E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theSummary: Logan makes a stunning decision to get to the root of his problem with the Organization, while Bob tracks down Jean - but what he finds isn't what he expects.
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 and his bunch are all mine - keep your hands off!
Notes: Takes place shortly after the "X2" movie, and right after "The Falling Sky".
Marcus knew someone had broken into his building the instant he approached the door.
Always sealed, it was actually slightly ajar, with what appeared to be pry marks gouged into the side. What sorry sack of shit for brains decided to break into his building? He almost felt sorry for them. Not so sorry he wouldn’t beat the living fuck out of them and dangle them from the roof by one ankle, though.
He nudged the door open with his shoulder and entered quietly, listening carefully for any odd noises and scanning the foyer for anything out of place. It all looked normal, all bland, matte steel and exposed concrete, and none of the metal doors on the first floor (which were all painted brick red, for unclear reasons) were ajar or otherwise unsecured. It was quiet too, which wasn’t that odd for a Thursday afternoon.
Oh joy - had the burglar gone upstairs? He really hoped he’d broken into his place. It would make things easier overall.
He slid the plastic bag of groceries down to his wrist, and used his teeth to pull off one of his suede gloves as he stealthily crept up the stairs. He'd impressed even himself when he dropped the glove into the grocery sack without having to use either hand - he was getting too good at this.
The upper floor looked clear too, but when he approached his door … oh, hallelujah, gouge marks in the door frame. The stupid fuck did break into his place. It was the last idiotic thing he would ever do.
Marc remained in stealth mode until he reached the door, and then threw it open violently, instantly tossing the grocery bag aside, freeing his hands for a fight.
A pointless gesture. Sitting on the floor, with his back against the sofa and the coffee table shoved out, so he could sit with his knees tented up and arms wrapped around them, was Logan. Well, that explained the claw marks.
“What the fuck, man?” He asked, kicking the door shut with his foot and going to retrieve his bag. “I was all geared up for a good fight here.”
“Sorry. I couldn’t afford to be seen in front of your place, I had to come in,” Logan said, and his voice was oddly low and beaten. He was resting his chin on his knees, and had yet to look up.
As Marc retrieved the bag, he studied Logan curiously, creeping closer. It was Logan...right? Not just a guy wearing a ton of hair spray?
When he was within five feet of him, he got his first whiff of blood. “Shit, you got in a fight?”
When Logan looked at him, Marcus was so shocked he almost took a step back. It wasn’t the blood that spattered his face like Jackson Pollock had tried to make him a canvas, or the fact that his white (and it was white, not red like he initially thought) t-shirt was half blood slowly turning a rust color in the air, or even the fact that it looked like there were still minute flecks of skin …and holy shit, was that brain matter?.. on the shirt as well - it was his eyes.
Red-rimmed and hollow, he had the empty, thousand yard stare of a long time prisoner of war, or a mental patient. The person who had been there had checked out; the thing left in his place was a being who had suffered to the point where it saw the world through nothing but the filter of its own pain. “Jesus fucking Christ,” he gasped, unable to help himself. That wasn’t Logan’s brain on his shirt, was it?! Unconsciously, he reached for the Tec 9 in the concealed holster on the back waistband of his jeans. “Where are they? Are they still around?” Who the fuck could do this to Logan, and why did Marcus even think he had a real chance against them?
“They killed her,” he said, swallowing hard. Marc watched his adam’s apple bob restlessly beneath the skin of his throat, and he suddenly realized he was trying not to cry or vomit. Maybe both. “That was the whole point. She lived to die, to teach me a lesson.”
“Who died?” He asked, wondering if Logan was in shock. His healing ability only seemed to work on physical shock, not on any of the other kinds.
Okay, he had missed something. Was that the name of one of the students? “Who?”
Oh fuck. “You had a kid?”
For some reason, Logan
made a noise that was a kind of a laugh, but with no strength in it at all,
it could have been mistaken for an aborted whimper. “In a manner of speaking.
They wanted to prove that they still controlled me, so they let her
go, and killed her in front of me. She was bait; she was just a reminder
“Wait, wait,” he said, slinging his bag of groceries into the nearest chair, and re-holstering his gun. “They? Are we talking the Org here?”
“Who else?” Logan continued to stare through him, hollow-eyed and in perfect agony. Marc could almost see his sanity draining away, a light fading behind his eyes. “Every time I think I beat ‘em, I don’t. They’re not going away, and they won’t take me on. They could, that'd be all right, but then they decide that’s not good enough. They have to kill people around me, they have to take the battle to them, and I can’t save ‘em; I just get to watch them die, and know it’s my fault-”
“It isn’t your fault,” Marcus interrupted sharply. “They did the killings; them. Don’t let them pin this on you.”
“It is my fault. She lived only to be an example for me.”
He shook his head, and tried to piece this together. He would have loved to have asked Logan what the fuck he was on about, but he was indeed shock-y and ranting, trying to keep his sanity while it frayed around him. He didn’t see how killing anyone could get to Logan that much, except maybe it wasn’t the actual killing, just the fact that he was rendered so impotent and powerless to stop it.
And of course it was his daughter’s brains all over his shirt. Fuck.
