- Work in Progress
- Abuse - Sexual
- Dark Themes
- Death - Child
- Death - Major Character
- Death - Minor Character
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Murder
- Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
- Discussion - Sexual Abuse
- Discussion - Torture
- Disturbing Imagery
- Permanent Injury
- Suicide - Attempted
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Violence - Graphic
- Violence - Sexual
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
- Episode Related
- Fix It
Art by WaterSoter
Night was both a refuge and a prison to Scott. A refuge since more of the normal traffic that ran through the penthouse dispersed to places unknown. A prison because it meant sleep, and sleep was chains around his neck, red hot and burning until his skin and mind melted away.
Scott ran his fingers against the cool glass. Murky with a thick layer of ice. Crystalline snow had gathered at the edges and beyond that a blanket of white that extended well beyond the terrace and over the ledge. He was almost tempted to push the doors open. Step into that bitter cold and let the snowdrifts pile onto him like a breathing, living park sculpture.
It had been too long since he’d be outside. Breathed natural air and felt the sun on his face unfiltered by windows and curtains. His days spent in his room, away from the constant horde of people, and nights in a drugged stupor or caught in a torrent of dreams that he could never remember.
The television flickered like strobe lights. Bathing the living room in a kaleidoscope of colors. Scott watched its reflection through the glass. The talking heads and headlines streaming across the bottom. He’d read it all and for tonight, no fires needed putting out and no mutants were being hung out to dry by a ratings hungry media.
Scott let his head rest against the chilled glass, glad for it as it seeped into his skin and chased away the fever that seemed perpetually under his skin. Most everyone was sleeping, but Scott had seen the sliver of light under several doors. Outside the usual patrols kept to their routines like clockwork. He was going to have to do something about that. But now that he thought about it, Scott wasn’t sure if already had.
The days and months felt so much like trying to hold on to water in his hand. Memories little more than wisps of vapor, there one moment and gone the next. He could have said something about that. Yesterday, the day before, the week before. Routines shifted and adjusted to be more unpredictable, less vulnerable to keen eyes looking for a crack in their security.
Scott didn’t know.
Wouldn’t even if he went up and asked directly. They all thought they were protecting him, and maybe they were. But Scott needed to know. Needed to find some way out of this fog he’d fallen into and he had no lifeline. Not when everything was a potential landmine that could send him under again. Drag him into that world were he existed as little more than a wraith, a ghost slithering among the living.
A door opened and closed somewhere down one hallway. Another opened and closed. Scott let his eyebrows raise, but refused to let his imagination get into the whys and the whos. Most of the people in the apartment were adults, young adults, but at least over the age of eighteen. Whatever and whoever they decided to do was very much their own business.
Outside, the familiar sound of beating wings was loud in the silent terrace and echoed through the glass doors. Scott caught a distorted glimpse of blue and Warren’s golden hair turned silver in the moonlight. He had gotten a glimpse of Warren in the past months, always with his back turned, on his way out and away.
Scott considered his options. He could leave. Go back to his bedroom. Work his way through the newspapers Dani had brought in before her shift. But he remembered that Rachel fast asleep on a love-seat someone had dragged in there. Profoundly enough that she didn’t notice he’d left. Deep, dark shadows under her eyes marking how little sleep she had gotten in the past months.
Guilt was a sharp slash across his gut. He could imagine how many nights she’d been awake, with him since his acquittal. Certainly a surprise, to have seen her at their doorstep, bags packed and a defiant look on her face that was such a reminiscence of Jean it had made his chest hurt. Since then she hadn’t left his side. They shouldn’t have allowed it but Rachel was his kid through and through and stubbornness was in her blood as much as her red hair and green eyes.
A beep as the locks were disabled and Scott gripped at his arm, just above the white bandage that went from elbow to wrist. The stitches pulling uncomfortably. The doors burst open and flurries of snow drifted inside then closed and locked. The night’s cold air a sharp knife against Scott’s thin nightshirt from his spot to one side of the terrace doors.
