E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theNotes: Takes place shortly after the "X Men" movie and during "Angel" season two. Comes
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 is *my* character - keep your hands off!
after Darkness Visible.
He threw Electra and himself down in the snow,trying to cover her with his body in a vain hope of protecting her as the entire complex behind them suddenly vaporized in an explosion more felt than heard:a concussive wall of force that seemed to press down on them like a giant invisible hand as it knocked snow and frail branches from the thicket of skeletal trees surrounding them.
A huge blanket of thrown snow suddenly fell on top of them,threatening to smother them,but at the same time it protected them from the burning debris raining down from the sky.Angel also heard soft plops of what he assumed to be body parts landing around them,sounding liquid in the snow.
The ground finally stopped its spasmodic trembling as the secondary explosions came to an end,and a sort of anti-noise,a hollow white noise hum,filled his ears,a roar almost as deafening as the initial explosion.
Sure that all the biggest bits of debris had already fallen to Earth,Angel pushed himself up,disrupting the protective blanket of snow.Shaking ice crystals from his hair,he looked back towards the complex.
Where it used to be was a huge crater,maybe one hundred feet across and ten feet deep,with pieces of metal pipes that managed to survive the blast sticking out of the wound like huge arteries,twisted and wrenched to the side.They must have been adamantium,because nothing else could have survived that blast.
Trees in a twenty foot radius around the complex's outer perimeter
had been knocked down, fanning out like fallen matchsticks,while others
had been blown to splinters,and still others were currently on fire,the
thickening grey smoke pouring up into an equally slate grey sky.
Electra pushed herself up from the snow,still looking groggy and barely conscious due to the drug they had given her to keep her from using her powers,and looked back at the ruins,glassy eyed and glum."He's dead,"she said flatly.Not like a question or a guess,but like she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt."Logan's dead."
Angel wanted to deny that,to say he couldn't be,but instead he started scanning the body parts around them for glimpses of a silver adamantium skeleton.
When he agreed to get Electra out of there,he told Logan to wait for him,that he'd be back,and Logan had said he'd "do his best",which was,in retrospect,no answer at all.Hadn't he seen the anger in Logan's eyes,the pure murder?He wanted vengeance,to make them pay,sooner rather than later-and Angel knew he wouldn't wait.He knew he wouldn't,and yet he had gone and left Logan in there.And Logan had went straight to the heart of the beast,and ripped it out,knowing full well he'd probably pay with his life.
He had come all the way from Los Angeles to save Logan,and yet he had just let him die.
ONE WEEK EARLIER
He wondered,for a minute,if he jumped in,would he sink right to the bottom?He bet he would- his metal skeleton and all.And never have the strength to surface.
So then,swimming as a hobby was down the toilet.
He shrugged deeper into his coat as the breeze off the water turned colder,throwing salt spray into his face and making him shiver.
What the hell did he think he was doing here?
He had been in Vancouver for almost a week now,trying to find out something about his past here-presuming he had a past-but it had been like searching for a mutant at a Save Humanity Now rally.What did he know about himself?He was here,at least briefly,in the late '60's;his name was Logan,probably his first name,but just as possibly his last (second name,in either case,unknown);he looked different,at least according to Angel (eyes were 'greener'-also he didn't have the facial hair;he looked less 'Wolverine-ish',which mean that too was something they had done to him).He didn't know where to start looking for a man named Logan who may have passed through Vancouver in the fall of 1969.
Angel did give him the address of the street where the car had mowed him down,and he had hoped it would stimulate some memories,or at least a sense of deja vu.But it was just another street in this port city,no more or less recognizable or important than the street before or street after it.Surely it had changed since the '60's-he was willing to bet the Starbucks,Gap,and Barnes and Noble were new-but so completely it was unrecognizable?
He had to move on before the frustration alone killed him.Where would he go?Scour Alberta again?Go back to New York?He wondered if he could face the others now-what if someone asked him what he had been doing?What would he say:I met a vampire in L.A.,and helped him take down a demon possessed multi-millionaire who was killing mutants and demon in his spare time;and then he helped me take down a new government mutant testing lab in the Nevada desert;and then I briefly lost my mind,thanks to a traitorous mutant and some sort of demon worshiping law firm,but he helped me get it back,and I killed a big,ugly looking demon.Then I went to Vancouver because Drac remembered seeing me get hit by a car there in the late '60's.
