Logan suddenly unfolds himself from his little corner on the couch and starts to pace the length of the living room. Alec stands up too, but he knows better than to approach Logan in this state.
“Talk to me?” he murmurs quietly.
Logan hugs himself and shakes his head, “No, enough, no more.”
“Okay, okay, no more. Come here, Logan… come here.”
Alec waits, his arms outstretched, for his soft pleas to register with Logan. It takes a while before Logan stops pacing and looks at Alec like he’s looking at a stranger. Another few seconds pass before his shoulders visibly drop and Logan walks into the inviting arms, allowing Alec to hold him close to himself.
The X5 closes his eyes and wills his tears not to fall. He rocks Logan gently from side to side, telling him it’s okay and that they don’t need to talk about it anymore, considering he already has a pretty good idea of what follows next.
Alec runs a hand through the back of Logan’s hair and notices the greasiness. He’s been wearing the same clothes for four days too, and is frankly starting to get a little ripe.
“Hey, how about I run you a bath?”
Logan stiffens in his arms and Alec sighs, expecting Logan to refuse and stalk off in anger or repulsion or whatever else might be going through his head right now. But he’s surprised when a moment later Logan bites his lip and nods his head.
Minutes later, Logan comes into the bathroom wrapped in a green bath robe, and looks around. The bathroom is dark with all lights switched off, but the window blinds are up, and there are at least two dozen candles lit all over the place.
Logan rolls his eyes, “Really?”
Alec kneels beside the tub to check the water and shrugs a little sheepishly, starting to second-guess his impulsive decision to do something special and… out of character. And then he blurts the first thing that comes to mind, immediately regretting that as well.
“Max used to do this for you…”
His insecurities about Logan’s last love affair never quite went away but this is so not the time to bring them up. Alec winces, and braces himself for the blowback that is surely to follow.
Instead, Logan slowly walks up to him, drops his bathrobe to the floor beside Alec and silently climbs into the tub. He pulls his knees up to his chest and adjusts his glasses before looking up at Alec.
“Thank you,” Logan says, smiling ever so hesitantly.
Alec lets out a big sigh of relief and settles back on his haunches. “You’re very welcome.”
“Although, you know…” Logan says, picking up a candle that’s set too close to the tub’s edge and moving it to a safer spot. “Max is a girl, so she’s really doing these things for herself, not the guy.”
Alec squints, “Huh. I should’ve thought of that.”
“Can’t believe she’s sharing her bedroom tricks with you, of all people. When the hell did you get so pally with her?”
“Well, she didn’t exactly share willingly…”
Logan stares at him blandly.
“She was talking to OC. I was eavesdropping… this is a long, long time back. Not important, really. How’s the water?”
Logan snorts, which then turns into a full-body chuckle and then Alec is joining in and they’re laughing together. For a few precious moments, it’s like the last few weeks never happened at all. Like Logan is still Logan and not this broken shell of a person they found in the rubble of the aftermath.
Alec gently runs the wash cloth down Logan’s back, careful not to bother the still healing cuts and bruises, kissing clear skin whenever he can. They haven’t been intimate since Logan got back. He doesn’t know how far he can take this today either.
When his fingers dip into Logan’s navel, that’s when the other man tenses up. “Alec…”
“Don’t worry,” Alec assures him kindly and takes his hands out of the water. He rises and pushes the said hands, wet as they are, into his jeans pockets. “Um, take your time. But, don’t prune yourself out, okay? I, uh, yeah…”
He clears his throat, as if the action might also clear the lustful haze building up in his head and other parts of his anatomy. Then sighs and quickly exits the bathroom.
Logan watches him leave, knowing exactly what must have gone through Alec’s mind, how rejected he must have felt. He tries not to scream in frustration, or bang his head into the porcelain behind him. He lowers his head into his lap, and tries not to think about the night it started.
The night he started to break.
[Twelve days to impact…]
Logan looks at the man seated before him on the floor in horror.
The transgenic looks like he’s been severely worked over by Barton and his regimen of Phoenix transgenics. Rivulets of blood are caked on both sides of his face starting from his temples, disappearing into his jacket collar. His usual black jeans are stained in dirt, as is the black t-shirt under his grey leather jacket.
For the first time in all his life, Logan is not happy to see Alec.
The X5 rests on his haunches and looks up through lidded eyes, smirking like the smart aleck he is, “Hey there.”
Logan would have smiled back, if he could, but he’s experiencing what he can only describe as the beginnings of a panic attack.
Ralph grabs the injured X5 by the back of his hair and pulls his head backwards to make him look at her. Then she lowers her face to him as if about to kiss him. Logan feels his hackles rising, which, oddly enough, helps abate his hyperventilation.
“You are welcome,” she hisses into Alec’s face, then roughly shoves his head forward.
“I’ll let the two of you catch up,” she says as she starts for the door with the rest of her henchmen. “Hopefully, Logan, next time when I come to see you, you will feel like returning the favor?”
