MEMORY OF WATER
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Disclaimer: The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; the character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be-------------------------------------------
a patron of the arts, I won't object. ;-) Oh, and Bob and his bunch are all mine - keep your hands off!
Summary: A new fragment of his past suddenly recalled, Logan decides to trace it in a different way. But other parts of his past, both distant and recent, just won't stay quiet . . .
Notes: Takes place sometime after the events of "X2" and immediately after "Into The Fire"
Reincorporation was too violent and yet oddly bloodless to be called a birth, but it was the only proper analogy.
The Powers That Be could have streamlined the process, made it painless, but Bob got the idea that it would have taken the fun out of it for them. There was a long moment of nothingness, of darkness dense and impenetrable, and then there was a pain beyond pain, an agony that burned bright and filled the eyes with nothing but light as sharp as broken glass.
Then there was a brief sensation of falling, and he impacted with a hard surface at a force that made the soft carpet irrelevant. His new skin burned as his new muscles twitched violently, getting accustomed to both gravity and having a solid physicality once more. “Fuck,” he muttered, rolling over on his back and gasping to catch his breath. He was back in his Sydney home, in the upstairs hallway, just outside the blank wall that was actually the portal to the Powers dimension. As soon as he got his breath back, he shouted at the wall, “Well, I hope you’re happy!” They weren’t listening, and yet, he was sure they were happy anyways. If he was hurting, they were generally as close to gleeful as they could get.
He was alone in the house, for which he was glad, because he never wanted anyone to see him as vulnerable as he was after he was back in his skin again. He’d be okay after a couple hours’ sleep, he just had to adjust to having a body once more. The transition was always a shock, always brutal, a donkey kick to the face and a kangaroo punch to the stomach.
The sweat on his body chilled, making him shiver, even though he knew it was fairly warm in the house. It made his new body ache all the more.
Still, as he let his consciousness sag away in relief, he wondered what - if anything - the Powers were doing to Logan. They meant to reward him for his uncommon discipline in resisting the urge to abuse the powers that Bob had given him as his avatar, but what did a “reward” constitute in their opinion?
He shuddered to think.
Logan pulled another beer out of the fridge and sat down, trying to sort his thoughts. The pain in his head had faded - why had it been there in the first place? - but his scattered thoughts almost resisted taming. He was both baffled and furious, but staring at the runnels of water trailing down the window, he finally found an almost Zen like way of clearing his mind. He focused on it, on the lines the water made as it dribbled down the glass, trying to will his mind to be that transparent, that fluid and empty. It actually seemed to work, even though he was sure he’d fucked up the Zen meditation technique by half-remembering it.
Okay, what did he need here? (Besides a rocket launcher?) Information. Where did he think he was going without information? (Toronto.) Yeah, he could just barge in there and bust heads, but he didn’t feel like getting tazered half to death by freaked out MPs. He needed a plan that had a bit more meat on its bones than simply steamrolling any bastard that tried to get in his way. (Although that was always very satisfying.)
Normally he’d call Bob, but he had no actual idea if he was back on this plane yet, or where he would be if he was. So who else did he know that could get information, some of which was often classified, or just near impossible to get?
It was a short list, so it didn’t take him long to figure out his best bet, one untroubled by Xavier’s conscience. He found Bob’s phone, and decided to place a call to the guy’s cell phone, since few people had the number and he was more likely to pick it up. The phone rang about four times and had moved on to ring five when he finally answered. “Hola! To whom am I speaking?”
“It’s me, Marc.”
“Logan! Hey, when did you get caller i.d. block? My phone couldn’t read the number.”
“I’m calling from one of Bob’s places, I guess that’s it.” Marc’s end of the conversation was slightly static-y with distance, and he thought he heard some different sounding car engines amongst the road noises in the background. “Are you overseas?”
“Yeah, good ears, I’m in Paris, the City of Light. And dog shit and protestors and cigarettes and really shitty drivers.”
“So you’re having a good time.”
