Midnight Shadows Guided Games GENEsis: DOFP Genesis In Character Days of Future Past [SentS] It's a long way down. [Ericka / Sebastian]


02-06-2019
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02-06-2019, 05:50 PM
[In-Character] [Post #31]
Sebastian was getting worse, it was simple enough to assess. She wondered if he often gone home after receiving the injection and crawled into his bed, and once more, she wondered how she had never put any of it together. Rationale told her that she just hadn’t been looking, hadn’t [i]thought[/] to do so, so she had not discovered what had been staring her in the face. He recovered quickly enough, she surmised, likely missing little time at all.

His voice snapping bit into her and she nearly bruised her lower lip between her teeth. “And what conversation would that be?” She pressed, wanting to know exactly what it was he wished to discuss. There were so many options that baited attention between them, so many that she wanted to draw up in a multitude of colors for him to perceive, and yet at the same time she wanted to bury each and every one of them. Whenever she acknowledged anything directly related to him, she knew she was simply asking for trouble.

She assessed him again; the pallor to his skin, the glistening beads across his brow, the laboring exchange of gasses in and out of his lungs. He was barely eating the ice cream, something simple enough to offer him the energy his body wanted. It was similar fighting off an infection, or the body rebelling against an immunosuppressant meant to force it into accepting a foreign organ. If only they could develop that to work as well.

Stepping away from him and towards the curb, she lifted an arm to flag a cab, one immediately pulled over, and a second attempted to, until it pulled back into traffic. She leaned in through the passenger window and opened her mouth, giving Sebastian’s address before she caught herself. She had no idea if he even still lived there.

“Get in the car, Sebastian.” She instructed him as she opened the rear passenger door. “And then tell the man where you live.”
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02-06-2019
08:24 PM
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02-06-2019, 08:24 PM
[In-Character] [Post #32]
Sebastian found himself huffing out a breath. It was not that he was annoyed with Ericka. He was simply running low on energy, he was cold, he wanted to get home. But at the same time, he wanted to compute and he wanted her close. Certain habits did die hard.

What conversation would it be he wanted to have? He set his jaw, biting down hard for a moment. Well, that conversation. The one where he could tell her the things he had not told her, and where she would reciprocate. Yet, even as he formed the thought, Sebastian was quite sure it was a futile idea to assume that would happen. The best case scenario was that she would come with and probably be annoyed at him still. After all, with everything that had happened, she had every right to.

Sebastian dragged his eyes back up to her, could see the way she was assessing him. A once over. But an intense one. The kind only she could give. He sucked air in through his nose and tried to find his equilibrium with his body using more energy than he had to spend. She knew more about the suppressant than he did. And she knew it was in his body, and she could most certainly see what it was doing to him.

Before he could say another word, Ericka stepped up to the curb and then there was a car. Yellow. Cab.

Oh.

Sebastian leaned forward, one hand against the cab’s roof as he stared at the oddly small space through which he was supposed to squeeze himself. His mind told him it was a normal car, with a normal rear door. But his perception was already askew. He looked at his hand, melted dark chocolate icecream was running down the back of his fingers.

The cab driver was saying something to him but Sebastian could not catch what it was. He looked at Ericka. For a moment, he heard nothing, saw nothing around them. His mind could only take in one thing at a time right now. And right now, that was Ericka Velez. Sebastian let his shoulders sink.

“Can you please get in with me?” He had half a mind to ask her not to make him beg. But after how he had gone about things, Sebastian knew he could not even ask that of her. He simply did not deserve it. “I know I shouldn’t ask you this”, he pushed out, still holding on to the roof of the car. “But I don’t know if I’ll make it home by myself.” Sebastian knew he would be better, eventually. The suppressant sometimes peaked once, taking him down and making him sleep for ten hours at a time, and at other times he would come in and out. He had no idea what was happening today – but either way, not going home alone, left to the hands of a stranger driving a cab, appeared like a decent idea.
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02-07-2019
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02-07-2019, 06:11 PM
[In-Character] [Post #33]
Sebastian seemed to stagger forward, leaned his hand against the roof of the vehicle and huffed a few breaths as he seemingly assessed the waiting back seat. Black leather seats waited to bed and dip beneath his weight, conform against the warmth his body would give off. And he stared at it like he had no clue what a backseat was and thought holding his gaze on it would somehow wring the answers from the universe.

