Author: Notmanos
E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Rating: R
Disclaimer:  The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; the
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!   

An intriguing mutant,capable of absorbing and channeling electricity from herself and her environment,up to and beyond lethal levels.She had been sought by the Organization since her existence was determined sixteen years ago,but she had never been caught.

She had been almost captured one month ago at the Dry Lake installation in Nevada,along with the aforementioned Logan,but something went horribly wrong.

In theory,Bertram had prepared for every contingency,and should have had the mutants-but a new,unknown mutant had showed up.Survivors said they called him 'Angel',and he was apparently immune to the  gas specially formulated to knock out most mutants,including the highly drug resistant Logan.

The mutant database had been scoured-which took a long time,since secret records had been kept for decades-but no one called 'Angel',matching the given description,and with the ability to withstand both bullets and drugs,had ever been found.It was possible a mutant here and there had escaped notice,but highly unlikely,unless he'd been born in a Third World nation where tracking them was difficult.

Kruger made sure everything was ready for Logan;now it was time to make sure everything was ready for Naomi.And even though they were a pair,he decided to try and make ready for this 'Angel' again,in case he bothered to put in a surprise appearance again.

He sat back,and surveyed his austere,sterile office,reclining in his ergonomic chair and scanning all the videocamera monitors (twenty four) embedded in the far wall-all showing him a different mutant,whether in their cells or in the experimentation labs-and he reached across his desk to toggle a switch,which shifted the centermost camera from the (currently) empty gene alteration vat in lab 12-B to the special cell,made in anticipation of his biggest prize:Logan.

An adamantium cell,priceless in its gleaming perfection,unbreakable,unbreachable,the perfect container to hold an unstable animal until he could be tamed to the whip once more.

And while Enigma died,taking Dreamland with her,his research and experimentation had finally paid off:he had found something much better.Something Logan could not be immune to,no matter what.Something dear Electra couldn't be immune to either.And maybe even dear old,freaky Angel.

Kruger smiled to himself,thinking only of Lethe,and the prizes about to fall into his lap.


Naomi knew they were going to have a violent thunderstorm before it happened,and Logan didn't know why he was really surprised.Electricity was her thing.

She told him once they had crossed the border,from B.C. into Alberta,that they might want to pull over and take a break for a while,and soon."I don't think it's the type of thing you want to be driving in,especially on a motorcycle,"she shouted into his ear,pressing hard against his back as she gripped him tightly around the waist.He liked it when she did that;he just like being touched by her.In spite of the constant danger of electric shock,he welcomed it.He was so used to painful touches-generally,if anyone bothered to touch him,it was in the form of a slap,a punch,a grab,a shove.Touching had become synonymous with pain.But he hadn't realized how much he longed for more gentle human contact until she wrapped her arms around him,and pressed herself against his body.

He would never admit he was lonely;not to anyone,not to himself,not in a million years. But,inside,he supposed he always knew it.But he was fine with it-you could never trust people, could you?

But,damn him,he had still missed it.

He refused to give up that easy-it was a long way to Grand Cache and beyond-but even he could start smelling the ozone in the air,feeling the humid charge as it wrapped around him like an invisible,smothering blanket,making the hairs on his arm and the back of his neck stand on end.

And while he knew it was probably psychosomatic,he could swear his metal skeleton 'ached' (at least felt more pronounced under his skin) before a thunderstorm,and this felt like a biggie:a real motherfucker of a storm.

One moment it was overcast,the sky an odd sepia tone like an old photograph,the air still but strangely warm and pregnant with threat,and suddenly the rain was pouring down;so hard and in such great quantities visibility became almost instantly zero,the sky cracking open with a roar that seemed to shudder through their bones as well as the ground,nearly breaking both eardrums and windows.

Reluctantly,he had to pull off:they were done for the afternoon.At least until the violence of the storm abated.By the time he found a hotel they could hole up in,the wind was blowing violently enough that the sheer seemed to want to take the bike off its wheels.Luckily,thanks to all his metal,he was heavier than he looked.

The hotel he picked at random was small and kind of cheap,but not sleazy-it was a sort of travel lodge,split level kind of place,as plastic as a fast food joint-and while Naomi made a face,she didn't complain.Of course by this time,they were both drowned rats,and just asking for one of those brilliant flashes of lightning to light them up like cigarettes.

