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!   
Notes:  Takes place shortly after the "X Men" movie, and Army Of The Night.


The Day Before

Miranda Bloom didn't know which she hated more: her life or this town.She couldn't really decide, so she decided to hate them both.

Actually, if she was to be honest, she hated it all.

She walked down the pitted grey sidewalk, kicking aside any stray litter that blew in her path, candy bar wrappers and crushed McDonald's and Starbucks cups, and mentally cursed everything and everyone in this dirtball mountain town.

Maplewood was supposed to be some sort of pastoral California paradise for yuppies scared of the big bad urban landscapes, a suburban hideaway tucked in the shadow of Mount Shasta, a community planned down to the last detail.

And so fucking dull and awful it proved that the planners had no children, or inner life, or concept of how human beings lived.

Her mother liked it here. But her mother was a clueless bitch, so why not? She would like these bland little houses with their cookie cutter sameness, their little golf course green perfect lawns no bigger than a parking spot, the gravel driveways with their Saturns and BMW's and Road Rangers and Explorers. This place was soulless and dead; it was a graveyard and yet no one seemed to know it.

Scraggly maples lined the walk leading up to the high school, a sterile white and tan building that looked like a converted aircraft hangar or factory in the cold light of early morning, and she paused to glare hatefully at it, and the students milling around in front of it like zombies.

She hated the school with a vengeance. If being boring wasn't enough of a crime, the kids who went were the absolute last straw. As privileged and dull as their sheep like parents, no one cared they were all as dumb as a bag of hammers as long as the football team kept winning games. Then there were the preening queen bitches who seemed to think they were instantly better than anyone simply because they were able to stick their fingers down their throats at regular intervals.

And her head hurt. Her head hurt all the time now, like her skull was full of molten lead, but did her goddamn mother believe her? No - she figured she was just trying to get out of going to school, or just a migraine, which "everyone" has.

Did everyone feel like their head was going to split open like an overripe melon? Did everyone feel like they were always two seconds away from cranial detonation?

God, she hated it; she hated it all. She hated her stupid fucking life and her stupid fucking mother and this stupid fucking town.

As yet another Road Ranger pulled into the school's large parking lot, she muttered bitterly, "I wish this whole goddamn town didn't exist."

A strange feeling overcame her, a sort of tingling sensation, pins and needles all over her body, and then things...changed.

It was like reality was been wiped away, like the cosmos was hitting the 'delete' button: the street on one side of her faded away, while the school and all the people around it seemed to disappear into thin air, leaving nothing but dirt and foliage behind, trees and shrubs, the valley that existed before the planned community ever did. It all fell away, like someone had stopped the projector on the film of her life.

Miranda dropped her heavy backpack on the ground, which was nothing more than an overgrown field of weeds now, a dense copse of Ponderosa pines replacing the spot where the school once was, a small stream and a large clump of blackberry bushes taking up the space where the sickly maples and the street used to be.

Birds twittered and flew through the branches as she looked around in disbelief, and while the sky was still a cold blue grey, it didn't seem as hostile now. She felt kind of dizzy, but it wasn't a bad feeling. Not at all.

Had she done this? Had she made it all go away? Had she erased the existence of not only an entire town, but everyone else in it?



Tokyo, Japan

They went to the Shinjuku Imperial Gardens and sat on one of the meditation benches (Scott thought they were park benches - ha) near the main pond, where huge white swans glided across the still surface of the water like flower petals on the wind. Nariko hadn't been hard to convince, mainly because she wanted to believe she could escape her life.

She could speak and understand a little English, but not much, and not if they talked fast. In deference to Scott, she tried to speak English whenever she could, but Logan was still acting as translator for the most part.

Scott sat at the far end of the cold stone bench, trying to be as non-threatening as possible (easy), and Logan sat on the end nearest the pond, beneath the juniper tree allowed to grow as tall as an evergreen, its lowering branches drooping like a willow. The scent of it was strong, but he liked it; juniper fragrance was better than the desperation stink of 'Sin City' any day.

Nariko sat in the center of the bench, elbows resting on her knees, her posture not one of discomfort more than surrender: she almost didn't care what happened to her anymore.

From what they had been able to get out of her, her life had been no more fragmented than anyone else's: her parents divorced when she was young, and she basically lived with her mother until last year, when their fractious relationship exploded - Nariko had not clarified whether she had been kicked out of the house or ran away. But she moved in with her father then, and shortly after started to work at his restaurant. It wasn't too long afterwards that she found out her father didn't really make his money from sushi.

