E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; the character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be-------------------------------------------
a patron of the arts, I won't object. ;-) Oh, and Bob and his bunch are all mine - keep your hands off!
Summary: Logan joins the Angel Investigations team in the hopes of protecting Brendan from supernatural attacks, but Bren might not
be their only target.
Notes: Improves upon / takes place after the events of "X3" and shortly after "Wake Up Dead".
You knew it was a bad fire season when you could smell the smoke all the way in Boy’s Town. Or maybe he was just imagining that the smog and the exhaust smelled like smoke - Bren just wasn’t sure.
It wasn’t a good night, and he supposed he could imagine that he only thought he smelled smoke. If things weren’t bad enough - and by the Gorgons they were; they were hideous, as bad as they’d ever been - he had to have a huge fight with Kier out in front of Sin. Oh, it was so stupid too. He was stressed out from all this “chosen” business, and Kier convinced him that going out for the night would be “fun”, forgetting that this was inevitably more fun for him than it was for Bren.
Boy’s Town at night was essentially a meat market, especially on the weekends. Even walking down the street you had guys obviously checking you out, especially if you were young and attractive. And damn it, he was - well, when he wasn’t in demon face - but no one ever noticed him if he was with Kier. Everybody looked at Kier; their eyes were riveted to him. And why not? He could totally understand it. Kier was gorgeous; he had movie star looks, and he was eternally young, and then he had that whole vampire charm thing - and no matter how Angel denied it, vampires did have a charm beyond mere mortals. Since Kier had oodles of charm before he was vamped, he was bloody dangerous now. It wasn’t Bob level charm, but it couldn’t have been, as only a god could have that level of charisma and not be crushed under its weight.
Kier could have any man he wanted, and he flirted as a matter of course in the bite club, but he had made it clear he was a one man guy, and he’d chosen him. Fine and good - Bren even believed this. But sometimes - and oh damn it, this embarrassed him to his very core - he got a bit jealous. Kier just seemed to go overboard with the flirting, like tonight. When the cute Latino bartender at Sin started giving Kier free drinks (which admittedly he mainly passed on to him, because Kier wasn’t much for drinking stuff that wasn’t blood), Bren just couldn’t take it anymore. All the frustrations of the past few days just exploded out of him, and he had a royal shit fit of embarrassingly epic proportions. It was an argument that spilled out onto the street, and he was ashamed at the memory of it. Since when was he such a drama queen?
Bren finally stormed off in a disgusted huff, and Kier was too pissed off to follow him. Bren had been wandering the streets of Boy’s Town for a while, being sized up appreciatively by a few men who passed him by, some throwing looks that were obvious invitations. Although he couldn’t help but look at them in return, he took none of them up on it. He loved Kier, he really did … and if he was honest with himself at all, it scared the living shit out of him. The only other guy he’d ever loved was Matt, and look what happened to him. Okay, Kier was already a vampire, but he could be dusted, killed just as dead as Matt was. And then there was the whole thing that he only ever really met him because he was supposed to seduce him for Wolfram and Hart, which didn’t exactly engender a great deal of trust. Yes, he’d turned his back on them because he didn’t appreciate being treated like a cheap whore, but it still didn’t offset the fact that their whole relationship had started wi! th deception. It didn’t make someone feel very good about the themselves.
God, he felt like such an idiot. Why did he just go off like that? Yeah, he was frustrated and scared, but that didn’t give him a reason to take it out on Kier, especially when he was just trying to distract him from his troubles. If he was any man at all he’d turn around now, go back to Sin, and apologize profusely. If he was any kind of man at all.
Apparently he wasn’t any kind of man at all.
He dug his iPod out of his pocket and plugged one of the earphones in, leaving the other out so he could hear anything that might come charging towards him. He set it to random shuffle, and the first thing that came up was Alice In Chains’ “We Die Young”. Ha - was his iPod now like the Way Station jukebox? Layne Staley’s raspy voice growled in his ear, “Scary’s on the wall, Scary’s on his way -” Which really was a reminder he didn’t need. It was even creepier if you knew Layne had been dead for quite some time, and did indeed die fairly young.
He’d asked Rags if there was any way he could talk to the Gorgons, change their mind about him. Rags said he could talk to them all he wanted, but change their minds? Unlikely. Gods were as stubborn as donkeys, but presumably they smelled better. Well, most of them.
