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Summary: How did Logan end up in the middle of a hostage situation? On yet another suspicious job with Marc, nothing is as it seems, and things become more dangerous than either of them ever anticipated.
Notes: Takes place after the events of "X2" and immediately after "Human".
It was one of those moments where you had to wonder how your life had gone so wrong. Was it karma? Dumb luck? Bad timing? Just plain coincidence?
Logan sat with his back against the wall, reflecting on all of this as the gunmen paced back and forth across the wide marble floor, the sharp scent of the Semtex worn underneath their bulky black sweaters threatening to make his eyes water. If it was just him in here, he’d have taken them out already - like fucking suicide bombers would kill him. But he wasn’t alone here; there were over a dozen people in the bank, and he was willing to bet he was the only one with a mutant healing factor. If he thought he could take them all out before they could trigger their bombs he’d give it a shot, but because they were keeping the bombs concealed, he didn’t even know what their triggering mechanisms were. He didn’t know if cutting the wires would be enough … if there were indeed wires. He’d heard a high pitched, odd hum since the men had come in, way beyond the range of Human hearing and almost out of range of his, and it made him wonder if there were wireless detonators. Outside detonation systems even?
He’d been separated from the rest of the hostages because the leader in the front - the one with sky blue eyes visible through the slit in his black ski mask - decided he didn’t like the look of him. Logan acquiesced, not cowering, but not fighting back either - he would be the ideal hostage for as long as it suited him, until he could figure out how to take them down without injuring others. Across the broad lobby, the rest of the hostages sat on the floor, stinking of fear, all save for a single young man who kept throwing furtive glances his way, his deep chocolate brown eyes asking questions that needed no verbal response, and accepted glances his way as an answer. Saddiq was smart enough to play along and wait for Logan to order the move - he had no fear of the bombs or the guns either, but Logan felt he should have. Not of the guns, as bullets would just bounce off him unless they were adamantium or “magic”, but of the bombs. Technically he wouldn’t be burned, and h! e had no fear of explosively propelled projectiles, but if he took the brunt of a shockwave it could hurt him internally. His skin might have been impermeable, but the organs beneath were as vulnerable to impact damage as anyone else’s. But Saddiq was raised as a self-sacrificing weapon - he didn’t show fear or hesitate no matter the situation. He threw himself into battle, regardless of whether or not he’d be hurt or killed, because that was what he’d been groomed to do. Logan would have to watch out for him since the kid had had all his sense of self-preservation removed. Luckily they kicked all the rebelliousness out of him too, leaving him obedient to authority figures, and as long as Logan kept flashing him a “no” look with his eyes, Saddiq would simply sit there passively, another perfect hostage. He knew if he got a chance to take out the hostage takers, Saddiq would back his play; he could count on Sid to break one of the robber’s necks before they could pull a trig! ger or detonate their bomb, but after that it was unknown if he’d be f ast enough to get anyone else.
Right now there were four gunmen in the front of the bank, all dressed in black, shapeless clothes, faces covered with ski masks, all carrying compact XM8 Lightweight assault rifles and an unknown amount of Semtex, and there were three others in the back, presumably plundering the vault. There were a couple of employees back there with them, and he guessed that there was someone on the outside, sending the bulletins in. They were efficient, and had clearly planned this well … an inside job? It would make sense. Maybe their conspirator was back in the vault, away from prying eyes.
The captors spoke in Swiss German, and he pretended not to understand the language so they talked freely in front of him. As far as they were concerned, he was a dumb, suspicious looking American, and that was a role he was happy to play. It was hard for him not to smile when they called him something insulting, but he managed. What threatened to set him off, though, was the fact that they often called Saddiq a "towelhead" and even worse, suggesting he could be used as a patsy for all this since he was Arab and everybody would believe it. Fucking racist pigs - he was glad Saddiq didn't speak the language, although even then, Sid probably would have been unmoved. The Rahjani guards tried to make all these kids little automatons, with no emotions of their own. Sid would take being racially slurred with the same equanimity of being asked what he wanted to drink.
If they clustered together it would have made it easier for him and Sid to take them out in one fell swoop, but they were at least smart enough to keep their distance, with two stationed by the padlocked front doors at all times, and the other two constantly on a slow prowl back and forth, keeping an eye on the hostages. A bag full of cell phones sat on the teller's counter, but he'd never heard one ring, and he actually heard one hostage whisper to another "I can't get a signal" - was that tone he kept hearing a jamming signal? If so, then the detonators couldn't be wireless. If only one of them would lift up their shirt all the way so he could get a look at the mechanism, not just a pale flash of Semtex.
