E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The character of Wolverine is 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 patronSummary: Post X2: Logan gets roped into the search for a mystical object that is wanted by several dangerous beings, and ends up getting help from a notorious vampire. But are they good enough to survive a demonic gang war? And dare he trust the undead?
of the arts, I won't object. ;-) Bob and Yasha are *my* characters - keep your hands off!
“Do you have any idea what she - it - did to him?” Helga asked.
Bob frowned, hating to even mention it. But considering how she felt about Logan, she had a right to know. “She interfered, mostly. I was hopin’ to let Logan knock his own engineered personality out of existence and take control of his own mind again, but she musta butted in, ‘cause I felt a forced synthesis.”
She considered that a moment, waggling the can back and forth ever so slightly in impatience. “So she fixed the problem for him? What was wrong with that?”
“Why do you think I didn’t do it that way? Look, there’s something that most people forget, and yes, I’m guilty of this too, but the fact is … Logan’s a victim. He has been violated and fucked over in every way that’s humanly possible, and in some ways that are inhumanly possible. Maybe it would be easier to remember if his scars were showing, and he wasn’t full to bursting with macho bravado, but god, Hel, he’s been hurt so badly. If he wasn’t the toughest bastard this side of a t.v. dinner Salisbury steak, he’d still be a gibbering wreck unable to leave the crawlspace. And on top of all that, he’s been ravaged, and there are some things he really needs to do for himself. He needed to face his own demon and take care of it, for the sake of his own confidence.”
“Sweetie, he’s pretty goddamn confident.”
“But not in the way that I mean. This confidence was internal, and not the “I can kick everything’s ass” confidence he has in abundance; that’s just a physical fact, and no matter how he’s been fucked up, he’s going to believe that to be true, ‘cause it pretty much is. I’m talking about the personal kind of confidence in other things, especially emotional confidence. He’s pretty raw there, but a lot of that is trying to conquer his own fear; he just throws himself head long, figuring he’ll feel better once he hits the ground. I was hopin’ claiming his mind back for himself would help there.”
“But the engineered personality is gone, so that’s good, right?”
He was forced to shrug. “It’s good in that it’s gone. It’s bad that Logan wasn’t the one to take care of it.”
“So what’s gonna happen because of it?”
“Probably nothing. But see, if he’d taken care of all of this himself, there might have been a change. As it is, he’s still at the mercy of powers greater than him.”
“I still think you worry too much, old man,” she told him. “Logan can take it; he can take a lot.”
“But just because he can, should he?” He replied, then sighed and sagged back into his chair. “I sound all new age-y, don’t I?”
“Just a bit. See, that’s why you need to start on the beer early in the day.”
“I suppose so.” Maybe this wouldn’t bother him as much as it did if Jean - or whatever - would just get in contact with him. But her/its continued avoidance of him (and use of Logan as some kind of conduit) made him more and more suspicious. Was it consolidating its power? Was it/her simply afraid to face him, for fear of him doing something to them?
Was Camaxtli playing some sort of game with all of them?
Until he found her, he wouldn’t know, but he hoped Logan didn’t pay even more of a price for it.
He didn’t much care for views outside airplane windows - all places looked more or less the same from the air, daisy chains of lights on irregular or flat topography of desert tan, furrowed fields brown, foliage green, and human habitation gray and white - but looking out at the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean beneath him was always awe inspiring. Serene right now, it was just a flat field of blue, made more attractive by the glimmering fragments of light bestowed on it by the crescent moon they seemed to be racing across the world. But just thinking about watching this blue blanket slide right beneath him like a bolt of silk, he wondered exactly when he had seen it before. Well, coming back from Japan after he and Scott had picked up Nariko, but he couldn’t recall looking out of the jet. So why did it seem so familiar?
He decided not to think about it.
Logan sat back, and studied the charcoal sketch (that looked like a rubbing, miniaturized) of the sword that Tagawa had given him. There were no photos of it, but the rendering was extremely detailed, focusing on the bits that mattered the most. The handle was very distinct, and should have been easy to find: filigreed ivory and bone over leather and metal, with a dragon’s head carved in silver near the hasp, with small rubies inset in its eyes. The blade itself had a sketch of a long, snake like dragon on its right side, but since it wasn’t etched in (that might have damaged the blade), it was possible it no longer existed. Even in the sketch it looked beautiful, an ornate and lovely piece of swordsmithing. It was a craft, one mostly lost to time, but a quality sword wasn’t easy to make, and he was sure the blade even retained its edge. He couldn’t help but notice it had the slightest curve to it, but much more subtle than his claws. Still, it told him this was not a ceremonial sword, or one made for display; this had been made to cut and to kill. But then again, it was called Life/Death, was it not? Some time - perhaps before it was enchanted (if indeed it was), it must have delivered death more than anything else.