“I am! I’m thinking of moving here. What can I do you for?”
“I need you to dig up all the information you can on a guy named Colonel Peter Lafayette. He’s Canadian Military, attached to Joint Task Force Two.”
He thought he heard, amongst bursts of static, the clicking of a keyboard - Marc entering the info into his ever-present laptop at a rapid fire clip. “No offense, dude, but why do Canadians have an anti-terror group? Who the fuck wants to bomb you? Everybody likes you. I mean, I’m American, I know why people want to bomb our big fat asses, but you? The only terrorists I can see hitting your maple syrup soaked corner of the world is a really pissed off Leafs fan.”
Logan pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger, and didn’t know whether to laugh or slam down the phone indignantly. The weird thing was, that was usually how talking to Marc felt. It was his rather dubious gift. “I feel like bombing you myself right now.”
“See? You’re making my point for me.”
“While you’re in their database,” Logan said pointedly, trying to steer the conversation back on topic. “See if you can find anything involving the name Logan, first or last, or Alexander, first or last. I know it’s a long shot on the first and a wide net on the last, but I’m curious.”
“Alexander? Oh, right, that’s one of your aliases. Not to piss on your parade, but I’m pretty sure they purged every record they had on you a long time ago. You’re a nowhere man.”
“I know,” he muttered, the lyrics of the Beatles song running briefly through his head before he angrily dismissed them. “It means I was involved in some real bad shit, doesn’t it?”
“Not necessarily; it just means you were involved in some classified shit. Just think how I feel - my best friend used to be James Bond, only Canadian; Dudley Do-Right Bond. I’ve got the tingles.”
“Blow it out your ass,” he snarled, and Marc chuckled in that slightly demented way of his. He knew Marc was deliberately baiting him, but mainly just to get a laugh. Marc was always trying to lighten the mood when the conversation turned heavy, which was annoying, and yet he appreciated him for it. He was trying, and Marc wouldn’t let him slip too far down the self-pity well. He’d always be there to poke and prod him until he either laughed or got so insanely angry at him he’d realize what a jackass he was being. That’s what friends were for, right?
“So do I take it this means there’s trouble in Canadian spy country?”
“I remembered … something. I think Lafayette lied right to my fucking face, and … I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m not sure it even matters anymore.”
“What d’ya remember?”
He sighed, not sure he should tell him. But he did, because who else was he going to tell? “That I might have rejoined the Org as a sleeper agent, after leaving it the first time .”
Marc whistled low, a sound partially drowned out by static. “What time frame we looking at here?”
That was a good question. He sifted through what little he remembered, trying to fix a specific time frame to it. There were few era specific details, but he did catch that woman’s reference to “war hero”. He doubted she meant World War One. “After World War Two, I think. I probably got disgusted with shit after the war and dropped out.”
There was a slight pause, during which he could hear distant horn honking. “It’s just so weird to think you fought in World War Two. Do you remember anything about that?”
“No, that’s gone. I think.”
“Well, thinkin’ about Nazis runnin’ into you gives me a great big happy.”
“I’m so glad you said happy,” he admitted, glancing back out the window. The rain was now more of a sputter, spitting large droplets against the glass. He briefly felt like he was under water, and he suddenly wondered if he’d ever been in a submarine. He knew he’d be the last one to ask.
Marc snickered, and he heard a woman in the background, very faintly, say in French, “Your coffee sir.”
He thanked her, and Logan asked, knowing it was a stupid question, “You’re in a café?”
“Oh yeah. Watching the people pass by, pretending I ain’t stakin’ someone out. Y’know, the usual. But I gotta warn ya, man, even if they didn’t scrub every damn file that was related to you, it’s unlikely they’re gonna keep records of anything dating back to, say, 1952. Why the hell would they bother? It’d only be relevant to archivists, and that’s a separate system.”
He sighed, aware he was right. “I don’t expect miracles. I’m just grasping at straws.”
“I can probably get you even more information on Lafayette. Where’s the cut off line?”