A man he'd never seen before came out of the back. He was wearing the same dark, shapeless clothes of the other captors, carrying an XM8, but he didn't smell of Semtex; he only smelled of a decidedly salty, cheap cologne. He was a bit shorter than the other gunmen as well, which put him at average height." Okay, we've -" he began, in English - his flat accent defined him as American. Why was he not surprised?
The man paused when his eyes settled on Logan, and he saw those pale blue eyes widen inside his ski mask, a sharp scent of fear suddenly rising from him, making his cologne smelled spoiled and cut with urine. "Holy fucking shit!" he exclaimed, raising his XM8 and aiming it at him, taking a few steps back even though Logan was sitting on the floor fifteen feet away from him. "Mother of fucking god, don't you guys know who that is?!"
The men must have spoke some English, as the two floor walkers aimed their rifles at him as well, but at the same time shook their heads. Sid flashed him a look through the legs of one of the captors, a question, and Logan looked at him briefly, just long enough to send the message "No". What happened to him was irrelevant - did these limp dick little fuckheads think they could hurt him for a significant amount of time? Please.
"This is Wolverine!" The American said, his rifle shaking slightly in his hand. Logan smiled at him, but it was evil, without warmth, and made that rifle barrel tremble a bit more.
The other men weren't getting it. They exchanged a glance with each other before the one nearest the American rolled his shoulders in a shrug.
"Fucking Wolverine man! You know, from the internet? That video?" The men must not have been big YouTube watchers, as that was met with rousing indifference. This was pissing off the American. "X-Men!" He finally said in exasperation, shoving the barrel of his XM8 in his direction in a violent manner, like it was a twenty foot long bayonet. "He's a fucking X-Man!"
Finally they got it, and the ones near the door aimed their rifles at the remaining hostages, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. Saddiq had never been on some video caught by security cameras or a cell phone - at least not to any of their knowledge - so their eyes barely even touched on him before dismissing him outright.
"I was wondering how long it was gonna take ya to recognize me," Logan said, amused. He wasn't faking the amusement.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" The American demanded, so freaked out he sounded a little short of breath. "Why haven't you tried anything?!"
"Why would I try anything?"
"You're the fucking psycho! You're the one with the knives! You ... well, shit man, you fuck people up! Why are you just sitting there?!"
Logan let his head loll back on the wall, and continued to smirk at the man hiding behind his ski mask. So very, very scared. "Why not?"
His non-answers were freaking the guy out even more, which is what he intended. Make him guess, make him fear the unknown; he'd get sloppy. Well, sloppier. If he got scared enough, he'd ruin his own beautifully executed plan. "Are you waiting for them, is that it? Are they coming here? Are you after it too?"
Logan gazed at him coolly, like he was a moderately funny clown just beneath his contempt. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Bullshit!" He erupted, pointing at him so forcefully with his rifle he almost bobbled it. "Give me a fucking answer, you mutie piece of shit!"
Logan just smiled lazily. "Eat me, fuckface.”
And, just like he was expecting, the American opened fire on him.
Three Days Earlier
This was a mistake, wasn't it? A huge mistake. And in a life chock full of them, that was saying something.
Logan sat at the bar, nursing his beer, while electronic music pounded through the floor and seemed to throb through the walls. It was too loud to think or even talk, which was the point - you were here to dance or to hook up, but not to have lengthy conversations about the true meaning of madeleines in Proust's body of work. Sid sat beside him, looking miserable and slightly scared, barely sipping at his neon blue colored mocktail. Sid eventually leaned over and shouted in his ear, "Are all gay bars like this?" The place was dark, save for gel lights that seemed to pulse in time with the music, lighting up the room in shades of bloody red and suffocation blue.
Logan could only shrug. He hadn't been in enough to say.
Of course he should have expected that when Marc promised to take them on a crawl of his favorite nightspots that they'd end up in a gay disco at some point. He'd told him explicitly no nightclubs, but Marc didn't listen - did he ever?
