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[b "If anyone was gonna get turned into a human gyro chunk of meat to get shaved, probably best it was me. All things considered,"] Lauren said as she got into the passengers seat, arching an eyebrow at Scott's frustration. [b "...You know, I almost think you're more frustrated by this than I am."]
She sighed, relaxing back in her seat as he start to drive them back off towards the school. It was a bit of a drive, but nothing too horribly lengthy.
[b "The Professor said that Magneto was after me for something, right? If he didn't know about the metal bones – though he will now, and that's probably a shitload of bad luck – but he apparently wanted my DNA instead,"] she glanced out a window, trying to assure herself that her flesh was all he had wanted. Something about that didn't sit right with her for some reason, but for now she'd latch onto this rationalized thinking. [b "I mean, if a bunch of human nations have a 'need' for superhuman DNA ever since the World War II era, it's possible for a mutant extremist to have some sort of need for DNA like mine I guess. At least my flesh and stuff grows back. Be worse if it didn't."]
She reached over, giving his shoulder a bit of a rough pat to ground him. [b "We don't know why they want my damned DNA, sure, but now we have something to actual figure out beyond guessing what it was he was after from me. He wanted my DNA, now we just have to figure out the 'why'. A lot easier than figuring out what he wanted in general. Yeah?"] She arched an eyebrow, turning the radio on.
Scott felt a sinking in his stomach. [b "Charles is going to need to know about this,"] he helped her to her feet, even though she probably didn't need it.
A few scragglers were still fleeing the museum, likely having been deep in the archives when everything went down. Scott kept his hand on Lauren's wrist, blending themselves in with the rest of the panicked patrons heading for the exit. Crowds gathered on the steps, trying to see inside the glass doors. Police were setting up yellow tape to get some kind of control over the situation. [b "Quick response time, but not quick enough,"] Scott grumbled.
[i "Nothing of suspicion in the nearest perimeter. Police have shut down streets so we can't get any closer,"] Storm's voice rang in his ear. [i "If we attempt to break through their barricades, we'll only draw attention to ourselves. Get back to the mansion and we can debrief."]
[b "I wanna know what the hell he was after,"] he snapped. [b "He went right past me. There's no way he couldn't have seen me. He wanted you specifically, if the whole gouging away at your arm says anything."]
[i "What's this about gouging at an arm?"] Hank's voice appeared next.
With a growl, Scott ripped the comm from his ear and dropped it in the cup holder. [b "They were banking on you being with us. They need your DNA for something. I just can't figure out what,"] he rubbed at his temple in frustration.
Lauren groaned as he helped her sit up, her pride hurt more than anything. ...Well, alright, her arm did still hurt as well but it made sense considering a large mount of nerves had just been regrown in a blink of an eye.
[b "Healing-factor thing, Summers, remember? There's nothing to see..."] She began, though rather than her voice being snarky it was just... filled with honesty and pure confusion. [b "Fucker came at me with a knife. I thought it was a scalpel but it had an... um..."] She trailed off, muttering in a soft babble of French to try and remember 'What the fuck are the words for those two things in English?', [b "...It had... an... oh! A mix of a granton edge and a serrated edge. Fucker just bound me like a mummy, hacked away my outer bicep from shoulder to elbow."] She slowly stood up with his help, confusion growing on her face.
[b "...He cut down to the bone,"] she said. Shaking her head, she then looked up at him. [b "No, wait, he tried to cut [i through] my bone. The knife came out dull. I remember seeing that before he tossed me down and bolted. Why the hell would he try to cut [i through] the bone? I thought Chuck said the entire reason magnet-ass was after me was because of that. Why wouldn't one of his subordinates know about that?"] She leaned into him, going a little stiff, and bit her lip. [b "...We should also get out of here and go join the frightened masses as camouflage. Sirens in the distance."]
Scott fought back a chuckle. [b "Considering they have another teammate named Blob, I'd say it's safe to assume we're not exactly dealing with the brightest minds Magneto can brainwash,"] he answered. [b "Let's just hope Toad is the only one here. If Blob or Sabertooth show up, we're going to need back up."]
