and Mac are-“ When I go to alert them, Paul dumps the pills into my mouth and then offers the cup of water.

“Open up before you choke.” He says. “Drink some water.”

The taste of the powdery substance that the pills consist of makes me want to gag. He dumps half a cup of water in my mouth- prompting me to swallow or choke.
And just like that- I’ve lost yet another round in this game I’m trying to play.

“There,” Paul says. “Lemme see your mouth.”

See my mouth?
What?

“Open up.” He says. “Lemme look.”

Oh. He wants to make sure they’re swallowed. I see.

I can show him… and then I can go puke. I did swallow them- but if I vomit them back up before they have a chance to work- then I haven’t lost at all. It’ll be something they can’t control. It’ll be something I can do without them having any say in it whatsoever. I’ll win.
I’ll finally win.

I open my mouth and let Paul inspect it.

“Under your tongue too.” He says.

I oblige him.

“Good. Good.” He says. “Was that so hard?” He asks. “Let him up.”

I’m released with no questions asked from my restrainers.

“You good?” Paul asks, backing up so I can stand.

“I have to go the bathroom,” I say.

“Yea?” He nods. “Let’s go.”

Let’s… go?

“Let’s? As in both of us?”

Paul nods. “Let’s go. You gotta go, you gotta go.”

I completely forgot that they supervise the bathrooms here.

This will be… tricky.

I lead the way to the bathroom, gaging myself as quietly as possible. The more set up work I do- the less time they have to stop me.

When I reach the stalls, I’m fairly certain the muscles in my stomach are contracted hard enough. Lucky for me I’ve always been rather silent when I’m ill.
I enter the row of stalls, picking the first one and slamming the door in the face of my escort.

Annoyingly, I discover that there’s no lock. I’ll have to be fast.
I focus on the most disgusting thing I can think of. Pulling up a whole library of remembered scents and scenes from the back of my mind. I’m almost there… just about…

I need a push.

I start gagging a little louder than I want to. But.. it means the deeds almost done. Almost. When it starts to drag on, I shove my finger down my throat. The only problem being I have little to no gag reflex.

I’m basically deep throating my finger- great for sex but horrible for when I actually need to make myself puke.

A single thought comes to mind. Something from when I was a child. Something so old I barely remember it…. but it’s just some kind of hold on me. It’s disgusting enough, vile enough, despicable enough- that I end up vomiting, quite noisily into the toilet bowl.

“Hey!” Paul swings the door open. “Oh hell no.” He snarls. “What are you doing?”

I think what I’m doing is pretty self-explanatory. I gag harder, pushing the leftover grits and mush I had last night/early this morning out of my stomach. Vomiting is surprisingly easy on the body when you’ve had no solids for two days.

“Oh boy.” Paul shakes his head. “You don’t know what you’ve done.”

I know exactly what I’ve done.

I’m decently sure the pills are out now. They would have been in the first heave. However, I give it one more to make sure.

I wipe my mouth on the back of my hand- feeling rather smug.

“Oops,” I smirk. “Sorry.”

“You will be.” He chuckles dryly. “Come with me.”

“You’re not going to let me brush my teeth?”

“No.” He says. “Later on- sure. Right now? No way in hell. Follow me.”

He leads me back out into the ‘living’ space. I follow in mild curiosity for what he thinks they can do to me. I can’t retake the pills. Who knows what still in my system? They don’t want to overdose me. They can’t put me on new pills without knowing how well the old ones work… they’re fucked. I’ve won. I’ve fucking won. Finally.

“What’s the matter?” Gabriella asks.

“Call Harry,” Paul says. “Please.”

“What happened?”

“He just gagged himself,” Paul says. “Call Harry.”

“Oh dear.” Gabriella sighs, going to the desk phone and dialing a random set of numbers. “Wait here.” She mouths to me.

I’d like to know what Harry thinks he can do. I’ve won. They can’t take this moment from me. I’ve won!

I’ll not be medicated for what I don’t have. I’ll not pay for a sin I didn’t commit. They can’t break me. They won’t break me. They could NEVER break me. I’m too strong. I’m too intelligent. I’m too-

“Harry, we’ve got a code eleven.” She says into the phone. There’s a pause. “Well… I guess two of them actually but ones with Shawn at the moment.” She’s silent again. “You guessed it.” I’d like to hear what he’s saying. “Looking pretty smug if you ask me.” She says before another pause. “Stomachs probably empty… It could work.”

Wait- what could work?

“What could work?” She holds up a finger to silence me.

“He should be done.”

Who should be done?

“Have you heard anything?” The room is silent. “Paul said he confessed during the treatment.” Another pause. “Oh yes. We’ll have to enact it for both of them, I believe.”

Paul crosses his arms and looks around the room. “Where’d the other two go?”

I glare at him. He looks down the hall. “Oh hell.” He sighs. “Scampered off together, huh? God only knows what I’ll see when I find them.” He walks down the hallway and starts checking rooms, getting down to the end- the private room- and sighing loudly. “Break it up, boys. You know the drill. One of you on one wall, one on the other.” I can’t hear what’s said to him. “Yes, you can get dressed. In fact, I encourage it.” A few seconds later, Wade and Mac are in the hall. One on one side, one of the other. “That’s solitary.” He says. “Five hours.”

Five hours???

“Worth it,” Wade says.

Mac shrugs.

Paul walks the two of them back up to the desk.

Gabriella hangs up the phone. “Daken, you’re to follow me.” She crooks her finger in a come-hither gesture. “Give me your hands.”
“Give you my hands for what?” I ask cautiously. “Cuffs.” She says. “Hands out in front.”

“No. I don’t think I’ll be cuffed.” I say.

“Man don’t even,” Paul says. “You don’t know what you’re in for.”

he shoves my arms forward from behind- shocking me. Gabriella quickly works a pair of handcuffs around my wrists, locking them tight.
“What’s wrong with those two?” She nods to Mac and Wade.

“Breaking rule five,” Paul says.

Gabriella says something in Spanish. Something I didn’t quite catch. “This is why we need more people on this ward.” She says finally.
“Daken, follow me.” She turns to Mac and Wade. “Solitary. Think about how to better behave. We’ll bring your lunch to you.”

Mac and Wade look rather… sheepish almost. “Still worth it,” Wade says.

Gabriella takes me by the crook of my arm and pulls me to the metal door by the nurse’s station.

“Have fun junior!” Wade calls as Paul puts him in his very own pair of cuffs. “Say ‘hi’ to Bulls for me! Tell him we missed his jokes in group!”

I turn quickly to Gabriella as the doors shut. “What is he talking about?”

“It’s nothing.” She says firmly, holding me tighter.

“No really- what is he talking about?”

“It's just… this.” She sighs. “If you refuse to take your medication…. given the severity of your crimes, we’ve been given permission to take… extreme action.”

“What kind of extreme action?” I’ll admit I’m a little worried.

She shakes her head. “We’ll put you in the waiting room. We’re required to call your father before we do anything.”

“Call my-“ What?? “Call my father?? What are you going to do to me?”

“A few things.” She says. “We have a few options. We will have to go over them with your father.”

“You will go over them with me. Now.” I snarl.

“Well,” She clears her throat. “ECT is our number one go to… you’ve heard, I’m sure. Paul likes to use it as a threat. I apologize for that. It’s nowhere near as bad as they make it seem.”

“Have you ever had it done to you?” I ask in disgust.

“No. But I’ve seen countless patients have the treatment administered.” “Other option,” I growl.

“We have some drugs we can admit via IV… they’re not typical drugs. They’ve been… well created for S.H.I.E.L.D’s use. You won’t find them anywhere else.”

“That’s torture.” I hiss.

“No, no, no. Heavens no.” She says. “No, oh no.” She chuckles. “These drugs are safe. They don’t hurt, I promise. It’s the same course of action as taking them orally... it’s just a little more.. unsettling. The setting that is. We’ll have to give them in the infirmary. Security is pretty strict in there, is all. They’re not going to hurt you, you have my word.”

For some reason, that doesn’t make me feel any better. Not in the slightest. We walk down hallway after hallway. All lined with doors that locked and sealed. Finally, the tile floor runs into a faux wood flooring and we end up in a space that looks slightly.. homey. This large room consists of twelve doors. Each with a plaque beside them announcing the inhabitant of the room.

“These are special offices.” She says gently. “Being completely truthful- you only come here if you’re in crisis or being released.” She walks me into the room. “Obviously, you’re not being released.”

“I’m not in crisis!” I snarl. “I just don’t want to be treated for something I don’t fucking have!!”

“Denial is part of your disease.” She says gently. “It’s okay, Daken. There’s no shame in admitting you’re sick. Or scared for that matter. I can only imagine what Wade’s been telling you. I promise you, he over exaggerates just about everything.”

“This is going to hurt.” I steel myself for this realization as we move closer to the doors.

“This is going to be uncomfortable.” She corrects. “It’s not going to hurt. It’s a mild discomfort.”

Mild discomfort wouldn’t have Lester looking so shaken.

We stop at the twelfth door on the wall, beside it is a Plaque with ’12, Marcos’ engraved into it. Nothing else. Nothing else needs to be said, I suppose.

She opens the door and ushers me through.

“Charlie.” She greets a large blading white man sitting at a desk. The room is large with several chairs all bolted to the floor. Tables litter the floor but hold nothing- which is odd. In such a big room- you’d think there’d be something for distraction. However- there’s absolutely nothing. The room might as well be empty. She follows my eyes and frowns. “What happened to magazines?”

“Lester got them…” Charlie points to where a cardboard insert from a magazine is embedded in the wall by his head. “We removed them.”

“Ah. Is he still with Shawn?”

Charlie nods. “They did two sessions.”

Her eyes go wide. “Two?Back to back?”

Charlie nods. “He tried to kill me.”

“He…” She shakes her head. “Is he okay?”

“God I hope so,” Charlie says. “We can’t lose another one.”

What??

“Excuse me?”

“The other patient had a heart condition we were not aware of.” She shushes. “He was treated promptly and is in the infirmary recovering. They didn’t actually ‘lose’ him.” She smiles. “Charlie, this is Daken. He’s going to hang out in here with you while we figure out what to do with him.”

“Seems like if he’s here, you already know what you’re going to do with him,” Charlie says, glancing down at what happens to be a phone in his hands.

“I have to call his father.” She smiles. “Would you mind watching him?”

“Is he gonna throw shit at me?”

Gabriella shakes her head. “No.”

“Then he’s fine. He can stay as long as he wants.” He looks up from his phone. “So long as I’m not having to duck.”

She nods. “Lester’s in a fine mood this morning, isn’t he?”

“Mood? That’s his mood? He’s deranged. Completely. Your notes said he’s manic- but this ain't like any mania I’ve seen before. Dude was off his rocker.”

“Yes well… this treatment scares him. That makes him worse. Things like what Shawn is doing- with two treatments back to back?- aren’t helping. Tell Shawn I’ll be having a chat with him later.”

“Yes ma’am.” Charlie nods.

“Take a seat, Daken.” She says. “I’ll be with you shortly… your father’s plane landed just a few hours ago. He might be hard to get into contact with at first.”

I glance at her with something close to a neutral face.

“What did he tell you this morning?” She thinks for a second. “Oh yes. “Chin up”. It’s going to be okay.” She smiles. “Wait here. We’ll get this sorted out.”

I can’t do anything but stare. She pushes me gently into the chair by the door and nods to Charlie. “He’s all yours. Watch him diligently, please. He’s rather slick.”

“Diligently. Right.” Charlie says. “You got it.”

“Wait here.” She says. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

I don’t have a choice.
Just when I thought I was winning- I find that I’m once again wrong. And fuck. Fuck do I hate being wrong.

Chapter Text

To say I’m nervous is an understatement.

Things were all fine and well until I started hearing proof of what was going on. It started off as a groan, then a whimper, then- finally- a full blown scream. It was ... eerie.

Especially considering the fact that to my knowledge- Lester and I are the only patients here. And I’ve never- in my life- heard him scream like that. Never.

In fact, I didn’t know that he had the capacity for that kind of scream. He was hushed- loudly but gently- by some unknown person who I couldn’t see.

Charlie noted the screaming by putting headphones in. How considerate of him. How caring.

What a wonderful staff member he is. How compassionate.

It made me think that this is an everyday occurrence for him. And if it is- if he hears people screaming like that- maybe this place isn’t as ‘federally certified’ as the doctors would have us believe.

The thought is ... worrisome. I’m not really sure how to categorize the feelings it instills in me. I’ve tried my best not to dwell on it... but the point remains. He was screaming. Something hurt him. Something in that office. The doors that lead into the office have become a thing of ominous curiosity for me.

Gabriella has yet to return with whatever news she’ll have from my father. God only knows what his reaction will be. The thought of... disappointing him this early into my stay... irks me. I’m not sure why. I don’t think I want to know why. It’s another thing I’d rather not dwell on if we’re being honest. But.. if the option is between whatever Logan is thinking and whatever made Lester scream- I’m willing to focus on the first.

The room is quiet now. From behind those doors- which are torturously opened- I hear panting and murmured speaking. Something soft and gentle. I guess they’re wrapping up.

Charlie takes his right headphone out of his ear and turns his attention to me. “They’re ready for you.”

“Hmm?”

“Dr. Marcos. He’s ready for you.” He nods to the doors. “Go straight back and to the right. There’s a door to his office. He’ll join you momentarily.”

I stand to my feet, not wanting to show any hint of fear or doubt.

It doesn’t stop me from feeling it, however. I watch in fascination as Charlie simply puts his earbud back in and goes back to ignoring me. Caring staff indeed.

I step through the doorway and head to the room, stopping at the door.

“If you were to comply, we wouldn’t have all this trouble.” Someone is murmuring.

The response is a groan.

“If you were to comply, you could have the pain medication.” The first voice says.

“Fuck off.” Is groaned.

“Then you will continue to be in pain.” The voice says. “Drink some of this. We don’t want you dehydrating again.”

“Fu-“ this is followed by a gurgle and choking.

“That’s it.” The voice says. “Swallow.”

A coughing fit follows this. It’s long and harsh.

“You will take your medication. You will behave. We will have no more instances of violence or noncompliance.” The voice says. “Or- we will up your treatment by several volts and administration times.”

There’s a groan.

“That’s what I thought.” The voice chuckles. “Are you ready to behave?”

There’s a mumbled agreement.

“Wonderful.” The owner of the voice claps his hands together. “You can have the extra pain medication now.”

“Bout fuckin’ time.”

“Watch it.” The voice warns.

“Just give me the fuckin’ meds.”

“Of course. We don’t want you in any more pain than you have to be in.”

“Then you would have given them to me three hours ago.”

“If you wanted us to proceed as usual- you wouldn’t have tried to kill my secretary. Commander Hill was quite clear as to what we were to do to you if the murder attempts kept a happening.”

The hallway is dark, lit by only two windows at the very end- past the door I’m listening to.

The tiles are cold underfoot. I wish they’d given me those socks they said I could have. When I get back to the ward, I’ll have to lodge a complaint with whoever happens to be working. If I’m gone as long as Lester day has been- I’m betting it won’t be Gabriella.

“Your secretary is annoying as fuck.” Lester snarls.

“That may be,” The voice chuckles. “But you don’t get to decide who lives or dies.”

“Nope.” This is a wet chuckle. “That’s your department- right doc?”

“So you think.” The doctor says. “But this isn’t my call. You spoke with the Commander yourself. She gave you a fair warning.”

“She’s annoying as fuck too.” he sneers.

“Oh you are a delight.” The man chuckles. “How you can manage to be so surly is beyond me. This process has been harsh on you. You’re playing it off, but I know you’re upset.”

“Fuck right I’m upset.” He snaps. “You just fried my fucking brain.”

“I know I did.” He says. “And like I said when I started- you have to comply if you don’t want this to happen. You didn’t. You were here just yesterday... and I come in this morning for work and lo and behold- there you are again.”

“What can I say? I like your office.”

“You haven’t seen the inside of my office for months.” The man says. “Just this room. Always this room. I know you hate this room. You’ve probably got it memorized to the T.”

“I hate you. I hate this room. I hate this hellhole.” He says. “There’s a long list of things I hate.”

“Things that aren’t going to get any better until you start to comply.” The man says.

“I’m not your little robot. You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

“Robot?”

“Robot.” He confirms. “You turn people into fucking robots. They're so scared of you that they don’t dare step out of line. You turn them into fucking robots and then tell them what to do and how to feel and how to act. That’s not gonna happen. You can’t control me. No one can control me. I’m Bullseye. I’m a god. I’m a force of fucking nature. I-“

“Could go with another round of shocks if you keep up with this tirade.” He says simply.

Lester goes quiet.

“That’s what I thought.” The man says. “I know this hurt you. I didn’t want to do it without the anesthesia. I didn’t. But like you- I have rules to follow. Commander Hill sets up guidelines. She told me how to proceed. You want her to ease up off you? Be more like a robot.” he chuckles. “Here’s the pain medication. You look a little flushed. I’ll get someone to insert an IV for you.”

“I don’t want an IV.”

“You’re getting one.” The man says. “And a change of clothes. I think you wet yourself.”

“Fuck you.” He hisses.

“With the amount of electricity that was just passed through your body- it’s understandable to lose control of your bladder. There’s no harm in it. I’ll go get you a change of clothes and a nurse to insert the IV. Sit tight.”

“Like I have a choice.” Lester sneers weakly.

“Let me rephrase- sit quietly. In fact, rest. I’ll not return you to your ward until you’ve recovered enough to walk. It could take a few hours.”

“Gotcha. Hours.”

They’re quiet for a second.

“Don’t glare at me like that.” The man says, somewhat randomly since I can’t see what’s going on it the room. “You don’t scare me. Seven times you’ve tried to kill me- seven times I’ve lived to tell the tale. I’m not scared of you. In the slightest. You couldn’t hurt me if you tried.” He says. “You can’t bully your way out of this. People are scared of you. You’ve made quite a name for yourself outside of these walls. The guards are scared of you, the nurses are scared of you, the other patients are scared of you- but I’m not. You. Can’t. Kill. Me.” he chuckles after this. “So stop. You can fantasize about it. You can dream about it. You can plan it out- just don’t look at me like that. To be honest, it pisses me off. You’re at my mercy. You’re my patient. You will at least pretend to respect me.”

“I don’t have to respect you.” Lester spits.

“I’m the one flipping the switch.” He says. “I flip all the switches. You don’t want to respect me, fine. But you have to at least act like it. Got me?”

“I”m gonna kill you.” Lester chuckles. “I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna make it stick. I’ll burn your fuckin’ bones. I’ll fry your brains out. I’ll-“

“You can’t.” He says. “I heal. We’ve been over this. I heal.”

“You’re a Mutie freak.” Lester hisses. “I know.”

“I am.” The man says simply. “And proud of it. I’ve lived a long while. I know more than you could imagine.”

“And yet you’re in this hellhole.” He’s goading him.

“By commander Hill’s request.” He says. “It’s a great honor.” He claps again. “Sleep. Let the medication set in. I’ll be back shortly to discuss your new regimen of medication... that you will actually take this time. Correct?”

“We’ll see.”

“That we will.” He chuckles.

The door across the hall opens, revealing a man with blonde hair piled on top of his head in a bun like style. He wears a white lab coat over what appears to be some kind of band t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

He’s young.

I bet Lester hates that he’s so young.

He must have really made a name for himself to be this-

Wait. Wait. He’s a healer. He’s probably as old as I am. Maybe older.

“Oh.” He smiles. “You’ve been standing there this whole time? I thought my orders were clear. You were to wait in my office.” he crosses his arms. “Are you another one who can’t follow orders?”

“I got distracted,” I say stiffly.

“Ah. I see.” He nods to the room he just came out of. “I’m told the two of you have some sort of... connection.”

“You could call it that,” I say.

“Hearing him must have been quite frightening. I apologize for that... Daken was it?”

I stiffly nod.

“Now.” He crosses his arms. “What are we going to do with you?”

“Let me go?” I offer.

“Let you go?” He smirks. “You’re not complying the rules, the doctors, the nurses or the medication- which means you’re disobeying a judge’s direct orders. That seems like a nasty habit to start your stay with. I’m guessing they’ve sent you to me so I can scare you.” He crosses his arms. “I’m afraid that sometimes this process is frightening on its own right.
You don’t need me to scare you. You need me to guide you. I’m good at that. Most of these assessments don’t end in ECT. A simple straightening out and setting you on your merry way.”

Ya right.

“I’m sure,” I say dryly.

He nods to the door in front of me. “Go in and have a seat. I’ll join you shortly.”

“I think I’d rather stay out here... in earshot of witnesses.”

“Witnesses?” He chuckles. “I’m decently sure Charlie has his blasted earphones in again. And your friend in there will never talk about anything that goes on in here. He’s either too traumatized or too stubborn. We’re not sure which.”

“My money is on stubborn.”

I defend my pet. God knows he needs it right now.

“Oh?” He smiles “Yes, he’d like for you to think that.” he turns back in the direction of the other door. “Now, if you’ll excuse me- I’ll have to get a nurse to insert an IV. God knows Charlie won’t do it.”

He moves past me. “Go to my office. It could take a while.”

“Could you uncuff me?” I ask.

He stares me over. “Why?”

“They hurt.” I lie.

“Hurt?”

“Against my stitches.” I show him where the cuffs have indeed made small marks on my stitched up wrists.

Marcos regards them for minute before nodding. “Of course. They shouldn’t have cuffed you in the first place. You’re of no danger to me.”

So he thinks.

“Let me get those for you.”

He takes the cuffs off and pockets them in his white lab coat. “Now, go to my office. It could take me a minute to track down a nurse willing to work on him.”

Wonderful.

I nod, watching him walk out the doors. He bitches at Charlie for his headphone usage and leaves the office building entirely.

How... odd.

No supervision?

He must have Lester restrained to something. That doesn’t make him any less of a threat, however. He could still easily do some damage from a table or bed. He just needs the right item. I wish I could give it to him. Especially after overhearing that conversation between the two of them. This doctor needs to be dealt with.

I’m faced with a choice... do as he says... or investigate just what he’s been up to today.

Unfortunately for him- I’m a very good investigator and naturally curious about things that are sometimes frightening.

I move towards the other door, standing outside and listening for a moment.

“I hear you.” Is spit from inside, weakly but venomously. “If you’re coming to fuck with me again- you’re not gonna get anywhere. There’s nothing else you can do...”

He doesn’t know it’s me.

His hearing doesn’t work like mine. He missed out on our conversation in the hall.

Just as well.

I push the door open slowly, watching realization pass over his drug-laden features.

He’s strapped to a table- somewhat horror-movie-ish. Both his legs held down around the ankles, and a strap run across his chest and shoulders ending in two separate cuff like trappings holding his wrists to the table.

“Oh fuck.” He hisses. “What do you want?? Get the fuck outta here!”

“Thought you could use a friend.” I nod to his predicament. “Or at least... a witness?”

“Witness? I don’t need a fucking witness. I need off this table.”

“You smell horrible,” I tell him.

His face holds a slight flush to it.

“Had a little accident?” I tease.

“Fuck you.” He snarls.

“Having a hard time in general,” I say, coming to the edge of the table. “You do look oh so pretty, however. All tied up. Makes me... want to get reacquainted with you.”

“Reacquainted my ass.” He says. “Let me up. I want out of here before that bastard comes back.”

“I could let you up.” I grin. “Or....” I crawl onto the table, positioning myself over top of him, my chest on his, my face in his face. His eyes are dull. He’s tired. If we’re going to do anything spiteful.... we might have to do it short and sweet.

He’s drenched in sweat- face pale.

Delicious.

“What are you doing fuckface?” He growls. “Let me up.”

“How long have you been here?” I ask, petting his freshly shaved head.

Interesting. They let him shave? Probably not. They probably do it for him. I’m sure that’s annoying. I’m also decently sure that they’ll have to do the same for me. I fixed my hair two weeks before I got caught. Decently sure that while the actual part of my head that has hair is okay- a little longer- but okay, the sides will need to be shaved soon. I doubt they’ll understand how hard a hairstyle like mine is to tend to. It may take some bitching to get them to see my side of things.

“Why do you care?” He counters.

“I’m curious. How long?” I purr.

He’s silent for a moment. “Fourteen months.”

I nod. “But the doctor said something about you being here for ten.”

“No- they said they’d be bringing me my meals like the last ten months. The first four I was allowed off the ward. Then I started a riot in the cafeteria and killed some fucker. Now I don’t leave the ward.”

“Charming.” I pet the side of his face. “You look like shit. You smell like piss. Your eyes are... dead.”

“Yea? Well fuck you too.” He chuckles. “You don’t look very much like yourself either.”

“I thought you hated how I dressed.”

“I did.” He smirks. “But seeing you like this is even worse.” He nods to his right hand. “Let me up. We can blow this joint.”

“I could.... but the doors are locked and there are guards patrolling the hallways.”

“So? You’re saying we can’t take them?”

“Darling at this point, I doubt you can even stand.”

“Fu-“

“That’s okay.” I shush him. “I don’t need you to stand for what I have in mind.”

“What you have in mind? Oh, here we fucking go.” He rolls his eyes. “What’s going on in that ‘big brain’ of yours, princess? What fucked up thing are you thinking that’s going to screw us both over?”

“Screw us over? Hardly.” I purr. “Though it does involve screwing of some sort.”

“Screwing, huh?” he smirks. “You haven’t read the packet?”

“No,” I say simply.

“Then... oh fuck. Get off me.” He says. “You’re crushing me.”

“I’m not that heavy.” I pout. “You’re just weak.”

“I’m not working at 100%, alright?” He says. “Fuck.”

I can’t help but smile. “Tell me, darling.... you remember that mission we were on?”

He’s quiet for a second. “My brain’s just been fried to hell.” He says. “You’ll have to be a little more specific.”

“Of course.” I pet him again. “The one in the medical facility?”

“Mmm. Yea. I think I do.” He says.

“Do you remember what we did?” I coax.

“I remember killing a lot of doctors.” He smiles. “Are we gonna kill these doctors?”

“Tempting... but no.” I smile. “Do you remember what we did AFTER we killed the doctors.”

A look of realization dawns over his face. “Oh hell no.” He says. “Fuck you.”

“Could be fun.” I tease.

“Could be fun? Fuck you. I’m not in the mood.”

“I could get you there,” I promise.

“Fuck off.”

“Maybe you need reminding.... how we played in the examination room. How I made you scream... the blood... the fucking. It was glorious.”

“In case you haven’t noticed asshole- I’ve basically just been tortured.”

“It’s nothing a few orgasms couldn’t fix,” I say with a grin.

He sighs. “Why is it always sex with you?”

“Hypersexuality,” I say simply. “They’re probably going to blame it on trauma of some sort.”

He smirks.

“It could be a wonderful act of spite,” I tell him. “Here- in this room. You told them they couldn’t control you... come on.” I purr. “Break the rules with me. I’m bored.”

Lester sighs. “Whatever.” He says. “Whatever. I haven’t cum in months. If you’re gonna do it- do it quickly. If you don’t get me off before he comes back- I’ll make your life hell.”

“Darling, have a little faith.” I move my hand from his face to his crotch, not really adding much pressure, but stroking him lightly through the damp fabric. “They really shouldn’t have let you drink water before doing this to you,” I say.

“Shut up.”

“Or in the very least, given you a diaper,” I smirk, knowing that will cause outrage.

“SHUT UP!” He snaps.

“Easy now, love.” I soothe. “I’m just teasing.” I stroke him more gently, punishing him for his outburst. Not that I’ll tell him that. But he should know how this works. He has to know how this works. It’s just how it goes. He reacts and I correct. Eventually, he’ll fall back into the swing of things.

“Fuck.” He hisses. “Come on princess. Do I look like I need to be teased right now?”

“I want to take my time.” I soothe, groping him through the thin material of his sweatpants.

“I want to cum.” He says. “Now.”

“Patience is a virtue.” I slide my hand lower, under his sac, toying with what I can access of his entrance.

“Fuckkkk.” He hisses again. “Get on with it.”

“We’ve got no lube,” I say. “I could eat you out.... to make the ride smoother.”

“You’d have to unstrap my legs.” He flexes his left foot. “And get me outta these pants.”

“Unstrapping you would ruin the fantasy. I do need to flip you over, however.”

“Then unstrap me.” He says.

“In time.” I slide my hand back to his cock, running up his shaft in a deliberate, careful, motion.

He raises up into my palm as much as the restraints will allow.

“Oh, it has been a while.” I tease, hiking down his sweatpants and enjoying the view. “You’re as desperate as a whore.”

“Fucck.” He hisses again.

“Oh, we will.” I take my hand away and go to his ankles. “Hmm... if only we had stirrups. Last time we had stirrups.”

“I’m sure you’ll make do.” He chuckles.

“I’m sure I will.” I unfasten his ankles, pushing his legs up and out- putting him on display while spreading him wide. “I love this view.” I bite my lips, hard enough so that there’s a small hint of blood in the air. It’s minuscule- but I know he sees it. “Lift your ass.”

He tries to comply. “Can’t.” He says finally. “You’ll have to unstrap me.”

“No,” I say sweetly. “I don’t think I will.”

“Unstrap me.” He orders.

“No,” I smirk. “Open wide darling... I promise to go easy on you.”

“What are you talking-“

I shove my fingers in his mouth. At first- he tries to bite me. Then he catches on and starts to suck. “Good boy.” I coo. “Such a good boy. Nice and wet now... it’s the only lube you’re going to get.” I’m amused by how much harder he starts to suck. I let it continue for a good minute and a half. “That’s good.” I remove my fingers from his mouth. “Good pet.” I climb to the bottom edge of the table and situate his bottom half on my lap- putting a strain on his torso. Just a small bit of pain to tide him over. “Now... spread yourself for me.” He’s got a slight flush to his otherwise pale face as he spreads his legs, putting one on either side of my thigh. “Good boy.” I lift his hips, raising his ass and putting more strain on his upper half. “Now sit back and relax.” I soothe, teasing my way into him with my slick fingers.

He starts to groan.

“Mmm.... nice and tight.” I praise. “Too bad the other’s don’t get to see you like this... I’m sure you’ve got them all convinced that you’re so kind of top.”

“I am a top, faggot.” He spits.

“I’ve got my fingers up your ass... you don’t look like a top right now.”

“Fuck you.” He growls.

“Tell me you’re a bottom and I’ll fuck you right here,” I smirk.

“Fuck off.”

“Tell me you’re a bottom,” I order.

“No.” He hisses.

“Come on darling. Be honest with yourself.” He grimaces. “Tell me what you want.”

“Just fuck me,” he growls. “I don’t have time for your fucking head games. Basket case.”

“That hurts me, pet,” I say, removing my fingers and letting him sit in the cool of the air conditioner. It’s slightly erotic to see him flushed, helpless, and on display.

“Fuck it all princess.” He whines. “You’re a real dick- you know that? Like a massive dick.”

“I can’t continue if you’re not honest and tell me what you need,” I say innocently.

“Just fuck me- okay?” He says. “I sucked your fucking fingers, I let you finger me- fuck me. Or suck my dick. Whatever. Just do something.”

“Tell me you’re a bottom.” I grin. “No- tell me you’re my bottom.”

“I don’t have time for your possessive bullshit.” Lester snarls.

“Like it or not darling, your ass belongs to me.” I purr. “I marked you. You’re mine.”

“Yea? Well, it didn’t stop you from ditching me, now did it?” He sneers.

“Ditching you?” I chuckle. “You ditched me. For the fucking devil. Again.”

“I almost had him,” Lester says fondly. “I almost had him.”

That’s the last time I saw l him, come to think of it.

In the kitchen. I tracked him down and tried to... have some fun with him. He wasn’t having it. All obsessed with fucking Daredevil and his ‘plan’ to kill him.

He’s never going to kill him. I don’t think he can. I honestly believe that. He can’t kill him. I don’t think- deep down- he really wants to. He likes their fights too much.

Daredevil is probably what landed him here. I’d put money on it. Like the guard was saying- he’s probably being backed by someone high up. Someone who paid for the hit most likely. And when a hit goes out on a cape- you know big monies involved. That and my pet’s going rate is incredibly high. It costs quite a pretty penny, that’s for sure.

I’m honestly surprised that S.H.I.E.L.D let him stay here. Especially on a sentence where he could possibly get out.

I guess the wonderful Commander Hill is enjoying her power over him. (What little power she has- at any rate)

“You’ll never have him,” I say dismissively. “He always wins. Like all of these fucking capes.”

“I’ll get him,” Lester says. “I’ll put a knife right between his eyes.”

“You’re delusional,” I smirk. “You can’t do this. You know you can’t. You’ve never been able to. You never will be able to. You’re deluded.”

“No- I’m actually thinking clearer than ever.” He smiles, closing his eyes. “And I thought of a million ways to make this bastard pay.”

“Which bastard?” I ask, amused.

“All of ‘em.” He cracks one eye open. “That bastard in the kitchen, the bastards on the ward, and most especially the bastard who keeps fuckin’ shocking me.”

“Ah.” I nod. “I see.”

“You could help.” He says. “If you ask nicely.”

“Tell me what you want to do to them,” I say.

“I wanna slit the doctor’s pretty throats...” he groans as I start to pump his cock.

“And?”

“Tie that bastard to this table....”

“Oh yes.” I purr.

“And fry the bastard.” He hisses when I speed up. “All the way up.” He nods a machine beside the table. “All the way.”

“Beautiful.” I encourage. “Who else?”

“Gonna find the devil..... gonna....” It’s been a while for him- he has no lasting power. “Oh fuck.”

“What are you going to do?” I coax, slowing my hand.

“Shoot him.” He says in clipped words.

“Shoot him? That easily?”

“No-“ he says. “Stab him.”

“With what?”

“Something...” He hisses. “Oh fuck princess. Speed up will ya?”

I keep my pace. “Are you going to kill that orderly?”

“Which one?” He groans and tries to raise his hips to meet my palm. I grab his hip with my free hand and hold him down. “FUCK.” he curses.

“Paul,” I say. “Are you going to kill him?”

“Oh yea,” Lester says. “Definitely.”

“How?”

“Painfully.” He says. “With a fork.”

Ah. Thus he’s not allowed to have silverware. I get it now.

“Good boy.” I praise. “You’ve got this thought out.”

