ANGELS AND INSECTS
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theSummary: After an incident garners the X-Men unwanted attention, Logan decides to drop out
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 Yasha are *my* characters - keep your hands off!
for awhile, even though the team is in tatters. But unbeknowst to him, he's being hunted by the
Vantha - who have very strange plans in mind for him.
Notes: Takes place shortly after the "X2" movie, and right after "Gakido".
Seriously, how low did a person have to go to end up in a place like this?
Logan shook his head and braced himself as he walked in the door, ready for anything.
It was a small place, cozy almost, brightly lit and done up in muted colors, ivory and pale celery green, with wooden tables as round as saucers filling up the middle of the room, and a few “rustic” looking wooden booths in the back, by the picture windows. Enya played softly on the sound system, and just to the right of the door, an older man who looked like a lascivious English professor and a somewhat plain brunette in a maroon turtleneck and long gray skirt were both eating something that looked grilled and sipping glasses of white wine, discussing how pedestrian the MOMA had come, desperately trying to out pretentious each other. Logan had to tamp down the urge to just go over there and smack them, and demand that they either just do each other on the table right now or get the fuck out - either way, just spare everyone their upper class twit of the year mating dance.
Jesus fucking Christ. Scott couldn’t even do this right. He had come to a fern bar to get bombed.
He was just going to turn around and leave, tell Bob he couldn’t find him, but then he caught sight of him, hunched down in one of the padded wooden benches in the corner, looking miserable, and he knew if Bob saw his memories, he’d catch that too. Damn it.
He stalked over to the booth and threw himself in the bench seat across from him, all the while giving him a dirty look that Scott didn’t bother to look up to see. “What the fuck are you doing here?” Logan demanded. “There’s a sleazy bar just five blocks over where they serve real booze and have never had a customer who drives a Saab.”
Scott lifted his head slowly, as if it weighed a ton. “Go away,” he said thickly, determined to be miserable.
“If you’re gonna do this, do this right,” he insisted. “No one can get a good self-pity drunk on with red wine alone.”
“I am not bein’ self-piteous,” Scott insisted, drawing his half filled glass close to him. Somehow he was slightly drunk, and he just reeked of wine. Fuck, what a lightweight. “D-do you know what that fucking friend of yours - “
“He’s not my friend,” Logan snapped automatically. Then he was at a loss what to say. “Okay, maybe, kinda.”
“Do you know about Jean?”
“When did you know?” He asked accusingly, leaning his elbows on a table. He looked like he was about to collapse face forward onto it. Logan just knew it; Scott was one of those guys who probably only had drinks on special occasions - a glass of wine with dinner on Thanksgiving, a glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve - who never built up a real tolerance for it, and could probably get a good buzz off a box of chocolate liqueurs. Although Logan knew it was pathetic, he envied him getting a buzz off anything - that was a feat he couldn’t master.
“A few minutes ago, when I was back at the mansion and Bob told me,” he lied, deciding he really didn’t need to know the details. It’d only make him more upset, and he hadn’t had any intention of telling him even when he was sober. “Why the fuck did you quit the X-Men?”
Suddenly a slim hipped, bright eyed Pakistani waitress showed up at their table. “Hello,” she said, with a heavily caffeinated brightness, pulling a small notepad and pencil seemingly from out of nowhere. “Would you like a menu?”
Logan stared at her in disbelief. Was she not picking up his “fuck off” vibe? Not that he could work up a good rant against her - she was probably just a college student supplementing her income with a shitty job, and it wasn’t her fault she had a boy’s hips.
“Yes,” Scott said, holding up his glass. “I want more of … this. Whatever this is.” A ray of light from the window caught the bell of the glass, making the wine in it shine like liquid rubies. Its red shadow spilled over the wood grain table like a bloodstain.
Her doe eyes seemed to lose a little of their luster when she glanced at Scott. She had no experience dealing with the sloshed, or did she just not like them? “Sir, we have a -” She hesitated, not sure how to let him down.
“Give me a grilled cheese sandwich,” Logan interjected, deciding to be kind to her and give her an excuse to leave. Scott wouldn’t realize he wasn’t getting another drink.
She turned her nervous attention to the pad in her hand, and said, “All right. What kind of bread would you like? Brioche, baguette, cracked wheat, sourdough rye, sundried tomato and thyme, honey - “
“Bread,” he interrupted impatiently. He now regretted trying to save her skinny ass. “Just bread. I don’t care what kind.” At her honestly uncomprehending look - oh, these goddamn Yuppie pits - he said, “The first one.”
“All right,” she agreed, scribbling it down. “What kind of cheese? Brie, gruyere, goat’s milk Romano, Swiss - “
“The yellow kind,” he snapped. He gave her a molten look, and hoped she’d get the message.
