REIGN IN BLOOD
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
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 is 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!
Summary: Logan returns to work for Canadian Intelligence in tracking down a deadly mutant cult with no obvious agenda beyond
killing people. But he isn't prepared for what he finds.
Notes: Takes place shortly after "X2" and immediately after "Imitation Of Life"
Mitchell woke up in the back seat of a car he knew was not his own, and wondered how he got there.
Had he been drinking? He sat up, suddenly aware he’d drooled a bit on the tan leather seat, and tried to get his bearings. It was daytime clearly, but slightly overcast, so the light didn’t hurt his eyes. He was a little dizzy, and his chest felt tight, but otherwise he felt okay, making him wonder if it was a hangover. Hangovers usually felt a lot worse.
He opened the door and stepped out on the sidewalk, seeing for himself he was in the back of Ford Taurus. Weird. Did he even know anyone who owned a Taurus? He wasn’t honestly sure. People continued to walk around him on the sidewalk, barely aware of him, an inconsequential stone in a sea of people. He wanted to ask someone where he was, but everybody went by so fast, as if they were very busy and didn’t even see him. More than half of them were talking on cell phones.
This looked like some big American city, but he couldn’t quite figure out which one. He saw beautiful women in trendy clothes, lots of blondes, but that didn’t really tell him anything. He followed the crowd a short distance, and found that many of them were entering a building with what looked like a giant football made of glass and metal balanced on the top. He went in, and signs helped him realize he was in Los Angeles. This was the Metro Rail, the subway station, and upon seeing it, he realized he was supposed to get on the train , take it to the Vermont/Beverly stop. He had the exact change in his pocket, and he paid it and went deeper into the station, letting the crowd pull him along.
The tightness in his chest was getting worse; it felt like he had an ember deep inside his torso that was starting to flare to life. He still felt lightheaded, and maybe it was now a bit worse. Why couldn’t he remember who he was? And why did he have to go to the Vermont/Beverly stop? The more he thought about it, the more his mind seemed to be like a dog chasing its own tail. He had impressions, and a few strangely strong certainties, but nothing else. That didn’t seem right, and yet he couldn’t say why it was wrong.
His train came into the station in a burst of noise and wind, and as it slowed and came to a stop, he found himself looking at the train car like it should tell him something. But it didn’t; it just told him that L.A. trains didn’t have as much graffiti as New York ones. Once the other passengers had filed off, the new ones filed on, and he followed.
He found a seat and sat down, the burning in his chest getting worse. Was it acid reflux? He’d heard of that. He searched his pockets for Rolaids or Tums or something, but all he could he could turn up was a piece of paper with some names and time on it. It said “Hotel Eurasia, Al-Maadi, 3:30”. Hotel Eurasia? There couldn’t possibly be a hotel by that name in L.A. could there?
By the time the train started on his way, he remembered. The hotel was in Rasiva, the unofficial capitol of Asrahar, which was where he was supposed to be. He was Mitchell Soames, a covert operative for the C.I.A., and he had been trying to gather intel on the mutant cult Black Fire. He’d been having no luck at all until he was contacted by an anonymous source who agreed to meet him at the hotel. According to him, he had some proof that Black Fire was planning a bombing in Los Angeles, his hometown. Did he ever go to the hotel? He couldn’t remember.
But he knew suddenly he had to get off this train, because he had been set up. He didn’t know how, or why, but he knew the bombing was going to occur. Because he was the bomb.
The explosion was a brief, sharp pain, too hot to hurt much, but he was dead before he heard the screams.
Why was there the term “whirlwind romance” but not an equivalent for “whirlwind lust”? Or was it basically the same thing, just with a nicer name?
Whatever it was, he and Faith had found it. That first night, they’d hit the town, killed a few vampires and a warty demon or two, and managed to hit a bar for closing time. They had a single drink, and she invited him back to her place for another. Of course he agreed, and in her rickety little elevator, they kissed. Logan had no idea if she kissed him, or he kissed her - it seemed to be one of those things that just happened. But as soon as they started they couldn’t stop, couldn’t take their hands off each other, and they had already started ripping each other’s clothes off before they were even inside her apartment.
