Author's notes: My sincerest apologies to my dear, dear readers. I haven't forgotten you or this story, but my life in the past year has not been an easy one. Hopefully, the creative juices will keep flowing and I'll be able to update more often. To everyone who has reviewed and/or add this story to their alerts/favorites, you have my heartfelt thanks. Please enjoy and leave a review when you're done.

"Do we have a deal then?" he casually asks the younger man as he leans back in his desk chair, mindful not to disrupt the helmet on his head.

"Works for me," the younger man replies with a bored shrug, pretending that the helmet doesn't bother him. "When can I see her?"

"How about now?" he inquires with a self satisfied smirk.

"Now would be perfect," he nearly purrs.

His feet are cold. Why are his feet cold? He doesn't know and he doesn't care.

His back hurts. Why does his back hurt? He doesn't know and he doesn't care.

He continues to stare at her in her mirrored prison while his tries to figure a way to get her out of there. His mind runs through so many scenarios, all of which are impossible without his mutation. He never imagined that he would miss having Beast raging in his head.

After watching her pace in her small cell for what seems like an eternity, he finally looks down at his feet. He stares at them for a good minute before it registers on his brain why his feet are cold. His shoes are missing and his socks have been so badly ruined that they're nothing more than bits of cloth wrapped around his ankles.

He vaguely remembers losing the shoes in his race to try and reach her in time. His socks didn't stand a chance of surviving once the shoes were gone. How odd it is to see his feet without blue fur.

Just the small movement of looking down sends a searing pain through his back. It originates near his shoulder blade and it takes him a few moments to think why that is. Oh right. The needle from the syringe is still in his back.

He tries to reach it, but it's no use. It's in that spot that's impossible to reach without being a lot more flexible than a normal human. Pulling at his shirt in hopes that it'll pull it out is no use and he can feel a small amount of blood trickling down his back.

With a sad sigh, he returns his attention to her and sees that she's still pacing the room. The way she's rubbing her hands up and down her arms and he realizes that she must be trying to warm up. He would like nothing better than to wrap her in his arms to keep her warm.

His feet are cold from the concrete floor that they're on, but the temperature in his cell is just fine. He has all the basic amenities of a jail cell, but it's a lot more than she has. He needs to get her out of there, but without his mutation, he has only his wits. The shock of losing his mutation and his worry for her means that his wits aren't all they should be.

Still, he tries to think of a way to get her out of this mess or at least more comfortable accommodations. Ideas whirl around in his head like angry bees, but they're of no use. Each one is pushed aside as the common denominator of each one requires his now non-existent mutation. He sits there, staring at her, not sure what to do.

When he hears the door open, he's on his feet in an instant, hoping that he's ready for what may be the negotiation of his life.

...or more precisely, hers.

"What's he doing here?" the young man demands just before they head down into the basement.

"Let us call," the older man easily responds as the door to the basement opens on its own.

"We don't need him," he insists grumpily. "I can handle her just fine on my own."

"Yes, I'm sure that you can," the gentleman assures the younger man. "But I like to hedge my bets."

With that, the older man heads down into the basement. The young man glares at the muscle bound cretin in front of him before him before turning and heading down the stairs himself. Fight just smirks at the smaller mutant, knowing he could wipe the walls with the little snot and not even get warmed up.

The young man looks around the small area, wondering where they've hidden her or if this is some sort of sick trick. Because if it's a trick, he'll be out of there so fast it'll make that stupid helmet on the old guy spin. Before he can demand where she is, there's a faint 'click' and the empty set of shelves on the right suddenly start to swing open.

"Give me a moment and then you can see her," the gentleman instructs before disappearing behind the shelves.

He starts to follow, but is stopped by a large, meaty hand on his shoulder. Deciding he'd rather have this jerk groveling at his feet than getting into a fight with him, he turns on the charm.

"I don't believe I caught your name," he says as he turns around with a smile.

"I'm Fight," the bigger mutant proudly claims.

"Rather unimaginative name," he states.

"Yeah, well, my brother is Flight," Fight replies with a happy smile, so glad that this little guy has noticed him.

"Why did you stop me from following?" he asks. "I just want to see my...lady friend."

"Because she ain't in there," Fight easily answers and then points at the other set of shelves. "She's behind the other shelves. Her boyfriend's in there."

"You've got McCoy in there?" he questions in surprise. "How much sedative did you have to use?"

"None," Fight cheerfully responds. "We gave him the Cure."

"Really now," he nearly purrs, thoughts of revenge start forming in his head.

