Body and Soul I: The Body Snatcher

Chapter 2: Crawling from the Ruins

Part C

But of course he couldn't sleep, too tense and aware of his vulnerability, despite his exhaustion. So he was groggy, but thoroughly unrested, when they finally came for him. For some absolutely incomprehensible reason that no one explained and he was too tired to ask, a nurse made him give her a sample of his hair, which she sealed in an envelope, and then asked him to run a comb through his pubic hair and let any loose hairs fall into another envelope. She took several blood samples and a urine sample, and told him they'd have the results of the pregnancy test in a few hours, the venereal disease tests in a few days. Then the nurse left, leaving him in a different room, where he couldn't go back to sleep because there was an imminent expectation of a doctor. Some minutes later, a male technician arrived with a black bag.

"You're still the only forensic photog?" Devoe asked the man disbelievingly. "I thought they'd hired a woman for cases like this."

"They did. Then the budget cuts hit. The HMOs are killing us." The man opened his bag and removed photographic equipment. Erik had only been mildly irritated at the interruption until he saw that.

"Why do you have a camera in here?" he asked, his voice far shriller than he'd meant it to come out.

"We have to photograph the injuries," Devoe said in that infuriatingly calm tone of hers. "I'm sure the last thing you want right now is to have pictures taken of you, but we need them as evidence to make a clear case against your assailant. Once it gets to court, lawyers for the defense often try to say things like the sex was consensual, or there was no sex at all, or the injuries were inflicted because the attacker was trying to defend himself. We have to be able to counter those accusations with hard evidence. So we take pictures of the injuries. Don't worry, the photographs will never be seen outside the courtroom or the police station."

It wasn't him. It wasn't his body. He shouldn't care if photographs were taken of it, and he could think of no rational excuse for refusing-- "I don't want it" wasn't a rational excuse, and while "It'll never get to court because I'll take my body back and slaughter her" was quite rational, it was also not something he could exactly use here. Numbly, he undressed and let Devoe and the photographer take pictures of him from all angles. They took a set of eight of his full body-- two each of front, back, and both sides-- and then a number of close-ups of the specific injuries. This involved close-up pictures of genitals, buttocks and breasts, as well as more innocuous places like his back and neck. The photographer was professional, saying and doing nothing that indicated he had an opinion of Erik as a person one way or another, but the entire process was more humiliating than anything else he'd faced today. He felt like a whore, or a pornographic model. He wanted to kill the photographer. And Devoe. And everyone in this miserable hospital.

He was allowed to put his hospital gown back on afterward; he suspected it was pointless to do so, since the doctor would probably make him take it off again, but it made him feel a little bit better. Devoe started to explain to him again why it had been necessary to do that; he gave her one of his looks, and apparently she correctly interpreted it even through the lens of the wrong body, as she promptly apologized and shut up. It was nice to know he hadn't entirely lost that ability, at least.

When the doctor arrived-- a somewhat overweight blonde woman with her hair pulled back severely-- she asked him if he wanted Devoe with him for the examination, and when he said no, kicked her out to wait outside. That was a small pleasantness. The doctor examined his entire body again, taking note of the numerous welts, bruises, cuts and small burns on him. He thought of telling her to refer to the photographs that had just been taken and so avoid duplicating effort, but he was very much afraid his voice would come out in a shrill whine again. She then made him lie down on a table, put his legs in stirrups, and expose himself completely to her. Panic nearly overwhelmed him again; the body snatcher had bound him in such a position more than once, and used the greater access to his genitals the position gave her to cause him extraordinary pain. He found himself freezing twice while getting onto the table, his muscles refusing to put him in such a vulnerable place, and only by gritting his teeth and forcing himself to go on could he actually arrive at the position the doctor wanted.

Erik stared at the ceiling, the clinical white tile a more soothing place to put his eyes than the ceiling of his cell, the wooden supports and the floorboards of upstairs that he'd spent hours staring at in the body snatcher's cellar while she'd grunted over this body. It's not me. It's not my body they're looking at. This slab of meat she victimized has nothing to do with me. And I've been through far worse than this. If he kept repeating the words to himself, he wouldn't leap out of the stirrups and try to kill the doctor. He hoped.