Oh yes,that sounded remarkably sane.
When he bothered to think about it,was it any more insane than the rest of his life?His life seemed to be one disaster after another,a nightmare that never quite stopped,only switched gears,like a beater car with a possessed engine and no brakes.
So when he heard the scream,he was far from surprised.
It was a woman,somewhere in the dark maze of buildings surrounding the docks.For a second,he thought about letting it pass-didn't he have enough problems without getting involved in someone else's problems?-but just as he turned and scented the air,trying to figure out where she was,he heard a second noise:a deep,inhuman snarl,almost a roar.
His first thought was Sabertooth.
Of course,he was willing to bet cold,hard cash that Bigfoot looking motherfucker was dead-long dead-and even if somehow not,he wouldn't be here.But whatever it had been,it sounded like him.
Yet it smelled different.
In spite of the shift of the wind,heavy with the scent of saline and rotting kelp,he could smell the woman-scared,had been drinking a little (tequila)-and then he could smell whatever it was that had growled.It smelled really strange:a little Human beneath a lot of wolf,musky and rank.Some weird type of mutant?
On the plus side,it smelled a bit better than Sabertooth.
Even if he hadn't been able to triangulate the noises by direction of sound alone,the scent of tequila in the woman's sweat gave away her location as near the seedy bar on the far left side of the wharf (what kind of woman drank in a bar that was named 'Salty Pete's'?Even he wouldn't drink there if he was desperate,and he felt at home in low life dives),and he ran for it,honestly curious what he would find.
The woman came running out of the alley as he reached it and nearly collided with him full force,but he was able to grab her by the shoulders and slew her aside."What is it?"He asked,looking into her wet,startled eyes.
She was probably thirty but looked forty,her makeup slapped on with a trowel,her dyed brassy copper hair as stiff as a helmet with too much hairspray and mousse.She made a sort of incoherent noise and pointed past his shoulder,her blue eyes too wide and too bright with fear,but he had been turning back anyway,having seen a blur out of the corner of his eye,moving down the dark alley so fast it could have been a motorcycle.
What jumped straight out at him was the largest,ugliest looking wolf he had ever seen.
Although it lunged close enough for him to feel (and smell) its fetid,hot breath,by pure reflex alone he punched the damn thing,giving it a hard upper cut that caught it beneath its elongated muzzle and caused it to slam hard into the right side wall of the alleyway.
It quickly recovered,bouncing off the brick and remaining on its four feet,but it staggered a little and shook its head hard,as if trying to clear cobwebs from its brain.
It was maybe six feet long,at least two and a half feet high at the shoulders,and covered with matted silver grey fur,its yellow eyes large and luminous above a muzzle that seemed somehow wrong in shape for a wolf.
Because it was unlike any wolf he had ever seen,and he was suddenly
sure he had seen some (yes-you lived in the Canadian wilderness at some
point,you saw wolves).Also,it smelled wrong;there was a sort of lupine muskiness,but
there was a strong scent of human beneath...and what the hell would a big,ugly
wolf be doing at a run down dock in downtown Vancouver?
It snarled at him,thin black lips pulling back over ivory fangs as its black pad of a nose quivered,picking up his unusual mutant scent.He saw the shine of the moon in its eyes and thought werewolf'.
Instantly he dismissed the thought-yeah,right-but then decided
it probably wasn't that far fetched.Did he not know someone who claimed
to be a vampire?Had he not killed some 'Alien' reject looking thing not
too long ago?And that thing didn't even smell the slightest bit human.
It was clear the werewolf wanted the woman (who must have smelled
normal) not him,so when it shifted direction and leapt towards her he wasn't
surprised.He had,in fact,been expecting it.
Logan,possessed of a little inhuman speed of his own,grabbed it by the throat in mid-air and slammed it back hard against the brick wall,popped the claws of his right hand,and rammed them in the wolf's midsection.It howled in pain and he dropped it.It landed in a heap,on two feet while the other two sort of slid out beneath it.It wasn't enough to kill it,but it was a mortal wound that should take the wind out of it sails.
