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 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 is *my* character - keep your hands off!
"Then what's your name?"Gunn shot back flippantly,as if Logan were playing a joke on them.
"Wolverine.Who the fuck are you guys?"He snarled,keeping his back turned towards the wall as he descended the stairs.
Cordy looked at them,and shook her head desperately."He's not Logan,"she said,earning curious looks from Wesley behind the desk,and Gunn standing just in front of it.
But not Angel.Angel,near the lobby's curious circular sofa,started stalking towards Wolverine on an intercept course,his brows drawn down in curious suspicion.Did he already know?Maybe Logan's smell had changed or something.
"We're your friends,"Angel said carefully,hands tucked in his pants pocket.He was trying to appear casual,and using a low voice,the same kind of tone you might used on a scared dog.
"I don't have friends,"Wolverine said,pausing at the base of the stairs.She had absolutely no doubt about that."And you don't smell...human."
"You were in an accident,and you received a serious blow to the head,"Angel said,ignoring the last comment-what could he say? 'I am,but I'm dead and demon possessed?' "I think you need to sit down,and-"
"I'm out of here,"Wolverine interrupted,heading for the glass doors of the hotel.
"Logan,please-"Angel said,reaching out to grab his arm.
It happened so fast not even Angel was prepared for it.
Logan spun and slammed his left hand into Angel's torso,and Angel let out a strangled gasp as three claws punched through his back."I said I'm outta here,"Wolverine snarled in Angel's face.He then retracted his claws and Angel collapsed to the floor,as Wolverine simply turned and walked out the front door,never even looking back.And why should he?That psycho bastard could take them all,whether they attacked from the front or behind.
Wesley reached Angel first,helping him sit up as he continued to gasp in pain."That bastard!"Gunn exclaimed angrily,pure murder in his eyes."I'll kill him."
"No!"Cordelia shouted,getting down the stairs in time to block Gunn's way.
"What do you mean no?He just skewered Angel-"
"He will kill you,"she interrupted,scowling at him for his sheer testosterone poisoned male idiocy."I hate to puncture your machismo,but a mental Logan could kill us all at once without breaking a sweat.What do you think you could do to him alone?"
Gunn glared at her,a muscle in his jaw twitching beneath his dark brown skin,when Wesley interjected,"She's right.For now,just let him go."
Angel nodded in agreement,blood trickling down his blue shirt and leaving black trails."I'm just glad his claws aren't made of wood,"he gasped,and she could see exactly just what he meant.Wolverine had stabbed him through the heart.
"How could the accident do this to him?"Wesley,asked,thinking aloud."Did he smell...possessed?"
"No,"Angel rasped,panting in serious pain."Just angry and...feral.I can't really explain it.Help me get up."
Wesley and Gunn did just that,hauling Angel to his feet,and he remained pinioned between them as he continued to be unsteady,barely able to remain upright."We need to find Logan and figure out what happened to him before he gets hurts,or hurts someone else."Angel then paused,looking pale-even for him-and added,"After I sit down for a moment."
Wesley and Gunn helped (dragged) Angel to the couch,where he gratefully collapsed,and Cordy bit her lip,staring at the doors that Logan-or whoever he was-had just exited through.
You didn't need to be a seer to guess that some bad shit was about to come down.And knowing their luck,it would be right on their heads.
He'd hoped the night air would clear his head,but it was warm and choked with exhaust,and just seemed to make things more muddy.His mind was a blank slate,and he struggled to retrieve memories that seemed to elude him at every turn.
Maybe he should go back to that hotel,extract information from those people.But he had cornered the girl-who,for all he knew was just someone's dim witted girlfriend-and she was terrified and obviously clueless.The men didn't look any smarter-and what about the thuggish pretty boy who smelled inhuman?That was just weird.Some bizarro mutant probably,but not claw proof.
Idiots;they were all fucking idiots.No one fucked with Wolverine and lived to talk about it.You'd think they'd all know that by now.
