A mission gone horribly wrong leads Scott Summers to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. But is he really dead? Or something more sinsiter going on? Scott/Jean, Kurt/Kitty, minor hints...
Chapter 7: Secrets Within
The metal sphere's carrying Magneto's Acolytes touched down in an old warehouse district just outside of Bayville. The fight with Sinister had been quick and brutal, but it had turned out in their favor. The plan had gone just as Magneto had hoped and they stopped the mad scientist from fully implementing his machine on a large scale. However, during the midst of this fight, they had learned just how advanced Sinister was in his plans. Not only had he completed his device well before anybody could have suspected, but he had used it once on a test subject. For Magneto, it was a bad sign because it meant that all the fighting and skirmish's that he and his men had been in with Sinister and his Nasty Boys didn't stop him in the end. But he pushed that thought aside for now, knowing that in destroying his lab he had achieved a critical victory in this secret war against an old alley turned bitter enemy.
"Crikey, what a night..." sighed Pyro as he and the rest of the Acolytes stepped out of the spheres, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm turning in."
"I hear ya Pyro," yawned Gambit in agreement, "All dat fighting has left dis here Cajun in need of many Zs. Ya ought to think about turnin' in too boss. Ya haven't slept in three days."
"No rest for the weary Gambit," said Magneto, fighting off his fatigue along with Mystique as he watched Colossus bring in the unconscious body that they had extracted from Sinister's lab, "There is still much to be done even after this key victory. He already used that machine of his once and since he's still alive, it's almost a given that he'll try again."
"So we'll stop him again..." scoffed Pyro, "For now, I just need a little shut eye."
Pryo and Gambit then proceeded to their respective rooms. Sabretooth, being the mystery he was, went off to the kitchen to get himself a late night snack. Colossus had every intention of getting some sleep as well. However, for Mystique and Magneto, the night was just beginning.
"Bring him to the medical area, Piotr," ordered Magneto as he led the Russian born mutant towards the back area of the facility that he had converted into a makeshift hospital similar to Xavier's, "We must find out if Sinister did anything to him."
Upon reaching the sterilized room, Mystique promptly turned on the lights and readied some of the machinery. Thanks to his money and connections, Magneto had managed to salvage some pretty decent medical equipment and because of his vast array of mutant physiology, he had tailored it quite well for treating mutants injured in battle. In this struggle against Sinister, there was no shortage of injuries. However, this newcomer was a mystery and if he had come into contact with Sinister, there was no telling what had been done to him.
Upon placing the unmoving body that was once Scott Summers on one of the beds, Colossus then turned back to Magneto, who was still readying some of the equipment for use.
"Are you certain he is not dead?" asked the Russian as he looked down at the deathly still body, "I find it hard to detect any signs of life within him."
"Trust me Piotr...He's alive," said Mystique confidently, "If he was dead then Sinister either would have discarded him or dissected him already. Whatever has been done to him has left him in a rather frail. And if Sinister hasn't wiped his mind then he may prove to be a vital ally in destroying that madman once and for all."
"Well said Raven," said Magneto as he placed some electrodes on the young man's head and chest, "Do not worry about him Piotr. Just get some rest for now. I'll inform you and the others about his status in the morning."
With a silent nod, the Russian born mutant made his exit and retired to his room. To him, it was remarkable how different Magneto and Mystique were compared to their pre-Apocalypse counterparts. It may have been hard for him to accept at first, but it appeared that they had genuinely changed for the better as a result of their experience. Colossus often associated Pyro's comments of them being more "Xavierish" as proof that things were different. These comments didn't bother Magneto in the slightest, however, and he actually had made leaps and bounds to rectify his behavior in the past. And in doing so, Colossus and the rest of the Acolytes had come to see their former boss in a new light. Ever since Sinister tried to capture his sister for his experiments, nearly killing his family in the process, he had seen what true madness really was. Sinister made the old Magneto look like a poster child for sanity. He was out to protect his family while Gambit and Pyro were out for other incentives. Magneto had promised Gambit some generous financial incentives and resources to get him out of his predicament Thieves Guild back in New Orleans and he promised Pyro help and money in getting him into the United States legally in order to avoid criminal charges back in his homeland of Australia. Now, they were less an evil pro-mutant organization and more a group of secret mutant peacekeepers, trying to stop an enemy that even Xavier wouldn't want to touch. Colossus had long speculated what Apocalypse had done to Magneto and Mystique in order for them to have such a dramatic change of heart. He had tried asking them before, but neither of them really showed a desire to talk about it. However, the Russian pushed that thought aside for now as he retired to his quarters for some much needed rest.