"What the fuck are you?!"The woman exclaimed,horrified.
He looked back at her,retracting his claws,and saw her face was an almost comical mask of terror as she started backing away slowly.It was hard to say who she was more afraid of-him or the wolf.
She started running away down the shadowy docks,and he let her go,vaguely disgusted that he had bothered to save her."We freaks should stick together,huh?"He said to the werewolf,who was whimpering slightly and slinking away.Logan let it go,feeling sort of bad for it.
The world was so much more fucked up than he had ever imagined.He didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
He decided to go get a beer and figure it out.But there was no way he was going to any place named 'Salty Pete's'.
Anyhow,the interior was just what he expected:all wood paneling and dim lighting made dimmer by a thick fog of cigarette smoke,the place rank with the scent of body odor,cheap liquor,piss,and despair.
Home away from home.
He found a table in the corner,between the pool table with the torn green felt and the old jukebox currently (and somewhat anachronistically) blaring the Stones's "Gimme Shelter",and nursed an overpriced beer with a nice,strong kick.Too bad he was immune to alcohol.
As it turned out,he was in an opportune position to see many men go down a narrow hall in the back.By smell alone he could tell led to the restrooms,but he noticed several burly guys who could have been lumberjacks out on the town go past the men's room door and enter a door that was marked 'Janitor's Closet'.A golden painted door.
If that was a 'janitor's closet',he was a used car salesman.
Logan gulped down the rest of his beer,and went to see what that door really led to.
As soon as he opened the door,he could smell the scent of too
many hot bodies too close together; the stench of sweat was stronger here,filled
with more adrenaline and beer.And he could hear the rumble of men talking,booing
and cheering,layering the meaty sound of flesh slamming flesh:somebody was
fighting somebody else,and the small but packed crowd was enjoying it.
The entire basement level had been modeled into what was touted as an 'Ultimate Fighting' (the new,fancy ass name for bare knuckle boxing) pit,with a loose collection of wooden bleachers arranged around the side,so the 'pit' was the focal point.
The pit was a standard looking-if slightly broken down looking-boxing ring,the red ropes looking saggy where they joined the corner posts,all surrounded by what looked like a wall of chicken wire with a makeshift door cut into one side.The chicken wire didn't quite reach the strip of florescent lights embedded in the ceiling,but stopped about twenty feet up,and there was no ceiling to it either.But then again,it was only chicken wire,and any determined person could throw something in if they really wanted to.
As he made his way through the pew like benches,most of the men drinking openly from beer bottles,many standing to egg on or jeer the fighters,Logan found himself disgusted by the fighters.No,only the one that was apparently winning.
A real Golem,he was over six foot and nearly half as wide,built like a bulldozer and either a mutant or severe weightlifter/steroid abuser,because normal people did not have deltoid muscles almost as big as an average human head,nor did men generally have pectoral muscles so big they needed a bra.
Golem had small,pig like eyes,colorless in the harsh lighting,his buzz cut a sort of dirty straw color that looked like a fungus growing on his scalp.He wore jeans far too tight for such a venue, and had long ago stripped off his shirt.
The other man-darker,leaner,with a more realistic build-was bleeding from a small gash on his forehead (courtesy of the chicken wire beyond the ropes,most likely) as Golem kicked him hard in the balls.When his opponent doubled over,Golem drove two fingers into his throat, making him fall to the mat gagging and gasping desperately for breath as over half of the crowd belligerently cheered,and Golem strutted around the blood and sweat flecked ring like a fucking peacock.
He was fighting as dirty as a grade school geek,and yet he was still obviously quite proud of himself.For some reason,that really pissed Logan off.
"Hey,"a man said,getting up into his face.He was small and somehow rodential,with slicked back black hair and eyes like dots of black ink on his pale,round face."No one rides for free.You bettin'?"
Ratboy held out a construction helmet full of money;Logan guessed there to be close to two hundred dollars in there.
"No,I'm fighting,"he said,which made Ratboy stare at him in disbelief,even as Logan looked past him,and shouted towards the ring:"Hey,asshole,do you know how to really fight,or can you only do this sissy bullshit stuff?"