He didn't share most of this information with Scott, but Nariko's father started out as a money launderer, but had recently expanded into working as a front for a drug running operation, mostly unprocessed opium coming in from China and Hong Kong. She thought it was a local gang affiliated with the Yakuza, but she really didn't know. All she knew was they were increasingly violent men, and she hated them all, her "spineless" father included.

They told her about the school, blah blah blah, and whether she believed it was beside the point; she wanted to believe.

It was incredibly peaceful here. The birds spoke with sweet voices, the breeze was anemic but musically rustled the leaves of the deciduous trees, made the colorful heads of chrysanthemums and zinnias nod as if agreeing with Nariko's tale of woe. In spite of the sun, it smelled like rain, and Logan could almost imagine the plash of water on leaves, water on water, the loamy smell of damp earth.

Man, he was starting to doze off. Bob should have warned him about the dimensional shifting throwing off the body clock.

"What happened the other night?" Logan asked her, in Japanese. They'd already made it clear the 'energy expenditure' was how they found her. She seemed extremely reluctant to talk about it.

She looked up, tucking a strand of her ebony hair behind her ear, and asked, in halting English, "What are your powers?" She glanced at Scott too, so he was included.

Scott, Boy Scout that he was, tried first. "I basically store energy in my body that's released in a coherent energy beam through - "

Nariko was already shaking her head, and she looked at Logan questioningly for interpretation of so many odd English words. He tried to think of a succinct way to put it. "He shoots beams out his eyes,"  he finally told her. "That's why he wears the funny glasses."

Her hazel widened in both surprise and awe. She looked sharply at Scott, and then tried to surreptitiously scoot a little farther away from him. Scott scowled at him. "What did you tell her I have?"

"Just the truth."

If a frown could be said to be dubious, Scott's was.

"Yours?" She asked in English, looking at him.

Logan shrugged, and replied in the same language, "I heal fast."

"Uh, I think you're leaving something out," Scott interjected.

Nariko had cocked her head, with a look on her face that quite clearly said 'That's all?' But it was all she needed to know right now.

"She's freaked out enough as it is," he told him. A lie wrapped in a kind of truth. "I don't need to make it worse by telling her I'm some sort of fuckin' claw guy with an unbreakable skeleton."

Scott grimaced. "Well, if you put it that way, it does sound freaky."


Nariko looked between them during the exchange, and asked him, reverting to her native tongue, "There's more, isn't there?"

He shook his head, and replied - again, in Japanese (and how strange was it to realize he could slip in and out of these languages without a second thought? He was roughly sure he could start speaking asides in French too, and never mix any of them up, or trip over his own tongue) - "Nothing major. I think it's your turn to share. What happened?" She glanced down at rosy hued cherry blossoms blowing across the dirt path, and he guessed: "Does it involve the men your father work for?"

She looked up sharply, and he knew he had gotten it in one. Fear shined in her eyes like stars.

Scott realized something had happened, he looked between them with curiosity creasing his brow, but he waited to see what else happened.

She rubbed her palms on her knees, just brushing the hem of her short skirt, and reached down to grab a rock from the path. It was a small stone about the side of your average brussel sprout (and probably just as appetizing). "See what it is?" She said, her words stiff and foreign in her mouth. She handed it to Scott, who played along, looking at it and saying, "It's a rock."

She nodded and took it from his hand, turning to hand it to him. But Logan made no move to take it. "It's a stone, darlin', we get that. What's the point?"

She squeezed the rock in her hand,and said, once more in uncomfortable English, "No more." Nariko handed it back to Scott, and he took it with some wariness.

"Nariko, it feels - oh shit," he exclaimed, as he squeezed the rock, and his fingers sank into it like the stone was nothing more than soft flesh. Logan knew Scott wasn't that strong - and pulverized bits of it weren't flying everywhere - so something weird had happened. "Logan, it's clay."

He leaned past Nariko and handed it to him. As soon as Logan had it he could tell the difference in density; the weight of clay had a different feel than the weight of stone. He gave it a tentative squeeze to make sure it was clay all the way through and not just for the first few centimeters (it was solid clay - impressive), then gave it back to her, saying to Scott, "She morphed it?"

He started to shrug, but then hesitated. "I think she's a kind of mutant that can alter the molecular structure of other things."

"Like Kitty."

"Yes, but she has to alter herself at the same time as she's in contact with it, and can only do it in a specific way: solid or not. Nariko didn't turn to clay."