Warren Worthington looked very much his namesake. His wings curled around his back, hair shorter than the last time he saw him. The shadows bringing out the sharp angles of his face. His uniform was the one he had worn during his time in Utopia but with a darker shade to it. He shook moisture off his wings, not caring of the mess he was making of the glass and furniture. A hint of his upper class arrogance shining through. Then he ran a hand through his hair and Scott saw the exhaustion in every line of his body.
Scott stayed by his spot next to a column and let the darkness hide him from view. Watched as Warren headed over to the kitchen. The refrigerator’s light like a spotlight in the darkness of the apartment. He rummaged and pulled a few things out. Scott almost went over then. But he wasn’t exactly sure of his reception.
Bobby had been there the day he was acquitted but hadn’t returned, as far as he knew. Hank had all but disappeared. Warren was the only one that was a constant at this sanctuary and Scott was leery of shaking that steady foundation.
Not that it mattered, as a moment later, Warren glanced up from the island and his bird eyes spotted him as surely as if he had been in plain daylight and clear view. He froze halfway to opening a large container. He glanced at the living room, the television as if seeing it for the first time.
Scott thought he’d grab the container and make a hasty retreat, instead he put a few things away, leaned against the counter. A fork in hand, taking bites from what looked like the leftover lasagna. His attention was completely drawn on what he was doing. With his face and eyes lowered almost to his chest.
I should go, Scott thought. He knew he still made people uncomfortable. Those that had been there, and those that hadn’t but had heard enough. A blaze pouring into him, from him until all he could see was an inferno spread like an ocean on the ground and the sky. Out of the corner of his eyes, something slithery and black emerged, like ink suspended in the air, a lick of orange and red flames outlining a female frame.
Scott closed his eyes, breathed deeply. Forced his hands into fists, pressed them against his thighs as they shook violently. He leaned back against the windows, his legs like jello and barely holding him up. The scream was so loud in his head as a body became ashes down to his bones. The smell of burnt flesh smell overwhelming.
C’mon Summers, he thought as his heart pounded a tattoo in his chest. Calm down!
But he couldn’t. No matter how much he breathed, how hard he clenched his fists. Felt warmth slide from between his fingers. Blood, he thought, and wondered what they would say of another injury he couldn’t explain.
Then it faded in a plume of smoke. Scott blinked, expecting flames and burning but instead the apartment was as quiet as it had been. Warren’s blue eyes intent on his face, his arms on Scott’s shoulder, gripping almost painfully.
“Hey, easy.” Warren muttered when Scott jerked, as if an electric wire had been pressed to his side. The shock of it racing through his body and leaving it shaky and weak. “You’re okay.”
Scott shook his head almost violently. There was something, something at the back of his head he knew he should be doing first, but at the moment couldn’t think what it was. Behind Warren was Rachel, intense and pensive, the residual of golden flames caressing the air around her.
He jerked his head around but there was nothing else. There should be, he knew that, he thought he knew that, he didn’t think he knew anything anymore.
Warren put too warm hands on his neck, and Scott realized how cold he was. His body shook to try and regain some heat. A moment later an afghan was thrown over his shoulders, Warren wrapping him up like an oversized burrito. There was something tight around his eyes, lines that hadn’t been there before, around the line of his shoulders, his mouth.
They were becoming old men before their time. Scott could trace every major event in his life, every loss by the map of lines and scars of his body. He wondered if Warren felt the same, if Bobby, if Hank. If the dream that was meant to bring hope and inspiration was really a poisoned dagger, rotting them away from the inside out.
He ran a hand through his hair. The sharp sting of the cut on his arm a reminder to be careful of popping stitches. Warren let go but stayed crunched in front of him and with a start Scott realized that he had slid down to the ground at some point.
“We should get him to bed.” Rachel said, arms at her sides. Her hands curled into tight fists. “You need to rest.” She said, to him this time.
