Erik raised both his hands. The doors, huge, massive, bulkhead doors, groaned for a second, before they gave in to his powers. He pushed them aside just far enough for them to walk through. He could have just ripped them out, had they not have a reason to remain somewhat quiet. Just because all the cameras were disabled didn’t mean every soldier inside the base had gone deaf.
”He should be coming soon,” Erik murmured. Behind them, the doors slid shut again as if nothing had happened.
”I know.” Logan sounded tense. They stepped into the shadow of some recess. There was a door there, leading into a small room. Erik fused the lock so they wouldn’t be surprised from behind.
Logan leaned against the wall opposite to Erik, taking deep breaths. He was nervous, showing some of the ticks Erik had learned to recognize with him. One of the things was how he’d pull his shoulders back, subtly, making himself always poised to strike at a second’s notice. “We’ll get this over with,”Erik whispered, hoping to reassure them both.
Logan just snorted. “Sure we will.”
Erik put his hand on the wall behind him, high enough up for Logan to see. “I can bring the whole base down if need be. Leave nothing standing but us.”
He could see Logan’s chest heave with a suppressed sigh. “I just…” He shook his head, listened for a moment. “For once, in my life, I’m worried.”
”About what?” Erik raised an eyebrow. “There’s nothing, I refuse to believe there’s anything in the world the two of us couldn’t manage.” He closed his eyes for a moment. Nobody nearby, nobody he could feel. “We’re going to be alright. We will survive this, no matter what.”
”Erik…” Logan shook his head. “Just… promise me you’ll watch out for yourself, too.”
Erik shrugged. “Promise. I don’t intend to get myself hurt here.”
Logan pulled a face.
”I’m serious, Erik. Please.” Logan’s entire body hardened. “I… care about you. And I don’t… this is not… all I want is to know Stryker is no danger to others like me. Not…”
Erik blinked, trying to file the first part away while Logan was talking on about fear, anger, revenge. “Logan. I wouldn’t judge you. Stryker’s not the first monster I’ll have slain.
Logan looked unconvinced. He seemed intent on saying something, but then just shook his head. “Whatever, Erik.”
Erik reached out, meaning to grab Logan’s upper arm but changing his mind at the last moment, pulling himself close to Logan by the front of his shirt. “The sentiment is mutual, just so you know.” For just a moment, Erik could feel Logan’s arms around his waist. Then, they both stepped back again, almost simultaneously.
Logan made sure Erik was looking at him then raised his left fist to signal him to freeze. Then, slowly, he put his left hand on his right arm, slightly above the wrist, encircling it with a finger and his thumb. Enemy. Erik responded by signaling gun. He could feel them too.
It irked Erik how well he could feel them, in fact. They were all wearing full body armor, making it all too easy for Erik to just grab them and throw them against the nearest wall if he so decided. He could crush their bodies like an empty can. It wasn’t how he’d expected it to be. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. Stryker must know Logan was coming for him. They had triggered an alarm earlier, semi on purpose. And yet…
They waited until the group had almost reached them. Erik waited for Logan to signal for attack before he reached out. He grabbed the soldiers by their armor the moment Logan stepped around the corner, claws extending as he moved. His powers wrapped around the mesh of steel in the vests, the plates in their leg guards. He just pushed the vests in, pressing against their rib cages until he could feel the bones give way. It only took seconds. He then just pushed the bodies down the hall, as far as he could, getting them out of Logan’s way.
He heard the shot before he even felt the bullet. For a long, aching moment, he tried to get his powers on it, to stop or slow it before it hit. He couldn’t feel it hitting Logan, not really, not until it hit his spine dead on and exploded into shrapnel. He could feel Logan stagger, one step forward and then two back before he fell down to his knees, hands raised to his throat to stop the blood. Erik closed his eyes, unwilling to see what he could feel, not ready to step around the corner just yet.
Erik took a few deep breaths. Calming himself. Panic had no place in the situation. He could feel Logan breathe. It wasn’t as bad as it could be. He could handle it himself. Erik opened his eyes again. Stepped out of the alcove.