"Take a deep breath and relax," the physician instructed. She was brusque and rather cold, unlike Devoe's excessive solicitousness. He found he didn't like the brusqueness nearly as much as he'd thought he would after putting up with Devoe.

How can I relax in this position? he wanted to ask, but didn't. Apparently this was normal for women. Apparently they did this kind of thing all the time-- the physician had asked, when he'd been so clumsy getting into the stirrups, if it had been so long since his last gynecological checkup that he'd forgotten what it was like, in a tone as if she was trying to joke with him. What he'd gotten from the statement had been an understanding that this was normal procedure for a gynecological exam. Which meant he didn't dare ask what they were doing or why; a real woman would know.

Something smooth and metallic was pressed against the opening to his body. He did break, then, trying to kick free of the stirrups and the whatever it was with a sharp cry of fear. The doctor gave him a look he interpreted as absolute disgust. "It's just a speculum," she said. "You've had these exams before. You know what it's like. Now, you want me to take a look and see how badly you're hurt, don't you?"

He would not give in to irrational terror. He would not. This was normal for women. Nothing to be afraid of. "I'm sorry," he said harshly, trying to hide his shame and fear. "Go ahead."

The thing, whatever it was, hurt only a small amount at first, as anything at all touching him there hurt. Then the pain increased dramatically, and there was some sort of clicking noise and she was doing something to the device, but he couldn't follow it, couldn't see it with his body in the way and couldn't track the metal in it with the magnetic senses he no longer had. It felt like she was stretching him, making the vaginal canal wider, and it hurt horribly. He gritted his teeth and tried very hard not to scream, though an occasional groan escaped him and he couldn't seem to help that. This could not be normal. No woman would ever get a gynecological exam if it hurt this much. The pain must be due to the damage the body snatcher had done him.

"There seems to be some old scar tissue," the doctor said, sounding obscenely calm, as if she didn't even notice the agony she was inflicting on him. "Were you ever raped before this incident?"

He remembered the body snatcher telling him how one of her victims had bled "gouts of blood." "Yes," he managed, breathing hard, his voice strained from the effort of resisting the pain. "I was hurt very badly and I had to get medical treatment."

"That explains it," she said, undoing and withdrawing the speculum. He relaxed slightly with the relief of the pain. "Relax, the really bad part's over. Now I'm going to do something a bit different. Or if you got medical treatment for rape before, you might remember this."

"I don't remember any of it. Please, tell me what you're doing?"

"I'm just going to squirt a little bit of warm saline solution into you. It won't hurt. Then I'll aspirate it back out again with a needleless syringe. None of it should hurt at all."

"Why are you doing it?"

"To try to get a sperm sample from the alleged rapist. Since you didn't shower since the last time, the chances are good we'll be able to get a sample, and that will help when it's time to prosecute. They can do a DNA matchup between the sample and the suspect and see if he's the one that did it."

The words, and their implications, finally penetrated his fogged brain. He pulled out of the stirrups again and sat up. "No!"

The doctor looked at him as if he were terminally stupid. "It's evidence, Lisa. How do you expect them to prosecute anyone for raping you if you won't let me take the evidence?"

Given that he was a mutant, he was quite sure that his specific DNA fingerprint would be extremely distinctive, distinctive enough that, with the clue he himself had given that his assailant was a powerful mutant, it might very well positively identify his original body as the attacker's. Horrific visions of newspapers headlined "MAGNETO FOUND TO BE RAPIST" surfaced in his mind's eye. "I know who he was. I don't need samples taken."

"You might know who he is, but in court there'll need to be more evidence than your word for it. You don't want him going free, do you?"

"I don't care! All I wanted was medical treatment! I don't want to be interviewed, I don't want evidence taken from my body, I don't care if they prosecute or not!"

"Oh, all right. You have the right to refuse that evidence be taken if you want, but you're shooting yourself in the foot. It's not going to hurt at all to take the sperm sample. The speculum hurts, I know it does. You're tense and you're injured and most of the women I see in my practice don't like it much when they're healthy and relaxed. But you were brave and you stuck that one out. Why are you so scared of this? It won't hurt you."