“Fuck yeah, I do.” He hisses. “Come on fuckface- faster.”

“We will see.” I purr, lifting his hips again and getting a view of his hard dick.

“No ‘we will see’ go fucking faster.” He growls.

He sounds... close.

“I’m sorry dear, are you trying to cum?”

“Ah, yea.” He says sarcastically. “I’ve only been trying for the last ten minutes.”

Ten minutes? Has it really been ten minutes?

I’ve got to wrap this up.

“Hmm. That puts a damper on things.” I admit.

“So... are we going to fuck... or what?”

I pull my hand away. “Oh... so you want me in your ass?”

“Don’t read too much into it.” He growls.

“But you want me in your ass. You want me to stuff you full. You know you’ll cum if I fuck you.”

“Fuck- really. Just please... please do it.”

“I do love to hear you beg,” I smirk.

“Then fucking fuck me.” He snaps. “Or finish this handjob. Just... something. Please.”

“Not until you say-“

“I’m a bottom.” He hisses in a barely there whisper. “Happy? Good now, fuck me.”

“No...” I coax.

“I’m your bottom.” He growls. “Happy you fucking fairy princess?”

Ah. Sweet surrender.

I pull my pants down to my knees, positioning myself awkwardly on the table.

“I’m going to put your feet on the table. Use them as leverage to hold yourself up.” I order.

He does as he’s told, legs shaking from the exertion.

I enter him smoothly, though there’s a bit of a rough drag.

That’s alright though. Lester is a pain junkie. he likes it just as much as he likes causing it. If I were myself- if I had my powers and claws and such- I’d be carving him up as we speak. As of this moment- I’ll a can do is scratch the outside of his thighs.

I thrust into him slowly- drawing it out.

Sex is one thing on its own. Having sex when I’ve been specifically told I’m not allowed to in a room they sent me to to punish me is a whole other story. It’s delicious on every level.

“Oh fuck.” He hisses.

I slowly lift his legs, pushing them back towards his chest, my thrusts getting deep as a result.

He chuckles, the sound vibrating through him. “Fuck yea.” He hisses.

“Good boy.” I praise. “Taking my cock so nicely. I was worried you’d forget how to take cock. I’m pleasantly surprised.”

This feels amazing... but we don’t have very much time. At all.

“Fuck.” I hiss. “Such a good boy.”

He nods, sweat dripping down his brow.

“Such a lovely cock tease in the ward.” I continue, thrusting into him harshly.

He groans. “Too much.” He says. “Too much.”

“Too much?” I question, slowing down.

He nods. “Gonna... pass out.”

“Don’t you dare!” I growl.

His eyes are heavy-lidded.

“Stay with me, pet,” I order.

“Finish it.” He groans. “Before I black out.”

“Blackout? Why would you blackout?” I scoff.

“My chest...” he groans. “Shocks... exertion. Do the science.” He spits.

I grind into him the same time that I grab his cock. It doesn’t take much from the touch and the fucking to make him squirt over his stomach and chest, staining his t-shirt.

I follow a second after, forcing myself to be quick.

His head lolls to the side. “‘S good.” He says sleepily. “‘S all good.”

I lean forward and kiss his forehead. “I forgot they’d drugged you,” I say. “I apologize.”

“Fuck you did.” He says with a chuckle. “Clean me up.”

“Mmm... no.” I grin.

“No?” He lifts his head to look at me.

“No,” I say simply. “I’m gonna leave you a wreck. Shirt stained, face flushed... my cum dripping out of your ass.... you’re a mess.”

“Bullshit you are.” He growls. “We’ll both get caught.”

“Maybe I want to be caught.” I smile.

“You crazy mother fucker.” He growls.”You may want to be caught-but I don’t.”

“Fine.” I sigh. I pull his pants up, tucking him back in his briefs to do so. I don’t mention that they check our clothing when we shower. They’ll see the evidence of this. The mighty Bullseye. Someone else’s bitch. It’ll be.. nice.

“You better go.” He says.

“Kicking me out so soon?” I tease.

“Fuckhead doesn’t stay gone for long.”

I nod. “Fine. I’ll go.” I right my own clothing, sliding off the table. “Oh.” I lean forward and position is legs back like they were, fastening him back in the restraints. “It’s been fun,” I tell him.

He nods.

“When will you back on the ward?”

“Few hours.” He says dismissively. “When I can walk.”

That makes me smirk. “May take a little longer now.”

“Fuck.” He hisses.

“You wanted me to fuck you, darling,” I say. “You asked for it.”

He nods. “Get out, fuckface. I’m gonna catch some sleep.”

I slip out of the room without another word, sliding down the hall to check on the waiting room.

Charlie sits there oblivious, headphones still in. The thing that surprises me is that Shawn is sitting in the waiting room, holding what looks like a baby monitor. Odd.

“Ah.” He nods to me when he sees me. “Did you have a good time while I was gone?”

Ah..... what?

He spins the monitor around his finger by holding it through a loop that’s on his top. One that’s meant to be connected to a key ring.

“Lester is a high-risk patient.” He says. “I can’t leave him on his own. Not entirely.”

Oh. Fuck.

“I wanted to interrupt... but.... well.... a man has needs.” He nods. “I get that. I do. If I’d been told I couldn’t fornicate for an extended period of time- I’d be a very unhappy man.”

I stare at him, unsure of what to say.

“So he’s your ‘pet’ hmm?” The man stands to his feet. “Your ‘darling’.”

I back up into the hallway.

“Oh you’ve nothing to fear from me,” He says with a smile. “Hold still.” I take another step back. “Hold still.” He repeats. “Let me talk with you- man to man.”

I take yet another step back.

“Don’t be frightened.” He says. “Com here. I’m your friend. I want to help you.”

“Go away,” I say. “I want to go back to my ward.”

“You can’t do that- I’m afraid.” He smiles “Not now.”

“And why’s that?”

He grins. “Oh, buddy you just broke like three major rules in a row. We have to deal with that.”

“I want to talk to another doctor.”

“I’m the only one around.” He motions around the room. “You’ll have to make do.” He stops moving forward and crosses his arms. “So Lester has a kill list. I mean- I knew he did. I’ve just never got him to admit it.” He tilts his head. “Daredevil and I were to be expected.... but he wants to kill Paul, too? And, from the sound of it- you do too. That’s a downright assassination plot right there.” He looks me over. “And you’re involved. You encouraged him while you were doing god knows what to him....” he smirks. “And he’s apparently a bottom in a homosexual relationship? I always thought he fell somewhere on the asexual side of things.”

“He’s... hard to read,” I say. “We have a connection so... he’s more like Demi-sexual. Not that I expect you to know what that is.”

“I’m a psychologist.” He says. “Of course I know what that is.” he nods to me. “Where do you fall on that scale?”

“Me?” I snort. “You’re asking me how I label my sexuality?”

He nods.

“I’m hypersexual. It goes along with my powers.”

He nods again. “So it does. So you’re admitting that you’ll have a problem with our ‘no fornication’ rule.”

“I might,” I say.

“Or was this out of spite? We told you not to have sex... you got in trouble... and you came to the place you were to be punished and had sex on the table in the room where the ‘punishment’ happens.” He looks me over. “That seems very spiteful to me.”

I smirk. “You’re a smart boy- aren’t you?”

“I’m a smart ‘man’.” He says. “I’m not your boy.”

“My apologies.”

He nods. “So... it was spite driven. You would have done anyone in that room- it didn’t have to be Lester.”

“No-“ I correct. “It had to be Lester.”

“Oh?”

I nod. “We haven’t fucked in a while.”

“Oh.” He nods. “Of course.”

The two of us stand silently. “Well... it should come of no surprise to you that your father okayed the treatment.” He says, taking the conversation in a direction I honestly was not expecting.

That... surprises me. “He did what?”

“He okayed the treatment.” He says. “He’s quite upset at you.... and... well... we told him about this situation.” He points to the room Lester’s in. “He wants to talk to you.”

“I’m sure he does.” I snarl.

“We’ve got him on standby... video call in my office. Anytime you’re ready, we can proceed.”

“I’m not ready,” I say a little too quickly.

“That’s too bad.” He puts the baby monitor in his other hand. “Didn’t see this in the room, huh?”

I have to shake my head.

“It’s okay. He doesn’t know it’s there either.”

Over the monitor there’s a small noise, snoring.

“Ah. You’ve put him to sleep.” He smiles. “I guess I should thank you.”

I don’t have anywhere else to back up to now.

“Come along. In my office.” He motions to the first door.

“I-“

“Daddy’s on the line.” He says. “He needs to talk to you now.”

I glare at him.

“I’d save that anger.” He says. “It’s not me who's done this.”

I let him open the door and motion me through. His office is large, filled with books on shelves and tables. The desk is covered in papers as well as a model of the human brain, housed in a white head. It looks like an anatomy doll almost. In front of the desk are two chairs. To the side of the room, a large TV screen. Looking closer, I see it’s for transmissions.

Wonderful.

He sits me in one of the chairs and goes to the screen, turning it on and pushing buttons on the touch screen, dialing a number it looks like.

I close my eyes. I don’t want to see.

There’s a dial tone followed by Marcos saying, “I’ve got him now- over behind me.”

“Bring ‘im here. I need to see his face.” Logan’s voice is a little muffled by the distance between us. Long distance calling at it’s finest.

“Daken,” Marcos says. “Please step forward.”

“I’m fine where I am,” I say.

“Like hell you are,” Logan growls. “Come here.”

“Fuck you.” I hiss.

“Come here.” Logan orders.

“Make me.” I snarl.

“Make him.” Logan nods to the doctor.

“Fine.” The man comes behind me. I brace for contact, but instead of grabbing me, he grabs the back of the chair. He pulls the chair- which I’m seated in, in front of the screen. Most of the screen is taken up by Logan, but in the corner, I can see myself and the room I’m in.

“Better,” Logan says. “Do you know what they’re doing?”

“I have an idea,” I say dryly, not looking at the screen.

“Yea? Did you have an idea before you fucked some psycho in a treatment room?” Logan says.

“We don’t use the term ‘psycho’.” Marcos interrupts.

“There ain’t no other term for fucking Bullseye,” Logan growls. “He’s a psycho.”

The man stays silent.

“You’ve been there for not even a day,” Logan says. “And your life is already hell.”

“I can explain-“

“Don’t,” Logan says. “Don’t even start. You’re not going to explain- you’re going to listen. Got it?”

I stay silent.

“Got it?” He repeats.

I nod ever so slightly.

“Good.” He exhales slowly. “They asked me to approve some treatment options... which they coulda asked the judge but they figured you’d take it better from me.”

“Oh?”

“Yea.” He pauses. “Do you know what they want to do?”

“I can have a pretty good hunch.”

“Cool,” Logan says. “Then I don’t have to explain it to you.”

I close my eyes. This is too much.

They can’t control me so they call my fucking father? Like I’m a child. Like I’m int he principal’s office.

“I don’t see why I should be punished so harshly for a first-time offense.” I try to make a case for myself.

“You were threatening to kill some staff members. Right?”

“No!” I defend. “It was foreplay. Dirty talk.”

“That’s dirty talk for you?” He asks in disgust. “And you wonder why you’re there.”

“They’re torturing people with that procedure,” I say.

“Oh yeah?” Logan says in disbelief. “I’m sure they are.”

“They are!” I say. “They didn’t give him the pain medication. He said that Hill told him not to.”

“And if you’re not careful- I’ll tell them not to give it to you, either.” Logan threatens.

“You wouldn’t do that.” I scoff.

He nods. “You don’t know what I would do to get you to behave. I repeat- it’s been one fucking day. One. Not even a full one. You haven’t even made it to supper yet. Now you’re in some punishment office like you’ve been some naughty child.”

I’m glad the symbolism caught on with him as well.

“So... they’re gonna shock you. They’re gonna do it until you decide to behave. And we’re gonna have this talk every single fucking time before they do it. You will behave. You will not hurt anyone. You will not FUCK anyone. Do you understand?”

I glare at him.

“They’re gonna do it anyway. It doesn’t matter if you answer me.” He says. “They just gotta run your treatment options by me.I’ve gotten three calls from this morning alone. Three of ‘em. If you continue to misbehave and they have to keep calling me I will tell them to lock you in solitary and leave you there. Do you understand?”

I nod, slightly put out.

“Alright then. Behave. Do what they tell you to do.”

“Are you still making calls?” I ask.

He’s quiet. “No. I was gonna... but you obviously deserve what you’re getting.”

“Because I fucked someone or because I fucked him?” I ask.

“Because you can’t follow the simplest of instructions.” He says. “And your idea of dirty talk involves murder. You need help. Serious psychological help.”

“I’m...”I need to say something. “I’m sorry.” I try.

“Oh don’t start that.” He snaps. “I don’t wanna hear it. You’re being manipulative and you know you are.”

But... I really am. Sort of. I mean.... almost.

“Logan-“

“I’ll call to check on you tonight.” He says. “I have shit to do today that does not involve you- believe it or not.”

Ouch.

“Fine,” I say. “Fine. You want them to torture me to send a message- fine.”

“They’re not torturing you.” He says. “They’ll give you the pain medication. I promise.”

“It’s torture,” I say. “I have a right to refuse this treatment.”

“You have zero rights.” He corrects. “That’s what I’m trying to get you to understand. You wanna be blunt? Fine. You have no rights. You are at the mercy of whatever the fuck they decide to do to you because the judge made it that way. This place isn’t fair. Not to you. And it isn’t meant to be. So suck it the fuck up and do what you’re told.”

I don’t like that. At all. How can I fight with someone who’s in control of everything??

“We’ll move Lester to recovery and get you set up in the next twenty minutes,” Marcos says. “It’s nothing to worry about, I promise.”

He doesn’t say a thing in regards to the load of bullshit my father just spewed everywhere.

“It took me five hours to get home this morning,” Logan says. “If I have to come down there I will beat your ass. Do you understand?”

I have no doubt he would try.

“I mean it.” He says. “I will stomp you. I may even pull you over my knee if you insist on behaving like a child.”

“There was nothing childish about what I did,” I growl.

“You wouldn’t change your clothes, you wouldn’t take your pills, when they got you to take your pills you made yourself puke and then when they carted you away to talk to someone about your defiance issues- you fucked another patient. Right there. In this man’s office.”

“It wasn’t his office- it was his office building. It was a medical room.” I cross my arms.

“Go with him. Quietly.” Logan orders. “I’m serious. I will get a teleporter if I have to. I’ll be there in a matter of minutes then. And you know what- no one will be happy with that. Not the teleporter who’s having to exert so much energy and not me- because I don’t like teleporting and I don't like the thought of having to do it to come talk some sense into you. Do you understand?”

I nod. “I understand.”

I understand that he’s a massive, uncaring, uncouth, egotistical, self-centered, small dicked dickhead.

“No, you don’t.” He says. “But you will.”

I don’t know what that means. I don’t care to know what that means.

“Call me after he’s done, doc.” He says. “I’ll wanna talk to him.”

“He probably won’t be able to talk for a while afterward.”

“What an improvement.” He chuckles dryly. “I’ll talk at him then.”

The doctor nods. “Understood.”

“Good.” We’re all silent for a minute. “Go ahead and take him while he’s licking his wounds. He’ll behave better that way.”

Licking my wounds?

He couldn’t wound me if he tried. And fuck- I think he is trying.

“Understood.” The doctor says again. “We’ll call you afterward.... the duration of a treatment like his will last three hours. He’ll be in recovery a few hours afterward. I’ll bring him in as soon as he can move.”

As soon as I can move, huh? How bad is this going to be exactly?

“Good,” Logan says again. “I mean this, son, if I have to come there- you will be sorry. Do you understand?”

I doubt they’re calling anyone else’s parents like this. I don’t know what makes them think it’s going to go well for them. They think they can use this against me? They only get to pull this card once. Once. And they’ve stupidly decided to do it within the first day.

What happens next is completely on them.

I don’t regret what I did. I don’t regret what I said. I don’t regret them having to work so hard to contain me.

I regret nothing.

They can’t make me feel bad when I don’t care.

I’m innocent. I will continue to be innocent. And they- all of them, Logan included, can go fuck themselves.

“Alright,” Logan says. “Go on and take him. Call me when he’s done.”

“Alright.” The doctor puts his hands on my shoulders. “Hands out in front.”

“What- why?” I sneer.

“Cuffs.” He says simply. “We’re not taking them off again when you’re off the ward.”

Fuck.

“Fine.” I scoff. “That’s fine.”

“So you say.” The doctor says. “We’re ending the transmission now. Is there anything you want to say?”

“Besides my repeated request to talk to the judge which of unconstitutionally denied me? No.”

“Okay then.” He goes to the screen and ends the call, returning and cuffing hands together. “Sit tight.” He says. “We’ll get your ‘pet’ moved and come back for you.”

How wonderful.

If they think this will break me- they’re wrong. Dead wrong.

Like I said, I’m innocent. I will show them I don’t belong here. And then- they will let me go. Or else. I don’t know how to make it any simpler for them.

Let me go- or pay.

At this point, I’m partial to either option. Reigning down hell on them would be.. entertaining, to say the least. And I might as well get my enjoyment where I can- right?

Chapter Text

“So... it’s actually rather simple.” The man above me says. “I’ll give you this-“ he brandishes a syringe. “Just a tiny little prick. We let it set in and then I put these,” he lifts to electrodes. “On your forehead. With your mutation in mind, we’re going to try a bilateral session. It’s not that much different really... there just might be some minor memory loss. Not that big of a deal. We’ll put you in recovery afterward until you get to a more adjusted state. Nothing to worry about.”

I look around the room that was a lot more fun an hour ago. “If I had nothing to worry about- I don’t think you would have restrained me to the table.” I grouse.

“You’re nervous.” He says. “And that’s fine.” He leans over the head of the table- right over my face. “Do you need a few minutes before the anesthesia?”

Do I need a few minutes? I need an hour. A day. A week. A year. How about three years? They can do this as part of my exit care.

I don’t answer him. I’ve kept our conversation short, sweet, and simple.

He’s my torturer. Simple as that. I’ve had several people try to torture me over the years. It’s best to just not give them the satisfaction.

“I honestly didn’t think you’d clam up on me.” He says with a grin. “It’s not that scary... I promise. We’re going to take great care of you.”

Fine. That’s fine.

“Do you have any questions before we start?” He asks, almost sweetly if I didn’t know any better. Sweetly is an odd description for a man who’s about to shock the ever-loving fuck out of me. But... he’s acting charming enough. The whole ‘nothing to be worried about- we’ll take great care of you’ bit. I’ve seen very few doctors in my lifetime. Once back in the fifties when I caught a virus that was giving my healing factor a shakedown I was taken to one in Berlin. Experimental stuff. Very hush hush. There was no ‘we’ll take great care of you’. There was an ex-nazi scientist sitting over me and stabbing me with a million needles while I was told not to react to anything he did to me. Do you know how hard is not to react to anything an ex-nazi scientist does to you? It’s pretty fucking hard. Impossible really. But... the idea of pain was introduced anytime I did react so I just ended up shutting my eyes and hoping for the best.

Obviously, I’m still alive... so hoping for the best worked.

Let’s hope that it works his time as well.

They can’t break me. I did nothing wrong. This will not work. I refuse to let it work. The idea is slightly... unsettling shall we say. But it’s nothing. I did worse to the men I killed, I’m sure.

Maybe that’s why they’re using shocks. To instill ‘empathy’. To make me ‘sorry’ for taking human life. To make me realize the horrible pain I’d inflicted.

Whatever. It won’t work.

I’m not sorry. I did nothing wrong.

This man is nothing to me. I won’t let them hold this fear over my head like they do with my most favorite toy.

Am I sorry I got caught fucking him? No. Not in the slightest. It was fun- I like fun. It was a big ‘fuck You’ to them.

I like that as well. I like that a lot. Any chance I have to throw this shit in their faces- I will take. I don’t belong here. I have never belonged here. I don’t care what the judge says, or what Hill says, or even what my fucking parental overlord has to say- I did nothing wrong. Lester? Oh yes. I can see him here.

But that’s not my fault.

Even though he got caught- it’s not my fault.

Sure he’s probably facing some sort of living hell right now- since they can’t do this to him again- but that’s not on me.

I spare him a brief thought... but if he failed to notice he was being supervised be it however small it was- then that’s on him. He should have known. He should have paid attention. He didn’t warn me. This is his fault. (In a sense). Nothing that I can’t make him pay for later on. Maybe a few minutes choking on my dick? That sounds appealing. I’ll have to run my proposal by him. If he’s in the right mood- we’ll go ahead and try for round two.

“Daken?” Marcos says. “I’d really like to answer any questions you have before we begin. And I know, from what little I know about you at this point, that you have questions. So please, be honest. Do you have any questions?”

“A few, actually,” I admit after a long pause.

“Oh?” He puts his hands beside my head, slightly leaning lower. If I were to be contrite I could feasibly spit in his face. However, when someone has you strapped to a table and intends to pass large amounts of electricity through your unwilling brain- it’s probably best not to spit in their face.

I’m guessing my father would approve of my cooperation. Or at least my attempt to cooperate.

“Why are we doing this again?” I ask dryly. “Seems a little pointless, if you ask me.”

“Ah.” He nods. “You broke the rules and proved to be noncompliant with your medication.”

“This seems extreme for a first-time offense.” I try to point out... again. I’m like a broken record. I repeat myself so many times it’s almost comical.

In a sense, I feel that they had better get used to these questions and demands. I’ll be repeating them every day, all day, for the next three years.

“To be honest,” he says very carefully, looking to be in thought, “They’re worried you’ll make too many waves on the ward. You’re charming, influential, frightening when need be- you could easily sway the other patients. If they see you getting away with noncompliance- they’ll try to get away with noncompliance. Then we’ve got a whole ward that’s put on standby until we get everyone back on track. So yes, this is a little harsh. I would have advised against if I hadn’t found you-“

“Fucking Bullseye,” I say dryly.

“Fornicating with Lester.” He nods. “That’s right.”

“That’s why Logan agreed. He’d rather punish me for fucking another man-“

“I don’t think it was so much as a man as it was which man you decided to have sex with.” He says. “It did upset him, though. You’re right. It’s something I would actually like to talk to the two of you about. Together. I think in our follow up care, I’ll have you two try to open some dialogue about it.”

Talk to Logan about fucking other men?

His fragile masculinity couldn’t handle it.

“Pass.” I roll my eyes.

“Have you ever talked to him about your sexuality?” He presses.

“Him? Talk to HIM about my sexuality? Mr ‘smoke cigars, ride motorcycles, fuck women, wear flannel, growl when you’re talking, kill- just as bad as I do for the record,'? No. We’ve never talked about my sexuality.”

“Surely he has gay friends. I know several of the x-men are either bi-sexual or homosexual.”

“Oh? Then you’re right. I should talk to him. I should tell all about how I like sucking men off and then having them to cum in my-“

“That kind of talk is not allowed,” Marcos says firmly.

“Turning you on?” I say coyly. “Let me up and I can show you just how good I am.”

“Are you proposing sexual favors to get your way?” He asks quietly.

Hmm... interesting.

“I might be.” I purr. “Are you interested?”

He sounds... odd. Contemplative.

This may just have a chance of working. Maybe.

It’s definitely something I should pursue. Even if it leads me nowhere. I have to see how far he’s willing to let me push. How far I could possibly go. For curiosities sake.

“Do you do this often?” He asks, setting the syringe down. I’m almost happy to see it out of his hands.

“Often enough to have experience. Let me show you. Let me up.” I smile at him. “I’ll make it worth your while- I promise. I give head like no one you’ve ever been with.”

Maybe because I learned at such a young age? I’ve had decades to perfect my technique. It shows- I’m told. I’ve never had a man complain- that’s for sure.

And I’ve known quite a few complainers in my many days walking this earth.

Johnny- most recently. “There’s not enough lube. I’m hurting you too much. It’s too cold. My legs hurt. I don’t want to fuck you when you’re talking like that. I don’t want you to fuck me when you’re talking like that. I’m not comfortably hurting you like that. It’s.... “ Blah. Blah. Blah.

“Hold on one second.” He moves away from the table and to the side of the room that houses a small desk. Digging in the desk and retrieving something.

Even more interesting.

“So... you would perform sexual favors on a complete stranger to get me to let you off of this table.” He says when he’s back over me.

“Yes,” I say simply. “And I’m very good at them. You’ll like it- I promise.”

“But I’m a complete stranger. You don’t know my sexual history. I could have diseases.... If you perform oral sex on me- you could catch something. Regardless of how briefly you would be affected.”

“I wouldn’t be affected at all,” I tell him. “No worries.” I wish I had my pheromones. “I’ll be gentle.”

“Oh?”

“Mmhmm.” I soothe. “I can deep throat like a professional.”

“On a stranger.” He repeats.

“Well we’re not really complete strangers- now are we?” I purr. “You have my charts. You probably know more about me than I do at this point.”

“I know that you’ve been dealt a great sexual trauma in your past and it’s made you develop hypersexuality as a coping mechanism.” He says. “And that you may not even really want to have anything sexual with me- you just want to get your way. Which means you’re scared. You’d rather... let me say this gently.... uh... ‘rent’ yourself out to a complete stranger to get something you want than face the music to the tune of something you’re scared of.”

Ouch.

I go silent for a minute.

“Do you want a blowjob or not?” I ask finally.

“Not.” He says. “Hard pass.” He puts something down beside my head, right next to the syringe... Originally I thought it to be some kind of item that could be used in a sexual nature. More so- lube. I was hoping he was going to counter my offer for something a little more physical. From what I can see- this is not lube... but I can’t really turn well enough to see what it is exactly.

I try not to let my imagination run wild.

I stop all thoughts about the mystery item in their paths. Not wanting to think another one of them.

“You don’t like men? That’s fine. Close your eyes. I promise you won’t be able to tell.” I’m a little distraught that he didn’t take my offer, to be honest. In my experience, men usually trip over themselves to have my attention.

Is it because I don’t have my pheromones? Am I not as attractive as I think I am? Curious. I need to probe more.

“I actually do like men.” He says. “I identify as pansexual. I like everyone.”

“I’m not pretty enough for you then,” I say coldly.

“No, no. Not at all.” He says. “You’re very attractive. I’m sure you already know this so I’m not going to stroke your ego with any more complaints than that.” He chuckles.

“Oh? So then there shouldn’t be a problem.” I smile my most charming smile.

This is ... hopeful.

“The problem here is that I am a medical professional at a psychiatric facility and that my patient is offering sexual favors to escape treatment. Now, as a medical professional, I now have to ask where my patient learned these behaviors. It’s a very unhealthy coping mechanism or extortion tool- I’m not sure which at the moment- that someone has to have taught him. You don’t just sell your body. Someone has to introduce you to the idea. Who did this to you? Who taught you?”

“I just want to give you a blowjob.” I lie. “And in return, you can let me out of this room. It’s our secret. No one has to know.”

“Actually- you’re wrong yet again.” He says. “I’ve recorded our conversation. Several people will know. And they’ll know what to look for when you start to get desperate.” He pats my shoulder. “It’s alright though. It really is. You don’t know any better.” He gives my shoulder a squeeze. “We’ll teach you.”

I’m... dumbfounded.

“You recorded me??”

“Yes.” He picks up whatever he placed by my head and holds it over me. “On my phone.” He brandishes the object. A large phone in a silver heavy duty case. I guess he’s known for dropping it.

“Delete that,” I growl.

“No.” He pockets the phone. “I’ll share it with your doctors promptly.”

“No you won-“

“I’ve already sent it to them, actually.” He says. “That’s the wonderful thing about technology.”

I close my eyes. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s okay.” He says gently. “It’s all okay. We’re going to get you set up now- alright? But I don’t want you to think I’m punishing you for your proposition. This is for your actions beforehand. Not our conversation. Do you understand?”
“The sudden urgency for continuing seems to suggest otherwise.”

“I will not punish you for hypersexuality due to trauma.”

“You already are.” I hiss.

“Let me rephrase- I will not punish you for VERBAL hypersexuality. When you act on it- it’s another story. Okay? You don’t know any better. Sex is a weapon for you. Until you physically use that weapon- you are not punished. Use it and well... “ He nods in the direction of the machine. “You get it?”

“Yes.” I hiss.

He nods. “Any other questions before we start? Ones that are not of a sexual nature please.”

“Can I talk to a judge?” I ask- admittedly weakly.

“That’s your favorite question- isn’t it?” He asks. “You should know by now-“

“I know.” I cut him off. “I just thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.... again.”

“You’ve asked at least twelve times today alone.” He says. “Repeated behavior with an intent and belief that you will receive a different outcome is a sign of-“

“Don’t say it.”I cut him off.

He smiles. “Okay. We’re going to-“

“I really didn’t do anything.” I try to reason with him.

“You had sex on this very table.” He says. “I hope it was worth it.”

Being inside of Lester is always worth it. There’s little I won’t risk to fuck him. Part of me thinks he knows that.

“I don’t deserve to be here.” I try again.

“Everyone says that on their first day. More so over the course of their first few weeks. It’s denial. It happens.” He says.

“I’m not like these other men.” I try for yet another time.

“No? Your foreplay included a hit list... you don’t think that’s a problem?”

“I wasn’t going to kill those men...”

“You sure weren’t stopping your buddy- were you?” He chuckles. “You encouraged him. The last thing he needs is encouragement. He’s a psychopathic, delusional, sadistic, hallucinating, assassin. The last thing he needs is someone pushing him. Trust me. I work with him more than anyone in this entire hospital. I honestly don’t want to lose what little ground I’ve managed to make with him because he decided to interfere.”

“So you’re mad at me” I deduce.

“Not mad.” He says charmingly. “Perplexed. Why him?”

“Why not him?”

“You’re last ‘item’ was Johnny Storm. This seems like a drastic change.”

“He came before Johnny, technically.”

“Ah.” He nods. “I still don’t get it though. The last thing he seems like he would be interested in would be another man.”

“He hates everyone equally,” I say. “I just know how to make him cum. He likes that.”

“Yet you didn’t unstrap him.”

I smile. “It’s always fifty-fifty as to whether he’s going to fuck or kill. I wasn’t sure which mood he’d be in after your little session. I took precautions.”

“Ah.” He repeats. “You’re quite intelligent, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“Then you should know the dangers of messing with someone of his... particular illnesses.”

“The danger is what makes it fun, doctor. It’s a challenge.”

“Tell me, has he been with any other men?”

“No.” I snort. “Other men?”

“Why is that so funny?” He presses.

“He hates men. He hates women. He would like to skull fuck the Punisher, I’m decently sure. Then there’s good ol’ Daredevil. He’d like to do something to him. I don’t think he’s sure of what- though. But I’m decently sure if sex were involved, he wouldn’t be opposed.”

“Yes I do get that impression when I’m talking to him about Matt.”

“Oh you know his first name?” I ask.

“He was one of the lawyers we had to kick off the case. Obviously, his opinion was very biased.”

“So he tried to what- kill him?” Not Daredevil’s MO.

“Contain him.” He corrects. “In somewhere a lot worse than here.”

“Ah.” So Lester dear got a break. How charming.

“Yea.” He nods. “I thank you for your input into this situation. Honestly. Talking to Lester is 90% insults, 5% death threats, and 5% usable information.”

“More like 0% useful information.” I correct. “He lies.”

“Not with what we’ve got him on.” He says. “But that’s a story for another time.”

“Oh?”

He nods. “I’m trying my best not to scare you.”

“I’m hard to scare,” I say dryly.

“I don’t know.. you seem pretty freaked out right now.”

“I’m not-“

“You hear Lester scream. You’re expecting the same. Your case is nothing like his case. You have nothing to worry about. Commander Hill has no reason to come down hard against you. She’s under the impression that you truly, full heartedly, thought you were doing the right thing. You’re here on a small sentence, with heavy involvement from your guardian, and minimal medication requirements. See? You have no reason to fear. If you decide to act like Lester, however, you will find yourself in a world of hurt. That’s just simple. Hill doesn’t rain down hell unless you draw attention to yourself.”

“And Lester is wonderful at drawing attention to himself,” I say more to myself than him.

“That he is.” He nods.

“What are you doing to him?” I ask.

“He’s fine.” The man says. “I promise. He’s in the infirmary on an IV drip. The nurses and doctors are taking great care of him.”

“Is that his punishment?” I ask.

“Honestly- yes. He hates the infirmary.”

“So you’re torturing him medically then?” I ask coldly.

“No.” The man laughs. “Not at all. He hates the care he receives. It makes him feel a little helpless. You probably know him well enough to know that helpless is his least favorite feeling.” He smiles. “The drugs are good though- he won’t be feeling too scared.” He reaches down and places the electrodes on my forehead. “There.” He says. “Now open your mouth.”

I just stare at him.

“I need to insert the bit.” He says. “It won’t hurt.”

“Is our talk over?”

“Are you trying to waste more time?” He counters.

Fuck.

“Open your mouth.” He says. “The bit feels a little weird- I know. But.... it will keep you from biting through your tongue. Which would feel about 1000 times worse.”

I have to agree.
“Are the seizures going to be violent?”

He stares at me for a second. “Yes.” He says finally. “But you’ll be asleep. No worries.”

“Will it hurt when I wake up?”

“It shouldn’t.” He says. “Might have a bit of a headache. Maybe be a little thirstier than usual.”

“I ate today. What if I vomit?”

“If I see you puking, I will stop, take the bit out, and turn you on your side.” He says. “You won’t choke.”

“Will anything else happen?”

“No.” He says. “Seizing, headache, memory loss, and you’ll be on amazing drugs. It’s not dangerous at all.” He smiles. “Open up. Let’s put the bit in and I can give you the drugs. It’ll be just like falling asleep. Only faster. I promise.”

I can’t really fight with him much more. Not and walk away from it. So I comply.

“Good.” He praises, pushing something hard and plastic between my teeth. “No fighting. I appreciate that. I thought you’d be a living terror.” He admits. “I guess that talk with your old man really hit you hard.”

Hit me hard?

Maybe. I... don’t know. This is all...starting to weigh on me. Logan’s interference is only making it worse. He okayed this. They told him they’d literally be torturing me- and he said okay.

That makes me sick to my stomach.

“Here we are.” He stabs me with the needle. Needles don’t really affect me. It’s a small little jab. Nothing major.

It’s almost as if as soon as he removes the needle- my mind starts to drift. Further and further away. Further away from the room. Like I’m not even here anymore.

