Body and Soul I: The Body Snatcher

Chapter 1: The Fall of the Tower

Part B

The sound of the door opening awakened him. He pulled himself into a sitting position, feeling considerably better, at least physically. The nausea and dizziness were gone, and his head only ached slightly, nothing he would ordinarily even take notice of. As she came down the stairs, he struggled with himself to remain calm, not to visibly clench his fists or position himself for a battle. It was very unlikely that there would be a battle, at least in the physical sense. Whatever she wanted to do to him would most likely occur, no matter what he tried to do about it. But it was all but impossible not to prepare himself to fight back.

She was carrying several steel cables as large loops. "I hope you're all rested up. I brought us some presents."

The cheerful, almost gleeful tone in what sounded so much like his own voice grated far more than the same tone from an unfamiliar voice would. "Why are you doing this?" he asked evenly. "I understand the motivation to steal my body well enough, but why not simply keep me captive? Or let me go, for that matter, since it's hardly likely I could do anything to force you to give me back what you took?" Another lie. He had several ideas as to how he might accomplish that, once he was free.

"No, that isn't how it works," the body snatcher said. "You've had power all your life. It's time for you to learn what it's like to be powerless."

He almost retorted that this was hardly a lesson he needed to learn, but bit it back. If she had somehow managed to miss the fact that he'd been a prisoner in the Nazi death camps when she'd learned whatever she had about him, he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of knowing about it.

The steel cables moved suddenly, arrowing toward his limbs. Magneto leapt off the bed to avoid them, trying to get past her. He'd miscalculated his own strength, though, and landed short of where he'd meant to, still short of her. When he tried to dodge around her, she grabbed him.

Unlike a man born, the body snatcher was probably not trained to protect the more vulnerable points of a male body, and since she was still wearing his clothes in their civilian style, she was effectively unarmored. He drove his knee into her crotch. As she gasped and doubled over, Magneto bent, scooped up one of the wooden clogs he'd kicked off when he'd been first imprisoned, and struck her in the head as he straightened, hoping that the blow to her groin would prevent her from concentrating enough to protect herself from wood. She went to her knees. He hit her again, trying to use just enough strength to knock her out without damaging his body seriously, and she went down all the way. Magneto dropped the shoe and ran for the stairs, trying to leap up them three at a time to put as much distance between her and him as he could.

Unfortunately, he didn't know how to leap steps reliably in a long denim skirt. It went down to mid-calf, loose enough that it hadn't interfered with him running or kneeing her, but jumping three steps at once was beyond what it would allow. Near the top, his knee got caught in the skirt and slammed down against the nearest stair, and he fell half the flight before managing to catch himself. He started up the stairs again, this time one step at a time, but had only gotten four more steps when a steel cable wrapped around his chest and dragged him off the staircase, carrying him over to the bed and dropping him on it.

The cable remained wrapped around him, tight enough to impair his breathing. He couldn't get loose, and couldn't get off the bed. Magneto looked over at the body snatcher, who was kneeling on the floor, rubbing her head and breathing heavily. He'd hurt her, but clearly not enough to keep her from using the powers, or to knock her out as he'd thought he had. He was starting to feel dizzy and faint from the constriction when it finally released, the body snatcher sitting up on the floor and looking at him. One of the cables caught his leg before he was able to scramble off the bed again, and dragged it to the other side of the bed fast enough to wrench muscles. He winced in pain, and continued to struggle grimly against the rest of the cables, trying to keep his wrists and remaining leg free of them. The body snatcher remained on the floor, watching him intently, directing the movement of the cables without getting to her feet. Galling, that she should have such control of the powers, so quickly. How the devil had she done it? He couldn't have done this a day after he'd first discovered his powers.

The outcome was really never in doubt. Within a minute, he was lying flat on his back on the bed, arms and legs bound spread-eagled to the bed's legs with the steel cables. He stopped struggling, recognizing that at this point it was worse than useless, as all it would do would be to please her, and stared over at her with hate-filled eyes.

She got to her feet and walked toward the bed, slowly. "You really shouldn't have done that," she said, rubbing her head again. "You hurt me."

"You're the one that wished to have a man's body," he said coldly. "Besides, I'm quite certain you intended to hurt me from the moment you entered this room, if not the moment you stole my body. I don't see myself as having a great deal to lose."

Her free hand fell to his neck, stroking it. "I could hurt you a lot worse than I'd planned," she said, and began to tighten her grip.

"You... might also... kill me," he gasped, not out of fear but because he couldn't breathe. "You're not... experienced... might... accidentally..."

