Logan took a few deep breaths trying to contain his anger and disappointment. He did not take kindly to someone trying to use him as a weapon and the idea infuriated him even more when such a ploy devised to make him complicit in a suicide that could lead to an all-out war between the mutants and humans came from someone he had once chosen to respect and follow. A loud SNIKT noise filled the long corridor of the prison as his claws popped out. He stood still in his tracks as his sensitive ears caught the tiniest hint of a muffled scream. Choked down and repressed just as the emotions of the man from whom the cry escaped. Wolverine looked at the door in front of him and contemplated leaving and letting the exhausting tale of the man’s downfall that had been plaguing him for the past few years end. He let out a few choice words. Chuck would want him to be better than that.
He turned on his heels and returned to the mutant block at a jog, once there he was welcomed with the sight of Scott Summers convulsing on the ground as one of the guards pushed a button on the control device. Logan knocked it from his hands and crushed the thing in the palm of his hand before throwing it back to the prison employee.
“Ya alright?” he asked his former leader as the prisoner tried to gather himself on the ground.
But before Scott could speak, Wolverine’s nostrils filled in with the acrid smell of terror and the younger man’s body was rocked by another seizure.
“The hell did ya do?” Logan growled at the guards.
Both of them rose their arms up in fear and shook their heads quickly.
A thorough sniff of the air confirmed that they weren’t lying.
“Get a medic. Now!” Wolverine barked.
Scott’s legs and arms kept jerking uncontrollably for almost another minute. Logan knew better than to grab his body and try to restrain its movements, he knew he had to wait until the rush of the seizure would relent. Instead he quickly moved to remove any objects that the other mutant could bump into, not that there was much in the meager holding cell.
Scott’s feet were dangling from out of the window as he watched the pavement below the building and wondered about how the splash of his blood would look in his red tinted vision. He only held onto the inside of the window as he braced himself for the imminent fall. For a moment he would fly and finally feel as free as he had felt back in his mother’s embrace all those years ago. And the world would be a better place without him in it. After all he was a walking weapon and it was only a matter of time before he hurt someone. He had already put people into too much danger by allowing himself to fall into the hands of a trigger happy madman like Jack Winters. The only way he could fix that mistake was by ending it all before the criminal could unleash the nuke in his head onto the world. He wasn’t worried that it would hurt, pain had become his constant companion over the past few years. He clutched his stomach as it groaned with hunger with his right hand. Another sign that this world had nothing but further suffering in store for him. He closed his eyes to make sure that the damned force in his eyes would not betray him one more time by dampening the impact of his fall.
As the shaking finally subsided, Scott tried to push himself from the ground but he stumbled back as he wasn’t counting with the weight of the helmet. He looked around, dazed and confused.
He started shivering and a string of nonsensical and jumbled words escaped his mouth. Underneath the gibberish a few words such as jumping, hell and dying found their way into Logan’s ear.
The older mutant tried to reach out and put a calming hand on his shoulder.
Scott jolted as if the touch had burned him and scuffled backwards towards the back of the cell as if trying to shrink into the corner.
“Don’t touch me,” he snarled finally before he reverted back to his gibbering.
Astonished by the scene in front of him, Logan tried to get a read of the whole thing by another means, taking a sniff of the smells coming from Cyclops discovering a surprising lack of the odor of familiarity between them.
“Shit,” he muttered, looking around for the medic.
Instead his ear drums suffered under the onslaught of iron clad feet bouncing off the ground as Tony Stark came running in his full Iron Man suit. He stopped himself in front of the cell and opened his helmet, taking in the picture.
“I thought you called for an emergency?”
“I called for a fucking medic.”
“Yeah, turns out those are in short supply when it comes to shady government sponsored prisons. And behold I was the next best thing around.”
Tony’s attention was caught by a whimpering sound escaping the cell.
“Tell me he’s not laughing.”
“He ain’t laughing, I’m pretty sure he’s crying actually,” Logan said, lightning a cigarette in his mouth.
“The hell did you do to him, Logan?”
“Nothin’,” the short man protested. “Why’d ya assume it was me?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you unceremoniously told Steve this morning that if you go see Mr. Summers over there you would kill him?”
“And he still ain’t dead.”
“There also appears to be a substantial lack of blood oozing from any of his crevices in order for this to be a result of your work now that you mention it.”
“So what happened?”
“Shitty holes that the government allows to be called prisons have a shady knack of torturing mutants with seizure inducing collars.”