Lauren's abrupt shout in the comms made him swiftly change course. [b "Stay out of reach of his tongue! Use your claws if you have to!"] he guides her, only to be met with the sounds of her struggling against her opponent.
By the time Scott had burst through the crowds fleeing to the exits, she was already alone on the ground. Toad was nowhere to be seen, but judging by the gaping hole in the wall, it was safe to assume they lost him. [b "Toad has breached a wall and escaped. Be on the lookout within the next five city blocks. He may have allies waiting close by,"] he instructed their teammates.
Kneeling next to Lauren, Scott helped her into a sitting position. [b "I guess I don't have to ask what happened to fighting him,"] he grimaced, pulling his hand away from her sticky saliva-coated skin. [b "That tongue is a bitch."]
It was only a brief moment later that he noticed her grasping her arm. [b "What happened here?"] he tried moving her hand, but was met with a normal patch of skin. [b "Did he inject you with something?"] he leaned closer, trying to see any pinpricks.
Lauren had been seconds away from explaining her joke and saying that while it be nice to reprimand, she didn't know if she'd have the patient no matter how it's theorized she could possibly be well older than Charles Xavier. However, that was the moment Scott went into 'mission' mode, and she entered in alertness as well. He tracked off, she waited, and once he gave the apparent destination of the target she quickly used the signs to locate and alternate route in attempt to catch the... she supposed... 'henchman' they were pursuing.
[b "What kind of name is fucking 'Toad'?"] Lauren hissed into the com, the sensation of it in her ear still weird. [b "Part of a group of 'mutants are superior' bullshit and gives himself a name like 'Toad'? That's ridiculous. 'Oh, fear me, for I am the new ruler of this section of the Earth. I am the McFuckin' Toad'. Mwahaha."] She said that in a hissed monotone, rolling her eyes as Scott said to focus through the coms... but if he though she couldn't hear his snickering with her level of hearing? He was wrong.
She grinned, but the grin was wiped from the face as she suddenly felt she'd been sucker-punched, and she had... by a long-ass tongue. [b "What the fuck?!"] She snapped, slamming into a wall with a groan as people started fleeing the wing she was knocked into. [b "Not Greece! Medieval, medival-"] she got punched in the fucking [i ear] that time, losing the com unit. [b "That is fucking disgusting,"] she hissed. Unfortunately, digging goo out of her ear wasn't for the moment, and she stood up in a battle mode... only to be suddenly restricted in a mummy-esque pose that prevented her from pulling out her claws. And strangled her, but the fact she was being come at with a visible scalpe by the frog-mutant was more of her concern.
She gasped for air, trying to struggle free of a tongue she thought was unfaily-fucking-strong before letting out a choked shout as a large section of her skin was cut away on her arm, the blood and the flesh and muscle getting captured into a waiting medical-isolation container.
And then like that she was dropped, a small bomb went off to blow out a wall, and then the Toad was gone and she was left gasping for air on the ground. [b "Mother fucker..."] She hissed, cupping a hand over the long strip of gore that was her outter bicep. It was halfway back to normal by the time she was dropped, but the fact it had been cut away so quickly had hurt extremely. So she laid there int he rubble, thunking her head against the ground a couple times before willing herself to get up.
Scott's mouth opened and slammed shut, scowling. [b "Nothing wrong with history,"] he grumbled, turning back to scout the area.
So far, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. A group of elementary school students in the middle of a field trip, taking turns mocking the busts of former Egyptian leaders. [b "See, if you were a history teacher, you could put them in their place for sticking their tongues out at King Tut."]
A sharp movement caught his eye from the west entrance. Scott's head immediately snapped to track the moving figure, head ducked low with a baseball cap pulled over the man's eyes. [b "You see that?"] he murmured to Lauren.
Trying not to be overly obvious, Scott headed in the direction to follow him. He was a shorter figure, with a leather trench coat trailing along his combat boots. [b "Going southbound towards the Ancient Greece rooms,"] he spoke lowly into the comms.