He wandered the streets,the buildings titanic monoliths of glass and steel,lit up like Christmas trees and giving the sidewalks a sort of false daylight where the shadows huddled together outside pools of scalding light.The cars sped by on the street as fast as traffic would allow while the sidewalk denizens alternated between hurried paranoid gaits and leisurely paces,rarely meeting anyone's eyes.The city felt tense,and he rather liked that.He was at home with powder kegs,although admittedly he was usually the one setting them off or stamping them out.
He blearily remembered he had to make contact with Enigma or Vector,figure out what was going on...but he had no idea how to do that.And who were they,anyways?
All he knew for sure was that he was Wolverine,and walking death for anyone who crossed him.
He paused at the next intersection and looked up at a tall,narrow building that seemed to deliberately resemble a missile with gigantism;a red light light blinking slowly on top of a long spire on the roof as a warning to low flying aircraft.He found himself fixated on the light:red blinking lights.Where had he seen those before?
He smelled someone behind him,trying to come upon him quietly,and he spun,not unsheathing his claws but ready to in a millisecond.
He found a man of average height and slim build standing in the shadows of the building,trying to look casual in spite of the sudden spike of fear that had just shot through him.He wore a natty dark blue suit,and resembled nothing so much as a lawyer."Bellerophon,"he said,a slight tremor in his otherwise cool voice.
For a moment he just stared at him,wondering what he was on,and suddenly something clicked in his mind.Wolverine suddenly felt connected to himself again,the dizziness falling away like a shroud,and even though his mind refused to sort itself out,it seemed like everything suddenly made sense.
"Come with me,Wolverine.You have new orders,"the man said,heading towards a long dark car parked at the curb.
He wasn't Vector or Enigma;he didn't have any idea who he was.
But Wolverine went with him anyways.
Several years earlier-Alkali Lake,Canada
But she couldn't believe she had to convince them to let her use the new weapon in her arsenal, especially after all they had done to the man.
He was referred to generally by his issued serial number,or his new identity,Wolverine,which seemed like a deeply silly name.But once he started getting rather odd and voluminous facial hair after the genetic enhancement experiments,it made a certain amount of sense.But it was still a stupid name,in her opinion.
But,considering her name was Enigma,she probably had no room to talk.
He had been a thorn in the Organization's side for some time;he refused to cooperate on every level,no matter what they did to him,and they used the whole box of tricks on him.They even made up a few new ones,including the wide awake surgeries to implant the adamantium skeleton and claws.It was intended to break his will apparently,but in her opinion it was idiotic,because all it could do was break his mind.That did seem to be the end result,at first;now it seemed to have resolved his will,made it stronger.Pumbing the depths of his subconscious to see what he really desired,she found he wanted to murder them all.She thought it was hilarious,and didn't waste any time in informing Vector,who wasn't at all amused,but that just made it funnier.No matter what they did to him,he intended to hang on and survive,at least long enough to make them all pay;their experiment had backfired spectacularly.And considering his history of extreme willfulness,why were they surprised?
But his desire for revenge made him the perfect candidate for testing Dreamland.
They weren't convinced of that,though,so it was a tedious week
of routine psychological torture and probing before Vector finally gave
her the go ahead to try her experiment.But in that time she had come to
admire Logan/Wolverine-he was almost as stubborn as she was,and he would
die before he gave in.And considering he seemed virtually indestructible,he
was in for the long haul.
Dreamland was her newest creation,and one she was quite proud of;part psychotropic drug,part synthetic neurotransmitter analogs with a smidgen of hallucinogenic compounds,if used with routine programming it could alter the personality of your subject to whatever you desired.In theory.But she knew from experience personalities created from whole cloth and then implanted never stuck for long-the old one constantly surfaced,leaving you with an unstable amalgam that could easily become psychotic from being unable to reconcile the schism between realities.What she intended to use Dreamland for in Logan was simply to create a 'back up' personality,but one that was so much of him that the 'first' (core) personality would never be missed.And she could do that by focusing on his hate.