He disappeared to the dance floor about eight minutes ago with a tall blue eyed blond who could have been a model of the traditional Swiss gene pool on tourist posters, a handsome guy with perfect teeth and skin too clear to be untouched, leaving him and Sid fending off the occasional advance. Sid was very popular and didn't really know how to deal with it; he never knew how to deal with anything in a social situation. They weren't his forte; training never covered that. So Logan put an end to it by telling guys they were together, letting them fill in the blanks that they were a couple. Since Sid didn't speak the language, he didn't know what he'd told them, but didn't care so much as a different guy didn't keep offering to buy him a drink every three minutes. There was a cover, a minimum of drinks they had to buy, which was a bit of a bitch since Sid didn't drink alcohol, but Logan was happy to take Sid's drink burden and add it to his own. He'd already surpassed both t! heir covers by a beer.
Marc finally returned to his bar stool, sweaty and breathless. "Got me a phone number," he said, waving a scrap of paper. "I think I'll call dear old Sven as soon as we're outta here."
"I thought you didn't speak the language," Logan pointed out.
Marc shrugged, taking a gulp of his beer and catching his breath. "I know a couple of phrases. "Point me to the American consulate", "Where's the bathroom", "Would you like to go back to my hotel room for a little bouncy bouncy". You know, the important shit."
Logan shook his head, trying not to smirk. “A horndog in any language.”
“Says the guy who gets more tail than any straight man I’ve ever known.”
Logan snorted disdainfully. “I do not.”
“Oh, you do so! Shit, women fall all over themselves to hit that. It’s the whole broody, mysterious loner thing you got going on. That, and your ass looks fabulous in jeans.”
He tried to look over his shoulder to see for himself, but he couldn’t bend that way. Logan decided to take his word for it. Marc looked past him to Sid, who looked as slightly overwhelmed and lost as he had when he entered the club. “So this does nothin’ for you, huh?”
Sid strained to hear him, and looked a little confused. “What do you mean?”
“The straight club did nothin’ for ya, and now this one doesn’t either. What exactly are you into kid - sheep?”
Sid looked more confused than ever. “What?”
Logan gulped down the rest of his beer, and decided to rescue him. “I think they took out his sex drive, Marc.”
He may have been wearing protective goggles, but Logan could tell Marc was shocked by how slack his jaw had gone. “Are you shitting me?”
“No. The Rahjani kids were heavily engineered, to spec from what I gather, and let’s face it - you don’t want your little killing machines getting distracted by thoughts of sex when puberty rolls around. I think these kids were genetically engineered to have as close to zero sex drive as possible without losing that all important testosterone.”
It was Sid’s turn to look startled. “Do you really think that’s why I don’t …” He paused as he struggled to find the right word. “ … care about any of this?”
He nodded. “I think so. I mean, I’m just guessin’, but it sounds logical.”
“You poor kid,” Marc gasped, clearly horrified. “You got balls, right?”
Now Sid looked horrified, and glanced down at his own crotch.
“I don’t think he’s a eunuch,” Logan said. “I think he’s just asexual.” He paused briefly, casting a questioning look at the kid. “You do got, uh …”
“Last time I checked,” Sid replied, blanching slightly and looking away abashedly. The poor kid, they were probably mortifying him. Of course, calling him a kid was wrong - when it came to this kind of stuff, yeah, it applied; his social skills needed work. But in all other respects he was a grown man, and had been as long as he had been able to wield an automatic pistol and kill a man with his bare hands. He supposed if Weapon X got a chance to groom him from the genes up, he might have ended up like Sid, which was kind of a sad thought. Mainly for Sid, who surely deserved better.
“I guess I should stop trying to get you laid then,” Marc told Sid.
The look of confusion seemed permanently etched on Sid’s face now - Logan wasn’t sure if he should pity him or start laughing. “That’s what you’ve been doing?”
Marc nodded, finishing his own beer. “It’s a vacation now, kid. You should be enjoying yourself. Sorry you can’t.”
“I can have fun,” he protested mildly.
“Oh yeah?” Marc seemed dubious. “What’s your idea of fun?”
Sid considered this with an abnormal amount of gravitas. “I enjoy tae kwon do practice.” He paused briefly. “I’m pathetic, aren’t I?”
Logan patted him on the shoulder. “It’s okay. I think you just need lessons.”
“Lessons in fun?”
“Oh no,” Marc said, getting off the bar stool. “Not tonight. Sounds too much like a bad teen sex comedy.”
“And here I thought you enjoyed those,” Logan said.