Her brown eyes widened, and he caught a slight whiff of fear off of her - was his look that intimidating? Or maybe it was just him - he didn’t look like he belonged here. Scott could pass, but Logan knew he looked far too low class to be in the same zip code as a place like this. “An-anything to drink?” She stammered, taking a step back from the table.
“Yeah, this,” Scott repeated, tapping the glass with his finger.
“No, I’m good.”
“Very good,” she squeaked, and hurried away.
Scott scoffed. “Isn‘t she high strung?” He then gave him a curious look. “You like grilled cheese sandwiches?”
Logan sighed, and dry washed his face. What he wanted to do was punch the table down, shove Scott through the window, pick him up by his nape and drag him back to the mansion - he could. It would take mere minutes, and surely he had the money to cover the damage.
“Why did you leave the X-Men?” He repeated, deciding not to mention that the last time he could remember having a grilled cheese sandwich, it was in an all night truck stop in British Columbia, in the company of a dying geneticist who packed a mean set of pistols, several minutes before a corporate funded army tore the dump up. There were just some facts that weren’t helpful.
Scott sighed and slumped back against his seat, looking like a slowly deflating mannequin. “I can’t do it anymore. You lead ‘em.”
“I can’t … I don’t wanna. I can’t take people dyin’ on me.”
“Jean didn’t die.”
“But Cressida did,” he said, suddenly getting angry. “And I thought Jean had. I can’t … I’m not like you. I can’t just shrug death off.”
Logan scowled at the insult, but decided not to get into it. If he was gonna chew Scott a new one, he wanted him sober when he did it. “You can’t be that naïve, Scott. You knew bein’ a leader of any group, you’re gonna suffer casualties at some point. At some point, you will knowingly send your people into a situation where they will most likely die.” Logan suddenly felt a chill of déjà vu, and wasn’t completely sure why. Had he had this discussion before, or had he done it before? Both?
Scott shook his head so vehemently he almost fell over and knocked his own visor off. “No, no, there’s no situation where death is the only possible outcome. There’s always another way - ”
“No there isn’t.”
“Yes there is,” he angrily insisted. “It’s a failure of imagination if - “
“Why do you think I run no win scenarios in the danger room?” He interrupted, trying to suppress the urge to ram Scott’s stubborn head into the table. “Do you wanna know how many of those I’ve been in in my life? Too fuckin’ many.”
“But you’re still alive.”
“Only ‘cause my healin’ factor won’t let me stay dead. Does anyone else have that luxury?” Scott looked away, his jaw muscles working like he was chewing on walnuts. “And let me point somethin’ else out here, Captain Queeg - your troops have minds of their own. Jean made that decision on her own - “ Well, as far as they knew. “ - and Cressida did the same damn thing. I know for damn sure I’d a done the same thing she did - kill those fucking things, no matter the cost. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.”
“But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?” Scott exclaimed, throwing his hands wide. He almost knocked over his wine glass. “She figured out a way to kill them. She also figured out a way to get us all out of there. Did I? No, I didn’t. I failed them. Cressida was a better leader than I was. She‘d never even have any training, and yet she knew exactly what to do while I was still figuring out what was going on.”
Oh god, was some of this just an ego thing? He rolled his eyes, and said, “Look - she was an operative. They don’t lead, they generally work on their own. She was working for herself, not you - it just happened to help you. And what you gotta understand is that we were trained to improvise; you train fine, Scott, but yer rigid. I wish things were as cut and dried as you seem to think they are, but you gotta know by now the world is completely fucking nuts - anything can happen at any time. There’s no way to be prepared for every possibility, but you do the best you can.”
Scott stared at him for a long moment, head canted to the side, and he looked about five degrees from listing over completely. “This is why you should lead them for a while, Logan. I’m tired.”
He shook his head. “I’m a solo act.”
“Why? You could do a better job than me.” He had a petulant look on his face. Drunks and their mood swings.
“Says who? Kid, I don’t want the job.”
“ ‘Cause I don’t. As I said, solo. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t play well with others.”
Scott frowned, his synapses firing at a rather slow rate. “Why’d you call me Captain Queeg?”
“Let’s go home - I’ll tell you there.”
His frown deepened, gouging lines in his narrow face. “I don’t have a home.”
“Yes you do. Now let’s get outta here before they evict me for thinking Picasso’s a dick.” He dug in his pants pocket for his wallet, aware that he’d never bothered to get an i.d., not even a driver’s license, and all his wallet ever had in it was cash and scraps of paper. But how did you get one when you didn’t even have a birth certificate? One of these days, he knew he was going to have to take Marcus up on making a good fake driver’s license for him. But what would he put as his last name? Or first name, if he decided Logan was his last?
