With all the excitement in so little time, the children were in the bed and asleep in record time. For the first time, Tabitha was the one to tuck them in and give them goodnight kisses, per their demand. She was glad for it; as she finished tucking in the boys, Tabitha found out that plans had been altered; Wyatt wanted to do the procedure that night. With his best friend’s help, he was able to finish whatever concoction he needed to make sure that Tabitha would return back to normal.
Another thing that she was thankful for; the professor did not try to explain the procedure in vast detail like she wanted to. It wasn’t that Tabitha didn’t care; her main objective was that she was cured and life for her could get back to normal. Instead of talking about the procedure, the two talked about other random things.
“How’d you meet Wyatt?” she blurted out as they made their way to the college. Everyone was used to Wyatt and Jamila using the lab after hours and no one would question anything that they were doing.
The question made Jamila laugh a little.
“We went to the same college.”
“You two are really close…” it made her blush slightly. She didn’t mind that the very attractive professor blatantly flirted with her… it was the fact that he also blatantly flirted with Jamila and she would always calmly brush it off, “You don’t have a problem with him… flirting with me, do you…?” she continued. It was enough for Jamila to glance at her with widened eyes.
“Wait, are you trying to say…” it made her immediately laugh, “Tabs, I’m married; happily married! Okay… I do have a problem with him flirting with you… but I have a problem with Wyatt flirting, period!”
“He’s a great friend; he’s my best friend. But, ‘Rico Suave’ is gonna get himself into a lot of trouble, again, if he keeps flirting with every woman he sees!”
“… ‘Again’?” Tabitha raised an eyebrow at her.
“… I may or may not have been responsible for him getting his hand broke the very first time we met…” she put her attention back to the road. Tabitha raised both eyebrows at her.
“What did you do?!”
“We were in the computer room one day. I had never seen him before until that day. Here I am, trying to study, stressing out, pregnant and I felt someone’s hand on my back! They’re moving their hand to my shoulder and… let’s just say that I surprised the both of us…”
“Oh, dear Lord… what happened?!”
“Well… I know Aikido…”
“You know martial arts?”
“I would have never guessed that…” Tabitha slowly shook her head. When she put two and two together, her eyes widened and shot another look at the professor, “Doc!!”
“What?! He had it coming! Heard the snaps before I realized what I had done… he was lucky it was his non-writing hand!”
“Remind me to never get on your bad side…”
“Anyway! What I didn’t know was that he was very popular at Columbia, especially with the females. Oh, he told anyone who cared to listen that I broke his hand for no reason!”
“Yeah; never mind I’m pregnant with triplets! So, I either had to go and apologize or face the wrath of a million heifers!”
“Hell, no! I told him off! I told him he got what he deserved messing with me like that! Do you know what that nutcase said to me? ‘You were stressed, you’re pregnant; I was trying to be nice and give you a massage’!” Jamila did her best impersonation of Wyatt. The women roared with laughter. Jamila sighed, “Well, he kept bugging the shit outta me for the rest of the semester… to the point where I got used to it. I think I’m the only one who’s never even kissed him; we’ve been friends ever since.” she finished. Tabitha smiled and nodded; it was like that for herself and her best friend, Tony… except without the breaking of any bones! He was the new transfer student in the 7th grade and she helped him find his way around the school. She was adamant about sticking with him; she found him very interesting because of his northern accent… as well as being the cutest guy who ever had spoken to her at the time!
Jamila parked her vehicle and the two got out, heading towards the lab. She didn’t know if the professor had felt it but Tabitha did; there was something odd about the air around the building. Jamila took her phone out to let Wyatt know that they were outside when Tabitha saw it; the door to the building was hanging off of its hinges. She immediately grabbed the professor.
“W-what?” she blinked. Tabitha nodded towards the door, “What the hell…”
“Something ain’t right. Doc… stay behind me.” she warned. As much or as little martial arts training the professor had, Tabitha knew that her powers would easily prevail. The two quietly but swiftly went inside the building and was immediately overwhelmed with the smell of burnt flesh. Both knew the unwanted, familiar smell and started to run through the building.
