|Calling All Stations - Part 1|
|What: Rogue goes over to a friend's place to check in while he's out of the country. She winds up helping more than by merely making sure his place is alright.|
(Tone Music: Calling All Stations)
It was shortly after Thanksgiving when a potentially troublesome message was sent to Rogue's phone via e-mail.
Rogue. I wanted to write a short message just to thank you for having such a wonderful meal with me on Thanksgiving. It was a very thoughtful gesture. I wish that I did not have to write this letter, but I fear there is something I must attend to. I am going to be out of the country for what I hope to be a short while, but I must confess to you, what I am about to do could be very dangerous. I wish that I could tell you more about it, but... not over e-mail. However, I must ask you to do me a favor. You do not have to feel obliged to grant me this request, and I will not be offended if you decline, but I do not know how long I will be out of the country, and you are the only person I feel I can trust.
There is a package waiting for you at the Greenpointe Post Office. Inside this package is a key to a Post Office Box I have rented. Inside that Post Office Box is the code, key, and address to my apartment in Brooklyn. It is in a very safe area, not far from the Bedford stop on the L-Train. If you wouldn't mind checking in on the place once or twice, I would appreciate it. But, like I said, please do not feel obligated to do this for me. I do not wish to inconvenience you.
Thank you - KO
More than two weeks have passed by since that message was delivered. For a few days, if called, Kwabena Odame's phone would have rang through to voicemail, before eventually going straight to voicemail - the sign of a dead battery. His studio apartment in Brooklyn, if visited, has been clean, tidy, almost minimalist in design, with little attention paid to decor. Aside from a surprisingly large wardrobe near one exposed brick wall with a wide variety of outfits, and a locked case under his bed, there is little else in the way of furniture. A couch, a table, a place to dine, nothing more. Further inspection may reveal that Kwabena's phone, its battery having indeed died, has been lain upon a bedside table.
The apartment has remained eerily empty... until today.
Rogue is not the kind of person who says no and this is no exception to that fact, the favor Kwabena asked for easy enough for her to follow up on. Key, code and everything else fetched, the belle makes her way to where her friend calls home. The necessary protocols are followed when she finds the appropriate location and she steps inside, her demeanor now wary.
The main room is stepped into and the door closed behind her, her head pivoting slowly as she scans it, something not settling well with her. She doesn't see anything out of place or anyone so she eventually shrugs off her feeling of discomfort, Rogue not exactly in the mood to be rampantly paranoid today. Her phone and whatnot is set on the table and then she starts a fuller inspection of the apartment, the living room being where she starts.
While the living room and kitchen remain empty, the first sound she would have noticed is the running of water, coming from Kwabena's bathroom. Indeed, should it be inspected, the bath seems to be running, with water so hot that steam has started to pour out from behind the door. While this isn't entirely an odd thing to behold, there may still be something in the air that seems wrong, as if the water has just been running too long.
It is when she should inspect his bedroom when a horrible sight might meet her eyes. The room itself is an utter mess, with clothes and belongings strewn about. There, upon a nightstand, are a number of disturbing items - a bag filled with a slightly off-yellow power, blood-stained cotton balls, a burnt spoon, a lighter, and a smattering of spend hypodermic needles.
Then, Kwabena is spotted. There, upon the bed he lies, with sweat-stained sheets just covering an otherwise naked body. Something is clearly wrong with him, for his eyes flutter and shake, rolled halfway back inside of his head, and he seems entirely unresponsive or otherwise unaware that anyone has come to visit him. However, more disturbing than this is the way that his body seems to be undergoing some kind of change. Indeed, his sweat-stained body seems to randomly change into a swirling cloud of black smoke. The changes happen rapidly, and seem to be uncontrollable by the nigh-incapacitated Ghanaian.
Enough time spent on the street will educate a person on what drug paraphernalia looks like even if they've never taken drugs themselves, the needles and other items not alien to Rogue, nor is the condition she finds Kwabena in. Save the shifting forms, of course although that doesn't exactly surprise her, either. She's seen too many things in her relatively short life to be surprised by displays of powers, obvious ones or otherwise. What does shock her is seeing him so sick looking, such a far cry from when she last saw him.