I’m not... but I still have acute awareness of what’s going on around me. Well- to me, at any rate. I feel it as he repositions the electrodes.

The drifting feeling eases up and I feel more aware than I was previously.

So much so that I don’t think the drugs have worked in that capacity that he thinks they did.

I try to open my mouth- but can’t. I try to open my eyes but receive the same result. My body’s too well restrained to struggle.

“There we go.” He soothes. “Nice and easy. We’re gonna start now.”

Start? I’m not under.

I can’t move though. I can’t make any noise past the bit. I can’t- oh fuck. They don’t have a high enough dose for me. They didn’t think about it.

I try to say something- anything- but nothing makes it past the bit.

I’m starting to hate this instrument more than any other I’ve had in my life.

He takes something to my mouth, pushing the bit in further, and then lifts my head- strapping it behind my head. “Can’t haven’t his moving.” He says. “Not after Cassie last week.” He pauses. “I should go check on her today. Bring her a smoothie or something. Poor girl. The teen ward is such a terror. I mean.. those kids.” He whistles. “Those kids.” He’s not talking to me. He can’t be talking to me.“Let’s get this started and over with. I wish I had someone in the room with me. I get bored talking to myself. And god knows he’s not going to be much company...” He’s talking to himself- unless he knows I’m awake. Does he? Are they punishing me like their other naughty patient? They did this to him without the medication- purposefully. Commander Hill ordered it. How do I know she hasn’t done the same for me? I mean... I don’t. I can’t. I’ve never even met the woman.

There’s a series of noises- a machine of some sort booting up.

Then there’s... heat. The heat grows and grows- racing through my brain. I start to convulse. Then it stops. My heart is pounding.

“Poor guy.” the man says. “Okay buddy. A few more.”

The heat is back again. The convulsing follows. It’s not exactly ... too painful. But it’s getting old really fast.

The sensation stops.

He hums to himself. “Few more at this level... then I’ll take a break. I think I left my Coke over there... wonder if it’s still good. Ah. Doesn’t matter. It’s in a bottle. Bottles don’t go flat.”

The convulsing is a little stronger when he hits the switch this time. He notes it with mild interest.

I feel heat pooling at my groin- which I’m not sure is supposed to happen.

When the convulsing stops- He clucks his tongue.

“Hmm... second one to piss today.” He mutters to himself. “We really gotta put a pad down.” He sounds to be in thought. “Or diaper the patients.... couldn’t see that flying, however. If I tried to do that Lester... I think he’d find a way to break my neck. I mean.. he can’t kill me. But damn if he doesn’t try. And it hurts. Every time.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t want to know what he’s talking about.

The burning picks back up, my body jerks harshly- the restraints restricting my movement almost painfully.

This time, it lasts.

At this point- it’s starting to get acutely painful. Not too much- no. But the pain is there.

The seizing goes on for at least three minutes. Three of the longest minutes of my life. It’s something to see, I’m sure.

When it cuts off, I feel my heartbeat thundering in my chest.

“Okay buddy.” He says. “Let’s take a small break. I gotta get something to drink. No, no. You stay there.” He’s talking like I’m awake. He must know that I’m awake.

I still can’t open my eyes- or move.

He has to know I’m awake. He has to. He’s talking to me.

Or... is he talking to himself? Pretending to have a conversation with me. He’s not said anything very let’s say ‘doctor-ish’ in serval minutes.And if he thought I was awake I don’t think he’d been stopping the treatment midway so he could get something to drink. That seems highly unprofessional.

He goes to the other side of the room, opening something that smells sweet and audibly drinking from it.

“Only coke in the cursed building.” He says. “I mean I get why they can’t have it... but damn. I need caffeine to function. And coffee is so bitter.”

He’s chatting to himself.

So he must think I’m asleep.

I try to get his attention, struggling as much as my drug-addled body will allow.However- every move I make is restricted by the restraints. I’m not getting anywhere.

I should possibly try to scream... but I’m not giving him the satisfaction. If nothing else- I can use this against him later on down the road. I doubt once he realizes that I’m awake that he’ll ever want to do this with me again. That gives me room to move. Some room to breathe.And at the moment- I need breathing room.

The sound of something buzzes catches my attention. It buzzes for about thirty seconds before it stops. “Yea?” He says. A phone. He’s answering a phone. “Nah, we’re good.” He says, taking another drink. “Nah- he’s out.” He says. “Should get some good sleep after this.” He goes silent again. “His dad? He’s having second thoughts? It’s... ah.. a little too late for that... we’re already into the treatment.”

He’s... having second thoughts.

He’s-

“I gotta go,” Shawn says. “Really. He’s fine.”

He hangs up the phone. “Right. Back to work.” His footsteps echo loudly. “Turn this up a little... “ he taps my shoulder. “Out like a light.” He says. “Okay buddy. This is the part that hurts.”

The part that ... hurts? He didn’t say there’d be a part that hurts!

The next wave of shocks is .. unbearable.

It brings tears to my eyes... and it doesn’t stop. For five minutes it doesn’t stop.

It’s burning, it’s waves and waves of electricity dancing behind my eyelids....my pulse races. My heart aches. I’d give anything to make it stop.

I scream and scream- but am unable to make any noise. My throat aches- but no sound comes out.

I don’t care if he hears me. I can’t help the noises trying to escape. It’s not the strong front I had originally intended but then.... I didn’t think it would hurt like this. I was sorely unprepared.

My mind is fire. My throat is fire. My heart is fluttering in my chest.

Can they make it stop by doing this? Is that possible? Maybe if they pushed hard enough?

No- the point of this is to make me seize. To change up the chemistry of my mind or some bullshit nonsense of that notion.

As it builds- it feels like it’s trying to go somewhere. The pain- that is. It feels like it’s all mounting. Almost like climaxing- almost. I’m a bit of a masochist... but this is too much for even me. Lester and I have never played with electricity before. Not a single one of my partners has even suggested it. It’s something I wish I’d looked more into beforehand.

Or in the very least- asked more questions.

“Are you using enough medication to put me under?” Should have been my number one priority. My physiology is different than others. I think they honestly forget.

Speaking of forgetting- my mind is starting to go a little blank.

I can remember the bare bones of what we’re doing here- but other the pain, nothing is sticking.

I can’t... remember what I’ve done to warrant this.

Something about Lester?

The electricity grows and grows. Wave after wave. Really- I’d give him pretty much anything he wanted to make it stop.

Part of me thinks that this is what the men I tortured felt like before I killed them.

Part of- a very weak part- is almost sympathetic. I should have picked another form of torture. Shocks are too harsh. I know that now. I mean- I’ve never been shocked like this before. How could I know? I should have been more-

The fuck? Why am I thinking that?? I’m innocent! Those men deserved what they got and worse. I hope, briefly, that there is an afterlife and some giant demon man is stuffing them full with demon cock. It’s what they deserve.

The electricity stops briefly. “Next level.”

Then it returns harsher than before.

Thirty or so minutes of stops and starts- each time the pain grows more.

More tears that he doesn’t seem to be paying attention to.

I can’t help it. This pain- right in my brain. I can’t help it.

It hurts...so fucking bad.

I scream silently- not a whisper making it out of my mouth. My body’s seizing is probably contributing to that. People don’t talk during seizures. That’s just not something that happens.

If I time it in between the shocks- maybe I’ll have a better chance of him hearing me.

I have to wait.

I have to save up my strength.

“An hour left to go.” He says. “Next level.”

The next level- this has to be the last one- makes me want to curl up into a ball.

It’s unfathomably painful. Impossible to describe really.

More tears. More screaming. My plight goes unnoticed by my torturous overlord.

“”s okay buddy.” He says. “Thank god you don’t feel this. This is the worst part.”

Oh yea? I had no idea. How nice of him to tell me.

My head smacks the table due to a particularly violent convulsion.

“No, no, no.” Something is placed behind my head- some sort of pillow. “No concussions today, good sir.” He says. “Wait... are those tears or sweat?” His voice gets lower. “I can’t tell... he shouldn’t be crying... but the seizures can make people sweat really bad.”

The machine is still going- screaming would be futile.

I try to shake my head- but during the convulsions, he wouldn’t notice me jerking anyway.

I try to slide my claws- only to remember that they’re blocked. The implants being pushed against my skin make me cry out- still unnoticed by my captor.

“Whew.” He says. “That was a bad one.... session is supposed to last for three hours... but these seizures are getting pretty bad.”

Another wave rips through me. Tears drip down my face.

“I could swear it looks like he’s crying.” He says to himself. “He shouldn’t be crying. He should be sweating.”

Another wave wracks my body.

I’m exhausted.

It’s almost not worth fighting anymore. This pain is obviously not going anywhere.

He turns the machine off and picks something up off the table.

“I gotta ask the infirmary.” He says. “They’ll know.”

He’s quiet for a second as he taps his phone’s screen.

“Yea,” he says to his phone,“this is an odd question and I know I should probably know it already- but bear with me.” He says

The person on the other line says something.

“Yea... I can’t tell if he’s crying or sweating.”

He pauses.

“Yea... he is pretty sweaty... but they look like tears.”

He pauses again.

“No I mean... he hasn’t said anything.”

I am in... so .. much... pain.

“I mean.. should I remove the bit- it’s a long shot.. but if he’s crying- he’s obviously feeling something.”

Another pause.

“No, I know he’s probably not. But it’s painful. And I promised his dad I wouldn’t hurt him. It was the one condition that made him agree. I promised. If I think he’s being hurt, I have a duty as his doctor to figure it out.” He says. “Ya,” He pauses. “I know the bit’s hard to get back in when they’re unconscious. It’s okay. I’ll pry his mouth open if I have to.”

A final pause.

“Yea, I’m gonna do that. Thanks.” He hangs up the phone.

“Hey buddy... I know you’re probably asleep and can’t hear me... but I’m going to take this bit out-“ I can feel him move over me. “Wait. That’s sweat. There’s no way those are tears. You can’t open your eyes wide enough to cry.” He chuckles. “That’s okay. I’m freaking out over nothing. We’re good. As you were... I’ll boot this backup and-“

A scream finally makes it past the bit as I think of him starting the machine back up. I try as hard and as loud as I can. When it doesn’t seem to be making an effect- I try even louder. I put all my effort into it until I’m breathless and I have to stop. It had to work. Please.. please let it have worked.

I feel weak and exhausted-but fuck I’m trying.

“Did you just....” His scent gets closer to me. “Did I hear something?”

I try again- putting even more effort into it.

The pain is never-ending. It’s like it should be healing but it’s not. That scares me. The chemical that blocks my powers must be somehow fucking with my healing factor.

My scream dies off- barely audible.

“You’re... whispering?” He sounds shocked.

I try again.

“No, you’re screaming.” He says in awe.

I try to move but it’s minuscule.

“And... moving?”

I even manage to crack my eyes for a brief second.

“Holy fuck!” The man hisses. “Holy fuck. Holy fuck. Don’t be awake. Please. Please don’t be awake.”

He jerks the bit out of my mouth. “Daken?” he asks tentatively.

“No more.” I whimper. “Please... no more. I won’t do it again.” My voice is hoarse. “No more. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” My words slur together.

“Fuck.” He whispers. “Fuck. How long have you been awake?”

“Please.” My mouth is full of spit. “Please.”

“No more-“ he says. “I promise. No more.” He puts his hand on my forehead- I wince at the contact. “It’s okay.” He says. “It’s okay buddy. It’s all okay.” he runs his free hand through his hair. “Fuck. Oh god. I’m so sorry.” He pets my head. “I’m so, so, so sorry.”

“I’m sorry.” I parrot, thinking that’s what he wants to hear.

“You don’t have to be sorry... I’ve literally just tortured you.” He laughs hysterically, “How long have you been awake?”

“Time.” I slur.

“How much time?”

“All.”

Talking is becoming harder.

“All?? As in the whole time???”

“Y...es.”

“Okay. I’m gonna call the doctor... then I’m gonna call your dad- okay? Let me make some calls. I.. fuck. I don’t know what to do.” He mutters. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Hurts.” I manage.

“I know it does.” He soothes. “I know.”

I try to move my head- but can’t.

“This was an accident- okay?” He tells me. “You’re not being punished. This was a freak accident. I don’t know why you didn’t go under. I’ll have to talk to the nurses in the infirmary.”

Right....

He paces the floor. “Let me call them real quick.” He says. “I’m gonna step out of the room into the hall- okay?”

He’s breaking everything down for me. Like I’m some kind of child. I’m-

Too tired to finish that thought. I can’t get up the nerve to be angry.

He moves into the hallway.

“He was awake.” I hear. “The entire time- he’s been screaming and I didn’t hear him.”
He pauses. “Get a nurse. Get a doctor. Get a trauma specialist. And... get his dad. Okay? Tell him if he wants to get here with his teleporter- that’s fine. We’ll put her in the waiting room. It’s no big deal. Give him the coordinates. But please- please- tell him everything is okay. Several times. As much as possible. Daken’s heart didn’t stop. He didn’t have any adverse reactions- it just hurt him. Okay? It hurt him pretty badly.”

The phone call ends and he comes back into the room.

“Hey there.” He says. “Nurses are coming.”

My head... fuck.

“My.. head.” I groan. “Why..”

“I know. I know.” He says. “We’re gonna take care of that.”

I hope he’s right.

I keep my eyes closed and listen to his frantic texting on his phone.

Soon, the door opens and I’m swarmed by nurses. One of them pries my right eyelid open and shines a light in it. “Get him set up with an IV.” She orders. “Morphine drip. Now.”

In the moments that follow, someone jabs something into my arm and the pain begins to fade away. Strangely enough- so does my awareness.

My mind settles into some kind of fog as the nurses work on me. They must have started a Saline drip as well. My arm is cold.

It’s nice. I feel warm and fuzzy. I still can’t open my eyes- but that doesn’t matter now. There is no pain. Finally, there is no pain.

My mind is slow. My thoughts are sluggish. I don’t remember why he shocked me so much as how he did it. I remember the meds not working... and I remember the different waves- but that’s it.

Things are starting to come to me slowly.

Lester. The conversation with my father. The proposition I made to the doctor- everything. I think it’s best that my brain won’t let me dwell on any of it.

I may actually start feeling bad if I did.

And guilty. Which surprises me more than anything.

Could they have forced a small bit of empathy on to me? I’ve never had much need for it. I didn’t think I was capable of it- to be honest. But now? Now? I feel.. something. Something that makes me squirm. However- my brain won’t let me focus on it for too long. That’s a good thing.

I drift off for a few moments, jerking back into semi-awareness when someone starts to stroke my hair.

“How did this happen?” The voice is far away.

“We don’t know.” Another voice says. “He didn’t go under.”

“Why not?” The first voice demands.

“We don’t know.” The second voice says.

“I told you this was a bad idea.” The first voice says. “Oh fuck. Look at him.”

“He’s on morphine.” The second one tells the first. “And he’s probably exhausted. He had some Mac daddy seizures. How long until his healing factor kicks in?”

“Probably exhausted?” The petting gets a little firmer. “Probably?”

“Probably- I don’t know. We haven’t got him to say anything. At this point- I don’t think he can manage it.” He pauses. “How long does it take you to recover from repeated electrical shocks?”

“A few hours depending on the severity of the shocks.” The first voice says. “How bad did you shock him?”

The second voice pauses for a long while. “I shocked him pretty good.” He says finally. “Commander Hill set the treatment guidelines for mutant patients.”

Ah.

“God damn it Hill.” The first voice says. “Why’d you listen to her? I thought you were only consulting me.”

“This case was run through S.H.I.E.L.D.” The second voice says. “I had to consult before it even started.”

“So it didn’t matter if I told you to stop- you were still gonna do it.”

“Maybe to a lesser degree... down the road.” He says.

“God damn it. I told you not to torture him.”

“We didn’t.” The man says. “I mean- we didn’t mean to.”

“How do you accidentally torture someone??”

“We... shit. Logan- this has never happened before. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s never happened before. I’ve been doing this for ten years- no one has ever not gone under. It’s a freak accident.”

“How do I know it was even an accident? How do I know this wasn’t a scare tactic?”

“I swear,” the second voice says cracking a little bit. Is he going to cry?“On my life- this was an accident. It won’t happen again. We gave him the drugs- he didn’t go under all the way. He went under enough not to be able to move... and until it hit the right voltage- I couldn’t hear him scream past the bit.”

“You didn’t hear him screaming?” The first voice says. “How long was he screaming?”

“My best guess is...” He swallows. “An hour?”

“You let him scream for an hour???”

“I couldn’t hear him! I couldn’t-“ He swallows loudly. “I couldn’t hear him. It won’t happen again.”

“Fuck right it won’t happen again.” Logan- that’s the first voice- snarls. “You said this was safe.”

“It is!” the second voice - probably Marcos- says. “It’s very safe. I swear. I’ll give S.H.I.E.L.D an official statement about it. There will be a report done. Some kind of investigation. We’ll send you all the paperwork.”

“Damn right you will.” Logan snarls. “Can he hear me?”

“Yea- I think so. They put him on a hell of a lot of morphine. More so than usual because as of this point- we don’t know what dosages will affect him.”

“Probably the same dosages that affect me,” Logan says. “Or his sister.”

“Oh- he has a sister? Wonderful.” Marcos says. “Really wonderful. I didn’t know he had siblings. Younger or older?”

“Why? Do you want to shock her too?”

“Not at all!” He says quickly. “It’s just... I don’t know. I guess I saw him as an only child.”

“There’s like sixty years in between them,” Logan says.

“So he’s a big brother. Wonderful. Hows their relationship?”

“Off topic,” Logan growls. “I’ll get a friend who’s worked on me before to send suggested dosages... so this doesn’t happen again. ”

“To do that- you’d have to be shocked yourself,” Marcos says.

“Like fuck, they’re shocking me.” Logan snarls. “They have reports and data from the times I have been shocked. We’ll use that.”

“Why would they have-“

“Test subject like fifty million times.” Logan cuts him off. “That’s all we’re gonna say.” His tone clearly says the conversation is over.

“Right- any information your friend has is wonderful. It would be very helpful.”

“Next time you do this- cuz I know the judge isn’t going to let you just stop... I want to be in the room.”

“Every time?”

“Every time,” Logan says.

I don’t think I like that.

“We can do that,” Marcos says. “We can definitely do that. I mean... after today I don’t really see him misbehaving to the point where we’d need a repeat performance for a while.”

“He’s stubborn.” Logan leans down closer. “Son... can you hear me?”

I make a noise that can be considered an answer- by some at any rate.

“Got you drugged up good- huh?” He chuckles dryly. “They’re gonna move you to the infirmary. I’ll stay with you to make sure they don’t fuck anything else up.”

I’m grateful for that bit of kindness.

“Fuck.” Logan exhales. “One day. You’ve been here one day.”

I try to defend my actions- but my words slur together in something that sounds like jibber jabber.

“Don’t talk.” He says. “It’s okay.” There’s movement along my hands and ankles. “Got a gurney or do I need to carry him?”

“Carry him?” Marcos says. “No, absolutely not. We’re not putting any more strain on him today. We’ll get a gurney. They’re on their way now, in fact. It shouldn’t be but a few minutes.”

Strain?

“Where mmmah going?” I slur.

“Infirmary.” Logan soothes. “Lots of drugs. They got a doctor they want you to talk to.”

“... do-cct-er?”

“Speech patterns are fucked.”

“Well... we fried him at the voltage the doctors said he could handle. We have to push patients past their seizure threshold. His was pretty high.”

Fried me. Fried my brain. Fuck.

“Do-ter?”

“Doctor?” Logan asks. “Are you asking for a doctor?”

I can’t move my head.

Logan lifts my hand. “Thumb up for yes, down for no.” He says. “Do you want a doctor?”

I can barely move my hands- but I try.

“Okay. Which doctor?”

“Annanny.”

“That’s not a doctor.” Logan chuckles a little. “Do you want Marcos?”

I hold my thumb up.

“Okay... he’s here.”

“...fuck.”

“Oh he got that one out,” Marcos says.

“Think he’s aiming it at you,” Logan says.

“Yea? Yea- I probably deserve that one.”

“Fuck yeah you do.” Logan agrees.

My mind is heavy.

“How long will he be like this?” Logan asks.

“A few hours,” Marcos says. “No more than three.”

“And you’ll put him back in his ward?”

Marcos hums a little. “I’m not sure. We could keep him the infirmary for observation. If it makes you feel better.”

“He’ll be a little out of it.” He says. “Might be best to not mix him with the other patients.”

Marcos sighs. “The only problem with this being that Lester is also in the infirmary... and we can’t have a repeat performance of them-“

“Don’t need to hear it.” Logan cuts him off. “Already know more than I want to know.”

“Heh.” I chuckle weakly.

“Oh you think that’s funny?” He says. “You think it’s funny that you willingly slept with... that... psycho?”

I give him a thumbs up.

“Don’t be a smart ass,” Logan growls. “I’m only going easy on you right now because of the whole torture thing. Don’t think I’ve forgotten what a brat you’ve been.”

Here he goes again. I am not a brat. That’s childish. I’m simply... fighting a system that is cruel and unfair by any means necessary.

“It wasn’t a torture thing,” Marcos says. “I promise.”

“Tell that to me when he can speak again,” Logan growls. “Son, this is why I told you to behave. Do you understand? This wouldn’t have happened if you’d just followed the damn rules. But no- you had to be a rebel. Do you see where that gets you?”

I hold my thumb up, keeping my eyes closed.

“And you’ll behave from now on- won’t you?”

I turn my thumb down.

“God damn it, boy.” Logan groans. “Right now- right now when you’re recovering from this shit- You’re still going to be a brat?”

I give him a thumbs up.

“Got some spirit in him, doesn’t he?” Marcos laughs. “That’s good . Especially in the face of what’s happened today. As annoying as it may be, Logan- this is a good sign .”

“If you say so.” Logan sighs.

The door to the room opens and something is rolled over to the table.

“Nice and easy,” Marcos says. “Dad, grab his feet. I’ll get his torso.”

It’s an awkward movement that’s slightly painful. Then, comfortable. They go to pull a blanket, but Logan stops them. “Why are his pants wet?”

“He uh... voided his bladder during the shocks.”

Logan exhales slowly. “You made him piss himself?”

“It was a particularly violent seizure.”

“Change his clothes,” Logan growls.

“The infirmary will put him in a gown anyway,” Marcos says. “No worries. They can get him cleaned up.”

Logan mumbles something I don’t quite catch.

“Let’s get a move on,” Marcos says. “No time like the present.”

We start to move, but I keep my eyes closed still. I don’t want to see. everything is blurry anyway.

“Charlie, keep Ms... uh..”

“Pixie.” A woman- more like a girl, honestly- answers.

“Ms. Pixie.” He says. “Charlie keep her company.”

“Yes sir.” Charlie sounds very enticed by the idea.

“She’s barely legal,” Logan growls. “Watch it.”

“Sir yes sir,” Charlie says quickly.

“Idiot.” Logan mumbles.

“That’s not inaccurate,” Marcos says quietly. “Logan, get the door.”

We move for about ten minutes, the two of them making pointless chit-chat.

Occasionally Logan asks a question- yes or no- and I answer with my hand.

“Here we go,” Marcos says finally. There’s a knocking sound. Someone tapping on glass of some sort- before the air’s scent turns to an overpowering smell of disinfectant.

“Get me some... fuck.” Someone groans. “Bitch I’m talkin’ to you!”

“I don’t answer to bitch.” A woman says sternly. “If you want to talk to me, you will use my name.”

“I don’t remember your fuckin’ name.”

Ah. My pet is already here.

“Then call me ‘doctor’.” The woman says. “When you do so, I’ll be happy to help you.”

“Doctor bitch,” Lester says. “I need more meds.”

“I’ll bet you do.” The woman says in disbelief. Her voice moves closer to where I’m laying. “And who’s this?”

“Patient 152,” Marcos says. “The one I called you about?”

I have a number?

“Name?”

“Daken.” Logan answers.

“Pleasure to meet you.” The woman says. “Doctor Smith. What brings him in today?”

“I uh... accidentally shocked him,” Marcos says.

“Oh?” Smith asks.

“A lot.”

“Oh.” She says. “Let’s get him changed and into a bed.” Her voice moves further away. “Nurse? Can you please fetch a gown and-“

“He uh... voided his bladder. May need a slight washing?” Marcos sounds sheepish.

“Oh?”

“HA! Princess wet himself!” Lester laughs. “Poor little baby. Can’t handle a few shocks.”

“If I need to remind you, Lester, you wet yourself as well,” Marcos says.

“Well, Shawn, if you had given me the fuckin’ meds-“

“Daken’s voltage was much higher than yours,” Marcos says. “Have a little sympathy.”

“Sympathy? Sympathy? It’s his fault I’m here!”

“Wrong,” Marcos says. “You were being sent here regardless. Daken had nothing to do with it.”

“Bet he has something to do with whatever the fuck they put in this IV.”

“Wrong again.” He says. “That IV is housing the medication you spit out this morning, last night, and yesterday.”

“Fuck you,” Lester growls.

“Take your meds.” Marcos counters.

“Can we get him in a fucking bed already?” Logan asks impatiently.
“Of course,” Marcos says.

“Ohhh. You brought daddy?” Lester says with some sort of sadistic glee in his voice. “Princess brought his daddy. How sweet. Maybe daddy can hold your hand while they clean you right up and-“

“That’s enough,” Marcos growls. “One more word and you will be sorry.”

“Sorry?” Lester scoffs. “I ain’t sorry. I’ve never been sorry. Ever. Fuck you.”

“That was a lot of words,” Marcos says. “Nurse- put a bit in his mouth until we’re done.”

“A bit? Fuck you! Nothing is goin’ in my mouth.”

“It’s a bit or a gag. The choice is yours.”

This- I think I should open my eyes for. I open them to find the world still blurred around the edges.

The room is some sort of white and blue. Lights overhead illuminating two rows of beds. One of the right side of the room, one on the left. The beds face each other across the little path that’s made in the middle. Each bed comes equipped with a privacy curtain. Lester’s happens to be open at the moment, revealing him heavily restrained, propped up, and grinning like a lunatic. Perfect picture- really. So eager.

“My vote is for a gag.” Smith comes back over. “He’s been spitting. We’ve just not got around to putting it in yet.”

A gag?

“Do you require assistance?”

“Nope.” The doctor- a small woman who looks vaguely Spanish- says. “I got it.”

She and a nurse- a large man in blue scrubs- go to Lester’s little cubical. “Raise your head.” The nurse orders.

“Nope.”

“Lester-“

“Fuck. You.”

Smith pinches his nose shut, avoiding his attempts at biting her. She closes his airway for a good minute before he opens his mouth with a gasp. “Good.” She inserts some kind of tube looking thing. Very sexy. It straps around the back of his head- effectively cutting off any attempt at spitting. And- for that matter- words.

“There we go.” She taps his shoulder while he struggles to say something- face turning red with rage. “When you’ve calmed down and you promise to behave- we’ll take the gag out.” She says. “Until then- you’re just going to have to deal.”

The room is quiet as she walks over to me. “Is he on pain medication?”

“Yes,” Marcos says. “A lot of it.”

“Good.” She says. “That’s good. Bring him over to-“ she points to a bed by Lester.

“They are to be separated at all times,” Marcos says. “At ALL times.”

“Oh really?” Smith smiles. “And whys that?”

“Daken fucked the psycho on the medical table,” Logan says. “Can we get this over with?”

“Of course,” Smith says. “Roll him over here.” She takes us to the other side of the room, to a bed across the row from Lester. Almost perfectly across. I’m a bed over. “Pull the curtain.”

The privacy curtain is closed as the nurse brings over a gown and a tub of water. The soap in the water smells... pleasant. But far too much like a hospital.

“Excuse me.” The doctor says, “we’re about to get quite personal.”

I don’t know what she’s talking about until she peels the blanket off of me and slowly removes my sweats.

Oh. Maybe she’ll like what she sees?

“Does he have another pair of briefs?” She asks.

“Not on us,” Marcos says.

“That’s fine. He can go without.” She pulls back my soiled clothing- which I try not to think about- and takes the washcloth from the pan of water and runs it below the belt. Very thoroughly. Very, very, very thoroughly. When she’s pleased with her work, she helps me into a gown and has them put me on the bed- which is comfortable and a bit bigger than the ones they have in the patient’s rooms.

“Wrists and ankles?” Marcos asks.

“Yes.” The doctor says. “Unless you think we need to take more precaution.”

“Nah.” The man says. “I think he’ll be too tired to give you too hard of a time.”

I was really hoping to get situated a little closer to Lester. I’ll have to talk them into opening the privacy curtain.

“Good,” Smith says. “This is good. He’s relaxed.”

“Lotta morphine,” Marcos says. “Like so much morphine.”

“Uh-hmm.” The woman hums. “Get his other wrist.”

I’m too tired to complain about the restraints.

“Good.” She repeats. “Very good. He’s doing wonderfully. How long is he going to be our guest?”

“I thought we’d leave him in for the night,” Marcos says.

“How fortunate,” Smith says. “He’ll have company.”

“Company?”

She nods. “His friend over there started showing signs of cardiac arrest. We stopped it, but we’d like to keep him for observation. Just for tonight.”

“He can do that on purpose you know,” Marcos says. “Seriously. It’s in his file. He just doesn’t want to go back to this ward.”

“I thought he hated it here,” Smith says.

“He does.” Marcos agrees. “But he’s probably hoping we’d bring Daken in here. I wouldn’t keep him. He’s probably up to something.”

Smith shakes her head. “We can’t send him back. The few minutes it would take to get him here should he go into cardiac arrest could be life-threatening.”

“I’m telling you,” Marcos says. “Honestly and truly, he is faking.”

“He can’t fake these symptoms. Not well enough to fool our machines.”

“Not faking then,” Marcos looks for a word, “he’s doing it on purpose. He has a reason for being here. He’s planning something. It’s not wise to let him carry it out.”

“He can’t do anything,” Smith says. “Honestly. He’s very well contained.”

Shawn sighs. “It’s not safe, Jessica. I’m telling you. He’s dangerous. You don’t have a hidden healing ability. If he comes after you like he comes after me- you’ll be dead.”

 

She frowns. “I’m sorry, Shawn. But as a doctor, I cannot let him go back to the ward. He needs to be monitored.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt whatever this is,” Logan says, “But my kid needs medical attention.”

“Of course,” Smith says. “Of course.”

“It’s still not safe.” Marcos says. “He could hurt Daken. He wants to- I know it.”

“So far the only one in this room who’s hurt Daken is you,” Logan says. “Leave it be. Psycho stays on that side of the room, Daken stays on this one. No harm done.”

“We have to find out what he’s planning.” Marcos continues.

“Shawn, you’re sounding a bit dramatic,” Smith says. “And you’re already agitated by accidentally shocking your patient. Relax. Go to your office and calm down. Internal affairs are no doubt going to want to talk to you.”

“You’re right.” Marcos sighs. “You’re right. Just... keep him safe- okay? I hurt him really bad. Make sure he doesn’t suffer anymore.”

“I’ll tell you what,” Smith says. “Swing by in the morning with a smoothie. That’ll mend some bridges. It always does.”

A smoothie is going to mend bridges? After the man literally tortured me?? I don’t think so.

“Yea. That’s a good idea.” He says. “What kind?”

“He ate that berry mush pretty easily.” Logan offers. “Think he liked it well enough.”

“Berry mush?”

“The concoction we hide the sleeping pills in for the elderly patients,” Smith says. “I packed that for his transport myself.”

Oh, she did?

“Berry mush it is.” Marcos leans over me and squeezes my hand in his. “Sorry about all this.” He says. “But, if you want to look at the bright side of things- you’ll be out of therapy for all of today and a good part of tomorrow. Getting you back on the ward is always a little time-consuming. So yea... mini vacation?” He squeezes my hand again. “Your dad can’t stay long.... so say goodbye when you’re able. This ward shuts down at seven.”

“Seven?” I mumble.

“Seven.” He looks at his phone. “It’s five thirty right now.”

That’s no good.

But... with Lester here, maybe it’s best to not be holding on to my ‘security blanket’ too tightly. Got to save face and all that. This time, for sure, there will be no begging. No matter what they happen to do to me. Not a plea will be muttered.

“He’ll be okay.” Logan walks around to my other side. “I got him now.”

“So you do.” Marcos nods. “Besides when I check on you tomorrow, Daken, I’d like to hope that we will be seeing very little of each other during the duration of your stay. Now that you know what can happen and all.”

Now that I know what can happen?

Hmm.

It wasn’t all bad. The parts before were quite pleasant.

And if they do this to my pet on a regular basis and the only chances I can get to be with him in the biblical sense is in Shawn Marcos’s office- then you can bet I’ll be doing everything within my power to get back there.

In summary- Shawn will be seeing much more of me.

He hasn’t beaten me.

He momentarily shocked me but- ha. Shocked me. That’s a laugh. I’m making puns in my internal monologue. That’s how you know I’m tired.

“He’ll be fine, Shawn,” Smith says. “Really.”She smiles warmly. “I’ve yet to lose a patient. And I can already tell he’s on the mend.”

Marcos nods. “Good. Good.” He turns his attention across the room. “He hasn’t eaten yet.” He points to Lester. “If you can, I think we can break protocol and feed him something. Just a little bit.”

“Hmm. It hasn’t been anywhere near twelve hours.” She says.

“When he can manage it- feed him,” Marcos says. “He’s.... a pain. But we can’t starve him.”

“I think your insistence on feeding him early is because you know how much he hates being fed,” Smith says with a grin. “But that’s just my opinion.”

Marcos smiles. “Don’t read too much into it. I just know he’s hungry.”

“So he is.”

“Seriously, Whatever flirty bullshit you two have between- stop. it’s making me sick.” Logan says.

Smith’s eyes go wide. “Oh, it’s not-“

“Uh huh.” Logan crosses his arms.

“Really-“ Marcos tries. “We’ve been nothing but professional and-“

“Save it,” Logan says. “I spend my entire day with teenagers. I know what flirting looks like.”

Good to know.

Marcos looks down. “I should get going.”

“I’ll see you around,” Smith says with a small smile.