However, back with Magneto and Mystique, the night was still far from over and sleep was the last thing on their minds for the time being.
"Hmm...That's strange," said Eric as he looked at the vitals of the young man on the display screen.
"What do you mean?" asked Mystique, having been very curious about this young man since she first saw him trapped in Sinister's lab.
"I can't be certain...But from these readings I can only surmise that he's in some strange coma," said the master of magnetism, finding some of these readings to be odd even for Sinister.
"Strange as in...Any other person, mutant or not, would be dead now if they were in the same state," answered Eric as he and his female associate turned back and looked upon the strange young man they had saved from Sinister.
Both mutants simply stood in silence as they looked over the mysterious body. It was as still as a statue, yet still slightly warm with life. It was as if he was dead and alive at the same time.
"I can't be certain...But it seems as though this coma, or whatever it may be, is slowly wearing off at a constant rate. It's not like regular comas in a sense, but near as I can guess...At his current rate he should wake up in day or so."
"No doubt he'll be confused..." mused Mystique as she and Eric continued to check the young man for abnormalities that Sinister may have induced, "Maybe he can help us when he finally does come to, but I doubt Sinister will want that. I'll bet he's already plotting to get him back somehow."
"I wouldn't be surprised," said Magneto in agreement, "That's why we have to keep him away from Sinister and learn as much as possible about him in the process. Did you find any other information on who he is while you were in the lab?"
"I did..." said Mystique as she retrieved the folder she had placed on one of the tables, "According to this file, his name is Blake Hellstrom. But Sinister has given him the codename, Blaze."
"Then I guess it's safe to assume that he is a mutant," concluded the master of magnetism, "Does it say what his powers are?"
"No...Just a bunch of personal data that Sinister probably stole," answered Mystique as she flipped through the papers, "According to this, he's an orphan from New York City. He spent a few years in a couple of foster homes, but ended up back in an orphanage until he turned 18 and became a drifter. Not a very big profile for a mutant."
"And logically so..." said Magneto, "It would make him all the easier to handle and few people would be concerned with the disappearance of some nameless drifter. He's a perfect candidate for one of Sinister's abductions."
"But what do you think he did to him?" asked Mystique as she looked back at the body.
"That my friend..." said Eric as he brought out another strange looking medical apparatus, "Is what we are going to have to find out for ourselves."
Magneto then proceeded to attach a strange looking headband around the young man's head while running a strange, modified scanner over his physique. If this young man was a mutant as both Mystique and Magneto has assumed, then this scan would help determine what kind of mutant he was and what kind of powers he had. Like Xavier, Magneto had an array of computers that helped him identify and study mutants and genetic mutation. While smaller than Cerebro, it did provide similar data output when used.
As the computer array began deciphering the incoming data from the scan, Mystique and Magneto could do nothing more than simply wait for the results. Since this young man had been involved with Sinister, they knew to be ready to expect anything. Sinister was a true wildcard and it would be a great mistake on their part if they didn't take that into account in dealing with him.
As both Eric Lensherr and Raven Darkholm watched the large computer screen in anticipation, the mystery of the young man only grew. Neither of them had ever heard of the name, Blake Hellstrom. If he was a mutant, wouldn't Xavier know about him if they hadn't? And if he was from the New York area, why hadn't they detected him? They were big questions, but as long as he remained in his deep coma, the answers would continue to elude them. In addition to the mystery of his origin...There remained something else about him that seemed somewhat...Strange. His blonde, dread locked hair, elaborate tattoos, and broad muscles made him stand out physically, but there was still this feeling that there was much more beneath that alluring appearance that neither of them could identify yet.
