Body and Soul I: The Body Snatcher
Chapter 1: The Fall of the Tower
Twenty-six days into his captivity, he knew how to tell when the body snatcher was angry, and that, even if her anger wasn't directly at him, it would end up being taken out on him. She was screaming at the telephone, "What do you mean, denied? It can't be denied... put it through again!" as he came in with the beer and sandwiches she'd told him to bring. The tone of her voice made it obvious that, even if she solved whatever problem this was, she'd still most likely take out the anger she'd suffered on him. His stomach clenched, and he had to fight to keep the look of hopeless rage off his face.
"Goddamnit!" She slammed the phone down, and turned toward him, her face suffused with fury. "Your credit card just got declined," she told him nastily, as if expecting him to be able to fix it, or blaming him for the situation.
"I do not have an infinite line of credit," he said, trying very, very hard not to let his tone go sardonic, not to show what an idiot he thought her. "How much have you spent?"
"Enough, apparently. Put that down here!"
He obeyed. "How much money do you have?" she asked, magnetically removing the cap on the beer bottle and swigging some down.
"A great deal."
It was the wrong thing to say. Power shoved him toward her, and her hand reached up and grabbed him by the throat. "I didn't just hear you wising off to me, did I?"
"No, sir." In his own mind, he counted her as female, since he counted himself as male; however, she seemed to want to be thought of as male.
"That's funny, I could have sworn you just said something sarcastic to me. Are you calling me a liar?"
She was looking for an excuse to punish him. There wasn't going to be any way to get out of this. He lowered his eyes. This little scenario had played out enough times that he didn't even need to choke down bile anymore when he said, "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to."
The body snatcher flung him to the floor. "We'll have to do something about that wise mouth of yours," she said. "Later. Right now, though, you get a temporary reprieve, if you answer the question. How much money do you have?"
"I'm not sure. Over a million, perhaps two million." This was another lie-- he was worth something like a hundred times that. He hadn't actually checked the figures in quite some time. Even after he had his accountant create a foundation to disburse the seed capital, the gold he'd stolen from HYDRA, back to as many of its original owners as were still alive, his other sources-- investments, the interest he'd made while he'd had the whole thing, and additional gold he'd pulled out of asteroids in the course of building yet another Asteroid M-- had left him with over 200 million last time he checked. There was no way he could finance rebuilding Asteroid M, or acquiring the non-ferrous materials he needed for his bases, or paying for food for an entire small city, without that kind of money. However, the body snatcher had no way of knowing that, and two million would sound fabulously wealthy to her. He hoped.
It worked. Her eyes widened. "Two million dollars?"
"I haven't checked my accounts in months. It might be less than that by now."
The body snatcher grinned maliciously. "Well, here's what we're going to do. You're going to take all that money, and you're going to transfer it to me. If you don't, you know what will happen."
The murder of innocents. He lowered his head and let his expression go dull, resigned. It wasn't hard. He'd done it far too many times in the days since she'd killed the boy, and most of those times it had been real. "Yes," he said softly. "I know."
"A guy like you, wanted mutant terrorist, I figure you must do a lot of your banking by remote. Letters with notarized signatures and whatnot. We aren't going to have to go anyplace in person to do this, I don't imagine." Her tone indicated that they'd better not have to.
Erik looked up. "I'll need a pen, paper and a fax machine. I'll also need a name for you to deposit a check under. I'll simply write a letter to my broker telling him to cut a check for the balance of the account and make it out to a new name-- I've done this several times, so he'll hardly question it."
"You're taking this well."
"When I get my body back, I can raise more funds easily enough," he said sharply, unwilling to let her pursue that line of thought to its logical conclusion. "You've stolen things I value far more than money; why should I care that you've made a pauper out of me, when I'm still your prisoner?"