“And? I’m pretty sure that’s not what got our boy over there whimpering, as I recall you reminded me several times during the less pleasant of our missions where you complained about my girly screaming that Slim would have grinded his teeth through it without the sound effects.”
At Wolverine’s annoyed face he continued: “Okay, I get it. Former mutant leader and cruel and unusual punishment bad. But it’s not like we actually had a say in this particular joint of B&B that he has gotten himself into.”
“Your bedside manner sure needs work, second best thing after a medic. Maybe you might wanna actually take a look at the patient.”
Tony turned around to look at Scott and was relieved to see that the whimpering fit seemed to have stopped as he was drowning in second-hand embarrassment and his chattering with Logan was his way of stalling the inevitable. The seizure he was looking at didn’t serve to make him much happier though. He winced as he saw Scott’s hand bash against the metal frame of the bed, that might easily end up costing the man a few broken fingers.
“Okay, that’s not good,” he told Wolverine. “But not much one can do in the middle of a seizure, we have to wait until it stops. Maybe you could become useful and go ask the sicko who runs this place to stop inducing them though. Try to do it nicely, but use of claws isn’t strictly forbidden.”
“Haha,” Logan drawled. “I’ll take care of him for sure. Later. But I can assure you, he’s not doing this,” he said showing Iron Man the collar he had cut off from Scott’s neck after he caught the guards torturing him.
“So he keeps having the seizures. Wonderful.”
“Three in the last five minutes. And that’s not the worst of it.”
“Looks like some kind of amnesia. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t recognize me.”< p/>
“This keep getting better and better. We’re busting him out of here, aren’t we?” Tony said gravely.
"He’s dead meat here if he won’t be able to protect himself. And if he dies, I can assure you it will ignite a full scale war between humans and mutants.”
“Right,” Tony said as he turned around to face Scott again, aiming his Iron Man suit at the other man’s shoulder.
“The hell are ya doing?” Logan shouted.
“Relax. I just borrowed some sleep arrows from our resident bird-boy. He’ll come around in an hour or two. We might as well use that time to get him somewhere else.”
Logan watched from beyond a thick glass as Tony examined the still unconscious mutant in the Avenger Tower’s med-lab. He heard Steve’s heavy footsteps behind him.
“Logan, would you care to elaborate why I just got off the phone with a very angry President of the United States telling me that a pair of Avengers apparently abducted a super-criminal from his holding cell earlier today?” the Captain questioned as he stood next to the short hairy man, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“How about telling him the truth?” Tony said as he exited the med lab.
“That putting a seizure inducing collar on someone with a history of traumatic brain injury is hardly a good idea.”
“What do you mean?”
Tony pushed his hand in the air and a holographic screen showing a brain scan appeared.
“What am I looking at?” Steve asked.
“I got Dr. Rao to send over Summers’ old medical files which were recovered from the ruins of Utopia. You see right here?” the genius pointed towards a dark area on the first scan. “Old scarring from a childhood injury according to McCoy’s notes.”
“From the plane crash,” Logan elaborated. “It’s the reason why he never learned to control his powers I think.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s not the point though,” Iron Man interrupted him, changing the view to a second picture. “See here, that’s some new damage as far as I can tell.”
“What’s the prognosis?” Captain America asked trying to keep his voice calm but the anxiety below it didn’t escape Logan’s attention.
“I don’t know, but I’ve already called on someone who should be able to tell, the best neurosurgeon on the East Coast. We’ll know more once they get a neurological exam done.”
The tall blond looked pensive before looking at Logan thoughtfully.
“You said that there appeared to be some kind of amnesia?”
“Can you get a telepath here, someone whom you can trust completely?”
Logan’s shoulders slumped visibly.
“Sure I can. But I can tell ya she ain’t gonna like this one bit.”
“I don’t think any of us happen to be particularly overjoyed with this situation,” Tony snorted.
“Yeah, but Rachel’s the one who might actually kill us for letting this happen, bub.”
“Rachel? Which one is that?”
“Rachel Grey, also known as Rachel Summers to some.”
“So which one of us is telling Cyclops’ daughter that he has gotten himself some extra brain damage under our watch? I suggest Logan, healing factor and all.”
“No,” Bobby told Rachel resolutely causing several of the students to look back at him in surprise at the venom in his voice.
The redhead grabbed him by the hand and led him to her office, securing the door behind to make sure that no eager ears would hear the rest of their conversation. Warding the place against psychic interference she looked at her friend with pleading eyes.
“Bobby, if what Logan says it’s true, you’re probably the person who might be able to help him. There’s no one else around.”
“And whose fault is that precisely?” Iceman snapped.
