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 Blindside.


For some reason, when he heard someone had left a message for him,  Logan instantly got a bad 
feeling about it.

He knew it was stupid the second he thought that.  It was probably Bob, just being an ass. Or, at worst, Srina being an ass.

Xavier was out,so Logan simply walked into his office,still toweling off his hair from his morning shower,and hit play on the Professor's machine.The sun seemed too damn bright this morning-except it was technically afternoon,wasn't it?Oh,whatever;he was out late last night.It seemed like morning to him.

Of course,Xavier couldn't have a standard answering machine;this one had some sort of built in caller i.d. on a small LCD screen, and when the number was unknown,it displayed the calling area.And that's what got Logan's attention first-the small LCD readout saying 'Caller unknown-Alberta,Canada'.

"Logan?"A woman's voice said,quiet,tentative.She was whispering,and in the background he heard a hiss-either wind,snow,or both."I hope this is you.I didn't know,but I thought maybe...if it is you,I've found them.Eden.On the edge of  the Northwest Territories, north of Caribou.You'll know it when you see it.I'm,um,just past where the Wolverine-"she let out a slight chuckle. "-meets the Peace.I'll hang around for a day-I'm going the Meander route,one seventeen-but then I'm on my way.If this is you,I hope you can come.I may be Samson,but I know I'll need your help.Please,Logan,come if you can."She then hung up the phone,and the message ended,leaving him staring baffled at the machine.

What the fuck was that about?Eden?Caribou?Samson?It was like bad code.

Except the way she said "Please,Logan," sent a cold shock through his heart.He did know that voice,didn't he?It was slightly different,but still familiar...

And Caribou was a mountain group in the extreme northwest of Alberta.Wolverine,Peace,and the Meander were all rivers by that way too.It was a code-she was trying to give him a location without being too obvious about it,in case anyone was eavesdropping.But one seventeen?There was no route one seventeen up there...


He remembered it all in a rush.That was Alex's voice,deeper by twelve years.Eden,Samson,Elena.Now it made sense.

How had Alex found him?He supposed he could ask her himself when he got there.

One of his few 'old' memories,the anger came back as if the whole incident was a fresh,raw wound.After all this time,they were still in business?At least Alex had survived;that was something.But how could she not?She was built to do it.

And she hadn't given up on finding the ones responsible for it.

He felt almost embarrassed for not thinking about her and Elena,not since then...although Rogue had reminded him of Alex in certain ways,hadn't she?He supposed she had,although it had only occurred to him in retrospect.

He was about to leave,cold rage infusing him and filling him with adrenaline,when he realized if Eden was fully staffed,he and Alex might need a little help in bringing it down.Especially if there were Samsons working for them.

After quietly questioning his own sanity,he picked up the phone,and punched in Bob's number.

He didn't even know if he was back yet.It had been almost two weeks since they last spoke,when he teleported him here and took off to supposedly help Ganesha,and frankly he didn't care if he was back or not,he was just glad he wasn't popping in on him in the shower or interrupting him when he was trying to  chat up a woman in a bar.

The phone rang four times,then a machine kicked in.It sounded like the music from "Shaft" was playing in the background,as Bob said:"Hello,this is Maximum Bob.I'm not here right now,or I'm simply blowing off your call.If I want to talk to you,I'll get back to you as soon as I can,possibly even before you call if I can ride a kink in the space-time continuum.Leave your name and dimension at the sound of the horn."Logan had just enough time to ponder the use of the word horn (wasn't it supposed to be beep?) before holding the receiver away from his ear.A millisecond later,a very loud air horn sounded.

Man,he was such an asshole sometimes.

"Bob,it's Logan.Helga,if you get this before he does,I could probably use your help instead,either way.I need some high yield explosives and possibly some large bore,portable weaponry,rocket launchers and the like.I'm headed up to Alberta,somewhere along the Northwestern longitude of one seventeen,past the Caribou Mountains,short of  the N.T.It's not the Organization,but a ....rival,I guess you could say,a splinter group.Just as bad.If you don't get this message within twenty four hours,forget it."He then hung up,wondering if he made a mistake.

Well,shit-this whole thing was a mistake.Getting involved with Alex and Elena had been one big fat mistake.One thing he was consistently good at was fucking up.But he was also good at fixing things after,usually permanently.

