THE FALLING SKY
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 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!
Still glancing around warily, he approached her, braced for anything. “Sorry. I was looking for someone, thought you might be able to help me.”
Her gaze was suspicious and far from kind. “I doubt it.” The angry set of her jaw brought on a sense of déjà vu, but since he had no conscious memory of her looking like that, it just made him feel slightly queasy. How hard was it to know something you didn’t really know? It didn’t even make sense.
He found a business card in his pocket and held it out towards her. “You sure?”
She clearly didn’t want to take it - perhaps she thought he was one of those guys who handed out strip show flyers on the corner - but curiosity got the better of her. She snatched it out of his hand, and glanced at it. He wasn’t smelling fear from her. She didn’t trust him, no, but she wasn’t terrified either.
Reading the card, she snorted derisively. “Gifted students? What is this, a Christian school scam or something?”
He sat down on the opposite end of the bench, and said quietly, “Mutants. It’s not just a school, it’s a place where we can crash and be safe.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “We? I ain’t no mutant.”
“I know that you are. So am I.”
She tossed the card back in his lap. “I bet you are, with that hair.”
The hair - he knew it was the hair. He put the card back in his pocket, and heard an odd noise. Her stomach growled, and he recalled how she looked through the smoky glass window of the café. She was hungry - did she not have the money to pay for anything? “What d’ya say I buy ya a coffee or something? We can get off the street and you can listen to me yammer before tellin’ me to go fuck myself and storm off?” Any strike team would be unlikely to hit a crowded restaurant as well - they’d wait until they came back outside again. But that would also allow Logan to note anyone getting into position, or acting as a “scout”.
“Logan …” Xavier warned in his ear.
“I can tell you to fuck off and storm off now,” she pointed out.
“Yeah, but my way you can get a free lunch outta me.”
She considered that, staring down at the remains of her cigarette smeared across the tiles. He could tell by her posture she really didn’t want to, but hunger was winning out. “You gonna try somethin’?”
“In a public place? Ya gotta be nuts.”
“That puts her at ease how?” Xavier wondered acerbically.
But this girl was not afraid of him. Everything in her body language said she thought she was a bad ass who could handle anyone - himself included. And just like he expected, she smirked at that comment on his part, finding it almost a challenge - and if she was anything like him, she couldn’t turn a challenge down. “Yeah, okay. Try anything and I’ll rip yer balls off.”
“Wow. I bet you got guys linin’ up around the block to take you out.”
She flashed him the middle finger as she got up, shouldering her backpack. He smiled, and tried not to laugh, finding her defiance and tough chick act as funny as she obviously found his approach. “I’ll never doubt your instincts again,” Xavier said.
*Damn well better not* Logan thought, following her into the café. He gave another quick, cursory glance around, but there was no one moving into obvious position, nor could he feel eyes on them at all.
But he’d be damned if he believed this situation was anything but a set up.
Days just couldn’t get any worse when the only one you could hang out with was Wesley.
Being dead and non-corporeal (well, mostly), you’d figure the worst that could happen to you already had occurred. But Spike figured he was the butt of some big, cosmic joke, and something was laughing its high holy ass off at his expense. “Let’s see how much we can torment the dead bugger.”
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the upper class bastard was doing something interesting, like killing a Prodac demon (or schtupping it, which would have been really funny), but no, he was in “the archives”, the fancy shmancy name for the basement, which was full of books and filing cabinets, rows of them reaching into the sterile, brightly lit corners.
That wasn’t right at all. Everyone knew places like this needed lots of dark, dank corners, places where things could hide and sneak up on you. Not this florescent lit, utilitarian library. It smelled more like dust than moldering paper, which was always a bad sign.
Wesley was sitting at the desk near the front, using something like a bar code scanner, running it over pages of a crumbling book and apparently uploading the text to the computer he was staring at. Softly, General Public’s “Tenderness” played on a radio hidden somewhere behind him, and that surprised Spike, because he always figured the Watchers went for that poncy classical shit, not pop oriented ska. But if he thought about it, it did make a certain kind of sense.