He left her to her own room-at least it was adjoining his-while he went to his room,stripped off his clothes,and attempted to ring them out in the bathtub.His leather jacket was fine,so were his boots,but his shirts and jeans look like they came straight out of the washer.Shit.Maybe this was the universe's way of telling him he needed to travel with luggage,whether he wanted to or not.

He was wringing out his t-shirt when he heard a faint knock on the door.He knew from sound alone it was Electra,but he knew he'd better confirm it first.

He paused,aware he was only clad in damp boxer shorts,but hell,she'd seen him in less.Of course,passing by the mirror over the bathroom sink,he noticed his hair remained plastered to his skull,and he looked like a body just fished out of a harbor.Oh well,at least he wasn't wearing a toe tag.Yet.

He went to the door and listened,and could smell scents coming in through the crack of the door:her and just her.He realized he loved he smell of her damp skin and hair,in spite of the faint undertone of dye now on the latter,but he shoved the thought aside and simply threw the lock before walking away,back to the bathroom."Come on in,Naomi."

He didn't look back as she came in,just went back to ringing out his shirts over the bathtub.
He heard her close the door and lock it before she came to the open bathroom doorway and glanced inside."It would kill you to live like a normal person,wouldn't it?"She asked,sounding amused.

He shot her an annoyed look,and noticed she had changed into dry clothes:a chunky,hooded red sweater with a zipper running down the front,and heavy black jeans.Her hair had only been towel dried,but she looked presentable,not like a waterlogged corpse.

"Hey,if I carried a backpack like you do,there'd be no room for you on the bike,"he shot back, wringing the shirt so tight he thought he heard fibers tear.Oops.

She leaned against the door jamb,giving him a small smile before crossing her arms over her chest."We could store the bike,get a real car."


She scoffed;a small,aborted laugh."You just can't do it,can you,Logan?"

"Do what?"If there was a tear in the shirt,he couldn't find it.Good enough.

He had his jeans over what appeared to be a heater vent in the bathroom,but they were no drier than before,just slightly warmer.Still,he pulled them on,listening to the rain pounding on the roof and window like a constant barrage of pebbles,the thunder a dragon's roar in the distance but getting closer every minute-in about fifteen minutes,it would be overhead and unbearable,like mortar fire.

"Does it ever stop?"She asked,and it was the break in her voice that made him look at her as he pulled his jeans (fighting him because they were wet and so damn clingy) over his hips.She had a hand to her mouth and was wincing,as if trying to fight back tears."All this running...I'm going to do it for as long as I live,aren't I?"

"Naomi..."he began,wanting to say something reassuring.But he couldn't think of anything.

She turned away,and he followed her out,tossing his water logged shirt in the tub,hating to hear her cry,even though she did her best to hold it back.She sat down on the end of his bed,and hid her face in her hands as she tried to fight back the sobs."Why?We were born this way-it's not our fault,"she gasped,leaning over onto her knees."But they hunt us like fucking dogs.And they never stop coming,do they?There's always more of them..."Her voice broke in a sob,and he couldn't stand it.Mostly because he never knew what to do when a woman cried.But also because he didn't want to see her hurt.

He sat down beside her,and gently lifted her shoulders until she raised her head. "Please,Naomi,don't.Don't do this too yourself."

She gratefully leaned into his shoulder,and held onto him tightly as she cried.He held her,stroking her damp hair and trying his best to comfort her when he knew nothing he could say would make her feel any better."We put an end to these bastards,it won't happen anymore."

"But there is no end to them,"she said into his shoulder,sounding more distraught even as the tears dried up."I'm so tired,Logan.I'm so tired of always looking over my shoulder."

"I know the feeling,"he commiserated.He was so used to it,running-and paranoia-were second nature,reflex;he could never stop,even if he wanted to.And,it was very rare,but sometimes,if he let himself think about it,he did get very tired of it.He was so weary something in him wanted to collapse,maybe even surrender,but he wasn't about to allow himself the coward's way out.
Yet it was as useless as speculating on what he would have been like if he was born normal -pointless,and no help now.

Still,thinking about her words,he realized what she really said."They've been after you?"Why was this at all surprising?They wanted her bad."Since you came here looking for your family?"

She sniffed and nodded,lifting her head from his shoulder to look him in the eye,wiping away stray tears with the back of her hand."Yes.I did everything to lose them,to hide...I think I did lose them for a while each time,but they always return."

"Like fucking lemmings,"he agreed.God,he wanted to kill them all:find the source of the hive that kept churning these bastards out,and wipe it off the face of the planet once and for all.But Logan knew,in his heart,there probably wasn't just one place;like a pandemic,there were hot spots of it everywhere.Humans hated them,feared them...and people wanted to use them.End of story-frightening,freakish,but just another resource to exploit.

