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 and Yasha are *my* characters - keep your hands off!   


Camaxtli stumbled back into the fake surf, more shocked than hurt. “How the fuck did you do that?” He exclaimed, chuckling darkly.  “Seriously man, ow.”

“You motherfucking piece of trash drongo,” Bob spat, so angry he saw nothing but blue. He reached out with his energy and let it contract as he found Camaxtli’s energy, more a void of intent than actual tangible power, but the resistance was still palpable. “It’s over, do you understand that? I will collapse this whole fucking plane if I have to.”

Cammy leered at him, backing up and gaining some ground (not that it would help), and snarled, “He was trying to switch teams on ya, Bob.”

“Logan was trying to save a life; not that you’d even grasp that particular concept.” He could feel Cammy questing for an exit. “Do you think I’m letting you go now that I’ve found you?” He had no idea Logan would risk that, but why the hell not?  He loved her, and he was generally fearless. Okay, Cammy scared him, but Cammy scared anyone with an ounce of sanity - Logan just figured if he was Cammy’s avatar he could be stopped and killed, and it would be less painful than having to kill Jean.

If he was a woman, he’d have been Bob's wife number eight.  Nine?  Oh fuck, he could never keep it straight.

Cammy grinned, red energy bleeding from his gums.  He was hurt; he caught him off guard, and Logan - bless him - had completely distracted him.  But was there something else?  “I can go places you wouldn’t dare go, Bob.” He then got a curious look on his face. “You - you taste like -”

“Itchy?  Well, what the fuck, mate?  Think I was gonna let that bastard slaughter in your name?” Cammy looked genuinely surprised - twice in one day.  That was probably a record.

“You absorbed him?” He chuckled breathlessly. “I knew you could be ruthless if you wanted to be, Bob, but I had no idea …”

“Let her go,“ he interrupted.  The time for talking was long past.  “Find another avatar somewhere else, or I swear I will hunt you down.” Actually, he had no intention of letting him set up shop in another avatar, but it made him feel better to lie.

“You’re assuming I can let her go,” he jeered, and opened a rift, a black diamond of energy beside him that he plunged into, disappearing into the void.

“No you don’t!” Bob shouted, diving in after him.

What the hell did he mean if he could let her go?

Bob suddenly had a bad feeling about all this.




Logan realized he'd missed a lot while he was gone.

He'd disappeared last night in L.A. - it was late morning when he arrived in New York.
So he'd only missed a handful of hours, and yet, according to Angel, he'd missed a lot.

After running the stupid receptionist gauntlet (“What do you mean your name’s 'just Logan'?  Like 'just Madonna'?”), he finally got him on the phone, and since Wes, Yasha, and the Sisters (and Spike, although no one counted him) were also there, he ended up on speaker phone.

He gave them the short-hand version of what had happened to him:  he was grabbed by Camaxtli, who tried to convince him he'd killed Jean, then Bob rescued him; that was it (they didn’t need to know the details). There was some disbelief that that was it, but no one knew how Cammy operated, and Wesley concurred that time dilations between dimensions were tricky things.

Their attempts to find them led them to an explosion of mystical energies that was literally explosive: apparently a cliff in Mexico was vaporized by mystical energies that rated off the chart - “god stuff”, according to the people they had there. They thought he had been there, and that the god that rose was due to a blood sacrifice. What they couldn’t explain, though, was the fact that the god energies picked up by their seers disappeared almost the instant it appeared - they had no explanation for that.  But Logan figured it out.  What happened?  Bob happened, that’s what. They all thought he was off the job, but he was probably chasing this thing down to the source.

It came up in time to be banished again, or whatever Bob did to it.

For the most part, they didn’t care - they were just glad he was still alive (with Spike, in the background, chiming in, “Oh, who cares?”), and extremely glad they didn’t have to gear up to fight a nasty god again (they weren’t the only ones).  But when they asked where Bob was, and wondered exactly how it all panned out, Logan couldn’t tell them - he didn’t know, and was almost afraid to find out.

What if Bob did kill Camaxtli?  What would happen to Jean?

Logan then went and took a shower, hoping to get some more of the fear stink off of him. He was glad no one else could smell it.

He was just getting out when Xavier’s voice startled him. “Can I impose on you for a favor?”