The cab driver was insisting that he get in so that he could get to work or he would start charging simply for his time, or likely he would take a few laps around a couple of blocks to compensate for the fact he sat at a curbside with someone hesitating to get in. The man asked for the proper address and Sebastian swung his gaze towards the man, squinting slightly as if he couldn’t make sense of the words being offered.

“Get in the car, Sebastian.” She repeated herself, enunciating her words far more precisely than she had the first time.

His question in response brought her completely to pause. That was not wise. Getting into a vehicle with him and going to wherever he was living, whether it was the same place or somewhere new, was not appropriate or smart. Her mind skipped forward about a hundred paces, drawing back when he pressed further, acknowledging it was not fair or right that he put it on her, and then concern over not arriving safely at his destination were he left to his own devices or the man behind the wheel who was still huffing at delay in departure.

She took his ice cream cone form him and tossed it in the nearby trash can along with her own that was melting over her index and middle fingers. She drew in a shaky breath inward as she moved back towards the cab and pushed by him, sliding into the open and waiting seats. “Get in the car.” She pressed him further until he complied. Then she reached across him for the door and drew it shut. “Give him your address. She instructed when the driver turned to look over his shoulder at them. Once it was finally given, the man pulled away from the curb and into the steady flow of traffic.

The window was her friend for most of the drive, she frequently stared out of it and at the people they passed, occasionally sliding a glance sideways towards him to assess his status. He was in a type of decline, a crash, his eyes would sometimes droop almost enough to slip shut for a few breaths, and then he seemed to pry them back open, giving way to his continued consciousness. When the car pulled up the building she was familiar with, she slid her card for the payment and handed the man a ten. It was reasonable considering it was only thirteen blocks, even if they had held him up.

“Gatorade.” She driver suggested as he turned somewhat in his seat. “Re-balance the electrolytes.”

Ericka opened her door and stepped onto the street that was thankfully light in regard to vehicle numbers, then circled around the back towards the other door, holding it open for Sebastian to amble out of. She didn’t really want to touch him, even as her arm lifted from her side towards his lower back. He looked awful.

She was not going to carry him.

When he paused and his foot staggered, she let the arm slide around his waist to steady him back once more. It was more than setting her thumb and forefinger against his shoulder to map landmarks prior to an injection. “You should have gone home right after I stabbed you.”
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02-07-2019, 09:01 PM
[In-Character] [Post #34]
Ericka’s voice had cut through the fog engulfing his head. He let her take the cone from him. Absentmindedly, he pressed his lips to the back of his hand to lick away what left melted ice cream had run down. Then she pushed past him, and with a surprised glance on his face he watched her. As she sat, staring out and up at him, he pulled up both eyebrows. Then he did as she told him and got into the car.

Sebastian leaned back, trying not to notice how she leaned across him – how close that brought her. When the door was shut, he slid down in his seat, appreciating the sensation to finally be off his feet. Exhaling with relief, Sebastian shut his eyes.

Address? “Why?”, he murmured. “Forgotten already?” he pushed out, blinking rapidly to try focus on his surroundings. It felt a little like if he kept his eyes shut too long he would completely lose his grasp of reality. He smiled, feeling something between dead-tired and drunk like a teenager who had lost a bet. He gave the driver the address and finally the cab was moving.

Sebastian felt dizzy. Trying to look alike continued to grow continuously harder. Every now and then, his eyes would slip shut. So it was of little surprise to him to finally find the cab having stopped. Sebastian looked out the window, and ever so slowly the blurred image came into focus. His apartment block. He blinked, turned his head only to see Ericka get out.

He swallowed, then turned his head. Alright. He had to get out now. He tried to think of ways to convince his extremities to move. First, open the door, he thought. Sebastian looked to his side, suddenly finding the light from his window blocked completely. He looked up, then the door opened. “Oh”, he said. There stood Ericka. Swallowing, Sebastian nodded right before he tried to activate every last muscle in his body to move. The idea alone to move appeared so difficult right now that using every muscle in his body in order to do it seemed just right.

Holding his breath, he tried to move forward. One hand to the left of the frame, the other to the right, and then he pulled himself out. For a moment, he was not sure he could stand. “Did they change the formula?” he asked. Or was his mind readily forgetting just how awful the serum made him feel. Then he staggered, not quite sure where to put his foot and he suddenly felt her hand at his lower back and Sebastian breathed in relief. “Thanks”, he murmured as she slipped an arm around his waist.