He wasn’t sure what he
could do to help him, or why Logan had even come here, although he realized
He scoffed. “I should have been.”
So all the blood on him wasn’t his own. She really must have taken a devastating shot, and he must have been in very close range of her when it happened. “Did you get a look at the shooter?”
“No. They shot me in the head with an adamantium bullet - it may have been the same one that collapsed her skull, I don’t know. I was out for a minute or so.”
Only Logan would walk away from a direct head shot. Him and that metal skull of his; gave new meaning to the term 'thick headed'. Obviously, his daughter hadn’t been loaded up with metal. “Where did this happen? Couldn’t have been Baltimore..”
“You drove here covered in blood and -” If he said brains, he didn’t know how Logan would react, so he quickly said, “-gunpowder? Does Xavier know about this?”
“He knows,” he said, looking away from his direction. He wasn’t sure Logan had really ever seen him anyways. “I had to get away before they spread out. I was hopin' they'd tail me, but I saw no sign of it.”
“You wanted to lead them to my place?” Not so comforting, that.
“No. I gave them the opportunity to take me, but they didn’t. They’re playing mind games with me.”
And they were winning, judging from Logan’s state. “Okay. What can I do to help you out here?”
Finally, Logan seemed to look at him, for the very first time. "I need a location, Marc. I need to know a likely place where I can find them."
All right then, not all the fight had been kicked out of him - he wanted to hunt them down. "Okay, I'll see what I can pull together. Why don't you clean up, huh? And take whatever you want from my closet, I don't care ..." And he didn't; he really didn't want to look at someone's brain matter anymore. Normally it didn't bother him all that much, but then again, it was usually the brain matter of someone who deserved to have their skull split like a piñata. He couldn't see a girl (how old was she?) ever deserving that.
"I don't wanna clean up," Logan said, anger suddenly animating his face. "I want to find those fuckers and be outta here."
"Yeah, but unless you just want me pullin' a location outta my ass, it's gonna take me some time to collate the recent data, and frankly I don't want blood-" And brains. "-all over my couch." Maybe being short with him right now wasn't the best thing; the anger that now gave Logan a look of life was the belligerent, aimless kind, the kind that just wanted someone to hurt and didn't care who or what it was.
But after a moment, Logan glanced away, down at the floor, and his posture seemed to sag in absolute surrender. Jesus Christ - even when he was suicidally depressed, he was not like this. At least then he still hated himself; now it seemed like even that was too much to muster up.
Holy fucking Christ, the Organization had finally done it.
They had broken him.
At least when Logan went, zombie like, to take a shower, it not only gave Marc time to boot up his laptop and put the groceries away (well, his ice cream was melting - and while he cared more about Logan than a dairy product, this was still Bailey's Irish Cream ice cream, and it was always semi-solid at best anyways), but also time to make some phone calls. He was hoping the sound of the shower would keep Logan from hearing him. Still, he kept his voice low.
"Marcus," Xavier said as soon as he picked up the phone, sounding stressed. "This is not a good time."
"Yer fucking telling me it's not a good time?" He exclaimed, grabbing a beer out of the fridge. "Do you have Logan with brains on his shirt camping out in your loft?"
Xavier sucked in a sharp breath, then continued. "Dear god. He came to you?"
"Yeah, he did, and I've never seen him this way - he's a fucking wreck. You know what happened to his kid?"
"Yes. He called me from a pay phone shortly after the incident. He simply told me they had killed her, without elaborating. I tried to convince him to come back, but there was so much pain ..." He trailed off, and Marc wondered if Xavier had tried to "read" Logan over the phone. That was probably a nasty bit of business he wouldn't soon repeat. "I sent Ororo after him, but by the time she arrived he was long gone. I was afraid he'd gone into hiding again."
"Do we even know it was the Org? There are disturbed people nowadays ..."
"Yes, we know. They left a note at the scene. A note for Logan."
From the way he let the pause drag out, he knew Xavier wasn't going to tell him what was on it, but he supposed it was some variety of "Neener neener neener". "So they did kill her to send a message to him?"
"That poor girl," Xavier said, sounding equally pained and angry. "I was afraid Logan would drop out entirely, fearing proximity to him would endanger us. But he needs to come back - we can protect him."
Marcus kicked the refrigerator door shut and retreated to the couch, to see how his search program was coming along. "No, I don't think you can. Bob can, but according to Helga, he's away on some Higher Realm business. Must be serious, 'cause he even blew off a lunch date with Amaranth, and you don't want to piss off that little witch." He’d called Bob first - it seemed like the wisest course of action. If only he had been home …
He hadn't told Hel what he was calling about, even though she'd asked and offered to help. He didn’t know the complete story, and besides, it was Logan’s story to tell.
"That's a bit harsh."
That puzzled him for a moment. "Naw, I meant she's a real witch, man - an actual spell-slinging wicca. Apparently she's good at it, and intimidating, in that Aussie way."
"Oh." Xavier now sounded puzzled. Maybe he didn't know there were such things as actual witches either.