The door closes behind them, and the locks slide back into place. Logan slides to the floor beside his mattress but that’s about as close to Alec as he can get given the chains holding his wrists and ankles.
Alec, who was until a second ago, hunched over himself like a wounded animal, suddenly straightens up and climbs up to his feet, though not as gracefully as he would if he weren’t injured.
“What, no hug?” he smirks at Logan, like he just won the Powerball or something.
Logan shakes his head. “What are you doing here?”
“What the hell do you think, moron?”
Alec wobbles over to him, and yanks at the chains holding Logan in place. With a swift jerk he breaks them apart, freeing Logan, and pulls him up to his feet. They stare at each other for a few seconds, before Logan practically throws himself onto Alec.
“You shouldn’t have…” he whispers, clinging to Alec’s shoulders for another few seconds before letting him go.
“Like I had a choice. God, look at you, baby, look what they’ve done to you.”
Logan wants to fall into his lover’s arms again and wail his heart out, but instead he takes a step back and waves it off. “Since when do you call me ‘baby’? Quit it, it’s not so bad.”
Alec puts his hands up in placation and backs off too. He is limping, Logan notices, which makes him all the more miserable. Alec tries the heavy metal door that is keeping them inside what looks like a hospital room.
“God, I hated this place,” he grumbles.
“Do you know where we are?”
“Where else? The one and only – the original Manticore facility, up in the Wisconsin mountains.”
Logan frowns, “But didn’t Max burn this place down?”
“Not completely. The west wing is still standing. Looks like Phoenix managed to salvage a couple of floors and some of Manticore’s old equipment – whatever was not hauled away by the DoD, that is.”
“So… nothing underground?”
“Nope, why’d you ask?”
“No reason,” Logan shrugs, watching Alec as he finally gives up trying to find a way out and comes back to sit beside Logan on the bed.
“This room…” the transgenic looks around, swallowing hard. “It’s the old psy-ops unit. This is where they brought me for reconditioning after…”
After Rachel Berrisford.
Logan nods, he doesn’t need Alec to say it out loud to know how agonizing those memories still must be for him. “I’m sorry, Alec.”
“Why, it’s not your fault.”
Logan looks up when Alec puts a finger under his chin and makes him turn to face him. “I don’t regret a second I spend with you, Logan. Even if it’s in here. I love you.”
Logan blinks; his mouth falls open in complete astonishment. Alec suddenly backtracks, letting out a nervous little chuckle. “I-I’m sorry. I have the worst timing in the world.”
“N-No, I… it’s…” Logan doesn’t know what to say. A part of him is thrilled to finally hear those words he’s been hoping for ever since they started dating. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t seem… right. Maybe it’s the gravity of their current situation weighing heavily on his mind. And now he feels even guiltier for being unable to reciprocate in kind.
“You don’t have to say anything. I can wait until we get out of here.”
Logan sighs; grateful for the ‘out’. He takes Alec’s hand in both of his, and together they sit like that, side by side, relishing these precious few moments of privacy.
“Please tell me you have a plan to get us out, Alec.”
“Uh, not exactly…”
“What? You came without backup?!?”
“Everyone’s a little busy outside with the comet stuff, in case you forgot. The Familiars keep attacking and trying to destroy every shipment they can find. Delivery to the APAC region is running way behind schedule. There are way too many of them in the system in DC and I’d told Max it was a mistake involving those damn politicians but does she listen? No!”
That stings, a little, but Alec was right. There are much, much bigger issues Max needs to focus on right now. What’s a little torture between friends when six billion lives hang in the fucking balance? Logan tries to push the bitterness away and focus on the big picture himself. What would he have done if he were in Max or Alec’s place?
“You should’ve stayed and helped her, Alec.”
“Shut up. I would have followed you to hell and back,” Alec responds forcefully, raising a hand to hold Logan’s face.
Logan flinches, only to remember his face doesn’t hurt as much as it had the last time he was conscious, thanks to the nanomites.
“Sorry, it’s just been crazy these past few days,” he mumbles as a lame explanation.
“What do they want anyway?”
“What do you think,” is all he says.
“You didn’t say anything, did you?”
Logan glares at him.
“Of course not, what I meant to ask is… how much do they know?”
“I don’t know. They just keep drawing more of my blood. Every morning I wake up, that is if they let me sleep at all, wondering if today’s the day they will find it. Guessing they don’t have access to any old Manticore databases from four years ago.”
“Uh, right, because all of that went up in smoke four years ago.”
Logan looks up at him. “How did you find me anyway? Or should I say how did they find you?”
Alec winces. “I was with Detective Sung to see if he heard from you when they grabbed me. I’m kind of glad they did, I let them, knowing they’d bring me to you.”
Logan frowns at him. “Please tell me at least you left some clue for Max or Joshua to follow your tracks?”
Alec winces again, this time in embarrassment.
Logan sighs in exasperation. “McDowell…”
“Well, forgive me for wanting to find you, Cale. My fault – I should’ve just left you to be tortured to death by these fucking Familiar wannabes.”