It was all too easy to pick Stryker up. To hold him in place. There was metal all over his body. He hadn't been prepared to meet Erik. He hadn't been prepared to meet anyone but Logan. Charles, Storm. Anyone who cared about Logan. All those Stryker seemed to not have considered for a second.
Anger burnt up until it went cold. Precise.
For a moment, Erik just looked at Stryker, struggling in his grip. Erik just shook his head. There was no point talking to the man. There was no point listening, either. With his powers, Erik lifted the gun Stryker had used to shoot Logan. In front of the eyes of Stryker, he let the metal of the gun flow out of the plastic parts, collecting just a hand’s breadth above in a shiny, black ball. The plastic hit the ground, the noise echoing through the hall. Neither Erik nor Stryker reacted to the noise. Instead, both had their eyes fixed on the metal sphere.
To Stryker’s rising panic, Erik reshaped the sphere, letting a thin, short blade grow out of it, then another until he had used up about half the sphere, the newly made blades orbiting it like tiny moons. The rest, he quickly reshaped into a bit gag, shoving it into Stryker’s mouth quickly and without any care. He just wanted to shut Stryker up. Behind Stryker’s head, the gag fused shut.
”I won’t pretend I can actively remember how this’ll feel for you,” Erik said, slowly, pronouncing each syllable so Stryker understood him. “But I do remember what neither of us wants you to swallow your tongue from screaming. And frankly, I don’t care how much you scream. Nor how you plea. Did anyone ever sway you with pleas to stop?” Erik rolled his eyes when Stryker tried to protest, tried to fight the gag. It tightened around Stryker’s head, digging into the corners of his mouth.
So slow that Erik could watch Stryker follow it with his eyes, one of the blades broke formation. Erik let it fly up to Stryker’s face, watched him go cross eyed when it floated directly in front of his nose, watched the horror in his widening eyes as it brushed over his right ear with its flat side. Then, lightning fast, it zipped down to Stryker’s arm, cutting through his jacket and shirt, leaving a long, flat cut on the up side of his lower arm.
Stryker screamed into the gag, his eyes wide even than before.
”Maybe we should get rid of those clothes, so I can see what I’m doing,” Erik mused. He thought about it for a moment and then deliberately pulled a face. “Or better not, I think. You did let yourself go in the past years. So, just the sleeves, I’d say.”
One more of the blades flew out of their formation, positioning itself at Stryker’s left wrist while the already bloody one waited at the right. Slowly, with care to just graze the skin beneath the fabric, Erik let the blades cut up, in a straight line, from the wrists up to the shoulders and then around once so the cut off sleeves of Stryker’s shirt and jacket fell to the ground.
The blades returned to the other three and reassumed their place in the small swarm.
”What, oh what, should I do with you?” Erik sighed. There was fight left in Stryker’s eyes, a challenge, maybe even a dare. Almost like he thought Erik would back down, would find regret or remorse for what he was doing, stop. It made Erik’s mouth twitch with grim humor.
He picked one of the blades and let it fly over to Stryker’s face, like before, stopping it just so Stryker had to make an effort to see it still. "Back when I was young, somebody quite like you... he liked to use needles in situations like this one.” Slowly, one by one, needles broke off from the blade until it had turned into nothing but. “He wanted to find out what hurt. And what didn't.” One of the needles levitated down to Stryker’s arm. Stryker tried to struggle against Erik’s grip, to shield some, any part of his body from the needle he couldn’t see anymore. “The elbow, he found, wasn't very sensitive.” Patiently, Erik pushed the needle into the skin on Stryker’s elbow, waiting for a reaction. When it came, he twisted the needle slightly, making it stay buried in the skin. Erik smiled, mimicking the way he’d been smiled at himself. “That wasn’t all that bad now, was it? However…” Four of the remaining needles positioned themselves at Stryker’s mouth. “The lips, for instance, are." He pushed the needles in and through. Now, Stryker was screaming into the gag again, struggling with all his might to make himself hurt. Erik ignored it, instead making the needles vibrate, adding a dull pulse to what must be piercing pain.