It occurred to him he had an obscene amount of money and a corporate jet at his disposal, so shouldn’t he be … what, excited? Happy? Enthusiastic at the very least? Awake? He figured he dozed off sometime shortly after take off, but he couldn’t remember; it was almost like there was no transition between sleeping and waking anymore. He knew that was a bad sign.
He did find himself unable to look away from the sketch once he started looking at it. It was beautiful in a way that he couldn’t describe, and it called him to a way that he couldn’t explain. In some small part of his brain, he knew that was a sign that this thing really must have had some big magic thrown on it, for good or evil, if it could somehow “get” to him through a piece of paper. But at least Logan was confident he would know this sword when he saw it. Then again, if it had a “call’, he would be far from the only one to hear it. But that’s why he was being paid the big bucks, right? To fight off everyone else.
Assuming it was still in Tokyo. Assuming it was in one piece.
There were so many “ifs” in this scenario, he knew if he was in his right mind, he’d never even consider taking on something like this. But he wasn’t sure he’d ever been in his right mind, and, if so, it wasn’t true anymore, so hey - free and clear.
He forced himself to slide the sketches back in the portfolio and close it up, as he was certain he would not need to take them with him. He would know the sword when - if - he found it.
Looking out the window once more, he saw the glow of electric lights picking out the coastline and body of the island that was Japan. The plane flew low enough that he could see the warm orange glow of the paper lanterns on old fashioned fishing boats, and the newer, harsh blue-white glow from lights on the more current ships; underneath the shine, the water looked as black as ink.
It was strange how familiar Japan seemed to him. He assumed it was due to all the time he spent here with Mariko (never mind that he couldn’t remember any of it), but he wasn’t actually sure. He had a sinking feeling in his gut that he had been here before that, but he had nothing to back that up. Then again, he had nothing to back up anything, just an adamantium skeleton and nightmares that left him wishing he could die. It was no way to live.
Didn’t Bob - at some point - tell him he had to find a new way to live? The way he felt right now, he never wanted to admit that Bob had a point, but he supposed he did. He had to learn to live like this, or find another way.
As the plane glided towards
the neon lit city of Tokyo, Logan wondered which option he would chose.
Scott was certain he had pulled it off.
There was detritus about, sure, but otherwise the room appeared perfectly empty. Oh thank god.
He’d opened the refrigerator to retrieve the soy milk (black coffee was usually too bitter - how could something that smelled so good taste so terrible?) and stuck his head inside when he thought he heard a now familiar noise. It was a noise impossible to describe, although Rogue had said it sounded like “someone squeezing a tube sock full of Jello”. He’d never heard that particular noise before, but he believed her.
“Rampaging hyenas gone?” Cressida said, as soon as she had formed a mouth.
He groaned, and briefly rested his forehead against a cold metal shelf in the refrigerator. Cressida “Chameleon” Santiago, one of Logan’s old Organization assassin buddies, was proving to be a right pest. Xavier found her somewhat fascinating for two reason: he couldn’t read her very well, if at all, due to her unique physiology, which was the second thing that fascinated him. She was completely morphogenic, with a body more liquid than solid; quite literally, she had no bones, except for what she created for herself. A further peculiarity of her physical condition (the Professor said it was like she was in a constant - yet stable - state of molecular flux at all time - and it had occurred to him Jean would have found her fascinating) allowed her to move even when in her “liquid” form, so when she wanted to avoid people without the bother of assuming a truly physical form, she would travel around as a snake made of water. It allowed her to slip under doors and in between cracks (as well as “going liquid” to avoid injuries), and Scott understood how devastating she must have been as an assassin.
And what a killer she was. The other day, much to his horror, he found her in the danger room, teaching the older kids how you crippled and killed various types of opponents, and took out weapon systems and power grids. And that was added to a list of offenses that included smoking in the mansion (she didn’t have a stable set of lungs to damage), going in and out as she pleased all hours of the day and night, and cursing like a sailor - in other words, acting like Logan. Which - predictably - led the kids to liking her as much as Logan. He had no idea what he was going to do with these kids.