“Thanks, but now they’ll torture you too, Alec,” Logan whispers painfully.
“Don’t worry, they can’t make me talk,” Alec says coldly.
“That’s not what I meant and you know it! Besides, it’s not the torture I’m worried about,” Logan sighs.
Alec visibly shivers then tries to hide it behind a smile that is a little too… dead around the edges. “Ah, you mean the old re-indoctrination routine? Yeah, that’s very likely.”
It’s so painfully obvious that Alec is clearly afraid. Logan pulls him closer then, incapable of leaving his lover to suffer alone. He pulls Alec’s face up and closes his mouth over his.
Alec’s instinctive reaction is to freeze, something Logan never expected but he lets it pass. And then a moment later, he melts, kissing Logan back for all he’s worth. Soon he’s surging forward to encompass Logan fully into his arms.
“God, I was so worried about you,” he whispers roughly.
The force behind those words is evident in his actions because Logan can’t remember Alec ever kissing and holding him as roughly as he does right now. He goes with the flow though, desperate for this much-craved contact after the torturous few days he’s just had. Every part of his body aches in one way or another, but he ignores it all. His lover of six months sort of smells different too, but that too he ignores, chalking it up to the fact that after five days in captivity he must be stinking to high heaven himself.
“Logan,” Alec’s voice is heavy and strangely ominous when he whispers, “I need you, right now.”
“Alec…” but Logan doesn’t know what he’s trying to say. It’s like his lover suddenly grows heavy, leaning on him, pushing him down to lie back on the mattress.
Cold hands creep up under his ragged t-shirt to reach warm skin still bruised, broken, or tender in places, and they’re not being too gentle. Logan moans against Alec’s lips as the transgenic tongue continues to ravish his mouth, swallowing whatever protests he tries to lodge against this… whatever this is.
Suddenly, Alec pulls out of the kiss and starts to turn Logan over.
“No, Alec now’s not a good…”
“Shh, we need this… come on, baby…”
Logan whimpers again as his pants are pulled down to his ankles and his legs are spread and pinned down by the X5’s own body weight. Alec’s hands find purchase around his bare buttocks, pulling them apart none too patiently. Before he knows it, Alec is working a dry finger into the tight orifice.
Logan cries out softly, the pain so alien because he hasn’t felt it in the longest time. “Slow down, Alec…”
But Alec isn’t listening. He jabs in a second finger, and then soon after Logan hears a zipper being pulled down behind him.
“Alec, wait, please, slow down…”
Instead, the transgenic positions his rock hard shaft against Logan’s anus and without warning or preparation, he pushes in. Logan hisses loudly in pain that is all-encompassing, like he’s being split in two by the hard object brutalizing its way inside him.
“Hurts, please, Alec!”
Logan struggles, orders and then begs Alec to stop, but the transgenic continues to roughly thrust in and out of him adamantly, like he’d never get a chance to do it again. Logan gasps in pain but his prides refuses to let him scream. Mentally he tries to rationalize the pain he feels as being the result of the torture that came before, and not what is being done to him now. Maybe he is still hallucinating; maybe this is just another snake venom-induced nightmare. Because surely his boyfriend, his Alec, the man who just told him he loved him, wouldn’t possibly, willingly do this to him.
He weathers through the pain until Alec finds his release inside the man trapped beneath him. Alec doesn’t even bother to wait for Logan or even check if he came. Suddenly, as if returning to sanity, the roughness of his treatment dissipates and he starts kissing Logan’s bare shoulder.
“God, you’re so beautiful, baby…” he pulls out none too gently and fondles Logan’s ass, patting it rather harshly before he turns Logan on his back again.
That’s when he sees the tears running down the human’s face. Alec leans down to lick the wetness away as if to remove all evidence of what he’s just done. And then he tries to kiss his lips.
“You’re not Alec,” Logan whispers, making the X5 stop.
Seconds pass in deathly silence before he pulls up to look into Logan’s eyes. And that’s probably the point at which he decides to give up the charade. That smile on his perfectly chiseled face morphs into an ice cold smirk.
“What gave me away?” Even his voice changes a bit.
Somewhere during the time he was being raped, the pain, the betrayal, the shock of realization… it’d all gotten too much to bear, to the point where Logan suspects it might have paralyzed him completely. Now though, he pushes and punches his attacker frantically, hardly making a dent but he tries anyway. The X5 simply laughs and holds his bandaged hands above his head.
“Careful with the splints, baby. You do want to keep using your fingers in the future, don’t you?”
“Who are you?”
The transgenic licks his lips. “X5-493. You might know me by the name my eleven rogue brothers and sisters once gave me.”
Logan freezes, the blood in his veins turning to ice.
“I am Ben.”
Logan wakes up with a silent scream on his lips, cursing his stupid brain for making him relive the first time Ben raped him. Again.
For a second he panics because he can’t recall how he got here, back in his own bed. He’s pretty sure he’d chosen the couch in his study to crash on last night. It’s the farthest he could get from Alec who was sleeping in the master bedroom, their bedroom.