“That’s kind of a low blow and I’m starting to get really tired of everyone dumping their own issues and self-hatred on Scott. I think over the past few years many of us forgot that he’s also just a human being and an incredibly fallible one at that.”
“Look, Ray, I get it. He’s kind of your father and no matter what mistakes he makes and how wrong he is, you’ll always love him. And I can sympathize with that, trust me. But it doesn’t change anything on the fact that he killed Charles,” Bobby snarled this part out, punching the wall with an iced up fist. “And I’m allowed to hate him for that and never want to see him again.”
“I guess. I mean he made some choices that I’m not really happy about either. But being angry with someone and going as far as wishing they would just die are two different things. Especially when you know that the person wouldn’t hesitate a second before throwing away their own life to save yours if they were at full faculties.”
“That’s the trouble, Ray. I don’t think he would.”
“Yes, he would. In many ways he is still the same man who would throw himself at Apocalypse to protect the alternate reality son whom he just met or who would contain the Void in his mind to protect the woman he loves. Scott has changed, but not as much as you all seem to think. He has grown into the man mutantkind needed in order to survive. And to ensure that goal he was willing to sacrifice everything – his friendships, his reputation, his soul even.”
“I think your anger can be partly chalked up to the things Scott has done, but there’s more than that.”
“You’re right,” Bobby huffed. “I’m furious with him, if for nothing else because he never bothered to reach out and ask for help, instead he decided to carry the whole burden on his shoulders like the fucking martyr he is. But I’m also angry at everything. The world and the unfairness of it all, at myself even. And I suppose I’m also terrified. It’s just me left now, you know? Jean’s dead, Warren might as well be, Hank seems to be lost in the past and the simple fact that he chose to go there and try to drag our teenage selves into the future speaks volumes about the fact that he’s not all there anymore either and the Professor’s dead by Scott’s hand,” his voice broke.
“I’m supposed to be the baby of the family, the jokester, you know? But all of this means that I have to grow up now and the pressure is on me.”
“Bobby, sometimes you are an idiot. You have already done plenty of growing up. And I’m sure if they all could see you now, they would be proud of the progress you have made.”
Icy blue eyes found her green ones as he hesitated just a moment before speaking: “I’m still…,” but he wasn’t able to finish.
“There’s still a lot of places to go for you and maybe you will go there one day, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to be proud of the road you’ve already taken.”
A pair of cold hands wrapped her in a chilly hug.
“Thank you, Rachel,” he whispered, voice full of sincerity.
“Will you now please help me figure out this thing with my dad? I’ve lost him before and I don’t think I can do it again.”
“Only as long as I get to kick his ass once he’s okay.”
“I have good news and bad news. Dr. Lopez has determined that the new damage is most probably some temporary swelling resulting from numerous seizures over a short period of time. As it seems that the attacks have stopped for now, she expects it will subside in a few days.”
“Where’s the bad news in that?”
“She’s unsure whether the last few seizures were just an aftereffect of what they did to him at the prison, there’s a chance he developed a seizure disorder and it will become a recurring thing, only time will tell. She also says that the damage is affecting pain centers rather than the memory center of his brain. And yet mysteriously our patient seems to have some prominent memory gaps based on the talk I just had with him.”
“What kind of gaps?”
“Well, he knows he’s Scott Summers, so there’s that. Unfortunately he also seems to labor under the assumption that he’s fourteen and most likely dead as a direct consequence of jumping from a window.”
Steve’s eyebrows jumped to his forehead at that.
“Why would he jump from a window?”
Logan, Rachel and Bobby exchanged a series of uncomfortable glances at that.
“Fourteen you said?” Iceman said finally. “That would be a time before the X-men.”
“Yeah, which means I can imagine a few reasons,” Logan sighed.
“I still don’t see the issue though,” Rachel said. “If it’s not caused by brain damage, I can go in and fix it.”
“Uh, you can’t. That’s where I get to deliver some extra bad news. You see, Dr. Lopez has managed to pull up a bunch of medical documents that your pa has had drawn up and signed a couple of years back. Let’s just say they’re very specific about precisely this kind of situation and extremely clear that there’s only one person allowed to tamper with his brain should something like this happen. Three guesses who that would be. Spoilers, it’s not you, dear.”
“Frost,” Rachel spat out.
“One hundred points for the redhead. Of course given her current criminal status, we could work around that legally speaking, but your father made sure to point out to any sucker who would dare to try that, that there are certain psychic safe-fails in place.”
