Withdrawal

August 14, 2015:

While some of the X-Men suffer withdrawal symptoms from the 'smooth gas' unleashed on the M-Town riots, they discuss the Purifiers, the SRD, and a chilling report from Aspect.

X-Men Base - Infirmary

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Misguided Missile by Manic Street Preachers


Fade In…

The last thing Scott Summers recalled was a blinding pain in his head.

In the X-Men Infirmary, the leader has been stripped down to his skivvies. Sensors are placed on his temple, and there's an IV in his arm, a sleek, automated medical computer drone beeping quietly beside him. His toes curl, and he lifts a leg, before turning to the side and groaning.

"What… the… hell…"

Reaching up, his hand brushes past his nose and bumps into the ruby mask that has been fixed to his head. He's worn this mask before; they used it when he was unconscious, to prevent any waking catastrophe.

Last night, when the mutants had lost their powers, Scott's optic blast had gone away as well, but the headaches had come back. Just like they were when he was a boy, only intensified beyond comprehension; so painful that they had ripped consciousness from him.

Feeling the mask over his face, he grumbles to himself and clumsily sits upright. "Damn it. Med-computer, take this mask off my face," he grumbles.

*

Kurt Wagner wasn't injured, directly, but he teleported himself pretty much to his limit. He didn't end up in the med-wing, but he did end up sleeping in quite a bit, along with taking some massive doses of Aleve. He comes down to check on Scott while still in his robe and a set of "Captain Jack Sparrow" themed pajamas. He had to cut out a special hole to account for the tail, though.

He's carrying a steaming mug of tea in one hand, his blue-black hair ruffled as he makes his way in just in time to hear Scott talking.

"Ach, mein freund, you are sounding irritable. That is a good sign - no need to worry about brain damage changing your personality," he says with a tinge of amusement.

*

For her own part, Emma Frost would have much preferred simply returning to her penthouse and her life. But after last night, she was far more helpless than Emma finds remotely acceptable. Which, of course, made her far more irritable and short-tempered than normal. How anyone could tell would be an interesting question, given her usual persona. But powerless, subjected to debilitating headaches, exposed to some unknown drug, Emma groused and bitched but did not stop the others from bringing her to the Mansion and ensconcing her in the medical bay.

After the diagnosis was confirmed, Emma accepted pain killers and sleep. Thankfully, she was able to get Elizabeth to gather some proper clothes, since what she had been wearing was ill-suited to start with, and reduced to scraps by gunfire against diamond-hard body.

Dressed now in a shimmering white silk robe, over exceptionally pale blue silk pajamas, Emma somehow makes this very modest attire seem almost - if not quite - inappropriately sexy, as she lays back in her own medbay bed. She has a tablet on her lap, crated by her slightly raised legs, and is tapping through it, apparently keeping up on work.

Then some grouchypuss starts ordering around the computer minions.

The platinum blonde arches her eyebrow slightly, watching the drama unfold without saying a word, without giving away her presence by anything at all - beyond that she is there, and that light hint of her perfumed scent in the air. She watches Summers' interactions with Wagner, keeping her face impassive despite her deep-seeded curiosity. This is the one who saved Summers last night, she recalls. She is rather curious how he was able to do that. But the vagueries of such things are beyond her patience right now, so she is not inquiring of the computers an answer. She's just waiting. Waiting for everything to return to normal.

Emma Frost is not one to confront the world unless she is at her best. And she is most definitely not at her best right now.

*

Hearing Kurt first, Scott turns his head in a partly blinded way toward the mutant. A rueful smirk spreads across his lips. "I've had enough brain damage for one lifetime," he grumps, while the robotic arm goes about detaching the mask and replacing it with his red glasses. Once the glasses are on, he sighs and opens his eyes, wincing at the sharpness of the light. He already knows where he is; what he doesn't know is what happened after he passed out.

"So, what happened?" he asks Kurt. "M-Town? Are you alright? Is everyone -"

He breaks for a moment upon catching sight of Emma. His mouth just hangs open for a moment, before he mentally slaps himself upside the head and comes back to earth.

"Is everyone alright?"

*

Kurt Wagner takes a sip of his tea and sighs, "Things are…better. The battle, as I'm sure you noticed, got somewhat out of hand. The National Guard was called in and the SRD have been disempowered and are under investigation. M-Town is quiet, for the first time in a long time, and I am praying that it stays that way," he sighs. "Other than being temporarily depowered by the gas, there don't seem to be any serious injuries, at least on our side. There were deaths, though, far too many," Kurt says, his brow furrowing as he remembers the helicopter he helped to crash tearing through human lives. Even if they were bigots and killers, Kurt feels uneasy about playing a part in those deaths.