There was something off about the man's skin. It looked far too fake, like a figure in a wax museum. He was ducking between people far too quickly for Scott to get a good look, but even his hair appeared to be a wig stuffed into the cap. It wasn't until the figure turned and Scott saw his profile that he recognized him.
[b "Fuck,"] Scott hissed, picking up his pace. [b "Toad is at the museum,"] he spoke through the comms. [b "Leather trench coat, baseball cap. He's covered his skin with makeup."]
Either Magneto knew they were there, or Toad was about to wreak havoc on civilians.
Lauren had practically had her eyes closed the entire time he led her away, not daring to open them again... at his gentle joke, however, she opened her eyes with a mixture of a laugh and a huff, glancing around the Egyptian wing. [b "Pretty sure if I was [i that] old i'd instinctively know some forgotten language with only fifteen years worth of an identity instead of, ya know, knowing English."]
She glanced around the section of the museum, eyes focusing on the slideshow before flickering to the mini-scaled replicas of the Great Pyramids that were half a world away from where they currently were.
At his question she bit the inside of her cheek, but then she slowly shrugged. [b "Alright enough, I guess,"] she said after a few long seconds, glancing at him. [b "I just... I don't think I want to go back to that wing if I don't have too. Or really read or hear anything else about Captain America if I can help it."]
Lauren was quiet a few long moments, just watching the slideshow nearby, before jokingly saying, [b "Good thing I have no memory, huh? Otherwise I'd be at risk of being like... a history teacher or something."] She laughed softly beneath her breath, rubbing at the back of her neck.
Scott could see the inner battle flashing in her eyes, uncertainly at what she was staring at. [b "Lauren?"] he placed a hand on her elbow to steady her as she began to shake.
Her desperation to get out of the Captain America exhibit was something he'd never seen from her. She was frightened. [b "We can't leave the building yet, but we can get out of this wing. Come on."]
Keeping a hand on her arm, he led her down the maze of halls, not even bothering to point out the displays they were passing. He just had to get her as far from those photographs as possible, before they forgot their purpose for being there. Scott didn't stop walking until they reached the Egypt wing.
[b "There,"] he slowed to a stop. [b "We're on the other side of the museum now. Unless you have some long-running issue with mummies, I think we'll be alright here."]
Eager to take her mind off of whatever the hell had happened back there, he pointed out a computer rendering of what Ancient Egypt would have looked like, playing on a slideshow on the television. [b "It's incredible what was build in a time without the equipment and tools we have now,"] he admired scale-sized models of the pyramids.
He was adamant about keeping an eye on the doorways, scanning for any signs of their targets. [b "You alright?"] he asked her, trying to gauge if her tension was lessening.
Lauren was quiet, sparring the briefest glance in Scott's direction before returning her eyes to the main wall mural and the nine original uniforms worn by World War Two's most prominently acknowledged heroes. She can't find it in herself to answer him just yet. She just honestly wasn't sure how to answer at all.
Their faces and eyes. Their names and their smiles, their skins and their home countries. Why do they make her feel like her heart is being squeeze? Why does she feel like her heart is not only being squeeze, but utterly ripped out?
Her eyes scan their faces again and again, searing their names and nicknames into her brain. Her head throbs like it had earlier when the museum and the WWII exhibit were first mentioned. She swears that she has some sort of mental flicker of something. A flicker of something, something, [i something...]
[b [center * * *]]
[i "As 'Captain America's Sidekick', I should be a First Lieutenant. Not a Sergeant."
[right "You better earn being one then, Barney. I earned it, you can to. Be a big boy."]
"..You know, I always really hate that you call me 'Barney'."
[right "You don't complain when Jamie calls Steve 'Roggie', Barnes."]
"That's because it's fun to pick on Stevie, Victor! It's my favorite pass-time."
[right "Yes, yes. Everyone pick on the super soldier. That won't have a consequence."]
