Break Through
by Kassia

Chapter 2

It took Bobby a while to stop laughing. It didn't help that one glance at Magneto's decidedly unamused countenance sent him off into another paroxysm of laughter. When he finally got himself under control, there was a heavy silence while he got his breath back and the pain in his stomach ebbed.

"What are you doing here?" Bobby said at last, looking up at Magneto from his seat on the floor. "I thought you ran the place."

"So did I," Magneto said tonelessly. His face darkened. "It seems that some people were not pleased with the manner in which this fortress is being run. Couldn't they have just told me instead of committing this ... this travesty?"

"Somehow, somewhere, in the dark recesses of my mind," said Bobby, "I knew you were going to say 'travesty.' Ya know, Maggie, it's not like you haven't been betrayed by subordinates before."

Bobby's ill-advised observation went unnoticed. Magneto had just discovered the implant in the back of his neck and its meaning was immediately clear to him. He began to pace with suppressed violence, and Bobby watched as the man's intense, electric aura tried to conform itself to the small confines of the cell. It was an interesting science experiment, but Bobby didn't think it would work.

The pacing stopped. "His tactics are all wrong," Magneto said pensively. "To take the fortress he must either have superior force, which is virtually impossible in a place where most people are armed with their own powers, or he must have gained the loyalty of the majority of the people in the fortress. But then there would have been no need to ambush me -- he could have just ordered me to step down."

"Hmmm," replied Bobby, watching the proceedings with something dangerously close to enjoyment. Maybe he was sadistic, but it was so nice not to be the only one who had no idea what was going on.

Magneto's gaze fell on Bobby, and his eyes narrowed. "And you ... I don't understand your presence here at all."

"Neither do I." The voice came from the doorway. Bobby jumped- he hadn't noticed the door open. Cadran was standing there, his face twisting with disgust and confusion as he regarded Bobby. Skirrow and another guard slipped in behind him and took up positions in the corners of the room. "The X-Men's operations aren't usually so ill-advised."

"You obviously haven't seen them operate," Magneto replied sardonically just as Bobby snorted derisively.

"I was going through your files," Cadran replied, vaguely puzzled, "and they do seem to usually come out on top."

"Through no fault of our own," sighed Bobby. Magneto made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a laugh.

"It doesn't matter. I didn't come here to discuss the X-Men." Cadran turned to Magneto, and Bobby could almost feel himself slipping completely out of both men's consciousness.

"Cadran," Magneto sounded like a weary parent, "just what is going on here?"

"I thought it was fairly obvious," replied Cadran, his blue eyes dancing. "A coup, what else?"

"Congratulations, I seem to be thoroughly overthrown. But why? To what end? Why am I still alive?"

Ah, the classic 'Why haven't you killed me yet?' line. Bobby had heard it many a time, occasionally from his own lips.

Cadran smiled enigmatically and said, "You have your uses." He glanced over at Bobby. "He might, too."

"You've already hijacked the society I've created; do you plan steal my plans for him, too?"

Don't give him ideas... Bobby had a feeling he wouldn't like Magneto's old plans for him.

"'Hijacked' is the right word, Magnus. I plan to take this place to a whole new destination. Somebody has to. You're society is lovely but it lacks momentum. The people here are sick of just being an experiment. But, as for your plan for the X-Man, it has merit."

What plan for me? Stop being so friggin' cryptic!

Tell me about it. I can read minds, and they still confuse me. Bobby recognized the voice as Skirrow's. He looked over at her, surprised at her daring, before he realized she was speaking telepathically and not aloud. He raised his eyebrows at her, but she wasn't looking his way.

He looked back to the two men, who were still talking. Bobby lost track of the conversation since it had nothing to do with him, but he watched their faces closely. How on earth had Cadran persuaded anyone to help him overthrow Magneto? There was no contest between the two -- Magneto radiated passion and confidence, while Cadran just had a hyper, nervous, Quentin Tarantino-esque energy about him. It was kinda creepy.

Quentin Tarantino-esque? said an amused voice in his head.

You know, he thought back at Skirrow, where I come from, the telepaths have the decency to respect other people's privacy.

Somehow, Skirrow managed a mental snort. They're probably scanning you all the time, and you just don't know it.

Bobby sniffed disdainfully, and once again focused his attention on Cadran and Magneto just to show that he didn't care how much Skirrow monitored his mind. Cadran ... he just didn't understand it. Bobby could see why someone would forsake God and country to follow Magneto, to rally to his cause -- with his fiery, confident gaze, he was a cause in himself.