He searched the Professor's achingly neat desk until he found a pen and a notepad,and quickly jotted a note.He knew he should probably inform the others,get the so called 'X Men' in on this,but no.They'd probably want to be humane about shutting this operation down,not wanting any blood on their hands-

(-blood on the snow,black in the moonlight.,the smell cloying in his nostrils,metallic and sour,and the scent of death,cordite and shit,burned skin and hair-)

-not understanding that too much blood had already been spilled over this.There could no longer be any talking.Now was the time for action.The type of action that seemed to make their skin crawl.

The note he wrote for Chuck and the others,in hopes they wouldn't follow,was direct and to the point :'Gone to see an old friend in Canada.Back in a couple of days.Logan.'

The funniest thing was the note was completely truthful.He hadn't even had to lie.And as much as he was trying to live with this situation,he knew it would be nice to get out of here...and do what he did best.

What was the old cliche?Revenge was a dish best served cold?

He supposed the people in Eden were about to discover that for themselves.


Miller's Crossing,Alberta,Canada-February,1990

Logan glanced at the clock over the bar,to the right of the blaring television,and wondered if they had cleared the pass yet.

This place was so crowded with people,collective body heat was keeping it warm,and the odd mix of people was adding a certain edginess to the atmosphere he never liked,although it had yet to reach powder keg intensity.

A late season blizzard had closed down Jackson's Pass,the only way out of here,and while the road crews worked on it,everyone was stranded on this side of the mountain.So this trucker's rest stop,that also catered to the adventurous (and slumming) skiers and climbers during their peak seasons,was full of an odd bunch of people who would never mix under any other circumstances: long hauler truckers;blue and white collar workers who commuted from one side of the pass to the other;a bus full of people who had been on their way to British Columbia;a group of military men who claimed to have just come back from Yellowknife (they were so wasted he could hear their voices loud and clear,even over the combined din of all the crowd,the t.v. and the jukebox);a carful of college kids who seemed thrilled by the diversion of cheap (but watered) beer;various employees from the surrounding ski lodges and the service workers who staffed them;skiers unable to reach their lodges;and the nomads, the people who were always on their way somewhere else,with no  fixed destination.They were the shadiest lot of them all.

And he should know,because he was one of them.

Earlier,he had made some easy money in an even shadier dive than this,fighting hard muscled loggers and beer soaked macho assholes in illegal bare knuckle boxing matches,at least until he ran out of opponents.The owner even gave him extra money above the night's take just so he'd get the fuck out and never come back again.He was "scaring off" the others.

He was hoping to go to B.C.,or maybe push on to the Yukon (the pipeline workers always needed to burn off steam,and getting the shit beat out of them was something these guys signed up for in droves),but the blizzard put a crimp in his plans.No big deal, though,as he was never in a particular hurry to go anywhere.He would have risked driving in the blizzard-like he was afraid of a crash-but the local transportation dorks had already set up roadblocks,and some sad sack cop was out there,visibly shivering in spite of his fur lined parka and the endless layers of clothes that made him look a hundred pounds heavier than he actually was, waving people off until the "road was safe".Logan had driven Jackson's Pass a few times,and knew for a fact it was only safe during the summer,and even then it was questionable.Winding,steep,and in an uneven state of repair due to the near constant freezes and spring thaw mudslides,it could have been an amusement park ride shut down for numerous safety violations.It was amazing people didn't die in droves on it.People did die on it every year,but people died yearly on every road you could name.Not enough people had died on Jackson's Pass to make it special.

He didn't mind holing up in the truck stop at first,though.It was huge,a genuine truck stop:not just a diner.it was a bar,a restaurant,and a motel all rolled into one big warehouse like structure.It would be a place to  have a beer,play some pool,and maybe get laid,if he had the time for it.

The funny thing was,he hadn't even known he could play pool up until two weeks ago,and as it turned out,not only could he play it,but he was very good at it.So far tonight he had made an extra seventy five bucks on games,and no one would play him anymore because they thought he was a pool shark.So he was stuck setting up shots and basically playing with himself (so to speak),killing time until he could get out of here.The beer was sub-par,and none of the women were very interesting,with the best looking one he had seen so far being a hooker who regularly worked the stop,which was sad (he had never had to pay for sex,and he wasn't about to start now.Of course,his 'never' only stretched back about two and a half years,which was as far back as his memories went,but he just assumed).