A soft sigh is issued before she goes to the bed which she kneels by, her left hand coming to rest on his if she's able to. "Kwa... what the..." She falls quiet, not wanting to accidentally make him sicker by too much over stimulation, she instead rising to move into the bathroom. A washcloth is sought out as well as the shower's turned off, the former done so she can dampen it and bring it back to where he is.
The touch elicits a response from Kwabena. There's a stirring in his body while it's in solid form, and his eyes seem to be making an attempt to focus. It takes such effort on his part, for it would seem that the promise Doom made to Kwabena regarding the nanites in his bloodstream were, indeed, true. The street drugs have done nothing save push him into a dangerous place, and if something is not done to help him quickly, it's a very real possibility that he will go into a full overdose.
Still, while he's barely lucid enough to be aware of his own surroundings, he is only just able to make out Rogue's presence, mostly because of the signature white streak in her hair. He suddenly seems to become stricken with grief, and begins to groan in protest. Unable to make words, the groans simply come out as painful protests of grief and agony.
Then, his body begins shifting into black smoke again, the sheets rising and falling with every displacement of matter. His mutation, it seems, has lost control.
This really is beyond her scope of knowledge, the drugs alone more than what she knows how to deal with. Add to it how he is continually shifting between one form and another and it has her positively stymmied. The washcloth is brought back with her and she slides in along side of him in the bed, the damp cloth used to wipe his face when he's solid.
"Where did ya go," she whispers, sounding very much like she just might cry, her voice trembling. "Ah don't know what Ah can do to help, but Am here for you. Jus' hold on, Kwabena. Please?" She lays there as long as she feels he's not harmed by her presence, her eyes held to his face, Rogue searching for signs that he will be alright.
At first, Kwabena doesn't seem to recognize that she has joined him. He only recognizes that a question has been asked, and begins to reply in garbled sentences, drawled out beneath his heroin-glazed stupor in ways that may not make sense at first.
"Doom... Doomstadt. Von Doom. Lat..."
His body phases in and out once more, only this time, his face seems to maintain it's shape amidst the thick tendrils of black smoke that replace his solid form. That face seems to be grimacing in agony until it reforms once again, lips moving to make words.
"Latveria. We... we failed. They... died. Dead. He... Doom, he... cursed me. He cursed me."
Verbalizing such a thing helps his mind to gain some sense of awareness, which is why he finally recognize that Rogue has joined him. The worry in her eyes torments him in ways that are almost heavier than what he's done to himself, for the guilt at putting her through this is ten-fold to his own guilt at what he's done to himself. A single tear streaks down his face, before something altogether unexpected, to -either- of them perhaps, takes place.
Instead of phasing into a gaseous state, Kwabena's body seems to begin melting into a thick, dark liquid. His mutations, while triggered by intense feelings of emotions, are simply running out of control, in ways that have never taken him. It would seem that intense feelings of grief - a thing that Kwabena has never truly faced with such intensity - cause his body to change into a liquid state. Before anything else can happen, that liquid begins to seep through mattress, blanket...
The true phenomenon behind Kwabena's matter phase changes are that the individual cells, in whatever state they are in, maintain a sense of self-preservation. For lack of a better explanation, which would require intense study at the hands of an expert physicist, his body seems to have an instinctual mind of its own, regardless of what state it is in. So it is that when the liquefied edges of Kwabena's form have soaked through various pieces of Rogue's clothing, it is akin to his skin touching her skin.
"Wait, what were y'all doin' there," comes a question right on the heel of his trying to explain, a question that gets ended quickly as he 'touches' her, it causing Rogue's powers to kick in. It's immediate and uncontrollable, her body starting to shift from solid to gaseous to everything in between, it startling her to the point where she cries out. "Oh... oh no! Kwa..." She tries to get up off of the bed but can't, the less-than-solid state she's in making her hand pass through whatever it is she tries to touch.
While she's struggling with this three things happen. One, Kwa's powers, now transferred to her, are temporarily halted and he's able to stay solid. Two, she just might be able to get the memories he possesses of his memories of what happened to him while in Doom's country and three, and most imporantly, he'll be rendered unconscious which is a good thing as it should help him recover from this ordeal.
