Logan attempted to ignore his captors as they moved his thick metal bed from the cell he had occupied for two years. He stared up at the ceiling once more, noting that it was constructed of the same dirty white tiles he had become so familiar with. He had decided a lot time ago that the Brotherhood had somehow acquired an old office building for their headquarters, based mostly on those tiles.
They moved through a short hallway and to an elevator. He had no idea if they were going up or down, but the old mechanism creaked and rocked slowly as it moved. Eventually they left the small elevator car to travel down a window-lined hallway. It was only then that he realized it was close to sunset. While Magneto and Mystique chatted amiably about his execution, Logan took the time to let his eyes drink in the bright orange, one of the first colors besides blue he had seen in years.
Finally they reached a large room which might once have been an office, if the faded marks he could make out in the worn brown carpet when he glanced down ere any indication. The room contained no windows, unlike the hallway, and several Brotherhood mutants lined the walls or kept busy in one corner, guarding a device Logan couldn’t quite see. They all turned to glare at him while simultaneously attempting to smile in a toadying fashion at their leader, something that would have made Logan snort with laughter in any other situation. He returned his gaze to the ceiling. His bed was brought to the middle of the room, and then he was left there while Magneto and Mystique moved to the overly-occupied corner of the room.
Time passed. He wasn’t sure how much, and he didn’t really give a damn. He should have known that his last minutes or hours on Earth would be spent strapped to a bed where he would be cut open and then chopped up for someone’s sick curiosity and pleasure. After all, his nightmares were haunted by medical experiments and pain, his bones coated by the results.
Magneto eventually came back to his side while an assistant rolled over a complicated structure that included a bright blue flame lit under a metal tub surrounded by tubes and wires. The smell of heated metal almost made him shudder. He controlled it just in time.
Magneto raised his hands and held them in the air just over Logan’s body. “What shall I begin with?” he mused to himself. “Let’s see…If I remove these fascinating claws of yours, I wonder if they will grow back.”
At that Logan felt his claws snap out on their own. Magneto lifted a sharp knife at the same time that another assistant to Logan’s right copied his movement.
“Adamantium is such a useful metal. It is a pity I have had access to so little until now,” Magneto commented before nodded to the mutant across from him. Together they brought the silver knives down.
White hot pain shot through Logan, and he cried out from the force of it. Thankfully the sound was muffled by his gag, and after a few seconds of sheer agony he was able to think again and stop the screams tearing through his throat. He glared at Magneto, breathing hard, as his tormentor levitated the six metal and bone claws he had just cut off. The gray eyes examined the claws as they rotated slowly in the air. The adamantium slowly peeled away from the bone, and with a gesture Magneto sent it floating over to the tub where it settled. Even as Logan’s hands continued to burn from the assault, the metal stripped from his claws began to bubble audibly. The scent filled the room, making him nauseous from half-remembered nightmares.
A commotion in the hall drew the attention of everyone in the room. Magneto frowned, and Logan felt the first stirring of hope he had experienced in who knew how long. He closed his eyes briefly in relief when the door was blasted open with familiar red fire. For once he was thankful to see One-Eye walk through the door. Cyclops was quickly followed by what seemed like an army in black leather.
Logan’s eyes immediately searched for a white streak in dark hair. At first he couldn’t find her, and he felt it like a blow to the gut. Maybe she really didn’t care anymore. Then he caught a flash of white even as she dropped to the ground beside Magneto and reached a bare hand to grab the older man by the neck. An unholy light glowed in her eyes as veins darkened under his leathery skin, showing that her mutation was active. Magneto tried to push her away with no effect. Only after his eyes rolled back in his head did Rogue shake him several times and then drop him to the ground.
Then she turned to Logan.
Rogue stumbled to her feet when the Blackbird landed on the roof of an old brick building. She was about to head out when she felt Kitty’s hand on her arm. Her friend was looking at Cyclops when she said, “Cyclops, Rogue and I are going to stay at the back. When we figure out where they’re holding him, I can get her in to take out Magneto.”
Cyclops looked at the two of them, eyebrows raised. He knew Rogue well enough to know that she really wanted to be in the front for this fight, so she wasn’t surprised when he asked, “Rogue?”
Reluctantly she nodded. “Ah’ll go with Shadowcat. It’s the best way to take that bastard out quickly before he gets a chance to hurt…anyone any more than he already has,” she agreed. She stood aside so that Cyclops, Jean, and Storm could pass by. Her team mates squeezed her shoulder as they passed, a silent show of support Rogue didn’t feel she deserved.
Finally it was just Kitty and Rogue on the plane. Her friend was about to head out when Rogue suddenly felt the need to confess. “Ah broke up with him,” she blurted out.
Kitty whipped back around to face her, eyes wide. “What?!” she squeaked incredulously.
“He called the other day…or Ah thought he did. It was probably that bitch Mystique, but…it had been six months without a word, Kitty! Ah didn’t know what else to do! And Jubes was so angry with him…” Rogue trailed off, hanging her head.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Ah didn’t know how, and then…Ah don’t know. It almost felt like it didn’t matter anymore. Ah didn’t think we’d ever see him again if the last couple years were any indication of how much he cared.”
Kitty grabbed her dangerously bare arms and shook her silently. “Listen to me, Rogue! Jubilee never liked Wolverine much, but you love him! I know you do. We are going to go in there, beat the bastards trying to kill your man, and then you, my friend, are going to beg, plead, do whatever it takes once we’re home to convince him that you still want him. Got that?”