He had to agree with that. So he asked her, in Japanese, "Can you change anything to anything else?"

Nariko considered that, squeezing the stone colored ball of clay in her palm."Pretty much. If I can think about it, I can do it."

"Anything to anything," he said to Scott in English. He then asked her, in Japanese, "On contact?"

She nodded. "I tried to do it by thinking about it once, but it didn't work. I have to touch it and think about it at the same time."

"On contact,"he told Scott, and then jumped back to Japanese."So what happened the other night?"

She scuffed a pattern in the dirt with the toe of her brightly tie dyed tennis shoe and looked down, her dark hair veiling her face, as she said, "These guys...they worked for Yamamoto, I think..."

"Recognized that name," Scott said. Since she was speaking in Japanese, that was all he could recognize.

But she ignored him and went on. "Anyways, they grabbed me after work. They said something about making sure my father made good on his debts, or something." She paused to sniff and wipe slow tears from her face. She was barely crying, and it seemed more from shame than anything else. "I wanted them to let go of me, but they wouldn't."

"What did you do to them?"

She glanced up at him,her eyes brimming with tears, but there was also a deep defiance there. She wasn't sad; she was angry. "I told them to let me go, and they wouldn't. So I...I wished they would die. I turned them to stone."

"All the way through?"

She nodded. "I think they're still in an alley off Yasukuni."

"What happened?" Scott asked, figuring some progress had been made.

"There was an accident," he lied. If they were going to attack a sixteen year old girl, those low life fuckers deserved whatever they got. Turning them to stone was far too humane.  "Some of the thugs after her dad grabbed her,to kidnap her or maybe kill her as a warnin' to her dad - I ain't tellin' her that - and she got freaked out and - "

Scott grimaced. "What did she do to them?"

"You remember what the Gorgons did in mythology?"

"What?" He had to think about that a moment. "Turn people to-" his mouth fell open for a second, then he got it under control. "She turned them to stone? Are they dead?"

Logan scowled at him. "What do you think? She turned them into life sized yard gnomes. Would you live through that?"

Scott looked away, towards one of the stone lanterns that lined the side of the path every few meters. Unlike things in an American park, they had clearly never been vandalized. "Accidents happen, hospital sunroof guy." Scott's good two shoes tendencies really had no place here, especially if it was the Yakuza they were dealing with. Human or not, they were brutal, and wouldn't have hesitated to part Nariko out a piece at a time to get what they wanted.

He looked at him with a deep frown, not appreciating the reminder, and said, "Was it an accident, Logan? Even if it was, two men are dead."

"Two mafiosos who were going to dismember a teenage girl and send bits of her to her father in the mail are dead," he corrected him.

"You don't know that," Scott shot back.

"I'm glad they're dead," she muttered sullenly in Japanese, wiping away the rest of her angry tears with the back of her hand. Fuck the cultural norms; this girl was a fighter.

(Like his Mariko...)

"Yeah, I do. Have you ever dealt with the Yakuza before?"

Scott crossed his arms over his chest, a stubborn look on his face. "Do we know its Yakuza? And you're telling me you've dealt with the Yakuza before?"

"Yeah." He didn't bother to clarify which question he was answering.

Scott just guessed. "I thought you said you couldn't remember ever being in Japan."

"Who said I dealt with 'em in Japan?"

Scott continued giving him the death scowl, and Nariko had been watching them intently, looking from Scott to him and back as if watching a tennis match. It was clear that, even though she couldn't follow their rapid fire English conversation, she could guess from their vocal inflections and body language that he was more sympathetic to her cause than Scott. But she remained wary, and for good reason - how did she know this wasn't some version of 'good cop bad cop'?

In the meantime, she had transmutated the stone from clay to rubber, and was now bouncing it idly on the stone path. Right now her power didn't seem like great shakes, but he knew she could be quite powerful. She'd already proven she could be deadly.

Something suddenly occurred to Logan. "Do they know what you did to their men?" He asked her, in Japanese.

It seemed to take her a moment to understand what he meant by 'they', and then her eyes widened, the smell of fear coming off of her rich and new. "I don't know. Oh shit. They'll really kill me now, won't they?"

"Won't get the chance," he assured her. "We'll leave now." He didn't want to tell her killing her was only one option. It was equally possible they'd want to bribe, coerce, or force her to work for them.

"Now? She repeated, stunned. But she wasn't protesting; she was just surprised they could leave so fast. "I need to get my stuff."