“Is everyone else gone?” Wesley asked, never glancing away from the computer screen.
Spike wandered down the aisles, trying to rip books off the shelves, and watching in disgust as his hand passed right through their spines. Fuck fuck fuck; he couldn’t even do minor vandalism anymore. “No, they’re meeting with that big hoo hah demon prince, Pile-Of-Pud.”
“Whatever. For some reason, when I try and walk in, it’s like something holds me back.”
“He probably has some kind of ghost repelling charm with him. We were told he was quite superstitious.”
“A demon prince who’s superstitious? Boy, was he born in the wrong species.” He came up to Wesley’s metal desk, but the failed Watcher had yet to even glance in his direction. That was kind of insulting. “There are charms that repel ghosts?”
He nodded, continuing to scan and stare at the computer screen like it was a laser light show. “And spells. The charms are harder to find, though.”
He didn’t want to know if they had been investigating that, though the bastards probably had. “So why ain’t you up with the welcoming party for Pylon-Of-Pork?”
Finally Wesley glanced up at him, with an impatient sigh. “He found out about my former profession, and it seems he disliked it immensely.”
“Demon hunter. But it’s fine, I wanted to get started on this anyways.”
“Don’t ya have chippies that could do this for you?”
Wes gave him a disapproving look for that. What? They were all fucking chippies around here - or hell beasts of some sort, or - worse yet - lawyers. “I’m attempting to translate the Book of Ragana. I’d hardly farm that off to a secretary.”
“I thought all the books around here were pre-translated.”
“Not these. The translation key was a specific demon who died a long time ago, and they didn’t keep his brain.”
“Really? I’m shocked. I thought no one died around here without the big bad’s permission.”
Spike moved around the desk, wondering if Wesley was actually at the spankme.com website, but no, there was indecipherable scribbling all over the screen, matching the drunken monkey scrawl all over the crumbling pages of the book open on the desk. “So you made a translation program?” How big a nerd was this guy? Had he ever gotten laid in his life?
“No, I downloaded one off the internet,” he said, and Spike wasn’t sure if he was joking or not. Which was worse - nerd or geek? Either way, he was a hopeless poindexter.
Well, no matter where he got it from, actual words seemed to assemble from the spastic chicken scratch on screen, and Wes glanced away to turn to the next crumbling page. But then he stopped and looked back at the monitor. “What the hell did that say?”
“What?” Spike peered at the monitor, hoping that there was something juicy. Even a “Fuck all you wankers!” would have been a change of pace.
But as he leaned in for a good look, the monitor suddenly flickered, and something at the back of the computer spit sparks as the power died, plunging the room into darkness. Wesley, in reflexive response, shoved his chair back violently, away from the flying motes of fire, and went straight through Spike.
How fucking typical. Just go through the ghost, don’t even try and treat him like a normal being. Fuckheads; they were all fuckheads.
The power came back up almost instantly, but the computer was dead, the world’s most expensive paperweight. Wes stabbed a button on his phone, and snapped, “What the hell was that?”
“I-I don’t know, sir,” a nasal male voice replied. It sounded like a swimmer who forgot to take out his nose plugs. “There was a power surge in the system … I’ll get the tech guys on it.”
“You do that,” he replied, then broke the connection. He sunk back in his chair with a groan, and then saw what had happened to the book. A spark had landed on its open pages, blackening them both to a crisp. Remarkably, the rest of the book wasn’t even smoldering. “Power surge my ass,” Wesley snapped.
“Maybe you saw something the big guys didn’t want you to see,” Spike suggested.
“Perhaps,” he agreed sourly.
“What was it anyways?”
“It was a prophesy, and Logan’s name was in it. If the translation is correct, he has a major role to play in an upcoming apocalypse. But that doesn’t make sense.”
