Dust to Dust
When the air filled her nostrils with that familiar smell of stale air, dirt, sweat and blood, Maura knew she was home. Musings over what happened on the main island were quickly pushed to the side. Her escorts had broken off to continue their work on establishing a new location. Walking through the tunnels, guards nodded a welcome and the prisoners merely gazed down at her feet. She spotted a well-toned criminal, his dull-red hair and black eyes staring at her coldly. Maura stepped up to the man, a light smile on her face. "Kyle, how are your cell mates doing?"
"Same. Fumio is still babbling like a record," responded the convict with a huff.
A dark look passed over his features, "The boy…don't know. He hasn't spent much time in the cell, with you guys keeping him busy and all."
"True." Maura gazed down the tunnel, her features loosening a bit. "Well, you might see more of him now."
Sending him a wicked grin, she continued walking down the tunnel, "Listen up, tonight you all get a day off and maybe a little surprise in form of a drink."
The prisoners cheered and the guards grinned ear to ear. Kyle just stood off to the side and watched the disappearing back of the Boss. He didn't want to know why they were getting a treat. It was unlike her. Something good must have happened on the mainland.
Maura turned and began her climb up to her room. She wasn't in a good mood, if anything she had grown anxious. And keeping the men happy kept them off her back or doubting her. She hadn't heard anything about Robin's apprehension and this silence was unnerving her. So, when she saw Egyed making his way down to her, Maura couldn't help but sigh with relief.
The doctor merely grabbed her arm and spun her around, so that the pair was heading down again. "Fumio lost it."
The abrupt tone and the lack of cheer in his eyes banished any form of relief. "What has he done, Egyed? What happened?"
Egyed swallowed at Maura's harsh tone. But who could blame the woman really. She had trusted the men for once and Fumio had to do go and mess it up. "We got back Robin's blood test results."
"There was a small presence of the reagent in his blood."
Silence and then her soft voice seeped into his mind laced with a crumbling disbelief, "Are you sure?"
"We had to do a brain scan to make sure he didn't suffer any internal injuries when he slammed into the water wall." Before Maura could cut in, Egyed speeded up his explanation, "Robin thought the lake was solid and tried to run across it. He fell, almost drowned and got chopped into fish bait if Carl hadn't shut down the fans."
"What did the scans show?"
"What the blood tests did. There is a high activity in certain parts. Their signature is a match to the dust, but it's a bit different."
"Why?" Maura shot Egyed a confused look as they entered the southern tunnel, "You're the only who can change the dust on its molecular level."
Egyed grinned, that prideful glint present once more in the green eyes, "Why thank you, Boss. But from what I can theorize right now, is that they mutated themselves to survive."
"Got me, that's something Robin can only tell us. Speaking of which," Egyed let go of his hold on Maura, "Fumio kinda lost it when he heard Robin escaped and figured the boy was playing him for a fool. The boy was already in shock when he realized he didn't escape and the near death experience…"
The doctor had no need to tell the rest. Maura put the two together and the fact that they were heading towards Robin's box made her pick up her pace. Sure enough, Fumio had not budged from his spot. The psychiatrist spotted Maura and took a step out to meet her.
"Boss, I can-"
Maura didn't even let the man get any more words in. Pulling out her gun, she shot him the leg. The force sent the Asian man falling onto his back. Screaming out in pain, he rose up on his elbows only to feel Maura's booted right foot hit him square in the face. His nose smashed in and a tooth floated down a river of blood. The man collapsed back on his back, his face swelling up.
He watched through a red haze as Maura bent down to retrieve the keys. "I trusted you, Fumio, to make the right decision. If Robin is beyond all hope, I swear I will not care if you are the most talented psychiatrist in this prison, I will kill you."
Rising, she re-holstered her gun. "Egyed take care of the doctor. Once he stops bleeding, throw him in one of the cells."
"Yes Boss." Grinning, Egyed pulled Fumio up by his arm and tossed the man over his shoulders. Fumio groaned in protest but his body was too focused on the pain in his face and leg. Yet, he could clearly sense the doctor's joy at his suffering.
Maura didn't wait for the two men to leave. Opening the cell door, she let the light seep into the small box. Lying on his side, staring dully at her, Robin gave no response. Bending down, she stretched out her hand, touching the boy's shoulder.
Catatonic blue eyes closed themselves and a small whimper escaped his throat. His arm pulled closer to his chest and she could tell that two fingers were broken. There was also a multitude of bruises and cuts that littered his shaking body. There was one nasty cut on his forehead; the black stitches a stark contrast to the pale skin. Maura knew what she had to do. It was the only way to bring the boy back to sanity. She felt her dormant maternal side slowly kick-in.