Once he rapidly scanned the bathroom, he realized Chuck was being telepathic. “Don’t fucking sneak up on me like that!” He said aloud, continuing to towel dry his hair. “Clear your throat or something.”

*I apologize* he sent, although Logan didn’t think he sounded that sorry. *Cerebro just detected mutant activity in New York City, Times Square area to be exact.  It wasn’t as powerful as the signature I detected in the Netherlands, but considering its proximity, perhaps worth checking out.*

Logan sighed, and stepped into his jeans, wondering if Bob had sent him back here as a kind of joke. “There a bike in the garage?” His was still in L.A. wasn’t it?  Maybe Yasha could drive it back … oh, sunlight thing.  Scrap that plan.  Maybe he could ask Angel and his posse of mystics to zap it up here.

*Yes. Scott took his car.*

So Scott didn’t own a bike he couldn’t take away?  Cool. “Fine, I’ll go.  Know what I’m dealing with?”

*No, except I don’t believe it’s energy based.*

Well, that was something, he supposed.  Wasn’t anything stuck with gravity he couldn’t deal with.

He found a new shirt - one without bloodstains on it - and for that reason he had to take one of the X-Men leather jackets and boots, and wasn’t sure if he should be freaked out they had his size or not.  He couldn’t remember being cut, but Angel had said something about a blood ritual, so he must have been (and there were certainly lots of spatters), yet he felt fine.  Healing factor or Bob?  He’d probably never know for sure.

Taking one of those dumb earpiece radio things so Xavier would stay out of his head, he got Scott’s new bike out of the garage and took off.  It was as tricked out as the older one, just more streamlined.  And had bright blue on it.  What the fuck was that about?
He could see Bob doing it - Bob seemed to enjoy color coordinating with his blood - but what was Scott’s deal?  It was probably his favorite color.  God, maybe some time away from kids would do him good.

As he suspected, getting out on the road was good for him.  He felt in control again, master of his own rapid and extremely limited fate.  Who needed psychiatrists when you had miles of road and a very fast vehicle?

Okay, he still did.  But as long as he could speed, he wasn’t being dragged before a headshrinker.  He knew he was nuts; he didn’t need a stranger confirming it.

The closer he got to New York City, the more he had to cut his speed.  Inside the city proper, traffic jammed up sometimes to a literal crawl. That was when a bike was good, because he could just pull over and walk the damn thing; it got you places faster than driving.

He ditched the bike in the upper level of an exclusive parking garage.  He figured by the time some guard got his fat ass out of a booth and saw that the shiny bike didn’t have the proper tag, and the tow truck was dispatched, he’d be back while they were still trying to figure out why they couldn’t seem to move a stupid motorcycle.

He walked to the edge of the parking garage level, which was open on the sides, and looked down.  He was five stories above the sidewalk, and despite the thick traffic (New York City, to him, would always be a symphony of impatient car horn bleets, and the occasional atonal shout of “Move your ass!” or “What d’ya think this is, Jersey?!”), there was much construction work being done on the buildings below, so scaffolding protected by tarps and cordons blocked off much of the sidewalks.

It was a gloomy day, the sun filtered through low clouds like used gauze, just effective enough to hold the humidity in and cause a minor glare; the sky between the pillars of buildings looked like dirty cotton.  He didn’t trust places where the sky looked chewed
up and spit out.

He looked over the edge, and figured it was a clean drop.  Everyone driving was too busy honking and waiting to move forward a couple of feet to even look up from their lattes and cell phones, so it wasn’t like anybody would see him …

“Logan,” Xavier suddenly said in his earpiece. “Please don’t.”

He sighed heavily, disappointed but not surprised. “I thought you weren’t gonna peek in my head.”

“In this proximity, it’s sometimes difficult not to.”

The earpiece counted as proximity?  Well, if he could read someone over a telephone line … yeah, maybe. “A drop from this height won’t even hurt me,” he countered.

“That isn’t the point.”

“I can land on my feet pretty good.  After ten stories, it gets trickier -”



It was Xavier’s turn to sigh. “Please don’t.”

Logan rolled his eyes, and figured, fuck it.  If Xavier was gonna get his panties in a bunch over a simple five story drop to the ground, fine.  He turned and walked off towards the elevator, digging his hands deep in his coat pockets.  It was too hot for a coat, even though he was just wearing a white tank top he scrounged out of a drawer (wearing it, you couldn’t even see most of the wrinkles), but the new leather smell was relatively pleasant. “Why’s the coat heavier than it should be?” He asked.  He knew he probably should just be thinking this crap, but there was no one here, and even if there had been, who was going to notice one more guy talking to himself in this city?  “What’cha got in this?”