"You wouldn't be 'super' if it wasn't for me, Roggie. I'll take you on any day!"]
[b [center * * *]]
...but then that 'something' is gone, and so is the dull throbbing behind her eyes. There was nothing to remember. Nothing sprung to life. There was nothing.
Steve, Jamie, Dum Dum, Bucky, Victor, Jim, Gabe, James, Jacques.
Why does she feel like she should know those names? Why?!
[b "...I don't know,"] Lauren finally responded, voice whispered and... vulnerable. So vulnerable. She knows she must look lost, because she feels it too. She feels so damn lost. [b "Can we go?"] She asks after a few moments, a slight strain in her voice as, just slightly, it appears the feral-mutated woman curls in on herself. [b "We haven't heard or seen anything, just... can we go? Please?"] She repeats against, this time almost in a beg, as her eyes turn to flicker over the mural once more.
Scott had to hold back a snort of laughter. [b "It was the 1940s. They had like, five names to choose from for their sons. Probably what all the nicknames were for, in order to tell each other apart."]
He tapped a finger on the plaque where James Buchanan's name was engraved. [b "Bucky was probably the second-most well known man on the Commandos. He grew up with Rogers, and served as his second in command for most of the war, until he was killed in action. He has his own display further down."]
Each of the Howling Commandos had photographs and biographies on display, along with their uniforms. Smiling faces of young men untouched by the horrors of World War II rested proudly behind frames, taken during their boot camp graduation. The progression of the war was evident in the most recent pictures; thousand-yard stares with glazed over expressions, dirt and blood stained skin. Men aged twenty years in less than two.
[b "Something standing out to you?"] Scott looked to Lauren, seeing a new tension in her shoulders.
Her age was impossible to guess. For anyone's guess, she could be thirty or a hundred and twenty. She held recognition in her eyes, something he had yet to see on her before that moment. [b "Did you know them?"] he moved closer to speak quietly so as to not be overheard.
[b "...It looks intereseting enough so, yeah, sure. Lead the way, bub."] It had taken her a few long moments to respond, her comment a little delayed as she took in erverything at a mere glance at first. Already, she almost felt overwhelmed. She wouldn't admit that to someone like Summers, but she could admit it to herself.
Everything in the museum was utterly fascinating to her, though she tried not to let it show even as all of the information burned into her brain... and then they came to the display of the original uniforms warn by all eight of the original Howling Commandos and Captain America himself.
What stuck out to her were the faces of two who had black paint smeared on the upper halves of their faces, and the faces of the others stood out to her as well in a different way... she felt a twitch behind her eyes again, and took in the names.
[center [i Captain Steven "Steve" Rogers
First Lieutenant James "Jamie" Howlett
Sergeant Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan
Sergeant James "Bucky" Barnes
Private Victor Howlett
Private James "Jim" Morita
Private Gabriel "Gabe" Jones
Brigaider James Falsworth
Operative Jacques Dernier]]
[b "...'James' was a really common name during the early half of the 1900s, huh?"] She commented to Scott, trying to understand why she felt like she was seeing ghosts. She tucked her fist against her mouth, taking in all of the information of the nine male faces starring off into eternity.
[b "If Magneto was able to get his hands on you, yes, it would be a severe problem. We're going to do everything in our power to avoid that situation,"] he answered as they entered the museum. [b "Essentially, the plan is to lure him out here to take into custody, and the temptation of getting you on his team might be enough to do it."]
Scott was grateful for his glasses, as they hid his dumb excitement over seeing the exhibits again. His eyes always tended to widen and light up over anything educational, and he knew that Lauren wouldn't let him live it down. [b "It's this way,"] he gestured for her to follow him.
The Captain America exhibit was more impressive than any words could explain. Wall to wall displays illuminated the first Avenger's achievements, beginning when he first enlisted as the much smaller Steve Rogers. Uniforms used by the founding Howling Commandos adorned mannequins in glass cases. It was enough to boost patriotism in anyone.
[b "Did you want to take a walk around the floor?"] he asked her. [b "We're supposed to blend in, so we may as well look around and act like tourists."]