He was wondering about how gods smelled - thinking about it, did Bob have a smell? Oh, now that was going to bug him - but he caught sight of a shadow moving as he crossed the mouth of an alley. He didn’t think much of it, as this was actually a narrow side street where guys were known to have a quick assignation or two, especially with the hustlers who worked the streets and bars around here. But when he saw a flash of silver, he knew it wasn’t a guy ducking out of a quick fuck but yet another assassin. Terrific.
His X-Men training kicked in instinctively and he ducked the knife as it whipped past his head, but the man who threw it had lunged at him and managed a tackle. He caught him with vice like arms and bodily threw him into the alley. He hit the wall pretty hard, but he’d already let his Brachen side out, so it didn’t hurt as bad as it could have.
He barely even saw the next weapon coming in, he just saw movement, but by now he had switched off thinking and just fallen back on everything he had learned - Logan would have been proud of him. He grabbed the man’s arm before it even registered it was an arm, and Bren twisted it sharply, the crack of bone echoing off the walls as the man screamed, and a ton of bricks hit him on the head, sending him falling down onto the asphalt on his hands and knees, his head swimming. He saw a leg in his peripheral vision, and he did a leg sweep, taking the guy down. But before he could recover, he was hauled up to his feet by the back of his neck - whoever had him had a strong, cold grip - and someone else grabbed his arms. “Stupid little boy, you left your protector behind,” a voice snarled. It sounded either mildly demonic or gravelly Human; it was kind of hard to tell. He was shoved face first into the wall, so he had no idea who had him at this moment. He guessed there were at l! east four or five of them.
“So who do you clowns work for? The Jotuns?” Bren asked, as if unconcerned. He actually had no idea who the Jotuns were; that had been Giles’s suggestion, figuring that most gods, demons, and others in the know would consider it an insult. He really had to ask Giles who they were.
“The Jotuns?” the growling guy replied in disbelief. Oddly, his breath smelled like peanut butter. “What do you take us for, amateurs?”
“Actually, yes,” Angel said, ripping him off Bren and giving him a crippling kick to the gut that robbed him of all his air.
“Vampire!” One of the mercenaries shouted, and as one pulled out a stake, someone grabbed his arm from behind and rammed the stake through his own torso. It wasn’t in his heart, but damn, from the noise he made as he dropped to the ground - a high, tea kettle whistle - you could easily imagine that it hurt.
“You should watch where you point those things,” Kier told him helpfully, adding insult to injury while kicking him down. He was in vamp face, his forehead protruding over yellow eyes and his mouth seemingly overstuffed with animalistic teeth, but damn if he didn’t look really beautiful all the same.
Bren saw that these were very Human looking demons, if they were indeed demons at all. Sometimes it was hard to tell, and in a dark alley in the middle of a fight, it could be especially difficult. One of them whipped out a handgun, which seemed really unsporting of him. Didn’t these guys like bladed weapons?
Before he could do much more than show the weapon, a bolt of blue lightning shot out and jumped up the barrel of the gun, making him shout and drop the gun in pain, his hand still smoldering slightly. “Since when do you guys use guns?” Naomi wondered. Electricity was still dripping in thick blue drops from her fingertips. There were three guys left standing, all wedged between Angel and Naomi on one side and Kier on the other, and they looked both confused and scared. This wasn’t the scenario they imagined, he supposed.
The man Angel had kicked, the one with peanut butter breath, suddenly straightened up with an inhuman noise, and Bren could see his eyes had faint orange glow, as did his fist, which he aimed straight at Bren. Oh shit. “You think you can stop the servants of Letum, mortals?”
Something dropped down from the roof, landing right beside the leader of the Letum. Almost no one had time to register that it was Logan before he cut off the man’s raised arm. “Yeah, Stumpy, I think I can,” Logan said, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him against the wall.
“How do you know he’s stumpy?” Kier wondered breezily. “Have you seen him naked?”
“Who are you fucks?” Logan asked the one armed man, ignoring Kier. “How many of them are you?”
Even though blood was spouting from his severed arm, the leader of the Letum looked not only unmoved, but positively contemptuous. His eyes were still glowing orange, like the interior of a volcano. “You cannot hurt me, vermin,” he said, grabbing Logan by the throat. “I’m infused with the power of the divine.”