She laughed. "I love you, Magneto. You're still clinging to this fantasy that you're going to get your body back, even though you and I both know it ain't gonna happen. Here." The body snatcher pulled a pad out of a drawer under the phone, and handed it to him with a pen. "Write your letter. Have the check made out to Lee Davies, and send it to PO Box 559, Philadelphia, PA 19104."
"Philadelphia? Isn't that rather far away?"
"At the speeds this body can fly? You know better than that." Another cruel smile spread over her lips. "Oh no, I know. You were trying to get me to tell you where we are again. I think I'll have to punish you for that too."
She had never forbidden him to try to get her to tell where they were. He bit that protest back, knowing it would be pointless, and bent over his letter, wondering if there was any way he could slip in a coded message for Aaron. The accountant was a very old friend of his, a man he'd known in Auschwitz, who almost certainly had to know who Erik was but had so far carefully managed to avoid ever asking any questions to which "Magneto" might be the answer. Which meant that there was no way to quickly and cleanly explain to Aaron what had happened, and Erik couldn't risk dragging him into this-- he had never involved his old friend in his bizarre lifestyle before, and he couldn't take the chance that doing so now might make him a target of the body snatcher. Instead, he simply requested that account number 178493-20 be cleaned out, and the entire balance put in a check made out to Lee Davies, to be mailed to the address the body snatcher had given. He signed it, with the pseudonym he generally used with Aaron (Aaron knew his real name, but Erik felt safer with that name kept off paper everywhere), and wrote the fax number in the lower margin.
"Peachy. I'll fax this off today. In the meantime, you told me you have some other credit card numbers memorized? Give me one."
He gave her one of the ones with, for him, a low credit limit, and she called up and completed her transaction, whatever it was she was buying. When she was done, she appeared to be in a much better mood; she didn't even punish him when she discovered that her beer had gotten warm, but simply sent him to get another one.
After she finished her food and her beer, she ordered him to her bedroom. He obeyed, keeping his head as high as he dared without triggering a beating for being arrogant, and his face as expressionless as possible. He shouldn't be afraid. He'd endured far worse than what he was about to get. Zaladane's tortures, the mental violation so much worse than any physical one, less than a year ago. Wolverine's claws tearing through the flesh of his belly, slicing through ribs. Dozens of beatings by assorted superheroes, in combat. The terrible headaches that used to plague him, the pain he lived with for most of his early career. Auschwitz. No, he should be immune to pain and humiliation. Ridiculous that he might fear what a jumped-up punk kid who didn't want him dead might think of to do to him. The dryness in his throat, the nausea churning in his stomach, the tension and hyperawareness all through him, these were foolish reactions, unworthy of him. All she was going to do was rape and beat him. He'd been through so much worse. This shouldn't affect him at all.
When she ordered him to lay down on the bed on his back, spread-eagled, and then the shackles came up from the iron posts of the bed and locked around his wrists and ankles, he actually had to fight to keep visible signs of the fear off his face. She rarely bound him unless she planned on causing a lot of pain. This one was going to be bad.
Afterward she lay next to him, tracing with a light finger the bruises and welts she'd left on his skin. Erik stared at the ceiling and tried to pretend he was anywhere but here. It didn't work very well. It had been easier to escape into fantasies when he'd been a child, when the possibilities seemed as if they would be infinite if only he could survive long enough to get out of there. Unrealizable dreams had stopped being enough for him years ago, when he'd made the decision to actively pursue his dreams, however outrageous they seemed. He'd lost the ability to lose himself in fantasy, becoming entirely too focused on practical planning to make his daydreams come true, and right now the only thing he could bring himself to try to plan was his escape from here... and he hadn't the vaguest idea how he was going to do that.
"That was nice," she said, making no move to release him from his bonds. "You're shaping up well, you know. A year from now, and you'll have forgotten you ever were anything other than my obedient sex slave."
He wished he could dismiss that possibility with as much as confidence as he'd have had two weeks ago. "Will you want me to finish the chores now?" he asked dully.
"Oh, no no. We're not done here. I've got a new trick to show you."