When Scott's eyes land on Emma, Kurt follows his gaze for a moment, looking over at the woman. He knows her only from the briefs placed in the computer system to identify her and welcome her, but he hasn't met the woman directly. Kurt nods to her, having appreciated her help last night, and then turns back to Scott.

"How has Jean been, by the way? She and I…things grew a bit difficult between us while you and Rachel were imprisoned. I think she blamed me, in part, for backing your play…or perhaps just needed someone to be angry with, since you weren't around…"

*

Alright? Did Summers just ask if 'everyone is alright'? Seriously? A moment of true heat flares from Emma's pale blue eyes, and then is tamped down.

Control. Discipline. Show nothing. No weakness. No emotion.

"Of those brought here, to the Mansion, I am under the impression all are well." Emma intones with utmost formality and not a hint of emotion, positive or negative. "Of course, as Herr Vagner has said," Yes, Emma pronounces the proper Vee for the W in Kurt's last name. "dozens perished last night. And in spite of it all, those truly responsible were not outed, identified, or stopped. And there will be more death before they are stopped, as a result."

Somehow, despite Emma's dispassion, there is an ache in those words that would seem most un-Emma-like. If one knew. Or cared.

Emma says nothing about Jean, because she has not seen the woman in a week. And she wasn't asked.

*

"The Guard?" Scott clarifies, frowning. The National Guard isn't simply called into a situation on a whim. The news is both troubling and heartening all at once; troubling that the situation got that nasty, but heartening that the United States Government was willing to put its assets on the line to protect the mutants.

Given what Steve Rogers told him of President Upton, he shouldn't be surprised.

Kurt's report draws a heavy look from Scott; there had been too much death before the searing pain knocked him out. It would make sense that there was more to be had, but hearing it confirmed doesn't make the thought much easier. What does take him by surprise, is word that their powers were removed by some sort of gas.

At once, Scott turns back toward the medical computer. "Computer, access all medical files, dated 8/13 to 8/14. Designation, Cyclops, access code nine-cyke-ten-alpha."

"Voiceprint and genetic scan confirmed," answers the computer's soothing, male voice. Within moments, medical charts for those X-Men injured in the battle begin to scroll past, but there's one thing Scott is looking for in particular. When he finds it, he sits back onto his medical cot with a worried frown. "Of course. Exgenta-diacetylmorphine." He spins the computer terminal around so that the others can see. "That gas was laced with 'smooth', the street drug. We're going to experience symptoms similar to heroin withdrawal."

Irritated now, Scott rises from the cot and begins pacing around the room. Doing so causes him to feel a bit nauseous - a thing common with heroin withdrawal - which only serves to make him scowl further.

. . o o O O (I did not make it thirty one years drug free only to get suckered into this bullshit.)

Reaching the end of the room, Scott pops open a locker and grabs a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, quickly dressing himself. An agreeable expression is shot toward Emma Frost, and he adds more to her concerns. "And who weaponized exgenta-diacetylmorphine into an aerosolized spray? From what I understand, when we destroyed HYDRA's distribution networks, we cut off 'the smooth' once and for all."

That momentary concern voiced, the now-dressed Scott Summers is drawn back to Kurt's question about Jean. He appears frustrated - in truth, it's entirely a result of feeling a vicious headache and terrible nausea - but the frustration could be misplaced by another. "She's… I'm not sure, Kurt," he admits. Curiosity piqued, he walks back to his medical cot and begins looking for the box where his belongings should be stowed. His wristwatch should be able to locate her position, but an easier method might be to just pick up his cell phone and give her a ring.

*

Rachel enters the infirmary, looking surprisingly well for someone who had taken several bullets. At least a few of them had wounded her, but her body armor had stopped therest thankfully.

Of course, she had Kurt to thank for her escape before the National Guard arrived.

She looked at Scott with almost a bit of pity, having left the medbay when he was still unconscious, "You doing okay Dad? You seem to pass out at the worst times. Must be old age."

Emma and Kurt are smiled at before she takes a seat on Scott's former cot.