“Bulletproof inserts. They also lessen damage from hard impacts.”  He was surprised. It was sensible, but almost too realistic for Xavier. “I’m an optimist,” he said, clearly picking up on his thoughts. “But one must be pragmatic.”

“I’m surprised.  Good call, though.  But have you thought about bulletproof hats?  That’s all I need.”

“I’ll keep it in mind,” he replied, and Logan was pretty sure he was trying not to laugh.
He knew he could get him.

He was hoping the elevator would be empty, but oh no, there was an older, well dressed woman in it, and as he entered, she seemed to retreat to the farthest corner possible. Her perfume instantly cut into his sinuses like knives, and he didn’t give a fuck if it was the most expensive synthesized whale vomit on the planet, it stunk, and almost made his eyes water.  What he needed to do was light up a stogie, cut the stench, but smoking wasn’t even allowed in a fucking carbon monoxide filled parking garage - what sense did that make?

She didn’t know of his olfactory distress.  She was resolutely not looking at him, but
the corner of her eye was firmly on him, her spine stiffened, waiting for him to try something.  She probably thought he was a thug. He considered telling her, “Ya know, I am actually homeless, without a penny to my name.  In fact, I’m so poor I don’t even have a name.  Got any mace on ya, or is that just your perfume?”

“Logan, don’t even joke,” Xavier said in his ear.

Oh, there was something.  He could start talking to his “invisible friend” Xavier. That would probably make her wet herself.

But the elevator opened on the ground floor, so he’d blown his chance. She looked at him askance, and he gestured extravagantly towards the door, signaling for her to go first. Her look became even more severe, and even though she did leave first, she never quite took her eye off of him until she disappeared. “Now I know it ain’t an odor,” he said aloud to Xavier, as he walked up the ramp exit leading out of the garage. “I took a shower before I left. Think it’s the hair?”

Xavier sounded like he cleared his throat before he spoke. “I’m going to assume your sense of humor means you’re in better spirits.”

“What, you think I’m joking?” He replied breezily, exchanging the suffocating perfume smell for a New York smell that was an amalgam of asphalt and garbage, exhaust and urine, boiling hot dog water and anxiety; the smell of a thousand different desperations, urbanites crushed under wheels of stress and paranoia.

“You have a unique perspective on humanity,” Xavier said, completely apropos of nothing.

*I do?* He remembered to think it this time.  Well, the sidewalk was more crowded out here.

“You have an outsider’s perspective on everything, even fellow mutants, and every now and again, there’s a curious glimpse of … poetry from you.  It makes me wonder who
you really … are.”

He'd almost said “were”. Logan heard the hesitation, could almost hear him second guessing himself, and he couldn’t help but feel a small surge of anger.  Yeah, he wondered who the fuck he used to be, too. *I’m a death delivery machine, Chuck.  
Isn’t that obvious?*

“No you’re not, and you know it.”

*Oh?  While we’re on the subject of things I don’t know, why don’t you tell me the rest
of the stuff you neglected to mention about me.*


*You knew about Stryker and never told me.  What else haven’t you told me?*

“I don’t think this is the best time to discuss this -”

*It’s the perfect  time - I’m not in the same room as you.*  Not really a threat, just an observation.  If Xavier was going to admit he lied his ass off to him, it was probably best for them both that they were as physically far from each other as possible.

Xavier paused for so long, Logan was sure he was going to try and weasel out of it.  But finally he said, “There really isn’t much more to tell.  I didn’t omit Stryker’s name out of malice, Logan -”

*Nah, you just did it ‘cause you thought I’d hunt him down or somethin’, right?*

"Well ... there was that fear th-"

*.. -that if I had, some people might not be dead right now.*  Before this, he had no idea he could mentally shout, but perhaps Bob had taught him.  Bob could teach you a lot of things, inadvertently.

Another pause, another time when Xavier was caught flat-footed.  It probably didn't happen to him much.  As the telepath, he usually had the edge.  "Don't you think that would have been what he wanted?  He would have been ready for you.  I didn't want
you to fall into his hands again."