Not done here. The despair he felt must have shown on his face, because she laughed. "No, no. You'll like this, I promise. Well. Maybe you won't, given your weird hangups, but it won't hurt, anyway."
If anything, that made matters worse. He focused on a small blotch of plaster on the ceiling, trying to keep his breathing even, trying to keep his face empty of all expression. Her hand stroked the side of his head. "Tell me what you think."
The world exploded, brilliant light and migraine pain kaleidoscoping across his consciousness. Erik screamed, trying to double over, trying to press his hands to his head, the fact that he was bound and couldn't do either of those things not entirely registering through the pain. And then it faded, and he felt an uncontrollable twitchiness, his body jerking in tiny tic-like movements despite all his efforts to hold still. There was a taste of cherries and spinach and his mother's noodle soup, all at once, in his mouth. "What-- what are-- my God, you're trying magnetic induction on my brain, aren't you?"
She grinned down at him. Her image reversed, flipped upside down, went through several distortions. Erik twisted his head, trying to move out of her range, and heard voices, a deafening chorus from his past, screams and lullabies and Xavier arguing with him and Anya's childish voice, drowning anything the body snatcher might have said. And then he was saying something, babbling, words pouring out of his mouth but he couldn't even hear what he was saying, much less censor it.
His head was caught in a vise-like grip. The intrusive hallucinations faded, and he realized that she'd actually caught his head in a metal vise, preventing him from twisting it. Erik stared up at her. "You can't do this," he said, horrified to hear the pleading note in his voice. "This isn't something simple, something my body would have any reflexive knowledge of doing. If you don't know what you're doing you could cause a stroke, or an epileptic seizure, or permanent brain damage. I experimented on animals for years before I dared try this."
But of course he had tried, eventually experimenting on humans because he'd needed to know how, needed to induce people to tell him the truth, and if they could resist the manipulation of their speech centers to make them babble everything that came into their heads, then he had to know how to cause them pain. The Nazis he'd been hunting had been hardened men, resistant to the terror his powers could inspire, resistant to torture. He hadn't been able to do them serious damage, not if he was going to turn them over to the Israeli authorities-- not that the Israelis would care if some Nazi war criminals suffered, but it would make them look bad to the world court. So he'd experimented with magnetic induction of the pain centers, to make them suffer and break and tell him everything he wanted to know about where their compatriots were hiding without causing them any overt damage. And if he lost one or two... well, they resisted arrest.
The memories of his own inhuman actions, of studies in the art of torture that had culminated in using his abilities on fellow mutants, rose up and sickened him. For a despairing moment, he felt that he deserved this, everything she was about to do. He'd used this power to torture others exactly as she was about to do to him. And he hadn't known as well as he could have what he was doing, either. He'd accidentally killed some or done their brains serious damage before he'd gotten the process right. Exactly as she might now do to him.
"I can do anything I want to," she said, her voice hard. "Have you forgotten? You don't give orders here, Magneto."
Perhaps he deserved this. But he had to try to keep her from doing it regardless. "No, I-- I only meant, you wouldn't wish to damage this brain. You might end up destroying your own mutant power, so that if you ever do need to switch back, you'd never be able to leave again."
She stroked his forehead. "Oh, admit it. You're terrified. You don't want me to do this because you can't imagine that anyone else could have learned to do something in a month that took you a long time to learn, and because you think I'm going to hurt you. Isn't that right? You're scared, aren't you?"
There was really no point in denying it. With her fingers stroking his forehead, she could feel the sweat that was pouring from it, the clamminess of his skin. If she was monitoring his heart rate-- which she was, hopefully, as if she started to interfere with his autonomic nervous system and she didn't catch it, he would die-- she could surely see that his pulse had skyrocketed. "Yes," he whispered. Maybe begging would save him this time. Sometimes it did. "Please, don't do this."
The body snatcher laughed. "Don't worry. I've practiced. But you'll have to tell me exactly what it feels like-- otherwise I might mistake pain for pleasure. As long as you cooperate, you won't suffer. In fact, it'll feel quite good."
