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Welcome to Wherever You Are

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Alex wakes up to pain which, in and of itself, isn’t that unusual. But this pain is. An unfamiliar sharp burn in his chest to go with the familiar pulsing ache in his head that says ‘concussion’.

He doesn’t move, doesn’t even let his eyelids flicker as he tries to assess both his condition and his surroundings. Hard surface under him, some kind of low end cot, he thinks, and dim light burning into his brain even through his closed eyelids. The sound of someone else breathing nearby, steady but shallow. Footsteps somewhere in the distance, and a low murmur of voices. Subdued sounding, and too far away for him to make out the words. A sharp metallic noise that nearly startles him into motion, and echoes hollowly for three slow breaths before it fades away. Not the mansion infirmary. It sounds more like the concrete and steel of prison, and the thought makes him tense in a way that spikes pain through his chest and shoulder. He doesn’t move, though. Doesn’t gasp or sigh or do anything to give away that he’s awake now.

He doesn’t have a fucking clue where he is and, better still, he doesn’t remember how the fuck he got here either. Doesn’t remember anything after shushing Sean as he picked the lock on the warehouse door and then the three of them crept into the darkness beyond. Darkness that was supposed to hide...what had it been?

His thoughts are swimming in and out of focus, elusive as the fish one of his foster mothers used to keep in a small pond in the back yard. They’d drift there, suspended in the blue-green water, bright and enticing, until he moved that half step too close and they darted into the dimness beneath the lily pads. His head feels like the water looked then, murky and churning, with a fine layer of scum floating on the surface.

He’s almost decided to dare cracking one eye open when something - someone - shifts nearby, and a hand settles lightly on his side then works its way carefully up to his chest. The side that doesn’t hurt like burning, thank fuck. The breathing he’d noticed is closer now, he can feel soft exhalations brushing his cheek as whoever it is hovers over him.

“You’re awake.” The voice is quiet, slightly hoarse as if with disuse, and it’s a statement not a question. “I was starting to worry, you’ve been asleep so long.”

Alex can’t quite assign an age to the voice, other than he’d guarantee it’s a boy and not a man, and he turns his head almost infinitesimally towards it, though he doesn’t open his eyes yet.

“It’s okay, the guards won’t be back until the morning,” the voice continues, growing slightly less rusty. “I saved your share of dinner for you.” It sounds both forlorn and hopeful, and Alex finally slits his eyes open. He catches sight of a face hovering over him--young, dingy bandages wrapped over its eyes--before he squeezes them shut again with a quiet moan he can’t quite suppress.

“Are you okay?” The voice is sharp now, worried, and he reaches his own hand--oh good, he can move, he’d been almost afraid to try--up to touch the hand on his shoulder. It’s meant to be reassuring, because he’s not sure he can find his voice just yet, and the boy seems to take it that way. He turns his hand slightly and squeezes Alex’s fingers.

“Okay,” the voice--he says--accepting the gesture as the reassurance it was meant to be.

Alex knew the light was going to hurt, and he takes a few slow, steady breaths before he opens his eyes again. He squints against the glare, no matter how dim the light is, and draws another shaky, pained breath, but this time his eyes stay open.

The boy is ‘looking’ down at him, for some value of looking. One that doesn’t require he actually be able to see past the bandages that Alex now confirms are wrapped thickly over his eyes. Alex can see the concern etched on his face despite the way his eyes are covered, though, and he licks his lips--oh god, so fucking dry--and tries to decide if he can find his voice.

“Wh-” He starts, and has to stop and try again, as the boy cocks his head inquiringly at him and waits. “Where am I?” he finally manages to ask.

There's a long silence and Alex has to struggle to keep his eyes open as he waits for an answer. He's actually starting to think there won't be one and he starts to move his hand - and how had he not noticed he was still basically holding the kid's? - when the answer finally comes, along with a renewed grip on his fingers.

"This...it's a lab. I'm not sure where, none of us are. But it's on an island, we think." It's a whisper, almost as if the kid's ashamed to admit it, and Alex squeezes his hand slightly, reassuring. The admission, at least, brings more memories to light, drifting, lethargic and disjointed, from the jumble of his thoughts. It was what they were looking for. Or something like it. Rumor of a place where mutants were being rounded up and held, maybe experimented on. They hadn't expected to find the facility, but they'd been told they could find records, information that would lead them closer to their goal.

"...who?" he manages to rasp, voice coming out sandpaper rough, and he has to close his eyes finally or he's going to puke, and he doesn't want to think about how much that would hurt right now.

"Scott," is the immediate answer. It wasn't actually the question Alex had meant to ask, but it's useful information just the same. "We're not supposed to use names, but-" Alex can feel the shrug in the way the boy - Scott's - hand moves.

"Scott," he repeats, then swallows hard against the dryness of his mouth. He wants to lick his lips but he knows that will just make it worse. Feels like there's nothing he can do right now that won't make something worse. The burning ache in his chest, the throb in his head that's gone from dull to pulsating in the last few minutes, the rasping pain in his throat-

Scott moving, carefully extricating his fingers from Alex's, jerks him - almost literally and painfully - from his thoughts, and he curls his hand, suddenly cold, against his own chest, fingers pressing gingerly along the lines of pain, feeling the unfamiliar folds of what he realizes must be bandaging over broken ribs and, he thinks, burned flesh. He's startled yet again when Scott's touch returns, and this time he does jerk, the motion accompanied by a choked off cry of pain and a ragged moan, which is immediately followed by Scott's almost frantic apologies.

It takes a couple of minutes, longer than it should, for Alex to convince himself that he's not actually going to puke or pass out from the pain, but he finally manages to raise a hand and wave it vaguely in Scott's direction until he gets the idea and quiets again.

"'S'fine," he manages to choke out, even if it isn't. No reason to freak the kid out anymore than he already is, which would be sort of hilarious if he were coherent enough to really process. Because he's locked in a cell, in a lab and he's worried about not freaking out his cell-mate? He'll be up for plenty of freaking out of his own once he has the energy for it.

He's focusing on breathing--in and out, slow and steady and not too deep, because fuck do his ribs hurt--when Scott's hand settles delicately on his wrist. "I brought water."

That gets his attention again and then some, and Alex opens his eyes without really meaning to...and closes them immediately with another groan. Water sounds fucking amazing, though, and when Scott slides his hand behind Alex's head and urges him, gently and so very carefully, to lift it enough to drink he ignores the renewed swirl of nausea and levers himself up fractionally. Scott's fingers find his cheek and then his lips next, and Alex is slightly taken aback, wonders what the fuck the kid is doing, until he remembers the bandaging over his eyes and realizes Scott's just trying to find his mouth. The fingers pull away, then, and a moment later are replaced by...not glass, but the smooth metal neck of a canteen, he thinks, and he gulps greedily as it's tipped and tepid, metallic tasting water spills out.

He has so many more questions he needs to ask, now that the dry ache in his throat has eased somewhat. So much he needs to know. Unfortunately, his throat may have eased but his head's gotten worse and everything seems to be fading into a disjointed muddle, the sound of Scott saying something else registering as nothing more than so much noise as darkness takes him again.