“’Cause he’s such an ugly bugger?” He then asked a question that had been bugging him for a while: “What are his freaky powers anyways? Instant hair helmet?”
“He has superior senses and a healing factor that allows him to recover from even fatal injuries,” he replied distractedly.
“Sounds like a vampire.”
“He also has unbreakable, lethally sharp metal claws in each hand.”
“I bet that makes scratching his balls fraught with drama.”
Wesley scowled at him, and jumped back to the original topic, which he was obviously more comfortable with. “For your information, he shouldn’t be in a book of prophesy because he’s a Human. Save for Slayers, no Human names generally appear in things of this nature.”
“But like Tokyo Rose said, he ain’t a Human anymore, is he? He’s an avatar.” Spike scoffed at the thought. “I still can’t believe that Aussie bastard’s a god. Who knew a Bruce would be allowed to get in the door? He must have crashed the party, or they have much lower standards than I ever imagined.”
“Oh my god,” Wes gasped, still staring at the burned pages of the book. “Would that mean that Bob … oh shit.” He levered himself out of his chair, and immediately headed for the lift.
“Bob what? C’mon mate, don’t leave us hanging,” Spike protested, following him.
But of course he did leave him hanging. Once a Watcher, always a Watcher.
Logan made sure they took a table in the back, far from the window, but one that not only gave him an unobstructed view of the door, but a good view of the windows too. Anyone who attempted to get closer for a better look, or attempted a flanking maneuver, would be instantly recognizable.
He got the ball rolling with the girl by asking where she was from in Canada. He actually figured, from her faint accent, she was from Toronto, but he figured he’d let her say it. She was surprised, but admitted that she was from Toronto. “You a Canuck?” She wondered. She wasn’t as adept at placing accents as he was.
Okay, that was going to be a poser. “Alberta,” he said, figuring if that was the first place his all too brief memories were able to recall, he might as well say he was from there.
She grinned. “A prairie oyster? You don’t look like a hick.”
He smirked. Prairie oyster? Did she know what that actually was? Yeah, she probably did, hence the nickname. “Some of us have better things to do than bugger sheep all day.”
She ordered a large mocha with whipped cream, and a chocolate chip scone; he could feel insulin shock starting to set in. He ordered for himself a triple berry blended tea drink, which made her look at him funny. “You drink those?”
He shrugged. “Coffee does nothing for me.”
She nodded as if that was fair, briefly glancing around at the patrons. Most of them gave them a strange look as they came in, but now no one gave them a second glance. “I know what you mean, but I kinda like the taste.”
The girl didn’t want to talk about herself, not at first, though she gave her name as Leonie - he guessed it was real, as that was a horrible pseudonym.
Logan was forced to talk about himself, which meant lie his head off unless he wanted to scare the girl to death. So he said he was an “instructor” at the school, but rather than say art, he said he taught self-defense (well, he would if Scott ever let him), and told her how it hid behind the school moniker for maximum protection from the outside world. She seemed doubtful, but started to thaw a bit.
As soon as the waitress brought their order, Logan took a sip of his drink, and closed his eyes to savor the flavor. The funny thing was, this icy fruit and tea puree was almost orgasmically intense in its flavor, at least to his sensitive taste buds. When he opened her eyes to find her staring at him. “It’s that good?”
“It is to me,” he said, deciding not to give further details.
She lifted her eyebrows in a kind of visual shrug. “Maybe I should try one sometime.”
Eventually he was able to coax out of her that she had heightened senses as well, but when he brought up that the way they had found her was Cerebro had picked up on her use of her powers, she didn’t say what she had done, only that she “got in a fight”. “Muggers,” she explained. “You know how it is.”
He nodded, relatively certain she was lying. Was she trying to mug someone? Or was it more complex - or personal - than that? He wondered if he’d ever get it out of her, but he let it go for now. When she asked him what his powers were - beyond his hair (oh, ha ha) - he simply told her better than average senses and a healing factor, which made her briefly startled. “A healing thing? I got one too.”