Was that i.d. he made for him in Santo Marco still good? Logan Hunter? That sounded generic enough - he could probably live with that, if he had to have any official identity at all.
“Bob is … he’s a lying, stinking weasel who let that … fucking thing take Jean … ” Scott said, apparently unconcerned that this wasn’t connected to anything else.
“No he didn’t.”
Scott ignored him; he was on a roll. “He knew that … thing couldn’t be trusted, that … it’d want blood - “
“Did you want Fenrir to take over?” He interrupted impatiently.
That seemed to throw him for a moment. Logan waited for his hopelessly besotted synapses to fire and put it all together. “No … “ he finally admitted, sounding as if he wasn’t sure who Fenrir actually was.
“I’ve had access to Bob’s mind - that runs both ways. And I know he thought he was doing the only thing he could; he didn’t wanna, but he kinda had to. And he knew he might pay for it in the end, but he never once thought that any of you would. If he wasn’t recovering in the higher realms - which Camaxtli knew, I might add - it woulda never happened. Bob likes Humans - don’t ask me why, but he does. He’d never hurt ‘em.” Especially not one I love, he thought, but there was no fucking way he was saying that to Scott.
Scott finally scoffed, shaking his head in such a loose way it looked like it was about to fall off his shoulders. “Of course you’re gonna say that … ”
“Look at me,” Logan demanded, and Scott did, snapping to out of reflex. “If I thought for a second that Bob hurt Jean, I would find a way to kill him.” He let that sink in before he asked, “Do you doubt that?”
Scott’s slim jaw seemed to go taut with tension once more, and eventually he shook his head, his limp brown hair flopping onto his pasty brow. “No. And that’s why you’re so fucking scary sometimes.”
Logan just shrugged. It was fair enough.
“You know, I was hoping you would do that to me,” Scott went on, as Logan pulled out some cash and stuck his wallet back in his pocket. “When I was brainwashed, and attacking Jean at the dam. Not kill me, but sneak up on me, put me down. I figured if anyone would deliberately attack me, it would be you, ‘specially if I was tryin‘ to hurt her.”
Logan really didn’t know what to say to that. It was probably an insult, but given the circumstances, somewhat mitigated. “Get up,” he snapped, doing just that himself.
“ ‘Cause we’re leavin’.”
“I don’t wanna leave,” he said petulantly. “I haven’t gotten my refill yet.”
“And you ain’t gonna get one, sunshine. We’re approximately five minutes away from bein’ officially evicted by the cops - do ya really want that?” Okay, a lie, but probably not much of one; and in spite of being bombed, Scott was always a Boy Scout at heart. He wouldn’t want trouble.
Scott groaned as if in pain, and shoved himself up, so unsteady he stumbled over his own feet, and Logan had to catch him so he didn’t plummet face down onto the floor. “I’m good,” he instantly claimed, clearly not. Logan shoved him back upright, and watched Scott waver for a minute before he seemed to find his center of balance again.
The waitress was coming over, holding the world’s fanciest (and undoubtedly most expensive) grilled cheese sandwich on a tray, and her dark eyes were still full of trepidation as he held out a fifty dollar bill towards her. “Will this cover the bill?”
“Hey, I got money,” Scott protested, and then commenced a fumbling search for his wallet.
Some of the fear died in her eyes as she realized the denomination of the cash. “Yes, certainly. Are you leaving? What about your sandwich?”
“Bag it up. There’s a homeless guy selling newspapers two blocks South of here - take it to him after your shift is over. Consider the change the delivery money.” She looked startled by the request, but accepted the money, and as soon as she did, he grabbed Scott’s shoulder and pulled him out of the fern bar.
“You really feel for them, don’t you?” Scott said, as the humidity of the outside air hit them like a fist. What was it about New York, especially in the city? It was like the devil’s armpit - the air was so moist and dense you could almost cut pieces out of it. The sky was actually overcast, flimsy gray clouds blocking the sun, but it did nothing to lessen the moisture sucking intensity of the atmosphere. “It’s ‘cause you were one of them, right? You were homeless when we found you. Have you ever had a home?”
“Shut up,” he replied, dragging him through the streets. The sidewalks were reasonably populated - as they usually were in New York City -but as was also typical, people parted before him like the Red Sea. Maybe that was the one good thing about the hair.
Scott didn’t take the hint though - again. “Ya know, I was always worried I’d end up like that, you know. Growing up I never really had a home. And now I’ve walked out on the only one I’ve really ever had - ”
But he’d barely dragged him half a block when he was forced to stop - how the fuck was he going to get him back to the mansion on his bike? “Did you bring your car?” He asked Scott.
