A SHIELD medical wing is the last place you want to find yourself. If you are here- things have not gone well for you.
The reason that brought us all here- the reason that woke us from our beds in the middle of the night in cold ass December after three months of being on the edge of our seats- cannot be avoided.
The three of us, me, Sue, Madeline Drake- are the representatives to our boys. All of us having some unique role in their individual lives. The father, the mother, the sister- all these boys have left.
No- looking in that room- seeing them like that- they’re boys. Childlike. Hurting. Raw. Scared.
I’ve never seen Daken so scared. Not in front of me.
He has none of his masks. None of his measures of protection.
He just looked at me- no hissing, no spitting, no cringing- like he knew I would help. Like I was the only person who could trust with them. To keep them safe. He didn’t fight me. There was no malice in his stare. It’s like he was pleading with me to do what I do best. To help him.
I hope I honored that trust. I did my best.
Bobby’s completely out of it. They talk to him and talk to him and talk to him- it’s like they’re not even in the room.
Johnny’s hard to tell because every time I’ve seen him he’s been sedated or being prepped for surgery. He’s had like five of them. We’ve only been here for a day and half- well they have. Fury didn’t call us until all the info was settled in place and we knew the boys would live.
“Your debriefing packets,” Fury grumbles, passing one set out to each respective family unit.
I take mine first, followed by Sue, and then hesitantly joined by Mrs. Drake.
Flipping through to the first page- I have to fight the urge to close it in repulsion.
Sue makes a small noise- which is to be expected.
But Madeline? She down right loses it.
“This is your fault.” The small woman says, looking down at the packet.
“My fault?” I scoff.
“All of you x-men! If you hadn’t poisoned his head…..” she stands up and throws the packet at me.
“He was a little boy and you monsters got in his head and.. And.. brainwashed him!! No wonder this happened!! What they did to my son, to the child I brought into this world and raised- is evil. YOU are evil. This would have never happened if he was allowed to have a normal life!!! He’d be married! With children!! I’d have grandchildren coming over every other weekend, he’d have a good job, he’d have a decent house, a nice car, people who cared about him-”
“Bobby as a full mansion of people who care about him.” I growl. “He has students who would kill for him- who want to kill for him. He’s loved by more people than you can imagine and this is a tragedy to all of us. You wouldn’t even have found him if it wasn’t for us.”
She wipes her nose “I am taking what’s left of my son home with me.” She says, tears in her eyes. “Before you monster’s lose anymore bits of him. If you try to contact him- any of you- I will call the police. For the love of all that is holy- please- please leave him out of this mutant mess. He’s suffered enough for two lifetimes. As his mother- it is my job to see that it stops now before anything else happens.” She storms out of the room.
Fury sighs a long sigh. “It’s not wise to separate them when we don’t know the strength of their bond.” He says. “Whatever did or did not happen in that compound- it created a emotional, mental, and physical bond.”
“What are you saying?” Sue asks quietly.
Nick inhales. “I’m saying that they need each other. If Mrs. Drake removes Bobby from them- all three will suffer.” He rubs his eyes. “This the biggest shit show I’ve seen in awhile. A long while. I’ve got paperwork on top of paperwork. AND I’m having to work with fucking insurance agencies. ME. The head of SHIELD trying to talk to insurance companies to clear treatment for patients that actually need it. As if my word isn’t enough for them.” He grumbles.
“I can pay for Johnny’s expenses.” Sue says. “That’s not a problem.”
“Yea well you shouldn’t have to.” Nick grumbles. “Don’t worry- I’ll handle it.”
His face is pale and tired. Eyepatch looking blacker than usual in comparison and hair grayer than I’ve ever seen it.
“What’s the deal?” I ask. “What’s SHIELD doing to stop this?”
“We’re doing what we can.” He says. “So far all we can do is track down specialists to work on them… however.. They’re a little gun shy around doctors.” He sighs. “As in- we’ve had to sedate Daken so we could even approach Bobby and Johnny. And this bond- whatever the hell it is- WOKE him up because they were in so much distress. It overrode actual sedatives. That’s when we realized just how deep it went. Whatever they did to them- whatever has been done that we don’t know about- it’s been etched into their very psyches.”