And both he and Naomi were great,walking weapons of mass destruction,she even more than him,because he could only take on a city one person at a time;she could do it all in one go.

"I want to kill them,"she admitted,and her expression was stark,haunted."I don't want to be a killer,Logan.But I am,aren't I?I killed Shrike."

"That was self defense."

"No it wasn't.I killed him for you."

Logan did a slight double take,staring into her red rimmed blue eyes,but she looked stone cold serious."What?"

"I was afraid he may have actually figured out how to kill you.I wasn't going to let him live if he had,"she explained,and took his face in her hands before leaning her forehead against his. "Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind."

"I know that feeling too,"he told her,moving his hand down to the back of her neck.Her skin was an odd dichotomy;damp and cool,it still felt charged,which the flickering overhead light confirmed,and yet she seemed to be shivering.But was it from the cold?He wasn't so sure.

There was a moment when he thought he might kiss her and,she wouldn't mind.But it passed quickly,before he could take advantage of it."Say I do find my sister and she remembers me somehow,and we save her-what then?Where do we go?There's no safe place,is there?"

"We'll go to New York."

"Your friends there?"The doubt was evident in her voice."I don't see how they can help."

"They're better than nothin'."

She had to concede that.What was the other option?"I suppose.I guess it sounds like a plan."

"In theory,"he agreed,and let his hands fall as she pulled away.But there was a moment he thought she might kiss him,but that too passed as she dry washed her face,and the overhead bulb stopped flickering like there was a living lightning bug trapped inside."I was going to suggest we go to a bar-a nice one-and get me punk ass drunk,but maybe we ought to get you some dry clothes first."

"Why bother?They're only going to get wet anyways,"he replied,getting up and returning to the bathroom.The wind was howling through minute cracks around the window now,the driving rain still pelting against the narrow pane like thrown gravel,and the light over the sink briefly flickered,but he knew Naomi wasn't responsible for that this time.

He pulled on his wet t-shirt,briefly trying to smooth the wringing induced wrinkles before giving up on it as a lost cause,and then shrugged on his flannel shirt.

"And Logan,absolutely no bar fights,"she called out from the bedroom.She sounded better,but he was convinced at least some of it was an act:she was overstressed,freaked out,and tired,and he couldn't blame her."I don't want to add avoiding police to the list."

"Where's your sense of adventure?"He teased,shutting off the uncertain light as he left the bathroom in his cold,damp,and now wrinkled clothes.Well,at least if the power did go out, Naomi could still light things up along the way.

There were some perks to being a mutant-he couldn't deny that.But in the end,he wasn't sure it was worth the pain and suffering involved.


Kruger found Sanders in the observation room overlooking operation theater one.He was the only one actually observing an autopsy being performed on a truly monumental failure,and even then,observing was too strong a word.

As he moved down the row of hard blue plastic chairs,and sat one chair removed from him on his left,he saw Sanders had a crumpled brown paper bag in his lap,a can of soda in one hand,and half a sandwich in the other-roast beef,by the smell.He was taking his lunch break here.

Upon seeing him,Sanders gave him a sidelong glance before returning his attention to the reflective mirrors showing better angles on the open chest cavity of the mutant on the table almost twenty feet below them in the green tiled surgical bay.A casual look revealed no visible abnormalities in the messy clot of pinkish grey internal organs."Dinner and a show.Can't beat it,"Sanders said,before taking a bite of his sandwich.

"I take it all is in preparation for our guests?"

"Abso-tively.Freaks ain't goin' anywhere once they're inside the gate,"he insisted,his Texas drawl showing as he noisily chewed his food.

"I think Logan needs a slight revision."

"Logan?Oh,you mean Wolverine?"Sanders said it 'Wolverin',like it was a headache powder or a butter substitute."What?I told ya I think we can do a targeted erasure.We'll be able to keep most of his core programmin'."

"I have a problem with 'most'.He was hard to program in the first place."

"I hear it's easier the second time around."

"There's never been a 'second time around' with a project like this,"Kruger pointed out crossly, wrinkling his nose at the pungent scent of onions.Maybe that's why his sandwich was so crunchy.

Sanders shrugged."First time for everythin'."

Kruger sometimes wanted to haul off and punch Sanders right across the face.He was not a stupid man,but he was so often needlessly obtuse and obstreperous Kruger would swear he was doing it solely to annoy him."I also want to go through his memories of Alkali Lake first.Can we retrieve what has,in practice,been lost?"