“I know”, he said to her comment about how he ought to have gone home.

Slowly, they made their way to the front door. Sebastian did what he could to remain upright. When they reached the entrance, he lifted his hand, waving at a figure barely visible behind the glass pane. Jeremy. The concierge. The man knew by now that Sebastian came home in this state rather regularly. Sebastian had humoured the man on more than one occasion. Oh the ideas where Sebastian ought to go to have this checked out.

Jeremy buzzed the door open.

“Mr. Strucker”, the man in his fifties rushed towards them.
“Jeremy.” Sebastian had tried countless times to tell the man that he ought to use his given name. But apparently Jeremy had instructions, and not even a tenant’s kindness and gratefulness could convince him that a first name basis could go both ways. The other man hurried ahead and called the elevator.

When eventually the door closed behind them and the carriage, Sebastian exhaled and wound himself out of Ericka’s hold. He slipped against the hand railing mounted to three sides of the cabin. A deep breath slipped out from his lips. He leaned forward a little, before lifting his head. Twenty-second floor. Five more.

The elevator was fast. So Sebastian just tugged his keys out of his jacket pocket and held them out for Ericka. “Takes too long to unlock it when I’m by myself …” he explained. Jeremy had come up with him time and time again to aid Mr. Strucker. Just when Sebastian did this on his own, it usually took him a small eternity.
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02-10-2019
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02-10-2019, 07:49 AM
[In-Character] [Post #35]
She bit her tongue when he asked if the suppressant formulas were being changed, because the truth of the matter was that they weren’t. That didn’t meant they weren’t constantly trying to develop further iterations. A suppressant was like any kind of medication, each affected every individual injected differently. The symptoms he was exhibiting did not align with his selected suppressant being changed, but rather his body changing. So, she suppressed the urge to berate him as they moved through the main door, passed his superb doorman and into the elevator.

The moment the doors quietly pressed together, he twisted himself out of her hold and towards the opposite corner of the elevator, and much as she had during the duration of their progress to that point since leaving the cab, she kept her mouth shut and every word she wanted to snap at him with safely behind her teeth. He leaned forward and she folded her arms. If he wanted to be on the other side of the lift so desperately, he could fall on his face, then.

When the arrival chime sounded, illuminating the proper floor’s button in blue for a moment before going out, she stared at him while the doors slid open, let her gaze briefly slip to the keys that he offered out. Perhaps she should have left him at the front door. Apparently unlocking his own door took too long when he was alone, and her mind allowed her to wonder how often the boy at the front assisted him, or anyone else.

She took the keys from him and then stepped off the elevator, turning into the hall and leaving him to move after her at whatever pace he could manage. He wanted to inject himself with poison, he could deal with the fallout. It would do to his benefit to move as much as possible to work it more quickly through his system. Only then, it would take root for it speak hours, only to wane. Then he would seek out another injection to further the suppression he sought.

There weren’t as many doors on the floor as there were the first twenty, and finding his was easy enough, retracing old steps and she hesitated the key before the lock. How many times she had followed him down that hall, or stumbled down it giggling and inebriated, or half carried and swooning, she couldn’t readily number. She shoved the key forward and turned the bolt, then moved onto the second lock and turned it as well. Then she pushed the door open, stepped aside, and folded her arms.

Watching him make his way down the hall was a trying thing, both on her patience and her emotions. She did not like seeing him so drained and fumbling, reaching for walls to hold himself up. When he finally turned into the apartment, she followed and shut the door quietly, stepping around him and moving to his kitchen. She set the keys down at the end of the counter in a blue glass bowl then moved towards the cabinets. She withdrew a glass and filled it with water, set it out for him, then turned towards his fridge and frowned at the ridiculously sparse contents when she opened the door. She reached for the half full pitcher of orange juice and set it down. When she shut the door once more, she stared at two wide smiling faces in a four by six photo.

That he might consider forcing them into a suppressant regiment twisted like a knife in her side, prodding further at her irritation over the entire matter as it was.

“You’re body’s adapting.” She finally told him as she moved somewhat back towards him. His body would burn through the current suppression at some point and it would have little effect. That meant he was metabolizing it and needed a different mechanism of action, or whatever mutation he apparently possessed was beyond what the initial doctor had initially perceived.