Or her. He really wished she’d be like Spider and decide to try and return to her old life (he'd gone back to England several days ago), but so far she showed no sign of leaving. She’d even stopped talking about it, which made him really nervous.
"What have I told you about not sneaking up on people like that?" He said, pulling his forehead away from the shelf. It stung, and he realized he'd almost ripped off a layer of skin. Well, duh - cold metal and skin didn't really match.
Once he let the refrigerator door shut behind him and slammed the carton of soy milk on the counter, he saw her standing by the kitchen sink, back in her small Latina guise. Her basically liquid structure allowed her to be any size she wanted to be: tall, short, skinny, heavy-set, male or female (or neither), but she seemed to go back to this one with some regularity. Maybe it was what she looked like before she started going into flux.
"How can you drink that stuff, man?" She said, and he wasn't sure if she was gesturing to the soy milk or his coffee. "It's disgusting."
No one ever saw her eat or drink. Presumably she did it in private, and perhaps for good reason - he could not imagine how her constantly altering digestive system worked. Maybe she didn't even need to eat like a normal person. If she gained or lost weight, how could you ever tell?
He simply sighed, pouring the milk into his coffee. "Don't change the subject."
"I'm not. I wasn't sneaking; how was I supposed to know you were in here? I was just trying to avoid the rugrat stampede."
Th kids loved her, and
yet, behind their backs, she always referred to them in a derogatory manner.
Clearly, she didn't like kids. He wasn't sure if she liked anything, save
for destroying things. "You know,
"I know, I know, I'm lookin' for places, okay? I'm just trying to figure out what I need, ya know?"
Actually, he didn't, but he nodded just to spare himself further explanation. "I imagine it's difficult after what you came from."
She let out a derisive snort, and he glanced away from stirring the milk in his coffee, watching it turn from dark brown to a pale tan. The early morning sun was behind her, so it was hard to see her face, especially since she always seemed vaguely translucent around the edges, like a statue made of ice. "Look, I know you felt you and Logan got a raw deal from the Org - and I know he did - but until they left me to die I was good with them, ya know? They didn't have to brainwash me or anything, and unlike Spider I have nothing to return to. My father was a very wealthy man, and he made it clear there would be no filthy mutants in his family - that's why he paid a buttload of money to a questionable clinic far from home, so they could "cure" me of my hideous disease. I was not coming home unless I was cured or dead. So when the Org said, "Hey, filthy mutant? Good! Come work for us," I was all over that. Maybe I had to do things I didn't necessarily like, but hey, they paid me, they gave me a home and a reason to live - that was good enough for me."
Scott was torn between feeling pity for her, and feeling angry at her. He could see how, with a mutation as extreme as hers, her family might find it hard to accept her. But on the other hand, she sold her soul away voluntarily to an organization that used murder as a matter of course, and thought nothing of torturing and killing fellow mutants. "Is that an excuse?" He finally asked, more curious than anything else.
She made an obscene gesture
with her hand. "I don't make excuses. I made my choice, and I can live
Maybe that was what she was getting at. "And you don't know how to live without it?"
She made a noise he couldn't interpret and turned away to stare out the window, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. He guessed that he had hit the nail right on the head there.
After a moment of silence, when he sipped his coffee and discovered it was far too milky (damn it, she threw him off), she asked, "How does Logan do it?"
"Do what?" He asked warily. He was still uncomfortable turning his back on her, even to search the cupboards for some sugar. She'd never made any hostile moves towards him or anyone (well, there was that one time she chased the kids down the hall in the form of Freddy Krueger, after they had watched Nightmare on Elm Street, but she claimed it was just a joke - and while the kids were screeching in terror, most had a laugh about it), but he knew from seeing her in the danger room that she was efficiently lethal. In a way, he wished she'd meet up with Mystique; Cressida would kick her ass. And, just from a visceral standpoint, that might be pretty neat to see.
“Live with this? Or not? Whatever he does.”
He was tempted to say, “Well, having no conscience is a big help,” but not only was that snarky, it could cause trouble if she actually considered Logan a friend (or teammate, or whatever). And he didn’t want to keep having a conversation with her; he wanted to get his coffee and go. “I don’t know,” he said, relieved he could finally turn towards her. Not that he could hurt her - she could probably morph around the beam.