"I might also kill you deliberately," she said, and her hand tightened further.

He couldn't speak anymore, or he'd have pointed out that if she'd wanted him dead, she could have saved herself a lot of time and effort by killing him before she'd tied him up with cables. Desperately he concentrated on trying to breathe, sucking in as much air as he could get. It wasn't enough. The world was starting to darken around the edges when she released him.

"The next time you try to attack me, I'll do far worse than that," she warned.

Very well. The next time he attacked her, he'd make sure she was disabled by it. He breathed deeply, hungry for air, and didn't waste any of his precious breath on a reply.

"Of course, now it doesn't really matter," she said, her voice-- his voice, twisted by her-- dropping. "Too bad for you that you didn't hurt me badly enough to spoil my plans."

That surprised him a little. He'd expected the blow he'd delivered would have made what she clearly intended out of the question for hours. He must be much weaker than he used to be, more than he'd imagined. "I intend to have that body back eventually; I had no desire to castrate it," he snapped back at her, and then realized what he was doing. His pride was hurt by the way she'd defeated him, by the ease with which she'd stolen his body and the fact that, with it, she had near-total power over him. He was justifying his failure, trying to sound more threatening than he felt himself to be. Foolish, that. If he had a chance at all, it would lie in her underestimating him now that he had no mutant powers. He resolved not to answer her goads again.

She unbuttoned the blouse this body was wearing slowly, stroking his neck, his breasts and belly. Not his. He had to concentrate on that. Nothing of his would be affected by this. But he could feel it, and despite the fact that he could see his own body doing this to him, it was very difficult to think of the body he now wore as something completely alien to him. The bra had a front clasp; she unsnapped it and moved the cups off him entirely. "I can see what men like about this," she murmured, cupping this body's breasts in her hand and squeezing, at first gently, then painfully hard. She smiled at him maliciously. "You never expected this could happen to you, did you? To be used for someone else's pleasure? No man ever expects this."

Her misconceptions would almost be funny if she weren't using them as some sort of twisted justification for her acts. Magneto had expected exactly this. There was nothing surprising and nothing new about any of what she'd done to him thus far, nothing he hadn't endured before. He felt humiliated, yes, and enraged at his own helplessness, but it wasn't as if he'd never felt such things in his life. There is nothing you can do to me that hasn't been done already, in worse ways. It was ironically one of his greatest strengths in his chosen career-- no matter what happened to him, he'd always endured worse.

The denim skirt was apparently a wraparound-- she untied it and peeled it entirely away from him, leaving his legs exposed completely. With the clogs off, his feet were bare as well. The underpants were scanty and had Velcro side fasteners, so she was able to peel them away as well without having to untie him. Magneto realized that she'd intended to do this when she'd gotten dressed in the morning-- she might not have known he was the mind she'd entrap in her body or that his body would be the vehicle for her to do it, but she had gotten dressed with every intention of taking a male body and raping her own. The thought sickened him. How many others had she done this to, or was he the first?

She removed his own clothes from the body she'd stolen the hard way, using stolen power to undo the buttons but apparently unaware that the entire suit was made of metallic fibers, such that she could simply disassemble it and cause it to fall off. Presumably her control over his powers extended to obvious magnetic operations-- moving steel cables, driving a car forward-- but she didn't yet seem to know the non-obvious ones.

He was cold, with all but his arms naked in the chill of the basement, but that was preferable to the warmth of her body heat, when she climbed on top of him. Her weight was oppressive on him, making it hard to breathe, since of course she wasn't considerate enough to take her weight onto her elbows. He felt her fingers probing his new female anatomy-- a very strange sensation, not quite analogous to hands on the male equivalent-- and then her penis penetrate and start thrusting, a sensation of painful stretching and friction. It was not quite as painful as what he'd expected and remembered, probably because female anatomy really was designed to take this kind of assault better than a young boy's body could. It had been a lifetime ago, but he still remembered being a pretty child in the camps, remembered the terrible bargain he'd made for his life, and the sensation like being torn apart from the inside. As badly as this hurt, it wasn't as bad as that had been. He held as still as he could to minimize her pleasure, gritted his teeth, and endured. At first he stared at her with the stark rage in his face, but it was too obscene to see what looked like his own face contorted with pleasure as she raped him, so he stared at the ceiling instead and imagined killing her.

When she was done, she slid off him, running an entirely too familiar hand up and down the body she'd trapped him in. "I think I really enjoy being a man," she said, her voice still thick with pleasure. "It's so intense for you, and it builds so fast. In my own body it takes forever."

