THE FALLING SKY
E-Mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; theSummary: In the aftermath of the confrontation, Logan attempts to pick up the pieces. But an
character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics. No copyright
infringement intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be a patron of the
arts, I won't object. ;-) Oh, and Bob and Yasha are *my* characters - keep your hands off!
enemy he thought dead is making itself known....in the most shocking way possible.
Notes: Takes place shortly after the "X2" movie, and right after "Angels And Insects".
He wondered if he’d ever forget Camaxtli’s smile.
Assuming he’d ever be capable of having nightmares again, Logan wondered if that demonic leer would haunt them.
Somehow he had thought gods had souls, whatever the fuck they were, but everything in Camaxtli’s empty eyes and vacant smile told him that was a lie - some gods, maybe all, had none. They were no more souled than demon gods, and possibly even less so. The differences were simply powers, terminology, and dimensional placement; nothing more. Camaxtli was just this void with form; a consumptive, needy thing, trying to fill its own emptiness with blood, gorge itself on violence to fill a constant, aching desire that was as eternal as a bottomless pit. Logan knew, under different circumstances, he might pity this god of endless hunger.
But right now, he still wanted to rip out his throat with his teeth. He wondered what his blood would taste like.
Camaxtli still had a hold of his chin, was still examining like he was a racehorse he wasn’t unsure about purchasing. He wondered if it was possible to hate him more. He already hated him so much he thought it might make him explode; his pulse slammed like a sledgehammer inside his chest and behind his temples, and he knew the minute he released him, he was going to tear him apart with his bare hands. No claws needed.
“You could do a lot of damage, in spite of having a bound power, couldn’t you?” Camaxtli asked, the gloating in his voice absolute. “You’ve already done much, haven’t you? The one man killing machine. Why on earth did a wimp like Bob pick something like you?”
“To stomp your lame ass,” he snarled.
Camaxtli’s look didn’t change, but Logan suddenly felt something like a laser knife driven deep inside his brain, burning synapses and making neurons explode like dying stars, and the pain was so great his vision faded out to red. He wanted to scream, but it seemed to get clogged in his throat, couldn’t get out. It was just another form of pain.
“I could have a lot of fun with you,” Camaxtli said approvingly, his voice a silky purr of menace. Logan’s vision started coming back, sparkling red and black at the edges, but the pain seemed to reverberate through him like a physical echo. Yes, he could make him hurt.
But they both felt it then - the atmosphere seemed to recoil, and Camaxtli looked up -
- and Logan felt himself torn out of his grasp, out of his control. “Think I can’t find my own fucking avatar, Cammy?” Bob said, suddenly appearing right beside the war god. He was all blue fire with filaments of something darker underneath, holding a flaming sword of the same ephemeral energy, and he sliced Camaxtli right in half with it. Camaxtli reeled, grabbing his abdomen where crimson light like flames bled through, not blood but close enough in god terms, and Logan was stunned. He hurt Camaxtli? How had Bob hurt Camaxtli? He thought he couldn‘t do that. “Go!” Bob shouted, and Logan felt himself -
He felt like he was in darkness for a long time, until his sense of self came crawling back like a beaten dog, and he screamed, “No! Goddamn it Bob, no!”
He sat up, and found himself back in his room in the mansion.
Or a room, at any rate; generic room. There was no sign anyone had ever been in here, which meant it was either his or Chameleon’s. He sat up and dry washed his face, still achy and disoriented, and so fucking pissed off at Bob. Camaxtli almost did it; he almost freed Jean. Would it have killed Bob to just wait a minute before he came stomping in through the fucking dimensional door?
Bob probably thought he was saving him. How could he know?
As soon as he thought he could, he got up and disappeared into the bathroom, shutting the door against the noise of kids in the hall, laughing and running, sounds of normalcy that felt wrong. It didn’t help.
He usually felt like he didn’t belong in this world. That feeling had never been stronger.
He still stank of flop sweat, and he figured he should take a shower, but his legs remained rubbery (he told himself it was just the rough transit). He leaned against the sink as he waited for it to fill up, and he dunked his face in the tepid water, rubbing it through his hair. He hoped Jeannie understood someday; he tried, he really did.
He had no idea how long he was there, letting the water drip off his face, watching the ripples spread out towards the edges of the porcelain, his mind a blessedly numb blank. Sometimes it was better not to think, not to feel; sometimes it was better to just embrace that void. No brain, no pain.