He raised an eyebrow at that. He finally met another mutant with an equivalent power? Who looks like Static … suddenly had a bad feeling about this. Static didn’t have a healing factor, did she? “It’s really helpful, isn’t it?” He said blandly, not ready to mention his claws. What if she had claws? Nah.
“Yeah. Kinda burns, though.”
He shrugged, still trying to remain casual. “You get used to it.”
“What’s wrong, Logan?” Xavier said, almost making him jump in his seat. He’d been silent for so long Logan thought he’d cut the transmission.
*Nothing. I just …* He didn’t even know how to finish the thought. Finally, he figured out a way. *I’m just afraid Static isn’t the only place she got her genes from.*
He knew Xavier had heard him, but he was silent, because he didn’t know what to say.
Logan wondered what he’d do if it turned out he had family after all.
Scott wondered if he should get therapy.
How did you find a psychologist? Did you just pick one out of a phone book? Did your doctor have to recommend one for you?
Oh, shit. Were there shrinks specializing in mutants, or people who’d had bad experiences with gods? Yes, he should ask that last one - ask, and be permanently committed. Maybe it would be a nice vacation with the added bonus of psychotropic and anti-psychotic medications. What was that old Saturday Night Live commercial? “You’ve just had a heavy session of electroshock therapy, and you’re more relaxed than you’ve been in weeks. All those childhood traumas magically wiped away … along with most of your personality …”
That actually sounded good right now. That was the kind of vacation he could really get behind. Did they even use electroshock therapy anymore?
Scott laid back on the lumpy sofa that came with this apartment, and stared up at the popcorn textured ceiling, watching the sunlight waver like a flag in the wind. It was a reflection of the ornamental pond at the front of the building, and it was hypnotic in its way. This wasn’t a bad apartment building. Stark and generic in its outward design, all the corridors and stairs leading to the units were exposed to the outside, and he liked that for safety reasons. No one could sneak up on you here, not without you knowing they were coming.
And that was just more fuel to the fire of his case for his own insanity. God, was he Logan now? Was he just anticipating attack as a matter of course? Maybe he should - he’d been recognized, hadn’t he?
He’d just gone to the supermarket to get some groceries, and it was all fine and good until he got to the check stand. The clerk, a young bleach blonde with green painted nails, kept staring at him out of the corner of her eye, and finally said, “Do I know you?” He told her no, but she still insisted, “I swear I know you from somewhere.”
“I get that a lot,” he claimed, wondering if it had been a slow news days when he and Logan took on the would be armored carjackers. Was it? Oh shit -what if it wasn’t just plastered all over the Eastern seaboard? What if it wound up on CNN?
What didn’t wind up on CNN?!
Man - was he lucky the apartment manager was blind.
He got out of the store without her ever figuring out where she’d seen him before, but now he was terrified to go anywhere else. If it would only rain, maybe he could wear a hood …
This was crazy; he was going to drive himself crazy, if he wasn’t already there.
He considered going out to a movie - movie theaters were dark, and something loud and stupid would get his mind of himself for a while - but then he remembered the last time he’d almost gone to a movie had been with Jean … and they’d stumbled on that massacre by Fenrir, which led to … Camaxtli.
Scott pressed a pillow over his face, trying to suffocate himself, but it smelled like stale beer, so he threw it across the room. Who the hell had lived here before, a frat boy?
The phone wasn’t hooked up yet, and he was glad, otherwise he was prone to call the Professor and make sure everything was okay. He was sure the mansion hadn’t fallen apart without him, as much as some small part hoped it would. It was evil, yes, but who didn’t wish to be indispensable?
But he knew damn well he wasn’t. The Professor was a great strategist, even if he didn’t get out much; Storm could lead the team; Piotr, Rogue, Bobby, and Brendan had all shown they were at least mature enough to be a team asset; and Logan … well, if everything went horribly wrong, he’d proved he could kill every fucking thing that moved. It wasn’t ideal, but it could do. He was just a guy with laser cannons for eyeballs - he was not indispensable.