“What a coincidence,” he replied, and just from the way Logan’s shoulders moved, he knew what was happening.
Bob couldn’t be here for whatever reason, that god war or whatever, but he'd left Logan with some of his power. Bren didn’t know how much; no one knew how much. Logan didn’t exactly say, although he said he could “handle” it, implying that too much Bob power was hard to handle. It brought to Bren’s mind a scary mental picture of Logan in Jean’s place, totally nuts and infused with too much power, but so far he very rarely used it, if at all. You could kind of forget he even had it.
Except in situations like this, where they were confronted with some god powered fruitcake. He actually saw a reflected glow from the blue energy filling his eyes, but what let Bren know that the god power was out was the look on the Letum’s leader’s face. His expression collapsed like a newspaper in the rain, and even the orange glow faded. He looked like the guy who just realized there was nothing behind door number three but an IRS auditor. “Oh shit,” he gasped, sounding strangely Human. “Who are you?”
“I ask the questions,” Logan said, and his voice had dropped half an octave. It wasn’t a god voice exactly, but it was edging close enough to make everyone uncomfortable. “How many of them are you? Where are the rest?”
He could still lie, but having Logan here pretty much guaranteed that even if he tried, they’d instantly know. But just from the look on his face and the fading orange light, Bren didn’t think the guy had the balls to lie to Logan right now. “We’re … we’re all here.”
Logan glanced around suspiciously, his eyes still glowing in that really unnerving way. Not that it wasn’t nice he had god power he could call up when they needed it, it was just … creepy. In a way. Maybe freaky was the better word. “There’s six of you?” The withering judgment was plain in his voice.
The leader raised his chin, attempting dignity, but really it looked like he was trying to blend into the wall so he could escape from Logan. “The world had forgotten about Letum, but we have not.”
“You should have,” Logan replied, and punched him in the stomach. It was only when Logan turned aside and blood splattered, the leader falling to the pavement in two easy pieces, that anyone noticed he’d actually been killed. “If you wanna live, you have two hours to escape the state. If you’re still here after the deadline, I’ll rip you to pieces and keep your heads in jars. Got me?”
The conscious ones nodded vigorously, some stealing glances at the body of their dead leader, as if expecting him to regenerate. Even if he had that ability, being killed by someone with god power had probably negated the ability.
Kier stepped aside reluctantly, and reverted to Human face, if only to seem less threatening. But even so, as the remainder of the Letum people snuck off, they had to walk around the body of the guy who’d been skewered on his own stake, so they kept shooting Kier nervous glances.
As soon as they were gone - well, the ones capable of walking - Logan closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened his eyes, the blue glow was gone. “Jesus, they were a pathetic bunch,” he muttered.
“What number was this?” Naomi wondered. “Eight? Ten? I’ve lost track of all these weirdo cults.”
“They’re not precisely cults,” Angel said. “Well, some of them. Some are just puppets of the most obscure gods imaginable.”
“Who the hell was Letum?” Kier asked, crossing the alley to him. Bren gave him a guilty look, grimacing at having to make an apology about being such an asshole in front of everybody, but Kier hugged him, and whispered in his ear, “We’ll talk about it later.” Bren hugged him back, glad about that.
“I’ll have to ask Giles,” Angel admitted. “I haven’t heard of this one either.”
Naomi sighed, and sounded tired. “How many gods are there again?”
Angel glanced at Logan, who simply shrugged, and Angel scowled. Apparently he’d been hoping he had a firm number. “Thousands,” Angel finally replied, sticking with the vague number.
“Didn’t Bob even hint at how many we might be dealing with?” Naomi asked, this time appealing to Logan.
Logan didn’t seem happy about any of this, but he’d actually seemed remarkably subdued since Bob had let him “borrow” some of his power, almost like having so much power had mellowed him out - or constantly keeping a lid on it was exhausting him. “No. He honestly wasn’t sure how many would know, and how many would take direct action against this as a perceived threat.”
“Let’s face it,” Kier said, letting him go but keeping an arm around his shoulders. “This sucks. No pun intended.”
“By the way, you guys really scared the crap out of me,” Naomi said. “That argument was so real, I thought you were actually having a fight.”