There’s something hidden in that smile. Are doctors fucking maybe? In the ward? In the closets? Juicy. I’ll have to catch them at it and use it against them. Get one of them fired. My monies on Marcos. Smith hasn’t done anything to me yet. Other than the scrub down which admittedly, stirred a bit of... anxiousness. Nothing Lester couldn’t fix.

I’ll have to get Logan to leave to do anything about it, however.

I look up to see Marcos gone and Smith pulling over a chair. “Here you are.” She positions it to my right side. “I’ll go get him some blankets. The infirmary gets cold at night.”

She leaves us in silence.

“How’s the talking coming along?” He asks quietly.

I don’t know. I haven’t tried to say terribly much.

“‘S... dunno.” I manage.

“Still fucked.” He says. “Rest.”

I don’t think I have much of a choice.

There’s some sound of minuscule struggling across the room. Logan turns in that direction and then back to me. “I can’t believe you fucked that.”

“..no...t ..t.h.a.t. H.m.”

“Sorry?” He leans closer.

I shake my head.

“Listen-“

“Got the blanket.” Smith interrupts. “And we’re going to start an IV again. Extra nutrients. Good for the brain and body after seizures.” She smiles. “We’ve got the needed materials right unnnnder,” She bends down to the foot of the bed. “Here.” She comes back up with a container of tubes and a bag of green liquid. “It’s a good thing you don’t have to ingest this.” She says. “It looks like it would taste disgusting.”

She sets up the IV, choosing my right arm and inserting the needle gently. “I’ll leave you two alone.” She says. “You’ve got about an hour.”

“Thanks.” Logan nods. When she’s gone, he turns to me. “I’m sorry you got electrocuted.” He says. “I didn’t know this would happen. I didn’t mean for them to torture you. You know that right?”

I nod.

“Good.” He says. “They’re gonna take good care of you.”

I don’t believe that, but it’s a well-meaning thought.

“And then, tomorrow, you’re gonna behave. Because you don’t want this to happen again. Right?”

I have to nod.

“Good.” He repeats. “This hurt. And it fucking sucked. You want to do whatever you can to avoid ending up here again. That’s the smart thing to do.”

I nod again.

“You...” he nods to where Lester is, “Don’t need to mess with him.”

I close my eyes.

“You don’t.” He continues. “It’s not just that it breaks the rules- he’s no good for you.”

Oh?

“You deserve better.”

“J-ohnny?”

“Yea.” He says. “Yea. Johnny was good for you.”

But he’s not anymore.

“He’s still gonna come see you.” He says. “He misses you. He was asking how you were today.”

“Fu..ck.”

“I know.” He says. “You’re hurt. You’re gonna be hurt. But he’s a good friend. Friends are good to have. He’s one of the only people you can say that about.”

Untrue. I have several ‘friends’ on the ward. Several.

If not friends- then at least acquaintances I can talk to. That’s a start.

“They told me Wilson is your roommate.” He chuckles. “How’s that?”

I shake my head.

“Right. You haven’t slept in the room with him yet. Lemme know how that works out.”

Horribly, I’m sure.

“You should get some sleep.” He says. “I’ll wake you when I leave.”

Sleep?

I am tired. There’s no mistaking that. And it’s not like I can actually talk to him. Not easily at any rate.

“Sleep.” He orders. “It’ll help.”

I have to agree.

I hear more struggling across the room followed by, “If you exert this much energy and cause yourself cardiac distress then I will have to introduce sedatives strong enough to make you motionless. It would be almost like being paralyzed. And we both know how you feel about that.”

The sound ceases.

“That’s what I thought.” Footsteps sound from further away in the room. “I’ll be in my office.” She says. “I’ll check on you in thirty minutes. If you need my assistance...well... you shouldn’t have spat at me.” She chuckles.

Logan shakes his head. “That psycho is nothing but a pain in the ass. I can see why Daredevil is so tired of him.”

That... is a funny thought.

Logan pulls the blankets up to my neck, almost tucking me in. “So you don’t freeze.” He clarifies. “I think she just turned up the air.”

My bed is fully reclined- meaning it’s completely flat. Not propped up like Lester’s. If I weren’t restrained, it would be far more comfortable to curl up on my side- which is how I usually sleep.

I highly doubt they’ll be removing the restraints anytime soon, however.

After a few moments of silence, I start to doze off. Logan takes out his phone and texts someone- from the sound of it anyway. I hear dozens of repeated taps- soft but noticeable as he hits the glass of his phone. It’s almost soothing in a sense.

Today has been... less than favorable. However, once my father makes his exit, I can hatch a plan to get on the other side of the room. Closer and closer until I get what I want.

I know- I know- escape is not possible.It would be foolish and a waste of energy to even try. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t work the system to get what I want.

And what I want right now happens to be sitting angrily across the row, hidden out of view because of the curtain. All I need to do is figure out how to get it. How to get him. And then.... oh then.. the fun begins.

And fun? I could use that right about now.

Chapter Text

“He’s been asleep.” Someone grumbles. “I don’t wanna wake him up.”

It’s been quiet. Peacefully so. For a moment I thought I was back in my own bed. Just for a moment.

However, when I went to turn to my side- only to be restricted, I was reminded of everything that’s transpired over the last few weeks.

It was a shocking remembering. One I didn’t enjoy in the slightest.

I’ve tried to put it out of my mind and get some rest- however.

It’s left me slightly light headed- though come to think of it that may just be the drugs.

Good drugs they were. I’m feeling much better.

If I were free of this hellhole- it’d feel even better.

Now’s a good time to figure out a way out of here. While they think I’m being ‘compliant’.

God knows how long that will last.

I can only play along for so long. Doing what they say may just be the push I need into actual insanity.

I’ve got to keep my wits about me. Any slightest weakness they will probe and try to weaponize. I need to be aware of everything. EVERYTHING. I need to get good reads on everyone I interact with. It’s the ultimate intel mission. Once I get dirt on them, once I figure out how they work, I can manipulate them into doing what I need them to. Figuring out how to get food that I want. Figuring out how to get less supervision. Less medication. Definitely less shocks. I need to find a way back to Shawn’s office that doesn’t involve me ending up on that table.

I need a plan- that’s what this all boils down to. That’s where I failed today. I went in blind. I didn’t think.

I can’t be caught doing that again. They only get to fool me once. Anything beyond that is just stupidity on my part. And if there’s one thing I don’t like- it’s stupidity. Especially when it comes to my own actions and thoughts. I was trained better than this. I was trained to endure. My actions today haven’t been about endurance. They’ve been... weak. Soft. Poorly thought out. I have to remedy that. Now.

“You could leave him a note.” Someone else offers.

A note?

I’ve got to figure out what they’re talking about.

And then, once I figure it out- I’ve got to discern who’s talking exactly.

“Don’t think he’d take that too well.”

“Well, you can’t stay any longer.” The second voice says quietly. “Go on home. We’ll tell him you said goodbye.”

“He didn’t want me to leave him this morning.” The voice says. “And then all this shit happens.... It’s hard.”

Ah. Logan. He’s ... leaving? Have I slept his entire visit?

How rude of me.

Not.

If he wanted me to engage in conversation with him- he shouldn’t have let them torture me.

It’s a simple thing to understand.

No torture? Conversation. Torture? No conversation.

I’d hate to think he’s been sitting at my bedside this whole time. Especially with Lester so close. I can only imagine the responses I’ll get from the man. Providing they’ve removed his gag- at any rate. It’d do me just as well if they left it in all night.

After my little ‘session’ with the doctor- I’d just as well rather not talk to him.

I don’t want to hear what Lester dear thinks of the situation.

Let alone his mocking.

I’m tired and I’m sore. I doubt he’ll say anything that could be useful to me.

“It’s hard- yes. I understand. But please remember that he is here for a reason. It’s his choices that brought him here and he has a sentence to serve. You can’t be here for the entire thing. Involved- yes. Involved heavily if you like. But you can’t stay by him and hold his hand because he’s having a bad day. Today was a horrible accident. And you’ve seen that he’s okay. Now it’s time to leave... and if he’s sleeping- then you’ll have to leave without saying goodbye. We’ll tell him when he wakes. No worries. You can call him tomorrow morning if you wish. I promise you- he will be fine.”

“Don’t think he’d take my call,” Logan says with a chuckle. There’s a moment of silence before a small pressure on my shoulder. “Hey, kid.” The voice says quietly. “I gotta go. Wake up for me.”

“I’ll leave you to it,” Smith says. “I’ll tell the guards that you’re on your way out.” She moves away from the bed and back to what I presume is her office.

“Daken?” Logan says. “Can you wake up for me for a few minutes?”

I crack one eyelid open.

“There you are.” My father smiles. “I gotta go.... you gonna be okay?”

“Fine,” I say hoarsely.

“Yea?” He nods. “Okay then... rest up. Go easy on ‘em tomorrow- okay?”

Easy on them?

Please.

I’ll raise hell from sunup to sundown if I so please.

They can’t hold me here. They have no right. Especially not after this shit.

“Sure.” I blink sleep out of my eyes. It’s not dark out yet- inside the infirmary I can see the faint evening light outside the windows. If they think I’ll go back to sleep this early- they are mistaken. In fact- he should have let me sleep. It wouldn’t have bothered me if he hadn’t said what I’m betting is going to be a heartfelt goodbye. Maybe a warning to behave. Or several. Who knows?

Logan stares at me for a long second in the dark. “You’re lying.” He says finally.

I give him a weak thumbs up from underneath the restraints.

“With an attitude like that, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you in the next few days.” He says dryly. “I’ll be waiting for the call. With your behavior I bet I’ll be pulling Megan out of class pretty often. If the two of you meet, I’m sure she’ll thank you.”

“Megan?” I let my confusion show.

“Pixie. She’s how I got here. She’s a student. She offered to bring me here so I could get to you faster.” He pauses. “You owe her an apology for making her use this much power.”

“Isn’t that what she’s at your precious school to learn? How to use her powers?”

“Making a thirteen-hour jump to a place she’s never seen before is a little excessive.” He says dryly. “Plus she’s had to wait in an honest to god asylum. She’s eighteen. You can imagine how freaked out she probably is.”

“Oh, I’m sure,” I say coldly. “This place is very frightening.”

Logan exhales slowly. “I’m not apologizing for sending you here. You can drop it. Now.”

“Drop it? Whatever are you talking about? I’m here because of me- remember? Because I’m ‘sick’. That’s the story you’re pushing so hard.”

“You are sick. What you did was sick. Again- I ain’t apologizing. You deserve to be here.”

“Oh, that’s lovely.” I grouse. “I deserve to be imprisoned and tortured. Thank you, father. What a wonderful message to send to me- now. When I’m lying in an infirmary.”

“Today was an accident.” He says. “It won’t happen again.”

“Oh? You’re sure of that- are you?” I glance over to where I know Lester to be. “They do this to him weekly.”

“He probably deserves it.” Logan chuckles. “From what I understand, he’s tried to kill everyone at least once.”

“True,” I admit. “But they still authorize this use of-“

“I’ve talked to Hill.” Logan interrupts. “She knows this isn’t an option for you. She knows I’ll rain hell down her if she tries it.”

“So nice of you to have my back,” I say dryly.

“I’ve always got your back.” He says quietly. “Always.”

“Oh? Is that so? So ‘having my back’ includes letting them wrongfully imprison me?”

“You’re not wrongfully imprisoned.” He says. “Get that straight- you deserve to be here. What you did was wrong.”

“Saving children is wrong now- is it?”

Logan sighs. “We’re not going over this again.” He says. “Talk to your doctors about it. They’ll help you sort it out.”

“There’s nothing to ‘sort out’.” I snarl. “I did nothing wrong. And you know it. You’re punishing me for something. I just don’t know what.”

I’ve come to believe this with every ounce of my being.

Why else would I be here? Why else would he have let them do this to me?

“I’m not ‘punishing’ you for anything.” He says. “The LAW is punishing you for breaking it.”

“Like you and your buddies do on a daily basis?” I say dryly.

“The x-men don’t torture people. They don’t kill.”

“Then you’re not a very good x-man then- are you?” I say snidely.

“I don’t freak out after I do what I do.” He says. “You broke down.”

“I didn’t ‘break down’.” I snarl. “I-“

“You were yellin’ and cryin’. You were so worked up it took ten people to get you in the van. Thirteen to get you cleaned up and get the blood off of you. You still haven’t told us exactly what happened.... and then there’s how you treated the men. Castration, electrocution, some were missin’ fingers, some were missin’ hands. You tattooed all of them- even the dead ones. I know you saved those kids.” He says. “We’re not sayin’ that was wrong. They owe you a lot. WE owe you a lot. How you did it though...” he leans forward, “Son... something is wrong. This place... these people- they can help. I want you to get help.”

“You want to change me,” I say. “You want me to be something I’m not.”

“Healthy?” He says. “I want you to be healthy.”

“I’m not-“

“You’re right- you’re not. Get healthy.” He says. “Mentally. Emotionally. Get healthy. Maybe find some meds that work for you- I’ll pay for ‘em.”

“I don’t need your money.” I snarl.

“And yet you still have it.” He says. “I’m not leavin’ you on your own.”

We sit in silence for a moment.

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” I say into it.

“You’re sick, son.” He says gently. “The fact that you don’t see it just says how sick you are.”

“Or it says how normal I am.” I counter. “Johnny asked for help. His niece and nephew were missing. I found them. I gave them peace of mind. Why am I being punished?”

Why would Johnny do this to me? Why would he let them do this to me? Does he really hate me that much? I mean... I know he doesn’t want to be with me. And that’s fine. Whatever. I’m over it. But to let them do this... did he just want me out of the way? Was he afraid I’d go after his precious Spider-man? I’m not that stupid. I wouldn’t openly gun down a hero. Not for something as little as stealing my lover.

Well... fuck buddy at any rate. I doubt we were actually lovers.

He had pet names for me though. Things that would sound wrong if anyone but him told them to me. I... liked that. No one’s ever given me a sincere pet name before. I mean Lester has about ten of them- but he does it to disrespect and insult me.

I should get used to him- I suppose. He’s all I’m going to get in this wretched place, after all. The options are few far and in between- as it’s said.

“Johnny did ask for help.” Logan agrees. “And you found Val and Franklin. The kids are undergoing some therapy with top doctors and child psychologists. They’re gonna be okay- in case you were wondering.”

I was. But I wouldn’t let him know that. I’d planned on oh so quietly asking Johnny when next I saw him.

“In your mind, we truly believe that you think you did the right thing. But you didn’t.” He says. “And that’s all we can tell you. Until you start to think about it- really think about it- and work on your illness by admitting that you have an illness- us telling you that isn’t going to do anything. You’re delusional. You have been the whole time.”

Delusional?

“Excuse me?”

“I gotta go.” He says, not answering me. “I’m sorry you’re here. I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough day. That’s all I’m gonna say. Get some good sleep and do what they tell you.”

 

“So you’re really leaving then,” I say crisply. “After all of this.”

“I am.” He says. “You’re feeling better. You’ll feel perfect by the end of the night.”

“Perfect? I’ll feel perfect?” I scoff. “I’ll feel perfect until they lock me back on that fucking ward.”

“That’s your home for the next three years. I’d grow to like it just a little bit if I were you.”

“You’re right,” I say with faux enthusiasm. “You’re so right. I love being supervised in the shower, and having pills crammed down my throat, and eating liquids every day, and having to deal with fucking nutcases, and-“

“You’ll make your peace with it, I’m sure.” He cuts me off. “I know how hard this is on you. But you’ll survive. You always do.”

“No thanks to you,” I say quietly.

“That’s something we’re gonna talk about with your doctor- I’m sure.” He says gently. “I know you’ve got a lot of pent-up... feelings about it.”

“You know nothing.” I hiss.

“I will once you tell me.” He says. “We can do a joint session about it if you want. Get it all out in the air.”

Here he goes again. Hero for all. He never apologized.

I mean- I admit... that would be an awkward conversation. But he never tried. He never talked to me about it. He never.. cared.

The truth is- he won’t. He can’t. It doesn’t even register to him. If it’s ‘for the greater good’ he does it. It doesn’t matter whose life is on the line.

I shake my head. “I wish you’d just stayed dead.”

“I’m glad you didn’t.” He says.

We sit in a silence for a moment.

“Leave,” I say finally. “Just go.”

“Okay.” He nods. “I’ll go. ‘Ro and Laura said Hi- by the way. Laura wants you to call her. I left her number with your doctors.”

“I know her number.” I dismiss.

“Well, you have it anyway.” He says. “She wants to come see you but she’d have to bring Gabby. That okay with you?”

“You’re not worried this will scare Gabby?”

He doesn’t know how to treat Gabby.

We’re still unsure of how Laura wants to treat her. At first, I thought of her as a sister for Laura... then I see that Laura treats her as a daughter. So.... she’s either my sister or my niece. Either way, she’s a good kid. She doesn’t deserve to be mistreated. I thought of her when I was helping those kids. I thought of Laura too. Two girls who’ve been mistreated at the hands of men like those. I think that’s why Laura pushed for them to let me go. She knew what I was thinking of. Who I was thinking of. She wanted me to be let go.

“It won’t scare her,” Logan says. “Don’t worry about it.”

I nod.

We sit in silence for a moment.

“I’m gonna go now.” He says. “Get some sleep- okay?”

“Send my regards to the step-monster.” I say dryly.

“‘Stepmother’ - for the last time.” He growls. “And I’ll tell her you said hi.”

“Going to photoshop me in your Christmas card since I can’t properly join this lovely little picture perfect family of yours?”

“You’re nuts- you know that? Really. You’re nuts.” He says this dryly. “I’m trying to check on you and tell you goodbye after a horrible day- and you’re fighting with me over something no one was talking about.”

“I’m talking about it.” I snap. “I’m not done talking about it. I will continue to talk about it. And you can’t control what I do and don’t say. So fuck you.”

Logan leans forward in his chair. “Ororo is a good woman.” He says. “We’ve known each other for years. She makes me happy. What’s wrong with marrying her?”

“Besides the fact that it will inevitably get her murdered like all your previous wives? Nothing.” I smirk.

“Boy,” he inhales deeply. “I don’t know how to get through to you.”

“Then don’t try,” I say simply.

He hangs his head. “Goodbye. Behave.” he stands up.

“Wait!” Is out of my mouth before I can stop it.

“Yea?” He turns back around.

I keep my mouth shut.

“Yea?” He repeats. “What do you need?”

What do I need?

“I... am hungry. Call the doctor for me?”

“Sure.” He says. “I can do that.”

I nod.

I don’t know why I wanted him to stay.... I don’t want to know why I wanted him to stay.

It’s not like him leaving is anything new.

In fact, I should be used to it at this point.

It’s just him leaving me... here.

That’s the thing that’s grating on me.

Logan walks to the doctor’s office.

In his absence I hear a dry chuckle. “Can’t let daddy go, can ya?”

I can’t see him through the privacy curtain, but I know what expression he’s wearing.

“Fuck you,” I growl.

“You already did princess.” He says. “That’s why you’re here.”

That is... true.

“You ass is worth it, darling.” I pause. “How is your ass? Did they get you cleaned up or are you still leaking my cum?”

He chuckles. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“I’d very much like to know.” I purr.

Logan clears his throat, now standing back at the curtain. “She said you’d have to wait another hour.” He glares at Lester- or where he’s situated, at any rate. “I thought we talked about him.”

“You talked about him.” I correct. “I didn’t get much input into the conversation.”

“Stay away from him,” Logan growls.

“Yea- fuckface. Listen to daddy.” Lester says.

“Do you really want me to stay away sweetness? You seemed to really enjoy yourself. We can go for as many rounds as you’d like. I know how hungry you get for cock once you’ve had a proper fucking.” I grin.

“Stop it.” Logan snaps. “You’re not here for a booty call.”

“Then what am I here for, hmm?” I ask. “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done. You’re punishing me for some fucked reason you’ve yet to say and-“

“You’re sick,” Logan says. “I don’t know how many more times we have to tell you-you're sick. You’re here to get better.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me!” I snap. “I did the right thing!”

Logan pinches the bridge of his nose. “We can’t do this anymore, Daken. We really can’t. You were wrong. Until you admit that you were wrong- you will continue to suffer. Got it?”

That sounds like.. an out. He’s giving me an out. A way out of here. A chance to end this all.

“I admit that I’m wrong and I’m out of here?” I ask- somewhat cautiously. This could be a trick. It could not be a trick. Either way, I have to proceed with caution.

“You make progress and I’ll see what I can do- okay?” He says. “But it’s gotta be real progress. Real progress. Not as in one to two weeks of work- real work. Do what they tell you to. Talk to them. Eat what they give you. Be compliant with the medication. Give it a few months of hard work... and we’ll revisit the whole thing- okay?”

That’s... intriguing.

“And the judge is okay with this?”

“I’ll pull some strings.” He says. “If you promise to admit that you have an illness and then work on that illness.”

“Oh, so dickhead gets out because his dad’s powerful??? In what world is that fair???” Lester growls.

“Stay out of it.” Logan snaps. “Or I’ll put that gag back in myself.”

“I’d like to see you try.” Lester snorts. “You’re just mad because I get to fuck your kid. You’re darling little prodigy. For me. Moaning... cumming all over himself-“

“Stop it.” Logan snarls.

“You think I haven’t fucked him? I know just how tight he is. What makes him tick. He takes dick like a champ. Sucks good too. He’s-“

Logan snarls, ripping open my privacy curtain and storming over to Lester’s bed. “Stop.” He snarls. “You don’t touch him. You don’t talk to him. You don’t even fucking look at him.” He stands at the edge of the bed, his body posture reeking of violence.

“Oh, yea? Or what?” Lester is smiling.

“Or I will make you suffer,” Logan growls.

“Because I fuck your kid? Dude’s a grown man. He can do what he wants.”

“He’s sick.” Logan snarls. “He doesn’t know what’s good for him. It’s my job to tell him. And if you fuck with his head-”

“He’s not fucking with my head!” I snap.

“If anything I’m fucking with his ass. I don’t give a shit about his little fucked up brain.”

“One more word fucker,” Logan growls.

This is... not going well. Lester’s digging himself hole. If he gets himself stabbed by daddy dearest, I’m betting there will be little chance at my getting laid anytime soon.

“Daken is sick. He has an illness. Stop fucking with him. If you make him worse in any way- I’ll chop your dick off and shove it up your ass. Got it?”

“If he’s sick- then I’m sick too. You threatening me is like threatening him. We’re in the same boat.” Lester says smugly. “You’re threatening a crazy person. How big of a hero you are.”

“You and he are not in the same boat. Let’s get that straight right fucking now.”

“We’re in the exact same boat.” Lester is needling him. I know this from personal experience. What I don’t know is what he hopes to gain from it. “You’re just mad cause your kid likes my dick. You don’t like the thought of princess gagging for it. Or begging for it. Or-“

“You fucking-“ Logan draws his fist back- going for a punch it looks like.

“Enough.” Smith is standing behind Logan, quite suddenly at that. “Do not let him bait you.” She warns. “He’s trying to get you to punch him hoping you’ll either let him up or knock some kind of tooth loose so he can use it as a weapon or harm him in a manner that makes us release him from the restraints. He’s good at that. Let it go and leave.” She puts her hand on Logan’s shoulders. “The two of them will not be engaging in anything sexual anytime soon. This is a useless fear.”

Logan glares at Lester and then turns back to me. “Remember what we talked about.” He says. “Think real hard before you decide to fuck around with anyone.”

Oh, I’ll think about it alright.

“Real hard.” He reiterates. “It’s a limited time offer. Fuck around with this asshole anymore and I’ll forget all about it.”

Fuck.

“Deal?”

I... fuck.

He can’t tell me what to do.

Or more so- who not to do.

That’s not his call.

However, apparently, according to him and the staff at this wonderful facility- it’s not my call either.

Fuck.

“I’ll think about it,” I say honestly.

“Think hard.” He smirks. “Be good. I’ll see you soon.”

“That’s right.” Lester chuckles. “Go on and run. I’ll take good care of him while you’re gone... I promise.”

He snarls, claws sliding from his knuckles as he turns back around.

“Easy!” Smith intercepts him. “Please! He’s irritating, irrationally so- I agree. But he’s my patient. If he dies, it goes on my record. And I’ve yet to lose a patient. Knock on wood.”

Logan exhales slowly. “I’m serious son. Keep fucking with him. See what happens.”

“I told you I’d think about it.” I snap. “Leave already.”

Logan holds his hands skyward. “I’m goin’. Just... be safe. Okay? Call me if you need anything. I’ve put some money into your account-“

“What account?” I ask in confusion.

“Uh... they haven’t talked to you about that?”

“I doubt they’ve had time,” Smith says. “He ended up in Shawn’s office pretty early. I doubt he read the packet all the way through yet.”

“What account?”

“You have an account. For things. Like...I dunno-“

“Smokes,” Lester says. “If they let you smoke.”

“If you’d behave with lit cigarettes, you could smoke as well,” Smith says. “The staff unanimously decided to ban you from the smoking area after you flicked cigarettes at them. Behave and the privilege will be returned.”

“Yea right.” Lester snorts. “You fuckers aren’t letting me near fire.”

“You set Mr. Gargan off on a rampage.” She says. “An orderly is still in the hospital from it.”

“Oh wah,” Lester says.

Interesting.

“So this account will let me smoke? Is that it?”

“Certain snacks,” Logan says. “Sodas. Shit like that. Just stuff they don’t usually give you.”

“Sometimes it’s solids.” Lester continues. “Healthy shit. Barely worth it. But if you’re jonesing for something to chew...”

“Fruits, manly,” Smith says. “You seem like you eat rather healthily anyway. I’m sure it’s something you’d be interested in. Your father’s done you a favor. You should thank him.”

“Thank him?” I scoff. “You want me to thank him?”

“Yes. That’s one what usually does when someone does them a favor.”

“Fuck you.”

“The accounts are also a privilege.” She says. “Tread carefully.”

“It’s like in the big house.” Lester interrupts again. “Only the more fucked up ‘family friendly’ version. And daddy filled yours up. How sweet.”

“I have my own money,” I growl.

“Are you really going to bitch at me for doing you a favor?” He chuckles.

“I have-“

“Save your money,” Logan says. “As long as I’m your guardian- you don’t need it.”

“Since when are you my guardian?” I sneer.

“Sinccccce...” he looks at a watch on his wrist. “Two days ago.”

“What? No one told me-“

“You can’t make your own legal or medical decisions. Why did you think they were running everything by me? I’m sure they’ve said something about it before now.”

If they did- I don’t remember it registering. And if it did register- I was probably distracted by something else of bigger importance and forgot.

I’ve been a very busy boy today, after all.

“Fuck.” I hiss.

“Yea. Not my first idea either.” He says. “But..... it’s where we are. So you’re gonna have to deal.”

“When can I talk to someone about gaining control myself?” I growl.

“When you’ve been treated and can prove that you’re mentally capable.” He says easily.

“I am more than mentally capable.” I snap. “I-“

“Your apartment didn’t have food in it. Or furniture. Laura says you’ve lived there for ten months.”

“You went in my home???” I’m floored.

He invaded my space??? No one goes in my home! How did he even find it?

“You had over 12 thousand dollars worth of clothes... but no food.”

“I eat out a lot,” I growl defensively. “Having not been to the grocery store does not qualify one for insanity.”

“You’re not eating.” He says. “Or you haven’t been.”

“I’ve been busy.” I snap.

“You didn’t even have anything to drink.” He says. “I’m guessing you’re too busy to drink as well?”

“I don’t need hydration as much as others- you know that.”

 

“There’s claw marks in your bedroom.” He continues assaulting my housekeeping and lifestyle choices.

“And???” I’m beyond angry. “I have claws! Shit happens!”

Or I used to- at any rate. I feel the implants for the thousandth time, setting right across my bones. I wish I knew what they looked like. They never even showed me. Just a ‘here’s what we did to you’ and ‘we’ll take it out when it’s time’.

“Your house is a wreck.” He says. “Like... trash. And clothes. You had bugs.”

“And???”

“You have a collection of sex toys that is easily over a thousand dollars.”

“The fuck, Logan???” I stammer. “Why are you looking through my things???”

“Generating an assessment of your environment.” He says. “You spent money on clothes and sex... but not food. You trashed your home in something we can only imagine as some kind of fit and-“

“I’m. Not. Crazy.” I say forcefully.

“Crazy is a derogatory term.” Smith pipes in. “No one is ‘crazy’. You’re ill.”

“I’m not sick!” I turn to her. “I did nothing wrong!”

“You did.... you really did,” Logan says. “But that’s okay. When you’re ready to admit how wrong it was and how sick you are- we can talk.”

“How can I admit a lie??? I’m not sick! I’m not wrong! I don’t belong here!”

“Wah. Wah. Wah. Poor baby. Give him something to suck on. Shut him up for a while.” Lester snickers. “I have a few suggestions if ya’d like to hear them.”

“Shut the fuck up.” I spit at him.

“And listen to you bitch?? You’re nuts. You’ve always been nuts. You’ll always BE nuts. Accept it. It’s easier that way.”

“I’m not taking life advice from you.” I snarl.

“Take it- don’t take it. It’s true either way. You’re crazy. You’re as crazy as the rest of us. Own that shit.”

“I’m not fucking crazy!!” I yell.

“Easy,” Smith says. “Easy now.”

“Let me out of here,” I order. “Now.”

She shakes her head. “Not until you’ve had a nice quiet stay and we can make sure you’re ready. It’s almost time for dinner. We’ll feed you and take you to the bathroom and-“

“Fuck all of that shit- let me go! You can’t keep me here! There’s nothing wrong with me!”

“I gotta go,” Logan says. “He gets like this when I leave.... Gabriella says it’s because he’s scared.”

“He is scared.” Smith agrees. “They all are. It’s quite an adjustment for them.”

“I’m not scared!” I snarl. “I’m being wrongfully imprisoned! This isn’t legal! This is-“

“Far too upset,” Smith says. “Poor thing. We’ll get him calmed down, Logan. Don’t worry. This is a minor speed bump. He’s had a rough day after all. He’ll get some excellent sleep after his nighttime meds.”

“Yea, they sent me that list.” He says. “I guess you’ll give it to him.. when?”

“Eight.” She says. “Meds are given at eight.”

“Ha! Got you on the crazy pills- huh? How’s that whole ‘I’m sane’ thing going for you?”

“Shut up!”

“That’s enough- both of you,” Smith says. “We’re going to relax now. Logan,” she turns back to him, “go on and leave. We’ll let you know if we hit any more bumps. As of right now, I assure you, he’s fine. Your student is in the cafeteria at the moment. I’ve let the guard know to take you there.”

“Right,” he says, looking back at me. “I know you don’t think-“

“It doesn’t matter what he thinks. He’s deluded.” The woman says. “I will help him come to his senses.”

“I’m not deluded!” I yell. “You can’t call me deluded and then ignore my wishes!”

“Delusions are a horrible thing,” Smith says. “Hard for any family member to witness. He’ll come around shortly. We’ll feed and dose him and he’ll be just fine.”

“Fuck you.” I snarl. “Really- fuck you. What kind of doctor are you? You’re not listening at all! I’m telling you- to your fucking face- that nothing is wrong with me. You continuing to insist that something is wrong is just... infuriating! Listen to me! Listen to what I am saying to you- I am not deluded. I did nothing wrong. I am not sick. I do not have an illness. I’m being imprisoned so my father can make me into something he wants me to be-“

“So you think your father is doing this to you,” Smith says. “Interesting. Do you always think he’s plotting against you?”

“What? You’re not listening to me.”

“I’m listening to you perfectly. You think he’s plotting against you. Conspiring to make you unhappy- if you will.”

“What are you talking about?” I growl.

“Your father.” She points to him. “Do you routinely think he’s purposefully meaning you harm?”

“He is!” I stammer.

“He’s not.” She says. “He’s trying to help you. He sees how sick you are.”

“I’m not sick!”

“He knows what you’ve been through and-“

“He doesn’t know shit!”

This is bullshit. Logan- help? In what world would Logan help? He’s after something. Everyone is always after something. He wants them to brainwash me. He wants me to believe I’m sick so he can tell me who to be. It won’t work.

“He knows more than you think he does.” She says with a nod. “Tell him goodbye. You won’t see him for a few days- hoping all goes well.”

“I don’t want to see him period!”

“Yet you don’t want him to leave.”

This is infuriating! She’s not listening. None of them fucking listen.

And calling me delusional? Delusional??? Me??? Oh, she doesn’t have a fucking clue. I’m about to go apeshit on this place.

And it’s his fault.

It’s always his fault.

It will always be his fault.

He can’t accept me. He can’t accept how I work. He’s the problem. He’s the enemy. He’s always been the enemy.

He’s got them all fooled with his hero act. So caring. The great Wolverine- so kind to his offspring.

They don’t know that he’s killed me. They don’t know that he’s killed my siblings. I had siblings- yes. I never met them- but I knew I had them.

And he killed them. Like he killed me.

All that’s left for him to do is kill Laura. Then he’ll have fixed all his little mistakes.

“Daken? Are you with us?”

I zone back into the conversation. “What?”

“You don’t want your father to go... you blame him and think he’s out to hurt you.. but you don’t want him to leave. Why is that?”

“Princess is a little baby,” Lester adds. “If daddy goes then he has to play with all the big kids and he’s not ready for that.”

“Shut up!” I yell.

“You don’t want him to leave.” She continues. “You want him to stay with you-you did the same thing this morning. Why don’t you want him to go?”

Why don’t I want him to go??? I don’t fucking know! I don’t have the time or energy to delve into this!

“He can go now! I don’t fucking care!”

“You do care. You lash out when he goes to leave.”

“I’m ‘lashing out’ because this entire situation is horse shit!”

“I see.” She nods. “Tell me, Daken- how do you deal with feeling out of control? You like control - don’t you? You like controlling your situation. You like controlling people around you. Now Logan’s in a position of control over you and you’re freaking out about it. Why?”

“I’m a grown man! My father shouldn’t be making decisions for me! NO ONE should be making decisions for me! I’m an adult! All I want is for you fuckers to treat me as such!”

“Then you agree to take your medication, feed yourself, bathe yourself, clothe yourself in the required clothing, attend your sessions, obey the staff, and cooperate with any and all orders?”

“I agree for you to let me the fuck out of here!” I snarl. “I’m not sick!”

“I see.” She repeats.