Ratboy quickly stepped aside,out of the potential line of fire,as both the crowd and the Golem all stared at him.The crowd went strangely quiet,sensing the gathering storm of rage,as the Golem shaded his eyes with his hand,trying to make Logan out in the darkness of the crowd.
"You talk big,little man,"Golem taunted lamely,and some of the crowd actually 'ooo'ed' like teenagers watching their friends fight in the halls.
Logan knew he was not little;only in the sense that he was not infected with the same grotesque gigantism this steroid freak was."Can you fight a real man,fuckface?"
"Yeah.Where is he?"Golem responded,and the crowd laughed.
As the other man was helped from the ring,gagging and spitting blood,Logan took off his leather jacket and threw it on Ratboy,whom he gathered to be the 'ringmaster'."I don't know,"Logan replied,pulling his black t-shirt off over his head."I only know he ain't in the ring."
The crowd 'ooo'ed' again and moved aside as he walked the rest of the way down the makeshift aisle,and stepped up on the inverted orange crate that was this sorry 'pit's' excuse for stairs leading into the ring.
Being a dirty fighter,he expected Golem to charge him as soon as he tried to step in between the red ropes,and Golem did not disappoint him.But as he charged,Logan bided his time,and then lunged at the last second,shoulder first between the ropes.The top of his head caught Golem's midsection hard.
Maybe if he had a normal skull,it would have had little to no effect on the steroid monster,but since his skull was adamantium plated,all the air in Golem's lungs seemed to empty in an 'ooof' as he staggered back,grabbing his stomach like he might vomit.
Logan thought he heard some unrest in the crowd,but he didn't care,and in this glaring square of light,it was impossible to see them.They were a dark and murmuring blur,a crowd of idiot crows.
Golem seemed to recover enough to launch a groin kick,but Logan had seem him fight for thirty seconds and already knew his limited repertoire of moves.Mountain of muscle or not,he wouldn't last half as long in a real,honest to god fight.
He snagged his leg in midair and simply pulled him forward,so he slammed down to the canvas back first,and Logan could have ended the fight right there;a boot to the head,and goodnight fucking nurse.But oh no-that wasn't nearly enough pain.He wanted Steroid Boy to get fully humiliated.So he simply dropped his leg and walked away,as if bored,and the crowd booed,wanting to see blood.
"You don't even know how to fight,do you,asshole?"Logan snapped,turning back to Golem as he struggled to his feet.His face was flushed a deep crimson in rage,and seemed to be almost shaking with it as he roared and rushed Logan,hands the size of canned hams balled into fists.
Logan casually spun into a high kick that caught him in the side of his oversized jaw and snapped it on impact with a loud crack,like someone had just broken a branch over their knee.
The crowd,although still muttering like street people off their meds,was growing increasingly quiet,as it was finally dawning on them their 'champion' was getting his ass beat into ground chuck by a stranger who had yet to break a sweat.
Golem fell into and almost through the ropes,grabbing his jaw as blood started trickling through his meaty fingers,and Logan glared at him like the stupid maggot he was."Had enough?" He wondered coldly.
Anger flared behind the pain in his pale blue eyes-Golem obviously was not used to getting beat in 'his' ring-and he launched himself off the ropes,throwing a wild 'haymaker' punch towards Logan's face.
He easily ducked under it and gave Golem two rabbit punches to the body before moving away,giving Golem room to stagger like a drunken sailor who hadn't quite gotten his land legs yet.Golem took the opportunity to lean over and spit out blood and a couple of random teeth,garishly bright on the white covered mat.
The crowd was so quiet now you could have thought they were gone,but Logan could still smell them,feel their eyes impale him in the darkness.They were horrified,and yet morbidly fascinated;it was like a bloody car accident they could not avert their eyes from.
"Give it up,Hulk,"Logan told him."Otherwise you're gonna be leavin' feet first."
But Golem,lacking the sense of a turkey,charged him again,throwing another wild punch,but as Logan ducked that,the bastard brought up his knee and caught him in the balls.
As the sudden shock of pain spread up and out from his testicles,Logan was so instantaneously furious he saw red-literally.He should have expected the cowardly bastard to do that;he should have caught it.