“I’m sorry, darlin’,” he muttered, watching the circles in the water waver and die. He hoped she knew he tried. But wasn’t he secretly just a little relieved that Bob saved him from that? Fuck - he was a coward. He was a coward and ultimately he had failed her. He couldn’t blame Bob, although he thought he might for a while; in truth, he didn’t want Camaxtli in his head. He didn’t want to be controlled again, pushed around on someone’s personal battlefield like a toy. For her he would take it - he still would, if the chance came up again - but something inside of him quailed at the thought, panicked, wanted to curl up in a corner and hide.
That was probably normal, if it was any consolation. No one wanted to be physically controlled and mindfucked in every possible way, and certainly not by a bloodthirsty war god who was quite possibly insane. But it didn’t ameliorate anything; he still felt humiliated. He didn’t just fail Jean by not saving her, but he let himself down - he had found his personal limit; he had found the thing he never wanted to do. He had found the thing that would break him.
The next thing.
“Logan,” the Professor’s voice said. He had knocked, but Logan only realized that belatedly; he had been hypnotized by the water, by his own emptiness and regret, and never really heard it.
“Go away,” he snapped, looking at himself in the mirror. His eyes were hollow, and the water had slicked back his beard, making him look strangely gaunt. He felt a thousand years old, and almost looked it.
There was a pause, but he knew the Professor had not gone away. “Your friends from Los Angeles have been calling frantically - they were afraid something drastic had happened to you.”
Oh, god. Angel, Wesley and Yasha. He’d almost forgotten about all of them; they were another life. “I’m okay.”
“No you’re not.” Just like that, matter of factly. Fucking telepathic eavesdropper.
Feeling warmed by a surge of impatient anger, he moved to the door and threw it open, to find the Professor was barely inside his room at all. At least he’d had the decency to close the door. “Stay out of it,” he warned.
“You should call them as soon as possible,” he advised, unmoved by his threat. “They were afraid you’d been murdered.”
If only, he thought. “Fine. Message received. Can I be alone now?”
For a moment that threw him. He didn’t get the connection there. “Gone? D’ya mean as in left?”
Xavier nodded. “As soon as it was clear there was no longer a threat, he decided he needed to get away to “clear his head”.”
“Where’s away, exactly?”
Logan rolled his eyes. Well, it was white bread enough that Scott should do fine. “He’ll be back. He doesn’t know what the real world’s like.”
Xavier seemed somewhat doubtful, but didn’t contradict him. “As it is, we’re short handed. You returned at a fortuitous time.”
“Scott’s not the only one gone?”
“Cerebro picked up a massive mutant energy expenditure in the Netherlands. Storm left to check it out.”
Holland? Did someone smoke too much pot and manifest a mutant power to amuse their equally stoned friends? He wished Storm luck. He really wasn’t in the mood for any of this, but he realized that maybe this was timely; maybe he needed a purpose to get his mind off his failure. “So you and me are pretty much the only adults here?”
“Great.” If someone wanted to attack them, now would be a perfect time. No, maybe not. Xavier was a telepath, after all, and Logan was currently fucking pissed off. He’d relish an attack; he had some frustration to burn off.
“The phone in my office is free any time you wish to use it,” he said, and then, with a small spark of amusement in his blue eyes, added, “The danger room is also free, I believe. Just promise me you won’t punch through a wall this time.”
“That was an accident.”
“I know. But Scott isn’t here to fix it.” Xavier easily maneuvered his wheelchair backwards, and opened the door, letting himself out. But he paused, staring at him, and it was just long enough to really annoy Logan.
“What?” He snapped, wondering if he was in for a lecture about violence not being an answer or some such shit like that.
But Xavier’s expression was oddly sympathetic, almost haunted, and Logan’s stomach clenched in fear. He didn’t want to know what he was going to say, but it was too late now. “You can’t think of yourself as an animal now. Not after what you were willing to do for her.”
He then closed the door gently between them, leaving Logan staring after him.
“Ah shit,” he sighed, sitting down on the edge of his bed, hanging his head down in his hands.
He wondered if there was any chance at all Bob could save Jean.
Not for the first time, she wondered why she came to New York.
She knew why she left home. Toronto was nice, it was clean, it was generally recognized as a polite, lovely city … and as boring as all fuck. She could almost feel herself congealing into a big pile of cold mashed potatoes - she so had to get out of there, and her stupid foster home.
