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Warnings: Mature themes throughout the story, dealing with rape, torture and the psychological traumas of imprisonment in a concentration camp. Sexually explicit scene in Chapter 23.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Author's Notes



Rogue, after a change of clothes, walks quickly into the Observation Booth of the Danger Room and busies herself with a clipboard of notes and medical charts. She is not quick enough, however, to avoid Professor Xavier's piercing gaze. He maneuvers to face her.

"You're bleeding."

Self-conscious, Rogue's hand darts to her throat, and comes away with a drop of crimson. She pales, remembering the hurtling, charged metal Remy had aimed at her barely half an hour ago. Then blushes as she recalls how poorly she handled the situation.

Yellin' at Remy when ya know what he's just been through. Brilliant. Seems like maybe ah'm the one without a lick o' sense today.

"Ain't nothin' really."

"How was your--examination?"

"Out o' the fryin' pan into the fire."

Her words are soft, not meant to be heard. Professor Xavier doesn't need words to sense her distress. He takes her gloved hand in his.


"Ah'm fine."

He catches the anger edging her voice, and reluctantly turns away without further comment to observe the scene below. Holographic images transform the Danger Room into a replica of the lakefront in summer. The bright sun reflecting on the waters contrast starkly to the reality of the ice-covered lake outside.

Besides the well-supplied picnic table, the room also contains somewhat unusual, key elements for the first therapy session. A modest obstacle course. Beach balls. Garish, silly squirt guns. A well-padded exercise mat.

In accordance with Rogue's instructions, Storm, Eric and Kurt all wear casual, non-threatening clothing free of symbols and designs. Storm's lavendar kaftan flows softly around her ankles as she arranges the vast supply of food. With mock severity, she slaps away Kurt's hand as he snatches a piece of cheese from her carefully arranged tray. He smiles disarmingly.

Rogue and Professior Xavier watch from above, undetected through the holographs. She frowns, puzzled by something that doesn't fit. Charles, sensing her unease, examines the Danger Room more carefully, trying to find the cause of her concern. In a moment, he uncovers a possible source.

"Eric should not be wearing white."

Rogue considers, then nods in agreement.

"Might remind them of the so-called doctors who did the experiments."

Rogue steps closer to the glass, still thinking.

"Ah think blue, maybe. It's supposed to be a soothin' color."


Below, Eric stiffens momentarily as Charles sends their request telepathically. He leaves, returning shortly clothed in a deep, tranquil blue polo shirt and jeans. He barely walks through the door when Remy and Tseidel join them.

Storm immediately notes Tseidel's improved color. She turns to Gambit, welcoming him warmly into her waiting arms. He grinds his teeth against a wave of discomfort, allowing her the moment to offer her support. His unyielding reserve puzzles her. Tseidel knocks Storm's arms away from Remy, then whispers softly.

"You must not show affection."

Storm considers Tseidel's demeanor. She does not behave as someone who is jealous of her attention to Remy. Instead, she seems to stand protectively between Storm and Remy, preventing anyone from seeing their proximity. Tseidel's eyes dart nervously around the room. She takes note of Eric and Kurt, but makes no move to acknowledge their previous contact.

Storm steps towards Tseidel. Tseidel takes a step back. Storm turns to Eric, arms open. He steps in to her embrace and returns her hug. Tseidel watches, confused.


Kurt, also, enthusiastically succumbs to Storm's embrace. Storm returns to Remy's side, careful to allow Tseidel her own space.

"You are safe here, Tseidel."

Storm again approaches. Tseidel's eyes widen in fear. She shakes her head, rejecting the offer of welcome.

"Tseidel, we are your friends, nicht wahr?"

She trembles.

"They will not let you live!"

Eric feels the blood drain from his face at her words. He glimpses a fragment of childhood memory. A flash of light. Bitter smoke. A growing red stain against a crude Star of David. He remembers that a moment earlier the Jew had offered him a bit of crust. Remembers the thought as years passed that perhaps it was an act of kindness that his would-be benefactor had found release, even though it was through death.


He understands what Storm's trying to do. But six months of seeing New Genoshans kill prisoners for the smallest display of kindness isn't easily forgotten. Tseidel was their main target. Because of her mutated blood, she was too valuable to risk with the same physical punishments the others endured.

The Genoshan solution was to inflict torture on the other prisoners while forcing Tseidel to watch. She didn't want to submit to more tests? Fine. Squeeze of the trigger, another prisoner was killed in cold blood. No thought. No mercy. She had tried to protest with a hunger strike. The Genoshans responded by starving everyone until she relented. The first time Remy had tried to take her hand to comfort her, he was beaten senseless.

Tseidel's gray eyes look to his for guidance. In the camps, she was his teacher, providing for him until he could learn the ways of survival. In this matter, he must be her guide. And the truth of the situation is, if he didn't particularly care to have Storm touching him, how can he force Tseidel to submit, regardless of good intentions?

"You don' wan' be touched, nobody touch you. Simple as dat."

"The human touch is vital to--"

Remy grabs Tseidel's arm and roughly jerks the sleeve of her shirt back, again revealing the scars.

"She don' need more a your kind a touchin'!"

"Mein freund, this is not--"

"T'ink I didn't see Henri's eyes lightin' up at de chance a puttin' her under a microscope? Ain't dat why Rogue came to de camps? T'save Tseidel?"


Eric Lensherr is often a man of few words. When he does speak, however, the richness of his voice compels the listener even when speaking a single word. Remy turns to face him. The Cajun's red, bleary eyes reveal his displeasure.

"You gon' force her?"

For a moment, Eric says nothing, sizing up the man before him. Remy is deadly serious. In another time, as another man, he might have accepted the obvious challenge as an opportunity to force the Cajun to accept his wishes or be destroyed. He sighs. Surely there must come a time when a man can offer more than pain.

"I was going to suggest something to eat."

Immediately, the tension in Remy's shoulders eases. He glances at the bowl of peaches Eric offers. Remy feels the blood drain from his face. Peaches. Once upon a time, they were one of his favorite foods.

But that was before--his fist strikes out, knocking the bowl to the ground with enough force to shatter it. He hears Kurt's gasp of surprise. Sees Storm's stunned expression. He's surrounded by their ignorance, suffocating in a wave of experiences he can never explain.

As Remy stumbles for the door, Rogue catches a glimpse of the raw pain flooding his face. Her heart aches, sympathetic to his torment, but unable to offer relief. She sees Tseidel follow him out, and silently offers a prayer for his well-being.


Continued in Chapter 12.


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