The sun is up, and it’s really bright out, which means Logan slept through the night and well into the day. He curses Alec softly for manipulating him into that luscious warm bath – it’s what must have lulled him to sleep against his best intentions.
As if right on cue, the X5 walks into the bedroom with a breakfast tray in hand. He must have heard Logan stir awake with his freakish hearing all the way from the kitchen or wherever he’d been.
“Morning, coffee?” he asks mildly.
“Please,” Logan smiles, or at least tries to without really looking up at Alec.
“Got your favorite, course I’ll never understand how oatmeal can be anybody’s favorite… and look, fresh cut strawberries.”
“Where’d you get them?”
“Max was here, while you were sleeping. She dropped some supplies off.”
Logan nods and goes back to sipping his coffee, not touching the oatmeal or the fruit at all.
“Please eat something, Logan.”
There is a kind of desperation in those words that Alec tries his best to hide because the last thing he wants to do is transfer his fears and frustrations over to Logan. The man has enough to deal with on his own. Unfortunately for him, Logan knows him way too well.
Logan isn’t hungry, but hearing Alec’s plea tugs at something inside him fiercely. He takes a few bites, after which Alec takes the tray back to the kitchen. Several minutes later, he finds himself still standing over the sink, washing utensils that have never been cleaner since the day they came down the assembly line.
It occurs to him that he might be avoiding Logan. And he very well knows why: because he doesn’t want to hear the gory details about how his psychotic genetic clone slash serial killer got close enough to rape his lover.
He fights the tears again and pulls himself together, before returning to the bedroom where he finds Logan looking out the window at the clear blue skies.
“Do you want to go out today? Sun’s out, for a while at least.”
Logan turns to look at Alec, and this time he resolutely forces his eyes to stay on the face that he once never wanted to look away from, but now reminds him of things he’d rather forget.
“I want to keep going.”
Alec swallows, hard, “Okay.”
Logan pulls the blanket up to his chest and takes a deep breath. He needs to get this out, it’s now or never. “I want you to know that… I fought as hard as I could. But h-he was… he was too strong and….”
Alec wants to come closer, hold his boyfriend tight to himself; never let him go. But now is not the time, hell it may never be.
“I know, Logan. None of this is your fault. If anything it’s mine for not finding you soon enough. By the time Max and I got back from Diego the trail had gone cold. God, I shouldn’t have left you alone in the first place. I shouldn’t have ignored my churning gut when you didn’t return my calls. Should have gotten Joshua to watch you…”
“I don’t need a fucking babysitter,” Logan can’t help but snap, but immediately regrets it. Besides, after everything that’s happened, maybe he did need one after all. Regardless, Alec doesn’t deserve his anger.
“Please stop saying that. You did nothing wrong, buddy.”
Logan looks up at Alec, tears rapidly welling up in his hazel eyes, “I wouldn’t be so sure.”
[Eleven days to impact…]
The next day, Logan finds himself swinging from chains that suspend his arms high above his head.
His toes barely touch the dank, blood-stained floor where his ankles have been shackled and spread two feet apart. It’s not a new position - Barton did this to him once before. The difference is, this time he’s been stripped naked too.
Barton isn’t here today; there are three other people in the room instead – two familiar faces and one not so much. It doesn’t take long for Logan to decipher who it is – given her red robes that sweep the floor under her feet and look to be a hundred years old, and her oddly-shaped bald head. She’s the one they call Moorehead, child-abusing transgenic-hating high priestess of the Familiars.
“I can’t believe you got made within the first ten minutes, disappointing, 493,” Ralph takes a jibe at Ben, as if to show him up in front of their discerning employer. She goes on to say something about him not being able to keep it in his pants, but Logan is barely listening. If there is a hint of envy in her tone, he couldn’t care less for that either.
Logan holds his head high, and keeps his eyes on the statuesque woman before him, watching him intently. His limbs are numb from being restrained for so long and the aches and pains from… from yesterday still linger. But he’d be damned before he lets any of that show so long as this bitch is around.
“It was a stupid plan to begin with.” Ben shoots back, “Did you really think he wouldn’t recognize his own damn boyfriend?”
The two transgenics continue to bicker and snark until Moorehead shuts them down. “Enough! We’ve clearly underestimated this one. Just concentrate on the one piece of information you did manage to get out of him. Something happened four years ago, something to do with Manticore. What was that?”
Logan continues to glare at her with an expression that probably says ‘as if’ with two exclamation marks; at least he hopes that’s what it says.
Moorehead rises from her chair and walks up to him, her voice deceptively soft. “I’m sure you have questions too, Mr. Cale. Let’s trade, shall we? For instance, would you like to know how 493 survived? I could tell you…”
Logan speaks then, even though it’s hard to breathe in his strenuously stretched condition. “That’s not hard to put together. Max left his body for Manticore to find. They must have revived him like they did Max and Zack, re-indoctrinated him. Except they couldn’t get rid of the psychopath he’s always been inside – which explains why he’s part of Phoenix now and working for you guys. Hell, he’s probably doing it for free.”