Finally, even as they both contemplated the mysteries of this young man, the results came up on the computer screen and both Magneto and Mystique froze at the sight of what they were seeing.
"Raven...How long have we known each other?" said Eric, his eyes still fixated on the computer screen.
"For over 20 years..." answered Mystique, equally fixated on the readings that the machine was giving them.
"And in all those years...Have you ever seen anything quite like this before?"
The shape shifter simply watched the final readings on the machine in a daze for a brief moment, now wondering about the mystery of this young man more than ever.
"I can safely say that I haven't," answered Mystique, "But...Just what the hell is he? I've never seen a DNA structure like that before in my life."
"Nor I...And I have studied mutation and DNA for the better half of my life," said Magneto as he looked back at the young man, then back at the computer screen, "But this young man...He's a class in of himself. His cell structure, his body, his brainwaves...They're all unlike anything I've ever seen."
"Coming from you, that's quite a statement," said Mystique, "But what could something like this mean? How can he look so human if his DNA is so different?"
"I honestly don't know..." said Magneto, shaking his head in defeat, "His physiology is still mostly human, but his cellular structure and function is...For lack of a better word, different."
"How so?" asked Mystique, knowing that Eric probably knew the details better than her.
"Well...For many reasons," said Eric as he looked at all the discrepancies of the young man's DNA, "For one...Most humans are 99% identical on the genetic level. Mutants are only a few factors different and most of that DNA isn't used for anything anyways...But with this structure, over half of the DNA is being used. Even his X-gene is an anomaly in that it is present in all chromosomes. Every cell seems to have it and can carry out functions that probably don't even exist in humans."
"So he's an advanced mutant like you and me?" said Mystique, trying to process everything that Magneto was telling her to the best of her abilities.
"He's more than advanced...He's on a different level entirely," said Magneto ominously, "There's no telling how strong he is."
"What about his powers?"
"I'm not sure...But according to this he has some kind of energy manipulation power," said Magneto as he looked at the readings, "And it's quite powerful from the looks of it."
"I'm guessing that Sinister probably sent him through that enhancement machine because I don't see how nature could do anything like this," added Mystique, feeling as though only a man like Sinister could ever pull a feat like this off.
"You'd probably guess right Raven..." said Magneto as they both ran through more amounts of the dizzyingly bizarre data, "And that's not all..."
"What? There's more?" said the shape shifter, growing increasingly disturbed at the level of mystery that this young man had brought with him from Sinister's lab.
"Yes...From the brainwave scans," answered Magneto as he pulled them up, "For the most part, his mind is still in the usual state of a coma...But it appears to be functioning very well on all levels...Except for one."
Magneto then hit a few key strokes and brought up what looked like a wave chart.
"Notice anything different?" asked Magneto as he let Mystique look over the image for herself.
Mystique took a few moments to see what Magneto was talking about. She may not have been an expert in the field of biology, but she knew enough from her experience over the years to recognize an inconsistency. And while it did take a moment, something did eventually catch her eye.
"What's this flat part?" asked the shape shifter, "It doesn't look like the rest of the chart."
"That..." began Magneto as he zoomed in on the area, "Would be the memory section of his brain. The flat line indicates no activity. Therefore...He has no memories of his life."
"No memories? You mean like amnesia?" said Mystique, growing all the more intrigued.
"No...The only way to have a complete flat scan of activity in this test is if were deliberately erased..." answered Magneto, "It fits Sinister profile. It's a logical way to control someone...And if there's one thing Sinister loves to do, its control powerful things."
Looking back at the young man, both mutants couldn't help but feel sorry for him when he woke up. In the times before their experience with Apocalypse, they never would have felt such feelings for an unfortunate being, mutant or human. But this lack of compassion seemed too...Sinister-like. And neither of them wanted to be anything like that madman after fighting so hard against him these last few months and learning just how evil such feelings had truly made them in the past.
"Yeah...That definitely sounds like Sinister," muttered Mystique, knowing all too well that man's cruelty, "Do you know if he induced any mind control over him as well?"