So she was going to try magnetic induction of the pleasure centers, then. Ironically, he himself hadn't seriously used that until he fell in love with Aleytys, and had used it once or twice to enhance her pleasure-- he'd known how to do it, he'd tried it on animals and captured Savage Landers, but he'd never actually used it until then, and had never used it as a weapon. Uselessly he tugged at his bonds, tried to free his head.
"Oh, stop that. You know you can't get away. Now tell me how that feels."
There was no pain, or pleasure, or any somatic sensations. But his vision had whited out, to be replaced by a shifting kaleidoscope, like what one saw when one pressed against one's eyes. He was silent. The thought occurred to pretend that this was significant, but no, she was probably monitoring his heart rate. She'd be able to tell.
"Don't want to tell me what that one does? Oh well, I can see it doesn't do much for you. How about this?"
And he was burning alive, what felt like every nerve ending flaring with pain. Erik screamed, thrashing, and the pain stopped. "Didn't like that, did you?" He continued to be silent, breathing hard with reaction. "Did you? I mean, we can go back to that one if you liked it--"
The word came out almost without volition. He damned himself, damned his weakness and his fear. She smiled. "How about this one?"
Insects were crawling all over his body, a horrible itching everywhere. Again he struggled, trying to free his hands so he could scratch, trying to scrape as much of his body against the bed as he could to relieve the itching. "Do you like that one?"
"Please-- please, stop--"
Her free hand ran over his breasts. Maddening. If she would only scratch instead of stroking, it would be such a relief, but the stroking was only making the itch worse. "You're not screaming, and you're twitching and writhing, and begging me to stop. This must be it."
He should let her go on thinking so. He should endure the horrible itch, letting her think he was feeling pleasure, so she wouldn't be able to humiliate him by making him climax. She pinched his nipple, making it flare with itching as her hand moved away. "It isn't, please, stop, please..."
"It isn't whatever you were wanting me to feel!" Her hand was on his hip. Oh God scratch there please it's driving me mad don't know how much longer I can go without begging you for release what am I talking about? I'm begging now, can't make matters worse, doesn't matter she's going to bring me down as low as she can, can't stop her oh please make it stop "It itches. Terribly."
"Oh." She looked surprised. "Really? I thought that one was it. Well, how about--"
He had once been sufficiently driven by sexual need too long unfulfilled that he'd changed his plans, decided to call off an attack on a base he was going after so he could kidnap and seduce one of the superheroines who'd attacked him. It was not one of his finer moments, and it was the only time in his life that he'd been ruled by his desires rather than ruling them. Until now.
There was nothing to compare this to. It was as if he'd been dipped in a cauldron of pure sexual heat. Every part of the borrowed body was afire with need, to be touched, aroused, fulfilled. All of his willpower wasn't enough to keep him from moaning, from writhing, though he managed not to beg.
"There we go. That's better, isn't it?"
He stared up at her, hatred, rage and humiliation at war with desperate need. She ran her hand over his body, along his side back up to his breasts, making him shudder involuntarily with pleasure. The first time she'd made him feel pleasure he'd begged her to stop. Since then he'd learned that there was absolutely no point to that-- she wouldn't. All he could hope to do now was keep from begging for her touch. A lifetime of mastering his own desires, and he was reduced to that, that all he could do was not beg to be raped, and even that was starting to dissolve under her ministrations. She could be a cruel tease rather than a brutal rapist when she chose to be. Orgasm racked him, and didn't satiate at all, the stimulation to the brain keeping him in a state of frantic arousal. Most of him was horrified-- she could keep him like this indefinitely then, needing and never being fulfilled, climaxing and never truly achieving release, until he finally did beg or she got bored with the sport. Part of him, however, was weaker than the rest, and embraced the torment hungrily, and that part was unfortunately mostly in control of the body. When she kissed him, all the willpower he had wasn't enough to keep him from responding, from pressing himself against her and grinding his hips, seeking stimulation desperately.