But it was odd. Leonie already knew that what memories she had didn’t always make sense, and normally that didn’t bother her. Yet this odd, inexplicable drive to get to New York … she could not place when the idea first occurred to her. Nor was she clear about how she left home, or when. It was like she just woke up on a Greyhound bus headed for New York City. It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened, though, and probably not the last; she knew it was related to those awful migraines she got sometimes. Oh no, what did the doctor call them? “Cluster headaches”. Cluster her ass - and those phony pills they gave her just made her feel loopy. (Well, okay, that was a good part … )
She was seventeen, for fuck’s sake, and her stupid foster parents treated her not only like a child, but a sub-normal. They were afraid of her, weren’t they? So she was a mutant - so fucking what? They had never even seen her real powers; they didn’t know what she could really do. Why show it to them? Why waste it? They could simply believe what they wanted about her abilities; she didn’t give a fuck what they thought of her.
But why had she dreamed about fire? That was weird. Something about a fire … but she couldn’t remember anything about a fire. Probably a nightmare, just a strangely realistic one. She once had a dream about these alien looking guys drawing on her forehead; that seemed real, but she never believed it for a second.
She had no earthly idea where she was going. She just made her away from the Port Authority bus terminal to Times Square last night, and found an underage club that still served illegal alcohol, and she lifted some cash from some amateur drug dealers trying to scam girls at the bar. It was an extremely humid night - was the weather in New York always as damp as a wet sponge? - so she found a high roof to crash on. She didn’t know why she kind of liked sleeping on roofs, even though she wasn’t that fond of heights, but they were really safe - who thought about crashing on a roof?
Not that she ever worried about her safety. She had three separate black belts in different martial arts - karate, aikido, and tae kwan do - as it became her hobby, if only to get her out of her fucking house, and she had recently taken up kickboxing, until she ended up banned from the gym (was it her fault the chain holding up the heavy bag was corroded? She didn’t break a new chain - it was their fault for not keeping their equipment up to date). She had some street fighting cred too. She had no fear of physical confrontation; she could kick anything’s ass. The kids used to tease her about being “Leo the Lion”, but at least she lived up to the name.
Even though something told her she should stay here, she thought about finding out how much it would take to get to California; somewhere nicer. How far would the money she lifted from the white bread wannabe drug dealers get her?
She climbed down the fire escape of the roof she had slept on, stretching out her kinks on the way down, and listening to all the people inside the tenement. Some were still asleep. But more often than not she heard loud televisions, blasting programs in both English and Spanish, people talking, fucking, or fighting in both languages, and while some of the smells (who would fry onions at this time of the morning?) turned her stomach, others - the frying eggs, the boiling maple oatmeal, the warm blueberry muffins - made it rumble appreciatively. Maybe she could spare some of her cash to get something to eat.
She stopped in the first fast food joint she came to, and used their bathroom to clean up, to pull a wrinkled new shirt out of her backpack and put it on. Once out in the restaurant, with its primary bright plastic furniture and oddly unconvincing plastic plants, she found they weren’t serving anything even remotely appealing. The stink of frying grease nearly turned her stomach.
She ordered an awful coffee (and spent about five minutes dumping in chalky “non-dairy creamer” and sugar packets to make it even remotely palatable) and an English muffin sandwich she picked everything off of, save for the reconstituted square of scrambled egg product. In the end, she only ate the scrambled egg square; the muffin was like trying to eat an insole. It was hardly satisfying, but she figured her appetite was ruined for now.
Leonie headed out, searching her jeans pocket for change for a phone call (she had to call the bus station and find out how far she could go), when she heard, “Hey, that’s the shorty who punked us last night.”
Oh, lovely - the poseur drug dealers from last night.
“Fuck you, I didn’t punk ya, you stupid losers,” she said dismissively, aware that there were four of them following her. There were only two - and a random lackey - last night. They’d just been hitting the meth - she could smell it in her sweat - and they were just itching for a fight. Great - she was gonna have to kick their asses, wasn’t she? “Go pretend to be bad and black someplace else, ‘fore you all get hurt.”
This was a narrow back street; most of the businesses lining either side of the block were closed, either for the morning or for good. It was amazing how crowded New York could be, except when there was trouble brewing - then it was as close to a ghost town as you could get. The residence must have had “do not be a material witness” radar.
