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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16


Written by NicoPony
Last updated: 05/06/2007 06:22:13 PM


Doctor Hank McCoy carefully swabbed the area with cleanser before applying the syringe to Logan’s arm.

“That really necessary, Doc?” Logan asked as Hank stuck him with the needle. “That’s like disinfecting the condemned before givin’ them the lethal injection.”

“Allow me my thoroughness, Logan,” replied Hank, his voice coldly professional.

“Can I expect any side effects from this concoction of yours?”

Hank pondered. “With your healing abilities, I can’t say for certain. There are particular poisons in the antiviral drug that will destroy the proteins binding the virus together. You may experience some flu-like symptoms, perhaps a rash.”

“So now that I’ve got this cure,” Logan began hopefully, “does that mean I can leave?”

“I’d prefer if you remained in quarantine for another few days,” Hank replied. “For observation.” If Hank didn’t know Logan better, he’d think the man looked downright crestfallen. Hank supposed it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Logan was unhappy. He had spent the better part of two weeks with roommates who were less than companionable.

“When do I get this miracle cure?” asked one of Logan’s roommates. Raven was lying in an adjacent bed. She was still being given oxygen while her body recovered from the poisons she had inhaled.

“You’ll be spending the next few days healing, before I give you the antivirals,” Hank told her. In fact, Mystique’s exposure to Strain 88, or what Sinister had called the Rogue Virus, had caused her to imprint on Pulse’s abilities. Hank had to expose Raven to her own DNA in order for her to “catch” her mutant abilities, as one would catch a virus. Thankfully, once her regenerative powers were restored, she healed at a superhuman rate.

Rogue was the third patient in quarantine. She had remained uncharacteristically silent these last days, despite Raven’s attempts to cajole her into conversation, or at least an argument. Hank prepared another syringe. Sinister’s research had provided them with a vaccine, but no cure. Hank had been running test upon test, day and night, until he found a solution that would negate the virus without doing untoward harm to the patient. Despite meeting with success, he was still hesitant to give Rogue the cure.

Rogue silently pushed up the sleeve to her hospital gown and proffered her arm as Hank approached. “Rogue,” he began, as he took her hand in one of his large blue ones. “There’s something I have to tell you before I inject you.”

“Yeah, Hank?” she asked, her voice a little rough. When he didn’t respond right away, she quipped: “Well, spit it out all ready.”

“The cure might have some side-effects...” he began.

“Yeah, I heard. Flu, rash. Big deal.”

“Those are the expected side-effects. In your case, there might be something...well, unexpected.”

Rogue leveled him with a cool green stare. Hank looked away as he applied alcohol to a fresh swab. He then rubbed the swab on the inside of Rogue’s arm.

“The virus acts just as your own powers do. The drug may not be able to differentiate between infected cells and your own mutant physiology,” Hank said at last.

“Am I gonna die from this?” Rogue asked. “Is this cure gonna kill me?”

“No, no...” Hank said hurriedly. “It simply destroys the infected cells ability to latch on to another mutant’s powers.” It was a moment before he continued: “The antiviral may very well nullify your mutant abilities.”

Rogue said nothing. Hank held the syringe, undecided.

“Why are you tellin’ me this, Hank?” Rogue finally asked. “Do you think I’m gonna just tell you: ’No, I don’t want the cure.’ If I was untouchable before, what does this virus make me? You think I wanna be some kind of leper?”

“I thought you should be aware, is all. And for the safety of everyone, I’m afraid there can be no choice in whether you accept the cure or not.”

In silence, he injected her with the contents of the syringe.

The door to the MedLab swished open, but Ororo hesitated in the threshold. She hadn’t expected to see Emma Frost here. As it was, Emma was standing at the foot of the bed with an inscrutable expression on her face.


Ororo started at the voice behind her. She turned to see Regan, hand on hip and impatience in her face. Ororo stepped aside and Regan swept past. Now curious, Ororo followed after the woman. Emma had turned to face the visitors.

“How is he?” Ororo directed her question to Emma.

“The same,” Emma replied. “The tests show he’s in a minimally conscious state.”

“Some would say to just pull the plug,” Regan said caustically. “That’s what they did to that one woman from Florida---.”

Ororo favored the woman with a cold stare.

“Hey, I’m not saying I agree!”

“He’s minimally conscious, not vegetative,” Emma said to Regan. “Nor brain dead. Though he’s lucky to be alive at all. He’s been remarkably successful at healing himself, now that his former powers have been restored at full strength.”

The person in question lay on the bed before them. He had nothing to add save a muttered: “...mais papa...”

Ororo approached the bed to look down at her friend’s face. “He spoke!” she said, her voice hushed but excited.

“Yes, he’ll do that,” Emma said. “But it’s not a conscious process on his part. He responds to some external stimulation, but it’s purely reflexive.”

“Mostly he just mumbles jibberish,” Regan said.

“Why are you even here?” Ororo snapped, without looking away from the patient.

“Regan has volunteered to help me,” Emma said. “As Gambit is somewhat conscious, it should be safe to investigate his mind and see what, if anything, is left to piece together.”

“And why would you offer your help?” Ororo asked, turning to Regan.

Regan shrugged. “Hey, he helped me, I helped him. Right now, we’re even...I’d rather he owe me one. Besides, I’ve been through enough therapy myself to know how this works.”

“That is no credential,” Ororo replied.

“Regan’s abilities will allow us to smooth over the rough spots,” Emma said. “Her illusions can be used as much for healing as they can for harm.”

“If you insist on her involvement, Emma,” Ororo said, “I relent. I defer to your judgment, as there are no other telepaths as talented...or available.”

“A rather backhanded compliment, Ororo,” Emma replied. “I assure you, I’m up to the task and I’ll do everything in my power to restore Gambit’s mind. Whether he deserves it or not.”

“We X-Men have agreed,” Storm said, her voice steely. “There is no stipulation attached to our helping Remy. There is nothing deserved or undeserved. We are not here to mete out punishment.”

“Ah, it’s so nice to have our moral backbone restored,” Emma said sarcastically. “A ruler to measure ourselves to.”

Ororo turned away from Emma. She lay a hand upon Gambit’s forehead. “Your rancor is noted,” Ororo said to Emma. “And I apologize for any insult. It is only that I cannot bear to lose another friend. I trust you to help him.”

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t help him,” Emma said, as she turned away from Storm, hiding an expression which might have been akin to guilt. “We’re all X-Men here. We make sacrifices and we accept one another despite past mistakes. He’ll understand that.”

Emma was speaking to Ororo, who was only half-listening. Perhaps if Ororo had been giving Emma her full attention, she would have noticed...it sounded more as if Emma were trying to reassure herself.


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