The induction faltered when she took him, her concentration no longer sufficient to maintain such a focused magnetic field, but the unwanted arousal didn't dissipate. Unlike pain, which was usually strictly a matter of nerves either firing or not, pleasure was a synergistic thing, stimulation releasing hormones which prolonged and intensified arousal, so even without the direct stimulation of his brain to generate sexual desire, the arousal that the stimulation had already caused was enough to carry him. For the first time, the sensation of her thrusting inside him was pleasurable, desired, needed. He hated the pleasure, but couldn't stop feeling it. The orgasm, when it finally hit, was strong enough to white out the world for a moment, and without the induction continuing it was actually a genuine release this time, leaving him strengthless, every muscle as limp as overcooked pasta afterward. The body snatcher finished a few thrusts later, while he still lay shell-shocked and weak underneath her, and pulled out.
"See? Now wasn't that nice?" she purred at him.
At the best of times he was somewhat subject to post-coital depression, and this was hardly the best of times. The lessening of resistance caused by the orgasm, and the utter humiliation of what he'd just been made to do and feel, crashed in on him. He managed not to sob, but he couldn't stop his eyes from welling with tears.
"Poor dear." She kissed his wet eyes, a parody of comfort. "Someday you'll learn to like that; you'll live for it, beg for it, do anything if only I'll fuck you like that. We've just got to get you over this arrogant belief that you can control what you want and feel, and get you to accept that you're going to be a slave no matter what you do, so you might as well relax and enjoy it."
"I'll kill myself first," he whispered.
"Naah. You're too proud. You won't admit defeat. And when the pride's finally broken, you'll realize how much pleasure you could get out of this life, if you just didn't let your pride get in your way. Think about it, Magneto." She ran her hand through his hair, releasing the vise and moving it with power away from his head. "I'm going to fuck you every day whether you like it or not. But imagine if it was like that every time. Imagine if, instead of being a painful rape, it was the best fuck you ever had in your life, every night."
He was imagining it. It was one of the most horrible things she'd threatened him with since he'd been captured. Sex was sacred, something to be shared between lovers, an act of love and total trust. It was bad enough to be raped, but to be made to enjoy it that way violated the essential nature of what sexuality should be, turned pleasure itself into something disgusting and sordid, the way he'd thought it was before he'd learned to see the transforming power of love. For the first time it occurred to him that even if he managed to escape before she broke him completely, he might have suffered irreparable psychological damage-- not that he hadn't suffered plenty of that in the past, not that he hadn't overcome everything life had thrown at him so far, but if she kept doing things like this to him, he doubted he'd ever be willingly able to make love again, once he was free. And wondered if it had already progressed that far. Right now the thought of sex disgusted him beyond belief. That might just be a temporary reaction to what she'd done to him... or it might be more permanent.
And that itself assumed that he would really get away.
She let him get up and finish his chores, fed him, let him go outside for half an hour, made him watch as she picked out more outrageous leather clothes for her night on the town, and finally locked him in his basement cell for the night. He'd managed to shut off the horror of what had happened as long as she was watching him, the same way he'd learned to shut off the horror of the dead bodies, of the endless procession of the dead from the gas chambers to the furnaces, the child who'd known her fate and challenged him, demanding to know why he was helping to kill his own people. A temporary shunting, blocking off the memories until he was no longer in immediate danger. In Auschwitz he'd always been in immediate danger. The temporary block had turned permanent, and he'd gone through what he had to do while thinking about it as absolutely little as possible. He'd lost that skill. When he stepped into the shower to try to wash her away, the memory of what she'd done to him and his own helplessness to stop her came back, overwhelming anything else he could think. He tried to fight it off, tried to concentrate on soap and shampoo, but the touch of the warm water, his own hands on this body scrubbing it, brought back vivid tactile memories, and with them the despair that he'd felt at the time. Sheltered by hot water, with no one to hear him over the sound of the shower, Erik collapsed to his knees and sobbed brokenly, for long minutes convinced that he really never was going to get out of here, that things had come full circle and now he would pay for surviving the first time, for all his crimes since, by being a slave for the rest of his life.