Ben smirks and picks up a grotesque looking black leather whip before approaching their captive from behind. Logan tenses in anticipation but he doesn’t have to wait too long. The whip falls full-force; a second later agonizing pain blooms in a diagonal line across his back, making Logan scream despite his best intentions to not give Ben the satisfaction.
Ben smirks victoriously, holding Logan’s naked waist from behind and shushing him in a mocking way. When finally Logan manages to catch his breath, he can’t help but mutter bitterly, “That was on the money, I take it.”
“Except the free part,” Ben replies. “Can’t complain about the perks though,” and hits Logan again, the leather cutting another fresh stripe into his pale skin.
Moorehead shakes her head and turns to leave. “I suppose we should let 493 take it from here.”
She throws a stern look at the X5, one filled with more than a modicum of revulsion, not just at what he is, but also because she knows exactly what he will be getting up to once she leaves, and is disgusted by it. Not that she’d expect any better from ‘transgenic filth’ like him.
Ralph looks back warily at Logan, but then follows the client on her way out, locking the door behind her. Logan closes his eyes, the loud echo of metal tumblers sliding into place striking new fear in the deepening pit of his stomach.
“Alone at last…”
Ben slowly walks around and comes to stand in front of his prisoner. His right hand firmly grips the whip handle while the long tail trails behind him on the floor.
“I know why you don’t look at me,” he whispers, putting a finger under Logan’s chin and forcing it up so he could look into his prey’s eyes.
Well, duh. Logan doesn’t want to be reminded of or even imagine his Alec here in this horrible place, doing these horrible things. He doesn’t want to taint the memories of his beautiful, honorable, kind lover by associating him to this monster that stands before him.
The fact that Ben knows it too is a problem, because he intends to use it to try and rile Logan up and get him to talk.
“I’m curious, what do you see in that smart-assed man-boy anyway? Other than his devilishly handsome looks, of course…”
His hand trails down Logan’s chest almost nonchalantly all the way to his groin. Breath hitches in his throat and Logan hates himself for giving his tormentor that reaction, any reaction. Indeed Ben looks extremely pleased with himself.
“Come on, don’t be like that, baby. It’s not like you’re going anywhere, you might as well talk to me.”
When Logan still doesn’t respond or even look at Ben, the X5 swings the whip again, drawing blood for a second time and making him scream despite himself.
“You wanna know a secret? I don’t really care about this whole… antidote to the antidote business, and by the way I vote we just call it the ‘dote’ from now on.”
Logan would have rolled his eyes if it didn’t hurt so damn much to breathe.
“I only volunteered to this assignment because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about… Logan Cale…”
He leans in to lick at Logan’s throat, making the human flinch. “I mean, seriously, how does an ordinary descendant of the apes like yourself manage to fuck both the leader and the second-in-command of the almighty transgenic revolution, huh?”
Logan can’t help but push. “Sibling jealousy?”
“Please,” Ben shoots back, a little too quickly in Logan’s opinion. Not that he’s paying much attention to the X5’s rambling, but he’d rather have the man talk more and whip less, obviously.
“Although I must admit, my genetic twin sure has good taste,” the whip lands on Logan’s buttocks this time to emphasize his point.
He grabs the human around his stomach from behind and whispers in Logan’s ear sinisterly. “Bet your Alec doesn’t treat this gorgeous piece of ass like it should be, huh, beautiful? Well, we’re going to change that,” he rubs the rising welts on Logan’s ass almost lovingly.
Logan closes his eyes in disgust, trying not to let the tears fall, “Alec doesn’t hurt me.”
Ben suddenly lets go, sending his prisoner swinging precariously in his bonds, then comes around to stand in front of him again.
“Tell me what I need to know, and I’ll stop hurting you, I promise.”
The tone has suddenly switched from cold and sarcastic to soft and almost… apologetic. It’d be so easy to give in to that brief moment of kindness, to give in to the hands that until two seconds ago were beating him mercilessly but are now caressing his face and neck oh so gently. It’d be so damn easy to pretend this is Alec, his best friend, his lover and protector, his everything.
But it isn’t.
Logan leans forward and brings his lips up close to Ben’s exquisitely chiseled face. The X5 takes a step forward allowing Logan to draw in a ragged breath and whisper resolutely into his ear.
“Go to hell.”
Ben takes a step back, the cold mask of indifference back on his face. He moves behind Logan to where the human can’t see him anymore and waits. Eventually, when the human starts to tremble in phantom throes of a pain he knows is coming (any time now) Ben brings the whip down on his back… again, and again and again.
Logan loses count of how many times the whip falls. His entire world collapses upon itself until nothing remains but gut-wrenching, flesh-splitting pain. It rings in his ears like a thousand screams, floods his eyesight with liquid blackness, and burns his parched throat like only raw, undiluted agony can. Pain is constant, never ending, like the whip never actually lifts off of his skin to fall back again.