Before more can be said, there's another soft 'click' and the shelves on the left swing open. He immediately heads for the door, not even waiting for an invitation. It's time for some retribution.

"Please, I beg you, let her go," Hank starts without preamble.

"I can't very well have her going to the X-Men, now can I?" Magneto replies.

"Then at least lock her in regular room," Hank begs. "You can keep her under lock and key with a guard."

"And put one of my own out of his or her room?" Magneto scoffs. "I can hardly ask one of them to do that. Besides, there's no guarantee that she won't simply try to escape through the window."

"Then switch us," Hank continues as he points towards the room that's so easily seen through the Plexiglas. "Let her have this room and I'll take that one."

"No, I think I like her right where she is," Magneto smiles as he watches the woman pace back in forth in her small chamber.

"She hasn't done you any wrong," Hank reminds him. "Her only crime is loving me."

"As I stated before, she has her uses," Magneto replies with a bit of a smirk.

Before Hank can come up with a response, there's the sound of a quiet 'click' coming through the speakers. Hank quickly spins around to look into her cell and can see a section of mirror swing in. The man who walks into the room makes Hank's heart pound with worry and dread.

"About damn time," she snaps as she marches towards the opening.

"Yes, I'll say that it is," says the man who walks through the door.

"James," she hisses, pausing in mid step and not the least bit happy to see this particular mutant.

"In the flesh," he happily replies as holds his arms open wide, expecting her to just walk into them.

"Out of my way, you little creep," she snarls as she grabs the front of his shirt and drags him out of her way.

He's so startled by her reaction, despite him having his powers on, he doesn't stop her. He finds himself sprawled out on the hard concrete floor, his hands stinging from the fall. He can't believe that she was able to resist his powers. He thought the day in court where he lost the law suit was just a fluke.

Angrily, he pushes himself off of the floor and goes to follow her out the door. He hears her scream in anger and frustration a few seconds before Fight comes in carrying a biting and scratching Amanda. He drops her back in the cell and then stands guard at the open door, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Quite the little spitfire, isn't she?" James congenially asks Fight with a smile on his face.

Fight doesn't answer him and instead just scowls at the smaller man. The little flea isn't worth the dirt on his shoes as far as the larger mutant is concerned. Magneto had warned him about this guy and he's not the least bit happy about having this insignificant squirt using his powers on him.

"How are you doing it?" James snarls, turning on her as she picks herself up off the floor. "How are you stopping my powers?"

She just gives him a cold hard stare and says nothing. She doesn't dare give away that the answer to his question is hanging around her neck.

"You're not a mutant," he growls. "Magneto made sure of that. Maybe he didn't give you enough."

She pales at the thought of another needle coming at her and she can feel a cold sweat form on her forehead, despite the coldness of the room. She decides that she needs to get hold of the situation and thinking about sharp pointy things isn't going to help her.

"I demand to be released," she states, turning her attention to the mutant who obviously has more muscles than brains. "Kidnapping and holding me against my will are both against the law."

"You ain't goin' nowhere, sweet cheeks," Fight replies with a sneer, giving her a lecherous look.

"Where's Hank?" she demands. "You do realize that the Cure will eventually wear off and he'll rip this place apart to get to me."

"Lookin' forward to it," he retorts as his sneer turns into a rather evil grin. "Wouldn't mind goin' a few more rounds with him."

Before she can come up with a retort, Magneto's voice reaches them, calling Fight and James out of the cell.

"I need a bathroom!" she demands, before they leave.

"That's what the hole's for," Fight laughs as he drags a still fuming James out of the room.

The door is shut before she can reach it and she spends more time and energy screaming, yelling and hitting it. After running out of steam, she steps back and as a nervous habit, grabs hold of the pendent on her necklace while she eyes the drain in the middle of the floor. He couldn't possibly be serious about the hole.

"She's right, you know," Hank states after her claim that he'll rip the place apart. "The Cure is temporary."

"I think we have a while yet," Magneto chuckles as he turns to go. "I can assure you that it'll be some time before I or any of my Brotherhood start losing sleep over you 'tearing this place apart'."

With a self satisfied smirk, he turns and leaves, securing the door behind him. Hank turns back to the see through wall as Fight and James start to leave. He hears the comment about the hole and his stomach sinks to vicinity of his cold feet.

"Well, that was less than exemplary," Magneto states in a displeased voice. "Perhaps you aren't the man for the job."

"Now, don't be sayin' that, Boss," Fight interjects as he pats James on the back and nearly sends him sprawling. "My buddy James did his best. That stupid cow just doesn't know what a nice guy he is. Maybe give him another chance to win her over."