After a couple of hours,a certain claustrophobia set in.He was tired of the smell of these people,the cigarette smoke,unwashed clothes,and body odor,their loud voices (especially the military shitheads,who were now going on about a hooker that three of them shared in Hong Kong and who  gave them all chlamydia),and especially the canned laughter of the crappy sitcom on the television.He was pretty sure he could throw the eight ball and put it right through the screen even from here,but he'd probably
spark a riot.Karl Marx was wrong-television was not the opiate of the masses.It was the anesthesia,the numbing agent,designed only to lull into unconsciousness.Opiate indicated far too much pleasure than one could expect to wean out from the boob tube.
Not that he was a snob.It's just canned laughter drove him fucking nuts.

Finally a rotund cop,whose face was ruddy from the cold,came in,stomping the snow from his boots in the doorway and letting in a truly arctic blast,as he announced,"The pass has been temporarily cleared,but it can't handle a rush.So,right now,we can only allow people who need to get over the mountain right this minute."

There was an outcry from the horde,and he held up his hands and shouted,"People,please!You'll all be allowed to leave!We need to be sensible about this!"

Logan snorted humorously to himself,as people began to argue,bargain,and otherwise badger the cop.Be sensible?He might as well have asked a hippo to fly.

Logan put his cue back in the rack (he didn't see the point in buying his own pool cue-what a waste of money),and started to make his way through the crowd.They would let him go,mainly because there was a group consensus to get him the fuck out of here ASAP.

He passed by a table where two muscular guys with matching stocking caps pulled over their big ugly heads sat bookending a young mulatto  girl-twelve or thirteen-who sat ramrod straight with fear he could smell even meters away.He glanced towards them,and as soon as her golden brown eyes caught his,he could see what had to be a pleading message for help.He had no idea what was going on,but he honestly didn't care-not his problem.He had more than enough on his own.

But just as he walked past,he heard her shout "Mister,help me!" loud enough to make him wince.

And the worst part was,he had heard it in his head.

He didn't look-he bet the men didn't know,so he just went on,thinking,'Look,kid-'

But she didn't hear,or didn't care."These guys kidnapped me!They say they'll kill my mom if I try and escape,they seem to know her-"she went on,way too loud.

'Turn it the fuck down!'He thought in irritation.

But she didn't seem to hear him."-they keep saying I'm a project.I don't know what they mean but I think it's bad.They want to hurt me.I know you're a mutant too,so-'

'Fuck you!How do you know I'm a mutant?'She was pissing him off.He elbowed through the crowd,although most seemed to sense his growing irritation and got out of his way first.They seemed to pick up on his 'don't fuck with me' vibe-sometimes people could be more perceptive than they thought.

"-mister please don't go!"She sent,her shouting thoughts becoming even more panicky."At least call my mom,make sure she's still alive-"

"Logger?"The policeman repeated,for the second time.Logan could barely hear for all the shouting in his head.

"Yeah,"he said,almost shouting himself.At least the extra irritation gave him a certain validity."I'm due in Vancouver in two hours."

Most people assumed,from his plaid flannel shirts,facial hair,and muscular build,that he was a logger,and he was happy to play that role if they wanted.Hell,he could cut down a tree now,and he didn't need an ax or a saw.If they spied his dog tags,they assumed he was ex-military (he couldn't be current with his unregulation hair),and that was a role he could play too.When you didn't know who you were or what you were running from or searching for,you learned quickly how to play the game,let other people's assumptions of you steer you to the guise you adopted.It was never quite fitting in,but it was skimming along the surface. And most people and social situations were so shallow,skimming was more than good enough to  get by.

The cop jerked his head back to the parking lot that was now technically a skating rink,and moved slightly aside to let Logan slip through,as others argued with him about needing to be out of here now,and the shouting telepath fell into complete silence.

He slogged through the ankle deep snow,the layer of ice that had existed before the fall crunching under his weight,and he breathed in deep,the air clean and sharp and carrying few traces of humanity.It seemed like heaven.Even the frigid air biting into  exposed skin like pieces of shrapnel seemed more bracing than uncomfortable.

It was after he had dug the keys to his truck out of his pocket that he paused,and realized a couple of things.

One:For all her noise,that girl was no telepath.She had no volume control because she was like a deaf person shouting across a crowded room-she couldn't hear herself,or others responses to her.That's why no reactions to his thoughts,and why she kept calling him 'mister'.Wouldn't a real telepath be able to glean his name?

(How did he know any of this?)

Two:Something she had 'said' set off alarm bells and made his skin crawl.Project.