Scott pulled his arm out of his grip, nearly stumbling from the effort of it. “I’m not going back there.”
He was not arguing with a drunk imbecile. “I’m taking you to a proper bar, dickhead.” Of course he’d never be seen in a proper bar with Scott, but he was hoping he was too slow on the uptake to figure that out.
After a moment, he said sourly, “There’s no need to call names.”
He could deck him right now, and he’d probably be too drunk to remember who hit him later on. He could tell him anything - he pulled his scrawny ass out of a fight. Sure, that would work, and give him a serious case of the guilts too.
Just as he was considering whether to give him a right hook or just a head butt, Logan heard the noise. It was the usual screech of brakes and chorus of honks that made up the New York City audioscape, but then there was a strange noise, like damped explosions - pop, pop.
And that’s when the screaming started.
No matter that it was at least a block over, Scott finally heard it too. His head snapped around violently, and he started heading up the street, just as others started surging down it the opposite way. “Hey,” Logan griped, struggling against the crowd to catch up to him. Drunk or not, he now had purpose, and that gave him a bit more steadiness than he had before. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“They might need our help,” Scott explained, nearly losing his balance again.
“You couldn’t help yourself out the door,” Logan pointed out. But of course the nuance was lost on the wino.
Scott still went around the corner, battling against the throng eager to leave the vicinity (in other words, the sensible people), and Logan joined him, just in time to see what was going on.
A Brink’s armored truck was laying on its side in the middle of the street, and on top of it was standing a big, muscular man who was firing some kind of blasts from his hands towards what must have been a police escort vehicle, parked parallel to the truck in the center of the road. Two cops were trying to take shelter behind the car, but it was flimsy protection, especially when a reasonably attractive dark skinned woman - who must have been blaster boy’s accomplice - picked up a parked sedan by a single hand - like it weighed no more than an empty cardboard box - and brought it crashing down on the police car, flattening it like a pancake. The cops scattered, and the crowd that had been gathered to watch the show suddenly realized their safe distance wasn’t far enough away.
“Mutants,” Scott muttered, pointing out the perfectly obvious.
“No shit.” In fact, didn’t blaster boy look curiously familiar? Where had he seen him before?
Scott took aim and a coherent red beam of energy lanced out from his visor and hit the blaster in the chest. Maybe because he was drunk Scott’s aim was a little off, and he only clipped the guy’s torso, but it was enough to send him flying off the side of the truck. More chaos ensued, as now the cops didn’t know who to aim their guns at, the crowd no longer knew where a safe place was, and the she hulk went from shocked to pissed in an instant, but was smart enough to dodge behind the truck, so Scott couldn’t shoot her too.
Scott, of course, forged ahead before Logan could grab him and yank him out of here. It was then that someone fell into Logan, and his irritation faded as he realized he smelled blood.
It was a guy in a uniform, probably one of the Brink’s guys, glassy eyed and bleeding from a massive gash on his forehead that painted half his face in red. His left hand was hanging limp at an odd angle, suggesting something was broken. “I’m - I never saw them - “ the guy said, clearly mistaking him for someone who cared. But he probably had a concussion too, and was just wandering in a sense that he should do something, but he no longer had any idea what.
Logan took him by the shoulders and moved him aside, propping him up against the nearest building so at least, if he passed out, he wouldn’t be trampled by the crowd. “Stay here,” he told him firmly, aware that the dazed usually responded to some sense of authority. “An aid car’s prob’ly on the way, so don’t move, and keep low.”
The guy just stared through him for a moment, his eyes refusing to focus, as blood continued to drip over his thick lips and stain the front of his uniform shirt. He looked worse than he was; a few stitches, a cast, and some rest, and he’d be as good as new. It just didn’t seem like that right now.
Logan heard more crashing, more glass breaking and metal bending behind him, and cops randomly shouting, “Freeze! Goddamn it motherfuckers, all of you freeze!” From the continued sounds of destruction and mayhem, not a single motherfucker was listening to them.
“Who are you?” The guard asked, apparently getting the idea that he wasn’t just a random civilian, even in his semi-conscious state.
He heard Scott shout, “Hey, stop that now!” Oh yes, that was brilliant - had the cops ever thought to just tell the hijackers to stop? They could have saved themselves so much time and trouble if they just told them to knock it off. Logan shook his head, wondering if he could just leave him here to get his ass folded, spindled, and mutilated, and then perforated by the jumpy cops. Well, he could, but Bob might give him a guilt trip about it. Shit.
Logan glanced at the guard, and grumbled, “I’m with stupid.”
As he turned to face the chaos, he wondered - after this was all over - if he could just dump Scott in the Bronx.