"Well, at least we know your powers work on the simple minded," Magneto nearly growls. "Fight, we no longer have need of your muscle. You may go."

Fight hesitates and looks over to James. James gives him a small nod and the large mutant heads back upstairs. His head hangs down and he acts like a beaten puppy.

"While it appears that you have the ability to control some people, you obviously had no control over her," Magneto continues once Fight has shut the door. "The lady I need you to persuade will do more than knock you to the floor. She'll kill you if given the chance."

"She'll do what I want, trust me," James heatedly shoots back. "She'll paint herself purple with pink polka dots and run naked through Times Square if I want her to."

"However, your little demonstration back in that cell was...shall we say...lackluster," Magneto reminds him.

"I don't understand what went wrong," James sputters as he paces around the small space. "I was able to control her at the ball, but since then...McCoy! He's done something to her. Made her immune to my powers. Maybe the dose you gave her had gone bad...or maybe it wasn't enough."

"I gave her the same dosage as I gave McCoy and it was from the same bottle," Magneto sternly replies. "Trust me, the Cure worked just fine. It's not a mutation that's blocking your powers, but something else. McCoy didn't react to you and for that matter, neither did Fight once you were near her. There's shielding around their rooms, so whatever it is, doesn't effect you out here. Most interesting. I'll have to think about this."

"I can still do the job you want," James insists and Magneto gives a long, hard stare.

"Yes, I believe you can," Magneto finally agrees.

"When do you want me to leave?" James asks. "I know my powers didn't work around Amanda, but it's gotta be something McCoy did. No on else has ever been able to ignore me like that."

"You'll leave in the morning," Magneto instructs. "Motherboard will give you the information you need. Once you've made contact, if you can control her, bring her back here."

"Ok, that'll...," James starts while Magneto turns and heads up the stairs.

"Oh, and Jones?" Magneto casually calls over his shoulder. "Your little demonstration with Fight not withstanding, I expect you to never use your powers on anyone in my group ever again. Especially the ladies. Otherwise, I'll make sure that the first thing McCoy tears up when the Cure wears off is you."

"Fine," James nearly snarls.

"And one other thing," Magneto continues.

"What?" James snaps.

"If you are unable to control the lady in question and bring her back to me, don't bother coming back," Magneto states and then finishes ascending the stairs.

A moment later, the door at the top of the stairs softly clicks shut and James glares at it. Then he figures that since he's down here, he might as well have another go at Amanda. Now that he knows that she'll come at him swinging, he'll be prepared for it. Maybe some 'quality' time alone with her will help him figure out why he has no effect on her.

He spins around towards the shelves on the left and gives them a tug. He belatedly realizes that he has no idea how to get them open. It's entirely possible that only Magneto can open the damn things.

He spends several minutes trying to figure out how to get the damn thing to open with no luck. He kicks and bangs on the shelves, only in succeeding in hurting his hand. With one final snarl, he gives it one last kick and then heads back upstairs.

He slinks back to the room that was assigned to him and has a good pout. A short time later, a woman in her mid-twenties with short bright green hair arrives with his itinerary. He grumbles his thanks, knowing that he won't be able to bed any of the women in the house.

Once she's gone, he starts looking over the papers. There is the electronic ticket for his flight out already printed out, plus confirmation for a hotel and rental car. On another sheet of paper is the last known address for his target, where she's working and a picture of the form she's currently using.

Then it occurs to him. Magneto said not to use his powers on anyone in his group. However, this lady he's so interested in isn't part of his group, now is she?

With a sly smile, he realizes that maybe this little adventure won't be a complete bust.

Tears run down his face as he helplessly sits in his chair with his head in his hands. She's off in a corner crying in shame. After a couple of hours since Magneto, James and Fight paid a visit, the needs of her bladder finally over came her dignity and she used the damn hole.

He hadn't watched, but the speakers in his cell made sure he heard. Her quiet sobs all but rip his heart out. He blames himself for her being in the predicament and all he can hope is that someone will realize they're missing. While he knows that normal police wouldn't stand a chance in finding them, there's always a hope that the X-Men will find out and come looking for them. It's a slim chance, but it's the only one they've got.

Meanwhile, a few miles from where Hank forced the car off of the road, a family is settling down for the evening, reading one final bedtime story, getting a last drink of water and sweet kisses goodnight to the little ones. Then Mom and Dad cuddle up on the couch to watch the news before heading off to bed themselves. As the last light is turned off, their begonias start to play Beethoven's Fifth symphony...the ring tone for Hank's cell phone.