Magneto did a check. If this young man was under any kind of control from Sinister, then he would be a great risk to them and everybody else for that matter. However, as he checked the readings...He was relieved by what he saw.
"No...If there were any signs of control, then this machine surely would have picked up on them," answered Magneto, "If he was going to do so...We probably stopped him before he could. It appears that only his memories are gone and that's all."
A heavy silence soon fell over them as Eric and Raven walked back over to the bedside of the comatose young man. His deathly still form left many unanswered questions and the scan of his body had only rose more. Whatever Sinister had done to him, he was now a very different being. His body was unlike anything nature had ever produced and Sinister's cruelty definitely showed in what was done to the young man. To them, he didn't look like some soldier or a mindless henchmen...He looked like a lost soul.
"So what are we going to do with him?" asked Mystique as they both stood before Sinister's unfortunate test subject.
Looking down at him, Eric Lensherr felt another twinge of anger towards Sinister. It was bad enough he had to live with the fact that he was partially responsible for what had happened to this young man, but knowing that Sinister was still out there and willing to put anybody, mutant or human, through an ordeal like this was not something he wanted to lay on his already weighted conscious. On that day when he was finally released from Apocalypse's control, the first thing he saw was his children, Wanda and Pietro, standing by his side. Wanda was still under the influence of Mastermind's illusions and Pietro still hated him for his betrayal...But they had helped save him none the less. They, along with the rest of the Brotherhood and the X-men, freed him from Apocalypse's control even after all his sins. Only under the ancient mutant's control did the old holocaust survivor relive the tragedy that was his life...It made him remember things he had tried to forget. And in the end, it awakened his long dead emotions, which instead of weakening him...Gave him the strength to change and fix past mistakes...Like Sinister.
"We keep him here," answered Magneto, "He has nowhere else to go...He has no home and no life worth returning to according to his file. And even if he did, Sinister would probably just attack and try to abduct him again to finish what he started."
"No doubt he'll be confused when he wakes up," said Mystique, "How do you expect to handle something like that? We know nothing of treating problems like that."
"Well we can't bring him to Xavier's," reasoned Magneto, "You know I want to keep him and his students out of this conflict with Sinister. And sending him there will only prompt Sinister to attack those who didn't have to be attacked."
"Not to mention my kids are still there," said Mystique, sounding somewhat more solemn at the mention of the children she had failed to win back after so many complications, "And you know I don't want them involved with Sinister."
"Which is why we must keep him here," affirmed Eric as he turned off the machines, "We must help him so he doesn't grow confused and angry...And if necessary, we must protect him from Sinister. He must not be allowed to complete his goals. He has already come too close as it is."
It was a sobering reminder of just how lucky they had been in their attack. Had they not stopped Sinister when they had, either young Blake would be mind controlled or worse. But he still had no memories of who he was or where he had come from. And thanks to the alterations to his appearance, Mystique and Magneto did no recognize him. Either way, despite their victory over Sinister, it would be a long hard road towards ending this secret war with Sinister.
"So how long do you think it will take before he wakes up?" asked Mystique as they removed the electrodes from his head and chest.
"I would estimate in about 36 hours at the most...Maybe less given his body chemistry," surmised Magneto.
"So we just keep him here until then?"
"No..." said Eric, "I used to work with trauma victims many years ago alongside Charles and I've dealt with such things before. He needs to be in a comfortable surrounding...Not a hospital bed. We'll put him in one of the spare bedrooms and watch over him until he wakes up. Only then will we know the true extent of Sinister's affects on him. Just remember...He'll most likely be dazed and confused when he awakes and the last thing we want to do is spook him."
"Sounds like a plan," said Mystique as she let out an exasperated sigh, "But I don't know how to handle victims of trauma like you...I couldn't even make amends with my kids."
"You've changed Raven," assured Eric, "We both have. Apocalypse made us see things differently...That's why we're fighting alongside one another against an enemy Xavier himself would fight. I've seen how different you have become not just towards others like the Brotherhood, but as a person. And if I can do it, so can you. Just don't let yourself be afraid..."