She wasn’t used to being so fast; she had missed it until she heard Jamila gasp.
“… No… Wyatt!!” Jamila found his charred body in the middle of the lab. Tabitha got into the room just in time to stop Jamila from touching the body. She leaned down, covering her nose and mouth; his body was still smoking. When she carefully touched him, she felt it; it was as if some of the voltage transferred to her body. She looked back at Jamila who was in tears.
“Doc… he’s been electrocuted…”
“W-what? But… how…” she was interrupted by a noise from outside. Tabitha perked up.
“Whoever did this to Wyatt, I can handle them… you can’t…” she looked dead at her. Jamila could only nod as Tabitha left. She tried her best to look everywhere in the building but found nothing. She made her way outside hoping that whoever killed Wyatt wouldn’t go back in the building. She was lucky; she saw someone making their way across the campus grounds. She gave chase and almost froze up. It was a man, she knew by the toned muscles. His hair was cropped short… and was as pure white as her own, “Hey! Stop right there!” she yelled at the guy. She was surprised when he stopped.
Tabitha was about to turn him around until he turned to face her. She took an immediate step back.
“I was wondering how long it was going to take you to catch up to me… Tabby…”
“… Tony! W-what…” she was at a loss for words. He gently grabbed a strand of her hair and examined it.
“I missed you. I was so worried about you.” he looked at her. She was still speechless. After all that time, why did he finally look for her, “Nothing to say, hmm? You know, I thought you were dead; we all did. But, General First told us that you were okay; that when you recovered, you would be deployed overseas. He saw how the… accident improved you greatly, more than the initial process. So, he made a few adjustments; asked me did I want to be the first to try it out.” Tony started explaining. Tabitha looked at him fully and shook her head.
“He lied. Tony, I died…”
“I know. But you were revived.”
“N-no… he dumped me in that damn alley! To cover up the fact that I was killed!!” she tried to reason with him. However, Tony slowly shook his head at her. He got a hold of more hair in his hand and yanked her hard towards him.
“Oh, Tabitha… he knew that you say that. He told me that you would lie to me… just to cover up the fact that you went AWOL.” he said. She widened her eyes at him despite his firm grip on her hair.
“What?! I don’t know what that bastard did to you; you know I would never go AWOL!” she quickly explained.
“Doesn’t matter, anymore. Seeing how you roasted those bums, someone had to capture you before you really got out of hand. So… we’ll be on our way, now. Oh… and please tell your professor friend to not do anything stupid…” he stopped looking at her. Her attention went from his face to his stretched out arm, almost pulsating with energy. He forced her to turn and she was looking in the terrified eyes of the professor.
“Doc; I told you to stay put!!”
“I… I couldn’t…” she shook with fear. She couldn’t let her face the guy alone, regardless of what powers he possessed. Tabitha was her family now and she wanted to make sure that she wasn’t harmed.
“Stop this, Tony! I ain’t going nowhere!”
“Oh, but you will. Because I don’t think you want her to end up like her colleague in the lab… right?” he smiled. She couldn’t explain it; it was one thing to threaten her… but he was threatening the professor. Had it not been for her, Tabitha would still be in that alley, freaking out over her powers. She owed Jamila and her family a lot… and she was about to willingly save her.
Something came over her. Before she had time to think about it, Tabitha placed her hands on Tony’s stomach and let her lightning flow out, sending him flying a few feet away. He immediately got up but kept his smile, even laughing a little.
“I see. I didn’t come here to fight, Tabby. I wanted to do this the easy way. But… seeing that you’re willing to fight…” he quickly charged towards her. She was taken aback at how quick he was until she realized what the initial procedure was supposed to do: increased speed, increased stamina… increased strength. It was no wonder she was able to go through the building faster.
She sidestepped him right before he plowed into her. She kicked him in the back and was slightly astonished that she applied her lightning ability to her feet; something that she wasn’t trying to do. The force of the kick sent him flying but she knew that he would recover quickly; she took a military stance and waited for his next attempt of an attack. He laughed at her yet again.
“I don’t wanna fight you, Tony but you ain’t giving me much of a choice!”