Or he was evolving.

“If this is happening now, then it won’t be much longer before they’ll pick something else for you.” When she finally looked at him, she huffed outward. “Are you going to do it to them, too?” She glanced back at the photo.
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02-11-2019
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02-11-2019, 07:16 PM
[In-Character] [Post #36]
Sebastian swayed down the hall when Ericka had unlocked his door. He kicked off his shoes, not giving a damn where they landed. Shrugging out of his jacket, he discarded it on the floor. Eventually, Sebastian just made it into his living room and let himself slip sideways, half fall and half roll onto the couch. A deep groan pushed up from his chest and he draped his elbow across his face. Blocking out light made it a little better.

He was not aware of how Ericka still knew where to place his keys. The blue bowl had not been moved. She knew where the glasses were, exhibiting a general knowledge about what was where in his kitchen. Neither did she see the gaze with which she regarded the photo of Andy and Lauren. All he did eventually hear was her voice. His body was adapting.

Adapting to what?
Oh.
The suppressant.

Her voice came closer and he heard two glasses being set down on the coffee table. He had half a mind to ask what she meant. Adapting? Adapting how? But just as he formed the thoughts in his mind, he already had the answer. His body adapted to the suppressant. He was beginning to fight it, counteract it. Eventually it would not work anymore? That was what that meant?

He pushed air from his lungs. This certainly did not register in the ‘good news’ department.

“Something else?” he asked immediately. Of course at the time he had agreed to doing this none of this kind of option had been spoken about. Back then they had made it sound so simple. Suppressant. No more mutant. They would extract his DNA and do in-depth tests. They would then build a serum specifically designed for him, for his children.

Sebastian exhaled with a measure of defeat. “That was the plan”, he ground out. “Give them a normal life.” He paused. “What’s the alternative?” he asked, pulling his arm down. His eyes were bloodshot. He was not crying, but emotions were welling up. The suppressant in his system caused enough of an upheaval to demand most if not all of his energy resources right at this point. He had little in the way left to measure his reactions.

“A life in the underground? Running? Like Gabriel Summers? With a target on their back?” The idea to see Andy or Lauren in a situation like he had seen the youngest Summers brother earlier threatened to drive him up the wall. “That can’t be a life”, he murmured and he did not even need to look at Ericka to know she would have a few things to say about this. His own life had gone to shit when the mutation manifested.

“Right now anyone with a mutant gene is screwed, Ericka.”

He blinked, focussing on the glass of orange juice set out on the coffee table. He reached for it, gulping it down greedily eventually. It helped, even if just a bit.

“And I’m the one who gave it to them …”

And that was the problem, was it not? That was why he was putting himself up to be the guinea pig. If it went okay for him, he could have Lauren and Andy be dosed as well. Then all would be fine, and his kids did not look at a life either with a proverbial muzzle keeping them manageable or continuously on the run to escape the ever growing reach of the Services.
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02-12-2019
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02-12-2019, 05:28 PM
[In-Character] [Post #37]
When she turned and watched him make his way to the couch, she moved back to the kitchen’s center island and retrieved the glass of water and pitcher of juice that she had set out. There was a lot left to be desired after searching the meager contents of his fridge. She could potentially order something in for him once she left to at least put something decent in his stomach.

There was an overwhelming urge to demand he tell her what he was capable of, an incessant curiosity pinging against the insides of her skull that wanted answers. What would be enough to drive him to want to suppress something that was an extension of himself? 13 was a moderate suppressant, so it had been selected based on what his genetic make-up at the time of testing had given way to. But mutation was change. She wondered, then, if he had any grasp on the extent of the things he could potentially achieve.

Instead, he locked it all up inside of himself.

She set the glass items onto the coffee table within his reach and moved to sit on the gray chair near the end of the couch.

Something else? Yes, something else. Something stronger, harsher, perhaps without the side effects he was currently experiencing. Then again, the spectrum could shift in the opposite direction and assault him with effects that were far worse. He was semi-functional at the moment. Even when he had been tasked with questioning her following the incident on the satellite roof, he had appeared ‘normal’ for the most part., even though she could theorize that he had likely only just received his injection for the then current round as he had gripped at his shoulder in an attempt to assuage the ache.

