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He doesn't go out much these days; he's been confined to the secret base if not for the missions where he's tasked to destroy and subjugate a nameless enemy.  Patiently and silently he waits for any hope of a cure. This is reversible, he says to himself.  He tries and reminds himself everyday but it's slowly becoming a faint whisper in his thoughts.


He used to rage about leaving and the unfairness of what happened to him (to them) but he figured that it's better to hone that rage into efficiency.  He knows how to inflict enough force that could crush metal and yet still leave the targets alive. His movements are measured and thought out.  Practicality in motion.


(In any other time, he'd say it's muscle memory.  But isn't that a little ironic for someone who's not, in any known way, organic?)


He knows how to be useful after all.  He knows his way around people and tools.  Once, he fancied himself a protector of sorts.  [He knows how it is to be beaten down and he doesn't want it for anyone else.]


But now, now he's a weapon.  And for what?


For a cure.


For science.


For a government that sees a weapon they can manipulate and use to the fullest.


Where else can he go?


He's not exactly human-looking at the moment.  He can't go out and walk up to a bar and have a drink.  He can't go home.  He can't enjoy life without the fear and ridicule that would certainly hit him in the face.


He's supposed to be at the crest of his young life with opportunities before him.  There was a shelf with college applications back in his room at home.  It's not a college like Reed's, but he wants, scratch that, he wanted to get a college degree too.  Engineering and Applied Sciences.  It was time for him to take a leap and chase his dreams.  To take a chance.


[But he's hidden in a military base, no interaction except for scientists who want to poke and prod him, military objectives given and expected to be fulfilled, and two other strangers who had the misfortune to be caught in the accident with him.  There was a third but.]


-


They tried hitting him with a special missile today.  The debriefing informed him that it would have leveled a city.  He hadn't felt anything when it exploded on him.  There was light and a giant vacuum of sound.  When he blinked, the ground was black and burnt to a crisp.  He hadn't even felt a tickle.


Alone in his designated room, he closes his eyes and tries to dream.  He doesn't look forward (his aspirations are a moot point with his current predicament).  He looks back to when he was encased in flesh and bone; he was far from invincible (fights with his brother could attest to that) but at least he could feel something.


He could be just Ben Grimm and not the monster that he is now.


-


Once he was a man.


Now he is something else.


He is a rock.  A living rock made from the same particles they brought back that first night in Reed's garage.


And there's nothing but a pale fracture of lines where his heart should be.