“No- you don’t see.” I’m seething. “If you ‘saw’ you wouldn’t be having this conversation with me. You’d have let me up by now and sent me on my way. But you haven’t. Because you don’t ‘see’. You don’t ‘see’ because you don’t fucking listen. To any of us. To-“

“Now I’m wishing you harm- am I?”

“What? No- you’re not listening.” I try again. “I’m telling you what’s going on and you’re twisting my words.”

“First your father wanted to hurt you- now you’re saying I do. Again because I am in a position of power over you. You associate someone holding power of you as something that will bring you harm. Why is that do you think?”

“That’s... off topic,” I say in confusion. “How is that relevant?”

“You associate power with pain. You had power over those men and you hurt them. We have power over you and you assume we’ll hurt you. That means someone in a position of power has used it against you enough to scare you into the belief that positions of authority are there to hurt you. Which is why you lash out so harshly against the rules, staff, doctors, etc. etc.” She smiles. “You’re not that tough of a nut to crack after all.”

“None of that is true,” I growl. “That’s a bold-faced lie. Let me out of here. I did nothing wrong. I don’t deserve to be here.”

“Son, listen to the woman. She’s making sense.”

“Fuck you,” I growl, starting to tug at the restraints.

“That’s a quick way to get yourself more heavily restrained,” Smith says.

“Calm down,” Logan says. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not okay! None of this is okay! In what world is this okay???”

“Shh.” He continues “I got you too riled up. I’m sorry. Take it easy.”

“Take it-“ I seethe. “Take it EASY? You’re telling me to take it easy??? You take it easy. You go fuck off back to where you came from!”

“So now you want me to leave?”

“I-“ I have to stop.

“You’re unsure,” Smith says.

“Fuck it all!” I snarl. “Stop teaming up on me!”

That’s not fair. Not in the slightest.

These restraints aren’t budging. They’ve got me secured far too tightly.

“Fuck it all princess. Accept it. You’re nuts. Your daddy’s leaving you. Deal with it.” Lester groans. “Your little drama is making me want to put a nail through my eardrums.”

“SHUT UP!”

“STOP BITCHING!” He replies just as loudly.

“I’ve gotta go,” Logan repeats. “Megan is probably a little nervous being here... I can’t leave her for too long.”

“You can’t leave me here.” I sound just a tad hysterical.

“I can,” he says. “And I will.”

“Please-“

“Remember what we talked about. Call me if you need me or you run out of money. Got it?”

I can’t say anything.

“Oh is he going to cry?”

“Fuck you.” I hiss.

“Lester, that’s enough,” Smith says. “It’s time for your dinner anyway. I’ll call Nurse Polks and-“

“Fuck that.” Lester snarls. “I’m not eating anything that bastard gives me.”

“You will eat what you are given without spitting- might I add- or I will bring out the feeding tube. It’s fairly easy to insert- whether you want it or not.”

That’s... promising.

“She’ll do the same for you.” Logan cautions. “When the time comes- eat.”

Fine. Fine. I accept that. It’s all liquids anyway. How hard can it be for someone to feed you liquids?

“No arguments?” Logan waits for my response. “Good. You can learn.” He smirks. “See you in a few days.” He looks torn for a second- like he wants to add something but thinks better of it at the last minute.

I glare at him.

“Goodbye.” He says, turning to leave.

It takes everything within me not to call out to him as he reaches the door to the infirmary. I close my eyes and he’s gone. This isn’t an abandonment thing. It’s a pissed off thing. But it’s not about abandonment. I don’t care if he leaves. He always leaves. It’s nothing new. It’s just... vexing. How he’s once again basically chosen a student over me.

“That was hard, I’m sure.” I look up and Smith is standing at my bed. “But you did well, all things considered.” She smiles. “What would you like for dinner?”

“I’m not hungry,” I say quietly.

“You’ve got to be.” She smiles again. “We have soup with a side of applesauce... oatmeal again. Jell-O. Strained-“

“Baby food.” Lester chuckles.

“Quiet please,” Smith says. “We’re not talking to you.”

“Well, I’m talking to you.” He says with some sort of happiness to his tone. “I want the dinner options.”

“You’re getting oatmeal.” She says. “It’s good for your heart.”

“Fuck my heart.” He growls. “I want something else.”

“Not talking to you right now.” She says. “Daken, would you like something sweet? We can get you a smoothie.”

Sweet?

“Nah- he get’s oatmeal.” Lester orders. “I get oatmeal- he get’s oatmeal.”

“He’s not here for signs of cardiac arrest,” Smith says. “He gets whatever he wants.”

“If you break out the ice cream I will fucking flip shit.” Lester threatens.

“You’re not ‘flipping shit’. She says. “Or I will restrain you further.”

“You’ll do jack shit.” He chuckles. “Princess gets oatmeal. And he gets the fucking big handed fucker to feed him. You can feed me.”

“I do not want to feed you quite honestly,” Smith says. “The nurses feed you much better than I do.”

“Awh- scared of some spit.”

“Spit and I will shove a tube down your throat.” She threatens.

Lester actually goes quiet.

It’s been an interesting display.

Smith turns back to me. “We have three different flavors of soup tonight... would you like to hear them?”

“I’m not hungry,” I repeat.

“Awh, he sounds so sad.” Lester mocks. “Maybe you should give him ice cream. If you don’t want him to slit his wrists while you’re in your office.”

Smith visibly bites her tongue. “You do seem a little depressed.” She says. “How are you feeling?”

Abandoned. Pissed. Dejected. Indifferent.

A million things at once- basically.

None of which I want to communicate to her.
“Get him the damn ice cream. A sad princess is a bummer.”

She bites her tongue again. “Lester, please. I’m not talking to you.”

He laughs. “I don’t care.”

“Daken-“

“Hey- are we gonna do this food thing? He’s not hungry. I am. Feed me.”

“I’ll get the nurse-“

“I won’t eat from nurse giganto.” Lester chuckles. “Feed me doc. I’m your patient just as much as he is.”

She crosses her arms. “Lester-“

“Fucking starving.” He says. “Wasting away.”

“I don’t know what angle you’re playing and I don’t like it,” Smith says. “So stop.”

“I gotta be playing an angle to get you to feed me?” he questions.

“Fine.” The doctor says. “Fine. Your meal is coming. When it cools, I will feed you.” She nods to me. “You’ve got to eat something. I’ll get you some soup and some applesauce. Nurse Polks will make sure you get it. I must warn you to refrain from biting, spitting, or general unpleasantness as he’s a bit of a-“

“Asshole.” Lester laughs.

Smith nods. “I’ll let that one slide.”

“Kind of you.” I watch as my companion tilts his head to the side. “So... I’m getting soup right?”

“Oatmeal,” Smith says. “It’s good for your heart.”

“My heart is fine.” He sneers.

“We’re taking precautions. If you’re forcing yourself into cardiac arrest to get time off your ward, you will be treated for cardiac arrest.”

“That’s a load of bullshit.”

“I’ll let you pick the flavor- how about that?” She offers.

“Does one of the flavors happen to be soup?”

“No.” She says flatly.

“Then I’m not eating.”

“You are eating.”

“Princess isn’t eating.” He nods to me.

“He is.” She says. “And so are you.” She turns back to me. “If you’ll excuse me- I’ll have to go fetch your meals. They should be at the guard station by now.”

“Thought we were going to pick the flavors.”

She sighs. “Lester do you have to do this tonight? Can’t we have one night of peace?”

“Not likely.” He smiles.

“I see.” She walks off, leaving us to ourselves.

“So daddy’s gone,” Lester says into the quiet.

“Daddy’s gone,” I repeat.

“And you’re gonna what- cry about it? If you push hard enough she will get you ice cream. Wilson does it all the time.”

 “I’m not going to cry,” I say. “I’m fine.”

“Sure you are.” He shifts as much as the restraints will allow him to. “You know you whimper in your sleep?”

“I do not.”

He nods.”Yea- you do.” He flashes a grin. “It’s like a kicked puppy. Music to the ears.”

“Only you would think kicking a puppy to be musical.”

“I ain’t got nothin’ against dogs.” He says.

“You hate animals.”

“I hate everything.” He agrees. “But I don’t hold it against them personally.”

I sigh and stare at the ceiling- counting tiles.

In the distance, doors open and shut and something is rolled across the floor.

“You get nurse giganto.” He snickers. “Have fun with that.”

“Do I want to know who you’re talking about?”

“Big hands. Big mouth.” He says simply. “It’s annoying as fuck.”

“Charming.” I grouse.

“Yea? Well, it’s true. These fuckers like all the fucking time around here. I’ll tell you the truth. You can trust me.”

“I could never trust you and you know it.” I snap.

He just grins.

“Why are you faking a heart attack?” I change the topic.

“I’m bored.” He says.

“So you send yourself into cardiac arrest?” I’m a little dumbfounded by his commitment to do what he wants.

“Yep.” He says. “Always get’s ‘em rushing around like little ants. Can’t let me die. If I die after one of their little sessions- then that’s on them. They’ll be prosecuted by my lawyer.”

“You have a lawyer,” I say in disbelief.

“Why do you think I’m here instead of on death row?”

I just stare at him.

“I’m serving a healthy 25-year sentence.” He says with a chuckle. “We’ll see how long that sticks.”

“I’m surprised the Devil didn’t flat out kill you,” I admit.

“He tried.” He says dryly. “I’ll get him back.”

“From here?”

He nods. “From here. I got all the time in the world to plan it out. It’s going to be the most satisfying kill of my career.”

“So you say.”

Is own brand of delusional is showing clear and bright.

“So I mean.” He closes his eyes. “I see it now.”

“Surprised they haven’t shocked that out of you yet.”

“Heh.” He opens his eyes and grins. “They can’t hurt me. They can’t do shit. I’m invincible. I’m all powerful. I’m a fucking god. They’re worms. Maggots. Just waiting for me to pick them off.” He tilts his head back. “One. By. One.”

The sound of a cart being pushed towards us get’s closer.

“As lovely as it is the hear that,” Smith drawls. “Let’s avoid any talk of violence or death. Okay? The rules are very clear.”

“Bite me.” He chuckles.

Smith frowns. “I got you a bottle of water.... a change up from your IV. Will you behave long enough to drink it?”

“Are you gonna let me use my hands?”

“No.” She says flatly. “I just don’t want you to drown yourself for fun.”

“Tempting.”

God, he’s annoying tonight.

Smith stops the cart right in between our bed, reaching onto and removing a small plastic water bottle and going to his bed. “Do you want this now or after you eat?”

“Hmm. You’re gonna let me choose? Me? Get to choose something?” He gasps. “I really must be sick.”

“Forget it.” Smith sighs. “We’ll do it after.”

“But I’m thirsty now.”

“No, you’re not.” She’s obviously getting annoyed.

“But I am.” He says. “And if you don’t get me something to drink I’ll call-“

“Fine!” Smith snaps. “Fine.” She regains her composure quickly. “Fine.” She repeats. “You can have the water now.”

She walks over to his bed, unscrewing the cap and taking it to his mouth.

“On second thought, I’d rather eat first.” He says smugly.

“Arrrgh!” She cries. “FINE!”

She walks back over to the cart and removes a bowl and a spoon.

“Nah- I’m thirsty again,” he says when she moves back to him.

I swear I can see Smith’s eye twitch.

“You will eat.” She says. “Or I will get the feeding tube.”

That quiets him.

“Nothing to add?” She says.

He’s quiet.

“Good.” She walks over to him, pulling a chair from beside the bed and sitting in it. “This is cool.” She says. “Open your mouth and don’t give me a hard time.”

Wait-

“You’re really going to feed him?” I ask in disgust.

“Patients from your ward aren’t trusted without cuffs.” She says. “Especially him.” She turns and looks at me. “Just lay still and it won’t be a problem.”

I notice that my bed has been raised a little while I was sleeping. In preparation for the meal?

There’s footsteps echoing from the direction of her office.

“Dr. Smith.” A man says. “And our favorite patient.”

“I’ve got him,” Smith says. “Go attend to Daken. He should be well enough to eat now.”

The man is... huge. Easily identified as something mutated. Be he an experiment or born with it. He waves as he walks to the cart. “I’m Trevor.”

For some reason the name doesn’t fit.

“And I have some rules.” He says.

“Oh?”

He nods, coming into full view with a tray. His hair is shaved close to his head and he has a ... pleasant face. Kind of movie star quality. He’s pretty to look at, at any rate.

“No spitting. No biting. No turning your head or fussing. No threats. No back talk.”

“Those aren’t rules- they’re demands.” I scoff.

“And that’s back talk.” He counters, taking the seat my father was sitting in.

I want to dispute with him- but I bite my tongue.

“Now...we got you some soup and some applesauce. I’ll let you pick.”

“You’re not going to feed me,” I say in disbelief. “That’s barbaric.”

“Barbaric? Only if you make a mess. Trust me- you don’t want to take a shower here. It’s awkward, to say the least. That is if the doctor lets you use the shower- we’re not opposed to hosing you off in your bed.”

“I won’t make a mess at all if you let me use my hands.” I bargain.

“Oh, you’re a dealer- huh?” He smirks. “Let me make you a counteroffer.” He sits the tray on my lap. “You hold nice and still and don’t fuss- and I’ll make sure I go nice and slow. How about that?”

“Do not spit,” Smith growls across the room.

There’s the splat and she stands to her feet, angrily wiping at her eyes. “What did I say??”

This doctor is easily provoked when no one is around.

Trevor chuckles. “Glad I’m not on that duty tonight.” He picks up one of the bowls from the tray- I don’t care to see which one- and a spoon. “Okay. So here are your options- you’re gonna let me feed you or we’re gonna get a tube. Then it won’t matter how much fuss you kick up- it’ll go down either way. Let’s be a grown up and just agree that while unpleasant- this is a necessary evil. You gotta eat. We don’t trust you to be loose. This is the smart option. I assure you- this isn’t different from any other patient we get in here. It’s the deluxe treatment.”

“I don’t want the deluxe treatment,” I say honestly. “I’ll take the regular package.”

“That includes the feeding tube.” He grins. “Be good. Open your mouth.”

“I don’t want to open my mouth.”

“You just did.” He chuckles. “Now do it again- but wider.”

There’s another splat followed by a loud “HA!”

“That is disgusting!” Smith cries.

Trevor looks back in that direction. “He’s a spitter.” He says. “He thinks it’s a game.”

“He thinks everything is a game.” I dismiss.

“Yea? I think so too.” He agrees. “I have a whole other set of rules when dealing with him.”

“Oh?”

He nods. “I’m wondering if I’ll have to make a set for you.”

“That’s not necessary,” I say dismissively.

“I’m glad to hear that.” He moves closer. “Now let’s get this over with- okay? It’s only as painful as you make it.”

As painful as I make it? Please. If they’re trying to humiliate me, they’ll have to try harder.

Still... opening my mouth takes a lot of willpower.

“Very good.” He praises.

It makes me want to slam my mouth shut. But I don’t. I’m trying to keep Logan’s deal in mind. Partially at any rate. I’ll give this man three strikes. Three condescending comments, actions, or tones. Then I’ll give him hell. Logan should appreciate that this is me trying to meet him at least halfway. He said ‘progress’. Progress isn’t made in a day.

I think I’ll institute this three strikes rule on everything. Things will run smoother that way.

He puts the spoon in my mouth. “Close.” He instructs.

That’s one.

The soup turns out to be some sort of broth. It’s so watered down it barely has a taste. I can see why Lester is so prone to spitting. (Other than him being a general pain when it comes to things he doesn’t want to do.)

Trevor nods and removes the spoon. “I know. Bland. This is infirmary food. The other stuff is a little better.”

“Good to know,” I say snidely.

He grins. “You’ve got about a hundred more spoonfuls to go.”

Is that two?

I’ll be generous. That was a stupid comment- not a condescending one.

He refills the spoon. “At least it’s warm.” He says. “With all that business with your dad- I was sure it would be cold by the time we got it to you.”

Thank god for small miracles.

“Open.” He instructs.

“I know how to eat.” I snap.

“I know you do.” He says. “I’m just communicating when I want you to and at what pace.”

“Kind of you,” I growl.

He nods. “Open.”

I glare at him but open my mouth.

“That is a nasty look.” He says. “I know you don’t like me very much right now... but... this is what’s gotta happen. Like I said- it’s a necessary evil.”

I don’t know whether or not to count that.

“Close.” He says.

Our companions on the other side of the room have gone quiet. I wonder what’s going on.

“Focus.” He says. “Come on, don’t space out on me. I need your cooperation.”

I release the spoon and try to think of something that will get me out of this.

I can’t fake a heart attack. I don’t necessarily feel like spitting at him either.

“It’s not so bad, right?” He says. “You can live with it. Not a big deal. I’m sure at your age you’ve eaten much worse.”

Much worse indeed.

“Ope-“

“If you say open one more time I will bite you.” I snap.

He pauses, spoon at my lips and a smile on his. “Open. Be a big boy.”

That’s two and three.

“I’m done.” I turn my head away.

“You’re not done.” He chuckles. “Come on- turn back.”

“No. I’m done. You’re not going talk to me like a child.”

“I’m not talking to you l like a child.” He soothes. “Turn back.”

“Fuck. You.”

“That’s backtalk.” He says. “And you’re fussin’.”

“I will ‘fuss’ all I want to,” I growl.

“Don’t you take that tone with me.” He says. “I’m here to help you.”

“Fuck. You.” I repeat.

“You’re not gonna sit here and curse at me.” He says in a ‘warning’ tone.

“I’m gonna sit here and do whatever the fuck I want to do.” I correct him.

“That’s a lot of back talk.” He smirks. “Turn back and open your mouth.”

I keep my head turned and my mouth shut.

“Come on now.” He says. “This is unnecessary.”

“Very much necessary.” I correct.

“Work with me.” He says. “Don’t fight. Don’t fuss. We can get through this with no authoritative action required.”

“You have one more chance,” Smith says across the room. “One.”

“I want something else,” Lester says. “This fucking sucks.”

“If you weren’t having issues with your heart- we’d be glad to get you something else.”

“I’m not having issues with my heart anymore. Problem solved.”

“Then you won’t mind going back to your ward tonight.” She says smugly.

“Uh-“

“That's what I thought. Now hold still.”

“Come on space cadet,” Trevor says beside me. “I know it sounds like a ball of joy over there... but I need you here.”

“F-“

“Fuck me. I heard it.” He dismisses. “I thought you were gonna work with me.”

I... fuck. He’s not going anywhere. And I really don’t want that tube to go down my throat.

I turn my head back and open my mouth ever so slightly.

“Thank you.” He grins. “Wider, please.”

This is killing me.

“Little bit wider.” He says with a laugh. “Little bit more.” he waits. “Come on- little bit more. I don’t wanna hit your teeth with the spoon. You don’t want to go to the dentist here- trust me.”

“You have a -“

He shoves the spoon in my mouth, dumping its contents onto my tongue.

“Yes, we have a dentist.” He says. “And a barber. And a physical therapist. And... I don’t know. Lots of people on call. We’re our own little community basically.”

He removes the spoon and refills it.

I close my eyes and pretend to be in another room.

“Nah uh. Not bedtime yet.” He says. “Stay with me.”

I crack one eye open, glancing into the bowl which is still very full. “I don’t want any more of that.”

“Gimme.... ten more bites.” He says.

“Bites? There’s no biting. There’s nothing to chew.”

“Ten more swallows then.”

Usually when men ask me to swallow it’s a much more pleasant occasion.

“You want me to swallow do you?” I put a lilt to my voice. “I can swallow really good... I can show you.”

“Sure- show me.” He shoves the spoon back in my mouth- unfazed by my proposition. “Ah. You can swallow.” He smiles. “Good to know.”

“That’s not what I-“

“Oh, I know what you meant.” He refills the spoon. “Nine to go.”

The next four bites are in rapid succession- barely any space between them.

I can hardly breathe- the liquid becoming more and more bothersome the faster he goes.

“Slow down.” I manage between them. “Please- I’m going to drown.”

He sets the spoon in the bowl and waits, taking a napkin and wiping my face where apparently some of the liquid has spilled.

“Better?” He says after a minute.

I nod.

“Good.” He does four more a lot slower. The drowning feeling eases up- letting me breathe easier. “They said you had a thing about drowning.” He says. “I’m sorry. I promise not to drown you- okay? You can trust me.”

“I don’t care.” I sigh.

“We’re halfway done with the bowl... can I get you to eat a little more?”

I feel almost... defeated. It’s a strange feeling that I don’t think I’ve necessarily felt that often before in my life.

“Yea?” He says gently. “It’s okay bud.” He says. “This is hard. I know it. If it happened to me I’d be a little upset too.”

And yet he’s doing it.

“You’re doing so well.” He praises. “Really.” He refills the spoon. “Open up.”

“I really don’t want-“

He puts the spoon back in my mouth, smiling a little. “That’s it.” He soothes. “You’re doing great.”

“Listen to me-“

The spoon is refilled and once again in my mouth.

“Fucker! Listen!” I try to get his attention.

“Don’t curse.” He scolds, shoving the spoon back in.

The food never stops coming. Spoonful after spoonful.

There are no breaks. Whatsoever.

The feeling of drowning is creeping back upon me.

I spit out what I can, earning a huff in response.

“If you spit- we’ll just get more.” He threatens, shoving the spoon back in my mouth.

How much more of this am I expected to take?

It really is- when you get to the bottom of it- humiliating. More so than I thought it’d be.

“There we go.” He says. “We’re almost done.”

“Please-“ I resort to begging- trying to gain sympathy. “No more.”

He finally sets the spoon down. “Done.” He grins. “Now for the-“

“I’m not hungry anymore,” I say quickly.

“The applesauce is much better than the soup.” He says. “Give it a try.”

“No-“

“Yes.” He says. “You’ve done so well. It’s such an improvement. We’re all real proud.”

Fuck him.

“Now just eat your applesauce.” He says. “And we’re done. It’s a small bowl really. Shouldn’t be that much of a hassle.”

He swaps the bowl in his hand with the one in the tray on my lap. For some reason, my heart sinks as he wipes the spoon onto a napkin and places it in the new bowl.

“Can I get something to drink?” I try to delay the process by a few minutes.

“Sure. Let’ see what they sent you.” He walks over to the cart and digs through an assortment of items for a moment. “Ah. Juice.” He shows me the container. “I guess apple was a theme tonight.” He brings it back to the chair. “Do you like apple juice?”
“Anything,” I say. “I’ll drink literally anything.” If it keeps that blasted spoon out of his hands.

He unscrews the top and holds it to my face.

“Do you have a straw?”

He shakes his head. “Take sip- I promise not to get it on you.”

“Oh, look at the little baby.” Lester mocks. “So fucking cute.”

“Ignore him,” Trevor says. “Drink.”

“Drink,” Lester says. “Be a good boy.”

“That’s more than enough out of you,” Trevor growls.

“Is it?”

Trevor exhales slowly. “Drink.” He says with a forced smile. “It’ll help.”

“Maybe you should put it in a bottle for him,” Lester suggests.

“Maybe you should be quiet.” Trevor counters.

“Maybe you should be dead.” Lester fires back.

“That’s two threats you’ve made in the last hour.” Smith- who’s been so quiet I forgot she was here- says. “We’re going to have to sedate you.”

“Sedate me?” He snorts. “Please.”

“Sedate you.” She says. “Just to calm you down.”

“I’m already fucking calm. This is my normal state of being.”

“Then we’re going to change that.” Smith sounds a little smug. “Now, this won’t put you to sleep... but you won’t be able to move or speak. Thus giving you optimal time to calm down and think of what you’ve done.”

“Do it.” He snarls. “Fucking do it. I’ll sit your throat. Do it. I dare you.”

“I know you don’t like this...” She sounds even smugger. “And if you don’t like it then you should be doing everything within your power to avoid it. But... you’re not. So..... Wait quietly.”

“Fuck you.” He seethes. “Really- fuck you. I’ll slit your throat. I’ll break off your fucking fingers and shove them through your eye sockets! I’ll-“

“And that’s really helping me change my mind.” She goes to the cart in the middle of the room and crouches down, retrieving something from its undercarriage. “I had six of these syringes preloaded when they told me they were bringing you.” She says. “I’ll use all of them if I have to.”

“Bitch. Fucking cunt ass bitch mother fucker.”

“Yes, your use of expletives is quite impressive.” She says smugly. “Think of kinder words while you’re in your vegetative state- won’t you?” She stands up and takes the syringe to his bed.

“Do it.” He snarls. “Do it. I dare you.”

“You don’t scare me.” She says, flushing the syringe.

“Fucker.” He hisses. “Fucking-“

“You’re scared.” She says. “You fear this. You fear it won’t wear off. You fear you’ll be encased in your own body... that’s why they made this. For you. Just the smallest amounts and you’re out. A bit more and it will last for days. More than that- weeks. The maximum amount? Months. How’s that sound?”

He’s quiet.

“As is- we’ll settle for a few hours.” She says. “And I’ll want you to talk to the trauma specialist when you’re able to.”

She injects the IV running into his arm and it’s quiet. Painfully so.

Smith comes back to the cart. “You haven’t finished your meal.” She says. “Is it not to your liking?”

I just stare at her.

“If you wanted, we could get you something else.”

“He’s got the soup down. I just want to feed him the applesauce.”

“And he’s resisting?”

“I’m not sure,” Trevor says. “We stopped for juice. I think your little session over there scared him.”

“Ah.” She nods. “You have no reason to be frightened if you behave.” She says. “Some of our methods are less than favorable. Less than legal- even. But we have to use them.”

I continue to stare.

“Drink your juice.” She orders. “Then eat. Obviously, we have methods of making you behave.” She glances over to Lester’s bed. “But we use them as a last resort.”

I open my mouth and let Trevor pour some of the liquid into it.

Smith stays at the foot of the bed, observing. “Now eat.” She says.

It’s awkward to do this with supervision... but I in no way want to end up like my pet.

I’ll have to think of alternative methods of behavior. A lie- if you will. A lie that will make them think they’re ‘containing’ me. That I’m behaving. This woman may have proven herself to be the greatest foe I’ve yet to face in this hellhole. And that’s including the man who literally tortured me.

I open my mouth- which Trevor approves of.

“Easy.” She smiles. “See? A little fear is good.” She tells the man. “A little show of force. Not much. But a little.”

Right... show of force.

“Good.” She praises. “Very good. Your behavior is much improved... you won’t have to experience the control methods put in place for you. Not tonight, at any rate. However,” She leans forward at the foot of my bed, “if you continue with your actions- your misbehavior- you will find that there are consequences far worse than what you perceive this place to be. Things you won’t like. Things that could actually be frightening.”

“I-“

Trevor puts the spoon back in my mouth. Apparently, this isn’t a conversation I’m expecting to participate in.

“It’s not torture- of course.” She says. “Not really. It’s close though. Commander Hill goes case by case and decides what our little murderers do and don’t get.”

“I-“

The spoon is once again back in my mouth.

“Like it or not,” she says. “You brought this on your self. Have a little dignity. Do as you’re told.”

Trevor stops shoveling the food in my mouth.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” She nods to Lester’s bed. “He is an extreme case. He is quite simply a villain. You? You’re in the ‘to be decided’ pile. Your treatment hinges on these next few days... and you’re not off to a very good start.”

I nod.

I understand. Torture. Consequences. Whatever.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

I did the right thing.

They can’t label me as a villain when I literally saved people. Children- at that.

“You’re done,” Trevor says. “Meal completely finished.”

Smith smiles. “Good.” She checks the restraints around my ankles. “These are too tight.” She tells Trevor. “Loosen them up a bit- they’re digging into his skin.”

It’s a minor discomfort. So minor that I’ve tuned it out entirely.

“I’ll fix it,” Trevor says. “He looks like he’s going to be pretty calm.”

I stare at the ceiling.

“I’ll be back with your evening medications,” Smith says somewhat charmingly. “If you need anything at all- call out. I’ll hear you.”

I nod.

She turns to Trevor. “Wash Lester down while he’s motionless. Fully- please. He hasn’t showered in days.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Trevor says.

“Thank you.” She nods to him. “I’ll be in my office.”

Damn.

All of this and I can’t think of a single thing to say to them.

Today’s been worse than I thought it would.

And that... that is saying something.

I’ll have to plan something big. Something that makes them think I’m making ‘progress’. That’s my ticket out of here. Let them think I think somethings wrong.

I may even shed a few well-staged tears. I just need to find out who exactly to shed them in front of. Once I get back to the ward, I’ll spend the day observing. Find out how these fuckers tick. Record information.

All in all... I’ll need to play things very close to the chest at this point and time. Maybe wait until I can call Laura. See if I can’t get her to start making calls of her own. Or- in the very least- stage a prison break.

I feel the restraints around my ankles loosen.

If I were to be stupid- I’d kick out.

However- things have got to be meticulously planned at this point.

And plan them I shall.

Chapter Text

Lester’s been quiet most of the evening. I could hear Trevor washing him down- condescending remarks and all- but not a peep was made by the other man. My ideas for playing with him have long since vanished. If he’s going to lie there quietly there’s no fun to be had at all. I mean for us. Trevor seemed to have a ball. I think he likes holding his power over Lester. It makes him feel well... powerful. To flirt so close with someone who could kill you. It’s a thrill thing- I’m sure. One that could get the man killed.

Not that I much care whether Trevor lives or dies. He comes to my bed every fifteen minutes- asks if I need anything. Offers blankets. Things like that.

It’s annoying, to say the least.

There are no clocks in the infirmary but judging by the light outside the windows and the time of year- keeping in my mind that the environment in the South may be a little different from New York based on whether we’re near any cities or not- I’d say we’re running a bit behind on their schedules. It’s far past eight by my calculations and the mighty doctor of this dwelling has yet to make her rounds with the medications she assumes would suit me best.

All the better for me.

I’ve been trying to think of how to get out of taking them exactly. Obviously puking them up will do me no good. I fear if I do it a second time- I may just as well end back up where I started. Which will help me in no way whatsoever.

So... I’ll have to act. It will be my most defining role of deceit I’ve ever played. They have to think I’m cooperating. Take the meds- get rid of them far more discretely than last time- allow the food to be either a)given to me or b) fed to me, sleep on their schedules. I may even do some therapy. Who knows? Let them think they’re making waves of progress with me. Let them think that they’ve beaten me. It will take work. I’ll hold in all my hatred and scathing comments.

The one person it won’t work on is Smith. It will be too drastic of a change. But if I go back to the ward tomorrow and act differently they’ll think it’s because this experience has put some fear into me. They’ll see it as a good thing.

Not to mention all that ... unsettling information Smith unloaded about their containment methods that they had in place. Even for me. Something that’s not torture but sounds remarkably close to torture. Unpleasant things. Things that will make me fearful.

It takes a lot to make me fearful. I don’t scare easily. Once I’ve got my feet back under me- I’ll be good to go.

“I think he’s gone to sleep,” Trevor says from his post. “His eyes are closed at any rate.”

“That medication should wear off in the next thirty or so minutes.” Smith’s voice is a little... alarming. It sounds far darker than it did before. “For what good it will do him.”

“Oh? What’s with the face?”

“It’s his treatment.” She says. “I’m having serious questions about it. Hill wants to talk to him. Personally. There’s another treatment option she’s looked into.”She stops.

“Why do you not sound happy about that?” Trevor asks.

“It could put us out of a job,” Smith says darkly.

“What?” Trevor sounds shocked.

“Well, not you, per se.” She says. “But the number of psychologists we’ll need around here if this treatment catches steam will be drastically cut. I fear Shawn will be the first on the chopping block after what’s happened today.”

Oh? Her little boyfriend could lose his job? Do tell.

“Well, what is it?” Trevor asks.

She’s quiet for a second. “Telepaths. Well, a telepath. They’re saying he works wonders. Cuts diagnosis times in half.”

“That’s-“

“It wrecks the patients though.” She cuts him off. “They create a faster diagnosis for the problem but the actual treatment for that problem take twice as long. Sentences will be stretched by several months if not years.”

“Oh.” He says quietly.

Oh indeed.

“Hill thinks it’s a good idea,” Smith says. “She wants to try it on him.”

Their attention turns to Lester.

“..... I don’t know if that would be such a bad thing.” Trevor says. “Maybe it could help?”

“You’ve obviously never witnessed one of his depressive swings. They’re few and in between... but they’re majorly disturbing.”

Ah yes. I’ve witnessed one myself. I had to keep my pet from doing stupid things. So I tied him to the bed and we fucked. I had to make him shed more blood than necessary.. but it was either I did it or he went and did it himself. And at least if I was doing it then I could control how much he lost. Taking him to the hospital after carving him up would have been quite embarrassing.

“I mean... we’re not getting through to him. Shawn’s not getting through to him. Gabriella thinks she is but...”

“I’m not doubting that it can work,” Smith says. “I’m not. I’ve read several articles on this Telepath’s work. It’s incredible. It could revolutionize the field. It’s just... risky. How well can the telepath control the patient? How long do the effects last? What’s the use of psychotherapy if one just goes into the patient’s head and pulls out all the issues, to begin with. There are too many shady areas.”

“And...”

“Hill wants to bring him in any way. Let them get acquainted. See if they can’t create some kind of... trust. Before it happens. It’s not like his sentence can get any longer. 25 years is a decent amount of healing time. He has no guardian. A lawyer- yes. But they have nothing to do with his treatment. Hill thinks he’s the perfect test subject... if it goes wrong- quite frankly- no one will care. If it goes right, however, they may give the telepath a permanent spot at the hospital.”

“I see,” Trevor says. “Creepy.”

“Not creepy per se. Just... strange.”

“Other mutants working at the hospital could be nice...” he says. “I just don’t like telepaths.”

“I’m sure he’s a wonderful person,” Smith says. “I just.... the amount of doctors we have would be cut so drastically. A lot of people would lose their jobs.”

“It’s fine,” Trevor says. “It all depends on whether or not he can make a breakthrough with Lester. Freaking Bullseye. No one can make a breakthrough with him. No one.”

“Maybe you’re right.” She says. “What time is it?”

“Nine forty,” Trevor says.

“Ah. It’s past time for medication.”

“That it is.” Trevor smiles. “Lester’s had his via IV... you think Daken will take his... or will we have to get a syringe?”

“I don’t know.” She says. “One way to find out, however.”

“He’s been pretty quiet,” Trevor says. “Not much to say.”