He can feel the drops of blood slowly ebbing out of a thousand cuts crisscrossing his back, ass, and thighs, and dripping onto the floor. He wishes he could collapse upon it as well, but he is strung up by the unrelenting chains, kept painfully upright, not given a moment of rest from his torment.
With each lash he feels another little piece of his sanity eroded and washed away, reducing him to a creature without thought or reason, just someone, no, something, controlled by fear and pain and dread. And he only has one wish left – for all this to stop.
Please, just… stop.
“You know how to make it stop, baby,” the snake-hiss is back in his ear, making Logan realize he must have started to beg out loud already.
Tears fall down his face in utter disappointment with himself even as it wars with relief because Ben speaking to him and him understanding Ben means his mind isn’t completely lost yet. He remembers his name, and it’s not ‘baby’.
“Billions of lives,” he gasps, every single syllable starves him of much-needed breath and yet he needs this to be said.
“W-what would you do?”
The transgenic starts almost dramatically, his arm pausing mid-swing.
“Did you just actually ask me that? Looks like I broke you after all, Mr. Cale. You forget who I am.”
He grabs the hair on the back of Logan’s head and pulls him back roughly, practically spitting in his face as he grounds out his designation.
“I am X5 - 4.9.3.”
Logan looks up into the sea-green eyes glinting above him, close enough that he can make out the agitated speckles of gold at the rims of those pupils even without glasses.
His Alec’s eyes.
“No,” he whispers, fighting the black swell of unconsciousness threatening to muffle his last desperate attempt to reason with his captor. “You’re Ben. You’re Max’s little b-brother…”
Ben’s hand tightens its grip around Logan’s hair but he doesn’t respond.
“A-and you,” he pants, eyes closing, unable to fight the darkness any longer, “you didn’t answer my quest…”
Logan drifts away, his bleeding, broken shell of a body still hanging limply in its chains.
Alec is the one pacing back and forth now, his rage palpable in every heavy, deliberately placed step.
He’s the one unable to look at Logan who’s back in his favored corner of the couch, knees pulled up to his chest, arms wrapped around them tight.
The soldier continues to pace, his face visibly red, lips moving restlessly but no words escape his choked throat.
“Alec please, will you just… please come sit next to me?” Logan pleads, and instantly Alec obeys. Mainly because he’s having a hard time refusing Logan anything these days.
“Look, I know this can’t be easy to hear, so if you’re not comfortable…”
“No! I’m fine,” Alec cuts in, shaking his head fervently. He can’t possibly make this about himself (his guilt, his anger, his jealousy or whatever). He wrings his hands together to keep them from tearing something apart.
Logan sighs heavily then takes off his glasses to rub at his eyes.
“You have to understand, I was ready to die. After two weeks passed and no help came,” he pauses when he spots Alec wince (and maybe a part of him needed to see that) “I knew I couldn’t resist them physically much longer. And I just… wanted it to end.”
Alec frowns, terrified by this new turn in the conversation. “Logan, please tell me you didn’t…”
“Try to kill myself?” Logan scoffs softly. “No, I thought about it, but I didn’t. Something happened that night that made me change my mind.”
Logan stares off into empty space, piecing together the pain-riddled, disjointed memories of that night.
“I felt, for the first time since it all started, which is weird ‘cause you’d think it’d be the first thing I’d feel after they nabbed me… but that night was the first time I realized the total unfairness of it all. There I was, trying to save the fucking world, literally, and what do I get in return? Torture, pain, abandonment?”
Alec looks away again. But this time Logan didn’t do it on purpose. He sighs, knowing what he’s about to reveal next will hurt Alec a hundred times more.
“I was angry; pissed off beyond belief. That’s when I decided I wasn’t just going to roll over and die. But if I wanted to survive this, I’d have to fight back, and the only way I could was…”
Logan sighs, “To maybe, not fight at all.”
[Nine days to impact…]
“Wakey wakey… come on beautiful,” The words aren’t deriding, the voice isn’t harsh. And yet the first thing Logan remembers feeling when he comes to is absolute revulsion.
He finds himself lying on his stomach, not on his usual mattress, but on a cold metal slab four feet above ground level. That’s different.
He squints against the bright hospital lights, having gotten used to the combination of pitch dark plus a single strobe hanging from a cord overhead. This is a different room, filled with medical equipment and refractive surfaces, like an operating theater.
Then he sees Ben sitting right beside him with his elbows resting on the slab and his face very close to Logan’s – smirking. “Morning, sunshine.”
Logan’s instinctive reaction is to slink away, or maybe spit in the guy’s face. But he remembers the night before, at least what feels like the night before, and recalls his resolution to fight, to survive. So he forces himself to stay still and keep his eyes on Ben. Matching the other man’s unreadable gaze isn’t easy. But he does it anyway.
Ben, for his part, stares right back at him in what Logan can only describe as curiosity and contemplation. The trance is broken when Logan reflexively moves an arm that’s starting to cramp, which is when he realizes he’s chained down, again.