"Hurt me? No. It will hurt my people. Do you think I want to see a high-profile trial of a mutant rapist? Don't you see what damage that would do us?"

"Do who?"

Belatedly Erik realized that at no point in his cover story had he admitted to being a mutant himself. Well, to hell with it. "Mutantkind."

"You mean like the man who allegedly did this to you? Why would you want to protect people like him?"

"How dense are you, woman? I am a mutant myself! The public perception is that we're all criminal monsters who use our gifts to destroy the lives of ordinary people. I haven't been able to use any of my own powers since he attacked me, so in the eyes of the newspapers and the courts and the public perception, I will seem like an ordinary person, a helpless victim set upon by a slavering genetic freak, and it'll just add fuel to the fires of hatred toward my people. I never wanted to tell the police that the rapist even was a mutant, but I had to warn them so they'd let the professionals deal with it instead of going and getting killed themselves. But I am not going to allow what happened to me to be used to destroy my people, and if that means the rapist never goes near the courts... well, my people take care of their own. He won't go free."

"You're a mutant."

"I believe I said so. Several times."

"Why didn't they warn me before bringing you in?" the physician demanded, in an aggrieved voice. "I'm not a mutant specialist. You need trained personnel for that!"

"Obviously no, you don't. If I were the sort of mutant who uncontrollably bursts into flames or absorbs the minds of any who touch me, I would have notified the police before they brought me here, yes. However, did you miss the part where I said I don't have my powers? Even if I could do those things, I can't right now. My attacker took my powers from me. It will be days, most likely, before I get them back."

"What can you do? When you have your powers?"

The outburst had left him exhausted again. "What does it matter?" he asked tiredly, looking at the floor. "It didn't save me from being captured, did it?" He looked up. "Is the medical portion of the exam done? May I go?"

"No, we're not done. Since you've refused the collection of evidence, I'll note on your record, you've refused. I still have to perform a few tests for the sake of your health, nothing to do with evidence. It's just the standard stuff you get in a gynecological exam."

"Then do so."

She did. They involved putting latex-gloved fingers, slick with some sort of lubricating jelly, into him, probing first the vagina and then the anus. It hurt badly, though not as badly as the speculum had. When she was done, she let him put the underwear with the menstrual pad in it back on, though he was still expected to wear a hospital gown in lieu of the baggy sweats Devoe had gotten him. "You've got some internal lacerations. Nothing life-threatening, but you'll need stitches, and you've already eaten today so we can't do the surgery until tomorrow. I'm going to recommend that you spend the night in the hospital, with pain medication and a salve suppository to promote blood clotting, and tomorrow we can put you under anesthesia and get you stitched up. All right?"

The idea of entrusting himself to humans for surgery, particularly in such a delicate region, disturbed him terribly... but he'd already determined that he needed to do so before he could get to his main base. And the humans had done all right when he'd been in his own body and fallen into the Atlantic Ocean from space, and he'd needed to spend two weeks in traction without the use of his powers. "Very well."

A nurse put salves and bandages on him, and offered him the pain medication the doctor had authorized. His first temptation was to refuse, since any such drugs would likely impair his functioning and if the body snatcher showed up he couldn't afford to be drugged and helpless before her. So he told the nurse he was uninterested in anything that would make him drowsy or dizzy or otherwise impair him. She nodded and and said that the doctor had included the option of analgesic medication instead, painkillers that would work by lowering inflammation and blocking pain signals from the nerves rather than acting on his brain. Try as he might he couldn't come up with any reason to object to that. Besides, the fact that there had been no pulses after the one encouraged him greatly. Chances were, the X-Men had already gotten her. They weren't incompetent, after all. And he really did hurt an absurd amount. So he accepted the analgesic and the offer of a hospital bed for the night.