He staggered back a step,then kicked out at Golem's knee,which cracked like a twig on impact.He screamed as best he could with a broken jaw and crashed down to one knee on the canvas,and Logan threw a left upper cut that caught him right beneath the good side of his jaw.His head snapped back,and the Golem's eyes instantly rolled up in his head before he hit the mat on his back,with the solid thud of a felled redwood hitting the ground.
It was his choice:he was leaving first,just like Logan warned him.He looked dead,but he was clearly breathing-also,he was still bleeding,and the muscles in his broken leg continued to spasm.
The room was so quiet you could have heard a beer cap drop upstairs.They were shocked stupid.Not a far drop,from what he could tell.
Logan threw open the chicken wire cage door,not bothering to go through the ropes,and simply said,"Next."
Sometimes,it was just too damn easy.
After the crowd left-after he made mincemeat out of a half a dozen guys,everyone,even the real drunks,lost their collective nerve-he retreated to the grotty men's room upstairs,taking his shirt and jacket with him but not putting them on,not yet.
He laid them over one sink as he turned on the taps in another,and got a sandpaper rough paper towel from the dented white dispenser on the wall.He soaked the pale tan towel under the running faucets,enough to get it wet although not sopping,and proceeded to wipe the flecks of blood off his chest,arms,and shoulders.He didn't want to smell it for days,and he would if he allowed it to soak into his shirt.
He glanced at himself in the mirror,to see if he had any blood on his face,and felt a rush of strange emotions,mostly nausea and self-pity.
What a pathetic piece of shit he was.
So this was his idea of fun,huh?Beating up testosterone drunk assholes in seedy bars,taking their money,and giving himself a quasi-sponge bath in the fucking men's room because he didn't want to get his one shirt dirty.He was almost more of a low life than these guys were.
("And you don't have to be,Logan-you never had to be." )
That felt like a memory-something someone had said to him once.A woman.A woman with a unfamiliar voice.
Why didn't he just act like a real,normal person?Why was he content to travel with nothing more than the clothes on his back,and why couldn't he ever stay anywhere for any length of time?Why was he so fucking paranoid?
("A moving target is harder to hit.")
The woman again,with a big 'duh' statement.And he knew why he was paranoid-because someone was always out to capture or kill him.He let down his guard once,and those fuckers got him;the next thing he knew,he was chained down to a pallet in a vat of some warm,thick green fluid,surrounded by guys in Hazmat suits and armed with scalpels...
"What the fuck?"He asked himself,stunned.
The one time he let his guard down..?
What did he remember?
Angel said he had a sort of 'hunted' look when he supposedly saw him back in the sixties-was that true?Was he on the run from someone?Those government assholes,were they after him even then?
He stared into his own green eyes,and snarled at his own reflection,wondering again who he used to be."Stupid fucker.You deserved it,didn't you?"He spat,wanting to punch the mirror.But it was unbreakable-not a true mirror,a slab of plastic with a reflective surface.Maybe he was not the first guy to want to do it.
God,he was so tired.But it wasn't physical;he was tired of himself,of this-all of this.
Fuck him,fuck whoever he used to be.Maybe it was best he never knew at all.It could only be a disappointment.
He finished cleaning the blood off his chest and forearms,briefly
wiping the wet paper towel over his face to catch the few droplets of blood
in the stubble of his beard,and then slung the wet wad of paper into the
tin garbage can so hard it wobbled on its base.It nearly fell over before
it reluctantly settled,with a sound like a hubcap rolling and coming to
rest on its rim.
Ratboy,whom everyone called Vince,was waiting for him by the bar,talking to a dark skinned bartender/bouncer as bald as a cue ball and built like a tank.He gave Logan the evil eye as he approached.
Ratboy Vince,who was clearly scared of him,held out a wad of thick,colorful bills towards him,as if he wanted Logan to stay at least an arm's length away."Don't ever come back here again,"Vince said,in the strongest voice he could muster,even though Logan could smell his fear.If the huge mountain of a bartender wasn't behind him,he could never have said it at all.