God, she was fun. He’d forgotten how wonderfully life affirming pure lust could be. He and Faith were perfectly matched, as they both seemed to have the same level of stamina, and a chemistry that was electric. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other; he felt addicted to the taste of her skin. She took the phone off the hook, and they spent most of that whole first day in bed. It wasn’t intentional, but every time either one of them made a move to go anywhere, something would happen - an idle touch, a kiss - and it would set them off again. Time consuming, but he couldn’t remember the last time he was left so happily exhausted. He hadn’t slept this good - when he was able to sleep - for far too long.
Faith lived on a block in West Hollywood where she was within a stone’s throw of about a dozen take out places, so food was no problem. They called out for delivery when they were starving, and it gave them a chance to talk, which they really hadn’t done that much. Oh, they discussed how he knew Angel at the bar, but not much more than that. Somehow they’d gotten it backwards, with the sex first and the intimacy later, but honestly, he was good with that.
Faith’s apartment was small, but not cramped. It was basically a two room apartment, with the living room also the bedroom, leading into a small, open kitchenette, with a small bathroom off the front room. It had hardwood floors that had seen better decades, although Faith had put down a couple of throw rugs to liven the place up. One was a multicolored rag rug, but her favorite was a fluffy fake fur one the blue of cotton candy. “Looks like a skinned Yrl demon,” she said, and he didn’t have the desire to ask what the hell that was.
She had movie posters up on the walls, just covering up rips and water stains in the pale striped wallpaper, but they were mostly for foreign films, all the titles and tag lines in French, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese. Apparently she knew some guys down at the video rental place who just threw out the promo posters after use, and they gave them to her instead, He read the posters for her (hey, she had a Chinese one for Woo’s The Killer - he loved that film), and she seemed both amused and impressed by his ability to read them all. She could only figure out the Spanish ones on her own, and not always correctly.
He had little chance to snoop around, but he did a bit, just because he was curious what type of person she was - other than wild and certain trouble - and there were some things that just told you about a person‘s personality, whether they knew it or not. Her refrigerator was mostly full of take out containers, as well as soda and a half a six pack. Not much of a cook, but probably not much of a drinker either. Not much of a reader either, as she only had a dozen or so paperbacks, mostly horror novels, which seemed funny. Then again, demon fighter - maybe these were comedies to her. She had an impressive collection of heavy metal and punk cds, though, and he was amused to see so many Skinny Puppy discs, as it confirmed she liked Canadians.
She had a closet, and a small three drawer dresser, but honestly she had the fewest clothes of any young woman he had ever met. A lot of leather, though.
She had lots of unopened mail on her kitchenette counter, Most of it was junk mail, though, so he didn’t blame her. (Her last name was O’Hanlon? He should have guessed - she seemed Irish somehow.) She had nothing pre-programmed into the speed dial on her phone except take out places, and it suddenly occurred to him that she was probably pretty lonely. She seemed to know quite a few people, mostly guys (who mostly just wanted to sleep with her), but didn’t use the term friends. And her place wasn’t exactly set up for company; her furniture was her bed, a single armchair, a side table, and a television in a cabinet., but that was it. She was hardly set up to entertain, but she probably never did such a thing. They had that in common too.
He did figure out why Faith was such a loner, though. Over a dinner/breakfast/lunch of take out pizza, she told him of her rather convoluted past, involving almost destroying the world, almost killing Angel, torturing Wesley, going to jail, and nearly getting herself killed by Angelus. Well, it explained why she considered Angel her only real friend - he was the only one who believed she was worth saving (in spite of the fact that she tried to kill him, meaning he had to be the only vampire bucking for Saint status), and eventually convinced her of the same thing - and also why she didn’t exactly have a plethora of friends falling through her door. “I helped save the world and all,” she said, shrugging a single shoulder like it was no big deal, “but I’m pretty sure most people still don’t trust me. It’s okay, I guess I wouldn’t either in their shoes … but it can be a little annoying at times. Like when they don’t bother to tell me Wes is dead and stuff.” She picked at a piece of crust, and asked casually, “So you were at his funeral?”