It wouldn't exactly make sense for them to stay on guard, looking tense. They needed to be as casual as possible. Might as well enjoy the exhibit.
Lauren shrugged her shoulders, [b "Canadian history books treated him the same as every other war person of prominence, and didn't glorify him. They glorified their own valuable people of the time."] Which was to be expected, all things considered, cause every country held a bias on their own country's history.
She listed as Scott spoke, nodding along and ignoring a twitching she felt behind her eye as the information danced into her brain. She was pulled from noticing the twitching sensation, however, by Scott's teasing. [b "Hahaha, you're killing me- Wait. Didn't we just go over this? Apparently I can't die,"] she smirked, cracking her neck once.
As the car parked, she took off her belt, instantly hopping out. [b "Strength, speed, endurance, and healing though? Hell, this guy sounds like he was given a liquid version of me in that injection. Didn't Chuck say that magnet-head getting his hands on me would be like him having his own super soldier?"] She said this nonchalantly, shrugging her shoulders as if the fact that... she had just spoke such a truth wouldn't be such a big deal unless someone who put a lot of focus on history was the one to hear the words.
And well, Scott was big on all things Captain America. And Jean herself had said that Lauren could very well be older than the Professor even if she had no memory of it and, thus, could have been an adult before even WWII.
[b "I have a new mechanic, I'll have her check it out,"] Scott remarked. [b "She's a pain in the ass, but she's tiny so she can get under the car easy."]
The change in topic drew his eyes from the road to glance at her. [b "Captain America? Man, you really must have lived under a rock or something,"] he shook his head a bit. [b "Steve Rogers might be the most famous hero of North America."]
Scott reached out to the turn the music off so they could talk without disruption. [b "Steve Rogers was a soldier in the US Army. He was selected for this program that injected him with this super soldier serum. Caused him to develop super strength, speed, you name it. He became the face of the United States military. He helped defeat the Nazis and Red Skull during the second world war. Ended up carrying out a suicide mission where he purposely crashed a plane to save countless other lives. He's a national treasure. Most humble, All-American guy that ever lived."]
He knew what was going to be in the exhibit. He'd seen it weeks prior when he'd gone to the museum for a day of quiet. Preserved uniforms, photographs, and documents detailing of the hero who gave his life for his country. Scott had stared at it for hours, wanting to emulate the kind of man Captain Steve Rogers had been.
[b "Come to think of it, his shield might actually be bigger than you are,"] he couldn't help but tease.
The brunette rolled her eyes from behind the reflective sunglasses, and she ignored the very intense urge to smear her palm against the window or [i lick] the window. [b "I'm not an invalid, Summers. I know plenty about science, history, and all that other crap. You think someone with memory loss [i wouldn't] want to learn everything there was?"] She tilted her glasses down at him, giving him a slightly disbelieving look. [b "I already finished all the reading on mutations, mutation power-level classification, genetics, and all that other stuff Jean and Chuck gave me to read. I need to get more."]
'Light reading' being over a thouand pages per book set aside , she fell into silence before, adding a bit regretfully already, [b "...I wouldn't mind learning, however, when there's time to focus. Happy?"] She glanced over at him again with an arched eyebrow. [b "...You're gonna have to adjust one of your rear breakpads at some point, by the way. Rear-right. It's barely existent, but I can hear a faint grinding. You're gonna end up blowing that one if you don't adjust it."]
Once they got to the museum, her eyebrows arched up at a sign that declared 'Captain America Museum refurbished for the anniversary! Tony Stark appearing tonight for the benefit event'. [b "...I'm gonna regret this, but since we're going to that section I have to ask; what's the big deal with Captain America? I've never really had time to ask, ya know, trying lay on the low after handing guys their mandhoods in cagefights. I know it has to do with the Stark woman's family in general in some way but wasn't she, like... not even born when the Captain dude was around? Is the connection through one of her parents or something?"] She cracked her neck, waiting for Scott to get out of the car.
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