"We can get you new stuff." He pointed out. But she had that mulish look on her face that all teenage girls seemed to master, the one that said "as if" better than words ever could.

He stood, sighing. "Fine. But we have to make it fast."

"No problem," she agreed, getting to her feet. She transmuted the stone back to its original form, and dropped it on the path.

"What?" Scott asked, standing up himself.

"We'll run by her dad's place, let her get some things, then we're leaving."

"Whoa, wait a minute," Scott said, holding up his hands to stop Nariko from walking away. She glanced at him, confused. "We have to talk this over with at least one of her parents."

Logan rolled his eyes and threw out his hands in disbelief. "Her mother ain't speakin' to her, and her Dad wants to keep her here to help him work off his mob debt. We'll take her now, and let Xavier do the retroactive reassurance thing. You know he's better at that than any of us, and do you really think I can charm the trust from anyone?"

That got him. Scott surrendered with a sigh, and let Nariko lead the way down the garden path. "I know there's a lot you're not telling me," Scott whispered accusingly.

"The girl's probably on a hit list. You wanna split hairs? Let's do it somewhere else."

Scott gave him as an evil look as he could with his eyes covered by that visor, but at least he consented to have this argument later.

They always argued later.

Since her father's house was only a couple of blocks from the Shinjuku Gyoenmae it was all decided that they walk, in spite of the looks they got from fellow pedestrians on the street. They were Japanese, so they tried not to be too overt about it, but it was impossible not to notice the double takes, feel the eyes of even surreptitious glances. Of course, two weird looking white dudes walking down the street with a teenaged Japanese girl were bound to attract attention outside of Kabukicho; there, it wouldn't even earn a second glance. But everyone learned not to look twice in Sin City, or remember faces. Things like that could come back to bite you on the ass.

Even outside of Kabukicho.

Logan never looked directly, but as they turned the corner, a block away from her father's house, he noticed Nariko was leading them through a wide, clean alley.

"Why are we goin' this way?" He asked her, in her native language.

"It's a shortcut." She gave him a curious look, interpreting the troubled expression on his face. "What's wrong?"

"A couple of seconds ago, I saw the same black Mazda drive by us for the second time," he told Scott, in English. He looked around, surprised, while Logan told her, in Japanese, "There may be trouble. I want you to do what I say when I say it, okay?"

Now she looked around, just like Scott, as Logan placed a hand on the small of her back and started urging her down the alley ahead of him. It was so clean there were few places for good cover, and the alley cut between a lower rent store and what looked like some kind of hair salon: again, no real cover options.

"Are you sure it was the same car?" Scott asked skeptically. "Even if it was, it could just be someone who's lost."

"Have I ever been wrong about bein' watched?" He replied, annoyed.

Scott grimaced sourly, but admitted, "No. Your paranoia usually pays off."

"It ain't paranoia if you're right." It was then he heard the sound of acceleration on a road where it was so packed with cars it was rare, and the noise echoed - starting from right in front of them.

"Headed this way!" He shouted to Scott, just as he saw a dark blur which could only be the car skidding around the back end of the alley.


Logan grabbed Nariko around the waist, picked her up and spun around, making her shout in surprise, and took them to the wall, his body still between hers and the car as the first muffled gunshots (of course they were using silencers) rang out. He thought he felt a sting like a hard slap somewhere near his left shoulder blade.

Scott shot a powerful beam from his visor - a glimmer of red in the corner of his eye - that caught the car straight on, making it fly up as if swatted by a wrecking ball. Thrown over on its top, it rolled a number of times, spitting broken glass and fragments of metal before finally coming to rest on its crumpled roof.

"Fucking hell," Nariko said, in perfectly clear English.

It was funny which words were the easiest to learn.

"Well, it was only a Mazda," he told her, putting her down.

"I didn't mean to hit it that hard," Scott admitted.

But Logan heard shifting in the wreckage, and started heading towards the car. He saw movement then,heard the click of a seatbelt being undone, and found it hard to believe that someone had survived that ride. But obviously someone had.

"Logan, you've been hit," Scott said flatly. He was just pointing it out.

But he already knew, and he didn't care. Sure, he could feel the bullet wedged beneath his skin like an icy stone, and the wound throbbed as his skin and muscle started to mend itself, knitting around the foreign object and oh so subtly forcing it out, millimeter by excruciating millimeter, like a slow motion reverse of the bullet entering his body in the first place. And judging from a similar pain in his right thigh, he'd actually been hit twice.