There was a small part of Rachel that almost felt sorry for Emma when she was met with the sight of the once mighty White Queen of the Hellfire Club, consort to the leader of the whole mutant race, sitting in an orange prison overall which looked decidedly out of place.
The feeling lasted only until the icy blue eyes looked up at them and she drawled, contempt in her voice: “To what do I own the pleasure of seeing this whole cavalry?”
Rachel was almost shook by an uncontrollable rage at the nerve of this woman who had inflicted a world of hurt unto her mother and had stood by her father’s side as he went down the dark road, but then she caught Bobby’s projected thought.
This is all just posturing, her pride is the only things she has left.
“We need to talk, Frost,” Logan growled.
“Oh?” Emma asked as he examined the chirped away nail polish on her hands.
Ignoring Rogers and Stark, she examined the faces of the mutants present one by one, her cold glaze finally settling on Iceman.
“I’ll only talk to Robert and Grey,” she said finally.
“You’re in no position to negotiate, Miss Frost,” Steve stated just as Bobby blurted out “Deal”.
Captain America opened his mouth to protest, but Wolverine shook his head to stop him.
“Whatever, we’ll take it. But we’ll be watching, so don’t try anything funny.”
The blonde rolled her eyes.
“Like what?” she wondered, her hands reaching out to the power inhibitor around her neck. “Do you think that two powered X-men couldn’t handle one defenseless mutant criminal?”
“Why us?” Bobby wondered once he and Rachel found themselves sitting across the interrogation table from Emma.
“I thought that would be obvious,” she said. “Whatever the hell you want has to do with Scott, doesn’t it? So I’ve chosen the two people whom I believe I can trust when it comes to him. I know how you Summers people are about family. And you, Iceman, I’ve been in your body, remember? You might think you hate him right now, but your unwavering loyalty to your friends is hardly a secret to me. Additionally you both have the advantage of not belonging to that country invading outfit called the Avengers.”
“You’re right,” the read-headed telepath said before Bobby could protest Emma’s words. “We need your help with Scott.”
“Alright,” Emma conceded. “I’ll help you. But I have conditions, of course.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Frost,” Bobby said. “We’re talking about his life here. If you ever truly loved him, you will help him.”
“Oh, come on, darling. It’s him I have to thank for finding myself stuck in this hellhole in this dreadful outfit. Orange is the new white isn’t exactly my cup of tea. If I can get better clothes and my freedom out of helping him, you bet that I will get it.”
“The Avengers will never agree to this,” the blond man pointed out.
“If they’re desperate enough, they will. We’ll just have to make sure that they don’t appear complicit in my escape,” Emma explained calmly, never breaking eye contact to look from Iceman to Rachel.
That didn’t stop the young Grey from picking up the first thought she heard since entering the room.
Your father would want me to get out of here sooner rather than later. I’ll show you why and hope I won’t live to regret sharing this with you.
“Yes, we will agree to your terms,” Rachel said quickly.
“Are you crazy?” Iceman shouted.
A red faced Steve Rogers burst through the door with Tony Stark and Wolverine on his heels.
“Stop this farce at once, Miss Frost. You seem to be harboring under the delusion that we will negotiate with you, I can assure you that we will not.”
“Oh, but you will. Once you realize that among everyone in this room, it’s me who holds all the cards. You’re also laboring under the wrong conclusion. You seem to think that a telepath needs to use their powers to read other people. Well, you’re wrong.”
“You’re bluffing,” Steve said.
“Uh, I don’t think she is,” Tony stepped in and Logan couldn’t help but agree with him.
“Stark is right. It doesn’t take someone who possesses world class telepathic skills to figure out that you’re at wits end. Otherwise the lot of you wouldn’t all bother coming to me. I might concede that some of you are here because you genuinely care about Scott, however it’s the fear of what might happen if the wrong kind of people learned that harm has come to him on your watch that brought most of you here.”
“I realize you think us the villains here, Miss Frost, but we…” Captain America started but Emma interrupted him.
“Spare me the boy scout shtick, Rogers. You will accept all of my conditions before I go and help you with Scott. And you know why? You suspect that the allies he and I still have out there might sniff out whatever happened soon and leak it to the media. And I can assure you that they will,” the former White Queen said leaning back in her chair. “You didn’t truly think that the man with contingency plan upon contingency plan wouldn’t have emergency protocols in place should the war between the Avengers and the X-Men end with his defeat?”
Logan who had been uncharacteristically quiet until that point popped the claws on one of his hands and slashed at the nearest wall. A grim expression crossed Steve’s face.
“Well played, Emma,” Tony said admiringly.