She thought about the serum that Andrea had left on her desk, the way that it had sought out and destroyed near half the cells it had come into contact to. Her mind had run away with her then, contemplating and imagining all the possibilities that could take place in a body rather than a lab slide or auger dish.

Then he moved on, insisting that the plan in fact was for his twins to be on the receiving end of a suppressant. Because apparently that was the best option. To give them a ‘normal’ life, human, outside of what their bodies intended. He tried to cite the likes of Gabriel, existing with a target on his back and she about rolled her eye at the thought. Gabriel Summers would likely assist in painting the red circles on the back of his head and encourage anyone to make an attempt against him, the arrogant asshole that he was. That couldn’t be a life? She was pretty sure that Gabe was alive and well, married, with extras. The thought of the children she barely knew anything about had her biting at her lower lip to keep from snapping. Gabe had never outright confessed their exact existence, them as subject matter had arisen completely indirectly.

Gabriel Summers, Omega mutant, most wanted American individual in the country.

And he’d offer to buy you a beer or tell you to fuck off in a heartbeat.

She felt herself frown when Sebastian insisted that he was the guilty party that had given his children their mutation. It wasn’t out of line. Mutation potential was more often inherited from the father. A mutant mother could give her children the genetic implication, or her some variation of her own mutation, but a mutant mother was only likely to do so in about twenty-five percent of children if the father was human. The likelihood grew exponentially when coupled with a mutant father’s genetics.

“And what about what they want?” The twins were growing older, likely butting up into the realm of their own mutations pushing through, if they weren’t already. Each generation accelerated that which made it better, as was the way nature intended. There were children that were exhibiting mutation potential before they entered double digit years. And those mutations… “What happens when their friends mutate?” Was he expecting them to stand aside and let those close to them be taken or ostracized simply because their own mutations were suppressed, possibly not even knowing they had them? “What are you going to do if they fall in love with someone that turns out to be a mutant? Are you going to decide what they do then as well?”
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02-18-2019
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02-18-2019, 09:50 AM
Sebastian deflated. That was the only word that fit what this felt like. Heat was engulfing him and he knew he was likely running a temperature by now. Yet, it meant as much that he would be on the mend soon enough. Once the heat was done burning away the x-gene’s effects – at least that was how he explained it to himself – he would once more feel better.

He was grateful to be on his couch, no longer require to stand upright or move in any way. It was no imagination that the effects were getting worse though. And somewhere in the back of his mind Ericka’s comment from earlier – his body was adapting – reverberated. He pushed air out of his lungs, eyes closed and an elbow drawn across them.

Sebastian still heard the accusation in Ericka’s words. What about what his children wanted? Well, yes, what about it? They were minors – not even having reached their teenage years yet. They could not make this decision. By definition, and by law, that was his job. His job and Sarah’s.

He swallowed. Was his throat sore? It certainly stung when he tried to swallow against it.

“I won’t”, he just said and let his arm fall away from over his eyes. He gazed at her for a moment, wondering who she thought he was. Or well, she probably had every reason to think ill of him. He had given her no reason to do otherwise. “They’re not even teenagers yet, Ericka … how can they make this decision?” His voice was hoarse, breaking – the throat was dry. He reached out, trying to pick up the glass of water she had set out for him but drew his arm back. There was a sudden ache in the elbow joint. He groaned and tried to sit up without quite succeeding.

Eventually, Sebastian let himself drop back onto the couch, now half on his side. His eyes, however, were still on Ericka.

“I want them to have an option”, he ground out. Could she not see this?

Of course both of them had the option to just drop off the radar, go dark and let their mutation manifest. They would end up living like the likes of Gabriel Summers. Or they could register, or suppress. Not that Sebastian would really recommend latter option.

“Neither of them manifested yet, and I pray they won’t for another five years at least.” Sebastian’s x-gene had not manifested until right after … His gaze shifted to Ericka, then further to the wall behind her. He let go of the thought. “I manifested late”, he went on, having trouble speaking the words properly. Some of them slurred. “They might as well.” His dry throat triggered a small fit of coughing. Sebastian grimaced. This was painful.

“I don’t know. Fuck … I don’t know … I see what happens with the kids they take in. How can I not try everything to make sure Andy and Lauren never end up like that?” Another coughing fit, then his eyes once more found her form, his gaze settling on her face. “I agreed to suppress because Sarah threatened to relieve me of my right of access.” His ability seemingly extremely volatile it had not taken much for his ex-wife to make herself very clear. Either he would get rid of this ability or she would get rid of him as the kids’ father.