"You might want to consider that most non-psychotic men get even more pleasure out of having willing partners," he said acidly.

"You, a terrorist and mass murderer, are going to give me a lecture on the morality of rape? Don't make me laugh."

"What I have done, I have done for the sake of my people, not for my own twisted pleasure. You have no cause but your own desires."

She released the cables. He sat up and rubbed his wrists, trying to restore circulation to them. "I have a cause," she said. "I've spent my entire life being weak and powerless, at the mercy of men and other people with power. My cause now is to teach those with power what it means to have none. Society grants you men all the power in this world."

"Has it escaped your notice that society also denies mutants any power whatsoever?"

"Society doesn't need to grant you power. Mutants have it. You personally had more power than almost anyone in the world. Now I have it instead. And I intend to use it to do whatever I want."

"How noble an ambition," he sneered. "Someone victimized you, so you plan to victimize others, just because you can."

"That's pretty much it," she agreed. "I wouldn't get on a moral high horse about it if I were you. You've done worse."

"Not for such a trivial reason. And I have never committed rape."

"No, but you've murdered. Does that mean you think rape is a fate worse than death?" she mocked.

"It is a question of motivation. All other things being equal, I would prefer being raped to dying," he said dryly. "However, I have killed only for the sake of my cause, or in self-defense. The ends, to some degree, do justify the means. You have no ends worth speaking of, which makes you far more evil than I."

She shrugged. "Believe that if you want. I'm sure you'll need something to cling to."

There was really no answer he could make to that. He ignored her and set about trying to rub circulation back into his ankles as well.

"You still think you're going to get through this with your dignity intact, don't you?"

That got his attention. He turned his head to face her. "If you expect me to grovel and beg simply because you have the power to kill or harm me, you don't know me very well."

Her eyes narrowed. "A challenge. I like that."

"No you don't. You haven't been doing this long enough to enjoy a challenge. You want me to validate your beliefs by cringing and whining in fear, and it bothers you that I don't."

"How do you know how long I've been doing this?"

"Because you're untutored and naive. Your conversation reflects the fact that you expect the simple presence of your power to have some great effect. I can tell you now, from personal experience, it doesn't. People will be as ready to oppose and defy you because you have power as when you didn't, perhaps more so."

"That's ridiculous. People aren't that suicidal."

"The ordinary man on the street won't oppose you, no. You'll get a higher caliber of opponents. And without my knowledge and tactical skills behind those powers you so prize, they will defeat you. If I were you, I'd play less of a high-stakes game. Give me back my body, and take one of lesser power, one the entire world won't conspire to destroy." As if he wouldn't destroy her the instant he had his body back. But it would hardly do to mention that.

She shrugged. "I don't plan on running out and trying to conquer the world, so I doubt they'll even notice me. We're quite some distance from major population centers here."

"Indeed? Where are we?"

"Nice try." She shook her head. "You aren't as good as you think you are, and you aren't as right as you think you are. I've been doing this much longer than you think. You're just the best prize I've caught." The body snatcher grinned. "In fact, I think I'll keep you."

"Keep me? For how long?"

"Well, that's what I mean by 'keep.'" Her grin broadened. "I killed all the others, you see. After I was done having fun with them, I killed their bodies and jumped back. But who would want to go back to that--" she poked him-- "when they could be this?" She gestured at herself in his stolen body. "No, Magneto, I think I'm going to keep you forever. Which means I have plenty of time to make you 'grovel and beg,' as you put it. By the time I'm done with you, you will."

On that note, she left, taking the wooden clogs with her, while he was still trying to muster up something more intelligent to say than "We'll see about that" or "I'll die first" or some other cliched defiant comment. What she'd said relieved him on a certain level-- given plenty of time, he would escape, he was sure of it. The reassurance that she wouldn't kill him was good news, from that point of view. On the other hand, it also made it even more imperative that he had to escape. She was right in a sense-- given long enough as a helpless captive, with no one to interact with but his tormentor, eventually even he would break. He was no psychologist, but he'd studied what happens to prisoners. Prisoners confined with other prisoners could maintain their hatred of their captors, as he and his fellows had in Auschwitz, but someone kept in solitary confinement and subject to certain elementary brainwashing techniques would eventually come to identify with and seek to please the captor. His resistance to such things was probably much greater than most people's, but he wasn't so arrogant as to believe he would be completely immune.