("You're our greatest project,Logan...")

Those chunkheads beside her certainly looked military,didn't they?

(How the hell did she know he was a mutant if she couldn't really read his mind?Had the goons recognized him and told her he was?)

Logan put his keys back in his pocket,and lurked in the thick shadows surrounding the stop,eyes glued to the front door,hands clenched into his fists at his side.If he was right,they'd be coming out soon.

And he had some questions he wanted to ask them.

It sounded like the cop was getting things under control with the help of the burly bartender,and fewer people trickled out now.
Several truckers had started their trucks,leaving blue clouds of diesel smoke in their wake as they drove off,down towards the pass,and after the beer truck had driven off,Logan spotted what had to be the G.I. Joe car.It looked liked just a big utility vehicle... but how many of them were armored?

He wondered if they had friends,either in the truck or in separate surrounding (and less conspicuous) cars,and began to sniff the air,eyes scouring the large,heavily shadowed lot,when the quasi-telepathic girl and her lunkhead companions finally came out of the truck stop.

He stalked them in the shadows,and if the girl knew he was there,he heard nothing from her (if she was a good telepath at all, couldn't she have made these guys run off?).Before they could come around the edge of the parking lot and get within view of their armored truck,he grabbed the nearest one by the back of the head and slammed him face first into the wall,hard enough to reduce his face to pulp.That had to hurt.

Now realizing he was there,the second soldier spun,pulling out a weapon,but Logan actually didn't see what it was before springing his claws and slicing it out of his hand,also taking off part of a finger."Fuck,mutant!"Soldier boy shouted,as Logan rammed a flattened palm into his face and sent him flying.

He'd held the hit just enough that the guy was not unconscious,not yet,just thoroughly dazed.And even though blood was now pouring from the remains of his index finger on his right hand,the cut had been so clean he hadn't noticed yet.

"Thank you,mister,"the girl said effusively."I didn't know if-"

But he ignored her,walking over to the dazed soldier boy and hauling him roughly to his feet by the collar of his shirt.He threw him hard enough against the nearest truck to dent its door panel,and held him up by his throat,so he could snarl right into his face."Who do you work for,boy?"He had seemed surprised he was a mutant,so the soldiers hadn't recognized him and told the girl.So how did she know?

The soldier stared at him through half lidded,glazed blue eyes,blood pouring from his nose,and he said something that sounded like,"Eden-"

But Logan missed the rest,because that's when the shooting started.

They did have friends after all.He should have known-lots of scavengers traveled in packs.

The first bullets hit him like stones,more pressure than true pain,but then one lucky shot passed through his throat,missing his protective bones completely.

He gagged on his own blood,struggling to breathe as he whirled around to take on the gunmen,popping the claws from his hands,and then something hit him in the back of the head-it felt like a cannonball,and he hit the snow face first.

He pushed himself up,ignoring the black spots pulsing in his vision and the feeling that all the warmth he had was spilling out of his body (he could feel the throat wound closing,but it was large and it was slow going),and then there was a sharp pain in his hand as someone stabbed a large titanium bladed hunting knife straight through it,nailing it to the ground.Before he could react, someone else jammed a knife through his other hand.

"What kinda fuckin' freak are you?"One of several men surrounding him asked,as he kicked Logan in the face with a steel toed boot.

He felt his lip split,and instantly close itself.When he tried to pull his hands up-knives and all (it was only pain-he had had worse)-a soldier on either side of him stepped on the hilts of the knives,driving them deeper and holding them down.

For the moment.They were gonna have to do better than this to keep him down permanently.

"Stop it!"The girl shouted."Don't hurt him!"He looked up,past the legs of the soldiers,in time to see one of them give the girl a vicious backhand across the face that sent her falling to the snow.

"Hey,big man,hit your own fuckin' kids!"Logan spat,earning another kick in the face,this time from three different sides.It was worth it for turning the attention back to him.

"Think he's worth something?"One of the soldiers-the one standing on the knife impaling his left hand-asked the others.He smell/heard six in all,not counting the unconscious one by the wall (but counting the asshole with the severed finger and broken nose).

One behind him chuckled."Yeah,maybe if we part him out."

Logan sensed him close behind him,so he lashed out with his foot in a donkey kick that caught the smart mouthed bastard in the leg.He heard the crack of bone like a branch too heavy with snow,and the man screamed like a woman."My leg!"He shrilled. "Fucking mutie broke my leg!"