Sebastian knew that eventually Sarah might not be the one to leave the kids a choice as to who they wanted to be and what they wanted to do with a possible manifesting mutation. However, Sebastian held on to the idea that then he could intervene, could explain to his kids that being a mutant was an option if they could accept the consequences that came with in this world.

The entire thing was one huge mess. No matter which way he spun it. Ericka had a point in that regard.
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02-20-2019
05:37 PM
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02-20-2019, 05:37 PM
[In-Character] [Post #39]
There was an irritated tension knotting itself together between them. She could feel it, sense it, likely he was all too aware of it. The side effects of the serum coupled with her indirect blaming interrogation was likely rubbing every frayed nerve ending raw.

He was the one that had wanted to talk.

“You’re not giving them the option when you remove it from them.” She snapped and then immediately pressed her lips together. They were not her children. She really had no say in how he treated them, how he raised, them, how he felt in regard to what he would allow for them. They were his children. His children and someone else’s. She swallowed and looked away form him, fixating on the table instead.

He pointed out that the twins weren’t even teenaged yet. Likely they would make better decisions now than they would once ‘teen’ was hooked onto the end of their ages. Sometimes she thought it was better that mutation was evolving sooner, that mutants were coming into their abilities at younger ages. It afforded them the opportunity to learn, and to know nothing else besides being mutant. Regardless of the levels, the ranking that SentS would deem any of them, having access from the get go seemed the easiest way to manage what was given to them. She likened it similarly to being diabetic. Type 1s that manifested early knew how to care for their disease far better and far more successfully than those that became such later in life. The outcomes were always better.

She kept her mouth shut when he noted he hoped the twins didn’t manifest until years later. The likelihood was still there, that adolescence was necessary to prompt the emergence, but it was entirely possible they were experiencing their mutations already. Had he forgotten what it was like to be young, to be a child? How easy it could sometimes be to hide what one wanted from the parents seeking to know. Especially in the wake of a divorce when the parents’ eyes were on each other.

He noted that he had manifested late and she narrowed her eyes slightly. She was so busy wondering what his mutation was, that she hadn’t bothered wondering the when component. She had assumed he was much as his generation was and had been, the burgeoning of adolescents. Though, if not triggered at that age, often it was emotional.

Remaining with him was triggering and exacerbating her anger, listening to him trip over his thoughts. He had no idea what to do. He was too close to knowing what happened to the youth apprehended by SentS. He was so set on protecting his own children, but he turned himself away when it was someone else’s child.

And he just kept helping SentS push all the further.

She looked at the table again when he mentioned his wife. His ex wife. Sarah. There had been a spark of envy that she had always felt for her. She had had Sebastian in a manner that Ericka had always felt a sliver of jealousy for. Sarah had had him free and clear, could cite that he had truly been hers. At one point. He had severed himself from her, and yet, she still managed to keep a hand over him.

Ericka rose form her seat, unable to sit with the sensation of pins and needles prickling beneath her skin. She moved towards the couch and reached for the blanket folded and set on the back. She shook it free and set it over him. “Your body wants to sleep.” She told him, shifting gears and steering them away from subject matter that she wanted to put away. She wanted to tuck his ex-wife away, put his children carefully back where they were meant to be, curb her thoughts form the direction they sometimes listed towards. They should have all been out of her reach, but they had become prevalent, important, the moment she had let herself feel anything for him, the moment she had given in. “You won’t even remember half of this conversation in the morning anyway.”
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02-21-2019
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02-21-2019, 02:32 PM
[In-Character] [Post #40]
“They’re my kids, Ericka”, he heard himself exclaim. Sebastian groaned as is midsection turned slowly into a small supernova or something of the sort. At least it burned as hot. “I know what they do to mutants … how I can I let them be that? How can I?” He gazed at her, seeing the tension drawing lines across her face that usually weren't there. He huffed a breath.

“And I've not done anything to them”, he reminded her. “Right now, only I'm the one playing guinea pig. Not them.” Part of him hoped it would never come to this. He still did have all the options. Or so he liked to think.