Of course, when she told him it wouldn't make him fall asleep she probably hadn't taken into account how exhausted he was. It didn't matter that it was an analgesic rather than an anesthetic; the pain was one of the main things keeping him awake and alert at this point, and when that eased he started to crash. This got rid of Devoe for him, at last. She had been waiting for him outside the hospital room; he was sure that she wasn't normally so careful with rape cases, and that in this case it was more her desire to see him testify about whatever high-stakes crime they thought Lisa Davies' assailant had been involved in that kept her glued to him. But when he stopped being able to fight the encroach of sleep, shortly after they'd given him the meds, he told her so, and, as sincerely as he could, told her that he'd come back to the police station in the morning after his surgery, trying hard to believe it for the minute or two it took to say it so she would be fooled. She told him she'd check up on him in the morning after the surgery, and then, blissfully, left him alone.

The nurse fed him hospital food, which was no worse than institutional food ever was, and then let him alone as well. He slept, but not deeply. Even if they had kept him in the private room, so he would not be awakened by nurses passing by his curtained cot to attend to his roommates frequently, the nightmares would still have tormented him. Time after time as he started to drift off, the dream that seized his mind was one where the body snatcher came into the hospital after him and recaptured him, and he'd jerk awake in terror before ever having been truly asleep in the first place. And even when he managed to achieve deeper sleep, there were still terrible dreams.

The body snatcher had massacred the Morlocks, who were all boys and young men that one interested in such might find attractive, and they were piled all over the tunnels, and somewhere in here were the New Mutants, but he couldn't find them. Storm was supposed to help him look but she was doing something else. He tried to be respectful in picking up the bodies, but he was too small and weak and without a partner to help him lift them, they were too heavy, and Moishe had died yesterday so he didn't have a partner anymore. Every time he looked at one he felt a sense of dread that it might be a New Mutant. They never were but that didn't mean the New Mutants weren't dead. Roberto and Doug and Sam and Pietro were all potential targets of hers. He'd told them to stay at the base but they hadn't listened because they never listened and now maybe they were dead.

Psylocke knocked on the door where he was wading through the bodies. He looked up at her. "You changed your butterfly," he said.

"It's a butterfly knife." It was the real Psylocke, not the Asian woman the X-Men had acquired with her name who he'd fought last time he met the X-Men. She was wearing the Asian's outfit, though, and holding a purple knife in her hand, that used to be a butterfly. "Magneto, can you tell me where you are?"

He looked around. "All these bodies and you need to ask?"

"You're asleep, aren't you?" she said. "This psychescape is disturbed even for you."

Was he asleep? The idea brought a profound sense of relief. If he was asleep then the body snatcher wasn't real and he really had his own body and all of it had been a bad dream. "Then I'd rather wake up."

"Go ahead. I'll be there directly."

He opened his eyes and lifted his head to look at his body. It was still a woman's. For a moment the disappointment was profound, until the dream had faded enough that he was able to adjust.

For several minutes he lay awake, looking up at the ceiling. When he glanced over at a clock he saw it was 7:30-- and he'd gotten up at what? 8, 9? It was too early to go to sleep for the night, pain relief or no. Perhaps he should use this time to construct a more coherent false story in case Devoe cornered him tomorrow after the surgery.

He spent long minutes doing that, until footsteps approaching his cot startled him. Erik rolled over to face whoever it was as they pulled the curtain aside. An Asian woman with hair to her waist looked down at him. Though she looked like a nurse, there was something wrong with the picture, and while he was trying to figure it out he felt a slight twinge against his mind-- what Charles called the "hello", a telepathic query as to identity. Instinctively he hardened his shields, and the Asian woman came into sudden focus. Her hair was dark purple, her clothing was scanty, and she no longer looked anything at all like a nurse. Though she also looked nothing at all like the woman in his dream, the "feel" of her mind helloing him made it clear that despite the changes in her body-- changes, after all, rather less profound than those he'd been through-- it was not just a woman calling herself Psylocke. It was, in fact, Elisabeth Braddock, his former ally and recent foe.

"Psylocke?" he asked, startled.

"He's here, Ororo," she said at the same time.

A moment later Storm, co-leader of the X-Men and one of the few he might still call friend after the debacle of last time, came over to the cot. "Magnus, is that truly you?"

Body Snatcher: Chapter Two Part D

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