Logan snatched the money from his hand with more violence than necessary,just to make Vince draw back in more obvious fear."Lucky for you,I'm just passing through,"he said,counting the money as he turned his back on them and walked away.He didn't know if they knew he was a mutant or not,and he didn't honestly care:Vince was just pissed off that he showed what fucking lightweights his guys were.
Ratboy had taken quite a chunk of the proceeds-too damn much,in Logan's opinion-but he had made nearly three hundred dollars.Not bad for three hours' work.
He decided he was hungry,still craving a good beer,and in desperate need of some real action;he wanted-no,he needed-to think about something other than himself.He thought he would explode if he thought about his pathetic existence right now.
As he approached his motorcycle,he sensed the movement of a shadow in the darkness by the bar,and a woman said,"How did I know I'd find you here?"He stared hard into the shadows, until the woman emerged-Naomi,a/k/a Electra.
He couldn't help but smile,seeing a friendly face for a change."I guess you know me too well."
She looked different from the last time he'd seen her,back in Los Angeles almost a month ago. Her long brown hair had been cut short,into an almost spiky,punky cut,and she had dyed in a deep red,so dark it almost looked maroon.It was odd,but seemed to suit her blue eyes well.
She was dressing tougher too;tight blue jeans and black,thick soled Lug boots,with a black leather shirt contrasted against a red leather jacket with a few more zippers than necessary gave her a sort of dangerous look that was really,really sexy on her.
Of course,his last memories of her were...well,entertaining,to say the least.God,they'd had some fun.It reminded him of an old country song he'd been subjected to at some redneck bar:"It ain't love,but it ain't bad."
But the smile froze on his face as he saw the worry lines in the corners of her dark circled eyes, belying the tiny smile on her face.Something was wrong;she hadn't tracked him down for a nostalgic jump in the sack.Too bad:that would have been a nice way to think about something else.To simply get lost in her body and forget everything-at least for the time being."Need a lift?"He asked her,shoving the wad of cash in his pocket as he straddled his motorcycle.
She thought about it."Where are you going?"
He shrugged."I'm hungry.Maybe I'll go get some Chinese food."Chinatown was just down the street."Want to join me?"
She gave him a faint smile,but it was warm,genuine."Okay.But you're buying."
"Hey,"he protested,mostly for comic effect.
She climbed onto the back of his bike as he kicked started it,and wrapped her arms around his chest."I saw that big wad you just shoved in your pocket;you can afford it,cheapskate.Shame on you,beating up stupid ass drunks for their money."
"They asked for it."
She pressed hard against his back,and he let the engine idle for a moment,just enjoying the familiar feeling of having her body against his once more.She didn't need to hold on so tight;she eased off a bit,as though it had been a hug,a brief but fierce squeeze.She rested her head against the back of his shoulder,and he realized she was as tired as he was,maybe even more so.And in her own tacit way,she was letting him know she had missed him too.
The mutant freaks really did have to stick together:the world had made it clear it was "us" versus "them".
After a moment,he drove off,leaving the Golden Door far behind.
The food was good too-spicy as hell and really fresh-even though Logan thought it was funny they only served Japanese beer (but at least it was good Japanese beer).Since the waitress went back into the kitchen to talk to the cook,they were able to catch up and enjoy the silence at the same time.
Naomi had found her family-they lived outside Montreal,and while she was apparently not the only mutant in the family,the family kept it quiet,so as not to suffer persecution.But it wasn't enough,apparently;there were 'men' after her since she was a teenager.She ran away a lot,and was able to avoid and/or escape them,her family helping when they could.
But not everyone was that lucky.
"I have a sister,Madalyn-Maddy,"she said,stabbing her chopsticks into her spicy cellophane noodles."She's barely two years older than me."She looked up at him,and he knew,by the sadness in her eyes,what she was going to say before she said it."They took her,Logan."
"When?"The goddamn bastards;they couldn't leave them in peace.How he wanted to find them and hurt them;hurt them so bad they wouldn't even think about bothering mutants ever again.
"That's just it.No one's sure,"she replied,letting her chopsticks fall on the plate with a clink as she reached for her beer.She took a stiff gulp before she told him,"They fucked with the minds of my family.Even my mom couldn't remember her existing,but I found photographs and a copy of a birth certificate they forgot to take with them in the bottom of a trunk of my late grandmother's."