Instinct is a powerful thing, even at the cellular level. Some might go so far as to consider it miraculous. Kwabena's mutagene, which runs through every cell in his body, recoils at being attacked in an equally instinctive way. Droplets of liquefied mass pull back toward a central core, drawing out of sheets and clothing at once, leaving them curiously dry. Rogue's clothing goes dry, and the African's body immediately re-forms into its solid state, no longer capable of shifting for a time. While his body reforms, the veins beneath his skin seem to be drawn tight against the external layer, visible throughout his body as if torn by stress.
Then, they fade, and his eyes flutter closed as he succumbs to unconsciousness.
A flood of memories are transferred as life energy is absorbed, revealing to Rogue the nature of Kwabena's suffering while under the 'tender mercies' of Victor Von Doom. It mostly comes in the form of an emotional flood, but there are flashes of clarity within - being strapped to a medical bed, injected with drug-inducing nanites, the imperial words of Von Doom as he explains just how, exactly, he 'cursed' his prisoner. While the memories come in a torrent of disconnected thoughts and feelings, the general idea of what he went through will surely become clear, if not at first, then in eventuality.
The needles, the drugs, the attempt at taking some measure of control back from his would-be master, it was all in vein.
Kwabena is a victim.
Within that torrent of memories, however, is one very strong impression. It serves to answer the question that Kwabena was unable to answer with his own words. Why were they there? Because they were trying to do something good. They were trying to expose Von Doom for the monster that he is.
A retching sound comes from the cloud-like form followed by a second and then a third but while she sounds like she's being ill there's nothing to come up save perhaps a bit of vapor that is expelled from Rogue's 'mouth 'as she heaves. It's the horrors she 'experiences' thanks to the shared memories, the sights worse than any scary movie and made-for-TV film about mass murderers and similar subjects. They scare her and all she can do is live it, watch it and nothing can stop her from this as she knows. She just knows.
By the time the nightmare ends she is crying, the tears unable to fall at first. But soon the powers cease to work, the touch brief enough to grant her the ability to shift forms for only a little while, and she eventually reforms, once again solid. And naked since her clothing were left upon the bed while her body took to floating above it. The long tee shirt is pulled over herself quicky, the baggy garment more than long enough to provide modesty, the rest pushed onto the floor with a foot save her gloves. Those are worn now as well.
Similarly, Kwabena lies naked, the sheets still covering him enough to keep him decent. He remains as he is, still and lost to the world, for a period that is in reality quite short but in perception impossibly long. When he finally comes to, his eyes dart open with a sudden awareness, and a deep breath is gasped into his chest.
Fear and confusion grapple within his brown eyes, swirling about in animalistic fashion until he remembers his visitor. It would seem that Rogue's powers not only absorbed some of his life force and mutant capabilities, but also, served to sever the effects of those narcotics he was so dangerous close to overdosing upon. His glance dances about until he finds her, and at that moment, he draws himself back into a near fetal ball, staring at her with shock and awe.
"Wha... wha..." When he tries to speak, the weakness of his body registers upon him at last. It feels as if while his mind is suddenly and instinctively sharpened, his body has become so lethargic. Weak. Sore. The emotion in his gaze, however, is one of utter confusion and sudden conflict, for the African simply does not understand what just happened. Regardless, after a hesitant moment, he reaches toward her gloved hand with a weak one of his own while a frown forms on his face. "What... happened... are you alright?"
"Ah ain't the one who needs to be asked that," Rogue whispers, the volume of her voice kept low in effort to keep it from trembling. It is bad enough that the streaks of white that line either side of her nose gives away how she has been crying. The last thing she wants to do is sound like it as well and possibly make Kwabena worry about her. "Ah jus' scared," she eventually confesses before sitting up, not wanting to risk laying down now that he's coherent and moving around more. Last thing either of them needs right now is for another bout of skin-on-skin contact as it could very easily result in Kwa's nervous system shorting out and her gaining his powers permanently.
Her clothing are gathered and she moves into the bathroom, a need for privacy kicking in big time now that she sees he at least seems to be better. The door is left open mostly, however, for the sake of conversation. "Ah didn't know yer were in that much trouble," she calls out before a soft sound of hopping can be heard, the /thud thud/ of bare feet upon tiled floor being a sign of her trying to get her pants on. "Are ya alright now?"
"I'm scared too."