*

Kurt Wagner sighs as he hops up onto a stool, his legs folding neatly beneath him with a slightly inhuman level of flexibility, his tail flicking down underneath the tail of his robe. He takes a sip of his tea. He nods to Emma's assumption, "Ja, we should be putting work into investigating and finding the Purifiers and others of their ilk at their source, rather than waiting for them to attack and being forced to defend. The lady speaks true," he says.

As Scott starts to bustle about, Kurt frowns slightly, his fangs showing a hint against his lips, "Scott…Scott…Cyclops, please, for your own sake, take a seat. There will be time enough to track down these things when you have not just awakened from yet another ordeal. And, in fact, I am sure other members of the team are pursuing those very leads - Henry, I am certain, would be a wise choice to help find solutions to this weaponized drug, for example. Frankly, I was surprised to see you last night - after so much you have been through, you andRachel alike…I am not so certain that putting yourself on the front lines again so soon is wise or prudent for your health."

*

Emma says nothing. She sits. She listens. Because she learned long ago that if one really wants to be in control, step one is not opening your mouth when you can instead sit there impassively and let everyone else babble and fill in the blanks. But her thoughts are startlingly similar to Scott's when it is confirmed what they were exposed to was in fact a narcotic.

If she could find the people who did that? She'd end their existence. Period. That's how much it offends Emma. Perhaps she should make a point of finding those responsible. That might make her feel better. Somewhat.

Damn feelings.

Since she does not know who is cleared, Emma says nothing about the work she has been doing with Nathan and Elizabeth on the Purifiers. She simply sits quietly, still watching. Still listening. Then?

"Summers. Just pick up the phone. Call the woman. And sit down before your pacing causes my nausea to peak, thank you very much." Note to all: They did a lot more with this gas, given it was able to affect her when she didn't breathe it in.

*

The door to the medical bay opens and Betsy steps in, amethyst eyes flickering in a gestalt examination of everyone present. Scott gets a nod, as does Kurt. Almost without thinking about it she moves to a position near Emma; she'd endured Emma's fuming harangues of the SRD, Smooth, and the world in general with a surprising amount of patience, letting the woman alternately vent her spleen and stew in icy fury.

Wearing her maxi-dress and sandaled wedges, she's obviously dressed up in something that requires a minimum amount of effort to get into and look presentable. Of course, her hair and makeup look flawless as always, but there's only so much one can do about bruises and multiple cuts which she's obviously sutured shut with liberal amounts of superglue. She holds a hand up to forestall any questions about the splint on her wrist, reducing her mobility but not limited it significantly. "It's fine. A sprain," she says, her fask the stoic mask it often is when she's masking intense pain or emotions. She hands Emma what looks like a tea-leaf lozenge, then moves to Scott and Kurt and offers them one as well.

"From the kipyat bush, in Indonesia," she explains. "It helps reduce the effects of heavy withdrawals." How she has that knowledge- or drugs from Indonesia- are questions probably best not asked.

She moves to Emma's bed again and glances at the woman's charts, then shoots Emma a brief and unreadable look before turning back to Scott and Kurt.

"I assume you can't raise Jean, either?" she asks Scott, bluntly. "She stopped responding to my texts two days ago. I'm concerned, too."

*

Sure. He can sit and rest. As soon as he's got his phone.

"I've been better," admits Scott to Rachel, before finally reclaiming his seat on the cot next to Rachel. He seems a bit alarmed at Kurt's expression of concern, but he doesn't argue. He's probably right. Jean was probably right. He should take a vacation.

But he probably won't, because he's a stubborn son of a bitch.

Emma's quip about nausea draws a mirthful look. "Tell me about it," he grumps in agreement. With Betsy's entrance, he sends the woman a slow and downward nod of his head, and the offer of the kipyat lozenge is welcomed. "Thanks," he answers… it isn't more than a second when the item touches his tongue that its disgusting flavor strikes him full force. He handles it well, though he can't hide the sour look on his face.

Phone in hand, he rings up Jean's number. He sits there, patiently, as it rings five times, then goes to voicemail. "Two days?" he asks Elizabeth, while pulling the phone away to eyeball his missed notifications. There are quite a few of them, but one thing in particular draws his eye; it is an encoded e-mail, transferred to him from X-Red, originally sent by 'Aspect', with the subject line of 'What The Hell?'

He learned some time ago that Aspect never calls just to chat.

Pulling up the e-mail out of curiosity, it immediately begins to play an embedded video file. Brows furrow for a second or two, when suddenly, Scott's expression is filled with dread. It's an expression that is matched by the mournful words that come next.