He saw a stretched out arm, smelled blood (not his), and saw, as the man started to squirm out of the car, he still had a gun in his hand.

Logan broke into a run.

"Don't kill him!" Scott shouted, as the man crawled out of the car and raised the gun.

Logan reached him before he could pull the trigger. He kicked the gun out of the man's hand, and as he seemed to reach back for another weapon, he kicked him in the face and put him down.

But that gave his friend on the other side time to pull himself up and shoot, point blank into Logan's face.

The bullet bounced off his cheekbone as Nariko screamed, and the shooter, whose face was half covered in blood from a gash that had opened up his scalp, gaped in wide eyed astonishment as Logan not only remained standing, but snarled at him for trying such a cowardly, punk ass stunt.

Logan grabbed the man's arm and pulled him over the car violently, as Scott shouted again, "Don't kill him!"

The man screamed in pain as his shoulder dislocated with a hollow pop,and Logan slammed him violently to the pavement.

The man landed on his back with a thud that hid the crackling of bones on impact, and while Logan had hoped to squeeze the asshole for information, he was not only out cold, but he wasn't sure the guy's skull didn't fracture.

He wanted to make sure of it, he really did. But he turned and unleashed some of his pent up fury on the car - in two kicks, he had not only completely crumpled the door inward, but it fell off, hanging on by a single hinge.

"Fucking hell," Nariko said again, as he started stalking back towards them. There was no other conscious person in the car, and if there was, they were wisely playing dead.

"What the hell was that don't kill him shit," he spat at Scott. He wasn't sure what pissed him off more: Scott attempting to give him orders, Scott assuming he'd gut the guys, or presuming that he shouldn't kill these wastes of space.

"The girl, Logan," Scott said back, his voice taut with anger. He could smell the adrenaline zinging through Scott's blood from here. Scott was dying for a fight but was absolutely not going to acknowledge it. "Isn't she freaked out enough?"

"So," Nariko said (in Japanese), remarkably calm for a freaked out person (although he could smell the fear coming from her). "He shoots lasers, and're the toughest guy on Earth?"

He shrugged.Close enough.

She stared at him in such a way that he knew his face had only now finished healing up. His face usually healed fast, so maybe the other bullet wounds slowed things down.

Behind him, he heard the car door finally fall off and hit the pavement. Both Nariko and Scott jumped, but he knew there had been no activity behind it: he heard the small, dying creaks of a hinge finally giving way under the relentless tug of gravity. "There's probably more on the way, hero," Logan snarled at Scott. Truth was, Scott didn't want him to kill them for him, not Nariko. "So what's say we get a move on and get her gear before you're forced to kill, huh?"

If Scott could have given him a death glare, he would have right now.

"Are we going?" Nariko asked, sounding more impatient than frightened. But her knees were shaking, and he knew it wasn't due to the cold.

Logan nodded.

"Is she all right?" Scott asked, reluctantly turning away from the wreckage.

"Hangin' in there?" He asked her.

She nodded, glancing at Scott as well. She then shivered and wrapped her arms around herself, hugging herself for comfort and warmth.

He felt for the kid. Maybe she wanted to go to Xavier's just for protection from the Yakuza. Her parents couldn't give her that.

Logan took off his leather jacket and handed it to her (noticing the bullet hole in the back. Ah hell, how was he going to fix that?). "It's warm," he said, and with a wary look, she took it with a nod.

"Thank you," she said, slipping it on. It seemed to swallow her, hang off of her like a half open parachute. Was he that big, or was she that small?

Noting that Scott was studying him (What? He couldn't do nice things?), he glanced back at the angry ruin of the car, crumpled like an empty cigarette pack, and said wryly, "I hope that wasn't a rental. 'Cause they ain't getting their deposit back."

Man. Scott had no sense of humor whatsoever.


Los Angeles, California

The freight elevator doors opened on a familiar scene: the swinging underground bachelor pad, which was really just Luke's cocoon, a way to keep on top of the world without actually being a part of it.

"Good day, darlin'," Bob called, not seeing her among the maze like bookshelves that took up the far side of the room. No person who had ever come to the Black Star Gallery would ever know its main artist lived in a secret basement. "You called me?"

The same overstuffed blue sofa was in front of the same oversized aquarium embedded in the wall, although she got several new jewel toned fish, saltwater natives in bright metallic yellow and blue, a brilliant contrast to their white sand and orange coral abode. The smaller screens surrounding the tank showed mostly security camera footage, although one was off (the t.v. screen), and another was running some kind of computer program.