So. He had to get away before that happened. Painfully he levered himself off the bed. His wrists and ankles still hurt, and his thighs and hips were bruised, and there were wholly unfamiliar internal pains that might have seriously frightened him if he'd still been in a male body, since in male anatomy they would have to reflect some sort of deep internal injury. In a female body, however, it was probably no more than the aftereffects of a rape. She hadn't been terribly brutal-- he'd survived worse in a body designed to deal with it less well, so he was fairly sure he wasn't seriously hurt. It was simply the unfamiliarity of the pain that was bothering him.

He limped to the bathroom again and did his best to examine himself. As nearly as he could tell, his initial guess was right-- no serious injury, just bruising and soreness. He also had a better chance to examine the amenities the body snatcher had left for her victim. A fairly civil psychopath, from the looks of it-- she had left him toothpaste and toothbrush, a hairbrush, a towel, a washcloth, shampoo and soap. No razor-- at first he thought this was a precaution against suicide, and then realized that it was more likely because women didn't need razors. There was some sort of horrible-smelling depilatory cream that would have been utterly useless against a man's beard, but might do passably on a woman's legs. Not that he had any intention of using it, but perhaps these were actually her toiletries, the things she used on this body when she was occupying it. Most of the items were sufficiently poisonous that he could kill himself with them if he had any desire to, which either indicated she knew more about him than she'd thus far seemed to, or she was really quite naive about keeping prisoners. Just because he would never resort to suicide to escape captivity if there was any other alternative didn't mean other men might not try.

A long, hot shower with plenty of soap and shampoo did not quite wash away the humiliation or the tactile memory of her hands on this body. But it helped. Afterward he dressed-- the only available clothes were the ones she'd been wearing when she captured him, which was deeply annoying. He despised the long skirt, most especially after having tripped and tangled in it so many times. But it was chilly in this basement, this late at night. The stone floor was particularly cold on his bare feet, and he rather wished she hadn't taken the clogs, though wooden shoes that wouldn't stay on his feet were an uncomfortable reminder of the camps.

Systematically Magneto explored his prison, ignoring the pain of bruises as he searched everywhere for any other conceivable exit. There was none. Part of the floor was packed earth, so it was possible he might be able to dig his way out, but there were no tools in the basement. No old clothes, either, nor old furniture, nor anything except a wall of stacked cans and the items that went with his cell-- the bed, bedclothes, the steel cables she'd left behind, and the bathroom with its toiletries. He might be able to smash the safety glass of the basement windows by throwing cans at them, but the bars didn't look as if he could bend them without specialized tools, even with his own body's physical strength, much less this weaker form. Plus, it turned out he couldn't even reach the basement windows. The windowsill, such as it was, was set just above his eye level, and when he tried to pull himself up to it he discovered quite how feeble this body's upper arms were. He literally could not lift himself off the ground even so much as a fraction of an inch; he could rise to the tips of his toes, but could go no further. When he exerted himself heavily to do so, he ended up with shaking, trembling arms and legs, but didn't get any closer to getting off the ground than before. Physical fitness had obviously not been the body snatcher's forte before she'd captured him.

That brought a malicious grin to his lips. She'd learn the hard way that she couldn't let his body go to pot the way she'd let this one and still expect to use his powers at their full level. Even when he'd been doing the equivalent of desk work in zero gee for two years, Magneto had always made sure he kept his body in shape as a matter of survival. There had been times in the past, before Isabelle had died and he'd focused on world conquest as a reason for living, when he'd grown despondent and escaped into a bottle for weeks at a time. The effect was always the same. When he went long periods of time without exercise, when he gained a significant amount of weight as fat instead of muscle, or when he skimped on dietary iron, his powers grew markedly weaker, and to attempt to use them at higher levels brought heart palpitations, violent headaches and flashes before his eyes. His powers placed enormous strain on his body, and only by being at the peak of physical health could he dare manipulate their upper limits. If the body snatcher didn't take up a physical fitness regimen, she was in for a nasty surprise.