“There isn’t one. I want everything you can get as soon as you can get it.”
“And what do I do with it once I get it?”
That was a good question. “Send it to my email address. I’ll check for it.”
Marc gasped over-dramatically. “Say it isn’t so! Logan is ….joining the twentieth century? Horrors! The world must really be ending this time. I’d better get under the table. Or will the end be when you join the twenty first century?”
Logan scowled at the phone, knowing it was pointless. “Eat me raw, jackass.”
Marc was really laughing now, clearly enjoying this. Some friend he was - always going for the joke. After about a minute he’d calmed down, and asked, “So what are you gonna do, kick some tail?”
“Probably. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m gonna do right now. I want to go kick his ass, but I know I’ll be lucky to get any answers at all. I want to do something different, I want to accomplish something this time … but I don’t know what.” He rubbed his eyes and slumped in his chair, wondering if his anger had now transmogrified into depression. That would have set a land speed record for it, but he wouldn’t be surprised. He had a feeling his life was starting to tip over once more, although that had happened often enough to be normal.
“Well, you hold off for a coupla days, and maybe I can join you. You bring the can of whoop, I’ll bring the ass.”
He held the receiver away and stared at it for a moment. Had he heard that? Yes, he must have. “What the fuck,,? You’ll bring the ass? That is the worst flippant remark you’ve ever made.”
“I know, I know, I’m ashamed. I should turn in my witty banter license.”
“Are you okay?”
“Oh, I’m fine, I’m just loaded on French coffee. You ever have this stuff? God, it’s like crack. I think my eyeballs are vibrating.”
He coughed to cover up a small laugh. It made him feel a little better to know there was a guy like him in the world, as bizarre as he could be. If he could get him on the X-Men, he’d probably never leave the mansion.
But then again, they’d probably have too much damn fun driving Scott out of his mind to ever get anything else done. Now there was solid entertainment.
Detective Brent Ellison flashed his i.d. to the bored beat cop, and he seemed to take an inordinate amount of time looking at it, like he thought it might be counterfeit. Just as he was getting pissed off about it, the cop relented with a nod and stepped back. “Detective Sergeant Park is waiting for you,” the man said, his voice surprisingly scratchy and raw. Maybe he wasn’t taking a long time with his badge; maybe he had a cold.
As he walked down the alley, headed towards the narrow service alley that ran behind the strip mall, he once again imagined retiring. Wouldn’t that be great? He could spend all day having nothing to do with dead bodies and belligerent suspects; he could watch shitty t.v., let his brain turn to mush, and grow fat on Timbits and lattes. Okay, the growing fat thing he could right now, but that required him to take his ulcer medication on more than a semi-regular basis. The last time he saw his doctor, she scolded him for not taking it like she prescribed it, and he didn’t know what to say except that sometimes, in his job, he just didn’t have the time to take pills on a regular basis. But that wasn’t totally true.
Yes, he was a homicide detective, and yes, it was a grueling job. But he spent more than half his life behind a desk, filling out paperwork, returning phone calls, double checking alibis and records. If he really wanted to take the damn pills, he could work it out, but he really didn’t want to. Sometimes the strange, deep burning in his gut felt oddly comforting, not painful, and he didn’t mind skipping a meal or two. He didn’t seem to have developed the lead gut that so many of the others had, the one that allowed them to look at grisly crime scene photos and still wolf down a cinnamon bun.
His gut flared anew, the pain negligible against the warmth, and Park looked up as he approached. Jason Park was a tall, thin Asian man with a full head of glossy black hair that made him the envy of the mostly balding homicide squad. (Brent still had his hair, but he didn’t care if he lost it or not. Murray told him that’s why he still had his hair; if he’d actually cared, he’d have lost it all.)
“Please tell me this isn’t another one,” he asked, almost pleading.