As he stirred sugar into the murky mess of his coffee, she sighed, and asked, “So which one of you offed Stryker?”
God, she was cheerful. “I don’t know.” He couldn’t even remember seeing the man after being brainwashed, or whatever had happened to him. “Logan was the last one to see him, I think.”
She grunted a dark snort of laugh, gloating and bitter all at once. “Now that’s quality karma. I hope Logan fricasseed him. For all the shit that Stryker piled on him, Wolverine deserved to kill him.”
He really didn’t want to continue this conversation, and yet curiosity got the better of him once more. “Why Logan? I mean, why was Stryker so focused on him?”
He wasn’t sure if she had shrugged her shoulders or simply altered her skin, letting it roll up her back like a wave on the water. “I heard a couple different things; I don’t know which is true, if any of them. Supposedly Logan was like … not a friend exactly, maybe an underling, I don’t know … that screwed him over or disappointed him or something. A ruined experiment, or maybe he just wouldn’t do what he told him to do. Or, maybe he fucked around with his wife - you know how Wolverine seems drawn to women in doomed relationships.”
“I think you mean all women,” he corrected.
Perhaps he said it a tad too archly, as she glanced over her shoulder at him. She craned her neck at an impossible angle, suggesting she hadn’t made the bones all that rigid. “Hit a little too close to the mark, Doctor J?”
He'd actually had to look that nickname up. He knew it was a basketball player, but he didn’t understand the why of it until he saw a photo of him wearing what looked like safety goggles on the court. He’d asked her to not call him that, but of course it didn’t stop her. “Logan is a horndog.” He took a sip of his coffee and grimaced. Now it tasted like sweet, milky mud. As soon as she was out of here, he was pouring it down the sink.
She shrugged and looked away, out the window. “What about Oyama?”
“Oyama. Ever find out what the connection was between her and Logan?”
He was pretty sure he’d heard her wrong. “There was a connection?” Well, she hit like a ton of bricks; that was very Logan like.
“Again, I heard a couple
of things, don’t know if they’re true or not. She may have gotten his healing
factor - some of the white coats in England isolated his healing gene,
you know. The problem was, it didn’t really take with most mutants,
and it could be a complicated process to be “re-engineered” like
“A relative?” He put the cup down, so he didn’t drop it.
“Yeah, like his daughter or something.”
He felt a chill throughout his body, spreading as slowly as a stain. “His daughter?” He repeated the words numbly, like they meant nothing to him, because he didn’t want her to pick up on the horror. She didn’t look like Logan (thank god); she looked completely Asian. But then again, perhaps she only took after her mother …
The thought that Logan looked too young to be her father was easily dismissible; no one knew how old he was, and he could very well be in his sixties for all they knew. And the fact that he was white and she was Asian didn’t rule out a genetic connection either. (How perfectly fluent was he in Japanese? Scott found that creepy even when he first heard it for himself, how easily he could jump between English and Japanese without taking a breath, like both languages were second nature to him, and Logan knew Tokyo; he knew what streets led where, even though he admitted he didn’t know how he knew, he just did. What if the reason Logan couldn’t find any family in Canada was because they weren’t in Canada? What if they were in Japan?)
Scott knew he didn’t hide his emotions well enough. She turned her head around, and then the rest of her body (now that was genuinely creepy), and studied him for a moment. “He killed her, didn’t he?”
He shook his head. “I don’t really know. We got separated.” Would Stryker have been evil enough to make Logan kill his own daughter? Well, yes, of course he would - the man was a monster. And that was just more evidence that Oyama may very well have been related to Logan somehow; the knowledge after the fact, that he may have killed the only family he had, would kill Logan, on the off chance that she had not succeeded in doing so by then.
There was something in
Cressida approaching humanity, or maybe she did think of Logan as a comrade
He nodded. “Deal.” Yet if she was Logan’s family, he had the right to know … but not until they could confirm it, one way or another. Logan had been through enough shit without having that thrown on him too, especially if it wasn’t necessarily true.
Oh man, how low had he sunk? He felt bad for Logan.
He needed to have his head examined.
Part of the Ginza - especially the neon orgy known colloquially as “Electric Town” - was so gaudy it made Las Vegas look almost tasteful. Well, parts of it anyways.