Sanders brow wrinkled in thought as he took a swig of his soda,washing down his onion heavy sandwich."Why would ya wanna do somethin' like that?"

"Because Potter and Nielson were working on a new irradication project which may have,in fact,worked.It may have led to the destruction of the base."

"I thought it was something to do with genetic engineerin',not tactical nukes,"he replied,with some sarcasm.

Kruger frowned.He didn't appreciate what Sanders considered a 'sense of humor' either."It did. And I think it's virtually assured success was the reason Lo-Wolverine blew up the base."
Sanders did a double take,tearing his attention away from the thrilling weighing of the lungs."He blew it up?How do you know?"
"I don't,yet.Right now,it's an educated guess-he is a violent man,made to kill.But a walk through his mind may answer that question once and for all,as well as tell me how far the Potter- Nielson experiment got."All the records were lost in the destruction of Alkali Lake,of course,but since Logan was one of the test subjects,certainly the knowledge was locked away in that muddled,animalistic brain of his.

Sanders thought about that,cramming the last corner of his sandwich in his mouth and chewing as sloppily and noisy as a cow.Kruger watched the bisection of the spine as he waited for him to get done being obnoxious."It might be possible.We'd have to get us a powerful telepath or some equivalent."

"But it can be done?"

He shrugged."I'll contact the home office.They should be able to scramble someone up here."

Sanders nodded,having to be content with that,at least for now.

Maybe,when he successfully brought in Logan-as well as the so far unattainable Naomi Deschanel-he'd get a promotion to head of department,and he'd never have to deal with assholes like Sanders ever again.


Los Angeles,California

Cordelia had just gotten to the second level of Doom when the guys returned from their version of a real life 'bug hunt'.

It was a deeply stupid and needlessly bloody computer game that Gunn had apparently loaded up one night when he got really bored with book scouring and decided to futz around with her computer.

At first she objected-it was an idiotic 'shoot-em-up' for adolescent boys either too scared of girls to have a life or future spree killers in training-but he told her to give it a shot (pun intended) before dumping it,as it was a 'mindless diversion'.

She got so bored doing nothing but waiting for the explosive pain in her head to abate to simple implosion levels she decided to give it a try.Having no idea what she was doing,a big ugly digital monster killed her almost instantly...which pissed her off royal,so she loaded a new game and went at it again.

Had that really been almost three hours ago?No,that couldn't be right.

But the painkillers had kicked in,so she felt really good,and strangely enough she felt energized from stalking the big uglies and blasting them into ground chuck.Oh god-she had become one of those people that needed a life!

Well,actually,that wasn't news,was it?

"I have never seen anything with two faces before,"Gunn said as the guys came in,battle axes hefted over their shoulders."Well,at least two faces on one head."

"Why did you think they were called Janus demons?"Wesley asked,putting his axe back in the weapons cabinet.

"Named after mutual funds?"Gunn replied,handing him his axe.She wasn't sure,but she thought Gunn was being a smart ass.From the look Wes gave him,he thought the same thing.

"I just hope we got all of them,"Angel said,sidling in to hang up his own axe,which looked like it was smeared with mustard.Blood?

"They really eat brains?"Gunn had seemed dubious of this concept since she had the vision of a couple of two faced trolls-Janus demons,apparently-breaking open someone's skull in the park to feast on the contents.She had to admit it was very zombie movie,but nonetheless true,and unbelievably disgusting.

"There's no accounting for taste,"Angel replied,taking off his duster and tossing it on the coat tree.He looked like he was headed her way,so she quickly saved her game and shut down the window before he saw it."Any other reports of murders in the park?"

"Umm,no,not recently,"she said,glad she bothered to look before playing the game."There have been dead pets found though,mostly big dogs.Punk kids and/or Satanists have been blamed for it."

"What would Satanists want with dog brains?"Gunn said,snorting derisively.

"Appetizers?"Angel suggested,going to the coffeemaker.

Cordy was barely aware of the new electrical storm gathering behind her eyes before it struck-a lightning bolt of pain knifed through her brain,bright light blinding her and making reality fall away as she suddenly saw-

-a room,metal and cold,harsh white light reflecting off sterile walls that could have belonged to a bank vault or a bunker...but it was not that benign.There was a chamber in the center of the room,sort of a glass coffin standing on end,open only at the top,filled to within a foot of the opening with a vaguely greenish fluid.