Marc sat on the edge of his couch and saw his search program had churned up fifteen potential locations, based on a variety of factors. Due to variables he couldn't quite eliminate from the system, the majority of these locations were wrong, or simply legitimate military facilities. It was always up to him to look at them and figure out what the best bets were. "If you're asking me to send him back, the answer is no. I can take care of him here, at least until Bob shows up."
"They want him to be isolated," Xavier insisted. "If he is alone, he is extremely vulnerable. He is playing into their hands."
"He's not alone. I'm here."
He paused for so long Marc felt insulted. "But you are just one man. Here -"
"There you've got kids, who Logan obviously doesn't want involved in this. Maybe I ain't some super duper hero like the rest of you, but I am a one man army myself, you know. That's why I'm paid the big bucks."
"I don't want you to encourage him to-"
"Encourage him to what?" He snapped impatiently, indignant on Logan's behalf. "He isn't one of your kids. He's a grown man who can decide for himself what he wants to do."
"He's a deeply wounded man whose just had his daughter murdered in front of him," Xavier replied coldly. "He is not in a rational state of mind, and I fear he could do something that he will regret."
“Like what, hunt these bastards down?”
Another pause, this one thick with disapproval. “That could be just what they want. Violence solves nothing; it just begets more violence -”
“Damn right, and they “begat” this when they blew that little girl’s head off. If he wants to slice ‘em to pieces for it, I’ll hold their arms while he does it.” He couldn’t believe that Xavier would even consider letting anything quite this horrible slide. Nonviolence was a wonderful philosophy, but sometimes it was unrealistic at best. Maybe he’d have felt differently if Logan had showed up at his place with pieces of his daughter all over him and howling madness in his eyes.
“Revenge will not help him,” Xavier persisted, as if he were a child missing an important point. “He will walk into another trap. He will remain on the path they set for him.”
‘Yeah, well, excuse me if I have a little faith in Logan’s ability to handle himself. Maybe you should try it sometime.” And with that, he shut his cell phone, breaking the connection. That was a pointless phone call.
He shoved the cell back in his pocket, and focused on the list of likely names currently on his computer. He had to narrow this down to the most likely candidates, and normally he needed time and lots of caffeine to do this properly. But this was an emergency, so he was just going to have to knuckle down, trust his gut, and maybe mangle a few other clichés along the way.
Because another second
these bastards lived was a second too long.
It was always blood, wasn’t it? A river, an ocean of blood, an eternal sea of it. Sometimes it was his own, but mostly it was the blood of others.
That was what was swirling down the drain right now. Logan watched as he sat at the bottom of Marc’s shower, seeing how Leonie’s blood contrasted nicely with the blue veined marble tiles that lined the bathtub and shower walls. The water pounding down on him was cold, and had been for some time, but he didn’t care. Maybe, eventually, it would grow so cold it would turn his skin numb, and his outside would match his inside.
He had two choices, neither of which were good. The most logical thing to do would be disappear, vanish, just drop out of society again and live like a fugitive, hoping they never caught up with him again. But - damn him, damn him! - he had gotten soft, and was tired of living in fear, tired of sleeping in his goddamn truck (he didn’t even have a truck anymore) or at fleabag motels; he was so fucking done with all of that shit. And someone would try and find him: Yasha, Xavier, certainly Bob. He would not have anonymity for long.
But if he stayed where he was, who died next? Yasha, Xavier, Rogue, Marcus? (The moment the Organization shifted its focus to Bob was the moment the Organization died, full stop, end of story.) Maybe they’d just use a surface-to-surface missile or a few rocket propelled grenades on the school - that would teach them to associate with a scumbag like Wolverine. The Organization was making it nice and clear: they owned him. And they could do what they wanted to him, whenever they wanted. But take the battle to him? No, that was yesterday’s news. Today’s warfare called for terrorism, and what qualified more than systematically killing everyone who had the misfortune to align themselves with him?
Leonie was only the beginning. He was not an idiot, no matter what the general consensus was. Leonie’s death was a warning shot across the bow. They had declared war on not just him, but everyone in his life. Logan knew he could not, in good conscience, allow his friends to suffer for what he had done, for what he was. No one should have to suffer because of him; enough people already had.
That was why he had come here. Option number two was the only one open to him. Technically, there was a third option, the one he allowed Marc to believe - that he wished to find them and kill them for killing Leonie. And he did wish to kill them, and silently vowed to her that he would. They would pay in blood for spilling hers.
But not today. He had tried to take them on before, and not alone, but that was never something that could play out in his favor. They had been neutralizing mutants for years; they had neutralized him for years. If he cared about any of the people in his life, even peripherally, there was only one thing he could do: take the second option, and save their lives, get their necks off the chopping blocks. He would have to leave revenge for another day, but it would come, no matter what they did to him.
Logan leaned back against the slick tiles, letting the cold water pelt his face, but he wasn’t numb; his healing factor was even countering this, damn it. He wondered if it was even in him to do what he knew had to be done.
Remarkably, yes it was. He was so bone weary of all of this, this endless fight against an implacable foe. But he knew he never would have even considered it if everyone else’s lives weren’t on the line.
Logan would surrender to the Organization, and find out why the fuck they wanted him so bad, once and for all.