She got a whiff of stale cigarette smoke and body odor before the fifth lackey emerged at the head of the street, a pale white boy trying to look tough behind his smattering of acne scars, twenty going on seventeen, physically wasted from sampling too much of the product he hoped would make him rich, knit cap pulled down to the very verge of his eyebrows. It made him look sweaty and pasty as well as silly, not “cool” as he was undoubtedly shooting for.
“You don’t give us lip, cunt,” the poseur immediately behind her snapped.
“What the fuck you just say to me?” She replied irritably, although she didn’t turn around. She was getting a sense of their positions in relation to her. Who had the weapons?
Then the guy behind her drew a switchblade, she heard the click of the blade as it locked into place, and she stopped suddenly and threw back a hard elbow. It smashed into his nose with a violent crack, and since he’d walked right into it, it almost took his head clean off, and sent him sprawling to the dirty sidewalk, the knife clattering away into the gutter.
“Dirty bitch!” One of them shouted, and the rest of the baggy pants and cheap Gap hoody brigade swarmed her. She kicked the first one square in the balls, sending him flying back into another one, while the third managed to land a backhand hit across her face. But she went with it, taking a few steps back, and as he advanced, she feinted towards him, and he shot out a hand to smack her again. She grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm violently, making the bones crackle like potato chips. As he screamed, she shoved him violently into the guy who’d already gotten hit by the guy kicked in the nuts and was just recovering, and they both went down in a tangle of limbs on the pavement. The guy whose arm she just broke in several places wouldn’t stop screaming.
“That’s enough, bitch!” The fifth one said, storming over from the corner, cocking the gun he just pulled out of his pocket. It was a little thing (probably like his dick), a Saturday night special he probably thought made him seem important. He aimed it towards her face, his hand shaking ever so slightly. “Gimme the fucking money or I’ll blow yer stupid cunt brains all over the street!”
She glared at him, wondering what she must look like to him. Some uppity little redhead in a Moosehead Beer t-shirt and jeans that had seen better years, no make up, uncombed hair, an old backpack with a fraying strap. She probably looked like street trash, like she belonged in their milieu, and yet was utterly harmless. Just somebody’s piece of tail, maybe one who gave it up for drugs.
The smack across the face had split her bottom lip. She could taste her blood, and she licked it off. “Why should I be afraid of you, asshole?”
That made him do what she wanted - he moved closer. “You blind, bitch?! See the motherfucking piece aimed at your head?” He waggled it, just in case she was staring at the zit on the end of his nose. He then seemed to falter in his step, stop. “What the fuck..?”
Her lip had just healed up. She could still feel heat emanating from it like a burner on a stove. She wondered if that was ever not going to feel weird.
She didn’t give him time to gather his bearings. She popped the claws on her left hand and slashed out, snagging the gun and sending it flying. From the way he suddenly grabbed his hand, she got some of his skin too. “C’mon, fuckface, ain’t ya gonna paint the street with my brains?” She roared, holding up her hand. The three, nine inch ivory claws that had sliced through the thin skin between her fingers still had streaks of her blood on it, making them look even more menacing.
She looked around at those that were still capable of doing something, and asked them, “Is that it, huh? You wannabe shits got something else you wanna show me?”
They all stared at her, goggle eyed and freaked; one of them pissed their pants, judging by the acrid ammonia smell.
The one who had pulled the gun scrambled back on his butt, almost shoving himself into the street. “What the fuck are you?” He asked, his complexion ashen save for his rosy red pustules.
“What am I? Fuck, how dumb are you? I’m a freak, dickwad, and if I ever seen yer ugly, punk ass face again, I’ll gut ya and leave ya for the pigeons - get me?”
He nodded, eyes riveted on her bone claws.
She gave them a final, scathing glance, snarling for effect, then retracted her claws into her hand, the blood beading between her fingers until the gashes healed over. She then secured the backpack over her shoulder once more, and walked off.
Leonie waited until she was on the next block before grabbing her hand. Fuck, popping her claws hurt. She thought, since she discovered she had them (and that was probably the biggest surprise of her thirteenth birthday - it was the biggest shock in general, until her fourteenth birthday … wow, her life was full of shocking revelations), she’d get used to it, build up calluses or something. But apparently her healing thing didn’t let her build up calluses, and she had yet to adapt to the pain of constantly cutting open her own skin. Maybe she never would - and wouldn’t that be a bitch?
She rubbed her hand and walked out onto a main thoroughfare, quickly disappearing into the voluminous crowd heading towards Times Square.
And now that she had time to think, she started wondering anew what the hell had brought her to New York.