"Come on, boy time to get you someplace better." Sliding her arms underneath the small body, she lifted Robin off of the ground and eased out back into the tunnel. The boy was lighter than she suspected him to be, not a good thing in his current condition.
Robin began to squirm in her arms, his free arm weakly striking out at her chest, "L-let me go, p-please no-no more, p-please S-Slade."
Maura shifted her arms, so Robin was laying his head on her shoulder, almost in a baby-like position. "Slade is not here, Robin, only me."
Those dull eyes gazed up her face no longer catatonic, but there was no recognition. "Y-you're lying."
Slade chuckled as he stood behind Maura, his gray eye shining in dark glee. "Now, Robin, it is not polite to call a woman a liar."
Robin groaned and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to shut out the villain. Burying his face into Maura's shoulder, he vaguely felt a soft breeze and soft movement encompassing him. Taking a deep breath, he could smell the bitter whiff of gun smoke but also the crisp smells of the outside world. Burying his head deeper, Robin tried to absorb as much of that smell as he could to help him drive away the black shadow that tagged behind the woman carrying him.
The walk was quiet. The prisoners who were in their cell all stopped what they were doing when Maura walked past them, carrying a quaking boy in her arms. Upon reaching the cell, Curt watched with morbid curiosity as Maura leaned Robin upon her shoulder, reaching into her pocket to withdraw the keys. The metal barred door swung in and the pair drifted inside. Curt pointed to the bottom cot and Maura nodded a thanks. Lying the boy softly on the blanket, she was about to break away when Robin moaned. "No, no, no."
"It is alright Robin. You're in your old cell. Curt is here. You're not in the medical room or in the box."
The words made their way into the boy's mind. In the sea of confusion, there was a small ounce of life flickering to life in his eyes. "Mmm..."
"Mmm...dr-drug..." The sheepish voice betrayed the disgust that welled up in those all-seeing eyes. No wonder the boy wore a mask; those eyes were truly windows to the soul.
"That's right; it's time for the dose. I'll send someone here with it. In the meantime, rest, ok." Patting Robin on the shoulder, Maura watched as the head nodded weakly, those eyes closing in on themselves.
Turning, Maura tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, "Listen. Robin is going to need your help here for the next few days. But first off, I want you to swear that you will tell no one that this boy here is Robin. I want only few people to know his eyes."
"Me swear," grinned Curt.
"Good." Pointing a finger at the man, Maura let her voice go numb, "Watch him. He's one of yours now."
"Feel into the negatives huh?" deduced the wild-eyed Curt.
"More in the imaginary numbers," muttered Maura.
Leaving the twosome in the cell, Maura trekked back up to the medical room. She would need Egyed to reset the boy's broken fingers, but right now, she wanted to heal the boy's mind. At least get him centered into a reality. Clenching her fist, Maura tried to breathe her way through the rage of Fumio's actions. She had always felt that the man truly never supported her, especially after the dust incident. Mutiny would be his cup of tea. But never in a million years would she have thought that the man would destroy a special case prisoner.
Upon entering the medical room, Maura watched impassively as Egyed ordered Carl and Ben to haul a grunting Fumio down into one of the double cells. The two enemies didn't even spare each other a passing glance. The tension drained out of the room as the guards disappeared down the turn of the hall.
Noticing her presence, Egyed jerked his head towards the computer. Sitting down, the doctor wiped blood from his hands. "Any physical manifestations?"
"Two broken fingers, cuts and bruises," stated Maura, taking her place by his desk.
"That serious?" Egyed sent her a twisted smile, "He's in the late stages it seems. Robin's got one heck of a will to live."
Maura snorted, her eyes narrowing, "That is old news. Can we still assume that everything he said or will say will not be affected by the dust?"
The doctor propped his elbow on the desk and drummed his fingers against his chin, "Hard to say, especially with the dust coming into activity. This might be a curse in that he is no longer a clean subject, but a blessing in that whoever he is seeing might push him into a confession."
Egyed nodded and pointed to the screen where the blood results and brain scan were present. "The dust has only recently been activated. Majority of the reagent remnants is inactive but there are still some in the awaking stage."
Maura bit the corner of her lip. "Can you tell when he was affected by the dust?"
"Well, to learn the whole story, we need him to tell it. But from what I can see, most of active remnants are deep within his brain. The reagent in his blood is barely active and there is a majority that remains inactivate. So..." Clicking his tongue, Egyed paused to word his sentence, "we're talking about a major dose maybe all of what was stolen from us. And the fact that most of the dust in his blood remains inactive shows that someone was able to overload the reagent. However, since he was in the late stages, some of the reagent was able to take root in his brain, where it laid dormant. With all this pressure and near-death experience, it triggered the dust to reactivate itself. But how long it has been in his system, is hard to say."
Maura frowned, "Reactive itself? None of the prisoners who were exposed to the dust didn't undergo this type of activity."