Kitty’s face and voice revealed her frustration with her friend as well as a fierce love Rogue had feared was gone. Impulsively Rogue hugged her tightly, let go, and nodded. “Ah got it. Let’s go get rid of some Brotherhood scum and get my man.”
Together the two women turned and left the plane. They ran to catch up with the rest of the X-Men who had already encountered and taken out a couple Brotherhood mutants. The group worked their way down two stories of the five-story building until they reached a heavily guarded interior room. Shadowcat pulled Rogue back when she would have joined that fight. Her friend pulled her into a nearby stairwell and up a floor. Rogue understood when they were standing in an open room just above the one below.
“I’m going to pop my head in once I hear Cyclops and the others break through, and then I’ll get you as close to Magneto as possible. Are you ready?” She was referring to Rogue’s mutation.
Rogue closed her eyes and breathed deeply as she pulled off first one glove, then the other. This was her ritual, what prepared her to drop her hard-won control so that she could use her mutation when she had to. It was the first time she had done this around another person since the accident, which made her nervous, but the control dropped just as easily as ever. She opened her eyes, tucked her gloves into her belt, and nodded. “Ah’m ready.”
She watched in fascination as Shadowcat slid to the floor, lying flat on her stomach to press her ear to the ground. Less than a minute later she let her head fall through the floor, something that always startled Rogue a little when she saw it despite years of being her friend and team mate. Then the shorter woman popped all the way back into the room and jumped up, her eyes shining.
“I know exactly where to put you. I think they’ve started removing the adamantium, but he’s alive,” Shadowcat exclaimed excitedly. She grabbed Rogue’s hand and pulled her to the center of the room. Rogue braced herself when Shadowcat gave her a short nod, and then she was falling through the ceiling to land in a crouch beside Magneto.
She barely had a chance to look at Logan before focusing on Magneto. She reached out her bare hand, saw with satisfaction the fear in his eyes as her skin touched him. He struggled, but her mutation was stronger and craved that contact of skin on skin. She gave in, fed it, as he drained into her. Suddenly she could feel the metal all around her even as he lost consciousness. She gave in to the savage urge to shake him a few times before she let him drop and turned to Logan.
It hurt to see him gagged, a scraggly beard covering his face and his body thinner than she wanted to see because it meant they’d barely kept him fed enough to let his mutation keep him alive. Without speaking, the first thing she did was pull her gloves back on and then rip the gag off of him. He choked trying to speak, so she laid a finger against his lips to hush him.
“Not right now, Logan. Let’s get you off this thing first, okay?” Rogue told him, turning her attention to the metal bands at his elbows and wrists. Within seconds she had used Magneto’s mutation to disintegrate the metal, the knowledge of how an effect her absorption of him. Next came the bands at Logan’s waist, knees, and ankles, and then he was truly free. Rogue straightened up just as Logan’s arm flashed out, strange white claws extended. A purple-haired mutant who had just snuck up was skewered through the neck, but Rogue had no complaints.
“Thanks,” was all she could say before looking at his claws in horror. “Did he…?”
“Yeah.” It was dry and rusty, but it was his voice, and Rogue wanted to cry at the sound. She held it together and looked around to find the tub with its thin layer of melted adamantium. She looked from it back to Logan.
“Do you want them back or not?” she asked. Rogue knew he would understand what she meant, and there wasn’t time for much else.
He didn’t even hesitate. “Yes.”
“Pop ‘em all for me, then. I don’t know how long this is going to last,” she said confidently even as a she lifted a hand toward the liquid metal. The battle with the Brotherhood raged around them as she guided the adamantium back to him, instructing it to flow around the exposed bone claws with a frown of concentration. She realized that it wasn’t quite right and knew what was needed. She looked up at him and said, “Ah’m sorry,” then she let the remaining metal coat three fingers on each hand and pushed her fingertips into the split skin where the claws began. Adamantium flowed into him and sealed with the metal still covering his knuckles. His only reaction was a low growl, but she knew it hurt.
“It’s not hot anymore. You can put ‘em back in,” she told him harshly, angry at herself for causing him more pain.
“Not a chance,” he said even as another mutant ran towards them, yellow eyes glittering with hatred when she saw them standing over Magneto, Wolverine whole again. Mystique wasn’t even trying to hide in someone else’s skin as she attacked.
Wolverine pushed Rogue aside to meet Mystique in a deadly dance that was fascinating to watch, but she was impatient to get this over with. As they grappled with one another she called two knives from the floor to her hand, ones that felt like the adamantium she had just given back to Wolverine. When Wolverine pinned Mystique to the floor, Rogue rushed in and slit her throat. As blood sprayed up at them, Wolverine looked up at Rogue in shock.
She frowned down at the dead woman. “Ah’m not gonna let her have another chance at any of us. Now let’s get out of here.” Looking for around for Cyclops she yelled, “Wolverine’s free. Time to go, Cyke!” When he nodded, knocked out his current opponent with a quick blast, and headed for the door, Rogue turned back to look at Magneto one more time. Her fingers twitched a little with the urge to finish him off as well, but the sound of Shadowcat shouting from the door about reinforcements stopped her. Instead, she shoved the knives carefully into her belt and reached for Logan’s hand. She pulled him, unresisting, behind her as she ran out of the room with the other X-Men. Two flights of stairs and they were on the roof again.
Rogue didn’t let go of Logan’s arm until an unseen force knocked her to the ground and she fell, dazed.