“Chances of them flipping out?” I ask cooly.
“High. Very high. We’d prefer if they wore power inhibitors. Mrs. Drake already said that Bobby had to wear one. Never seen a woman more afraid of her child,” He says lowly.
“And… Johnny?” Sue speaks up.
“Johnny’s a special case,” Nick says, crossing his arms. “He’s burnt through everything we’ve put on him. Burns them out of his blood, too. I was hoping your husband had some … countermeasures.”
Sue inhales deeply. “I don’t like blocking his powers. They make him feel safe.”
“The nurses and doctors are having to wear firefighter gear just to take his vitals, ” He says. “I think for right now, you’re going to have to deal with it. The only people his powers to not effect are Bobby and Daken.”
“And like I said, Daken won’t let us near them. He seems to be the ‘protector’ of the group.” Nick holds up a bandaged hand. “And he takes his job very seriously.”
That makes me smirk.
Nick closes his eye(s) and tilts his head up. “This is a mess,” He says. “We need to make it unmessy.”
“Tell us what we need to know,” Sue says. “We’ll do our best.”
“Best might not be good enough,” Nick says before pointing to our packets. “What we knows in there. It’s a little graphic.”
I flip through the book in front of me. “Experimentation?” I ask.
“And flat out torture. Killing them, bringing them back, killing them again, deeply rooted psychological terror, making them think they were in horror movies, making them think they were in hell, drowned, burnt, frozen, impaled, torn apart by dogs-” he stops. “Logan there was no end to it. We’re still cleaning up pieces of the other victims. And Storm and Drake only survived because your boy went insane and killed everyone who was left in the compound. And then viciously attacked several of the rescue members. Took five men to hold him down so we could remove them. Five men to hold him down- and he was half dead. Imagine what would have happened if he was fully aware.”
“How’s his healing?” I ask.
“Slow. really, really slow. Tricky thing is- he’s healing slower, but Johnny and Bobby are healing a little faster . Like he’s sharing his ability with them.”
Can’t say that I’m not proud of him.
“You should talk to him, Logan. Get him to ease up.”
“Yea… don’t see that happening.”
He nods. “Sue- you should try talking to Johnny too. He seems the easiest to reason with. He got it less for some reason… but he broke faster.”
“He… Oh Johnny.” She puts her hand to her mouth.
“Shattered,” Nick says. “That’s what they put on his record. The other two are just protecting him. Could do with the fact that he’s the youngest.”
Johnny’s always been the youngest everywhere he goes.
I think he and Bobby are about two and half years apart. If that much.
“What will separating them do?” I ask.
“Madeline can’t remove Bobby,” Nick says after a moment of silence. “ It won’t be good for any of them….But, it is her right to. He is her son.”
Sue clears her throat. “Has anyone thought to ask what Bobby wants?”
“He won’t speak. The only one that looks like he could be even remotely vocal is Johnny. And he’s only making sounds. Bobby and Daken are basically mute. We’re wondering if Bobby hasn’t sustained hearing damage. He won’t respond to the tests and he doesn’t seem aware when people are talking to him. Johnny has somewhat communicated with our staff. Somewhat. Mainly when he was hurting really bad. Tricky thing is- they’re all banged up to hell- but the pain seems to come in surges. Like… they’re trading-off on who handles the brunt of it. From what we’ve noticed, there needs to be skin to skin contact. Separating them is an extremely bad idea. Removing one from the room to wash him down causes the other two great distress. Any containment measures we need to take need to be made for the three of them together. ”
“When you say they’ve ‘bonded’... “ Sue asks, choosing her words carefully. “What exactly do you mean?”
“They’re… sharing joint experiences, joint sensations, probably joint thoughts, emotions, they can somehow lessen each other’s pain. It’s the freakiest shit I’ve seen in a long while.”
I flip to the back page. “These the men who got away?” I ask.
I turn to Sue.
“These the men the assaulted them?” I ask, flicking my eyes back to Fury.
“Yes. There’s also another list of ‘acquaintances’ that we think were brought into the compound to ‘partake’ in the ‘fun’.”
