purple hyacinth

Stryfe had almost beaten him - almost.

As the metal grew and coiled about the room, nearly pulsing with life as it sunk into every crack and every crevice there was to be found in the small cell he was locked in, a inhibiting collar around his neck to ensure that he couldn’t push back the spread and escape from such a cruel fate as a slow and painful deterioration, it was hard to believe that there would have been any release save for that of death. He could hear it scratching, digging into the metal surfaces around him as if the virus was on the hunt for something else to feed off of, becoming sizable and then massive, filling whatever voice there had been around him and escaping in any direction it very well could.

It had been weighty, bearing pressure on every part of his body from both the inside out, Nate the smallest sliver of life amiss the winding construct X-Force had found him in; but it was a weight light compared to that he’d experience had Stryfe been successful, had Warpath not found him to rip him out of such a dire situation, and had Shatterstar not taken care of the power-inhibiting collar to rouse him from such an unstable condition.

Stryfe had almost beaten him and, in turn, Nate had almost lost her.

It wouldn’t have been the first time and he could only hope it was the last time that there was such a close call with the techno-organic virus running through his veins, his a life of running from the condition as much as it had been spent attempting to control it - to stop it - from hurting others; and not for the first time and surely not for the last, he had found some solace in the fact he would have to leave her, ensuring that he wouldn’t have to pull Aliya from the brink of death again - not that it would be the virus to take her from him in a future not yet lived.

And there it was, that ever-present fear that he wore on his very shoulder and under his very skin, constantly on edge even in renewed youth that he wouldn’t be able to control it. It seemed to live, a breathing personification of emotion that he could feel creep up on him at a moment’s notice though perhaps no more readily than moments like this when peering over featured ripped apart by the virus seemed to bring the reality of the situation - of life as he now knew it - crashing into the forefront of his mind. He could see them, the miniscule tendrils of metal that dug through shutter-like skin in an attempt to reach the surface, a living parasite of inorganic composition that was never-ending in hunger, and not for the first time, Nate felt his stomach churn with the compulsion to vomit not necessarily the contents of his stomach, but the heavy stones of celestial metal he was almost sure he could feel there.

At least Hope couldn’t see him like this, stuck between a rock and a hard place as he gambled with the possibility that shutting off his telekinesis would give him a moment’s rest, a shred of relief, against the constant pushing - at least the one who hadn’t traversed the time stream with him, growing at what seemed like an alarming rate, and making a father out of a soldier until his dying day. She had so readily wanted to be like him, even going so far to fashion a metal arm of her own out of a tin can and some rubble that had been found in futuristic wastelands without knowing the true struggle such a condition had brought him, and just as he did with everyone else, he had blocked her out.

It was better than this, keeping her at such lengths that she wouldn’t learn such a hard truth as mortality at an early age when life was already hard enough being the future of all mutant kind, and when the time was right - not that there was telling when that moment would have been - she’d figure it out, just like when the time was right, he’d tell his own daughter all those things left unsaid, hidden behind manipulate memories and shifting timelines, just in case of the inevitable.

Stryfe had almost beaten him, but not quite.

Not yet.