He got a gun butt in the back of the skull for that,but while it made him see stars for a moment,he took some satisfaction from the fact that the man's weapon shattered like glass against his head."Holy fuck!"The hitter exclaimed."What is he,made o' metal?!"

"Yeah,and I'm gonna kill every last one of ya,"Logan growled.That got him another boot to the head,and this one hurt,because it got his ear.Goddamn it.

"Okay,metal man,"another soldier said.He had the smug tone only leadership could inspire."What's your name?"

Logan glared up at the figure,which was just another man in a black wool uniform.Must have been itching like hell."Blow me."

The man squatted down in front of him,letting him see his craggy face,so pale it seemed as luminous as the moon that was now hidden behind cotton thick clouds."Okay,Mister Me,precisely why do you think you have a chance against us?You're an ugly mutant fuck who should have left well enough alone."

Logan smirked at him."What?You think you're gonna kill me?"

The soldier pulled out a machine pistol,and placed the end of the barrel point blank between Logan's eyes."No,you sorry sack of  shit-I know I'm gonna kill you.Kiss your ass goodbye,freak."

Logan couldn't help but chuckle.The bullet would bounce off his adamantium laced skull and ricochet right back into this guy's face.If he had more than a double digit I.Q.,maybe he'd have figured that out.

There was the sound of a gunshot,but the soldier's head exploded,splattering gore all over him before the rest of his body hit the ground.

The other soldiers turned,and there was more gunfire,and as the bodies hit the ground Logan yanked his right hand up,ripping the knife out of the ground.

He'd have been lying to say it didn't hurt.Jesus fucking Christ it hurt-he had a goddamned knife in his hand.But as soon as it was freed from the ground,he grabbed the knife hilt with his teeth and yanked the blade out.An entirely new,fun pain,but at least now his hand could heal properly;it had started to heal around the blade itself.

And by this time,the shooting was all over.

Sitting up on his knees,left hand still impaled to the ground,he saw his so called 'savior'-a cop.

But there were several things wrong with her,starting with the fact that the police jacket she was wearing over her flak jacket was dark blue.In other words,American.

"You're on the wrong side of the border,"he pointed out.

She holstered her guns-she had two,Glocks that were absolutely not standard issue for any cop he was familiar with-and the girl threw herself at her,hugging her fiercely."Mom,you're alive."

Okay,now this had gotten really interesting.

The woman patted her daughter's back absent mindedly,as she continued to stare at him in horror."You poor man-"she started.
She gasped as he reached over,grabbed the hilt of the other knife with his still healing right hand,and yanked the other blade out of his left hand."I ain't poor,"he said,examining the knife.Although it was titanium,it looked like the kind of hunting knife you could pick up in any sporting goods store.Damn it.He'd been hoping for a clue.

He tossed it aside,figuring someone could find it during the spring thaw and consider themselves lucky.

The woman didn't really look much like a cop.She had a round face,one you could almost call warm,but it was becoming gaunt, forcing her cheekbones to the surface of parchment thin,pale skin.It made her blue eyes seem too large for her face,and although it looked like she had shoved most of her hair under her police hat,a few strands of brownish-blonde hair hung limply down around her ears.There was no physical resemblance at all to her striking,darker daughter,but that was no shock-with mutants,it was a real mixed bag.

"Are-are you all right?"She stammered,still in shock.Considering she had just gunned down six soldiers,why did him pulling knives out of his hands surprise her?(Maybe she had seen the wounds start to close up.)

"I'm fuckin' peachy,"he snapped,getting to his feet.The wounds may have been closing,but his hands still hurt.The throat wound must have closed,because he hardly felt it anymore.A slight wave of dizziness hit him as soon as he stood (blood loss?),but he rode it out,and it faded quickly.

"I suggest you get out here,"he advised her,kicking the body of the fallen soldier closest to him."They probably got more friends on the way."He spat blood down on the headless guy who had threatened to shoot him,and grumbled,"You could have saved me one."

"You're a mutant,"she said,as if that was some big surprise.

"No shit.And you ain't no fucking cop."

She appeared surprised that he knew.After a moment,she only said,"We all have things to hide."

Logan thought he heard something odd,and cocked his head,striving to hear over the howl of the rising wind and the rumbles of the big diesel engines on the road.She must have noticed the look on his face,as she glanced around,moving one hand to the butt of her gun."What is it?"