"I'm not afraid Eric..." muttered the shape shifter, "I just don't have much experience in showing a more 'gentle' side."
The master of magnetism let out a light laugh, something he had only been able to enjoy after his horrible ordeal with Apocalypse. In working with her these past few months, Eric had gotten to know Raven quite well and he had learned that they were very similar in many ways. They both struggled for acceptance their whole lives, they both had undergone great change as a result of Apocalypse, and they had both struggled with mending their relationships with their children. And while she was different in many ways, some parts of her were still the same.
"You really don't need experience in it Raven," said Eric as he prepared to move Blake to a more comfortable bedroom, "You just can't be afraid to show it...And believe me, I know you have it in you."
"Yeah right..." she scoffed, somewhat irked by Magneto's humored take on her predicament.
"Say what you will...But I guess we'll just have to wait and see now won't we?"
The students of the Xavier Institute had gathered under a dreary, rainy sky on a small ridge outside the institute in a state of sorrow and sadness. Professor Charles Xavier had made the decision to push the funeral ahead of schedule. The state of the mansion was in just too grave a state...Something had to be done to bring closure to friends and family that Scott had left behind. They would have to move on...They would have to let go and accept the fact that Scott was gone and never coming back. In addition to the need for the students, Charles Xavier also needed this for himself. He wasn't there when his first student had died and he wasn't there to say goodbye. And even thought they had no body to bury because of the sheer magnitude of the explosion, there would still remain a memorial to mark the all too brief life of a young man he thought of as nothing short of a son.
Despite the absence of a body, or any other remains for that matter, Xavier had still arranged for an empty casket to be buried with articles that others had contributed. There were things like his spare X-men uniform, pictures, drawings, cards, and many other things that the students used to say goodbye to their friend. Alex was also there...Saying goodbye to his brother all over again after only having recently found him. Logan and Hank had flown the X-jet to Hawaii to pick him up even though he was still in a state of denial. But eventually...He came. If for anything...To actually say goodbye this time.
There were dry faces as the service progressed and the casket was lowered into the ground before a neatly carved gravestone that read 'In loving memory of Scott Summers. Friend, leader, and X-man. He will be greatly missed.'
For many, this funeral was the first time anybody had seen Jean come out of her room since the tragedy. Few people denied that she was one of the hardest hit by this event. She had been in love with Scott...She had known him and been close friends with him since they were both twelve years old. For so long now...Jean had always seen Scott as the one stable constant in her life. He was the one who kept her grounded and whole. Ever since she arrived at the institute and struggled with her powers Scott had been there to share in the struggles that they had both suffered in their lives. Falling in love with him and coming together had brought so much joy to her life even after all the struggles they had to go through to get to that point. They were together, happy, and looking forward to a future with one another...But now it was all gone.
As each member of the institute, old and new, placed a single rare rose from Ororo's garden before Scott's grave...Professor Charles Xavier gave one last speech before they all bid farewell to their friend and leader one last time.
"I know that this day...Has been hard for all of you to handle," struggled the Professor, trying to say the speech he had practiced so many times before the previous night, "In our youth...We like to think that death is not a trouble we need concern ourselves with. We...Think that we are invincible because of the great amount of time that we still have left on this Earth. We like to think that...Just because we fight for what we believe to be the side of good, we will always come out on top. But unfortunately...That is not true. We are all fragile mortal beings. Some of us have experienced death in our lives more than we care to reveal...But experience never makes it any easier. We have lost someone very dear to us all now...Someone who had his whole life ahead of him. But he willingly sacrificed that life so that others could live on. What Scott did that night was very brave...But it doesn't make it any easier for us to deal with. You all know about Scott's life and death...But we must all take comfort in the knowledge that he's watching over us now wherever he is. And I guess there's not much else for me to say other than...Goodbye Scott...We will all miss you dearly."
Some began to cry upon hearing those final words of the Professor's speech as the coffin containing the dedications to Scott Summers were laid to rest along with his soul, now and forever. Kitty had collapsed into Kurt's arms as he led her away back to the mansion along with others like Rogue who found it hard to contain their grief. One by one, everybody said their final goodbyes to their friend and leader...Gently touching the stone monument in a gesture of respect.