“Go give him his medication.” She says. “I got caught up on the phone with the Commander and forgot what time it was. He’s running behind and I don’t want to set a trend where he thinks he can mess with the time of administrations.”

“Must have been a hell of a conversation.” He smirks.

“It’s... intriguing, I’ll admit.” She says. “But.... I’m a little... nervous about the idea.”

“Telepaths creep me out,” Trevor says. “I don’t like people knowing what I’m thinking- ya know?”

“I’m sure he’ll be nothing but professional.” She says with a smile. “Now, antipsychotic, sedative, mood stabilizer, and a nerve pill if you will.” She nods in my direction. “I highly doubt he’ll fight with you.”

That I won’t.

“Cross your fingers.” He jokes, going to a closet near the office, unlocking it, and digging through the materials housed within.

“He’s tired.” She says. “And today’s been hard on him. I’m sure he’ll be nothing but cooperative.” She nods to him and departs, closing her office door behind her.

“Hmmm... lemme see.” He hums to himself. “Oh, I know!” He sounds far too chipper. “There we go.” He holds several packets in his hands as he closes and locks the door. I try to seem disinterested as he approaches. “Okay, so this is a lot like dinner.” He says happily. “Do you want water in your mouth before or after?”

I think about it. “Do I have to take them all at once?”

“You could take them one by one if you want- but shooting them all back and once would be easier.” He smiles. “Water before or after?”

“After.”

He nods, fetching a bottle of water from the cart that’s still in the aisle between the beds.

Trevor opens up each packet- each one holding an individual pill- and puts them in a small white paper cup that was also housed on the cart. He comes back to me and holds the white cup to my face. It feels like the moment of truth. Will I cooperate? Will I not? I think I’m as curious as he is, to be honest. When he sees my hesitation he clears his throat. “No fussing.” He says. “Okay?”

No fussing. No fussing. Should be his catchphrase.

“No fussing.” I agree, opening my mouth.

“Thank you.” He dumps the pills- so many pills- onto my tongue, quickly followed by a swing of water, allowing the mass to go down a little easier. More so than I expected- at any rate.

“There you go.” He says gently. “Nice and easy.”

He backs up, taking the empty paper cup and throwing it in a bin near the bed. “See? It’s easier when you don’t fight.”

His tone makes me want to strangle him. Instead, I nod.

“You’ll like being medicated.” He promises. “Let me look in your mouth.”

I open my mouth without complaint.

There’s no way to spit the drugs out so there’s no need to hide them. I’ll have to note the side effects and work around them. Keeping my head about me.

“Good.” He says. “Now lift your tongue.”

I do so.

“Good.” He repeats. “Good.”

Yes. Look. I’m behaving. I’m such a good little patient.

“Now... Dr. Ulmer is coming around tonight before you go to bed. He’s the trauma specialist. I know it’s late- but there was an emergency on the teen ward. He’s got the free time now and he would like to talk to you.”

“Oh?”

Wonderful. A trauma specialist. Come to talk to me about my ‘trying’ day.

“Yea,” Trevor says. “You’ll need to stay awake. He shouldn’t be long.”

“I’m not tired anyway,” I say dismissively.

“Good.” Trevor smiles. “We have some TVs in the corner... you want to watch one?”

TVs? “Any good stations?”

“Not really.” He smiles. “PBS is probably running one of their documentaries.”

“Tempting,” I say dryly.

“There’s not much to do here other than rest.” He says. “You could probably head back to your ward.... but it’s late. It’s probably best not to introduce any excitement to the patients. They’ll be wanting them to wind down at the moment.”

“Of course.” That makes sense. Got to keep the sheep compliant.

“You seem really calm tonight.” He says. “First day jitters must have worn off.”

Ah. Charming.

“I have... adjusted to the idea.” I lie.

“That’s good.” He smiles. “Adjusting is hard, I’m sure.”

“It has been hard.”

Buy my story. Sympathize with me.

“Having to say goodbye to your old man twice probably wasn’t easy.” He says.

I try to bite my tongue to keep my comments regarding my father to myself. I have very strong opinions about Logan’s behavior today. None of which would lead them to think I’m a well-adjusted individual.

And that’s what they want- right? Me to be ‘well adjusted’? My actions imply that I’m unstable. My father thinks I’m unstable. To put him back on my side- I have to make him think that stability has in some fashion been achieved. It’s a hard task to complete.

You can bet I’ll be thinking twice before accepting any missions that require helping someone else for a long time.

Johnny be damned.

This has been a shit show.

“It wasn’t,” I say simply.

“But you did it.” He smiles. “And you ate all of your dinner.”

With a lot of help from you, asshole.

I smile at him.

“It must feel good to have a full stomach.” He says. “You’re a lot less testy.”

‘Testy’?

Something must show on my face because he grins. “You are much easier to talk to when you’re not fighting.” He says. “Much more pleasant. You were testy before. Like you wanted to fight everyone. Now you’re so calm you’re almost charming. It’s a nice change.”

Of course I am. I’m just a run of the mill sheep. Waiting for your orders oh mighty overlord.

“Thank you.”

My words feel like acid in my mouth

“Today’s sucked for you, huh?” He says. “Early morning. Late night. First day on the ward. Then there was the whole shocking thing... and your dad...” he pauses. “What’s up with your dad?”

I can almost feel my eye twitch at the second mention of Logan. “What do you mean?” I try to sound pleasant. I try to sound open. Look at me. I’m so compliant. Look at me. I’m so charming. Look at me and fucking think I’m sane. Because I am. Pretending to be extra sane is hard. It’s like upping my pleasantness by 50%. They want smiles. They want compliance. They want charm.

I can give them that.

I can shove it down their fucking throats until they choke on it.

“He’s... dead. Right? I read that Wolverine died. Now he’s.. what- back?” He smiles sheepishly.

“Yes,” I say. “He does that.”

“And... he’s done that to you,” he says.

That pauses me for a few seconds. “Excuse me?”

“He..” he pauses. “Ya know... drowned you. That’s why you have a problem with drowning and liquid.”

I take a moment to digest what he’s said.

“It’s in your file,” he says.

“He told you that?” I’m a little surprised.

“Well, yea.” He says. “He told us everything.”

“What exactly is everything?” I probe, trying to sound civil. In reality I’m beyond pissed off. If he shared that- I’m wondering what else he’s had the grace to fill them in on.

“That you were abused, that you were drowned, that you were manipulative because of your abuse, that you hated him, that you worked for someone for a very long time who hurt you very badly.... trauma.” He summarizes. “You were introduced to a lot of trauma. It makes you... act out.”

I am not traumatized. I am not sick. My upbringing has little to do with my everyday function.

But... I’m trying to be a good patient. I can’t fire back at him.

“You’re not the first.” He says gently. “A lot of trauma is the driving force behind most of the patients here. You’re not alone.”

“I see,” I say coldly.

Romulus would have my head if he thought I was spreading lies about my upbringing.

To do that, however- he’d have to come and take it. And he hasn’t. Six years now and I haven’t heard a word from him. Logan quote ‘killed’ him. Or not. What did he say? “I didn’t say I killed him’ but insisted he was gone. The least he could do was send some sort of... I don’t know- note? Letter? Explanation?

I want him to explain himself. I want to hear that he has a plan. That he had something in mind for me that he didn’t tell me. That he didn’t just use me. I hate the idea of being used. I hate to admit that that’s what he did. He had to have a reason. I have a purpose that I do not know of at the moment. If I were to see him- I could ask him.

“You have a hell of a treatment plan worked out for you,” Trevor says with a chuckle. “Have they gone over it with you yet?”

“No.” Information? Do tell.

“Intensive therapy for one thing. You’re going to see Dr. Ulmer and Dr. Olsen.”

More and more doctors. I swear they’re like coach roaches.

“I’m seeing them for trauma I take it?”

He nods.

“And if I prove to not have trauma?” I try to sound genuinely interested.

Like fuck they’ll treat me for ‘trauma’. There isn’t any. I’m fine.

“Then I guess they’ll find another course of treatment.” He says simply. “But between me and you, I think they’re on to something.”

On to something? I haven’t even met with them yet. Nor do I want to. I’ll have to put forth all of my efforts into making myself seem saner than I am- which is completely sane, to begin with.

“Is that it? Trauma counseling?” I stay calm. I stay polite. Look at me. Look how well I can behave.

“Some stuff with repulsion.” He says. “Get you a little more distance from the sight of blood and such. Makes you a little less violent.”

“Wonderful.” I even smile. “That would be helpful, I suppose.”

“They probably won’t need that one much.” He says. “You seem pretty civil when you get through your outright refusal to cooperate. Maybe they’ll only do it once or twice.” He smiles. “Not a big deal at all. It’s a day procedure. One you don’t even have to be put in the infirmary for. It’s all very easy. A little hard on the stomach- but easy.”

I don’t say anything in regards to that statement. I don’t have anything to say.

Even with all my pretending to be a good patient- I can’t muster up the will to say anything charming about that.

“You’d have to talk to Dr. Len if you keep having sex.” He says. “Shawn said something about you being hypersexual. That means you’ll have to talk to her about it. Repeated infractions. It’s cool though. She’s great with sexual assault victims.” He smiles.

I stare at him with what I’m sure is a look of awe.

“What?” He says.

“I’m not a sexual assault victim,” I say.

“Your chart says-“

“My chart is misinformed.” I feel my temper raising- but I try to head it off. “I’m not a rape victim. There’s been a mistake.”

“It’s okay man,” Trevor says gently. “It’s totally okay. Guys get raped too. There’s no shame in it.” He smiles. “It’s all good.”

“I am not a rape victim.” I insist. “Please- there has been a mistake. My charts are wrong. I need to talk to someone about getting them corrected.”

Calm. Cool-headed. It’s a mistake. They’ll fix it.

I want to scream at him- but I’ve lured him into this kind of open conversation by seeming cool and collected. I don’t want to ruin it now.

“How about you talk to Dr. Len about it?” he says. “She’ll help you sort it out.”

“There’s nothing to sort out.” I try to stay calm. “It didn’t happen.”

“It’s okay man.” He repeats. “It’s okay. You don’t have to deny it. You’re here to get better. To heal. Things only get better for you if you stop denying everything.”

Stop denying everything?

To get into Logan’s good graces- to get him to pull his strings- I have to make them think I believe the lie they’re selling me. No- I have to make them believe they’re getting through to me while selling the lie that I believe something bad happened to me.

Nothing bad happened. Training isn’t easy. You don’t get skills like mine simply because you want them. There were sacrifices. I paid prices. I never once regretted anything I’ve done. I’m not like Laura- for example. I didn’t do sex work. I wasn’t a slave. I wasn’t victimized. I was taught. The lessons were hard. The idea was to make me stronger. And it worked. I’m as strong as ever.

“You okay?”

Okay? How could I possibly be okay?

They’re expecting a fucking sob story. Something that will make lifetime dramas seem like pale comparisons.

They want me to sit down and drudge up every hard-learned lesson I’ve ever been taught. They want to know about HIM. They think he hurt me. They think he warped me.

He didn’t.

He forged me. You can’t mold a weapon without a little heat. I owe him my strength. I owe him my very life.

I’m not loyal to him. Not fully. I wouldn’t go back.

But... I can’t betray him either. I can’t tell them anything he’s done. They’ll misconstrue it. Warp it to fit their individual means and agendas.

I am not a victim.

I won’t be treated for something I am not.

They expect a sob story? They want me to cry on their shoulders while recanting every unsavory detail of my upbringing? It’s a story even I can’t sell.

I hate to think what Logan’s told them. What misleading ‘information’ he’s spewed into their willing and eager ears. It’s enough to make my stomach churn.

“I’m fine,” I say, sounding cold.

“Hey,” he leans forward and puts a hand on my shoulder, “it’s all gonna be okay. Dr. Ulmer should be here by now. I’ll go let him in. Just be honest- okay? Be honest with him and with yourself. You need to get better, man. He can help.” He turns his back and walks to the door of the infirmary, opening the doors and exchanging a few words with an elderly gentleman.

The two of them walk back to my bedside, Trevor completely dwarfing the small old man.

“Dr. Ulmer.” He introduces. “Daken.”

“Nice to meet you.” The man’s voice is aged. His appearance is aged. He’s bald save two tufts of hair on the side of his head, white skin calmly and wrinkled with what appear to be liver spots, and tiny glasses perched precariously on his nose. “I’d shake your hand... but they seem to be occupied at the moment.” He takes the chair by the bed and crosses his legs at the knee, placing his right hand on his raised knee and the other on the chair. He’s getting comfortable. We must be in for a long talk.

“The pleasure is mine.” I even smile for him. My mask is a secure as ever.

He smiles. “Patients don’t like talking to me.” He says. “It’s okay if you want to be standoffish. I don’t blame you. We’re not here to talk about pleasant things. I know at this time of night having the conversation we’re about to have- I wouldn’t want to have to keep up a facade.”

Trevor slowly backs away, excusing himself to the other side of the room.

“I have no unpleasant things to talk about,” I assure him. “Our conversation will be quite pleasant and dull.”

“So you say.” He chuckles. “Let’s start with the basics. How are you?”

“Fine,” I say crisply.

“I understand you received an ECT treatment sans medication.” He pushes his glasses up his nose. “That you were aware the entire time and unable to tell them so.”

“The damage is healed,” I tell him. “It was temporary at best.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” He smiles. His teeth are yellowed with age. “Tell me about that experience if you would.”

“It hurt,” I say simply.

“I can imagine so.” He nods. “What else?”

What else?

“It hurt,” I repeat.

“Did it bring up any... memories? Thoughts? Recollections?”

“No.”

“None at all?”

I... felt a small amount of sympathy for the men I tortured. I remember that now. I tried to push it from my head- it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. I haven’t thought much of it since.

“No.”

He nods. “How about the meals? I understand you rebel quite harshly at meal times.”

“I don’t like being force-fed.” I agree. “It’s happened quite often over the last two weeks.”

“It’s a bother, I’m sure.” He nods again.

“It’s childish,” I tell him. “I don’t like being treated like a child. But I’ve managed to control myself. Trevor can vouch for that.”

“Oh, I’m sure he would.” The man says. “Let’s talk about food. Your eating habits. You eat very little. Your meal tonight was small in comparison to what a man of your health and size should be eating.”

It did seem a little small now that I’m thinking about it.

“I eat as much as to be expected while being force-fed.” I defend myself politely yet firmly. “If I were to have use of my hands I would eat as much as to be expected. If the force-feeding were to stop- I think you’d all be pleasantly surprised.”

He looks me over. “But you don’t feed yourself when given the chance.”

“I’m feeding myself as well as to be expected on the diet they’ve implemented.” I try again.

He nods. “Of course.” He taps his finger to his nose, looking to be in thought. “That’s why there was no food in your home.”

“I wish you people would let that go.” I hiss, momentarily forgetting that I’m supposed to be cooperating. “I didn’t go the store. Sue me.”

“Your sister says your eating habits are...strange to begin with.”

“You’ve...” I pause. “You’ve talked to my sister.”

He nods. “I’ve had several conversations with her, in fact. She’s trying to get you released.”

She’s...

“She is?”

He nods. “She’s quite a spitfire- that one.” He chuckles. “Of course you and I both know that your release is not feasible.”

“It’s quite feasible,” I argue. “I did nothing worth detainment.”

“I see.” He watches me for a second. “Denial.”

“I’m not in denial.” I feel my act slipping.

“You are.” He says.

I watch him, taking in his appearance and body language. He seems calm and collected. He’s not stiff. His heartbeat is steady, his scent is sturdy- no spikes of adrenaline and no hint of fear, and he appears to be a great ease.

“I’m not.” I try again.

“You are.” He says simply.

The ward is cold. I wish I’d taken Trevor up on his offer of another blanket.

“I’m not guilty of what they think I am.” I defend myself, trying to keep my temper in check. “Yes, I tortured and killed those men-but it’s nothing that those heroes- oh say, my father- wouldn’t have done.”

“Your father is an interesting topic.” He says. “I’m glad you brought him up.”

Oh?

This could be unpleasant.

“You have very mixed feelings about your father.” He says. “His absence in your life for such a long period of time has left you open to several traumatic things.”

There’s that buzz word. Trauma.

“I was actually going to talk to you about that.” I try to sound happy that he’s brought it up. “There’s a problem with my charts.”

“Oh? And have you seen your charts?”

“Well, no.” I say as civilly as I can muster, “ but Trevor was telling me some things and I think you’ve been misinformed on several key instances in my ‘past’.” I offer him a smile. “I’d love to set the record straight.”

“I see.” He nods. “What would you like to fix?”

“For one, I do not suffer from trauma,” I say. “There’s also something about sexual abuse- I’ve already spoken to the doctors on the ward about it- it’s misinformation. It never happened. It’s a lie my father is telling and-“

“Why would your father lie about your sexual abuse?” He asks.

“Because he wants me to stay here,” I answer. “But if you’ll listen to me-“

“You attacked the abusers of children far harsher than anyone you’ve attacked in a long while.” He says. “The castration alone would suggest some pent-up... feelings about it.”

“I believe they should lose the body part that did the offending,” I say. “It doesn’t mean-“

He leans forward. “You said ‘not this time’. That implies that it’s happened before.”

“It hasn’t, I assure you.” I have a plastic smile on so intense that it hurts my jaw. “It was a mix-up.”

“I see.” He says.

No- he doesn’t.

“You claim to not have been sexually abused... but we have written and photographic proof that you were.”

“That evidence is doctored,” I tell him.

“Doctored?”

I nod. “By one of my father’s friends.”

“Oh really?” He chuckles. “That’s a new claim.”

“It’s true.”

I at least suspect it to be true.

“You hurt those men with extreme prejudice.” He says. “You didn’t know any of those children personally. You’d probably met Valeria and Franklin Richards on a few occasions- but not enough to make you react like that.”

“I was doing Johnny a favor,” I tell him. “They were his niece and nephew.”

“I’m aware,” he says. “And at what point did you stop to think you could call Johnny and inform him of your plan? Don’t you think it would be wise to let him- a family member- enact his own form of justice? Mr. Storm would have turned those men over to the authorities. They would be in jail right now.”

“They don’t belong in jail,” I growl. “They belong in the ground.”

“Oh?”

He smiles.

Have I given something away in his mind?

“What makes you think you have that kind of power over them? The power to decide who lives and who dies.”

“It’s what heroes do every single day,” I say lowly.

“Is it?”

“Yes.”

He nods. “So you think. The x-men would have handed them over. The Avengers would have handed them over. X-factor would have handed him over.” He smiles. “Even the Thunderbolts would have treated them more civilly than you did.”

“I don’t understand why I’m being punished when essentially all I did is behave in a fashion that has been shown to me,” I say, a little more heated than before.

I’ll have to watch it.

This man is getting a rise out of me.

I need to keep it in check.

“Your sister agrees with you-you know. She wants you released to her care.”

“That’s a wonderful idea,” I say.

“No, it’s not.” He says. “You’d be back to your ways in no time- whether she was watching you or not.”

“I’d do better.” I try to work that angle.

“You’d do worse.” He says. “You’re unstable.”

“I’m not unstable.” I try.

“You’re very unstable. You’re delusional, you’re unstable, you’re violent, you’re prone to acts of erratic violence due to your instability-what part of this makes you think you’re ready for release?”

“I am not unstable,” I growl.

“Am I hitting a nerve?” He asks.

“I will not be told lies,” I say lowly.

“You’re delusional. You don’t want to hear the truth. You can’t handle the truth. You live in your own little world where you get to say what’s right and what’s wrong. Where you get to decide who lives and dies. Where you get to control everyone and everything around you.” He adjusts his glasses again. “A lot of patients suffering from trauma need control. Control makes them feel safe. Here? You don’t even control how food is given to you. You’re stripped of everything. You can smile, you can fake, you can bargain- it doesn’t change. You are not in control. You do not get to make those decisions. You-“

I can’t take any more of this.

“I didn’t do anything the other capes wouldn’t have done.” I spit at him. “I don’t need control. They can have the fucking control. They can tell me when and how to eat. They can tell me how to dress. They can tell me how to wipe my ass if they want. I. Don’t. Fucking. Care.” My anger drips off every word.

He regards me for a second. “There’s that temper.” He smiles. “I knew you had some fire left in you.”

“I’m innocent,” I growl. “I will not be treated for something I don’t have.”

God. My head. I feel so light headed.

I’m trying to keep everything in check... but I feel like I’m missing something. Like I’m letting things slip.

Tones. I need to watch my tones.

I need to guard my words. My face. My actions.

But fuck... fuck. My head. My brain is sluggish almost. Like it’s hard to focus.

“You are? You think those videos were doctored as well?” He smiles. “But we both know they weren’t, don’t we? They weren’t touched. They weren’t edited. They’re in their entirety. Raw. Unfiltered. One of the men secretly wanted to tape the exchange. To use it as proof if the deal went south. He had it transmitting to one of his partners.... you saved him for last. They took three days to find you.... and the partner was so loving forced to hand over the tape.”

Which I still don’t understand.

Fuck. I don’t understand anything. They never explained to me how they got those tapes. I checked for security cameras in the warehouse- there were none. I checked for wires on the men. There were none. None of this makes sense.

“The police were watching three of those men, you know. They had access to that video stream.. they watched the entire thing.”

“And?” I don’t know what my face should look like. I’m trying to think of an expression I should be wearing- but I’m not coming up with anything.

God. I’m so tired.

“You know you were wrong.” He says. “You know you’re backed into a corner. That scares you.”

“You don’t know what I know,” I say coldly.

“You’ve lodged your complaints.” He says. “You’ve spoken with the lawyers, the doctors, and the social workers. All of them deeming you fit for placement in our facility. With all these people telling you something is wrong- can you honestly still not see it?”

I lower my head. “I’m not supposed to be here.” I hiss.

“Your sister says you went through a spell of suicidal ideation.” He says. “When you lost your arm and healing factor.”

Fuck.

Laura... why?

“Let’s talk about that.” He says. “That had some trauma involved- I’m sure. Painful trauma.”

I close my eyes. I’m so tired. So tired psychically, emotionally, mentally. Tired.

Round and round we go in this fucked up circle that never seems to end.

Every time I gain ground- they change the rules.

Every time I think I have a handle on what we’re talking about- they throw a wrench in it. A curveball. Something to throw me off track.

“It was a while ago. I’m fine now.”

He motions to me. “Yes. You regained your healing factor and your arm. You seem to be in perfect health.”

“I am.” I agree. “So I should be released.”

“Your release is not feasible. We’ve already been over that.” He says dismissively. “Let’s go back further- shall we? To your childhood. You grew up without either of your birth parents. Your mother having been tragically murdered before you were born and your father being absent. Who raised you?”

“I raised myself,” I say coldly.

This is a fight I will fight to death. No matter how fucking tired I am. They will not use this against me. They will not use HIM against me. I am fine. Some fucked up shit happened- I agree. It was part of a process that they can’t begin to understand- however. That I can’t explain to them in a string of words they would understand. It was deep. It was purpose driven. I am a weapon. I am a force of nature. I am what I was built to be. A shadow. A force to be reckoned with. They don’t understand that. They can’t understand that.

There was no abuse.

There was only training. And it was hard. And it hurt. But it wasn’t abuse.

“A young child cannot care for themselves. No matter how advanced.” He pushes his glasses up again. “Who raised you?”

This is irrelevant. He doesn’t need to know.

“I don’t want to talk about my upbringing,” I say. “It has very little to do with my everyday function.”

“It has everything to do with your everyday function.” He corrects. “How you were raised impacts everything. So I ask again. Who raised you?”

“No one,” I say.

“You needed, at one point, someone to bathe, feed, and dress you. You may be intelligent- I’m not disputing that- but you were too small to do anything by yourself.”

“I was raised by people of nonimportance.”

Lie.

“You were raised by someone of extreme importance. Your issue with men in a position of authority over you considered- I’d say it was someone who’s as somewhat of a father figure.”

He never loved me as a son.

He never raised me as a son.

He never wanted me to be a son.

He is of nonimportance.

I must keep him out of this conversation and away from the prying minds of these... morons.

“Of course, this is a big part of your past.” He says. “And your father has had the decency to fill us in already. I’d like for you to be forthcoming with the information, however. I think admitting it will make you feel better.”

“I was raised by myself.” I insist coldly. “End of story.”

He leans forward. “ You were raised by your master.” He says quietly- as if it were a secret he wants to stay between us. “The man you love to this very day.”

I freeze.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what expression to pull up. I’m boxed in. I’m frozen. I can’t deny it. I want to deny it. I need to deny it. But my mouth stays shut.

“Ah.” He smiles again. “So there. We’ve hit a nerve. Let’s explore that shall we?”

“Let’s not,” I say coldly.

“Let’s do.” He presses. “Your master. He raised you. He crafted you. One would logically presume he is the one who hurt you.”

“He didn’t hurt me,” I growl.

I’m tired. Now is not the time for this discussion. How dare Logan tell them these things?? How dare he think this was okay?? What lies has he spread? What do they think they know?

“Then you lied to your father.” He says. “When you told him you were beaten. You’re a liar.” He says. “How can we trust anything you tell us?” he leans back in his chair. “You could be lying right now. I can’t take you at your word. I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me. We’ll have to go by what your father tells us now. You are not to be trusted.”

“I’m not a liar!” I snap.

“Then it’s the truth and you were hurt.” He says smugly.

“No-“

“Then you’re a liar.”

“No-“

“Then you were hurt.”

“It’s not what he thinks it is.” I try to explain.

“Then you are a liar.” He repeats still ever so smug.

“I’m not a liar!” I snap.

“Ah.” He smiles. “Then you were hurt. You admit through your conversation with your father that you were in some capacity abused.”

I have to bite my tongue.
How did we come to this?

I slipped up somewhere.

I just can’t... figure it out.

“And I’m willing to bet your master had everything to do with that.” He leans forward, tenting his fingers in front of him. “Tell me, when did he start to show signs of sexual advances to you? How old were you?”

I exhale slowly. “It didn’t happen,” I say as calmly as possible.

“You were abused.” He says. “If you admit it to yourself- we can move forward. Until you do- we’ll keep going in circles. That’s fine with me.” He smiles. “We’ve got three years of my seeing you at least twice a day if not more. You’ll break free of your denial one way or the other.”

“I’m not in denial.” I snap.

“Then you’re lying again.” He says smugly.

“I’m not lying!”

“Then you were abused.”

“Argh!!!” I turn my head away from him, checking Lester for signs of movement.

“Circles.” The man says. “We all run in circles. The bill always comes due. The skeletons in our closets always find their way out into the light. Your past, whether you admit it or not, will always shape your future if you don’t make your peace with it. You haven’t yet. To become whole- to become adjusted- you’ll have to.” He smiles reassuringly. “But we’re here to help. While you make these big steps towards wholeness you’ll have a wonderful safety net of people who care about you and your well being.”

“I am whole,” I argue. “I am adjusted. I was never hurt. I don’t need to talk about something that didn’t happen.”

“Your whole attitude has changed.” He smirks. “Do you realize that?”

“I..” I stop. Fuck. It has. My charade has been dropped without my knowledge.

“You were faking being understanding.” He says. “You haven’t adjusted to this at all. You’re not okay with any of this. You hate it. You probably hate us. You probably-“

“Stop it already!” I snap. “You can’t blindly throw accusations at me hoping one will stick!”

“I think I’ve been spot on if you ask me.” He smiles. “Now, your upbringing.”

“Drop it.” I snarl.

“Oh- that was a nasty tone.” He clicks his tongue. “Nasty, nasty, nasty.” He pauses. “Your head is hanging forward. Are you alright?”

My head?

“I’m tired,” I say.

“I’ll be you are.” He smiles, putting his hand under my chin and lifting my head until I’m looking at him again. “Stay with me for a few more moments.”

Stay with him?

“As opposed to what- leaving?” My words are slow. Sluggish.

“Yes, I know you can’t physically go anywhere- of course. But I think you’re mentally checking out- as it were. We’re not done just yet.”

“We are done.”

“No-“

“I want to go home,” I tell him. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I want to go home.”

“This, whether you like or not, is home for the next three years. Don’t despair though. We’ll make it easy on you if you make it easy on us.”

“Easy on you??? Easy on you!? After all you’ve done to me??”

“You think this was bad?” He chuckles. “It gets worse the harder you fight it.”

“I’ll fight it.” I hiss. “I’ll fight it today. I’ll fight it tomorrow. I’ll fight it for three fucking years.”

“And you will suffer because of your stubbornness and pride.” He says. “You will not admit to needing the help you desperately need and-“ He stops. “Your head.” He chuckles. “You’re far too tired for this conversation.”

I hadn’t realized I’d lowered it again.

“We’ll have to tell them to lower your bed so you can get some decent sleep.” He smiles. “How’s that sound?”

Sound?

Good- actually. If we’re going to be honest.

There’s a sound from across the room. “Ah,” Ulmer says. “My next patient seems to be coming around.”

“You’re done with me then?” I ask, somewhat hopefully.

“For now.” He says. “For now.”

He stands to his feet. “It was a pleasure to meet you. I want you to think on our conversation for tomorrow. We’ll pick this up then.” He pauses. “I’ll have Trevor set your bed to the correct position.”

“I’ll wait with baited breath,” I growl.

He smiles, “I’m sure you will. Have a good night. Get lots of rest. It’s essential to a healthy mind you know.”

Healthy mind my ass.

As he’s moving away, he closes the privacy curtain- leaving me cut off from whatever he’s doing on the other side of the room.

He starts his spiel pretty much the same way he started with me. Asking how he is. Asking how the procedure made him feel- all of that shit.

The more I listen, the more I find myself... drifting.

I’m tired. But I don’t usually go to bed this early.

I’ve already been asleep this evening... I can’t imagine why I would be feeling so tired so suddenly.

So...

“Hey.” Someone is tilting my head forward, trying to get my attention. I must have spaced off. “Hey.” The voice is soothing this time. “Oh boy look at you.” Trevor chuckles. “Those pills are magic- right?”

Pills?

“..huh?”

“Pills.” He says again. “Remember? We gave you pills.”

My mind is sluggish.

“Pills?”

“They’re making you sleepy.” Trevor chuckles. “But stay with me for a second... you’ve got a phone call.”

Phone call?

Trevor takes a phone out of his pocket- a cell phone and a cheap one at that- and places it to his ear. “He’s awake. But not for long. Make it quick, please ma’am.”

He takes the phone and places it on my chest.

“You’re on speaker.” He announces. “He’s listening.”

“Good.” The woman’s voice is far away and it takes me a second to place her. “You haven’t called.” She says. “They told me you would call.”

“Laura?”

“Yes.” She pauses. “What are they doing to you?” She breaks straight into it. “Are you being treated well? Did they give you pain medication? Did they feed you? Have you showered? Are they letting you move around any? You need mobility. They can’t keep you tied to a bed.”

Woah. That’s a lot of questions.

“Maybe..simpler questions.” Trevor interferes. “He’s had his evening meds.”

“Meds? What meds? He’s not on medication.”

“He is,” Trevor says. “Your father okayed them this morning.”

“Logan.... does not know what’s best,” Laura says. “I do. No more meds of any kind. His brain is fine. He doesn’t need you interfering.”

“We’ll have to respectfully disagree.” Trevor chuckles.

Laura sighs. “Daken? Talk to me. Are you alright?”

“‘M not moving.” I slur.

“No? Are they restraining you?”

“Yea.”

“Are they letting you up?”

“No.” My head lolls forward.

“Tell them to let you up. They can’t restrain you this long without just cause. If you’re not being violent- they have no right.”

I turn to Trevor. “Let me up.”

“No.” He says, crossing his arms. “Your sister doesn’t know the procedures of this place.”

“He doesn’t like being restrained.” She growls. “If he’s not a danger to himself or those around him- let him loose.”

“He was fornicating with another patient who has to remain restrained.” He says. “If we let him up- he’ll do it again.”

“Not now he won’t.” She says. “You’ve drugged him.”

Trevor pauses. “It’s not procedure.” He says finally.

“I didn’t ask what your procedure was,” Laura growls. “Legally you can only restrain him if he’s a harm to those around him and himself.”

Go get him, Laura.

“If you’re going to rile him up, I’ll have to end the call,” Trevor says.

“I’m not trying to rile him up.” She says venomously. “I’m trying to hold you accountable to the law.”

“We’re not breaking any laws,” Trevor says.

“They shocked me.” I butt in. “With no pain medication.”

“I know.” She says. “That’s why I’m calling.”

“Come get me.”

“I would love to.” She says. “But I’ve been told by Commander Hill that I’ll be arrested. And if I’m arrested no one will be there to look after Gabby.”

Right.

I semi-understand. Gabby can’t be left alone. And hell if Logan’s going to raise her. Who knows how awful that will be.

“I’m talking to another lawyer.” She says. “One who’s going to try to get your case reopened.”

“Thank you,” I mumble, feeling tired once more.

“You’re welcome.” She says. “You don’t deserve to be there against your will,” Laura says firmly. “You didn’t deserve surgical implants against your will and you don’t deserve to be forcefully medicated.”

“Thank you,” I repeat.

“Logan has lost his mind.” She says softly. “There is no reasoning with him. Every time I try he goes on this long tirade about how you’ve been ill since he met you and that this will make you more... I don’t know. Heroic, I suppose.”

Heroic. Right.

“So he wants to change me.” I try to keep my eyes open.

“He wants you ‘well’.” She says. “And I understand. Some of your habits and coping mechanisms are not healthy. Do you deserve to be imprisoned for them? No. If you deserve imprisonment- I deserve imprisonment. Logan deserves imprisonment. In a small capacity so do half the x-men. So do half the Avengers. If they’re holding you- they should be holding all of us.”

So nice to know that someone else sees my point of view.

“Logan says he will reconsider in a few months.” She says. “If you’re willing to ‘try’. I’m guessing that’s got some kind of bearing between the two of you but I don’t much understand it.”

He wants to change me.

He wants to punish me.

“This is all very upsetting.” Trevor butts in again. “Honestly- please change the topic or say goodbye.”

“You control what he does and doesn’t say now?” Laura growls.

“I control it if it upsets him,” Trevor says. “You’re not looking at his face. He’s all kinds of upset.”

“Not upset,” I growl. “Drugged.”

“What did you give him?” She demands.

“Nothing that his father- that your father- didn’t approve of,” Trevor assures.