Scott shook his head, he didn’t need sleep. Glanced at the room again but didn’t see that inky shadow. That was good. “I’m okay.” He tried to get up but his legs couldn’t hold him. Warren took him by the arm and Scott was able to stop a flinch. “I’m okay.”
“Should we get Nemesis?” Warren led him to one of the chairs nearby. It was an artsy thing with a metal frame and could had been used by the Spanish Inquisition as a torture device. “Or maybe Cecilia. I don’t know which of them is in tonight.”
Rachel crossed her arms. “Dr. Reyes is out on a mission.” She said, with a sharp undertone and as vague as she could be, as if Scott hadn’t been the one to set up the Search and Rescue teams. She focused, her eyes going distant for a moment. “He’s on his way. We should get him to his room.”
There was no more discussion, even if Scott didn’t want to go. Warren took his arm, led him through the living room and to the hallway that led to his bedroom. Rachel behind them, whether to make sure he didn’t make a break for it or to watch their backs, he wasn’t sure.
The door opened and Scott froze at the doorway. The bed was large and comfortable, the sheets strewn around in a messy pile. He shouldn’t have left it like that. It felt wrong and right and left an itch beneath his skin. He almost scratched at it but stopped himself at the last moment. Gripped his arm at the wrist, above the bandages.
“Scott?” Scott took a deep breath, forced himself over the threshold, Warren with his unyielding grip. He didn’t try to pull away, didn’t think he wouldn’t fall flat on his face without the help. Let him sit down at the edge of the bed, pathetically helped him remove shoes he hadn’t noticed were on his feet.
“I’ll get some socks.” Like a child that Scott hardly remembered being, Rachel helped put them on then made him lay down on the bed. Pulled the sheets up to his chin. A routine that was becoming too natural for him to be comfortable with it. “Do you want a glass of water?” She asked but was already making her way to the bathroom of his suite.
Laying there, staring at the white ceiling, he said, “I’m not child.” In case there was any doubt. His behavior wasn’t exactly that of an adult but he didn’t think it merited the babying. “I could have put my own socks on.”
Warren raised a single blonde eyebrow, some humor curling his mouth, sparkling in his eyes, pointing a thumb at the bathroom he said, “Yeah, tell that to Florence Nightingale over there.” He sobered right away, frowned at his nightstand where the cluster of medicine bottles covered it. “Nemesis should be here soon.”
To drug me, Scott thought resentfully, feeling the all too familiar fog descend onto his mind. Would he remember any of this? Or would it be just another fragment that became lost in the chasm his head had become.
He closed his eyes and when he opened them he caught the familiar presence in his room. Flames and a brilliant light that made something in him unwind. Scott watched her walk towards him, past the bathroom and Rachel. Warren who didn’t see her and down until they were nose to nose. Felt gentle hands push back his hair, run down to his cheek.
There was a prickle in his eyes, “I don’t want him to drug me.” He told her. He wanted his mind back, his life back. Instead of this half life that melted day and night until weeks had passed and he had no memory of any of it.
Warren shifted, looking uncomfortable, “You need them, Scottie.” He said softly. There was an undercurrent of something Scott couldn’t put his finger on. “They’ll make you better.”
No they won’t, Scott was fading. Darkness at the edges of his vision. Jean smiled at him, her hand still on his cheek. Her eyes held understanding, and Scott missed her so much that it was like a creature constantly carving at his insides.
“I just want it to stop.” He whispered, at Jean, at Warren, at whatever this was that held him in a place where he couldn’t go back or forwards. He was a specter, a phantom that haunted the lives of past friends and family. A lost boy in a lost land and he wanted to go home. Somewhere where the world didn’t shift and warp. Something solid beneath his feet.
“Yeah,” Said Warren as Rachel came into the room and Jean stayed with him until Dr. Nemesis plunged something cold into his arm. As oblivion took him, he saw the inky shadows curl into the corner, a female body shaped and a distorted smile slashed in flames across her face. Scott closed his eyes, felt the warm body that wasn’t really there settle at his side, like it had dozens of times before, when Jean had been alive and wondered if any of it would ever stop.