In the chamber was a person.

They were shackled to what looked like a metal backboard,thick silver bands holding his wrists,ankles,waist,and neck firmly in place,while an oxygen or gas mask of some sort covered his nose and mouth,presumably to keep him from drowning.The man was naked,with a muscular body that probably looked really nice outside of liquid coffins,and seemingly unconscious,eyes closed and face slack beneath the mask,but he looked familiar somehow.Really familiar.

She thought he was being embalmed alive,or something equally odd and chilling;she felt cold all of the sudden,like she had dropped through ice and straight into gelid water.What looked like some kind of skeletal,robotic arm lowered into the tank from overhead,moving down until it was level with his throat,just above the metal collar.It was then that a needle-longer than any needle she had ever seen in her life:like a knitting needle,only as thin as a wire-grew out of the small,tumor like protuberance that made the robot's 'hand',and moved forward, puncturing the man's throat.

She felt the pain-icy hot;searing and freezing all at once-as her own throat was punctured, tasting blood as a small cloud of it blossomed in the emerald water,a dark stain quickly diffused,and she felt the sharp,unbearable pain all the way to the back of her neck,as if the needle had punched all the way through to her (his) brain stem.

As she struggled to breathe,gagging on the blood flooding her mouth and wanting desperately to claw at her throat and rip the damn thing out (but her hands didn't work-they were frozen;she was frozen.She was him and she/he was trapped like a bug on a board in an etymologist's lab),the man's eyes shot open.She saw the disorientation (drugs?),then the fear,but it was short lived,as his pupils shrank to pinpricks,black ink dots swallowed by irises that seemed to bleed their olive green hue into the water,and turn a frigid,empty blue-

"Logan!"She shouted in sudden recognition,as the real world came roaring back around her, along with the molten pain in her head,but suddenly she was glad for its sickly warmth and throbbing ache.She could breathe,she was not tasting blood,she could move,and she did not have something sticking in her throat.And god,there was heat-it was California and it was warm.She swore she would never complain about the heat again.

"Logan?"Angel repeated.He was hunkered down before her chair,looking up at her with concerned brown eyes.Wasn't he just by the coffee machine?But then again,that had probably been a few seconds ago.It felt like no time had passed at all,and yet it also felt like an eternity."Logan Park?"His normal sympathetic concern became troubled as he realized what she meant."Mutant Logan?"

"What?The Badger guy?"Gunn asked,looking at her from over the front desk.

"Wolverine,"Wesley corrected him.Wes was standing just to the side of Angel,on her left.

"Same diff."

"Is he back in town?"Wesley wondered,nervously straightening his glasses.

"No,he's in Canada-Empty Grand Cache,or Grande Cash,something like that,"she said,rubbing her aching forehead.But the pain wasn't so bad in comparison to what Logan was going through;no,what he was going to go through."They're going to grab him again.The guys that...altered him,gave him the claws.They're going to capture him and...I don't know what the hell those freakazoids are going to do to him,but it was torture.It was like he was alive,and yet I can't shake the feeling I was still watching him die."

"Brainwashing?"Wesley guessed,coming up behind her chair.Gesturing to the computer with a nod of his head,he asked,"Mind if I try and find the city?"

"Be my guest."Right now,just looking at the computer screen made her eyes feel like razor blades in the sockets.

"He was last in British Columbia,yes?"Wesley asked.

"As far as I know,"she agreed.

"Going to be?You mean he hasn't been caught yet?"Gunn asked,dark brow furrowing in confusion.

She nodded faintly,trying not to further aggravate the beast in her head.

"Why would the PTB's warn us about something that's going to happen in Canada?That doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense."Gunn continued,frowning impatiently.

"Do you remember what happened after Shrike planted that telepathic trigger in his brain?" Angel asked,glancing at him over his shoulder.

"Oh fuck yeah-psycho freak out.Now,that does make sense.This is one guy you don't want goin' evil."

Angel grimaced at Gunn's comments as he turned back to face her.Angel knew that better than anyone:he got stabbed twice,and had the living-well,dead-shit beat out of him by Logan in Wolverine mode.It was sheer luck he was not killed,and Angel seemed to know it.

Gunn then added,"He's bad enough as it is."

Cordy gave him a sarcastic scowl for that.He was just jealous because he wasn't virtually indestructible.

After a minute of typing,Wesley reported,"According to this on line atlas,there is no Grand Cache in B.C.,but there is one in Alberta,specifically in the Canadian Rockies."