He told her about it, feeling bad for her. But on the other hand, his past just didn’t seem so bad now. Yeah, he had that whole mutant assassin thing going on, but at least he was brainwashed and mindfucked into it; she couldn’t say that. When he told her about it, she was very understanding, and told him to keep her in mind if he ever went after the Organization again. She tried not to hurt Humans, but that didn’t prevent her from kicking the asses of people who deserved it.
It was starting to become freaky how much they had in common. But at least they had the age gap, her being in her mid-twenties, and him being … well, how the fuck old was he exactly? He didn’t really like to think about it, but he had to be at least five times her age. When he mentioned it, she thought he was kidding and laughed. “Yeah, sure - all hundred year old men are ripped like you.“ Oh well - he couldn’t say he didn’t try.
They were watching some ‘70’s spaghetti western while eating their pizza, trying to see if they could keep their hands off each other for a full hour. They were sitting on the bed in their underwear, trying to be good, but he found himself often staring at her legs, which were lean but muscular, and she had a small tattoo on her right ankle, the Japanese ideogram for strength. She had three tattoos, actually - a tribal one encircling her arm, and a small flaming sword on the small of her back. It led him to ask, “What, no piercings?” But they looked good on her.
He tried to focus on the television, and not look at her in her black lace underwear, but his eyes kept drifting back towards her. Which was funny, because he eventually caught her looking at his chest. She smirked, and said, “You’ve got great abs.” He looked down at them, wondering how you judged. Well, no love handles was probably a good thing. “You must work out a lot.”
He snorted. “No, I don’t. I’m just luggin’ around a hundred pounds of adamantium, and I fight a lot. Guess that keeps me in shape.”
She grinned, stealing a piece of pepperoni from his pizza slice. “I prefer the “I can’t afford to eat when the rent’s due” diet.”
“Bouncing doesn’t pay that well?”
“It’s more like life in L.A. is really expensive. And I live in a cheap shit neighborhood, so I’d hate to be living in a good one.” She shifted on the bed, and rubbed her leg against his. It probably started out accidental, but when the rubbing continued, it definitely wasn’t. The feeling of her soft skin against his was now familiar, but no less welcome or arousing.
He raised his eyebrow at that, unable to suppress a smile. “We’re not gonna finish the pizza, are we?”
Just then, the movie on the television was interrupted by a “breaking news bulletin”, and they both idly glanced at it, closing up the pizza box. Logan wondered what celebrity had been caught holding up a liquor store now.
But that wasn’t it. There was a bombing in the Metro, and the well coifed, mechanical looking anchor seemed visibly agitated, her heavily painted eyes wild in her mask like face. Faith clicked her tongue in disapproval, shaking her head and making a few strands of her hair brush against his shoulder. “It’d be so much easier if demons did all the bad shit,” she noted.
Before he could point out that they really didn’t know demons weren’t responsible for this (okay, it was unlikely, but still …), they cut to a reporter on the scene, a blandly handsome man who looked slightly breathless in a rugged way, He was in front of one of the Metro stations, which was cordoned off, and EMT’s looked like they were working in the background, while cops, firefighters, and suspicious looking guys who could only be some breed of Fed went into the station or milled around outside it, keeping people back and keeping any of the plethora of news cameras from getting a good shot of the interior. The reporter was reading from a piece of paper that kept threatening to blow away - a hastily put together press announcement? It was L.A.; they probably could break a land speed record in p.r. spin - and he began to recount what he’d heard from some witnesses and survivors. The words “suicide bomber” made Logan pay more attention, and he had a sinking feelin! g when the reporter mentioned that there might have been a “special” kind of explosive used, as it didn’t seem to hurt the train.
“Oh shit no,” he groaned, rubbing his eyes. It wasn’t possible, was it? This couldn’t be those Black Fire people Abrams had mentioned, could it?