This section of Tokyo
seemed to bleed neon from every pore, from every crack in the pavement and
every blind window, like an electric toy sentient enough to demand attention
twenty four hours a day. Colored lights bounced off the smoked glass panes
of the near by towers, while electric signs - some easily twenty feet high
- scrolled and danced at the top of tall buildings, hawking wares even when
the stores themselves were closed. In this part of Tokyo, capitalism never
slept; it never even stopped to
As Logan walked down the strangely immaculate sidewalks (well, not for Japan - for Japan they were almost neglected. For America, they were fucking sparkling), he wondered why the city planners had bothered to put in streetlights, save for the appearance of symmetry; he walked in a backwash of crimson and golden yellow light, crystal white and Belial blood blue. The streetlights were like distant candles, trying desperately to compete with klieg lights that spirited away all their brilliance.
Spotlights shined out of ground level shop windows, highlighting wares for pedestrian approval. There was everything from designer suits and dresses to the sleekest new computer gadgets - many not yet available in the States - and digital video cameras so compact they looked like cellular phones. No prices were displayed, as that was tacky (ha!), but he knew with Tagawa’s money behind him, he could probably buy this entire block, real estate and all. (Assuming Tagawa didn’t own all of it already.)
It was night somewhere beyond this island of light, but not so late that the shops were closed; a few at the end of the block had shut for the night, but most were still ready for business, the windows glowing like fires meant to attract those lost at sea. The pedestrians sharing the sidewalk with him with mostly young Japanese, wearing “Western” fashions in odd combinations of styles (sixties miniskirts meeting late seventies punk, with hair mangled in some kind of horrible transporter accident) that was oddly endearing. But their uniformity in their attempts at trendy rebellion negated whatever point they were trying to make. They barely gave him a second glance, and they never stared - not just because it was unbelievably rude, but because it wasn’t all that unusual to see gaijin in Electric Town; as the flame was to the moth, so was Electric Town to the tourist. But every now and then he felt a second backward glance, caught a glimpse of a reflection in one of the many shimmering windows, and knew some understood that he was no goddamn tourist.
Tagawa had given him a name, a contact of his contact, who had a potential lead on the location of Raifu-Kisei. But this contact, Leyoshi, owned and ran - of all things - a rekoodoya (record store) named Erekutoronikkusaundo (basically, Electronic Sound), near the end of Electric Town. Logan wondered what the hell a record store clerk could know about this, but apparently he had valuable connections; his ear was tuned to far more than just music.
Erekutoronikkusaundo was a little shop dwarfed on either side, by a huge electronics store and what looked like some kind of designer clothing warehouse, but its bright red and yellow sign with animated blue musical notes was probably visible from low earth orbit. He actually had to shade his eyes from the glow until they adjusted.
As soon as he pushed open the door, he winced as his senses were assaulted on different fronts. The florescent overheads and neon fish and musical note lamps that lined high shelves on the side walls stung his eyes, while sandalwood incense clogged his nostrils, and Outkast hit his eardrums. He recovered as well, forging ahead, and barely earned a glanced from any of the three deliberately disaffected youth prowling the narrow aisles made up of racks and racks of discs (with a few tapes and even records, thrown in for nostalgia), clearly differentiated between Japanese and “other” (mainly Western music). All of the customers were currently males, none over nineteen, and all wearing their acne like scars of honor. (And one, very unwisely, was wearing a black beret canted at a supposedly roguish angle - who the hell told him that was a good look?)
There was a checkout stand, but there was no clerk currently behind it. Odd, especially at this time of night, and with customers so obviously here. A sound activated fiber optic lamp on top of the cash register seemed to bristle like a sea anemone in time with the bass coming from the speakers, painting the silvered metal counter with shadows the color of contusions.
But that’s when he started parsing the scents. Past the cloying sandalwood and acne cream, hair gel and deodorant body spray, cigarette and pot smoke, plastic and metal, there was … demon. Familiar demon, in fact - Ressiks. Those fucking copper-allergic, lizard-faced sons of bitches; they had beat him here.
The scent was fresh too; so fresh, they may still have very well been on the premises. But where?
There’s was only one answer to that: Behind the door at the back of the store marked “Employees Only - Do Not Enter”.
He had to repress the urge to pop his claws as he quickly walked towards the back, wondering if there was anything left of Leyoshi left to save.