Jean Grey stayed the longest at the monument...Holding in her hands Scott's ruby-quartz glasses that had concealed his eyes from the rest of the world. These small spectacles were all that remained of him and she grasped them with a great level of feeling...As if she could feel Scott's warmth beyond the grave. Jean had tried to speak about Scott during the service...But she found it too hard. She ended up having to be helped to her feet by Ororo and Logan in the end as her emotions overtook her.
All throughout the funeral, Jean had been holding on to the glasses and searching through their dead link for any signs of him even though she knew he was dead. However, each time she found nothing but emptiness...Sad, lonely emptiness. Jean didn't know how she would ever fully recover from this loss...Or if she ever would for that matter. A part of her had died with Scott that day...A part of her that she treasured. And as hard as it was to think about...She found herself gently touching the gravestone of her dead lover.
"Goodbye Scott...Thank you for giving me so much happiness in my life...Thank you for being there for me," said Jean softly as she sobbed in the cold, dreary rain, "I only wish I was there for you...And I don't know how I'll move on but...I'll do it for you. You truly knew me better than anybody ever has...Or ever will. And...I'll always love you...No matter what."
Jean found it too hard to go on after that as she closer her eyes and let her tears flow freely. Although everybody was gone, Jean felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and she turned to see that Alex had also not left.
"I'm sorry..." she said, her voice still choked with emotion.
"You have no reason to be..." said Alex as he brought his brother's soul mate into a comforting embrace.
For the second time in his life...Alex Summers had to deal with the death of his brother. He had lived for 10 years thinking he was dead only to find him alive in a most unexpected way. Now, after having only been reunited for a mere year and a half...He was saying goodbye once again.
As they broke the embrace, Jean turned her attention to the ruby-quartz glasses that she had been holding in her hands the entire time.
"Maybe you should have this..." said Jean, presenting the red glasses that Scott had always worn, "It may not be much...But he was your brother and..."
However, Alex cut her off as he shook his head in a solemn gesture.
"No...I think he would have wanted you to have it," said Alex as he swallowed hard upon seeing the glasses that his brother had worn for so long, "You gave him a lot and I don't think anybody else deserves it more than you. I guess...I should thank you for making my brother so happy even though I wasn't there when I should have been."
Alex couldn't bare much more of this sadness...For a part of him was still in denial. But in seeing the love of Scott's life and his grave standing before him, it finally began to truly sink in. It had been hard enough when he was just a young boy and was forced to contend with so much death...But it was equally hard this time around to find and lose his brother all over again.
"Just know that...If you ever need anything...Or ever want to talk...I'll be there," assured Alex, "I know how much my brother really loved you...And that makes you family."
"Thanks..." managed Jean as she held onto the glasses, promising to treasure them for as long as she lived.
As Alex left, Jean lingered for a little while longer on the ridge. She kept the glasses close to her...Looking down at their gentle shine as they reflected her image. These glasses were the last part of Scott that she had. In feeling them...It was almost as if she could connect with a part of him in some way. Deep in her mind, she still didn't want to believe that Scott was dead. Deep in her mind, she still tried to hold on to whatever hope she could muster. But the feelings that she experienced on that fateful moment when she felt the love of her life die in her mind were just too hard to forget. Yet still...Part of her yearned kept searching through the mind link...Refusing to accept it. It was sheer torture to her...Having a part of her that would not accept the fact that he was gone. But the feeling just wouldn't leave her...And it was unclear to her now if it ever would.
AN: Well, I can safely say things have become a lot more complicated now. Mystique and Magneto have no idea what they truly have now and the rest of the institute has already accepted Scott's death. Crazy isn't it? Well there's still more to come! It's not over by a long shot! Stay tuned to see how Scott, or Blake if you want to call him that now, reacts when he wakes up! There is still plenty of drama and angst to come! Stay tuned to see how things develop for all sides! And don't forget...REVIEW! Send them to me via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Thank you all for reading thus far and I wish you all the best!
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