"Nope, this makes this whole situation bizarre. But I can tell you, from what I see, the remnants were able to reactive themselves because they mutated."
Surprise lit Maura's face. The dust wasn't supposed to be this sophisticated. Was it because it was Robin's mind or the fact that the reagent was able to be overloaded instead of being able to carry out its' purpose that sparked the mutation? Or did Slade tweak the dust? "Can you tell if any changes have been done?"
"No changes what so ever."
Maura bit the corner of her lip and gazed down at the corner of the desk. "It always mutation that causes the most problems, isn't it?"
"Yep," grinned Egyed back.
Maura shifted and stared out of the cell. "The dust must still be trying to fulfill its' orders."
Egyed grimaced, "I wouldn't bet on it. The mutation might have changed the orders."
"Ok then…well, keep looking for a way to shut it down. We need Robin alive," ordered Maura as she fixed her stern gaze back on the doctor.
Egyed nodded, "Yes Boss."
"Oh," Maura fought to keep exhaustion out of her tone, "Is it still a good idea to keep injecting him with the drug?"
"Never did a double whammy, so I wouldn't risk it."
"Alright then, we'll start cutting him back for he needs one right now. And I'll think of a new leash."
"Don't forget to take a break."
Sending him a small smirk, Maura left the room and made her way up to her own room. Closing the door behind her, she leaned against it. Pulling off her gun, she gazed deep into its' craftsmanship. It had been a year and a half since she last had to fire the weapon. Today, she had made up for lost time and fired it twice. The quick, undisputed power it held was a rush of exhilarating power. Letting out a pain-filled grunt, she threw the gun against the wall. Hatred roared through her body as she stalked over to the small shower and undressed in a flurry of clothes. Stepping in, she let the warm water hit her and began to scrub furiously. Falling to such primitive tactics infuriated her. Maura was from one of the prevalent Italian mafia families. Getting her hands dirty didn't bother her; it was seeing the black peppered powder that became markers of the ultimate dirty job.
But most of all, Maura was a woman. And as a woman, she felt it wasn't her place to take a life. No. A woman's place was behind her man whispering the words needed to get the job done. Women were serpents and had brought countries to their knees all without raising a finger. Yet, this place called for different tactics and she had to be both the mother and father figure here...to take on all responsibilities.
Feeling a little better, Maura turned off the water and stepped out. Drying quickly and dressing herself in a clean uniform, Maura let her hair hang down, giving her a younger appearance. Flopping down on her cot, she stared up at the ceiling. Maura knew she would have to tread carefully around Robin. The boy was in a fragile state. That much was clear in how the boy clung to her, like a lost child to his mother. Closing her eyes, Maura exhaled deeply. She would have to become a mother figure to Robin for him to heal and tell her everything. The woman wasn't that in tune with her maternal side. Rolling onto her side, she pulled out a worn fading black and white picture from her pillowcase. On it, a young teenage Maura and her mother were smiling in front of their Tuscany house. Her mother had long hair that reached her back but held the same facial features as her daughter. Yet, instead of omitting the authoritative power Maura held, the mother shone with affection and love. "Give me strength, mother."
"Give me strength, please," prayed Robin as he clung to the small pillow, stuffing his face into it. The much needed sleep and the drug some nurse had given him had not lasted long enough. Slade had yelled into his ear jolting the boy back into his nightmare turned reality. The said man was leaning against the corner between the cot and the bars, the same place where Robin used to seek solitude and hope. But the place was now stained with the man's presence.
The warmth of the drug grew cold. Slade had made sure that the super hero had no more comforts to fall back on through his taunts and descriptions of the ruthless beating Robin had endured in the box. "Come now, boy. This is pathetic. You truly have gone soft in my absence," sneered Slade as his eye stared out into the prison, calculating everything in one glance.
Robin's head shot up and his eyes blazed with anger as he shouted. "I hate you! This is all your fault!"
"How is this-" Slade waved his hand in the air, "My fault?"
Pure rage shoved aside the fear and pain. Lunging forward, Robin was about to punch Slade hard in the face but strong arms came out of nowhere. "Let me go!"
"Robin, no one is there." The deep voice of Kyle rumbled into the boy's body, shaking away the blinding fear. Weariness tugged the boy's body to lie limp in the hit man's grasp. Curt bounced in front of Robin, waving his hand in front of the tired eyes.
Slade merely scuffed at the crazy man and fixed his gaze back out of the cell. "Rest, Robin. I have plans for you."
"Wonderful," muttered Robin.
Curt flashed his maniac smile, "No one. No one. No one...Join the club!"
Robin continued to watch Curt babble on, speaking in math lingo or none at all. He didn't care really. All, Robin knew was that he was becoming the man in front of him.