“You’re really set on defending that professor, huh? You know that the two of them were just gonna take a sample of your blood and reproduce you, right?” he came after her once more. He attempted a punch but she grabbed his arm and held it across his own neck.
“You fucking liar! You killed Wyatt for nothing! They were trying to help me; you actually think I wanna be like this?! I don’t!!” she applied pressure towards his neck with every word. Tony grabbed her arm and shocked her as much as he could, making her immediately let go. It was painful for sure, she realized. However, she noticed that the only thing it did was surprise her; it felt to her that she actually absorbed his electricity.
As she let go of him, she felt a sharp blow to her stomach; he had kicked her. Before she could recover, he landed a hard punch to her face, sending her to the ground.
“Tabitha!!” she heard the professor scream. She knew that she would try to come to her rescue and wanted to tell her to stay put. However, she felt his foot on her neck, holding her in place as well as hindering her voice.
“Enough playing around. I have my orders and they won’t be ignored. Besides; why wouldn’t you want to remain like this? Well… seeing that I’m stronger than you right about now, it’s understandable…” he actually taunted her. Tabitha awkwardly tried to reach for his foot but Tony was quicker; he immediately grabbed her hand. Even with her trying to shock him, he only flinched but never let go of her hand. With a precise and hard squeeze, he instantly broke her hand, smiling as she yelled out in pain, “Don’t make me break the other one, Tabby…”
She couldn’t take it anymore. Not thinking, Jamila ran towards the two as fast as she could and launched at Tony, pushing him off of Tabitha. She blindly started to throw punches, some missing their intended target, others hitting him in the back of his head.
“Get off of her; leave her alone!! What did she do to you; what did Wyatt ever do to you?!?!” she yelled with each throw, tears streaming down her face. She wasn’t there to save her best friend, she was going to do something to save her new one.
Annoyed, he growled and flipped the professor off of his back. He wrapped his hand tightly around her throat, narrowing his eyes at her as she tried to pry his hand away. He easily picked her up, lifting her off the ground.
“You shouldn’t have done that, professor! I had no intentions of killing you but you’ve given me no other choice…”
“N-no… STOP! Put her down…” Tony looked towards Tabitha. She was still on the ground, holding her broken hand in pain, “I’ll… I’ll go… just, don’t…” her voice squeaked out. She was surprised when he started to laugh and the professor started gasping for air.
“It’s too late, my dear…” he turned his attention back to his captive. She flinched as he started to apply more pressure on top of the small shocks he gave her; he wanted to make sure that Tabitha watched as he slowly killed the professor.
Watching him torture her new friend, something inside of Tabitha snapped. Her vision blurred. Even as Tony noticed that his powers were giving out, it didn’t stop Tabitha from blacking out. Her mind had left her but her body reacted. Tony looked over as Tabitha made her way towards the two and a sliver of fear crept up his spine. Her usual glimmer from her eyes had disappeared; they were empty… and full of rage. Before he could apply all of his powers to the professor’s neck, they quickly diminished. He was in need of a refill of the serum; he hadn’t told Tabitha the whole truth: while the general did improve the serum and the procedure, the effects still wore out. He had taken too long to apprehend his former best friend.
Tony dropped the professor and decided to make a run for it; there was no way he would be any match to an enraged mutant. He was stopped short as the professor gathered up the little strength that she had left, got up and gave him an elbow to the face. Surprised, he fell to the ground and looked at her.
“That’s for fucking with my family…” she panted out.
“You… bitch…” he started. However, he had completely forgotten that someone was after him. He was brought down roughly and was staring into the voided brown eyes of his former best friend, “T-Tabby…” was the last words she let him speak; her hands immediately wrapped around his neck, applying as much pressure and lightning as she could. With the serum depleted, he was back to normal… and very vulnerable to her powers. Jamila watched in fear as his screams became gargled and his body slowly charred. However Tabitha heard none of it; she was still enraged and continued to electrocute him.
As the smell of burnt flesh entered the air, she finally stopped her attack on him. Out of breath, she glared down at the charred remains of her best friend… and finally snapped out of her enraged state. She slowly got up, still looking at the corpse… and immediately felt remorse. She knew what happened… and couldn’t stop it. She didn’t want to really think about it, as she glanced over at the professor.