"The roadblock must have made them call their buddies in.I hear a chopper."

"In this weather?"She exclaimed,looking up into the dark,cloud polluted sky.She couldn't hear it,of course,as she didn't have his hearing,but even he couldn't see it with this cloud cover.It'd have to get low enough to spot them first.She then looked him dead in the eye."How do you know?"

"I hear good,"he admitted,then asked,"Who did these fucks work for?"

She looked slightly distressed by his easy dismissal of a soon to be arriving chopper,but replied,"A secret military-industrial complex.It's a really long story."

Could it have been this easy?Could fate be so sickly ironic?Had the answers he had been looking for coincidentally crossed paths with him at a snowed in truck stop?

He knew he might regret it-no,he was sure he would-but he had to know what this woman would tell him.

She was one of them,wasn't she?Or she used to be-she'd just gunned down six soldiers.That was a weapons proficiency that was rare for the untrained."Get in my truck,"he said,turning and heading back for it."I'll get you over the pass."

"What?"He didn't turn around,but he could hear her footsteps in the snow as she she followed."Why?I don't understand.Why help us?"

"Why not?"He answered,not ready to tell her just yet."Now get in the back before I change my mind."

She no longer questioned him.As he got in the front cab of his truck,she and her mutant daughter got in the back of his trailer.

The girl,looking around the small camper he usually called home,said,with some disdain,"Do you really live like this?"

He gave her an evil glare in the rearview mirror,but the woman shushed her,and whispered (low,but not so low Logan couldn't hear it:),"Be good,Alex.He's helping us,and remember what I told you about how hard it is to be a mutant in this world?"

He scowled,not happy with the patronization,and wondered if there were a lot of bleeding heart liberals among the fascist pigs.

The truck started with a cough he was able to coax into a roar,and they were out of the lot and on the pass before the helicopter broke through the cloud layer.


Canada-Present Day

Getting over the border had not been difficult.It never was.He knew all the porous areas,the holes in the net where illegal aliens and criminals determined to sneak into or out of the U.S. could slip through without muss or fuss.

He'd been on the road for hours,leaving the sun behind,the sky fading out from blue to black,but he was in Alberta before the moon rose over him.This was one hell of a bike.

He went from being doused by a sudden squall to being frozen by an abnormally cold north wind,but by the time he pulled the bike over at a bar,he was mostly dry,and any ice that might have formed had fallen off.Logan had needed to stretch his legs before they got permanently stuck in position,and he was starving;he hadn't eaten before he left the mansion.

The bar was nothing special,just another dive (although it seemed to have upscale pretensions),and in an odd stab at colonialism it offered shepherd's pie among the meager food on its menu.It wasn't bad,though,and seemed to go well with the dark,heavy ale he ordered with it.

He sat at a back booth,all by himself,eating and staring at nothing,except two guys playing pool badly at the table in the far corner. If he had the time,he knew he could lighten the wallets of both of them in a 'friendly' game,but he didn't have the time.

There was a t.v. over the bar,showing a hockey game,and some drunk was holding court at the end of the bar about how Wayne Gretzky sold out Canada by going to the New York Rangers.

And Logan thought he lived in the past.

He was mentally debating whether or not to order another beer before getting back on the road (he could shotgun it),but when he went up to the bar,something next to the till caught his eye."Done,sweetheart?"The female bartender asked him.This place wasn't so redneck:the woman had a very punky,spiky cut,and her hair was dyed a rather corrosive color purple.

"Is that an American phone book?"He asked,gesturing to the thick book beside the cash register.

She glanced over her shoulder,as if to make sure."Sort of.It's for Alaska.The owners have cabins there,and we like to keep track of them."

"Can I see it for a moment?"

She shrugged,retrieved the phone book,and let it thud down to the bar before him."Knock yourself out."

It was a long shot,he knew it,but he started looking through the pages,scanning all the names he knew she might use,and he told himself he was crazy for even looking.But maybe she had a cell phone number listed...

And there she was.He'd almost missed it,but there she was,under her original name.A risky move,but maybe she honestly thought she had nothing left to lose.Or maybe she was daring them to come after her.What did she have to be afraid of?She was a weapon too.

There was only what he assumed to be a home number,but he memorized it before heading back to the pay phones by the bathrooms.Only one was actually working,and it seemed like he had to put a slot machine's worth of change in the sucker to actually call the long distance number.