THE HOLLOW MEN
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theSummary: Logan discovers that Bob is out of commission, and he himself is the target of
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!
a hunt by several mysterious parties. If that wasn't enough to contend with, the Organization
finally shows its hand - fighting revenge with revenge.
Notes: Takes place shortly after "X2" and immediately after "Anodyne."
He had just gotten up to leave the cabin and go find a drink (god, he could use a beer), when Logan gasped so suddenly he jumped, pivoting on his heels and instinctively reaching for his gun. Logan was sitting up, staring at the far bulkhead, eyes so dilated it was a joke to think he could focus properly on anything. “Bob,” he wheezed, still sounding both stoned and worse for wear. “ Something’s happened to Bob.”
Marcus didn’t know if it could be real, or was simply a hallucination. “Huh? How do you know that?”
Logan rubbed his eyes, and swallowed hard, shaking his head. “I … dunno, I just …felt something.”
“Like what?” After Logan shook his head helplessly, he suggested, “Was it like a thousand voices crying out at once, and then falling silent?”
Logan glared at him for a full thirty seconds; considering how dilated his eyes were, it lost some of its impact. “I always knew you were a closet Trekkie,” he accused.
He shook his head, and sighed inwardly, as if Logan could make snide remarks, he was probably okay. “C’mon man, kidding aside, what was it?”
“I dunno. Fuck, I don’t feel right. What happened to me?”
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
He had to think about it. “Jumping into a helicopter like a moron.”
“Okay, well, that’s what happened. And you were in so much pain, I … uh … kinda gave you some anodyne.”
“Anodyne? Opium? Why? I’m immune to opium.”
He thought anodyne was a generic old fashioned name for a painkiller. Did it refer specifically to opium? Leave it Logan to know something like that. Couldn’t give you his full name, couldn’t tell you his age, but could define the term “onomatopoeia” in thirteen different languages. Show off. “No, although I’d guess opium is in it. It’s that weird drug we found in the box at Tetsuo’s.”
“That demon-y stuff?”
“Yeah. Well, I figured it wouldn’t hurt you.”
He grimaced sourly, rubbing the back of his neck as he considered it. “Yeah, well, I guess it won’t.” He moved his head side to side, as if trying to work some kinks out. “I hear engines. We heading back to Canada?”
“Gotta phone here that’ll work? I should really call Bob, see if he’s okay.” He paused, stared at a point over his shoulder. “Are the walls moving?”
He looked behind him and checked, because frankly you could never be too sure. “No. Why?”
Logan opened his eyes wide, as if trying to force them to focus, and then shook his head, trying to clear it. “Holy fuck, this is some strong stuff.”
“It’s the schiznit, huh?”
“I have no idea what that means.”
“Neither do I. I’m just tryin’ to sound cool.”
Logan rubbed his eyes again, this time with the palms of his hands. He must have been trying to get himself to focus, but Marcus really didn’t see how that was going to help. “You feel okay, though?”
“Yeah, great.” He stopped trying to grind his own eyeballs out of their sockets and looked down at himself as best he could, fingers trailing lightly over the few remaining wounds on his blood caked skin. “In fact, I’ve never felt better in my life.” It sounded like he scoffed, but when Logan looked up, his mouth was twisted in a curious half smile. “I feel … light.”
Marcus cocked his head to the side, trying to puzzle that one out. That could be taken in a couple of different ways. “O - kay.”
“I mean, I feel like everything’s all right; I don’t feel … well, scared. There’s nothing to be scared of. Everything’s good.”
“Scared? The guy who jumped into the helicopter gunship thirty stories up above Hong Kong is claiming to have ever been scared?”
“Oh, come on, why would I be scared of that?” He replied, scoffing for real this time. “What’s the worst that could have happened there? I woulda killed myself? So fucking what? Naw man, I’m not scared of dyin’. Been there, done that, bought the souvenir novelty items. I’m scared of more prosaic things.”