“I… I should be asking you that…” she had seen the look in the young woman’s eyes as she quickly… and mercilessly killed the man; there wasn’t anything anyone could have done to prevent it short of dying themselves.
“… let’s get the hell outta here…”
Jamila suffered a badly sprained elbow while Tabitha suffered a broken hand… and a sprained heart. She vaguely recalled all of the details after she blacked out but there was no need for the details; she had snapped and killed her best friend. She asked herself constantly if she had a choice and remembered that she really didn’t; he was about to kill the professor. The one person who showed that she really cared about her; Tabitha was not going to let that happen. A life taken to save another… but was it really justice; was it really fair? All she knew was that Tony Williams had been brainwashed… and the one thing that she remembered him saying was that his orders would be carried out. She may had been the motivated one but he was the determined one; even brainwashed, she knew that once he was given an order, he would carry it out to the end. Dead or alive… Tabitha would’ve been apprehended.
There was no covering up his death; the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command was called to investigate it after she informed the police about his body. Once interviewed, she told the entire story. Maybe it was for the best; if she was locked up, she wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else. Then again, with her telling every single detail, especially about the general, there was a slight smile that wanted to show knowing that Operation Recharge would be discontinued and he would be put away as well.
The door opening surprised Jamila and she immediately ran to hug her friend. Tabitha smiled as she returned the hug.
“Tabs! So… this means… you’re not being charged?”
“Nope. Thing is, all this talk about ‘Operation Recharge’ is bigger than what I’ve done.”
“Yeah. It was illegal… right from the start. They’ve actually been trying to track that general down. And… in response to my cooperation, I will not be charged with any criminal wrongdoing…” she straightened her face out and looked at the professor seriously. Jamila laughed and gave her another tight hug. The two went into the kitchen and sat down at the table, “Bad news is… they’re kicking me out.”
“Oh, no Tabs…” she wanted to cry. Getting to know her over the year, she knew that the woman wanted to make a career out of the military. She felt that once the procedure was done to rid her of the mutant strand and everything was fully explained, that she would be welcomed back in.
“It’s okay. I’m getting an honorable discharge. Kinda sucks but… General First will be going to the stockade.” she finished. The professor raised an eyebrow at her and Tabitha laughed, “The brig.” she remembered that Jamila was a former Marine’s wife.
“… How’s your hand?” she stared at Tabitha’s cast around her right hand. She traced the contours of the cast and slightly smiled.
“Actually… it doesn’t hurt anymore. Stopped hurting the other day. Don’t even throb, either… is that normal?”
“… No. Weird…”
“Hmm… lucky I’m left-handed, huh?”
“I guess so…” Jamila was still stuck on what she was just told. She wasn’t a medical doctor… but she knew that only after a couple of days after breaking any type of bone, people would still have some pain. It was obvious that Tabitha possessed other super abilities (she was inhumanly fast, as witnessed during the ordeal at the school); maybe her fast healing was one of them. It made her realize the obvious, “Tabs… you know that I’ve taught you everything that I know… right?”
“Yeah.” she sighed. She knew that this conversation was coming. Now that Wyatt was dead, it seemed as though all hope was lost as far as finding a cure, “There’s… gotta be others who can help me… right?” she actually wanted the thought to stay to herself.
“I was… actually just thinking the same thing. You know… Wyatt and I graduated from the same college; Columbia offers a great DNA analyst program…” she tried to hint out. Tabitha slowly nodded but then suddenly looked at the professor.
“What; you’re telling me to go to college…? And, where is Columbia, exactly?”
“New York. Now… you know I would never ask you to leave. I’m just suggesting that you could learn more there. I don’t know any other DNA analysts who would be able to help… Wyatt was the only one…” she held back her tears. She took a deep breath and looked at the young woman, “I know you wanna be normal, again. This may be your last chance…” she finished. Tabitha knew that she was right; she did still want to become normal, again. Maybe in two years she would either learn enough to help Dr. Lindsey come up with the antidote or become good friends with someone who would be willing to help.
“I guess you’re right. You’d never tell me anything wrong…”