Aw, is someone in love?

Screw you. Leave me alone. As in, alone in my head.

Sorry, Bobby. That's not going to happen. She fell silent, but Bobby suddenly felt something wrong, like someone running a fingernail over a patch of raw skin. Then, Tell me, who's Emma? And Lorna? And Op--

She didn't have a chance to get any farther. Bobby cut her off with a screech of, "Get out!"

Cadran and Magneto whipped around their heads to stare at him, and Skirrow's eyes widened in surprise at his reaction. Bobby felt his face turn red from anger and indignation at the raw, exposed feeling Skirrow had left in his mind.

"Sorry, sir," said Skirrow. "I was just scanning his mind. I didn't know he'd react that way."

Cadran glared at Bobby for a moment, then nodded to the two guards in their respective corners. "Let's go. We'll come back for him later."

Cadran swept out, his guards behind him.

Magneto sat down on the edge of the bed and muttered to himself, "But how? How?"

That's my cue. "How what?" said Bobby.

"The reason that homo sapiens superior are ideal for a utopian society is that their are so many people with different strengths, different skills, oppression of a certain group difficult. You can't tell me that everyone in this fortress is against me. How did he get this power? How does he intend to maintain it?"

What kind of paradise did Magneto think this place was, anyway? "What're you talking about? You've created your own little Gestapo, and they're better armed than anyone else in this place. I should know."

Magneto's brows came down sharply. "The Psi Police."


"It couldn't be."

"I'm sure it could."

Magneto fell silent, staring at some point beyond the white walls of the room.

Bobby snapped his fingers. "Hey, Magneto! Maggie!"


"I was thinking, seeing as how I'm the enemy of your enemy, maybe we can come up with something by combining our mental powers."

The Master of Magnetism sighed wearily and closed his eyes. "Drake, you have to understand, most of the time our minds are under telepathic surveillance. We can not plan anything, we can not surprise anyone. I know daring escapes are an X-Man tradition, but all we can hope for is a rescue." His eyes opened. "And I don't mean a rescue on the part of the X-Men, but on the part of my people."

"So when you say 'we' can only hope for rescue, you mean you, right?"

"Exactly. Whoever comes out on top, your fate is the same. You have only enemies, here." He rested his chin in his hand and continued to stare at some unknown point.

"Yeah, why's that?" Bobby said, mainly to himself. "For some reason, people go around trying to kill me, and hurt me, and hurt everyone I care about. Why do they do it? Why? Why why why why?"

"To shut you up, perhaps?" offered Magneto.

"Never mind," said Bobby, crossing his arms. "You just go on with your thinking and pacing and stuff. Don't mind me. I'll just sit here. It's my special talent, sitting around doing nothing."

Magneto looked slightly amused. "What do you think sulking at me will accomplish? I'm not your father."

"Apparently not. Sulking just pissed him off."

"Then your father and I have one thing in common."

"No. He found my pain annoying, but you find it funny." Apparently Magneto was no longer listening. Bobby stuck out his lower lip and sulked harder. "If I was Rogue, you wouldn't be mean to me when I sulked."

"If you were Rogue, you wouldn't be half as annoying."

"Of course, I'm not half as cute as Rogue when she sulks, either."

Magneto's teeth clenched. "Would you please shut up?"

Bobby couldn't help what he did next. Some things were just too deeply ingrained in human nature. He stuck out his tongue and said, "Make me."

Magneto pressed his hand to his forehead and looked pained. "L'enfer, c'est les autres. Tell me honestly, Drake, were you planted here by Cadran just to torment me?"

"I may have no idea why I'm here, but I'm pretty sure that's just a side benefit from Cadran's point of view."

"Then why are you here?"

"Uuuuuhhhh..." Bobby's eyes cast around as if looking for an answer. "The Dream, I seem to recall. Peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants. Didn't you know?"

"No. They're called causes because they cause people to do things. It doesn't seem that Charles's dream is what caused you to be here. What is?"

This whole conversation was leaving a bad taste in Bobby's mouth. He stared hard at the ceiling. He missed seeing the sky. "I don't know," he admitted.

Magneto looked down at the young X-Man, brow furrowed, and pronounced slowly, "Charles is an idiot."

Bobby wasn't quite sure what was meant by that, but he didn't feel inclined to disagree.