”You know what else is sensitive?” Erik asked as he pulled the needles back out of Stryker’s now bleeding lips. Stryker looking at him with horror, his increasing struggle making it rather obvious of what body part he was thinking. Just to spite him, Erik forced Stryker’s legs further apart. Metal caps in shoes were so useful sometimes. “Not wrong, but no.” Erik wrinkled his nose. “I intend to make sure you won’t enjoy any of this.” The needle swarm split into two and moved on to Stryker’s ears, some of them vibrating so Stryker could hear them. “Did you know that the shell of your ear doesn’t have as much nerve ends as the lobe? Allow me to demonstrate.” A needle pushed into and through the shells of each of Stryker’s ears and then once more, like an simple impromptu piercing. Erik send some more to the lobes, the tips touching skin, although not yet breaching it. “Can you tell me how many needle tips you feel?”
Stryker was trying to say something, his throat was moving, but there wasn’t any word to make it out past the gag.
Mock sad, Erik shook his head. “The right answer would have been three on the left, five on the right.” One after another, slow and counting each one, Erik pushed the needles through the flesh. Stryker’s screams turned into broken noises. One or two sobs even.
Erik let go of the needles. They all stuck deep enough to stay as they were, only moving when Stryker was struggling, causing him to hurt himself from it. There were still four more blades at Erik’s disposal. He picked two of them when he was certain Stryker was watching him again, elongating them a bit more, until they looked like very sharp spikes. He measured one up against Stryker’s knee and adjusted the length so it would be just long enough to go all the way through. He could see Stryker biting down on the gag, a whimper escaping his throat. Still, Erik poised the spikes on the side of Stryker’s knees, pushing them in, quick this time, intend on crushing whatever bone would be in the way.
Stryker’s scream came out as a long gurgling noise.
The final two blades, Erik moved to Stryker’s hands. Stryker had closed his hands to fists, so hard his knuckles had turned white and his hands were shaking. It wasn’t something that could stop Erik, though. The blades lay parallel to the bottom phalanx for a moment, until they started to melt, metal seeping in the spaces between Stryker’s fingers, forming rings around each of them. Using those rings, Erik forced Stryker’s hands to open and spread the fingers, making them look like cramped claws for the moment it took him to extend the rings to encircle the knuckles of each finger, forcing them straight.
For a minute, Erik contented himself with watching Stryker struggle in vain. Then, starting from the smallest finger on his left hand, one by one, Erik let the rings shirk in on themselves, crushing the joint that was in the way.
When only three fingers were left unbroken, suddenly, a heavy hand landed on Erik’s shoulder. “That’s enough, Erik.” Logan pushed past him. He paused for just a second to look at Stryker. Then, in a quick, smooth motion, he rammed his claws, all six of them, in the man’s chest. “Enough,” he murmured, mainly to himself. “This is enough now.”
As Logan stepped back, not yet turning around, Erik let the dead body finally drop to the ground. He hadn’t noticed it, but he had been shaking himself. He closed his eyes, feebly attempting to center himself again. Temper his feelings.
From one moment to the next, Logan’s arms were around him, holding him close. Erik had just enough presence of mind to raise his hands so he could cling to Logan’s shirt while he waited for the tremors of his body to stop.
”It’s alright now,” Logan murmured, over and over again, until Erik nodded in the attempt to signal he understood. “It’s alright, you don’t have to be like him, it’s alright, horrible things happened and will happen but it doesn’t mean we have to be horrible, too.”
”I’m… no better… just like him,” Erik whispered back.
”You’re crying, Erik.”
”He almost killed you.” Erik’s grip tightened. “For a second, I thought you were…”
”He almost killed me twice,” Logan corrected. “Almost. Just almost.”
”Should have stopped the bullet, I tried, I just couldn’t.” Erik leaned more of his weight on Logan, trusting him to be held. Logan’s shirt was wet and sticky, the few of Erik’s tears on it not making any difference with all the blood that had flown down and tainted it. “You’ll have to throw that out,” Erik blabbed out the first thought he’d had. “Those stains will never come out.”
”It happens.” Logan shrugged. “Are you ready to leave this place? Because I sure as hell am.”
Erik nodded. “Blackbird’s waiting outside.”