He'd kill himself first.
No, that wasn't even an option. She was malicious enough to carry out what she'd threatened even when he was no longer around to see it. She'd threatened to torture innocents to death if he tried to kill himself, and he didn't doubt that she'd do it even if he succeeded, and escaped her that way.
There was no way out.
Erik leaned his head against the tile, utterly spent. The water washed over him in a steady curtain of soothing heat. He wasn't beaten yet. He refused to believe that. Though he had no faith in any rescuers and still less in the one he was thinking of, it was becoming painfully clear that he had only one hope.
Charles had always thought Magneto was a latent telepath. Erik still considered the idea unlikely. His magnetic powers had allowed him to imitate some of the trappings of telepathy, that was all. Magnetic induction on the brain could produce mind control effects, and electromagnetic amplification of a non-telepath's mental radiation could mimic the telepathic application of broadcasting one's thoughts, to allow him to contact sensitives (such as true telepaths) at a distance. It wasn't truly relevant in either case, since even if he had had latent pools of telepathy buried under the weight of his natural mind shields, that would have gone along with his body, he was sure. In either case, however, he had, in the past, joined his mind to Charles,' in an attempt to amplify Charles' power to the point where he could telepathically contact Galactus. And even before that, they'd always been sensitive to each other-- he'd been able to detect Charles using his power in San Marco, and Charles had frequently been able to zero in on him without Cerebro's help.
He closed his eyes, trying to empty his mind of anything except his mental image of Charles Xavier. If he could only contact Charles... it hardly mattered now if Charles betrayed him, rewrote his mind to conform to his wishes. Better to be Charles' slave than the body snatcher's, and with his own body back he'd have a much greater chance of escaping any such control that Charles might exert. Shut out the intrusive memories, shut out the humiliation and the lingering remains of pain. Shut out everything but the driving need to contact the one person who might be able to save him now, and save the innocents who the body snatcher would kill if Erik failed. The white noise of the falling water and rhythmic warming pattern as it cascaded over his body aided in achieving the trance state he needed, as he focused everything he had on a desperate call to Charles, calling out over the distance between them, pleading for help.
Eventually he realized that his body had stiffened up, that the water washing over him was cold now, and that there had been no response from Charles. Whatever power had enabled him to contact Charles at a distance before, it had gone with his body. He had to have been calling for hours, the way his muscles were cramped from kneeling in the tub, and there hadn't been the faintest touch of a response. It was entirely possible that they were out of Charles' range. He himself had altered the Earth's magnetic field to inhibit Charles' long-distance communication ability, years ago.
Hoist on his own petard. Again.
He shut off the now-cold water and dragged himself out of the shower. His fingertips had gone numb from waterlogging and he could barely stand. There was no hope left. If he couldn't reach Xavier, and he couldn't escape or even suicide without the body snatcher murdering innocents... oh, there was still some chance that she'd accidentally run into someone with a grudge against Magneto, who'd take her down because she didn't have his experience with the powers. But since that was most likely to happen while he was in his cell, and no one who took down Magneto would expect "him" to have a prisoner locked up in the basement of a house somewhere, if it happened Erik would probably starve to death. He wasn't at all sure he could dig his tunnel to the outside before running out of cans, if they were all he had to eat. And he'd lose his body and his powers, and anyway, what was most likely to happen was that she'd switch as soon as she was losing badly, leaving him in the middle of a fight, disoriented and possibly even unconscious from the switch, and so he would die and she would stay alive to kill and rape again. No, realistically he couldn't even hope for help from that quarter. There was to be no help, no hope, no freedom again.
Despite his exhaustion, it took a very long time before he could make himself sleep.
Body Snatcher: Chapter One Part I
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