“Well, I used to be an actor, you know,” Kier said, smoothing back his hair in a preening manner. “I was even in Death Of A Salesman.”
“In Vancouver,” Bren added.
Kier grinned. “In high school.” See, that was the set up - they wanted to entrap some of these idiots trying to kill him for being the Gorgon’s latest chosen, so he and Kier were supposed to have a big public fight outside Sin and split up, leaving Bren all by himself. He was supposed to lead any followers off, so the rest of them could trap these morons. It was supposed to be a fake fight, but somehow it became a real one, mainly because he was a stressed out, insecure jerk. Maybe he should stop dating men who were so much better looking than him.
Both Logan and Angel gave them looks like they knew the fight really wasn’t fake - presumably Naomi knew that as well - but everybody decided to pretend just to let them have their problem in private. Still, Bren felt like a complete idiot.
The Angel Investigations team had been working in shifts, so Bren was with one of the groups at any given time, but Logan was forced to sleep only when he had a moment or two to do so. Perhaps that added to his air of general exhaustion; it couldn’t have helped. It was decided that Angel and Naomi would go back to the office and make a note of the incident - Giles was keeping track of everyone they faced, crossing it off on a board like a big flow chart - while Logan would escort him and Kier home. Waiting at home was Saddiq, who was crashing on their sofa to keep an eye on the place when they were gone, to be extra fire power when they were home and if they came under attack (hadn’t happened yet, but it had only been a few days), and also to give him a place to stay, as Sid didn’t have one. Logan probably didn’t need to go with them, there was usually only one major attack per night, but better safe than sorry. Besides, Logan would insist anyways.
Logan took the lead as they walked back, using all his senses to glean if there was trouble ahead or not. As soon as they turned the corner and left the part of L.A. known as Boy’s Town behind, Logan let out a relieved sigh. “Finally, I’m not gettin’ stared at so much.”
“Hey, you’re a magnet for the guys who love rough trade and bears,” Kier pointed out cheerfully. “And if they saw your abs, you’d be a magnet for everybody capable of seeing clearly.”
Logan cast a rather harsh glance over his shoulder, but Kier just smiled at him, all brilliant white teeth and confidence. “I’ll try not to take my shirt off.”
“Oh please. What about just on my birthday?”
Bren elbowed Kier, even as Logan gave him an evil look, and Kier broke out in a chuckle. “Would you stop? Jesus,” Bren complained, wondering if someone had slipped Kier a mickey in Sin. He seemed oddly giddy. (But then again, he’d always be happy if Logan wanted to constantly run around with his shirt off. That was the kind of torso dreams were made of.)
“Eh, we should prob’ly laugh more,” Logan admitted grudgingly. “It’s been kinda dreary lately.”
Logan endorsing slightly inappropriate humor? Was that his exhaustion showing, or was that Bob’s influence on him showing? Maybe a bit of both. Nobody knew what effects, if any, that Logan containing a significant amount of Bob’s power for an extended period of time would have on him. Not that Logan cared - or at least he said he didn’t care (two different things) - but Bren knew that Angel and Giles had discussed it in those rare moments when Logan wasn’t around. They knew his healing factor was keeping the energy from doing any permanent internal damage, but the rest was unknown.
It wasn’t a long walk, just a couple of blocks, and Kier must have forgiven him, because he held his hand all the way there. Normally such a thing could be dangerous, especially outside of Boy’s Town, but Kier was a vampire so he didn’t give a shit about gay bashers, and anyways, they were with Logan. Frankly, he kind of hoped some did try and jump them, because it would be fun to watch Logan beat the shit out of them. If there were a lot of them, it might take him as long as one minute to beat them all down.
But of course when you wanted something to happen, it didn’t. And who would honestly be stupid enough to jump Logan, no matter how drunk and frightened of someone else’s sexuality you were? He had a predator’s walk and gave off a “try me” vibe, no matter where he was or when. He carried himself like he knew he could hurt you, and guess what? That was absolutely true. And there was a difference between a man who was full of false bravado and one who honestly knew he could kick your ass. If you had any street smarts at all, you could tell the difference, and since this wasn’t a great part of town, most of these guys knew the difference. When Logan headed down the street, they melted into the shadows, trying hard not to be seen.
