Time across the Gate meant very little.
He didn't lift his head, fixing his eyes on the floor – polished wood, faded from a rug that must have been rolled up and removed...couldn't have blood and sweat staining such an expensive expanse of woven wool and silk – as his captor walked in a slow circle around him.
His lips moved in a silent, repetitive prayer. He would switch between languages, between prayers, but his voice never rose above a barely audible hiss of breath.
The chain-links that stretched his arms toward the ceiling became his rosary.
It was the only sound he made when the pain came.
“Why don't you scream, Little One?” The familiar voice masked a stranger with empty eyes. The handle of the whip touched his chin, gently lifting his face.
Kurt said nothing, just raised an eyebrow and studied Iceman's too pale eyes.
His eyes drifted down to the glint of blue light beneath the hollow of Bobby's throat. Interesting necklace, a tiny dragon carved from some blue-white crystal dangled from a leather cord. It was glowing, but very faintly...and flickering almost weakly.
Diminutive pet names. Small moments of tenderness between strikes. The need to hear him scream.
It seemed Bobby Drake – or whatever was left of him – had picked up a new hobby.
After seeing himself as a sexually predatory –and almost foppishly flamboyant – Nazi, that rode into their world on a swastika emblazoned train powered by a giant dragon...nothing really shocked Kurt anymore.
But this was Bobby from his own universe, just void of memory and tainted somehow. Whatever was now residing inside Iceman's skin was didn't seem to be enjoying this as much as it seemed to have anticipated.
There was a slight fluttering of his jaw, and those eerie eyes darted to the right and up.
He was trying to remember something.
The pain from the strikes was bearable; he'd suffered far worse. The strikes were for the aesthetic, not to permanently damage. It was a strange realization that he was regaining his strength while being tortured. He head was clearing, his senses were sharpening, and he could even feel that tickle inside his head that signaled that his ability to teleport was returning, maybe the sting of the whip helped...
He'd be leaving this little development out of his mission report.
Bobby's hand replaced the whip handle, cupping Kurt's chin, “I haven't broken you so soon, have I, Little One?”
“Hardly.” Kurt had to choose his words carefully. “Hank said you loved extreme sports, but I assumed he meant something more Shaun White and less Marquis De Sade.”
There. That look to the right again, a faint flicker of confusion –
Bobby's hand dropped from his face and dragged down Kurt's chest and then...
Kurt had been happily ignoring that little detail, which was getting more difficult as Bobby's grip tightened painfully. “I have to pee, I did just wake up.”
“Of course.” The confusion was gone from Bobby's eyes, which wasn't good. Nor was that little smile that was anything but pleasant.
He didn't move his hand, but he did relax the grip.
One firm stroke and Kurt knew he'd run out of time.
“I like your necklace.” He said, struggling to keep his voice level. “A dragon, ja? Drake...dragon. Very fitting, it even looks like ice, Bobby.”
The hand stilled.
“What?” Bobby's eyes narrowed.
“Drake. Robert Drake. That's your name.” Kurt said, “Or Iceman. So a little ice dragon suits you, Bobby. Is it made of ice?” Bobby's hand released Kurt and curled around the tiny dragon pendant, “I'm not familiar with the limits of your powers, my sister – Rogue – said you made her a rose made of ice, she kept it in the freezer and showed it to me when I visited. Can you make ice that doesn't melt now? That would be--”
Kurt squeezed his eyes shut as the wave of energy surged through him. Magic. He knew that feeling well enough to recognize it instantly, but this was – Holy Gott – like being seared through with silvery-fire, and it was anything and everything but painful.
After an eternity of dying over and over again in that white fire, melting the ribbons of sugar that coiled tight in his belly and strangled his breath from him – finally it stopped.
“Oh, my god.”
For a moment, Kurt wasn't sure which one of them had spoken.
He slowly opened his eyes, and was nose to nose with Bobby Drake, who was cupping his head, horror etched across his face, “Kurt, are you ok?”
“Can I...get back to you on that?” Kurt gasped, trying to catch his wind.“What...just happened?”