It was easy to do,really.Everyone had their dark sides,but self-censoring mechanisms and the intangible concepts of empathy and morality usually kept people from acting on them.So all she had to do was wipe those out,suppress any 'humane' urges,and let the true Logan-the true Wolverine-out of his self-imposed cage.
It didn't take very long at all.
Then it was just a case of implanting a few core beliefs,such as the Organization being the 'good guys',not the ones who mutilated him;that was the work of shadowy 'others' they were going to help him find.And,as a back up,she planted a trigger word in his subconscious mind-Bellerophon.If he started to get on shaky mental ground,it would bring the second (dark) personality to the surface.The personality who only knew itself as Wolverine.
Finally,the day had arrived when she was confident the new,improved Wolverine could be shown to the others.When she arrived at his quarters (cell),he stared at her blankly,not even recognizing her as one of his more effective torturers."Come on,Wolverine.Vector has a mission for you."
He continued to stare at her,sitting up on the edge of his cot,blanket pooled around his naked waist,and for a second she wondered if she had accidentally wiped out and suppressed too much of his mind.But then he snorted derisively,and said,"Yeah,whatever.As long as I get to kill something."
She smiled at him,giving herself a little mental pat on the back;she had succeeded beyond her wildest expectations.She had created a being of pure rage.
Meeting with him,Vector had filled his claustrophobic office with guards armed with paralyzers in case Logan attacked him,but that wasn't going to happen.He wasn't Logan anymore.
And as they were leaving,Vector gave her a look that seemed to show his new respect for her methods,which made her want to laugh anew.Brainwashing,like torture,was an art,not something any average schmo could do with a chain saw and a tool kit.
Maybe this was the start of better things.
Several months later
Wolverine hung over the edge of the roof so he could reach the darkened window beneath,and unsheathed a single claw.Carefully,he used the tip to cut a circle in the glass,big enough for him to get an arm through.He was very quiet,but the scratch of metal on glass seemed to echo throughout the secluded valley where the manse was hidden,bouncing off the trees and hills of the dense forest beyond.The night was so quiet he could hear the distant chatter of the guard's radios,and knew only he,with his greater aural capabilities,could pick it up.
With a small push,the glass circle fell inward,shattering softly
on the carpet inside the room.
This was a private study,the only room not rigged with infrared
alarms due to its location,and the crepuscular,heavily curtained den smelled
of leather furniture,musty books,and aged cigars.
He then crept towards the door,the carpet muffling his footsteps,and he heard someone in the neighboring room,approaching at a leisurely pace.No one had been alerted;it was simply someone on his way here,probably for a drink and a smoke.The target.
He stood beside the door,his back to the wall,and waited.It wasn't long before the door opened, reducing the target to a long shadowy figure backlit by the dim lights of the corridor,and he came inside,unaware that he was anything but alone.
Wolverine thrust out his arm and unsheathed his claws at the same time.The metal prongs punched through his back and straight through his lung,his spine,and heart.
He made a wet,gasping noise,and then quickly died,still skewered on Wolverine's claws.He retracted them and caught the man before his body could hit the floor,dragging him further inside the room.
And there,in the dim sliver of light from the hallway,he saw he had killed the wrong man.
He was older than the target,maybe forty five,and dressed in dark clothes that suggested he was a servant of some sort-a butler,a valet.Shit!He should have known better than to work for an asshole of this magnitude.
As he dragged the man over to the couch and unceremoniously dumped him there,something happened that had never happened to Wolverine before:he felt pity for the man.
It was bizarre-he'd never felt bad for anyone,and yet...this man shouldn't have died.Some small voice in the back of his mind told him he shouldn't even be here,he shouldn't even be doing this...
He felt ill and his head hurt,which also had never happened before,and Wolverine was so angry at himself,yelling at himself inside his own mind to shut the fuck up,he almost didn't hear someone come up the stairs.
He quickly hid behind the open door as he heard the target say,"James?Is something wrong?"
More than he can possibly tell you,Wolverine thought,and while usually such thoughts would amuse him,right now it just made him feel sicker.