They had an apartment in a rather run down looking building called the “Mercado”, six floors of outer sorrow that gave way, in the interior, to slowly decaying old Hollywood elegance. The apartments were fairly spacious for downtown L.A., especially for the price, and the old Art Deco touches made it a fun place, even though the outside of the building was a grimy grayish color, the paint peeling around the slightly warped windows, the glass entrance doors cracked in a way that would inevitably lead to lawsuits. It was Kier who found out about this place through a client at the bite club; in fact, the old lady who owned the building apparently was a big fan of vampires, but in an “Anne Rice sense” - she liked “fantasy” vampires, not vampires as they actually were. Kier and another vampire “wannabe actor”, Alejandro, would often end up acting out these little skits for her. She didn’t like to be bitten, she just liked to have this private little vampire story played out for her. The idea of it struck Bren as totally creepy, but Kier told him it was the easiest money he ever made: she kept it PG, he didn’t have to bite anyone, and it killed the monotony. Also, he and Alejandro laughed hysterically afterwards, and it was usually the best laugh of their day. And when an apartment was suddenly open, she mentioned it to Kier, and here they were.
Weirdest thing of all? This woman, Sylvia - Bren had never met her. He’d never even seen her; she lived closer to Chinatown. Her son, Harold, lived here instead, acting as the super, and he had no idea Kier was a vampire. Or that his mother hired him to enact Anne Rice-ish fantasies with another guy for a hundred bucks a pop.
They invited Logan inside, but he waved it off for another time, as he said he was tired, which seemed like the most obvious statement ever made. He looked tired; he looked like he’d fall asleep on the sofa if he did come up. Bren wondered if he’d ever get any sleep.
He and Kier went inside, and took the old fashioned elevator up to the sixth floor, which is where their apartment was. It made some distressing rattling noises, but it got you where you needed to go. Finally alone with Kier, he realized he’d have to start apologizing. “Look, um, about earlier -”
“You were such a complete asshole,” Kier said, slightly exasperated. “What was that about? I was getting us free drinks!”
“I know, I’m just … everything’s kind of freaking me out right now, okay? I don’t mean to be a drama queen, it’s just that I feel kinda … overwhelmed. I didn’t mean anything I said, really.”
Kier looked at him askance as the elevator came to a lurching halt. “You damn well better not have.” He opened the outer door, and gestured for Bren to go first. He did, almost wondering if he’d get jumped by some sort of jealousy monster.
But it didn’t happen. The corridor leading to their room was empty, the red carpet and pastel yellow walls with framed daguerreotype photos looking oddly elegant, the hall smelling vaguely of old paper and recently boiled coffee. Most of the people who lived here were elderly, long time residents who got their apartments when this area was more fashionable, so when it was late at night like this, he and Kier felt like they had the place all to themselves. It was kind of nice.
Bren unlocked the door, not surprised that Sid had locked it - like he was going to make it easy for the bad guys - and as they went in, Kier spun him around and pressed him against the foyer wall. “You’re lucky you’re so cute,” he said, wrinkling his nose in a way that he knew Bren found adorable. It was totally not fair.
Kier kissed him, and he was more than happy to let him. So he didn’t hate him? That was a relief. Wow, talk about sabotaging a relationship. Was that what he was trying to do? Was it nerves? Was it something he wasn’t even letting himself think about?
Where could this go? He was half-Human, and in line to be the Gorgons … well, something. He still needed Rags to clarify a few things. And Kier was a vampire who’d be forever young and beautiful, and always a potential time bomb if someone figured out how to swap his vampire for another. Also, he worked at the vampire equivalent of a whorehouse. Nothing about this screamed “stable relationship”. He just had a feeling he was setting himself up for something.
Sid cleared his throat, and they broke away from their kiss, slightly embarrassed. He couldn’t help but feel bad around Sid in situations like this; it almost felt like he was rubbing it in that he had a sex drive and Sid didn’t. Of course he knew Sid didn’t want pity, and besides, you couldn’t miss what you never had, but still, it made him feel really funny. “Oh, uh, hi. How’s everything been?”
“No attacks,” he replied benignly. “But we do have a visitor.” He stepped aside and swept his arm back towards the living room, where someone stood waiting. “Hi,” Rogue said, waving as if from a car in a parade.
To say it was a surprise was an understatement. He also couldn’t help but wonder superstitiously if this was some kind of omen.