Marcus stared at him in mild surprise. “You just used prosaic in a sentence. Are you sure you’re okay?” He’d also admitted to be scared of something, as well as perhaps being a tad insane (not afraid of dying? For all his posturing, Marc knew that was something he wasn’t eager to experience). Logan was definitely still under the influence of anodyne - and he was getting the sense he was starting to see a different side of Logan, or at least one who had not only dropped his guard, but lost it behind the sofa.
Logan chuckled again - now this was getting fucking unnerving - and stood up. It took him a moment, and he had to lean against the bulkhead to right himself. Marcus had started to go over to help him, but soon stopped, as he wasn’t sure he wanted to get close until he knew who he was dealing with, and how psychedelic the drugs really were. “I’m great. I haven’t felt this … whole in a long time. Ever.”
“Whole?” A funny term to use. And just because he was curious how far this Logan was willing to go, he asked, “What are you afraid of?”
Logan grinned at him, revealing bloody teeth (oh, right, he got shot in the face, didn’t he? At least those holes had healed up …), and his slightly glassy green eyes seemed to gleam with an odd light. It suddenly occurred to him he’d never really seen Logan looking happy before, and frankly, it was kind of creepy. Maybe it was the fact he was covered in blood. “You’re looking at him, Marc.”
“What? You’re afraid of yourself?”
He pointed at him with enthusiasm, like he just made the correct guess in a game of charades. “Bingo! If I had a cookie, I’d give it to you.” He pushed himself off the wall and tried to walk, but he almost instantly lost his balance and fell back against the bulkhead once more. “Well, I guess hopscotch is out, huh?” He giggled, and Marcus felt genuinely freaked out now. If it was just stoned out of his gourd Logan, he could deal, but … he couldn’t shake the feeling he - the drug - had unleashed something inside Logan. He just wasn’t sure if it was good or bad, or a little bit of both.
“Why would you be afraid of yourself? Just ‘cause you flip out every now and then - ”
“Flip out? Marc, why are you sugar coating it? I go psychotic; I have a break with reality and my own goddamn body. The beast in me comes out; the programming that served me so well when I had nothing else. But, ya see, sometimes … sometimes I can feel it gaining supremacy, y’ know? It’s really tempting to give up and never come back.”
Okay, now he knew this was a different Logan. He would swear the voice had even changed, ever so slightly. His now obliterated Canadian accent was starting to make a comeback, at least in his vowels. Marcus felt like a psychiatrist who just realized he was talking to his patient’s heretofore unknown second personality. “Do you remember your name? When you were born? Where you’re from?”
He gave him a look that was half surprised and half amused. “Now how the hell would I know that? I know the schisms, but I don’t know the data. Wish I did.”
“The partitions. The different bits, the parts where I was broken down and built up again. You know, the programmed personality - as thin as it was - may be gone, but the programming remains. And it is strong, getting stronger all the time.”
Logan shrugged, that curious half smile still on his face. “’Cause I want it to. It’s easier, y’know? Sometimes it’s easier to let go than to hang on, especially when it hurts so much. That’s how they always got me - I was always my own worst enemy. It’s easy to get a guy like that.” He looked down at himself, at all the blood and his seriously torn jeans, and said, “I think I’d better get cleaned up before I scare someone shitless, huh?”
“Might be a good idea. Wanna call Bob first?”
“Yeah, I really should.”
“Stay here, I’ll get you the phone.”
He gave him a lopsided grin. “I think that would be for the best. Thanks.”
“No prob.” Frankly, he was happy to leave the cabin, if only for the moment. This Logan was interesting, but kind of scary in a very obscure way.
There was nothing worse than a guy who knew he was fucked up, but felt good about it all the same.
What the hell was in anodyne?
It felt good to be so busy there was no time to think. Scott found he really didn’t enjoy too much alone time, but that in itself was no shock: he never had, and probably never would. It either meant he was Human, or he had a serious character flaw; he didn’t know which, but he didn’t want to know.