"Oh…. God. No."

*

Rachel accepts the coughdrop Betsy with a smile but anything she had to say is taken from her at the sight and psychic impression her father leaves.

She snatches the phone from him with telekinesis, so she can see what he did asking, "What was it?" She would find out soon enough.

*

Kurt Wagner leans in and glances at the e-mail and its content. He closes his eyes for a long moment and sighs. He wonders, at times, if there will ever be peace, if there will ever be hope. If their lives are not merely meant to be one more trial after another after another…as one door closes, another opens, with the flames of hell behind it…

He just sinks to the floor for a moment and lays his head in his hands…

*

Betsy doesn't reach for the phone- she reaches out rather premptorially with her brain and just hijacks the neural signal from Scott directly, watching with his eyes.

Showing remarkable aplomb, she merely closes her eyes and takes a slow, meditative breath, then exhales through marginally pursed lips. Because /of course/ Jean's been subverted.

"She's not moving like herself," the ninja says, coming to the aid of the stunned psychic inside of her. She glances at Rachel, hoping for some agreement. Surely Rachel's seen this device or something like it. "Too aggressive. Her posture's all wrong. That's not how she fights." An odd expression, but to a disciple of the arts of violence, it's as telling as if Jean was speaking to her in a robotic monotone.

*

Were Lunair present, she might be worried about the infirmary door becoming the unfortunate recipient of an optic blast. However, Scott has changed. For good or for ill has yet to be determined. A particular numbness comes over him, and it's not at all the result of Betsy's Indonesian lozenge.

"It's not a deep cover operation," he clarifies after a momentary silence that lingers just a bit longer than it should have. His words lack emotion, they're just words. There is a nod of agreement to Betsy's assertion regarding the way Jean is acting in the video.

"Mimic will use Cerebro to try and locate her. If that fails, we will need trackers to locate her. Logan." He looks to Kurt. "Kurt, if you're feeling up to it." He looks back to the others. "I'll speak with Aspect, make sure he knows that we are on board. We locate her, we stop whatever is influencing her, and we find out who's responsible."

What happens after that is to be determined. It's a hard knock life for an X-Man… he'll make the call when it's needed.

*

Despite being able to do any of the things listed, just as good as the individuals listed or better; she's ignored again.

Rachel shrugs her shoulders and starts to walk out of the medbay, made to feel useless once again.

*

Kurt Wagner pushes himself up to his feet and sighs, nodding, 'Of course, I will do whatever is needed," he says. He feels the spiritual fatigue weighing on him, of course, but that is nothing new. No, all too much, recently, it has become part of the weft and weave of his life.

"Perhaps it would help to contact Madrox - he's become a skilled investigator and, if conventional means don't come through, his detective agency could prove useful in the matter." Not to mention that Kurt himself is moonlighting a little bit as an investigator himself, although he rarely has the time to indulge it as of late. "And make sure to tell Aspect that if he lays his sword upon Jean, he'll have my sword to deal with…Itire of this in-fighting."

*

Betsy moves towards Kurt and touches his shoulder, a brief but sincere gesture of sympathy and expression that otherwise doesn't cross her face. "Don't overdo it. He's speaking out of anger, not spite," she reminds Kurt.

"Rachel," she says, calling to the redhead. "My concern is that someone might encourage a more… radical expression of your mother's powers," she says, the words carefully chosen. "If you can monitor that situation and look for a surge of power before it comes to fruition, you might end up saving the world. …again," she amends.

"I will work on things from my end," she assures Scott, moving to the door herself and concealing a limp. "If Calvin has issue with Cerebro, then I can help him; Jean and Charles have at least given me a bit of practiced notion as to how it operates," she says, glancing once uneasily. Cerebro is no toy.

*

"Good idea," Scott answers Kurt with a nod. Gratitude breaks through the numbness, for his help. He doesn't, however, remark on the issue of Aspect. Betsy has said enough on that one.

Rachel's would be departure draws a frown to his face, and he rises slowly. He agrees with Elizabeth's assessment. "Yes. We need you," he agrees, before returning his attention to Betsy. "Thanks," he offers, then casts a look to Emma. "We are officially released from medical," he advises her, and begins pulling the wireless nodes from his body, dropping them on a table. He'll go work off the withdrawals in his quarters, and he suspects Emma may wish to do the same.

The doctors can scold him later.

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