Of course, if he was lucky, she wouldn't have long enough in the body to be surprised that way. He intended to escape as soon as he could, and there was, perhaps, the possibility of rescue. She'd been using his powers in Philadelphia, most likely-- unless she'd been able to operate both his stolen body and her original at the same time while he'd been unconscious, she'd have had to do something about the fact that she'd have been dragging an unconscious woman's body around. Probably hailed a cab, and then killed the driver and took control. Magneto himself had been trying to avoid using his powers in Philadelphia because of the risk of attracting Charles' attention... if she had used them, perhaps she had alerted Charles. Perhaps he would send his X-Men to attack her, and thus find Magneto... but no, no. Charles had never been proactive. It was one of the man's greatest failings-- not only did he think humans and mutants could get along, not only did he think that creating an all-mutant strike force would help humans and mutants get along, but he actually didn't even manage his strike force correctly. Charles had generally never sent the X-Men after him unless he was actually and actively engaged in a plot. If she didn't "plan on running out and trying to conquer the world," as she'd said, Charles might never bother to send his X-Men to investigate. At least, that was the way Magneto's life worked-- the one time he actually wanted X-Men interference, they wouldn't show up. No, he couldn't rely on the hope of rescue. Which was just as well, considering. The X-Men had betrayed him quite horribly last time, Wolverine gutting him while he still had thought they were allies, still remembered the friendship and tried to answer their accusations reasonably. Reason had had no place in that last battle. He didn't want to think about what the X-Men, and Charles, might do with him if he had no powers at all. No, he could trust no one but himself.

So, concentrate on what he needed to do to escape under his own power. This body had to be gotten into shape. He had to learn its limitations, stop overestimating its strength, increase that strength as much as he could, and get a feel for the way it balanced. It felt very odd to walk about in this body, with his center of gravity completely shifted and his gait forcibly altered by the limitations of anatomy. If he did manage to escape, his life might depend on how far and how fast he could run-- the odds that he could defeat her in a fight were not encouraging, given that he didn't dare maim his own body. So he needed to know this body as well as he possibly could, and improve it physically as well as he could, in order to have a chance at all.

Stripping off the skirt -- it would only get in the way-- he began stretching cautiously, something necessary before one began an exercise regimen for the first time. Interestingly, he noted that this body, despite being ridiculously out of shape, was inherently more flexible than his own. He had forced a greater degree of flexibility through his exercise regimens, but his own muscles were naturally enormously tense; he'd always thought that was mostly due to personality, but even now, when he was a captive with no good prospects for escape, under tremendous stress, the physical tension in the body he now wore was less than he usually found in his own. That was a good sign. Not that being flexible would help him fight off someone with his powers particularly well, but it indicated at least that this body wasn't completely without physical advantages.

And it would probably help save him from injury during the inevitable future rapes.

He pulled his mind away from that particular dark contemplation of his future here and back to what he was doing. Since this body was out of shape, he couldn't overdo it. Half an hour of stretches, then another half hour total, interspersed with several five-minute rests, of simple calisthenics-- pushups, sit-ups, the like. He tried benchpressing a wooden board with cans stacked on it to create a weight, but the cans kept falling off. There wasn't much beyond that he dared do without knowing when she'd next feed him; exercise increased appetite for a reason, and if he didn't get food reasonably soon, he would suffer for every bit of exertion. Of course, he had endured such suffering before, but that wasn't any reason to set himself up for it if he didn't have to.

With nothing left that could be constructively accomplished tonight, and his hair mostly dry, he stripped off his clothes, used a small amount of soap to wash them in the sink, and hung them in the bathroom to dry overnight. There were enough blankets that he shouldn't be cold, and quite aside from the fact that he was used to sleeping in the nude, if he was going to be allowed only one set of clothes to wear, he was going to have to establish a routine of washing them at night or they'd get unbearably filthy.

He took a can with him to bed, putting it under the pillow. Since she'd taken the clogs, he wanted something else that might conceivably work as a weapon. Not that he seriously expected to be able to use it, but the fact that she hadn't disassembled his body's clothes might mean that she hadn't yet learned to see the fields, or not well, anyway. He would be able to see a metal can coming if he were in his body, but perhaps she wouldn't. Or perhaps he could stun her and then use the can. She'd never leave him an opening for a groin strike again, but unless she bound him every time she raped him, sooner or later she'd leave him an opening for an eye strike, and then while she was stunned he could hit her with the can. Or she'd simply be too distracted to pay attention to him grabbing a can and hitting her with it until it was too late. It was probably the best chance he had, anyway.

It was much harder to sleep this time than it had been before, when he'd been so exhausted and nauseous. This time he lay awake a long time, his mind racing, trying uselessly to formulate escape plans. He knew better; he needed sleep more than he needed to waste time running down the same tracks he'd gone over and over today, especially when he had a weapon and a plan that might conceivably work already, but it was almost impossible to stop himself. And when he finally did sleep, it was restless and nightmarish.

Body Snatcher: Chapter One Part C

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