“Not when I could be playing the lead in a hardcore porno instead,” he replied, flashing him a shit eating grin and raising his eyebrows lasciviously. Logan shook his head, suppressing a smile as he slid off his stool and started after him through the nightclub. Sid followed, looking relieved to either be done with this conversation or be out of here, or a combination of the two.
Outside the night was clear and cold, the stars bright pinpricks in a black sky, and after all the concentrated noise of the club, the quiet seemed sudden and shocking. Not that downtown Zurich was completely quiet; there were car noises, other clubs down the way that had their doors open and let their music bleed onto the street. He heard acid jazz, metal, American style R&B, and the faint electronic thudding of the club they’d just left. This was the “fun” section of the city, which was actually a little lacking in the fun department. It was a quaint, charmingly European city, with hints of Nordic and Teutonic influences in its architecture, in its peaked roofs and clean facades, although some of the roads - and drivers - seemed more French inspired. It was a nice city, tidy, businesslike, but there was something a bit cold about it, and not just in an actual physical way; it seemed a bit closer in spirit to stultifying dull Copenhagen than the sometimes careless h! edonism of Amsterdam. This disappointed Marc, but as always he made do, and sought out fun wherever he could. And Marc could probably find fun even in Copenhagen, although he’d probably have to bring it with him.
The job they’d come for was already over. It was stupidly easy, a bit of corporate espionage that Marc did all by himself. Logan and Sid waited nearby, ready to cause a distraction if something went wrong, but nothing actually did. They just got to wait in the lobby of some big glass and steel monstrosity where they couldn’t even see the blue-grey water from the window, listening to various walking suits talk on cell phones as they came in and out of the building, and even though he understood every language those people spoke - English, Swiss German, French, Italian, Dutch, even one woman spitting out harsh Russian syllables - he never once guessed what the fuck all these people were doing. Selling stocks? Suing various governments? Bidding on eBay? Launching donkeys towards Venus? Could have been anything.
They were a couple of blocks from their hotel - actually a very nice place, one of the places dedicated to upper class businessmen more than run of the mill tourists - when Marc’s cell phone went off. His ringtone was Prodigy’s “Poison”, so it was like the gay bar came with them for a second. “Sven misses you already?” Logan asked as they all paused on a street corner.
Marc pulled out his phone. “Nobody can resist me; I’m like Shaft with better hair.” He glanced at his phone and frowned. “Oh fuck.”
As he answered the phone, Sid leaned over and whispered, “Shaft?”
Logan shook his head in disbelief. “Aw kid, we’re gonna hafta take you to the video store when we get back to the States.”
The way Marc scowled, Logan assumed it was bad news (and clearly not Sven). “This is really irregular,” he said after a very long time of listening. “I’ve done the job; our transaction is complete. Now? No, I don’t think -” Marc was quiet for a long moment. “Say that again? Okay, be there in ten minutes.”
As he flipped his phone shut and dropped it back in his pocket, Logan guessed, “Haun?”
Haun was the surname of the man who had hired Marc this time out. Logan didn’t know his first name, nor had he seen him; in fact, he had no idea what the guy did. He was a rich businessman of some sort, and Marc never elaborated - he had client confidentiality, and unless they were actual “primaries” on the job, apparently they didn’t need to know anything about him beyond his last name.
Marc nodded. “He was happy with the job I did this morning, and now he has an emergency gig for me.”
“And he wants to see you now? At a quarter to midnight?” Logan knew Europeans did things differently, but this still seemed really suspicious.
Mark stared at him placidly. “He upped my fee to half a million dollars American.”
Wow. Now he was sure this was as fishy as fucking hell. “This is illegal, isn’t it?”
He just shrugged. “I’m a merc, Logan - everything I do is illegal.”
Okay, that was a fair point. “More illegal than normal.”
“Yeah, maybe. But for half a mill, I’m sure as shit listening to his pitch. Sven can wait an hour.” And with that, Marc changed direction and walked across the street, making a moped swerve as the driver made an obscene gesture at him. Marc made an even more obscene one back, never even breaking his stride.
Logan sighed heavily, aware he should probably get the kid back to the hotel first, but damn it, there was no way this could be anything but bad news. Marc could be walking into a trap of some sort - it wasn’t like he didn’t have enemies. Didn’t he care? Wasn’t he concerned?
No, probably not. So after exchanging a glance with Saddiq, they followed Marc, being a bit more mindful of traffic.
Why did he go with Marc on his gigs? They were never anything but trouble.