The man stopped just inside the doorway,probably seeing James propped up on the couch,so Wolverine jammed his claws through the door,stabbing them through the target's right side.He made several gurgling noises before falling heavily against the door,and when Wolverine retracted his claws,he slid down to the carpet,thudding heavily on the floor.
Rather than move him he just left him there;he wanted to get out of here now.
Wolverine quickly climbed out the window,using his claws to climb back to the roof,which he scuttled across carefully,just like before,only this time he felt conflicted,angry,and sick.
He didn't want to feel this way;he was tired of feeling hostile all the time,of getting satisfaction from nothing but the blood of others...the thoughts were so distracting he felt dizzy.He had to sit down for a moment.
He did,taking several deep breaths of the cool night air,listening to the faint,tinny noises of routine voices on the radio of the still unaware guards.He had to get out of here before they discovered their boss was dead,or they'd lock down the property and he'd have to fight tooth and nail to get out.Normally that would appeal to him,but for some reason not tonight.
What the fuck was wrong with him?
He got up and continued across the roof,clouds scudding over the face of the quarter moon and shading him from the pale light that it offered as he decided,once he was out of here,he was going to get a drink.Or several.Whatever it took to make these feelings go away.
He could have stayed in a nice hotel,something luxurious-certainly the Organization was willing to pamper its top assassin-but Wolverine felt more comfortable in humbler,seedier places,where his looks and manner of dress got less attention.And it didn't matter if he was nice to anyone, because no one expected it.
But the very fact that his tastes remained blue collar and lower rent may have indicated a problem.
She had decided to check on him due to the possibility that his
extraordinary body was adapting to Dreamland,making it less and less effective.It
was always a risk;his superior system had proven it could get used to almost
anything.Even the most physically addictive,narcotizing drugs lost their
effectiveness on him after a while,until they were rendered as useless and
He really was an extraordinary specimen;she could see why he was their favorite guinea pig.
She sat on the ledge of his window,looking past the red lit neon sign flashing like a lightning bug with a stutter and buzzing like an angry wasp with no sense of rhythm,and looked down at the wet,rain slicked streets below.It should have cleaned things up,but it just made things look muddier.It was like this whole section of town was covered with a film of slimey,indestructible grime.
Even this pathetic hotel room-probably what past for the 'best' in this decrepit place-made her feel like she needed a shower:a walk in closet sized main room contained a single bed,covered with a red quilted bedspread that reeked of must and laundry solvents;several small tables,one of which had a portable t.v. set precariously on top of it; and all furniture was bolted to the floor,which spoke highly of the general clientele.She hadn't checked out the locker sized bathroom yet,mainly because she was afraid to.
She heard the scrape of a key in the lock,and while she was sure it was Wolverine returning shockingly late from his mission,she kept her hand on her gun,ready to shoot through her jacket if it turned out to be a member of the opposition.
Wolverine wasn't the only assassin in this hotel.
She eased her hand off the gun as she saw the familiar silhouette of Wolverine in the dim, yellowish hallway light.
Reaching for the light switch,he froze,instantly defensive,and she could hear him sniff before he relaxed and threw the switch,turning on two ugly ceramic table lamps that she would have gladly lobbed out the window if they hadn't been bolted down.Maybe that's why they were secured. "Enigma,what are you doing here?"He asked gruffly,glancing around for anyone who might be hiding in the room.As if anyone could in such a small space.
"There's been a change of plans,"she said,shoving herself off the sill,but she remained standing in front of the window.Normally she'd never do such a thing,but the window faced a brick wall,and the building adjacent to the hotel was too high for anyone to take a shot from the roof.That's probably why Wolverine picked this room.
He closed the door and reflexively locked it before taking off his beaten brown leather jacket and tossing it on the chair wedged in the corner."So?Tell me over the phone."
"Sometimes we have to have contact with you,"she replied,smelling the beer on his breath.He wasn't drunk-she vaguely wondered how many gallons of alcohol it would take to actually make him intoxicated (he adapted to that too)-but that explained why he was so late returning from the assignment.