The words are all but whispered. Kwabena draws a hand back as she grabs her clothes and departs, and it takes a few blinding moments before he recognizes that he should do the same. Scrambling out of his bed, Kwabena grasps his pants and shirt from the floor, quickly throwing them on.
Then, the headache strikes him. He grimaces and reaches for his temple, frowning. "I'm... I'm much better now, actually." He looks toward the bathroom with a perplexed frown, for he still doesn't comprehend any of this. And so he waits, with as much patience as he can muster, and eventually feels the urge to get a glass of water.
He pours two, then hastily makes to clean up the spent drugs and paraphernalia strewn about his bed.
When Rogue returns she is fully-clothed, once again covered head-to-toe and with her face washed off so she can at least look presentable. That is as presentable as someone who suffered a hell of a mental shock and a bout of having to deal with accidentally-filched powers, anyhow. "Am glad yer feelin' better," she says while managing a smile, the gesture more than enough of a clue as far as her mood goes its so wan. "Ah can stay the night if ya need someone to make sure nothings goin' to happen," she offers, not sure what else to do.
When she returns, anger has already started to take Kwabena. Anger that he has fallen so hard. He has just finished scooping the remains of his mess into a box, and when he turns to face her, a touch of that anger may be visible in his face.
It's short lived. Free, at least for now of the nanites narcotic influence, he drops the box to the floor and walks slowly toward her, a question now on his face.
"Rogue..." He sets the question aside, a frown coming about him. He tries so hard not to look down, but the shame comes next, and he just can't help it. "I never wanted anyone to see me that way. I... I didn't mean to... I haven't... I..."
Slowly, he turns away, not wanting to ask her to stay, not wanting her to live any more of his nightmare, but not wanting her to go either.
The emotions he displays are not ones that surprise Rogue, the ire and then the shame to be expected. But what hurs is when he turns away from her, that putting an ache in her heart. "Ah..." Frowning, she looks at the back of Kwabena's head and then away, at a loss as what to offer. Did she offend him by offering to stay? Did her offer to keep an eye on him hurt him? God, she wishes she could read minds. Would make this easier on her.
"Ah'm gonna get you something to eat and then Ah'll leave ya alone." That's about all she can do to take care of him. Here's for hoping that won't make what he's feeling now worse.
"I don't want to be alone." Kwabena eventually turns back to face her, now feeling the numbness setting in. "Everyone else, they're..."
Domino. She was dead. Blink, turned. Possibly an enemy. Carol, dead. Betsy... his betrayer.
Those glasses of water are left ignored. He doesn't want to be there anymore. "We tried to do something. Something good. But we failed, and..." He trails off, shaking his head for he can't yet find the words to tell her of what happened. Instead, he makes for the door, where his black leather jacket is hung. He's close to walking out, hoping that she will follow, but before he lays a hand on the doorknob he turns instead to face her again.
"If you hadn't come, I'm... not sure what might have happened." Finally, a smile forms on the defeated man's face. A smile of gratitude.
The words ring in her ears but she's too tired and too numb for them to really register, the only things cluing her into how Kwa is feeling and the severity of the subject being his expression and tone. "I'm sorry," she mumbles around a yawn, their shared hell causing her to fall into a bout of tiredness that borders on exhaustion. "Ah'll stay tonight," she says again while following Kwabena to the door, letting him lead on as he will, Rogue eventually leaning against him, shoulder to shoulder, as she shuffles beside him.
"Jus' remember. Ah got yer back."
Kwabena had a hard time trusting people, to be sure, but in his mind, she was the only one he had left. Oh, there were scant few others, acquaintances who weren't there, but he didn't want to see them. He didn't want them to know. She stumbled upon this, and for however long she would be stuck in it, he would have her. So, it is with a casual smile that he leans back and hooks an arm around her.
-Bad things happen when Ah touch people.-
Words spoken weeks ago register in his mind, but now he begins to understand just why she wears gloves, the clothes that she does, and so forth. Perhaps those questions didn't need to be asked now.
"I feel like I have a lot of explaining to do," he offers as they come upon the elevator, waiting for it to arrive. "This... this is not me," he adds, not without a touch of defiance either. "This is not who I am meant to be, Rogue. Not this mess."