Still, beware what you wished for, right? Xavier was gone, visiting one of his mysterious friends, and Storm had taken some of the older girls on a trip to the local mall, which was a task he was happy to miss out on. He just couldn’t get that excited about clothes, which he assumed was a guy thing. Well, judging from reality television, a straight guy thing. Or at least straight guys who weren’t “metrosexuals”, whatever that was.
Sometimes he didn’t get life. But then again, he supposed no one was supposed to get it.
Most of the kids had no problem keeping busy, as many had assignments they hadn’t completed, while the rest were out in the back, enjoying the sunshine. He knew he should be out there with them, keeping an eye on things, but he found himself aimlessly wandering the halls, like a ghost looking for someone to haunt. He felt useless; he felt lost, even though he knew exactly where he was. He hated this feeling, but he didn’t know how to stop it.
Keeping busy seemed to be his only option. He had been working on his new bike, tuning up all the cars in the garage, and he was working on the engines so much he seemed to have permanent grease beneath his fingernails that no amount of scrubbing could get rid of. Now he feared he was becoming obsessive compulsive. Oh crap, when did he become such a neurotic mess?
Maybe when his world got turned upside down. Not once, but several times. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t keep happening, one upset after another. He assumed he needed a vacation, but he had no idea what he would have done with himself if he did have one. Go nuts maybe.
He decided to head out back when Saddiq, once of the Eden kids with indestructible skin, appeared out of nowhere. He was a good looking kid, lean and lanky but still impressively muscular (certainly the girls around here noticed that), but because he was so obviously Arabic, he’d been occasionally hassled outside school grounds. But he didn’t take it personally, as he said, “I hope they try something. They’ll break their fist on my face.” It was a distressingly Logan like attitude, but at least he didn’t look for trouble, nor did he break out any of his lethal bodyguard training. He was a mild mannered teenager, quiet and respectful of authority, which made him appealing. “Mr. Summers, there’s a guy coming up the drive. I don’t recognize him, but he doesn’t appear armed or in a offensive stance. Should I confront him?”
Logan probably would have been proud of his instant security assessment. Obviously lifelong training died very hard. “No, I’ll take care of it. Thanks Saddiq.”
“Shall I get some of the others and be on stand by?”
This kid. You wouldn’t think someone could actually be a born soldier, but obviously you could create one if you stared the indoctrination early. From what Saddiq and some of the other Eden kids from Rajan had told him, they had been trained as soldiers from the moment they started to walk. “No, it’s okay. I’ll send out the alarm if I need help.”
He gave him a mildly puzzled look. “There’s an alarm?”
Damn - he would catch him in a lie. “Yes, it’s new. You’ll know it when you hear it. Thank you.” He turned and started walking down the hall, before Saddiq could question him further. You wouldn’t think a “born” soldier would be so naturally skeptical.
When he opened the front door, the sunlight was so bright he had to squint, and the man coming up the drive was a dark smear of a slowly moving shadow. When his eyes focused, he could see the man was dressed rather oddly for the warm weather, in a blue plaid flannel shirt, scuffed brown leather jacket, worn blue jeans, and tan hiking boots. He was young too, maybe mid-twenties, with scruffy brown hair, and his complexion was a little sallow, seemingly almost albino pale in the bright sun. He looked up as Scott headed down the drive towards him, and he pasted on a smile. “Hey, you live here?”
“Yes. Can I help you?”
“Gosh, I hope so. I’m looking for a man named Logan. Does he live here?”
That made Scott stop, instantly wary and on guard. Anybody who knew Logan was never good. “No, not really. He doesn’t live anywhere, does he?”
The man smiled, revealing ivory teeth and pale gums. There was something wrong about this guy, but Scott could not, for the life of him, put his finger on it. “Naw, I guess not. He’s still a nomad, eh? Still, does he come around here? ‘Cause he said he did sometimes.”
“How do you know him?”