"I don't need a handler,"he growled,turning away from her and towards the shoebox sized closet as he pulled his black t-shirt over his head.He was wearing a white undershirt beneath,so she couldn't admire his back,but she quickly noted several dark objects falling to the floor-items hidden beneath his shirt.
"What are those?"She asked,even as she recognized them:cigars.
"Souvenirs,"he replied,crouching down and gathering them up in one hand.He wrapped them in his black shirt as he stood,and stashed them in the closet.He seemed almost embarrassed, ashamed...and she knew that Dreamland was indeed losing its effectiveness.Shame-guilt-was an emotion she had wiped out of him...at least at first.But with this small breech of his mental firewalls,she knew things could shortly become a flood.
In her pocket was a large dose of Dreamland-the largest she felt could be safely administered. Slightly higher doses had killed every test subject she had used,from animals to mutants,although Wolverine was no ordinary mutant by any means.
Still,if his system and his brain had adapted to it,it wouldn't last very long at all.She rather hoped the large dose would do him for now;she would hate to say goodbye to her favorite and most successful pet project.
"Did things go well?"She asked,wondering how she was going to give him the shot.She doubted he'd roll up his sleeve and let her inject him.
"He's dead,"he said tersely,entering the bathroom and shutting the door.
She smiled,almost laughing.It was really a shame he wasn't working with them voluntarily,because she rather liked him - he was a man after her own heart.Well,her theoretical heart;she'd be the first to admit she never really had one.
The water ran in the sink for several minutes,and she had a feeling he was trying to wash the imaginary blood off his hands.Of course,that was pure speculation,but she had very good intuition,even though she could claim no mutant status.But she knew people.And Dreamland was failing him worse than she thought.Either that,or the real Logan was still fighting back, somewhere deep in his subconsciousness.After all,Logan was never technically broken,just chemically subdued.
When he came out,his eyes narrowed in distaste."You're still here?"
She decided to just get the mission briefing out of the way first;then she'd worry about filling him full of Dreamland."Target Seventeen is on the move;he knows he's in shit so he's bolting.He'll be at the airport at two in the morning-he'll be incognito,trying to catch the first red eye out of gate fourteen.He and his wife must be intercepted and removed before they reach the plane."
"Seventeen?"He snapped irritably."Photos."
She pulled the small photo out of her pocket,showing Target and his wife,and held it out towards Wolverine.He came closer and squinted at the picture of the unremarkable middle aged man and his younger,blonder wife."Oh,right."
Taking that as confirmation,she started tearing up the picture and walked into his tiny bathroom,not turning on the light so she didn't have to see how bad it was while dumping the photo fragments in the toilet and flushing them away.
Once she came out,he was sitting on the end of the bed,taking off his boots."Fine,I'm briefed,now go.I still don't get why you had to come here in person and tell me."
She paused and looked at him,wondering if she could get him to admit how badly he was falling apart,and away from Dreamland's influences."A little human contact is always good.Don't you miss it sometimes?"
He snorted derisively as he pulled one of his boots off."I get human contact when I kill 'em.That's enough."
He glanced up at her,but when she caught his eyes he quickly looked down at the carpet and busied himself taking off his last boot.Yes,it was worse than she thought.
"Why are you still here?"He snapped,tossing his boots aside.He stood up,giving her an evil look,and he was clearly in defensive mode,which was both funny and telling.
She smiled at him,and wondered if he wanted to play.It would certainly make dosing him much easier."Maybe I like you,"she replied,meeting his eyes.
He turned away with a disgusted snort."No one likes me."
"Oh,I'm sorry.Did I scare you?"
She knew that would get to him.He turned around slowly,eyebrow raised,and he was almost smiling (oh yes,Wolverine was falling apart)."Do you really think anything can scare me?"
"I think I just did."
He stalked towards her,trying to intimidate her,but all she did was swallow the urge to laugh:she had him in the Chair for days,and he had no memories of it.Any time she wanted,she could crush him-the proof of it was he didn't remember it.He stopped right in front of her,barely two inches away,and glared down at her.She looked up at him,smiling so she didn't laugh,and asked,"Well?"