If Jean was still alive, why hadn’t she contacted him? Because she couldn’t … or wouldn’t? Now that she was consorting with a god, maybe she had more in common with Logan. Maybe …
Okay, now he was nuts. If Jean had contacted anyone, why did fucking Bob have to break the news to them? Bob, that bastard, that asshole, playing games with their lives like they were nothing. And they probably were to him - he was a “god”, right?
Scott was half way convinced Bob had a “thing” for Logan. Well, according to Bob himself, gods were neither gender, just whatever suited their will. (Camaxtli, whom he first referred to as a “she”, was suddenly a “he” later on.) And why would anyone hang around Logan unless they A) lost a bet or B) liked him, for some unfathomable reason.
Was that fair? Logan had actually tried to help him, in his way. And if Bob hanging around Logan meant he had a thing for him, then that would mean Camaxtli had a thing for Jean … but he could believe that. He could easily believe anyone could fall in love with Jean. How could you not?
If Camaxtli hurt her, he would … what? What the fuck could he do to a god? Say he didn’t believe in it? Say he worshipped Ba’al instead? He couldn’t hurt Bob; he couldn’t even begin to think of making a move against him - would he have any luck at all with Camaxtli, who - it had been implied - was stronger than Bob? He’d have no luck at all; he’d be dead before he could even get to the second syllable of “fuck you”. (Which would teach him to curse.)
“Jeannie, I wish I could still talk to you,” he said to the ceiling, watching the light move. It would have been beautiful if he didn’t feel so fucking lost. Lost and useless. What did he think he was accomplishing with this? He was alone and responsible for himself, but he had finally discovered the reason why he needed to be surrounded by a crowd and by noise.
He couldn’t stand to be alone with himself.
He wondered how Logan learned to deal with it. Maybe that’s why he was so generally unpleasant - it drove him crazy, and he never quite recovered. No, that didn’t explain everything.
He wondered if, when Jean came back, he’d know. Would they contact him? Or would they just assume he knew? Was she back now?
Scott wondered when he could go back to the mansion and not feel like a failure.
He convinced her to come back to the mansion, but it was more out of curiosity than any selling on his part. She still thought there was a catch, or it was a pile of shit, but she also still thought she was clearly invincible. Logan wondered if he ever seemed that obnoxious. Well, maybe … but not really. After all, he wasn’t a teenage girl, was he? Teenagers had a special corner of their own in the obnoxiousness department.
He never brought up claws; he couldn’t. But she didn’t bring them up either, so he considered that a good sign. She didn’t bring up “static” powers either, and he wasn’t sure if that was for or against what his cause.
Xavier had obviously planned ahead, because he’d barely put the kickstand down on the bike when Rogue came up to them, all happy and bubbly. She introduced herself to Leonie, who still seemed wary, and didn’t shake Rogue’s hand, just asked her why she was wearing opera gloves. He left the two of them to chat, and Rogue to show Leonie around the grounds (why Xavier had asked her to meet them), and he went inside, venturing no deeper than the inner foyer. There, he sat down heavily on a bench, and let his head fall into his hands.
He was there for perhaps a minute when Xavier rolled up. “I have a friend who’s willing to do a DNA test,” he offered.
“What do you need?”
“Anything really. A sample of skin cells, a -”
“A hair?” Logan felt in his coat pocket, and pulled out a single strand of bright red hair. It had fallen on the table when they got up to go, and Leonie never noticed - why should she? People shed hairs every day, just like they shed skin cells - well, normal people. He sometimes lost a hair or two, but Jean had already proved that he didn’t lose skin cells, ever; they didn’t die, just regenerated. He didn’t know if that was true for Leonie or not, and honestly, he almost didn’t want to know.