Some guards came in later and took Magneto. They left a tray for Bobby, which he poked at for about half an hour before giving up on it. After he picked at his food, he picked at his scab some more. He was going to have a scar there. That is, if the 'plans' for him involved keeping him alive long enough to scar.

He sniffed, and went and blew his nose on the toilet paper someone had so thoughtfully provided, but one nostril stayed clogged up. He hated that. Of course, it was probably a good thing he couldn't smell, since he had really horrible BO. And it was probably a good thing he didn't have a mirror, since no doubt one look at his face would make him feel even more suicidal. He rubbed his teeth with the end of his sleeve. He would have killed for a change of clothes or a shower, or even for a tube of toothpaste.

He was still thinking in this strain when the slit in the door opened, and a pair of clean, neatly folded gray pajama-things slipped in. Apparently, there were a few bonuses to being watched telepathically all the time. "Thanks!" he shouted, not sure his voice could be heard through the door. Maybe if he wished hard enough, he'd get to shower and shave, too.

A little while after that, they dragged Magneto back in. Literally, dragged. He was only half-conscious, and his eyes seemed to have trouble pointing in the same direction. They tossed him roughly on the bed, cast a cursory glare at Bobby, and left.

Magneto slid off the bed and landed with a thunk on the floor.

What had they done, dragged a dead person back to the room? Bobby approached him hesitantly and poked him in the shoulder. Magneto made a noise somewhere in his throat, like an asthmatic cat. Bobby pulled him upright, so that he was leaning against the bed. His head flopped back like a baby's head when you didn't hold it correctly.

Bobby stood back and surveyed his newly-acquired Magneto doll. His eyes were open, but he seemed unconscious. At last he raised his head and, with an effort, focused his eyes on Bobby. Bobby began to say "Welcome back," but was cut short by a sneezing fit.

"Bless you," said Magneto.

The air smelled like sneeze now, sickly-sweet. "Thanks," said Bobby, blinking away the tears the sneezes had brought on. "Three more bless you's and we can be sure no evil spirits will be entering through my nose."

Magneto closed his bloodshot eyes, to Bobby's secret relief. Bobby waited in a respectful silence while Magneto breathed, slowly and deeply. At last he opened his eyes again, and his pupils seemed closer to the right size.

"So, uh, what did they do to you?"

Magneto's raised his eyebrows sardonically. "They asked me a few polite questions and offered me tea. What did you think?"

"Sheesh. Wrong question. I'll try again, okay? What did they want from you?"

Magneto looked like he resented this question, too, but was too weary to bother with more sarcasm. "Information. To establish my weakness in front of my former follower's eyes."

"Did it work?" Bobby asked cautiously.

A ghost of a smile appeared in Magneto's eyes. "Not, I think, as well as Cadran had hoped." He closed his eyes again. He was making no effort to stand up, or even climb on the bed.

"How long since you've seen the sky?" Bobby said suddenly.


"I mean, there are no windows in this building, or at least the part of the buildings I've been in. I haven't seen the sky in over a week. How about you? You have a pleasant little town outside, even if it's pretty cold. But what can you expect this far north? You ever go outside and just stroll around?"

Magneto shook his head slightly. "Do you always just say whatever comes into your head? Or am I just lucky?"

Bobby's lips tightened. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to."


Bobby began to flush with unreasonable annoyance, so he climbed to the top bunk and sat there, since it was the only place where Magneto couldn't see his face. Jean had always said she didn't even need use her telepathy to know what he was thinking.

He nose was getting runny, and he sniffed until he had to leave his mouth open to breathe. Then he started coughing, those horrible, dry-throated, dying-person coughs, that made your chest hurt. He thought her heard Magneto mutter something.

The lights went out a little later. Bobby tried to lay down, but he couldn't breathe, and the pillow wasn't enough to prop up his head. Every little sound the bed made when he moved was magnified in the stillness of the room. He tried not to move, but couldn't seem to stay still. He sat up and leaned against the wall the bunk bed was up against. His stomach felt horrible. He was going to throw up.

He lowered himself as quietly as possible from his bunk. He couldn't see a thing, and he just barely managed not to fall when one of his feet missed the bunk below and went straight to the floor. He heard Magneto mutter something again.

He found the toilet at last, by finding a wall and following it. The bile was burning his throat. He sat there, retching, even when his stomach was empty, and then he hacked some more until he was sure he had hacked up his stomach lining. His eyes watered horribly.