“Be grateful a cramp is all you got,” Ben hikes his eyebrows for effect, “the miracle of nanomites, yet again.”
Logan looks down at himself then, wondering if it’s a good thing or bad that his lack of clothes doesn’t bother him as much as it did a few days ago. He flexes his spine dreading the pain he remembers so vividly, but it doesn’t come. All he feels is a muscle-deep ache under skin that seems too tight and leathery, like it wasn’t his skin at all.
“That’s right, baby, good as new,” Ben runs his hand down Logan’s naked back and ass, smooth and unblemished, nothing like the bloody shredded mess they were not so long ago.
The human seethes inside and trembles on the outside, but keeps his eyes on Ben, face devoid of any and all expressions.
Ben narrows his eyes. “You’re looking for your boyfriend in me again. And I told you, that’s not going to work.”
Logan rests the side of his face back on the slab, but his eyes don’t waver. Ben leans in closer so he can feel the X5’s hot breath mingling with his own. “I guess what I have planned for you today will serve as a good reminder of who I am, and where you are.”
When Logan still doesn’t react, Ben blinks and looks away, standing up and walking off for a second, like he couldn’t stand the heat in Logan’s eyes anymore.
“Our last meeting knocked you out for twenty hours. I’ve been severely reprimanded for wasting your precious time,” he says before turning back, hands crossed behind him. “And I’ve been asked to go easy on you today. So I figure this is a good opportunity to get you cleaned up.”
He smirks not so kindly, “You’ve been stinking up the joint for a while now, bet you’d like a bath too, huh?”
Before Logan can react, the doors swing open and two people he’s never seen before walk in, wheeling behind them a strange contraption that looks like a large mobile cistern. The man is well-built and looks to be in his forties, the woman is blonde and petite like Max, and looks no older than Ralph. He can tell they’re Phoenix because they’re both dressed like Ben, all black from neck to toe, and also because they sport the same exact ‘military’ snarl on their cold, sun-starved faces.
“Just in time! Logan Cale, meet your new handlers – X4-026 and X6-595."
Logan tries his best not to let his growing anxiety show. Three transgenics on one him… this can’t possibly be good.
His chains are unhooked but before Logan can get his bearings, he’s hauled up and dunked into the steel tub full of ice and water. He gasps and wheezes violently as the cold strangles all the oxygen out of his lungs. Every inch of his skin burns from the fucking cold. The woman titters while the X4 gleefully holds the struggling human under water for what feels like hours.
“Alright, take it easy, two-six,” Logan hears Ben say. “Any longer and they’ll be chewing us out for killing their only source of intel.”
“For whatever he’s worth,” the X6 snorts.
When he’s finally allowed to surface and breathe again, Logan curses like he’s never cursed before.
“Humans,” the X4 taunts him. “So fucking weak, I can hold my breath underwater for fifteen minutes, and you apes can’t last fifteen seconds.”
“Congratulations,” Ben cuts in wryly. “Now can you please put him back on the table again?”
The human is dumped back onto the metal slab, dripping and shaking violently. His usually swarthy skin is bleached of all color and reduced to an eerie shade of snow-white. His lips are an ugly shade of blue rapidly approaching purple.
Clearly the theme for the day is humiliation, he figures as soon as he can think again. His eyes prickle with unshed tears and insurmountable rage burbles painfully where he’s suppressing it deep in his ribcage. But once he’s out of the freezing water, Logan seeks out his primary tormentor and looks him straight in the eye, again.
This time, Ben is clearly agitated. “You know what, beautiful? I don’t like you with stubble. Let’s get rid of it, shall we?”
He signals to the X4 who approaches Logan with a sharp-edged straight razor. They don’t chain him down because really, what are the chances he’d evade three transgenics and even if he did, where the hell will he go? They’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hundreds of miles of challenging terrain that’s home to these bastards but Logan knows basically nothing about.
He tries to hold as still as he can despite his shivering so the X4 won’t nick his jugular by mistake. At first the X4 does a decent job getting rid of the stubble. Then a shallow slice along his smooth jaw makes him jerk. Logan realizes the asshole cut him on purpose. Ben stays quiet, watching the proceedings from the sidelines.
“Oops, did I hurt you, little man? Would you like me to stop?”
Logan lifts his face up, deliberately baring more of his neck to the bastard. “You’re going to have to try harder than that, two-six.”
In hindsight he really shouldn’t have irked a transgenic holding a sharp object to his throat, because the X4 does try harder – not just on his face and neck but also his heaving chest. Logan grimaces occasionally, and the woman laughs some more. But then he notices Ben twitching ever so slightly at the sight of blood drops blossoming at various spots on his naked body.
Nobody sees it but Logan. Every time he’s nicked, Ben flinches just a little bit harder, until he’s forcing himself to look away, blinking rapidly. Logan can’t help the little upturn in his lips. He keeps his eyes on the X5, ignoring the stinging cuts because truth is, after the fifteen days he’s just had, the little nicks barely bother him.