“And is Logan a doctor now?” Laura asks snidely. “Does Logan understand psychiatric medication and the effects it has on the human body?”

“Our doctors have gone over the side effects and-“

“If you drug him again- you will hear from his lawyer,” Laura growls. “If you restrain him in any fashion that is not completely necessary you will hear from his lawyer. If you dehumanize him in any way shape or form-“

“Dehumanize?” Trevor sounds shocked. “What do you think we’re doing to him? We haven’t done anything other than feed him, dose him, change his clothes, wash him off, and talk to him. We’re not torturing him. We’re not beating him. We’re not doing anything to humiliate or alienate him in any fashion. He just has to comply with a very simple set of rules. Most of which he’s broken today. I’m sure if you were to call back on another day, you’d like what you hear much better than what you’re hearing tonight.”

Laura is quiet on the other end of the phone.

“Don’t hurt him.” She says finally. “Logan doesn’t know what’s best. His and Daken’s relationship is strained at best. He doesn’t need control over all of his decisions. He has an ulterior motive. Several of them. Daken is sick- yes. But so is Logan. So am I. If we’re handling the ‘real world’ with no complications- he should be fine.”

“He’s not fine,” Trevor argues. “He’s here to get better. Let him get well. You’re a good sister. You’re protective of him- we understand that. Give him a week- okay? A week. Call as often as you’d like. You can do video chats if you want- we’re not cutting off connection with the outside world. Just give us a week. Then- you can come visit him. See that he’s perfectly fine and being treated with the dignity and respect that the situation calls for.”

“Were they treating him with dignity and respect when they stripped him of his clothing?” She says, cooly.

“They were doing what they had to do.” He says. “Tell him goodnight. We’re ending the call now.”

“I’m not done speaking.” Laura snaps.

“He is,” Trevor says firmly. “He needs his rest, Ms. Kinney.”

“He’ll rest better if he is unrestrained.” She presses.

“I’m about to set his bed to the correct position and he’s going to get some amazing sleep.” He says. “I promise.”

He promises I’ll sleep- hmm?

I think they may actually be a promise he can keep. Maybe.

“Daken, I want you to call me,” Laura says. “Often.”

“I’ll call,” I promise.

“And I want you to tell me everything.” She presses.

“I’ll tell you.” I yawn.

“Good.” She’s quiet for a second. “You sound tired. I’ll let you go to sleep.”

I nod, closing my eyes.

“He nodded,” Trevor says. “He understands.”

“Goodbye,” Laura says. “Call me.”

Call her. I have to remember to call her.

Trevor ends the call. “Nice and tired now.” He soothes. “Let’s recline your bed.” He moves by my head, messing with some setting on the bed and lowering it until I’m laying flat. “I’ll go get you more blankets.” He says. “And you’ll go straight to sleep. No fighting it.”

Across the room I hear mumbled conversation. Nothing I want to focus on at the moment.

I close my eyes, jerking to when I feel something laid on top of me.

“Blanket,” Trevor says softly. “Let’s cover up your chest...” He pulls the cloth up to my neck, Being sure to cover my hands, arms, and chest. “There.” He steps back. “Do you need anything before you go?”

“Go?”

“To sleep.” He clarifies. “Are you thirsty? Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

Hmm. I probably should. But I’m far too exhausted.

“No.” I close my eyes again.

“Okay. If you wake up and you need anything, just give us a holler.”

A ‘holler’? Dear god, I’ve died and gone to hell.

Instead of voicing this- I nod.

The dullness of Lester dears conversation- the one where he can still barely speak, lulls me into an easy sleep. It’s quite amazing how quickly I can fall.

For a while there’s nothing.

Then there’s this shadow standing over my bed. Large. Domineering. I know I’m dreaming- I have to be.

“Look at the little lunatic.” The voice grates my eardrums. “My how big you’ve gotten.”

I open my eyes to see a man whom I don’t necessarily recognize because he’s a mash-up of about five different men I’ve known quite personally in the past.

“Go away.” I snarl.

“I’ll go.” He leans down and brushes some stray hair from my face. “You’re beautiful. You know that, don’t you?”

I have to bite my lip to keep my voice down. I want to scream for help.

“So beautiful. So big. So strong.” His voice is like oil.

This is a dream.

“You got rid of those men.” He smirks. “Were you thinking about us?” I close my eyes. “Or were you thinking about me.” When I open them the man is gone- leaving Master in his place.

“You’re supposed to be dead.” I snarl.

He smirks, shaking his head. “Where you are- I am.”

“You’re supposed to be dead,” I repeat. “This is a dream.”

“You know I’m not dead. You know it. Don’t play coy.” He says. “You know me. I know you. And they’re going to try and find out about me.” He grins maliciously. “What will you tell them?”

“Nothing.” I snarl. “There’s nothing to tell.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” He says. “Because there was nothing wrong with what I did to you.”

“There wasn’t.” I agree.

“Good.” He says. “Good.”

No trauma. We can agree on that.

“Is that it? Is your ghostly appearance over?”

“Ghostly appearance?” He smirks. “Is that what you think this is?”

“I’m dreaming,” I say.

“No. You’re sleeping. That doesn’t mean this is a dream.”

A feel a distinct chill rush down my spine.

“Where are you?” He takes the chair beside the bed, easily dwarfing anyone who’s sat there today. “I read about your little faux pos in the news... but it didn’t say where they were taking you.”

“I don’t know,” I say in clipped words.

“Oh, that’s rich.” He laughs. “They’ve locked you up and thrown away the key. How fitting.”

“I’ll find out where I am.” I snarl.

“Oh? I’m sure.” He tents his fingers in front of him, leaning back in the chair. “You always were a mess when left to your own intentions.” He says. “You could say you’ve always been prone to bouts of lunacy.”

“What?” I’m floored. “You can’t come into my dream and insult me! Go away!”

“Take that tone with me again and see what happens.” He says sternly.

I feel the undying urge to apologize.

“You’re not dreaming.” He says, cooly. “We’re having a discussion while you happen to be asleep. A dear friend of mine is helping me... reach you. Since you’ve gone and got yourself in over your head.” He smiles. “Again.”

“I don’t want to have a discussion with you.” I spit.

“Oh?What if I were to tell you that I could help?”

“I don’t need your help,” I say, trying to hold my ground.

“You’ve always needed my help.” He says, with a slightly quieter chuckle. “You’re nothing without me. And I, it just so happens, am in need of you. You agree to help me- I agree to help you. It’s simple. Once our deal is done, you can go about your business. A free man in every sense of the word.”

“I don’t need your bargains.” I snarl. “I know how those pan out in the end.”

“That you do.” He says. “So why would you think I’d waste one second in trying to fool you?”

“Because you’ve done it to me since I was child,” I say dryly.

“No. You were a fool. A fool gets what a fool deserves. However, you have a chance to prove yourself once more.”

It’s... tempting.

“Go on,” I say.

He nods. “I need you to infiltrate a compound for me. There’s some business that’s gone awry. It’s a simple favor really. Do that and I’ll grant you your freedom.”

“No, you won’t,” I say.

“You have my word- you can go free.”

“I’d be stupid to believe that,” I say flatly.

“That you would.” He smiles. “So what are you going to do then? Sit in a mental facility and rot?”

“Logan’s going to-“

“Your idiot of a father will do nothing and you know it.” He chuckles, waving his hand as if to dismiss the very notion. “He wants to dull you. He could never take you at your finest.”

My finest- hmm? That’s true. He couldn’t handle me when I worked for Romulus. He couldn’t handle my strength. His first instinct was to try and change me.

“What do you want?” I ask finally. “You don’t want me to do you a favor. You don’t really want to help me- what do you want?”

He pauses, lips drawn in a tight line. “You know me so well.” He says dryly.

“You want me out of here so I don’t do something. There is no mission. You have an ulterior motive. You always have an ulterior motive. What do you want? More so what DON’T you want me to do?”

I have a pretty good hunch on what he’s going to say. He wants my silence.

“Information.” He says finally. “I want to give you information.”

“Why?” I ask in confusion. Not where I intended this conversation to go.

“Your father’s been spreading lies. It’s ... affecting how people behave around me. I’m barely getting anything done.”

“That’s on you,” I say smugly.

“I will wipe that smug expression off your face myself.” He snarls. “It’s not ‘on me’. It’s on you.” He points at me. “Set the story straight.”

“I will,” I promise after a moment.

“I did nothing wrong.” He repeats from earlier. “I trained you. Nothing more, nothing less. Stop these awful rumors by setting the record straight. Tell your precious little caretakers, tell the fools they call doctors, and finally- tell your fucking father.” He says this dryly. “I’ll not have this... slander. People should fear me. Not be disgusted.”

“I agree,” I say finally. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

He smiles, flashing fang. “No, you don’t.” He says. “That’s why this story grows. You act like you think nothing happened but deep down- deep, deep, deep down- you have a story. One thing that skews your perception of everything else. I can hardly hazard a guess as to what that story is. What small tidbit you’ve misconstrued as ‘abuse’. But when you find it- squash it.” He says that flatly. “Do not talk about ‘trauma’ when you don’t have any.”

That... makes me think. Really think. I used a story to make myself throw up today- now that I’m remembering it. And it worked. Maybe....

“Are you done?” I ask.

He regards me for a second. “Yes. I think I am.”

“Can you let me get back to sleep?”

He nods. “Of course. You’ll return to your normal sleep patterns momentarily.”

“Thank you,” I say.

“Oh, Daken?” He says as if he’d forgotten something.

“Yes?”

“If you lie and tell them some sob story that didn’t happen- I’m going to kill you.” He says. “And your sisters, your lovers, and your friends.” He flashes a smile. “Make them believe you. Or else.”

Of course he’d say that. Why wouldn’t he?

“I know that seems harsh.... but so is a brave misguided soul calling me a pedophile to my face.” He says coolly.

“You’re not-“

“I know that. And you know that.” He says. “Make sure they know that.”

Fuck.

“Go to sleep.” He orders. “You've got a story to set straight in the morning. By any means necessary.”

Right.

Story to set straight.

“Just remember what’s on the line.” He says. “I’ll be in touch.” He fades away in his spot. As if he was never there.

I want to digest what has been said, however, I’m slammed back into unconsciousness faster than I can track.

Chapter Text

“And we’ll move you by lunch,” Smith says with a smile.

I haven’t been listening to any of what she’s just told me.

I can’t begin to think of how she wants me to respond. Let alone how I want me to respond.

So I just stare at her. Unsure of what to say.

“Are you okay?” She asks.

I’m... not sure.

I don’t know what I am.

I’ve inadvertently taken a mission from Romulus. Not really a mission per se. More of a ‘do this or everyone you know and semi-like will die’ kind of thing. The task seems almost impossible.

“Daken?”

I’m... not sure of what to say. Still.

I need to get a phone. Make some calls.

I need to head this thing off from the beginning. If Laura understands what’s on the line, then she’ll be more likely to help. Especially if I tell her what this could mean for Gabby. Her whole goal in life seems to be protecting Gabby.

“Trevor get me his breakfast.” She says. “He’ll come around once he’s fed.”

Come around?

Fuck. I’m not off to a very good start.

“I need a phone.” I manage after a few moments of silence.

Trevor moves around another cart, like the one from last night. Digging in several containers and dipping out certain quantities of some food or another.

I don’t need to eat right now.

Not that I’m going to be refusing food anytime soon. Not after my talk with the quote ‘trauma’ specialist. I want them to think I’m sane- I’ll have to eat. They seem to lock onto to that as a symptom of insanity. The truth of it being that I just don’t have the time to do it. I’m a busy person. I forget.

“A phone? After breakfast.” She nods.

“I need a phone now.” I press.

“After breakfast.” She insists.

“I need the phone NOW,” I repeat.

“No.” She says patiently. “After breakfast. You need to focus on eating right now.”

“You don’t understand what’s on the line if you don’t give me a fucking phone.” I snap. “I need it now. You can’t withhold it from me. People are in danger. People are-“

“Wait wait- slow down.” She soothes. “What’s this about danger?”

I shake my head. “I need the phone. Now.”

“Eat your breakfast first.” She says. “We’ll take the restraints off. How’s that sound? Let you move around a little?” She smiles. “It will feel nice- I’m sure.”

“I. Need. A . Phone.” I say as clearly as I can.

The ward is barely illuminated by a a few sparse overhead lights. I’m guessing I’ve woken up a little before schedule. They want to keep my playmate asleep for a while longer. Judging by the sound of him lightly snoring- I think it’s safe to assume he’s going to stay sleeping for a while yet.

“Who are you trying to call this early?” She asks. “It’s only five thirty.”

“Just give me a fucking phone!” I snap.

“If you’ll just tell me who you’re trying to call-“

“My sister,” I say quickly. “I need to call Laura. Please, get me a phone.” Laura’s an early riser anyway. I know she’d be ready to take my call. Even more ready to act upon the information I give her.

“You.... probably shouldn’t.” She says. “Not after last night.”

“You can’t control who I talk to,” I growl. “Get me a fucking phone!”

“You’re not starting your day off very well now- are you?” She says gently. “Calm down. What you have to say can wait.”

Wait?? She wants me to wait?? I can’t wait. I need out of here. If I’m not here then Romulus won’t misconstrue this as me spreading lies about him. Everyone will be safe. This isn’t about me getting out for myself anymore. There are other things in play here that-

“Easy now.” She smiles. “Take it easy.”

“Please-“

“After breakfast.” She insists. “I’ll get you the phone after breakfast.”

“I need the phone now.” I press.

“And you’ll be given the phone, I promise.” She says. “There’s nothing urgent than can have happened over night. Whatever you have to tell her can wait.”

“She is in danger.” I hiss. “Please-“

“She’s not in danger.” Smith soothes.
“Whatever you think happened was probably just a bad dream. Did you have a bad dream? It’s probably a bad dream.”

“I-“

“It’s just a bad dream.” She insists. “It’s... well... you’re prone to delusions. You may think it’s very real- but I assure you- it’s not.” She smiles. “Does that make you feel better?”

No. The only way to calm me down is to insist that I’m delusional. I know I’m not. which means this was real. Which means Laura is in danger. Which means Johnny is in danger. Which means Gabby is in danger. Which means Logan is-

Logan! I can call him. He’ll believe me. If he doesn’t believe me- he can at least go digging and find out for himself. Then I won’t have to worry about anything. It won’t matter. He’ll be on the case and I’ll be able to focus on getting out of here for myself.

“Just a bad dream.” She repeats. “Now, if you behave while you’re eating, we won’t have to restrain you again. Do you think you can do that?”

Her voice is condescending. Her tone is that of someone talking to a child. I want to punch her in the condescending face.

“If you’d just let me have a phone-“

“After breakfast.” She insists yet again.

“I need to call Logan.” I hiss.

“Logan now? I thought you were calling Laura.”

“I’m calling both of them.” I snap.

Smith regards me for a second. “You’re very worked up and this - whatever it is- is very real to you. It is not, however, based in fact. You have been here, in my ward, for at least the last eleven hours. No one’s come in to see you. You’ve had one conversation over the phone which Trevor monitored himself. There is no way you could have gotten information from anyone. What you have is the remnants of a bad dream. Do you have bad dreams a lot? Do you often mistake them for reality?” She sits in the chair by my bed.

“It’s not a bad dream,” I growl. “I’m not delusional.”

She smiles. “Let’s call it ‘worked up’ then. Your reality has been warped momentarily in the aftermath of some sort of nightmare and-“

“GET ME A FUCKING PHONE!!!” I cut her off.

“Shush.” She says quietly. “You’ll wake Lester. He needs the sleep.”

“I will wake him up intentionally if you don’t get me a phone.” I threaten.

She exhales. “You’re not going to bully me Daken.”

“Then get me a phone and-“

She turns around. “Get me his charts.” She says to Trevor.

“My charts? Why do you need my charts?” I ask. “Get me a phone. You don’t need my charts- you need a phone. Why are you getting my charts? What could they have to do with the situation? All I asked for was a phone. You’re being difficult without reason. You’re-“

“Shhh.” She soothes. “Shh now. It’s okay. I need your charts to take notes. Harry is working the ward this morning, he’d like to know what you’re saying.”

“Fuck Harry!” I spit. “Get me a phone!”

“What are you going to tell them, Daken?” She asks. “That you had a nightmare? Why do you think they’d want to know that this early in the morning?”

“It wasn’t a nightmare,” I growl.

She crosses her legs, blue skirt hiking up a bit. She’s changed clothing. How odd. She must have gone home sometime during the night. Her white lab coat is... off-putting. I can’t remember if she was wearing it yesterday or not. For some reason it makes her look slightly imposing.

“It was a nightmare.” She insists. “What was it about?”

I glare at her.

“Well?”

“It wasn’t a nightmare and it’s none of your business,” I say finally.

“But it’s theirs?” She presses.

“Yes, it’s theirs!” I snap. “They’re the ones in danger!! I have to leave! I don’t belong here and he KNOWS I don’t belong here. He’s going to kill them all if I stay here and none of you fuckers-“

“Who?” She asks soothingly. “Who knows you don’t belong here? Who’s going to hurt them?”

God it’s early. I’m rambling. I have so much on my mind that I’m not playing this with any tact at all. Fuck.

“What?”

“You said ‘he knows I don’t belong here. he’s going to kill them all if I stay’. Who is the ‘he’ you are referring to?”

“None of your fucking business!” I snap. “Get me a phone!”

Trevor walks over with a tray, passing it to Smith and then standing there with his arms crossed. “Those meds can have a nasty side effects of nightmares.” He says. “It’s probably just that.”

“It wasn’t a dream,” I growl. “It was a vision.”

“A vision?” Trevor also passes over my chart, which he was holding under the tray.

Smith puts the tray in my lap and takes a pen out of the pocket of her white lab coat, flipping the chart to the second page and starting to scribble.

“A vision.” I nod. “Of danger.”

“You’re not a telepath. Or a foreseer. You don’t have visions.” Smith says. “And if you did- that power would be blocked by the suppressant we’ve been giving to you whilst you were asleep.”

So that’s when the majority of the drugging takes place. Good to know.

“A telepath talked to me,” I growl.

“About what?” Smith asks patiently.

“DANGER YOU DENSE FUCKER!” I snap.

“Hey,” Trevor says. “That’s enough.”

“I need a phone.” I try to sound a lot calmer.

“Oh, you’ll get a phone,” Trevor says. “Rigggght after we use it first.”

“What?”

“Mmhmm. We’re gonna call Dr. Ulmer back here. It seems his talk with you has unearthed something. That sounds like progress to me.” He smiles.

“Trevor, don’t taunt him.” Smith chides. “But yes, we need to call Dr. Ulmer.” She nods. “He’s doing his morning rounds as we speak. In fact, I told him to come by at six to talk to you as soon as you woke... while everything was still fresh in your mind.”

“To throw me off guard,” I say coldly.

“To keep everything from the night fresh in your mind.” She corrects. “Now, let’s get some of this food in you.”

That... gives me an idea.

They’re going to untie my hands if I behave.

I need to make them think I’m okay.

“Fine,” I say. “Fine. I will eat. And then you will get the phone.”

“Yes.” She nods. “That sounds like a good deal.”

“Do you want some grits?” Trevor asks. “Or-“

“Please.” I nod. “I’m starving.” I cut him off. I need to make it look like I’m eager.

“Oh?” Trevor chuckles. “That’s good to hear. You having an appetite is a good sign. I guess Dr. Ulmer helped more than you thought he did.”

“It’s probably the medication,” Smith says. “It can make a person have a bit of a bigger appetite than usual.”

“Whatever it is- I’m starving.” I lie. “I’d like to eat now. Please.”

Look at me behave. Look at me not fight. I’m such a good patient. Watch me. Watch me listen to your every order. I’m so good. I’m so calm. I’m so obedient.

“Good.” She smiles. “Do you think you can behave long enough for us to take the restraints off?”

I nod. “Please.”

I need to seem eager but not too desperate. As soon as these fuckers are off of me- I’m making a break for it.

This is just what I wanted.

“Are you going to relax?” She asks.

“I am.” I lie.

Like hell I’ll ‘relax’. I’m out of here. Now. There’s too much on the line to sit around and play the good little patient for them.

“Do you promise?”

“I promise.” I try to sound convincing.

She starts with my feet, loosening the straps around my ankles. I tense up in anticipation. There are no rails on the bed. I can easily roll off to the side and run. I’m fast. It’ll take them a few minutes to collect themselves. “Easy.” She soothes. “Don’t tense up. Move your legs some. Get the feeling of mobility back.”

I’m laying flat on my back- they haven’t raised the bed yet.

Trevor bends down and takes the tray off of me so it doesn’t spill.

She unstraps my right wrist, letting me pull my hand to my chest- relieved that it’s mobile again.

“Are you sure you’re going to be calm?” She asks, hovering over my left hand.

I nod.

“Because if you do anything drastic you will be punished.” She warns.

Punished? Please.

“And I’d hate to have to call your father this early in the morning.”

Call my father? Yes. Do that. That’s what I’ve been trying to get you to do.

Logan will be mad that I’ve run off initially. Over the next few weeks- he’ll have adjusted to the idea. By then I’ll be long gone. I have some money in some offshore accounts that I know he hasn’t thought to seize. I’ll go get it and head somewhere out of the states. Somewhere far away from this hellhole. In a few years- I’ll come back. No big deal. No big fuss. They’ll have stopped looking for me, Romulus’s reputation will be intact, and I get to spit in the faces of all these mother fuckers who’ve treated me so terribly. It’s a win all the way around.

“I’m unstrapping you.” She says. “And if you don’t behave- you will be taken to another ward entirely. Do you understand?”

Another ward? Please.

“I understand,” I say with a nod.

She unstraps my left hand- hovering over it as if to see what I’ll do.

“Sit up.” She holds her hand out and pulls me into a seated position when I take it.

I let her sit for a minute. Lulling her in. She’s on my left side. Trevor’s behind her towards the foot of the bed. Both of them seem to be waiting.

I feel like dragging the experience out some.

I move my arms, shaking my wrists which are somewhat in pain.

My legs feel decent enough to run. I’ve not been strapped to the bed that long. I should be okay.

The moment drags on with no one saying anything.

“Good?” Trevor finally asks. “Gonna behave?”

I nod, smiling.

He places the tray on my lap. “We’ve got you some juice when you’re ready for it.” He says.

“Thank you,” I say pleasantly. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when I get out of here. More so- I hope there’s an opening to punch his face on the way out of here.

“You’re welcome.” He says with a smile. “Thank you for behaving so well.”

Oh really?

The moment has passed. Time to get the fuck out of here.

“Yes, thank you,” Smith says. “I’m glad you’re going to behave rationally. I’d hate for-“

I roll out of the bed and onto my feet, spilling the tray’s contents everywhere- foot sliding in some of this horrid oatmeal.

“No!” Smith cries. “No- Daken no.” I can’t help but smirk.

“Come on bud,” Trevor says. “We can go for a walk later.”

“Walk?”

“That’s what you want-isn’t it?” He says calmly. “A walk? Some movement? You surely don’t want to try to run. Because that would put you in a whole world of trouble. So you want to take a walk and are expressing your eagerness to do so.” he raises an eyebrow. “A walk which you can have after you eat... you just want to sit back in the bed and eat your breakfast. No big deal- right? No big deal.”

I grin.

“No-“ He says when I start to turn around. “No.”

“Don’t you dare,” Smith says.
Time to bolt.

I take off running in the direction of the door- enjoying their dismayed voices.

Trevor reacts faster than I thought he would- going for my arm. I jump to the side and sprint to the door, yanking the handle open and bolting out into the hallway.

The halls are dark, only half lit at this time in the morning, and I hear Trevor fast on my heels.

There are several halls to pick from- to get away- but I’m having a problem discerning which of them will lead me closest to the outside.

I choose a hall darker than the others- hoping for more coverage.

The sound of my heart pounding is all I hear. I run and run- muscles tensed from all the motion after laying in the bed for so long. Guess it’s affecting me a little more than I thought it would. Funny that.

I don’t hear Trevor. I think I’ve lost him. That or he’s doubled back and taken a direction I didn’t think of. I’ll have to keep an eye out. I’m a fast runner, though. It would make sense that I’ve simply outrun him and he’s had to think of another plan.

I can easily anticipate any plan he would come up with, however. So I’m not worried in the slightest.

I take as many turns and twists as the hallways provide me. Finding a surprising number of doors unlocked and unguarded.

The security in this place must be more terrible than I originally imagined.

I run by rows and rows of windows. Windows to the outside- windows to darkened wards- no one notices me.

I take a brief minute to bang my fist against one of the outside windows. It doesn’t budge or crack- but I really didn’t think it would to begin with.

If I had a tool-

Like Lester’s chairs.

But then- I’m not Lester. I probably wouldn’t have the capacity to throw it at the speed and strength that he did. He’s one of a kind.

I wonder if he’ll be pissed that I’ve left him.

Maybe when the heats died down I’ll come back and break him out. Maybe.

I back away from the windows and back to the hallways. Coming to another fork. I take the hallway to the left, the dark one.

I figure if I keep following the darkness- I’ll end up in a part of the hospital that they don’t use. The logic is sound. They can’t use all of this space. Some places have to be neglected. I’ll find the neglected part and stay there until they’re searching for me elsewhere.

Besides that if there’s a rundown part of this place it probably has the least level of security. Which means an easy escape. Which means that if I can find it- I can get away.

That’s what I need.

So I keep running. Running as fast as I can make myself.

Over the sound of my heart, I hear a click coming from the ceiling. The PA system. It announces that there’s a ‘code yellow’-whatever that is- and calls security to some random destination in the hospital that I don’t know but suspect is the one I’m running in.

Fine. They want to play?I can play.

I come to a door- large, metal, and locked. Guarded by a keycard reader.

I, of course, do not have a key card.

Or my claws.

I bang on the door- hoping they’ll think I’m security.

Down the hallways- I hear footsteps. Fast moving footsteps at that. And several of them. Great. Fantastic. Just what I wanted to happen.

My hopes for finding an abandoned part of the hospital are in disarray.

I’m going to have to fight.

That’s fine.

I bet one of these ‘guards’ has a keycard. I bet they have a set of keys as well. And I’ll bet they drove here. Which means they have a car. Which means a quick getaway. I can ditch the car a few miles up the road- throwing them off my trail.

The footsteps get closer. I’ll have to get some kind of upper hand to take on this many people. it sounds like at least ten. Which is fine in its own right- I’m not doubting my ability to win. I’m just curious as to what kind of security measures they have with them. Sedatives? Batons? Cattle prods? What are they going to use against me?

I have to think.

I’ll have to double back. Surely there’s a wing that isn’t guarded by a keycard equipped barrier. There has to be a chink in the defenses of this place. There just has to be. There always is. Always. Someone not doing their job. Some piece of equipment malfunctioning. Some brief moment of overlooked security that will grant me my freedom.

I turn around and bolt back the way I came- choosing another hallway just in time for the footsteps to echo from where I was originally.

It’s another darkened hallway, I blend into the shadows as much as possible.

The group of footsteps is much less than what it was a few minutes ago. They’ve split up. That means there’s more than one group to run into and overpower.

Which means that if they’re all over on this side of the hospital- getting to another side will be fairly easy. If they’ve focused all their attention over here- all I’ve got to do is get from over here to over there. Point A to point B- if you will.

The only problem is that this hallway is a dead end. I flatten myself against the wall, watching as a group of men walk by me- not noting my presence.

The men stop a little ways away from my darkened hiding spot, their walkie-talkies buzzing with people announcing all of the places I am not.

“Not here.” A voice grumbles.

“Good little hider- ain’t he?” Yet another voice.

“Doc said he could be dangerous.” A third voice says.

“We’re packin’.” The first says. “Got enough sedatives to take out three people. He’ll be out for hours.”

“Nah- not this one.” The third voice says. “He needs to stay awake. They’ve got questions for him... something about some kind of delusional episode?”

“Delusional? Great. Another one.” The second voice says. “Why’s it always gotta be fuck ass early when these nutcases decide to pull this shit? I mean really- I just fuckin’ got here and there’s already a code yellow.”

“Told them not to uncuff the patients.” The first voice says. “Fuckin’ told them. What do they do? They uncuff him. What did they expect?”

“This one- he’s whose son again? Someone famous- right? Celebrity kids are always so fucked up.” The third voice says.

“...I don’t know. Some x-man.” The second voice says.

“So he’s one of the muties.” The first voice says.

“You got it.” Their voices get closer.

“What’s his powers?” The third voice asks.

“Don’t matter- they’re suppressed.”

“But what if they ain’t?” The second voice asks.

“But they are.” The first says.

“But what if they ain’t?” He repeats.

“Then we knock his ass out.” The third voice says. “No mutie shit today.”

I resent being called a ‘mutie’. But I don’t have enough anger to give away my hiding spot to correct them.

“Don’t know why they let them in any way.” The second voice is the closest of all of them.

“Where else they gonna go?” The first voice says. “They’re dangerous. If they’re crazy AND dangerous- they gotta be locked up. This one’s dad probably got him a spot here. He’s one of the good muties.”

“But you don’t know which one.” The third man says.

“I don’t know.... Cyclops?”

“Nah.” The second voice says. “His kids big.”

“...Gambit?” The first voice guesses.

“Too old.”

This is annoying and irritatingly anxiety-inducing. They’re going to find me. Should I blow my cover and be the first one to attack? I have the element of surprise on my side.

It’s possible I could just sneak out behind them and take off down the hall.

The only problem with that is that they know the layout of the hospital far better than I.

And I could run into any number of dead ends. Even a second of a misstep and I will be in their clutches.

“Maybe it’s his mom who’s an x-man?” The second voice says. “Well- x-woman.”

“Hmm... Psylocke?” The third voice says.

“Way too young.” The second voice chuckles. “And plus- look at her. She ain’t had no kid.”

“You just don’t want her to have a kid so you can make a move on her. Which will never happen. You have some little fucked up delusion that she’ll come-“

“If she’s his mom then ya- she’ll come.” The second voice says. “I’ll call her myself.”

“His dad’s an x-man.” The first voice says. “Not his mom. His mom’s dead.”

Ouch.

That she is.

No thanks to my father.

“I got it.” The first voice says. “Wolverine. He’s wolverine’s boy. That’s why he’s dangerous.”

“Then we don’t have enough firepower.” The second voice says darkly.

“The claws are restrained.” The first voice says. “I read it in his file.”

“What’s the kid of an x-man doing in here anyway?” The third voice says.

“Could be another Haller.”

The three of them go quiet. “We don’t need another David.” The first voice says finally.

“He was the leader dude’s son. So fucked up.”

“Telepaths.” The second voice picks up. “Tricky tricky things.”

Another x-men prodigy? Do tell.

“He ain’t another David.” The third voice says. “Or they’d have him zonked off his ass.”

There is muttered mutual agreement between the three of them.

“Y’all checked over there yet?” The first voice says.

“Over where?” The third asks.

“There.”

Their scents get closer to me.

“He’s not there.” The second says.

“He might be.” The first insists.

“It’s a dead end. This one’s smart. He wouldn’t let us corner him.”

That’s.... fuck. I do not want to prove him wrong and make them doubt my intelligence. However, it seems unavoidable.

“We should check.” The first voice insists again.

“There’s nowhere for him to hide.” The second says.

“And yet he’s hidin’.” The first says. “Take a look.”

I frantically look around for something to duck behind- a cart, an opened room- anything.

There’s nothing but a closet that they will hear me open.

If I had my pheromones I could make them too afraid to look down here. But... I don’t. I don’t even feel them stirring in my mind. It feels like a part of me is just... dead.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are.” The third voice teases. A short, fat, tan man comes around the corner with a smile on his face- a smile that is dropped as soon as he sees me. “Oh fuck.” He curses.

“What?” The first man asks.

“He’s here.” The third man says. “Lookin’ mighty tense.”

“Are you serious?” The other two men join him.

“Look it there. We found him.” The owner of the first voice is another fat man- tall this time. Buzzcut. Wanna be cop written all over him. “Let’s come nice and quiet,” he holds his hands out in front of him, “and be nice and calm while we take you to see Dr. Winston.”

Winston? This is my first time hearing of any doctor by that name.

“Don’t be scared.” The larger man steps closer to me. “It’s all good... ‘kay? All good. You’re having a rough morning... and you’re a little mixed up.”

“I’m not mixed up,” I growl.

“Something about your sister being in danger?” The man continues walking towards me. “Let’s focus on that- huh? You want to call her. Let’s go call her.” He says in the most patronizing voice he can muster.

I shake my head. “You sound like an idiot.”

A third man joins them. Tall and pasty. Balding gray hair combed over quite unsuccessfully.

“Don’t come any closer,” I warn. “Go back the way you came and forget you ever saw me.”

“No can do.” The first man says. “We gotta take you nice and quiet to see Dr. Winston.”

“I don’t want to see another god damn doctor. I want to go home. I did nothing wrong. I don’t belong here. People are in danger with me being here. I will be released.” I take a step back. Something about them... is unnerving.

“You gotta see the doctor.” The first man seems to be the leader. “And they’ve got a nice, quiet, safe room for you. And they’ll let you have a phone. All you have to do is come with us.”

He’s a few measly feet away from me now.

The air in the room is tense. Everything is tense. I can’t let them take me. I can’t let myself be taken. Laura is in danger. Johnny is in danger. And as much as I hate him right now- I know what my loving master does to my significant others. I don’t want that to happen to him right now. And don’t get me started on what he’d do to Gabby. I can’t stay here- that’s the bottom of it. Not only do I not belong here- but I’m endangering people I care about the longer I stay.

“I have to leave.” I try.

He shakes his head.

Their walkie-talkies go off, announcing movement around the hospital. Things that don’t sound that urgent.

A voice comes over the PA system and pages a bunch of people to a part of the hospital I’ve not encountered yet. Things are slowing down to a crawl. I don’t have my powers. I’ll have to threaten and scare them into letting me go. Short of beating the shit out of them. Which I probably shouldn’t do on the off chance that none of this works and I end up staying.

There’s too much on the line now. Too much that I don’t know about. Too much that I can’t account for.

There’s this small part of my mind that thinks that maybe it was just a dream. But a bigger part of me says we can’t take that chance. Not when I’m playing with fire.

“Because your sister’s in danger.” The first man says.