“He got me out of a spot of trouble up in Canada a couple years back. I owe him.” The man stopped, and seemed to eye him with uncomfortable curiosity, as if he realized he was being scrutinized. “Did I, uh, did I do somethin’ wrong?”
“No, of course not. So you’re a friend of Logan’s?” He didn’t know why he still found that hard to believe, he just did. But then again, Logan did have friends - they were just all routinely some form of bad news.
The man rolled his shoulders, a sort of half shrug. Sweat glistened on his forehead, and for a moment, it looked like something sparkled in his brown eyes - genuinely sparkled, like flecks of mica catching the light. “Kinda. He changed my life. And I hate to bug him, but … I kinda need his help again.”
“You’re not a normal Human, are you?”
He grimaced in embarrassment, glancing shyly down at the ground. Again, Scott caught that glimmer again, a brief spark of energy in the irises of his eyes. “No. Is that a problem?”
“Shouldn’t be,” he replied cryptically. “What kind of trouble are you in?”
He frowned then, looking almost defensive. “It’s kinda complicated.”
“Everything about Logan is complicated. I’m getting used to it.”
It took him a minute to accept that that was as close to an excuse as he was going to get. “To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what’s goin’ on. About a week ago, these people showed up, askin’ me questions about him. I didn’t say anything ‘cause fuck if I was gonna trust a bunch of strangers, but then … all this weird shit started happening.” Tears welled in his dark brown eyes, which still showed an occasional flicker of sparks, and Scott guessed his powers must have been electricity based. “My apartment building burned down, an’ for some reason my bank account got frozen, and then … I swear somebody tried to kill me a coupla days ago. I mean, somebody shot at me, and I don’t know how they didn’t hit me …”
Scott didn’t know if he dared believe him, but his tears seemed genuine, and the story he was telling - while paranoid - had a terrible ring of plausibility to it. While it was nice to think what happened down in Mexico -
(Jean killed them all. Jean!)
- had shut the Organization down, those bastards were like zombies in a horror film. They just wouldn’t stay dead. “These people asking you about Logan - did they identify themselves?”
He wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand, and sniffed before he said, “No. They said they worked for the government, but they didn’t really show me any i.d., and they said Logan was wanted. Is he? I mean, they said things about him that I just couldn’t believe. I mean, I know he kinda has a temper, but -”
“What did they say he was wanted for?”
He hesitated, still sniffing, tendrils of silver energy as thin as a human hair still flickering across the minute gaps in his eyes. It was oddly beautiful, and yet extremely disturbing. “Th-they said … murder. Murder and terrorism. But I don’t believe it! I mean … it can’t be true, can it?”
Murder? Because of all the Organization troops he’d killed? Actually, in today’s day and age, the terrorism charge was more troubling, and made less sense - unless simply fighting Organization captivity was considered “terrorism”. “Of course not, no,” Scott reassured him. He was sure the charges weren’t real at all - the Organization wasn’t going to risk actual cops picking him up first.
Scott knew very well this could be bullshit. But there was also the possibility it wasn’t - they already knew he did actually make a couple of friends up in Canada before he joined them here (how else did they get the Eden kids?) - and all he could do right now, until he could contact Logan for confirmation (or until Xavier got back and scanned his mind), was ask questions and try to poke holes in his story. He glanced around cautiously, asking, “Do you know if you were followed?”
That made him look around nervously, his lips twisting in obvious anxiety. “I don’t think so. Ya think they might’ve?”
“I don’t know. Maybe we’d better get inside, just to be safe.” Even though he wasn’t anxious to let this guy into the mansion until he knew if he was for real, or what his power exactly was, nor was he eager to attract the attention of the Organization again. But since Leonie came here, it was obvious they had never left their sights. Bastards. “Do you have a name?”
“Oh yeah, sorry,” he said, giving him a sheepish
grin as tendrils of
silver energy flitted through his eyes. “You can call me Cole.”