“What?” Faith asked, looking at him with curiosity.
Could he even tell her? It was supposedly “secret”, although Abrams had trusted him enough to tell him. It was a judgment call, and he decided, ultimately, that if he told her she would probably want to get involved, and he didn’t want that. “I just remembered I told Helga I’d do something for her yesterday. She‘s gonna beat my head in with a tire iron.”
“What reminded you - the death or the destruction?”
“Bit of both.”
“I really have to meet her sometime. She sounds like my kinda gal.” And the funny thing was ...she probably was.
He slid off the bed and headed for her bathroom to take a shower, grabbing what he’d been able to find of his clothes from the floor. (His shirt was missing; it was probably in the corridor, or maybe the elevator. He honestly couldn’t remember.) As soon as he shut and locked the door, he turned on the shower, and sat on the closed lid of the toilet and took his cell phone out of his coat pocket.
Mac’s digging for dirt on Abrams hadn’t turned up anything of note - highly decorated military officer, solid civil service record, blah blah blah - but he did find a telephone number. Logan punched it in now, and wondered if he should be doing this. He didn’t have much time to wonder, as the phone was answered after the second ring. “Hello?”
He had no pleasantries for him. He didn’t even want to be doing this. “The explosion in Los Angeles - was that Black Fire?”
There was a puzzled pause. “Logan?”
“Who else? Was it Black Fire?”
Another pause, but this time he heard the shuffle of papers in the gap. “We’re waiting for a confirmation, but all signs seem to indicate it. Their last threat indicated they’d hit a major Western metropolis, and L.A. certainly qualifies.”
“When will you know for sure?”
“Uh … hopefully within the hour. There are certain hallmarks to the attacks. Can we bring you back in?”
He hung up the phone, and shoved it back in his pocket. This wasn’t his fault; this wasn’t even his business. He only knew about this because Abrams tried to drag him back in.
So why did he feel like this was his fault?
Faith found him a shirt, since they couldn’t find his. She had a couple of men’s t-shirts in a bottom drawer (along with several stakes), and while she said she sometimes wore them as nightshirts, he suspected they were leftovers from former flings or boyfriends. Still, it smelled of her and fabric softener, so maybe he was just a cynical bastard.
Unknown to the general Human population, there were secret access tunnels throughout Los Angeles, built specifically for the demon population. All connected through existing sewer pipes, but even sewer workers would be hard pressed to find them, mainly because Humans neither designed them nor built them. Demons could find them, though, especially vampires who couldn’t be exposed to the light of day.
Logan suspected something like that, but didn’t know it - until now. Bob knew all the tunnels, knew where everything connected to everything, because he had felt it was in his best interest to know. Which is why Logan knew where there was a sewer tunnel just off Sunset that he could get into that would take him straight to a secret entrance in the Metro station.
It connected to a maintenance access closet, and he opened up all his senses, making sure he knew where everyone was before sneaking out. It wouldn’t do to be seen by someone who could arrest him.
As it was, most of the forensic techs and other assorted investigators were in the train car itself, and he could hear the click of someone taking photos of the crime scene. The train car has windows with an occluding web of fine cracks, but they had not shattered, even though the windows on all but the driver’s end were so red with blood they looked tinted. (How could an explosion that devastating not shatter the windows?) There were several people talking, but no one was in the driver’s area, so he snuck up to that part of the train, on the tracks, and crouched down before it, hidden from view in case anyone looked.
What he heard wasn’t encouraging. A female tech - the lead investigator? - was insisting there had to be some fragment of the bomb around, but they weren’t finding anything. He took a deep breath, and tried to parse all the smells. Human; lots of Humans, and all their attendant chemical products, burned skin and hair, fear, and lots and lots of blood - all Human. But there was something wrong with the blood that smelled the strongest.
Not only did it smell burnt, but it smelled … chemical? Not quite, but very close. There was something wrong with the blood, something tainted about it, altered.