Park shook his head, hunching beneath his dark blue overcoat. His face was fine boned and reasonably handsome, but not so much that men found him threatening; somehow it still retained some measure of boyish charm. He also looked fully awake, which made him slightly envious. “Sorry Brent, but we’ve got scarecrow number four.”
He bent down and picked up the edge of a tarp someone had thrown on it, and revealed the body to him. It looked like that of a man of average height and weight, in a plain grey t-shirt and blue jeans, with the same telltale features the other ones had: the hands had been severed at the wrist, and the head at the neck. There was no blood, meaning it had been done elsewhere, and the body was swollen and starting to smell in a way that suggested it was at least a day old, probably more. Ellison couldn’t remember who’d started to call the headless, handless bodies “scarecrows”, but it seemed to have caught on.
He pinched his nose shut and turned away, gesturing for Park to put the tarp back down. He did. “Couple of skateboarders found it,” Park said, filling him in on the details. “It was probably dumped during the night, but so far -”
“- nobody saw or heard anything,” he sighed, completing the usual story. “God, four in two weeks, and we have nothing. Just anonymous bodies waiting in the morgue.” Without heads and hands - none of which had yet been found - they couldn’t identify the bodies at all. They were to date two (three) men and a woman, mainly in their mid-twenties, killed in ways that couldn’t be determined, and by running their DNA through the database, they could at least say they weren’t murder suspects or sex offenders, or at least not ones on file. All but one had neatly removed patches of skin, which suggested that possibly identifying marks or tattoos had been removed by the killer. Or killers.
You didn’t appreciate how crucial identity was to a murder case until you had nothing but a small pile of John (and Jane) Does laying in the cooler. A victim’s name gave you somewhere to start; a path to trace until they intersected with their killer. Without a name, without an adequate crime scene, it was hard to know where to start, and their investigations (if you could even call them that - he didn’t) had gone nowhere at a breakneck pace. They had nothing but these sadly mutilated bodies.
Park grimaced at the look on his face, feeling the same frustration. “Dubois still likes the gang idea.”
He rolled his eyes and swallowed the urge to call him something nasty within earshot of the beat cops. “Where’s the proof? Yeah, a gang might remove someone’s hands to keep them from being identified, but their heads? That’d be new for them.”
Park shrugged and glanced at the cops setting up the cordon to keep the rubberneckers at bay until the meat wagon could get here. “Patel from the Organized Crime Unit says some of these new Triad guys are pretty vicious. They’ve watched too many goddamn films, according to him.”
Ellison shook his head, but more in frustration than anything. That theory sounded a lot better than some crazed new serial killer with an armoire full of heads, but for some reason it just didn’t set well in his gut. Then again, what did nowadays? “I thought the Triad had been strangely quiet as of late.”
“Supposedly. But can you tell with assholes like those? They’re always up to something. And then there’s the Russian mob …”
He snorted derisively. “They’re barely hanging on. They never did get much of a foothold here.”
“I know. Remember that nightclub shoot-out fifteen years ago? That pretty much did ‘em in.”
“What a pity,” he muttered, sarcasm dripping from his voice. The sky was overcast, gunmetal grey, but it hadn’t rained yet. It would, though; one of the few constants about Vancouver at this time of year was rain, and lots of it. Still, Ellison felt like he was sweating in his coat, like the humidity had shot up to a hundred percent.
The forensic techs arrived, but he felt beyond gloomy, his mood darker than the sky. He doubted this body would be any different than the rest; it’d probably be clean of any useable evidence, as well as clean of any identity. He’d never been on a more frustrating case in his life, although he liked to think he could tolerate it better if he knew that it would stop, that these bodies would stop turning up around the city. But he had the sick feeling they were going to keep turning up unless they could get a lead, something to identify these victims and lead them towards their killer.
But what the hell were they going to do? Unless a severed head washed up in the bay, they were in the same shitty position they had been since the first “scarecrow” turned up.
And you knew things were beyond fucked when you were pinning all your hopes on finding a severed head. There were no words for how bad that was. He just hoped they didn’t end up dropping to an even lower place.