Sue looks at the list too. She shakes her head. “None of these men will go to trial. Too powerful. Too well connected. They’ll never pay for it.” There’s pain in her voice that I want to soothe. Hearing Susan Richards upset is like seeing someone kick a puppy. She’s the most positive, sweetest, kindest woman I’ve ever met. She’s never met a person she couldn’t at least try to empathize with.
Sue puts her head in her hands, fingers running through her long blonde hair. “What do we do?” She asks. “What can we do?”
Fury clears his throat. “I am leaving this room,” he says. “For precisely ten minutes. During those ten minutes there will be no witnesses, no video, and no audio.” He taps my shoulder. “Logan, do what you gotta do. Make this all go away.” He nods to Sue. “Convince her.”
We’re quiet as he leaves.
I know what I’m doing.
I’m gonna go take the heads of the men who hurt my son and my teammate. My son’s boyfriend. My friends.
And I’ve got at least ten x-men behind me who are willing to cover it up.
Having Sue on my side would be great… but it’s gonna take some hell of convincing to get her to abandon her usual approach to bad guys.
These men aren’t people- they’re monsters.
“They compiled what they did to them,” I say, not looking at her. “Which man preferred which one. Which scientists preferred which one. Which treatments they were subjected to that were solely for them- as chosen by the ‘doctor’ of the facility.”
“I know,” She says lowly.
“Sue… I don’t need you to be the Invisible Woman right now. Not the mother, not the wife, not the public figure not the hero …. I need you to be a sister.” I flip to a particularly gruesome picture. “That.” I tap the picture. “That is your little brother. The little boy you helped raise. These are the men who did it to him. All their names. All their faces. All their preferences… “I take a pen to my packet after a moment of reading- it doesn’t take much- and start circling names and procedures. “ These are the men who hurt him, the scientists who preferred to work with him exclusively, and these ‘procedures’ are what they favored just for him. They were made to hurt him in ways that no one else on this earth has ever concocted.”
I pass the page over to her. “Names. Faces. Crimes. And that’s just against your brother. I got a page for my son. Louis’s got a page for his. Louis and Madeline are humans- and I get that. They gotta work within the law. We don’t.”
“We don’t,” I repeat.
I find another Johnny centric picture. “They sold this one as pornography. Sold it. There are sick fucks around the world who are jerking it to some evil asshat raping your baby brother.”
Tears trail down her cheeks but her voice is strong. “What do you need me to do?”
I move to take the packet back, but she stops me. “I need it.”
I hold my hand up. “Sue- it’s not just me who needs this. Johnny literally has no say in any of this. He’s powerless. Don’t pull the ‘oh you were so strong’ card. That doesn’t help him. Don’t pull the ‘everything will be okay’ card- because it won’t. He needs you to be real. Be real and be raw. Because that’s ALL he can be right now.”
She looks through the packet. “What do I do?” She asks.
“Whatever you think-”
“Not what I think. I don’t know how to handle this. Any way that I do- anyway that my team does- these men will go free.” She looks up at me, blue eyes red and watery. “I need to know what you’re doing,” She says. “Tell me what to do, Logan. Tell me how to handle this.” She pasues. “Tell me how to help him. Tell me how to make sure that he knows without a shadow of a doubt this men will not touch him anymore.”
I take her unopened packet- since she’s got mine and won’t give it back- looking at what’s been done to my kid alone. It’s daunting.
Sewn shut, drowned, burnt, buried, deafened, blinded- His eyesight is still kinda shotty. All his senses are off. He can’t smell right either.
“I’m gonna go do what I do best,” I say simply. “They hurt my kid, they hurt my friend, I’m gonna go make sure they can’t do that anymore.”
She nods. “The others… they won’t do that.”
“Reed will believe in the law,” I say in agreement. “Ben will side with him- even though he doesn’t quite have the same faith in it. And they love Johnny,” I say. “They’ll try to help him get better. He can’t get better without knowing that these assholes won’t come back for him.” I pause. “I need you with me, Sue. I need backup. I got Laura and choice x-men and they’re ready to go- don’t get me wrong. But the more people we have- the better chance that none of these fuckers escape.”
Sue is quiet for a long moment, flipping through pictures. She lands on one and freezes before looking up. “Tell me what I have to do,” She says lowly.