“I used a spell to read your mind.” Bobby brushed Kurt's sweat drenched hair from his forehead, his eyes wide with shock, “Holy fuck, I'm...I'm sorry. I didn't know. I swear to God I didn't remember anything, everything was just ...cold. I couldn't feel anything. I had these memories that weren't mine, from those people...”
“Shhh, it's ok. It's ok.” Kurt soothed, “That was some spell.”
“It...never did that before. It was a simple mind-reading incantation. It...I...I think I just relived both our lives.”
Kurt could feel his panic, could feel his confusion and shock – resonating in the back of his head – like a tremor on a cord tied between the two of them.
He couldn't quite tell where he ended and Bobby began. Everything was chaotic emotion, a mix of his own and Bobby's, and the aftershocks of what the spell had been like for himself. Bobby's “simple incantation” had forged something – a magical bond?
Bobby could cast spells?
“I know.” Bobby said, as if Kurt had voiced his thought aloud, “When they summoned me, they...died, and everything that was them went into me. Their knowledge, their memories, their desires, their magic...like a sudden short in a circuit and I was the capacitor. Or ground. I don't know. I'll ask Hank.”
Bobby jumped when Kurt suddenly vanished but spun right to where he reappeared.
“I really do have to pee.” Kurt said, smiling...reaching out to touch Bobby's cheek, without realizing what he was doing. He didn't even question when Bobby caught his hand and nodded.
“There's a water closet over here.” Bobby led him across the room, pausing to grab the glass of wine and draining it in one gulp – Kurt would empathize – before crossing to a door and sliding it open. “It's magical, everything is. I've been here a very long time, and I've been really bored and...I'm rambling.”
“It's ok.” Kurt squeezed his fingers. Bobby managed a weak smile and left Kurt to relieve himself, walking back into the room to collapse into the chair, his head clutched in his hands.
Kurt's returning memory of his lost twenty-minutes was interfering with his need to get ready for whatever was moving through the trees. He shook his head to try and focus, his swords drawn and ready as he walked a slow circle around the edge of the camp, staring into the darkness as he followed the sound.
“I have a great idea.” Bobby struggled to sit up, “How about you un-handcuff me and we can both stalk around the fire like Logan. I know it's been awhile since I've seen the walking adrenal gland, but I think I can still manage a good grrrrrr-face.”
“Can't you just ice up and slip them off?” Kurt asked, his eyes not straying from the shadow he finally caught a glimpse of.
“Funny you should mention that. I haven't been able to ice up since you left.” Bobby managed to rock up to his feet and stand, “At least, not on command. It only happened when I got injured or was about to meet some grisly demise. You know how inconvenient that is?”
Kurt grimaced, “The keys are on my belt...whatever or whoever it is out there, they're not approaching, just watching, circling.”
Bobby backed up against Kurt and fumbled at his belt pouches. “What's also inconvenient is that I'm only sane-ish when you're near, but the crazy did make the time just fly by.” He stopped fumbling. “Hey. Now who's forgetting your tail? A little help, please?”
“Touché .” Kurt smiled at him and sent his tail to retrieve the cuff keys, the spade delicately folding and twisting until the cuffs fell onto the dirt and Bobby was rubbing his wrists. “There. Better?”
“I'd say I'd forgotten how incredibly nimble you were with that thing.” Bobby kicked up his own sword and snatched it out of the air, spinning it in his hand before stepping up to join Kurt at the treeline, “But it'd be a big fat lie. That memory kept me entertained many a lonely night—hey, are you blushing?”
“No. Shut up.” Kurt cleared his throat and stared even more intently into the pitch black nothing. Which was very good at staying pitch black and being nothing. Ja, that was a whole lot of black nothingness out there.
“Youare.” Bobby leaned very close, his breath tickling the fur along his neck, “Your cheeks are flushed, and look...now the tip of ears are violet.”
“Kuuuuurt.” Bobby sing-songed, moving even closer. “'Were' lovers, huh? That's a little past-tensey.”
“It's gone.” He turned to Bobby, “I didn't mean it like that, Bobby. I was – I still am – remembering those months and--”
Kurt was cut off by the crash of trees. He barely had time to look up when the largest wolf he'd ever seen – or imagined – came tearing through the trees and straight toward them.