"Would it have killed ya to teleport?" Luke snapped,coming around the side of the farthest bookcase. She was dressed in her usual casual clothes, long sleeved purple t-shirt and blue jeans, barefoot as if he caught her shortly after getting up.

"I didn't know it was that urgent."

"I called ya and asked ya to come as soon as possible! Shite!" She cursed, throwing her hands in the air. Whenever his granddaughter got angry,her Northumbrian accent got more pronounced.

Admittedly, Luke was generally angry, and she didn't call him a lot. A check in around the holidays, mostly. Not that she didn't like him, but she was a natural recluse, and pretty much avoided everyone. He thought it was odd she'd call, but she didn't sound especially upset. She sounded pissed off, but she almost always sounded pissed.

The elegant young woman gestured aggressively for him to sit on the couch, and he did, happy to play along with her. "Computer, display file arse one," she said, sitting on the arm of the sofa.

"Voice controlled," he said, nodding. "Neat. Like your file names as well."

She simply made a noise of agreement, folding her hands on her thigh. "Remember that deadbeat Guldar demon I was lookin' up for Shiar?"

No, he didn't, but he faked it. "Sure. Was there a problem?"

"Well, yes and no. It wasn't hard to find him, Guldar's ain't that bright, but the where of it was fucked to high heaven. He settled in a bedroom community called Maplewood, near Shasta."

"I see. And his moving to a suburb is a problem because..? Well, other than bein' a bloody suburb."

"It's a problem 'cause it doesn't exist anymore. See?"

The computer screen showed a double layered map: the one beneath showed a satellite photo rich which green swards; the ghostly second image above showed the hard grey and black and brown of a modern human settlement.

Bob wasn't sure he was following this. "It was blown up?"

"No. It no longer exists. Or it seems to have ceased existing. It and everyone in it, the Guldar included."

He realized the layered image was a before and after shot - Maplewood the day before yesterday (image two) ; the area where Maplewood was as of two hours ago (image one). Holy shit. Not only was there no sign of devastation, but it looked like the opposite had happened: the devastation had been removed, and the property had been given back to the land.


"I had Liivas out there. He didn't pick any up."

Liivas was a Jherik demon, a type who were extremely sensitive to magicks of all kind. If he couldn't find it, there was nothing to find.

She then gave him a light backhanded slap on the shoulder. "Where the fecking hell have you been, anyways?"

"I was kidnapped - "

"- by the Old Ones, yeah, I heard that bit, fuckwit. I meant yesterday, when I tried to call ya! Jeeze."

"Oh. Seki dropped by. She heard about the Old Ones, belatedly, and wanted to make sure I was okay."


"Sekhmet. I think the ancient Egyptians worshiped her for a bit."

Luke had to think about that for a moment. "Ex wife?"

"Not officially, no. We were never technically married.'s complicated." And that didn't include the tale of how he met Seki, which was even more complicated, and how most Egyptian mythology got her completely wrong, but what did you expect from such misogynist times? Mythology generally got more wrong than right; it was just one of those things. But frankly, wasn't he glad how much they fucked up? It might have made his life more difficult if they hadn't.

She snorted derisively. "It's always fecking complicated. Your love life should come with an instruction manual."

"It couldn't hurt," he admitted.

"Doesn't she have like a lion head or somethin' ? Isn't she from some weird arse sub-dimension?"

"Hey, be careful, she rules that weird ass sub-dimension. And you know love is not dictated by looks, Luke."

She shook her head, mussing up her short brown hair. "That's just another thing that makes you bleedin' weird, Bob." Luke then gestured to the overlapping map of past Maplewood and current nothing, and got back on topic. "So with magick right out there's only two possibilities left. One is we got some demon from another universe who can do shite like this. Possible?"

He had to think about it a moment. "Yes. There are beinn's from other places that can do some real wild things. They're rare, but hey, rare isn't impossible."

She nodded in agreement. "That's what I thought. The second possibility is one of those bleedin' freak mutants did it."

"Hey, watch the freak label - they're the future of humanity, you know."

"Whoopty fucking do."

She was such a dyed in the wool cynic. He bet Logan and her would have to have a bleak off to see who was the Alpha Cynic. "And you want me to work that angle?"

"I want ya to work 'em both," she replied, like he was being deliberately obtuse.