The wave of nausea past, a wave of home-sickness overtook him. He desperately wished her were back at the mansion, throwing-up in his own bathroom, a solicitous Jean asking him how he was and offering to make him soup, Rogue mixing up some sort of horrible concoction that was supposed to make him feel better, Hank keeping him amused with mediocre movies or an 87th viewing of the Scully-cancer episodes. Instead he was stuck in a cell with Magneto. Stupid, stupid Magneto.

"Are you planning to do that again tonight?" The tired voice floated from nowhere.

Bobby cleared his throat and said to the darkness, "No, why?"

"If you are, you can have the bottom bunk."


He followed the wall back to the bunk and climbed back up. He was still sniffling, so he folded his pillow in half and put his hands behind his head. It helped a little. Not much, but enough that he finally fell asleep about an hour later.

"It's your turn," a woman's voice sang into the room. "I know they're not going to find anything, but Cadran wants to try anyway, and what Cadran wants, he gets. Think you're up to it?"

Bobby opened his eyes and glanced over to see Skirrow standing by his bed. "Huh?"

"Of course you're not, but they prefer it that way. It weakens your resistance. Not that that's necessary with you."

Before Bobby could grasp what she was saying, a cool voice interjected, "You seem unusually cheerful today, Skirrow. Is that caused by the prospect of seeing the boy in pain, or the chance to torture someone?"

Skirrow whipped her head around to look at Magneto. "You know it's no such thing," she snapped. "I'm not the one who used him as a spy, and I'm not doing the interrogation. They won't find anything, anyway. Then they can erase his memories and get him out of here. Perhaps that's why I seem so cheerful."

"Does Cadran intend to replace the memories?"

She nodded. "That was a good idea. And some of our telepaths have been desperate for a challenge."

"What?" said Bobby.

"They're going to replace your memories with different ones, probably ones that will make the X-Men lose interest in this place. They've erased memories of spies before. It's replacing them that's a new idea."

"Oh," said Bobby. Scott, now'd be a good time for one of those timely rescues of yours. God. A little while from now, he wouldn't even know the memories weren't real. What kind of memories would they be, anyway? He felt sick all over again.

"Anyway, get out of bed and let's go."

Yeah. I'll hurry. I'm really looking forward to this.

"And no sarcasm," added Skirrow. "I'm not in the mood."

"Be nice," said Cadran. "You can be as rough as you want during the mental conditioning, but not now."

The room was nearly identical to the infirmary he had first been in, except the lights didn't seem quite so bright. Bobby found himself sitting with his knees drawn up again, and arms wrapped around his legs. For one insane instant, he thought he was going to have to go through that day all over again.

"It's okay," said the man who Bobby actually vaguely remembered from his first encounter with the psi-police. "There's no need to be rough right now. It's like cutting through butter with a hot knife."

What a coincidence -- Bobby felt like his brain was being cut through with a hot knife. All he could do was whimper, though, like a caught rabbit. The people in the room seemed very amused.

"Wait a sec," said the telepath. "That's odd."

"What?" said Cadran.

"He has something blocked. Amazing blocks, for a non-telepath. I think you were right. He knows more than he's willing to admit."

"I knew there was more to this," said Cadran with satisfaction. "Is he hiding the actual purpose of this mission, perhaps? Some secret information?"

"Maybe. I can't break through without destroying whatever information is being guarded. I could chip away slowly at the blocks, though, see what happens."

"Do that."

Bobby stared at them all blankly. I can't believe this. I'm not telepath, I don't have anything important blocked. What was back there, his most embarrassing moments?

"Amazing," said the telepath. "He's even blocking on a conscious level, trying to say there's nothing of importance back there."

"You're sure that's not the truth?"

"Sir, if all his thoughts concerning his abilities and memories were true, then it would be impossible for him to have those psychic blocks. And we know he has those, so he has to be trying to fools us."

"I began to see why Xavier sent him," said Cadran. "I think Magneto underestimated his opponents. I wonder if all the X-Men are trained like this."

"I don't think it's really something you can learn," said the telepath.

"Well, work at those barriers. I have a feeling we've been missing some important parts of Robert Drake. Perhaps they're buried back there."

"That's what I think, sir."

"I have some things to attend to. I'm counting on you."


My God, what were they talking about? What have I gotten myself into? Bobby wailed mentally. I know I don't know anything.

"Amazing," said the telepath.

continued >>

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