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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!
Giles was able to teleport in, as Rags wasn’t the only one who could do it by spell, but by the way he stumbled when he first appeared in Faith’s living room, he hadn’t perfected it either. As he paused and straightened his glasses, making a stab at dignity, Logan stood up and stretched, working the kinks out of his neck, and shut off the television. “Glad you weren’t busy.”
“One of the few perks of having no personal life,” Giles replied acerbically, adjusting the strap on the Jack Bauer-like man purse he was carrying. It looked heavy, so presumably it had a bunch of Watcher stuff inside, so Logan figured he’d have to forgive him for that.
“If it’s worth anything, I know what you mean,” Logan said. Giles gave him a surprisingly caustic look. “I’m not being sarcastic.”
“Oh really? Yasha, Naomi, Faith, Helga … who am I leaving out?”
He scowled. “Okay, I’m a slut. But I was alone for years.”
Giles looked dubious, but didn’t comment further. Hey, he said he’d been alone, but he hadn’t claimed to have not had sex. This was just him and his odd luck with women. He usually had no trouble getting women (well, now and then … ), but they had a tendency to get killed or die around him. Smart ones ran for the hills at the first opportunity. It still left him alone.
They went ahead and teleported to the mansion, although they actually ended up in the driveway outside it. Giles managed not to stumble this time, and Logan felt his head spin, but he managed to keep steady. Still wasn’t as bad as Rags’s lunch-losing teleports. Giles looked around at what he could see of the mansion and the front grounds, and noted dryly, “This isn’t ostentatious at all.”
“Think this is bad, wait’ll you see the inside.”
Logan led the way, opening the front door and walking in, only to be greeted by the sounds and smells of more people than he had dealt with in a while. The television was on, and there were a bunch of kids in the 'living room', spread over the couches and chairs, some sitting on the floor, all watching something that had a great deal of explosions in it. But Sunshine, the Canadian gender-alter, was right there (currently a girl), and said, loud enough to be heard over the explosion, “Hey, Logan.”
Suddenly everybody was looking at him, many with obvious shock and surprise, some with badly hidden awe, some with even worse hidden fear. Many said 'hi' to him, and while some eyed Giles with wariness or curiosity, most ignored him. What the hell was this?
Giles leaned in, and murmured, “I had no idea you were a rock star here.”
He scowled at him. “I’m not. I got no fucking clue what this is about.”
One of the telepaths must have alerted Storm he was here, because she came striding down the hall, saying, “Logan, I had no idea you could get here so fast. I was expecting to pick you up.”
“You made it sound urgent,” he said, then gestured to Giles. “Rupert Giles, Ororo Munro. ‘Ro, Giles.”
They greeted each other politely and shook hands, and then Storm asked, “So you’re like Wesley, correct?”
Giles did his best not to roll his eyes, but clearly he wanted to. “I’ve never heard that comparison before. But yes, I’m a Watcher.”
“And you’ve worked with girls who are … different?” She must not have wanted to say “Slayer” within earshot of the other kids. Giles nodded an affirmative, and she lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper and asked, “You’re a sorcerer?”
“Warlock. That’s the name for a male witch.”
“Oh. Sorry. I get them mixed up.”
“If you’d ever met one, you wouldn’t.”
Actually, Logan knew he’d met both, but he still mixed them all up; in his head, they were all just “magic guys”. But he didn’t mention that, as he’d already gotten one evil look from Giles already.
“What do -” Storm began, but she was cut off as the front door slammed open, and Kitty came in, dragging an unconscious Bobby with her. He was both taller and heavier than her, so his weight was threatening to knock her down at any second.
“Help,” Kitty said, almost falling over. Logan was already there, grabbing Bobby and pulling him off of her. “Logan, oh thank god you came back now.”
“What happened?” Storm asked, looking out the open door as if expecting someone following her.
“We got attacked by these guys out on Roosevelt. They put Bobby to sleep and kidnapped Paloma. I got us out by phasing through the street.”
Logan propped Bobby up in a nearby chair, and looked at the kids, who were just gawping at him. “Anybody wanna get a first aid kit?” he barked. Several jumped, but only one rushed off to do it.
“Who attacked you?” Storm wondered.
Kitty shrugged. “Some blond guy in an army jacket, who just said “Sleep” and put Bobby out. He also said “Freeze” and Paloma froze. He tried to put me to sleep but I phased out and it didn’t work. He was working with this big green guy with a snake tattooed on his face. I didn’t see who was driving the car.”
The kid - whom Logan didn’t recognize - came back with the kit. He opened it and rummaged around until he found the smelling salts. He put the rest of the kit down on the floor, and popped one of the smelling salt capsules underneath Bobby’s nose. Logan flinched at the ammonia scent, but Bobby, who had it straight under his nose, jerked awake so violently he nearly fell out of the chair. “Hey … what the hell?” he asked, steadying himself and looking around. He looked up at Logan curiously. “You’re back?”
Why was everyone surprised he was back? Did they think he’d left for good? Oh, wait. Yeah, they might have. The whole killing Jean thing. “No, I’m an astral projection,” he replied sarcastically.