*I'm hardly a child - I can take care of myself.*

"No one has ever implied you couldn't.  But I'm not sure that would have been the best thing."

*It wasn't your call to make.* It was so weird.  People kept passing him by, New Yorkers paying him no attention at all, some nearly elbowing him, most too wrapped up in their own world to notice.  A woman walked by chatting on a cell phone, telling someone (her broker?) to sell, while two Latino men waited at a crosswalk, talking in Spanish. They were discussing the one man's mother going to the hospital to have a tumor removed, and his fight with the HMO to actually pay for the damned thing.  A thousand different mini-dramas - his own included - playing out on the same stretch of sidewalk, and no
one noticing the other, no one intersecting.

"No, it wasn't.  I'm sorry."

*What else haven't you told me about myself?*

"There's nothing else to tell."


"There really isn't anything." Another pause, brief this time. "The same contacts that told me Stryker was experimenting with adamantium had told me of a mutant ... operative--"

*Assassin.  Just say it, Chuck - you think I haven't figured that much out by now?*

This pause seemed reluctant, either ashamed or angry, possibly both. "Operative," he insisted. "Known only by the code name 'Wolverine'.  The rumors attached to the name were so sketchy and so outlandish, I didn't believe them.  It sounded like the type of thing you'd tell a child to scare them.  A ruthless killer, leaving no trace, unstoppable, un-killable, able to track you down anywhere at any time.  It sounded like a fairy story;
I gave it no credence at all."

*You didn’t even look into it?*

“I did, but all I found was rumors.  According to the official records, you didn’t exist.”

Logan thought bitterly that he still didn’t officially exist. That’s why, even after the media finally got a picture of him (poor as it was), no one could ever slap a name on him.  He was a nothing, a nowhere man, a bona-fide living ghost.  A shadowy fragment of a man who used to be.  *And you didn’t believe the stories?  Even after you met me?*

"You were not that person, Logan. If I thought even for a moment that you were I would have never allowed you in the mansion in the first place."  He said it so crisply Logan almost believed him.

*But I am that person.*

"No you're not.  The rumors painted a portrait of a psychopath; a beast in Human form. That's not you."

He scoffed, and not only admired Xavier's diplomatic skills, but also the fact that New Yorkers took "don't walk" signals as mere suggestions.  *It is me.*

"No man who would give up his life for another is a beast."

*Could be, if there's really nothing to give up.*

"Don't slide into self-pity."

*It is not self-pity.  Would you want my life, Chuck?  Wanna switch?  Hey, you're a big ol' teep - can't you do the mind-swapping thing?*

Logan knew he had crossed a line even as he was thinking it, but it was even more impossible to take back a thought than it was a word.  Xavier was quiet for a long time, the silence angry, until he finally said, "Well, I would be able to walk again.  That might have some novelty."

Aw, shit. *Look, I didn't mean-*

"You did, but that's quite all right. You have every reason to be angry at me.  I thought I was doing what was best for you - protecting you from something until you were ready
to handle it - but you're not a child, and I had no right to withhold the information from you.  I hope I haven't completely lost your trust."

*I'm not sure you ever completely had it in the first place.*

He chuckled bitterly. "No, I suppose not.  You don't give out trust easily."

*For good reason.*  A cheap shot, but still a valid one.

Logan had finally hit Times Square, the massive collection of buildings and billboards, electric signs and large projection screens, with arteries constantly full of Humans and cars; a massive heart on the constant verge of attack.  At night, it was almost bright enough to be part of Tokyo (but not clean enough; not by half), but in the day it looked somewhat seedy, like a cheap floozy wearing too much make up, but not enough to cover the signs of the wild night she'd just had, and still hadn't stopped paying for. *They still around?* He wondered, meaning the mutant.

"Yes. They're not currently active, but my last reading had them at the plaza near the subway station." He quieted for a moment, then added, sounding amused, "You read lots of old detective novels, don't you?  Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett?"

That threw him completely.  What? *Not recently. Why?*

"Oh, no reason."

But Logan was sure there was; he was sure it was a joke on him that he just wasn't getting right now.