And after a few minutes, the X4 realizes it too. So he changes tactics.
Logan gasps when a calloused hand closes around his genitals, and starts to tighten the squeeze. The X4 hisses at him ominously, “I’m going to enjoy snuffing that fucking light out of your eyes, very much.”
And then he’s pulling Logan’s legs apart and roughly penetrating him with two fat fingers.
The panic attack comes on quick, impairing whatever little struggle he puts up against the bastard. He’s been raped once already, he can’t go through it again. All resolutions to stay stoic before his torturers go right out the window. Instead, instinctively and for reasons he’d rather not examine too carefully at that moment, his eyes turn back to Ben.
This is the moment the female chooses to join the action. She helps overpower the human while the X4 pushes Logan down until he’s flat on his back then grips one leg behind the knee to pull it up to his shoulder. Logan squirms and writhes violently trying to buck them off but it’s a no-contest. And just when he thinks that all hope is lost, someone grabs the X4 from behind and pulls him off Logan.
Ben slams the older transgenic against a glass partition wall that shatters with a loud crash, taking the X4 down to the floor with it. The girl is so shocked she lets go of Logan’s arms and moves away.
“What the fuck, 493! The commander is going to hear about…” but the X4 doesn’t get to finish as a powerful punch smashes his jaw out of its place.
Ben grabs him by the collar and pulls him up to get in his face. “Oh, the commander will hear about this alright. I’ll tell him myself how you jeopardized the biggest contract Phoenix has ever received. You’re obsolete, X4, and I outrank you. Remember that when you turn in your report. Now get out, both of you!”
The two new handlers rush out without another word. Silence stretches in the operating theater, broken only by feeble sounds of Logan’s ragged breathing as he cowers on the table, shaking uncontrollably. Ben stands with his back to Logan; he hasn’t turned to look at him once since the other two left.
“Do not for a second think I don’t know what you’re up to,” he growls quietly. “And just because I didn’t want to be mooned by that ugly-ass bastard, don’t think it’s starting to work.”
When he finally does turn to face Logan, he finds the human no longer folded thrice over himself. Instead he is sitting up, naked, wet, his spine straight as a ramrod.
Slowly, shockingly, he leans forward, until his head is ever so lightly resting on Ben’s shoulder, transferring the dampness of his hair to the other man’s black t-shirt. The X5 tenses up, and for a second it looks like he’s about to shove Logan aside, possibly all the way to the floor.
Except he doesn’t. Instead, he just stands there, not moving, not breathing… not touching Logan back in any way whatsoever.
Alec stands at the full-length window with his arms crossed, watching dusk descend upon the Seattle skyline. Miniscule tremors rack his spine, invisible to the naked eye but enough to make his voice shake.
“Stockholm syndrome… and to fake it, all you had to do was… think of me.”
Logan nods quietly, staring down into his lap. There is no judgment in Alec’s words, which surprises him. He’d expected Alec to be angry, disgusted, jealous even. Anything to validate his own guilt and need for self-flagellation, but instead Alec just seems… empathetic. Which makes sense – in his time at Manticore and especially after Rachel, 494 had also had to make certain compromises to survive.
“Did it get better?”
“It didn’t get worse,” Logan shrugs, not feeling particularly accomplished for it.
“Moorehead visited the next day and personally supervised an interrogation session. The snake made another appearance and this time they probably would’ve succeeded – nasty little things – except Ben was there. And he… suggested the possibility that the venom might corrupt my blood composition and render all their analysis useless.”
Alec doesn’t look impressed by that at all.
Logan continues, “So they dropped the snake and tried electrocution instead. But then, twenty minutes after they started, the whole facility suffered a massive power surge and the lights went out for like five hours.”
Alec frowns. “Ben?”
“Maybe, there’s no way to be sure. Anyway, the next day they switched to psychological stuff instead. Told me their negotiations with Max had failed because apparently she didn’t care about what happened to me here.”
Alec keeps his gaze turned away.
“Alec,” Logan sighs because he knows exactly what’s going through his boyfriend’s mind. “It’s okay. I would’ve done the same thing in her position.”
Alec turns to Logan with utter misery etched into every inch of his face. “I know,” he whispers. “I would have too.”
And just hearing that being said out loud, from a purely selfish perspective, despite knowing the grave implications of the alternative, hurts.
“We were counting on them not being too stupid to know they had to keep you alive, because you were their only lead. But it doesn’t mean we didn’t try other ways to get you back,” Alec knows he is rambling. But he knows any further explanation is nothing but words and excuses at this point.
So he returns to crouch beside Logan, cautiously putting a hand on one of his knees and squeezing it gently.
“Someday buddy, when you’re ready… I will tell you exactly what Max, Joshua and I went through in those twenty-five days. But none of that matters right now, it’s nowhere in the vicinity of even remotely important.”
Logan puts a hand on top of Alec’s, stroking his knuckles lightly. It makes the younger man smile.
“What happened then?”
“They had a breakthrough.”
Part Three >