“You already knew that,” Xavier said, somewhat surprised.
“That you knew someone who could run a DNA test? No, but I was hopin’ -”
“You knew a DNA sample could be pulled from a strand of hair,” Xavier corrected. “Do you wonder why you know that?”
He shrugged, uncomfortable with where Xavier might be going with this. “I prob’ly read it somewhere. I read a lot.”
Xavier’s clear blue eyes remained fixed on him with an uncomfortable intensity. “Indeed.”
Suddenly Piotr joined them, carrying what looked like a metal case. “You wanted this Professor?” He asked, then noticed who was with him. “Oh, hey Logan.”
“Hey.” Would he go away now?
“Uh, sorry about the … uh, you know. Guy whose head was in the box.”
“I didn’t know him; he was a friend of my girlfriend’s, that’s all.” Wait a second - had he just said girlfriend?
Even Xavier looked surprised at that, as he opened up what looked like a medical sample kit. “You have a girlfriend?”
“Anyone we know?” Piotr asked, with a surprising amount of interest.
Logan scowled at both of them. “Forget I said anything.”
“Does Rogue know?” Piotr continued, seemingly enjoying his discomfort. “She’ll probably be jealous, even though she’s got Bobby -”
“Thank you, Piotr,” Xavier said, evidently picking up on Logan’s thoughts drifting towards the homicidal.
Maybe Xavier gave him a mental push, because the big guy suddenly looked a little confused, as if he’d forgotten what he was talking about. “No problem,” Piotr replied, then gave a friendly nod to Logan before walking off again.
“He means well,” Xavier said, plucking the hair from Logan’s hand with a set of tweezers. He placed it inside a small plastic bag, which he quickly sealed.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Logan said, mostly out of reflex.
Xavier smirked, looking amused. “It’s paved with many things. The road to hell seems awfully well traveled.”
“They got an open door policy,” he said wearily, getting up. “I’m - I’m gonna call the Way station, see if Bob is back yet.”
“Actually, a woman called here earlier for you,” Xavier told him, closing the plastic bag inside the kit. “That wouldn’t have been your girlfriend by any chance, would it?”
He sighed, and closed his eyes so Xavier didn’t see him roll them. Perhaps Piotr was the only one who didn’t know about his “girlfriend”. “Did she give her name as Yasha?”
“Yes, she did. Is she a mutant?”
He raised an eyebrow at that, and was careful to keep his thoughts neutral. “Why would you ask that?”
“Well, it was a curious thing. Usually I get an empathic impression of someone over the phone, but I got nothing from her. Out of curiosity, I tried to pick up on something from her, but it was like there was no one on the other end of the line. Very strange. I assumed she had some telepathy neutralizing power.”
“No, she’s just dead.”
“I beg your pardon?” His response was so perfectly deadpan it was almost funny.
“She’s a vampire, okay? But she’s not evil, she’s just …” he was tempted to say “misunderstood”, if only for the joke, but decided against it. “ … she’s different.”
He blinked rapidly, trying to assimilate that and not be judgmental. “I assume there’s a story behind that,” he finally said.
“Maybe later,” Logan said, trying to swallow his own anxiety. There was just too much shit going on, and he didn’t want to deal with it all right now. “How long will it take your friend to run a DNA test?”
“Well, thanks to having Static’s DNA on file, we should have at least a partial answer by the end of the day.”
Static’s DNA on file? Must be the same person who “took care of” her body - whoever that was. “Do they have mine too?”
Xavier reluctantly admitted, “Jean shared your blood sample.”
He grunted an acknowledgement, not surprised, and walked down the hall, headed towards Xavier’s office. “Let me know as soon as you know.” He hoped his anxiety wasn’t coming through loud and clear, but it probably was. It was bad enough if Leonie was some kind of cobbled together cloning experiment, but it could be very much worse.
Logan wondered if he’d left Xia’s number around somewhere, and if she’d know if he and Sloane had ever had a daughter.