If that wasn’t proof enough, he heard a man - a Fed? - complain, “I’ve never seen a bomber who leaves behind nothing but his feet. What kind of explosive did he use?”
Holy shit - he had Abrams’ confirmation. Now what was he going to do about it?
The question tormented him all the way back to Faith’s place. Canadian Intelligence might have been good to him at some point - they might have given him a home when no one else would, helped cover up his mutancy when the idea of it was merely a theoretical concept - but ultimately they abandoned him to the Organization, and that type of monumental betrayal could not be forgotten or forgiven. If they betrayed and used him once, they were apt to do it again.
This was bad, though. And if news got out that this was the work of mutant terrorists, that mutant registration act would probably be rushed through the House and the Senate, and things would go very bad for mutant kind very quickly - at least in the States. People had a tendency to act first and think later. Should he care, though? He’d be safe in Canada.
But what about the kids? And what about Brendan, for instance - what would happen to him if he was forced to register his DNA? Somebody might notice he couldn’t be completely classified as Human, and what would happen then?
No, that couldn’t happen. If he could stop it, he had to. But work with people who had already proven they would sell him out?
He could go to Xavier with this, but Xavier would probably want a non-violent solution, and Logan didn’t honestly see that happening. The Professor was a dreamer, and that was fine - better than fine; that was great, in today’s world, and he wished him all the luck in the world that he would ultimately be right - but sometimes it was best to leave the cynics to take care of the nasty problems. And he was nothing if not a cynic.
Back at the apartment, Faith had taken the time to shower herself, and put the pizza away. She was wearing a white terrycloth robe that looked like it had been nicked from a higher end hotel, and had a bright blue towel wrapped around her hair. It made her look even younger, and strangely endearing. “Hey, get your ass kicked?” she asked comically, sitting down on the bed with a can of diet soda.
“Not yet.” He collapsed in the one chair she had, and told her a heavily edited version of his problem - that Canadian Intelligence, who he once worked for, wanted him back for a job involving a mutant terrorist, one who was probably responsible for today’s bombing. But since they used him and threw him away, he was reluctant to trust them.
She listened to him, looking a bit wide eyed at some points, but there was something very world weary about Faith when her guard was down. Yes, she was chronologically young, but she had been aged a great deal by her tempestuous and ultimately sad life. She considered it for quite a while, then said, quietly but firmly, “If you think you can stop this, Logan, you have to try. Do you think you can?”
He rubbed his eyes, pondering whether he should lie or not. But he’d gone this far, so why pussy out now? “Yeah, I do.”
She nodded. “Then you have to do it. “
She was right, of course. He supposed he’d already guessed that Faith would act as his conscience, since she herself was a reformed bad guy. There was no hero like a reformed villain. “If you need help …” she began, but shrugged. “But I guess I’m not Canadian, so I’m out.”
“If I need some, you’ll be the first person I call,” he promised, and he meant it. Nobody would expect a sexy girl to be so full of ass kicking terror, so she had surprise on her side.
He levered himself out of the chair and went to her, leaning down to give her a kiss on the forehead. Her skin tasted clean, like a winter breeze. She grabbed him by the lapels and pulled him down into a more passionate kiss, He returned it , and slid his arm along her back, now certain she wasn’t wearing anything beneath the robe. He forced himself to break away, and rested his forehead against hers. “I’d better go before I can’t.”
That made her smile. “Be careful. Come back to me, old man.”
“They couldn’t keep me away,” he replied, kissing her on the top of the head before making himself leave. This relationship probably couldn’t last, especially since it seemed to be mostly physical, but damn - he intended to enjoy this while it lasted. Still, he could get used to her very easily.
Out in the corridor, he hit the button for the elevator, and listened to the rickety old thing rattle as it started its arthritic journey upward. As he waited, he pulled out the cell, and punched in Abrams number once more. Okay, if he had to do it this way, fine, but they were going to play by his rules. If he had to get used, it would be under his terms.
As soon as Abrams picked up, he said, “I’m ready. Bring me back in.”