"Isn't that where that Alkali Lake place was?"Angel wondered.

Wesley frowned at the computer screen."I believe so."

"Could he have gone back for revenge or something?"Gunn wondered aloud.She didn't think anyone would blame him if he had,but she really didn't think Logan was stupid enough to launch a one man campaign of revenge against some massive,evil government organization.He'd at least get back up or heavy weaponry or something.

"I'm going,"Angel said,rising to his feet and grabbing his duster off the coat rack.

"Don't you mean we,kemosabe?"Gunn pointed out.

"No,I need the three of you to hold down the fort until I get back,"he replied,shrugging on his black coat.As he headed for the door,Gunn asked,"How are you going to get there?"

That made Angel pause,and turn around,giving them a slightly confused look."Oh yeah.The windows in the convertible aren't dark enough to protect me from the sun."

"We could spray paint 'em,"Gunn offered,sounding almost cheerful at the thought.

"I am not spray painting my windows,"Angel shot back,an angry crease forming between his dark brows."That car is a classic."

After a moment of thought,Gunn said,"Maybe Julio can help you out."

"Julio?"Angel,Wesley,and Cordelia asked in unison.

Gunn smirked,happy at having a bit of knowledge over them for a change."He runs a place downtown,auto shop,but he does a side trade in beater cars.I bet we could get you something he wouldn't care if you dyed blue and used for target practice."

"Legal?"Angel asked.

Gunn shrugged."I don't ask."

Angel scowled at him,but his broad shoulders sagged,seemingly disappearing in his incongruously heavy jacket."Fine,we'll go talk to Julio.But you'd better take care of my car while I'm gone.No joy rides."

"Like I'd joy ride in that fossil,"Gunn scoffed,and then held up his hands in surrender at the evil look Angel shot him for that."No offense.I mean,it's fine for some people."

As they were going out the door,she called out,"Angel!"

He paused and looked back,concerned as always.

"Be careful.But find him."She told him,meaning that with all her heart.

He had to find Logan first.The alternative was just too horrible to contemplate.


The one good thing about the storm-besides thinning out traffic-was it convinced Logan they'd have to store the bike and get a car.

Being as pigheaded as any man (maybe more so),he was still holding out for using the bike even though storm drains had already overflowed,leaving most streets in this quasi-urban town awash in water,at least an inch deep in most places,and growing every minute.He had no problems driving through what amounted to small creeks,as both Logan and the bike were accustomed to adversity.But as the rain sheeted down,the wind howling in periodic,powerful gusts that threatened to toss them aside like match sticks,explosive thunder making the ground tremble as if in the throes of tiny earthquakes before bluish-white bolts of lightning flickered ominously in the dark sky above...Logan finally admitted something with a roof would be better.


In spite of her hooded sweater,she got soaked too,as it was impossible not to.But luckily this town lacked any really nice bars,so when they ended up in a middling one,nobody cared if they dripped all over their floor.

Although the roads appeared deserted,the bar was all but filled,although only a handful of the plaid and parka wearing patrons were women,including the bartender.A tough looking broad- and broad was really the only word for her-she had tattooed arms as thick as tree branches and muddy brown hair clipped so short it was nearly a buzz cut.

She gave Logan a strange,sidelong glance after he paid for their beers,which made Naomi wonder if she was a mutant.Or maybe there was some kind of secret bulletin circulated through all the bars in Canada with Logan's picture on it,and a general warning that this man could,in all likelihood,tear your bar apart and beat the shit out of all your redneck patrons (at once).The more she thought about it,the more the idea of a countrywide bar A.P.B. made sense.

The news was blaring loudly from a small television over the bar,and as they took a seat at one of the rare empty tables,she heard that flood warnings were in effect for several low lying areas,at least one person was dead (downed power line),and the stormfront was expected to hang in until tomorrow.She never found out what was supposed to happen after that,as the bartender,by popular demand,turned the channel over to a hockey game.The Oilers were playing the Flyers to a scoreless tie.Thrilling.

Naomi had been hoping that having a drink (no-honestly,getting shitfaced) would help;if not steady her nerves,maybe just kill the pain.But she knew almost right away it wasn't going to work.How could you drown your sorrows when they apparently floated,as weightless and persistent as a shadow?

It was hard to look Logan in the eye-she was so embarrassed over her breakdown earlier.He didn't seem to hold it against her,and,knowing him,was content to never mention it.

She wondered if he knew he caused it.