Of course all bets were off were either of the twins to manifest now. Sebastian doubted that Sarah would even give half a damn about what he would want. If anything she had only ever used their children to pressure him in one way or the other. He had started the injections because it was the only way to keep seeing his children.

And yet, her objections hit a very sore spot. As a father he had so often tried to acquaint himself with the reality of his children growing up. Eventually, they would have their own minds, their own dreams and hopes, make their own choices. He could remember how it felt as a teenager to try to be heard when parents – or any adults for that matter – always believed they knew better.

He felt a blanket being draped over him and as the warmth engulfed him underneath it he noticed that he had begun getting cold. Was the temperature breaking? The peak behind him? He hoped so. Sebastian knew it was worse than it had ever been before. So, the chance that his regimen would be changed was considerable. But to what? What would they give him next?

She was right. His body wanted to sleep. And yet, Sebastian fought against his eyes falling shut. Ericka was here, at his apartment. That had not happened in such a long time. Not since, since he had … he exhaled in a sigh, his eyelids having a life of her own. His mind welcomed the soothing, empty darkness.

What was she saying? Sebastian’s brain was not quite following any longer. “Ericka …”, he murmured her name, the single thought on his mind to ask her to stay. But he could not make the words, could not will himself to say them.

Instead, he slept.

=========== FF to about two weeks later ===========

“Mr. Strucker, your three o’clock just cancelled.” The voice was his assistant from the office’s door.
He looked up. “Thanks. Cancel the four-thirty as well please, I will be leaving the office early today.”

Sebastian no longer paid attention to the woman but instead stared at his computer screen. On it was the tiled layout of his calendar, marking the day as #4. It had been four days. Four days since he had showed up for his next injection, had found the good doctor had apparently slipped and fallen. There was talk about a broken leg.

What he had done had been an act born out of the spur of the moment. Sebastian had snatched the stamp that contained the man’s signature. He pushed it onto the document that would signify that Sebastian Strucker had received his injection on time. That the computer logs were incomplete? Not his fault. The assistant had forgotten to input it, Sebastian thought. He had the stamp.

Then he had slipped out.

Since then, nothing had happened. Day in and day out, just without the interlude of spending twelve hours under serious side effects of the inhibitor.

For a while he even considered that maybe the serum had done exactly what he had wanted it to. Crippled the x-gene, so to speak. Not only prevent it from affecting him, but rendering it dormant completely. Maybe he could eventually just tell Ericka – whenever he ran into her again – that after all, there was nothing to worry about.

That was until this morning. On his way into the office someone had bumped into him and Sebastian had stumbled sideways, gripping the handrail of the scaircase with a bit too much enthusiasm. When he had stepped back, casting a quick glance downward, he had frozen in place for a moment. A handprint, melted into the solid structure of the handrail. It looked like it had rusted exactly where palm and fingers had gripped it.

Sebastian had barely dared to touch anything all day, not minding the increased number of meetings where he could talk, rather than handling files and computers. Even now he worried that if he just shut off the thing it would melt on him.

So he stood, careful not to touch his desk or anything else. Shrugging into his coat went without incident, and without another word he strode from the office before his assistant could find another reason to stall him.

The rest of the afternoon spent somewhere between worry, fear and outright paranoia. The thoughts in his mind were twisting into a tight coil, spinning faster and faster. What if he was manifesting after all? What if this was him? What if before he knew it he would bring the building down around him?

As the hours ticked by, matters got worse. Sebastian was putting himself on the brink of hyperventilation. To counteract it, he ended up simply fleeing from his own apartment, back out on the streets. For a moment, he just stood there. It was already dark once more. The cold helped him to cool down a little. His mind homed in on a single thought.

Ericka.

Her words had stayed with him all this time. Her arguing the case for his children. That what he was doing was wrong – that he was ultimately going against what was his very own nature. It did not matter whether he liked that or not, whether he wanted it. It was really simple, he realised. He was a mutant.

And his x-gene was anything but dormant.

He walked, head down, collar up – towards Ericka’s apartment. It took him well over an hour but better this way than taking an Uber and making the damned car explode, or melt it.

Looking up, he counted the storeys, trying to see whether lights were on. All dark. No one home. Good, it would save him having to ring the damned bell, possibly melting the display. Hands deep in his coat pockets he turned around, back facing the building. He leaned against a handrail leading up to where he stood.

And he decided he would wait.
__________________



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