“Yes.” I nod. “Because my sister’s in danger.”

At least that point is getting across. I don’t think I conveyed it well enough to Smith this morning. I think she underestimated the intensity of my intentions.

Running off like I did and getting as far as I have is bound to have shown them how fucking serious I am. This is dangerous. Laura is in danger. And I won’t have her hurt because of some bullshit that’s going on between me, the doctors, Logan, and Romulus. She’s innocent. She will continue to be innocent.

If they won’t let me leave for me- they’ll have to let me leave for her. I’ll promise to be good. I’ll promise to stay out of trouble. I can even go live with someone else if they want me to. I just have to get out of here.

“Tell us about your sister.” He says, taking another step forward.

“Come near me and I’ll break your fucking neck,” I growl.

“Greg- record that.” The first man says. “That’s a threat.”

“Got it.” The pasty man says.

I stand still, trying to weigh out the options for a fight.

“Call Sylvia will ya?” He says to the shorter man.

The man who found me steps into the hall and asks for someone by that name and gives her my location.

When he comes back he says, “Two minutes.”

“Two minutes.” The tall man in front of me nods. “Let’s talk for a measly two minutes. Tell me about your sister. What’s she like? Why’s she in danger?”

They’re slowly backing me into the wall... and there’s just something so fucking ... eerie about them.

“Come on.” The man says. “Let’s talk about your sister.”

“Little sister right?” The tan man says.

“Hero?” The pasty man chimes in. “Saw her on the news. Good kid. Good egg. She’s an x-man - right?”

I just stare at them.

“She’s taken over your old man’s name. Fighting the good fight. She’s got that other kid who runs with her.” The tall man says. “She’s your little sister too- right?” He smiles. “Two little sisters. How lucky. You’re obviously close. Are you’re worried about them? You’re a long ways away from them. I know in their line of work that that can be scary. If you were to have, oh say, a nightmare and think they were in danger- there’s nothing you can do to save them. If that were to happen,” he holds up a finger to stop me from interrupting, “If it were- I can understand why you would be a little delusional. Especially after the last few weeks you’ve had. You’re in a new place- new scenery, new rules, new people- and you’re a little... boxed in.” He smiles. “So it could lead to- if it were to happen- some bad decisions. If that were to happen, I know you wouldn’t purposefully make it worse by fighting with the staff. If you were to do something stupid like oh say... run away from the staff and hide in an empty corridor while making threats to the people that found you- You can understand that the staff would have to make some difficult decisions about your housing situation.”

He’s got to fucking joking.

Who does he think he’s talking to?? I’m not some nutcase he can control with a few patronizing words and gentle tones.

“I did not have a nightmare, they are in danger, and if you come near me I will hurt you.” I snarl.

“Let me pick up Horris’s train of thought,” Greg says. “You didn’t have a nightmare you say. Okay. It wasn’t a nightmare. You’ve said that. If it wasn’t a nightmare then it was a hallucination. Which is entirely possible with someone with your illness. If you’re delusional and hallucinating it could lead you to do some stupid things. Things that you really don’t need to be in trouble for if you just admit that you’re having some trouble.... accepting reality.”

“My reality is fine.” I snap.

“You had a talk with the trauma specialist last night... think he may have dug something up? Something you went to sleep on and woke up a little confused about?”

“Fuck you.” I snarl, going to extend my claws- only to double over in pain. It’s a bright, red, pulsing sensation running through my hands and up my arms. “AGH!” I groan and try to work through it.

“You woke up a little confused,” Greg says. “You went to sleep a little confused. Your sisters are fine. Your friends and family are fine. The only one in any remote sort of trouble is you.”

“Trouble?” I feel a hint of fear creeping up on me.

“Trouble,” Horris says. “You can’t run away from your doctors.”

“People are in danger,” I growl. “You can’t keep me here. I’m trying to save them.”

“You’re delusional,” Horris says. “And that’s okay. It’s understandable. You’ve had it pretty tough.” He smiles charmingly. “But you can’t do this- you know? You can’t decide when you get to leave. You can’t decide what we do to treat you. You’ve gotta follow the rules.”

“They are in danger.” I try to reason. “I don’t have time for this bullshit!”

“They’re not in danger.” He says. “If it helps, we’ll have your old man go check on them- how about that? He won’t mind. He’ll give you a call to tell you everything’s okay.”

“That won’t work!” I snap. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you, morons! I need to leave! They’re only safe if I’m NOT HERE!”

“Why?” Greg asks.

“Because he’s worried I’m telling all his secrets.” I snap, pinching the bridge of my nose. “You’re giving me a headache. Get out of my way. I have to go.”

“Who?” Horris asks.

“None of your business, that’s who.” I snarl, closing my eyes.

“We can’t let you go,” Greg says. “Not only would we lose our jobs- but you’re not in your right mind right now. It would be unethical to just set you loose. Now, we’ve got a doctor we’d like you to talk to. A nice one. You’ll like him, I promise.” He says reassuringly. “We’ll get you some new meds- hows that sound? Something to just..” I open my eyes just as he takes his hand and mimes pushing something down, “turn this down.” He says. “You’ll like that. Once you calm down, you’ll realize that this is all in your head and that everything and everyone is just fine.”

“You’re not listening to me.” I snap. “No one is fucking listening to me! They are in danger! I have to go! It’s in the best interest of several people that I have nothing to do with this place! Can’t you see that I’m trying to do the right fucking thing??? Once again, I’m doing the hero thing and you fuckers are telling me I’m wrong. I’m not wrong- you’re wrong. I don’t belong here in the first place. And when I tell you that others in danger because of what He thinks I’m telling you fuckers when there’s really nothing to tell and it’s my father’s fucking fault for spreading fucked up lies and half-truths to make me seem like some little victim-“ I pause to inhale, “you tell me I’m fucking crazy! I’m not crazy! I haven’t been crazy this ENTIRE time! I’ve been the picture of sanity! I had ONE bad day and suddenly I’m branded for LIFE because of ONE slip up! It was a mistake! You’re beating me over the head, and imprisoning me, and mutilating me, and forcing me to cooperate is doing NOTHING. There is NOTHING to be FIXED because NOTHING IS WRONG!” I snarl. “People are in DANGER! SO let me go now or I will go through you!!” I threaten.

“Go through us?” Horris says. “Now there’s no need for threats, we’re trying to help you.” He takes another step forward.

“I’m not kidding.” I snarl. “You will let me go or I will take you down.”

“You’re not taking anyone down,” Greg says. “You’re going to calm down and come with us.”

“So you can imprison me further??? I’m not going with you! I’m leaving! Because I fucking HAVE to! I’m trying to SAVE people! But you fuckers are so hell-bent on making a statement that my fucking father has drilled into your heads that it needs to be made that you aren’t listening to me! I need to GO! We are wasting time! Laura can’t end up like me!” The last thing out of my mouth is the very last thing that should have come out of my mouth. I don’t know why I said that.

I’m a little shocked by it, to be honest.

“You have to go because you don’t want her to end up like you,” Horris says quietly. “What’s that mean?”

“It means I have to go.” I snarl.

“You’re not leaving,” Greg says. “You’re going to come with us- quietly might I add- and relax. We’re going to give you some new meds and honestly, you’ll be so zonked out after this that you won’t have the energy to focus on this. How’s that sound? A little peace of mind? OR in this case a little peace FOR your mind.”

“I will cut through you fuckers,” I warn.

“With what?” Horris chuckles.

“What do you mean with what?” I snarl. “I’ll fucking gut you.”

“You can’t,” Greg says. “Remember?”

“I will tear these implants out and stab you in the fucking throat.” I threaten.

“Yea- you’ll try- I’m sure,” Greg says. “Bob, how far away is Sylvia?”

Who the fuck is Bob?

The other man of their group, the quiet one, steps back into the hall and pages someone.

This is going nowhere. I need my claws. I need them NOW.

The implants are across my knuckles and the metal is smooth- from what I’ve felt at any rate. If I push them up as far as possible- if I keep extending- the metal will be pushed off of my knuckles and through my skin. Theoretically. With enough pressure it will either come through my skin or shift to another part of my hand that frees my claws. If that’s the case, then I can just cut my hand open and remove the metal from its new position. If it’s the case of the first, then I’ll just have to grit my teeth and work through the pain.

I try to draw my claws again- but receive the same result. If I push hard enough- maybe I can get the plates to push through my skin and out onto the floor. It will hurt like fuck- but it will undo the results.

My knuckles are already weakened from the original surgery. If you could call it that. It’s more like mutilation at this point. I can force the plates out of the stitches that remain. Stitches that no one’s checked on, might I add. Seems highly negligent of them really.

“What are you doing- bud?” Greg asks. “You’re hurting yourself.”

I push harder. My arms tense up, my claws move an inch- I see the plates pushing against my skin- against the stitches.

“Stop,” Horris says. “Stop now.”

I have to keep going.

This isn’t just for me anymore. It’s not about my freedom.

I have to keep Laura safe. I have to keep Johnny safe. I have to keep Gabby safe.

There’s too much on the line.

I’m exerting so much energy that my arms are shaking. The pain is hot and very real.

I groan and keep pushing, falling to my knees in pain. My knuckles start to bleed- I can see a small hint of metal through it and-

“Holy fuck!” Greg says. “Holy fuck- stop! Stop!”

I look up to see only two men standing there. The third- who’s been mostly silent- has run off.

I push even harder. I feel my skin starting to rip, I see more of that metal- that sweet metallic glint. It hurts like hell. But with the claws pushing the metal- there’s no other direction it can go. My claws are a good length. There’s a lot to push out. The metal can’t be that thick. It has to come out if it’s pressed against.

I’m not sure who designed these but this seems like a design flaw.

That or they didn’t think I’d be willing to hurt myself to the point of ripping them out.

There’s a chance that with this metal being kept in mind, my healing factor won’t fix the damage. I could bleed out. It’s a chance I’m going to have to take. I mean besides, if I’m dead Romulus still gets his way. That’s all he really wants anyway.

“Listen to me,” Horris says. “You need to stop. You’re going to hurt yourself. You are hurting yourself. This isn’t worth it. Think of the trouble you’ll be in. You don’t want to be in this much trouble. You want to be safe. Let’s be safe- okay? You don’t need your claws. We’re not threatening you. There’s no need for you to attack.”

I push one last time, screaming as the metal is pushed through my knuckles- shredding my hands in the process- and drops to the floor. My claws- free for the first time in two weeks- are a sight for sore eyes.

If only I wasn’t in so much... fucking.. pain.

The metal that was restraining the claws is a curved band- meant to slip right over them but not restrained to anything. I should have tried pushing them out yesterday. It wasn’t necessarily that hard to do.

“Oh my god,” Horris says. “He just... pushed them out. He’s got...” He backs up. “He’s got knives- in his fucking hands.”

“I’ll take it from here gentlemen.” A new voice says, startling them.

I look up to see the.. tiniest woman. So tiny. Pocket-sized. I could pick her up and move her with barely any effort. She’s got to be just barely pushing 5 feet. Thin in a model sort of thin way. But she’s got this stern look on her face that makes me think she’s not to be taken lightly.

“You’ve broken our safety devices.” She says. “And yourself in the process.” She goes to move past the men, but Horris grabs her shoulder.

“Claws.” He says stupidly. “Stay back.”

“He’s not going to hurt me.” She says. “He’s hurt himself far too gravely.”

I do.. feel hurt. The wounds were caused by this metal... they won’t heal as fast as they usually do.

She crouches down in front of me, picking up one of the bloody plates. “Withdraw your claws,” she says, not looking at me.

“No.”

She glances up, vivid green eyes shining. “Withdraw your claws.” She says.

I shake my head.

“You’re in pain.” She nods to my hands. “Withdraw your claws and we’ll help you.”

“You won’t help me.” I snarl. “You’ll contain me.”

“Right.” She nods. “We will. And you’ll help us do so. You’re hurting. You want the pain to stop.”

I try to get to my feet, but something holds me in my spot.

“Withdraw your claws.” Her voice has this... odd ring to it. Like something I’ve heard before. Like someone I’ve heard before. “You’re hurt. You want the pain to stop.”

I do. I want it more than I did a few moments ago.

“I..” I shake my head. “I-“

“Withdraw your claws.” She repeats. There’s some kind of magnetic pull to her eyes. Her face. She’s so beautiful. She’s so... alluring. Her voice, her eyes, her features- like a mythical creature. A sprite or something. A goddess even. Her black hair pools around her shoulders, shiny, curls lingering at the ends, and framing her heart-shaped face perfectly. She’s so... beautiful. “Thank you.” She smiles and it’s like watching the dawn break. “Please keep them contained.”

I realize she’s praising me because I’ve obeyed her. I can’t seem to figure out why I’ve done this, however.

“Stay down.” She picks the other band off the floor. “Medical is on its way.”

“How did you know to call them?” Greg asks.

“Bob told me.” She says.

“When?”

Sylvia turns around and points to her temple.

The two men nod in understanding.

I’m not sure what that meant but.... I don’t care.

“You’re worried about your sister.” She says to me. “That’s a noble thing to worry about. What if I told you that she was jusssst fine?” Her voice has this... odd quality to it. Calming. I feel my muscles relaxing and don’t have enough spare energy to think twice about it. “And that she’s waiting for you on the other side of the hospital?”

I think she wants me to respond. But... I can’t form words

“She’s waiting for you and everything is going to be juuuussst fine.” Her s’s have a hiss to them. But it’s still soothing.

“You’re bleeding.” She says. “Give me your hands.” I do so without a second thought. “Good.” She praises. “Let’s stand up.” Following her orders seems to come second nature to me. “Good.” She praises again. “Walk with me.” It’s hard to move through this pain- but I want to. we move past the men, who stare openly at the woman. “Good.” She repeats.

“This is fucking scary.” Horris whispers.

“Don’t ruin it, man,” Greg says.

Ruin what?

“Now stop.” She says when we’re in the outside hallway. “You’re not dressed.” She says.

What?

“You ran off in a gown from the infirmary. We’d get you more clothes... but you’ll be undergoing surgery soon.”

Surgery?

That alarms me but-

“Shh.. we’ll see your sister first.” She says. “She’s waiting on the other side of the hospital. Everything is jusssssst fine.”

We’re quiet for a second.

“Don’t you feel foolish for running off like that?” The woman asks.

Foolish?

Maybe.

I think...

“Yes. You do.” She says. “You’ll behave better from now on- won’t you?”

I think...

“Yes. You will.” She says. “But first we’ll talk to your sister.” She says. “She’s waiting on the other side of the hospital. Everything is jusssssst fine.”

“Fine,” I repeat.

She smiles. “Yes. Jusssst fine.”

My senses are dulling. I barely recognize where I am.

“Here comes our friends.” She says after a few minutes. “They’re going to take care of your hands... stop the bleeding and get you ready for surgery.”

This is the second time she’s mentioned surgery.

Should I be worried?

“Everything is jussssst fine.” She says, making me forget about what I was worried about.

Our friends are a group of three people. Two men and Smith.

“Sylvia.” Smith greets. “Are things underhand?”

The woman nods. “Everything is jussssst fine.”

The three doctors have a cart with them. Cart? Gurney? Whatever it is, it doesn’t look comfortable.
“He’s bleeding pretty profusely,” Smith says.

“He is.” Sylvia agrees. “But everything is fine.”

Everything is fine.

She says it so it must be true.

Sylvia takes my hand and leads me to the cart. “We’re going to lay up here now.” She says. “Because we don’t want to get blood all over the floor of the hospital and you’re in far too much pain to move by yourself.”

I have to agree.

“Gentlemen,” she addresses the men. “Help him, if you will.”

She lets go of my hand and I feel a little less than fine.

“Shh.” She shushes from the sidelines as they help/force me onto the cart. “We’re going to see your sister. She’s waiting on the other side of the hospital. Everything is jusssst fine.”

“Blood everywhere.” One of the men- I can’t discern their faces or even who’s talking- says.

“Get him prepped for surgery. ASAP.” Sylvia says.

“My sis-“

“Is waiting for you on the other side of the hospital. Everything is jusssssst fine.” She assures. “Dr. Smith- large doses of anesthesia and immediate medical action if you will.”

“Of course,” Smith says pleasantly. “Restrain his legs and arms- at the bicep please- his hands are in far too much pain,” Smith says. It takes a moment to register who she’s talking to.

“Don’t- don’t restrain me,” I say sluggishly.

“Shush,” Sylvia says. “Shush now.” She lays the metal plates beside me. “I hope they have another means of containment in mind.”

“Well... if this failed they were going to remove them entirely...”

“Remove them entirely? Permanently mutilating him?”

“Heavens no.” Smith gasps. “It’s temporary. Logan assures that the claws will grow back. He’s had some of them removed before.”

“No-“

“Shh.” Both of them say.

“Next option,” Sylvia says.

“There’s another version of the plates we could try. They’d have to be screwed into his bones.... and it’s going to be painful-“

“But less emotionally damaging,” Sylvia says. “Do that one.”

“It’s going to hurt-“

“He’s a big boy.” She says. “Look what he’s done already. Screw those plates in tight. If I hadn’t been here we’d be short three fewer security officers.”

“I understand,” Smith says. “I do.”

“Good.” Sylvia reaches over and takes my bloody hand again. “You’re going to go peacefully.”

I nod.

“Good.” She repeats. “And you’ll behave, won’t you.”

I nod again.

“Of course you will.” She pulls her hand away and looks at me with an expression I can’t quite read. “He went under so easily.” She mutters. “If I’d pushed my hold could have been absolute.”

“But you showed excellent restraint,” Smith says happily. “And you’ve deescalated a problem that could have easily cost lives.”

“Yes...” she says unsurely.

“You restraint is to be admired.” Smith comes to the head of the cart. “Do you think you could help out just a little more or do you need a cool down period?”

“I can accompany you to the surgical unit,” Sylvia says. “Keep him under long enough for you to prep him.”

These words don’t make sense to me. What are they talking about?

Where are we going?

Why am I on this cart?

Why am I so... complacent?

I was fighting before. What was I fighting about? It was something important. It was something crucial. Life-saving.

“Prep-“

“Shh.” She soothes. “Shh now. We’re going to go the other side of the hospital. All the way to the very, very, end.”

“Why?”

“You’re bleeding.” She says. “And you hurt. You hurt very badly and you want us to help you.”

She’s right- I do hurt. And I do want them to help me.

Didn’t she say something about Laura? What was that?

“Laura-“

“Oh,” Sylvia says in a slightly different tone. “Still on that...” She mumbles. “Your sister is going to meet us after the surgery.” She says, voice regaining its hypnotic qualities. “All the way at the other end of the hospital. To the very, very, end.”

Oh.

That.. makes sense.

The surgery is probably pretty important.

“Oh.”

“That’s right.” We start moving. “We’re going to have a nice peaceful walk.”

“Yes,” Smith says. “Nice and peaceful.”

“And quiet,” Sylvia says again.

I nod, not sure if that’s what she wants me to do- but it feels right.

“You felt foolish running off- didn’t you?” Sylvia says.

I’m pretty sure she’s already said this- but I’m having a hard time remembering where this conversation started and the moments that led up to it. My hands are bleeding and in pain, I’m out of the infirmary, and Laura is nowhere to be seen.

She’s here... I guess. I mean I think she is. I have a strong suspicion she is. But I’ve got to wait to see her. Until after the surgery.

“What surgery am I having?” I ask, sounding far more tired than I’d like to.

“You broke your hands,” Sylvia says. “Doing things you shouldn’t have.”

“Oh.”

“Those were foolish things to do.” She continues. “Do you feel foolish?”

I feel... something. I don’t know what it is.

“Yes, you do.” She answers for me. “Hurting yourself like that for the sake of misbehaving.”

“I’m sorry.”

Both of the women go quiet.

“Sylvia is that-“

“No.” She shushes the doctor. “What are you sorry for?”

“Misbehaving,” I mumble, looking up at the tiles on the ceiling. My vision is spotting.

“That’s alright,” Sylvia says. “You were scared. You do a great many foolish things out of fear.”

I close my eyes.

“Did you make him say that?” Smith whispers.

“No.”

“Did you over exert yourself?”

“No.” She mutters. “He must be susceptible to .. ya know.”

“I see.” Smith leans low as we keep moving. “Daken, do you remember what you were doing ten minutes ago?”

“No.”

“Do you remember what you were doing an hour ago?”

“Faintly.”

“Are you being honest?”

“Yes.”

“I see.” Smith goes quiet again. “Sylvia I think you’ve just become a major tool in our bag of tricks in dealing with him.”

“Oh?”

We stop moving.

“We can’t get him to be honest. Or express guilt or remorse. Not on his own.”

“And you want me to..”

“I mean, yes,” Smith says. “For short periods of time. Just long enough for them to get answers. I’ll tell Gabriella about it- but the results are speaking volumes for themselves.”

Results?

This is another part of the conversation that I’m lost at.

I’m not... mad about it though. I don’t feel like I should be.

“If she approves then I am at your service.”

I can’t see what’s going on. My hands are a bloody mess and hurt more than I care to mention.

Her words are like honey to my mind. Smooth, solid, sweet, sticky and thick dripping through my thoughts.

“We’re at the very end of the hospital,” Sylvia says to me. “And it’s time to go in the surgical unit.”

Weren’t we supposed to do something else first?

“And everything is jussssst fine.” She says, putting her fingers on my forehead. “Just finnne.” She whispers. “You’re going to go with Dr. Smith and her team and behave- aren’t you?”

I nod.

“Of course you are.” She smiles. “And you’ll do everything they tell you.”

I nod again.

“Of course you will.” She removes her hand from my forehead and reaches down beside me- picking up the plates. “These are interesting.” She says. “If they’re not in use for the next surgical procedure, I’d like to examine them further.”

“Of course,” Smith says. “I’ll save them for you.”

We start to move again, going through large metal doors into something that looks like it’s been stolen from a horror movie.

Green lighting bounces off several large slats of metal, surrounded by IV towers and trays of instruments. The tables are lined up in a row, easily set up so whoever is doing the operating is towering above whoever is being operated on.

“No.” I shake my head, feeling some clarity. “No- I don’t want this.”

“Shh... it’s just scary.” Smith soothes, leaving my cart and going to the side of the room, changing into some scrubs and pulling her hair back. I miss her old clothes. I barely caught a glimpse of her skin- I would have liked to see more of it. “My team is going to come in now.” She says. “Not to alarm you, but their attire when they’re all suited up from the get-go is a little unnerving. But you are safe. You are sound.” She leans over me. “You have lost a lot of blood.”

I don’t know if I’m supposed to agree with her not.

“It’s time for your anesthesia.” She says. “Don’t worry, we’ve got a very high dose for you.” The cart is rolled over to one the tables closest to the wall. A table beside it still has blood covering its metal surface. “Kidney transplant.” She nods to it. “Nothing to worry about. It just hasn’t been cleaned up yet.”

Men and women come into the room in full surgical gear. Or at least- I assume they do. I’ve never had any real surgeries before this time in my life. I’ve never needed to. All I can see are their eyes. Eyes that look somewhat cold.

“No.” I shake my head trying to clear it. “No- I don’t want this.”

“Shh.” She soothes. “Shh now. It’s okay. My team’s scared you. They are quite imposing.” She pulls a mask up herself, covering her face, before pulling a cap over her hair. “You’ll not feel a thing.” She promises.

“No-“

They’re undoing the restraints that hold me to the cart.

“I don’t want this,” I repeat. “I don’t want any of this.”

“Of course you do.” She soothes. “You’re hurt. You want us to help you.”

“Not like this.” I try to track the people over me. It’s harder than it looks. They all look the same.

“Of course like this.” She says. “What other option did you think you had?”

“Not this,” I say quickly. “No. No. Not this.”

“This is fine.” She soothes. “Please fetch the new plates.”

“The-“

“The one with the screws.”

“Screws??”

“It’s going to hurt.” She soothes again. “But not right now. It will hurt later. You’ll be heavily medicated.

“I want to talk to someone.” I try to keep my mind sharp. Something is wrong. I’ve been tricked in some fashion. Why am I not being released? Why am I in an operating room?

“You’re talking to me,” Smith says. “And I am listening. I’m listening to your every fear, worry, and complaint. And assure you that it’s all fine.”

“It’s not fine,” I argue. “I don’t know how I got here. I don’t remember coming here. I don’t want to be here. I-“

“You’re here because I brought you. You removed your security devices and now we have to go to more extreme measures to contain you.”

“Who was that woman?? What did she do to me??”

“She... persuaded you to cooperate.” Smith does something over my head, a slight tugging at my scalp. “We should tie this back.” She says, pulling my hair up.

“Leave me alone,” I growl.

“Claire get me a hair tie,” Smith says.

This isn’t necessary.

I close my eyes and wait while she pulls my hair into something she can tie up. “This needs to be washed.” She says. “Are you washing your hair?”

“I had a shower yesterday,” I growl.

“Wash your hair more thoroughly, please.” She says. “Hygiene is important. Things like lice can spread quickly here. I’m sure you don’t want that.”

Lice?

Seems like something they should check for.

“Lice has nothing to do with hygiene.” I watch as she motions for two men to come to the table/cart.

“Lift him.” She orders. “Gently. And get me the breathing mask.”

“Breathing mask?? Why do I need a breathing mask?”

“To inhale the anesthesia.” She says simply.

The two men lift me and drop me on to the table.

“I want to talk to someone,” I repeat, watching them pull out several sharp instruments. “Please,” I add, trying to ... soften their reactions to me. I’m fine with pain- yes. But I don’t want to be tortured. And I’m, and it kills me to say it, scared.

“You’re talking to me,” Smith says. “Keep talking to me. Focus on me, in fact.”

“I’m sorry.” I try.

“I’m sure you are.” She says. “But you tried to attack our security officers.”

“I-“ I swallow. “I didn’t mean it. I have to leave- you know I have to leave. I’m just...” They move a tray close to my head. “I’m trying to do the right thing!”

“Shush now,” Smith says. “All is well.” She pulls over a machine equipped with a tube attached to a mask.

“Let me go,” I say.

“Let you go? No.” She says flatly. “Not until we can assure the safety of you and everyone around you.”

“I’m not going to hurt anyone!”

“Sure you are.” She soothes. “You don’t know any better.”

A man comes and starts to prod and my arms, slowly moving down towards my hands.

“STOP!” I realize is this moment that they haven’t restrained me yet. I guess they think I’m still too mind fucked.

I draw my claws- as painful as it is- and stab through his hand, pulling myself off the table and running.

“GET HIM!” The man I stabbed yells.

I’m swarmed instantly before I can take another step.

“THIS IS WHY I DON’T WORK WITH MUTANTS!” The man continues yelling- his voice is deep.

Someone on my right pulls my arm, by the wrist, out to the side- away from them, me, and everybody else around me. I can stab nothing. When I go to lash out with my other hand- it’s grabbed and stretched out as well. A total of four people are holding me, putting as much strain on my arms and shoulders as they can.

“Let me go!” I cry. “I’m trying to save people!!”

Smith walks in front of me, pulling down her mask. “You are incredible - do you know that?”

“Let me go,” I growl. “Let me go!”

“You claim innocence even after you’ve threatened a group of people and then physically attacked another. You pretend that you’re doing the right thing. No- not pretend. You honestly THINK you’re doing the right thing. Daken- you are not right. You have been told several times- several, several times. You are wrong. ”

I try to pull against the people holding me, but I don’t budge.

“I’m not wrong!” I snarl. “I’m right! I’ve been right the entire time! I did NOTHING. I am being punished for NOTHING.”

She looks me over for a second. “You’re deluded.” She says finally.

“I’m not-“

“You are.” She cuts me off. “And that’s okay.” She nods when she says this. “It’s okay to be sick. It is. No one is punishing you because you’re sick. We’re punishing you because you refuse to admit that you’re sick. And it’s not even really punishments. It’s things we’re doing to try and show you that you are not in the right. You’re wrong. You’ve been wrong. Until you admit that there is a problem- you will continue to be wrong.”

“There is nothing wrong with me!”

She shakes her head. “I know this is hard on you.” She says. “I know. It has to be. However, your treatment is completely dependent on your behavior. You’ve misbehaved. You are now to be treated accordingly. And whenever we go to correct you for your misbehavior, you completely lose your mind. You refuse to accept guilt. You refuse to accept blame. You refuse to accept responsibility... does that not bother you? We’re staring you in the face- eye to eye- and telling you that something is wrong. That your actions are wrong. That your thought processes are wrong. Instead of trying to change that- instead of trying to work with us to become whole- you’re fighting the entire process. Every single step of the way.... you fight when you wake up. you fight when you go to sleep. You fight when we medicate you, you fight when we bathe you, you even fought over something as little as changing your clothes. Daken-“ she looks at me with a look of concern, “can you honestly stand there and tell me that you don’t see a problem?”

“There is no problem,” I growl.

“There is a problem.” She argues. “A major problem. All you had to do was eat your breakfast and stay in your bed.” She says. “That was it. Now, now we have to be hard on you.” She shakes her head. “And I don’t want to. The damage we can deal when we have to takes days to recover from. Weeks even. We could leave you a babbling mess.” She pats my cheek. “But we’re going to give you an option.”

“Fuck you.” I struggle as hard as I can- but there’s no point in it.

“You’re bleeding all over the floor. And my staff. Be still.”

“Fuck. You.” I spit in her face, causing her to jerk back.

“I will not tolerate being spat at.” She wipes her face and takes a step forward. “You will undergo this procedure. We will take screws, three inches in length, and screw them through the metal and into your bones. And it will hurt. And it will be uncomfortable. And you’ll not be able to use your hands for at least two weeks- even with your healing speeds. That’s two weeks of us having to do everything for you. And honestly,” she watches me carefully, “honestly, I think it will do wonders for your issues with control.” She inhales and then adds, “I’m sorry if this scares you. But you knew there would be consequences for your actions. You knew and you did them anyway. What happens now is completely, full heartedly, on you.”

“Let me go.” I shake my head. “Let me go.”

“You’re upset.” She nods. “It’s okay. We’ll put you under shortly.” She turns to the men and women holding me. “Hold him tightly, please.”

Hold me-

“This is going to hurt.” She moves to my right hand, slowly proceeding to prod at my knuckles.

The pain is red and hot.
My breath catches in my throat.

“Easy.” She soothes. “Breathe.” She sticks one of her gloved fingers inside the wound. “Right down to the bone.” She says, withdrawing her finger.

I keep myself steady, glaring at her.

“That’s a pretty face.” She says teasingly. “Let me check the other-“ She stops. “Hold him tightly.” She repeats. As she moves her hand towards mine- I try to extend my claws- they are sluggish in their release, however, and she easily avoids them. “Look at this blood.” She says, shaking her head. “The bands around your wrists stayed in place.... we’ll probably take them out too.. just to be safe.”

She leaves my hand and comes back in front of me. “You’ve once again made a mess for yourself. And you’re in a lot of trouble. However,” She smiles. “I’m going to give you an option. An out, if you will.”

“An out?”

She nods.

“You’re going to cooperate with us. Willingly. Go to the table, let us put you under, behave rationally when you wake regardless of where you happen to be housed, and let the nurses and staff handle you in the ways you’re going to need to be handled.” She smiles. “And I’ll let you see your sister. I’ll bring her to you personally. You can see that she’s safe for yourself. You can give her whatever dire warning you need to give her to her face. In real time.”

I.... like that option.

“The other option is that you continue your current path, making the process that much harder on yourself, and wake up in an unfavorable situation where you will not be allowed to see your sister or anyone else for the entirety on your recovery. The only stimulation you will receive will be from the doctors and the nursing staff. There will be no entertainment. There will be no casual conversations. You will be in a place where they are solely focused on your health and nothing else. They won’t make chit chat, they won’t give you a phone, and they won’t let you do anything remotely entertaining. Got it?”

Fuck.

I strain against the people one last time.

This is pointless. I’m going to have to behave. At least for now.

There’s no denying that I fucked today up. It was handled poorly from the get-go. I should have put more thought into my escape. I should have planned it out better. They were going to leave me unrestrained. I didn’t have to run away in that very minute.

Stupid.

That’s what today boils down to- I was stupid.

“Which option do you want to take?”

“I.... will go with you.” It’s like pulling teeth.

“Good.” She praises. “We’ll let you go and you’ll walk yourself to the operation table. Willingly.”

This.. is painful. I don’t want to do this... but I need to talk to Laura. I need to tell her to be safe. I need to warn her in the fastest way possible. In a way that lets her know how serious it is.

“Go to the table- willingly. Let us put you under- willingly. And when you wake up- behave.”

They let me go, hovering over my hands which have dripped blood down my arms and to the floor, coating my sides and legs in the process.

“Easy.” She soothes, sounding much softer than before. “Take it easy. You’re not far from the table. Take a few steps.”

It’s weighing down on me.

I am in control. I have the control. They have nothing on me. I am not wrong. I am-

“That’s it.” She praises.

I’m... moving.

My brain’s been mind fucked. My body’s been torn apart. My pride has taken major hits... there is no winning. There is no way to win.

I’ve... lost.

“Let me help you.” She soothes, helping me up onto the table. “There.” She smiles. “All is well.”

I’m nervous and it must show. “Whatever you’re thinking- stop.” The man I stabbed growls.

“Mask,” Smith says.

The man gives it to her.

“I’m going to need you not to fight this.” She says. “We’ll make good and sure you’re under. You won’t feel a thing.”

“I’m not wrong,” I say quietly.

She places the mask over my face.

“Laura is in danger.”

“Inhale.” Smith orders.

“Laura is in-“

“Inhale.” She repeats.

“This isn’t what I want.” I get a mouth full of gas for trying to talk.

“This is what you’re going to get,” Smith says. “And you’ll get more of the same if your behavior doesn’t improve.

“I don’t want this.” I try again.

“Shh.” She presses more securely on the mask. “Shush now.”

Laura is in danger. All I wanted to do was save her. That was the whole reason I started this. That was the entire reason this happened.

My vision starts to get spotty.

“Very good.” She praises. “Very, very, good. You’re behaving wonderfully. Don’t fight it. Just relax.”

My eyes close, blocking out the lights of the room and the faces of the people around me.

“Bring me the plates.” She says to someone else. “And get me a
sponge. There’s so much blood that I can’t see what I’m doing.”

I’d like to say something... but I can’t, so I just let it go.