He grabbed her roughly around the waist,crushing her against his muscular frame as he kissed her violently enough to make her feel momentarily smothered.But she grabbed his head and pulled at his hair,making him growl,and then bit down hard on his lower lip.She couldn't help but be curious how much of the 'animalistic traits' they tried to fill him with had stuck,and his growling was kind of erotic,in a kinky sort of way.
She let him rip off her jacket,wondering if he'd ever know how easily she could play him.
She rolled over to see Wolverine asleep beside her,but his eyes moved rapidly behind his eyelids,and the noises he made were grunts of pain,barely restrained cries of horror,and she knew that Logan was trying to sneak back in through the subconscious,just like she feared.
She slid out of bed,still slightly sore but happily so-there were obvious benefits to everything they had done to him-but she was damned if she was going to lose her pet project to his stubborn alter ego.
She retrieved the hypo from her coat then returned to bed,sliding beneath the rough sheets before inserting the needle in his upper arm,in a vein that stood out in rope like relief as his muscles clenched in response to the nightmare/memory he was having.
As soon as the Dreamland hit his bloodstream he started to relax,quieting down as all of Logan's troubling memories were swept back under the carpet,his REM movements slowing down, and she slid the used needle into the nearest nightstand drawer.She could crush it and flush it while Wolverine was gone, and as always,he would never know.Just more of the power she had over him.
As she laid back down and went back to sleep,she couldn't help but smile.Wolverine thought he was the more dangerous person alive,but he had no idea that she held his reins,and could choke him back whenever she wanted.
Well,at least as long as Dreamland worked.When it stopped,they were all screwed.
She glanced at the cheap alarm clock bolted to the nightstand,and its bright red letters read 1:16 am-time for him to go if he wanted to get to the airport on time.
He sat down on the end of the bed and she watched him pull on his boots,his back strangely rigid.She assumed it was part of the effects of excessive Dreamland in his system-he was so primed for action he was coiling like a spring,and she knew they'd be lucky if he didn't kill the person he didn't like the look of.But what was the harm in that?
She watched him out of the corner of her eye as he shrugged on his jacket in the darkness, slightly red tinged from the hotel's neon sign.When he reached the door,she asked,"You need back up?"
Without even turning,he grunted humorously and left,locking the door behind him.
Yep,she could learn to really like him.As long as he remained just the way she liked him:lacking memories and lacking a conscience.
He felt strange,and he didn't know why.He thought he had a nightmare (a nightmare?!What the fuck...he wasn't scared of anything!),but when he tried to remember it the black emptiness of his mind just swallowed it whole,leaving him nothing but a vague sense of unease.And he didn't feel uneasy about anything either,so he was pissed off even more.
Maybe he shouldn't have slept with Enigma.He had learned that killing people was a hell of a lot more satisfying for him than sex,and that seemed wrong,although he couldn't say why.Not that he wouldn't fuck her again if the opportunity arose,but...shit!Why didn't anything seem right anymore?!
Sometimes he wasn't sure who he was or what he was doing or why.And he was growing more and more convinced the gaping holes in his memory meant something.Was it really due to a car accident?Nothing could hurt him-he was invincible,indestructible.So why would a stupid,stinking car wreck damage his brain beyond repair?It didn't make sense.
He shook the doubts out of his mind and headed for Gate Fourteen,avoiding
the metal detectors.
He wended his way through the clots of people and made his way to the ticket desks,scouring every face in the crowd for the target,feeling so tensed and ready for action he considered jogging around the concourse just to burn a little of it off.He really did feel odd,didn't he?And hungry;suddenly he was hungry.But he had sex a few hours ago-the need for a pizza after was normal.
Finally,in a small crush of people headed towards the boarding
gates,he saw the target.A bland looking middle aged man with a head like
a coconut,he blended in easily with a similar herd of middle aged ugly guys
in dark suits that made them look like a pack of morticians on the hunt
from fresh bodies.Well,he'd give them at least one then.