At this time of day, the plaza in question wasn't very crowded.  A very meager attempt
to clean up for the tourists, it was just tiled pavement that the skateboarders loved, and poured concrete benches that ringed a square of dirt (whatever the hell was supposed to be in there hadn’t been added yet - right now it was just a big ashtray) near the strangely neat subway entrance. There were two men sitting on an outer bench, within shouting distance of a hot dog cart; a clearly homeless man sacked out on a farther bench, brown paper wrapped bottle of booze still wedged between his knees; three teenage boys with baggy shorts barely covering their asses and backwards turned baseball caps on their heads skateboarding (badly-but they thought they were pretty cool) through the plaza; an older man eating an early lunch and mumbling into a ubiquitous cell phone; a young woman smoking a cigarette; and there were two different groups of people (two suited businessmen, and a group of t! hree women) walking through. This wasn’t counting the people walking past in great proliferation, or the guy in the cartoon alien suit at the base of the plaza stairs. (Advertising something - who the hell knew what. Maybe somebody finally found backing for that musical version of Star Wars.) *Who am I looking for here?*

“Young woman. I believe she had red hair.”

His eyes scudded back to the young woman sitting by herself on the far bench, facing towards a café.  Her head was actually leaning back, as if looking towards the sky, and she was puffing a cigarette expertly, as if an old addict, sending smoke into the air like a chimney.  She wore worn jeans and sneakers, a slightly wrinkled olive drab t-shirt with a peeling Moosehead Beer logo on it, a black canvas jacket pooled around her waist, and an old backpack beside her, one strap looped around her arm.  If someone was so inclined, they could easily run by and grab it, and dislocate her shoulder in the process. *I gotta  visual.  She ain’t doin’ nothing. What’s the protocol?*

“Say hello?”

*She’ll think I’m hittin’ on her.*

“Oh, surely now.”

That was probably why Scott was ideal for this kinda shit.  He looked and seemed positively sexless, like a permanent Boy Scout, harmless as a fluffy bunny rabbit. But
him? Well, the woman’s reaction to being alone in an elevator was probably a reasonable barometer - thug or pervert or both.

She shifted position, looking back towards the café, and Logan got a good look at her face …

… and instantly froze.

“What is it?” Xavier said instantly, obviously picking up on it.

The girl looked just like Static.  It was so uncanny he thought for a moment he was looking at a ghost. But the girl had bottle green eyes, not pure white like Static’s, and her light auburn hair was cut in a punkier style, but … it was her. The button nose, the gently pointed chin, the creamy skin tone, the delicate bone structure.  And that specific color of red hair wasn’t exactly common.

*She looks like Static,* he thought, even though he knew Xavier must have been eavesdropping on his thoughts all this time.

“I’m sure it’s a coincidence. There -”

“It’s no fucking coincidence,” he muttered under his breath, shock giving way to a sudden, inexplicable anger. “She could be her fucking clone, save for the eyes, she’s -” Logan realized what he had just said, and stopped dead.

Clone.  The Eidolon Project.

“Logan-” Xavier began warily.

“This is a trap; a fucking trap,” he growled, quickly scanning the near by buildings.

Roofs in this part of New York City were out for snipers, as most of the angles were either bad, exposed (at least in daylight), or impossible.  But they could be inside any of several windows, the dirty blank eyes of the most promising ones blocked by the glare of the sun. He saw no one suspicious in the sidewalk crowd or loitering near the crowd, but that in itself said nothing. They wouldn’t want anyone on the street that smelled of gun oil or powder.  Even in the noisome miasma of an urban street scene, they had to know he could still parse the smells, still discover the odd one out.

There was a cop on a motorcycle across the street and up a block, talking to some tourists near the crosswalk. But he was probably a genuine cop; he was overweight, and his uniform shirt didn’t fit quite right.  If he was a plant, his uniform shirt would fit to a tee - sometimes espionage groups got their details too perfect, and oddly that’s what usually tripped them up. Too good was equal to wrong.

“Even if you’re right, she could be an innocent victim in all of this,” Xavier said suddenly in his ear. “Does she look like she was waiting for you?”

No, that hadn’t occurred to him.  He glanced at her, watching her profile as she stubbed the cigarette out on the plaza with the toe of her sneaker, and once again marveled at how much she looked like Static, so much so he felt a pang of regret.  Were all the woman he failed in his life coming back to bite him on the ass?

She must have noticed him staring at her, as she looked up at him, annoyed. “What the fuck are you lookin’ at?” She snapped, like a native New Yorker.

No, she hadn’t been expecting him.  She was the bait for the trap.  Now where the hell were the fucks waiting to spring it?