“We can track Paloma, right?” Kitty said eagerly to Storm.
She frowned, and Logan knew the answer was no, because Cerebro didn’t trace non-mutants. Giles said, “I can find her.”
Kitty looked at him curiously. “Oh. You’re, um …”
“Friend of mine,” Logan told her. “Rupert Giles. This is Kitty. Say hi.”
“Hi,” Kitty said brightly. “What can you do?”
“He’s like Wesley,” Logan said, and threw a little smirk at Giles as the Englishman tossed him another hard look. He just couldn’t help it.
“Ooh,” she said, sounding impressed. “Good. We could use you now too.”
That made him raise his eyebrows. “Well, it’s nice to be needed, I suppose.”
“What do you need?” Storm asked him, getting back on topic.
“Only space to work.”
She nodded. “Come with me.” Storm started down the hall and Giles followed. Logan started after them, but paused to tell Kitty, “Stay here. We’ll come get you when we need you.”
That made her frown. “Jeeze, that’s a nice “glad to see you’re okay”.”
He patted her on the shoulder. “You did good, kid.”
That seemed to placate her for the moment, so he took this time to slip away, leaving Bobby asking her, “What happened? Where’s Paloma?”
He thought he might be able to help Giles, but was told he didn’t need it, so he ended up waiting in the hall with Storm. At least it gave him a chance to ask about something that was bugging him. “The kids think I was really gone for good?”
She shrugged. “It’s hard to say. There may have been rumors to that effect, although with telepaths it’s impossible to squash any rumors. I do know that you’ve taken on such a legendary status that the self-defense classes are a nightmare.”
“What d’ya mean?”
She fixed him with a stern look, as if he knew what she was talking about and was simply trying her patience. “I mean while you were teaching the class all I heard was complaints about it. You were too hard, too mean, everyone was afraid to ask questions, et cetera. Then as soon as you’re gone, it’s endless complaints about how the class is no good now that you’re not teaching it, that it’s “too soft” and it doesn’t teach anything they didn’t already know.” She sighed and rolled her eyes at the fickleness of teenagers. “I let Piotr deal with it in his own way. There’s just no way to make some people happy.”
“He’s teaching the class now?”
“Oh yeah. I’m too busy.” The tone of her voice suggested she was actually too fed up.
“I wasn’t too hard,” he said, attempting to justify himself. “I just figure if someone’s tryin’ to kill you, why are you holdin’ back? It’s idiotic. Hell, if they’re tryin’ to kill you, any hand to hand combat teacher is gonna tell you it’s imperative you kill ‘em first. If you don’t go balls to the wall in a fight the opponent who is both willin’ and happy to has you at a disadvantage. Commit fully or go the fuck home. A lot of times if an opponent sees that you’re actually prepared to kill ‘em, they back down. Some people wanna fight, but they don’t wanna go all the way.”
Her blue eyes narrowed, remaining frosty. But then she shook her head, clicked her tongue, and looked down the hall, crossing her arms over her chest. “And that’s why the kids love you so much.”
“You got a problem with me? Besides the obvious? Want me to tell ‘em to totally embrace non-violent resistance, no matter who tries to kill them?”
“I would never presume to tell you how to fight, Logan. And what do you mean besides the obvious?”
“No, I don’t.”
Was she going to make him say it? Apparently so. He fixed her with a stark glare, hoping she knew how much he hated saying it out loud. Maybe that’s what she wanted; maybe she wanted to make sure he was hurting. “I killed Jean. You really gonna tell me part of you doesn’t hate me for it? I fuckin’ hate me for it.”
She flinched and looked down at the floor near his feet, but not at him. “You didn’t have a choice,” she said so quietly that the distant hum of the air conditioner pretty much drowned her out. They both made a point of not looking at each other.
It almost didn’t matter if
Storm hated him for it or not; he would never, ever forgive himself.
Sure, he did what he had to do, but that was no excuse, or at least not
enough of one. It was just another regret to add to the list of regrets
he had, a list so huge it felt a bit mind numbing. In fact, if he
thought more about it, he’d get suicidal again. Not that suicide
was an actual option for him.
Giles came out just in time to cut the tension. Storm had given him her office to use, and it gave him some privacy, as Logan figured he was scrying for a location. “This may be a more complex problem than we thought,” Giles said in a rather understated way, “She’s being blocked.”
“Blocked?” Storm asked.
“How?” Logan asked. “Magic?”
Giles nodded. “I can probably break through the spell, but I’ll need to get some things.”
“What d’ya need? I’ll go get it,” Logan offered.
Giles pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, a common nervous tic. “In this instance, I think it’s best that I go get it. I won’t be long.”
There was something in his hesitation that suggested that he needed to do this by himself, that this was a magic thing that he simply couldn’t do for him. Logan nodded to show he got it, but internally grimaced. Did he have to stay here? Was it wrong of him just to want to get out of here? Being here brought back bad memories. Sure, there were good memories too, but the bad ones, for whatever reason, seemed to linger strongest. He still kept expecting Jean to come along down the hallway at any moment.
Actually it was Piotr who came down the hall next, and he said, “Hey, I heard you were back. How are you doing?”
Logan shrugged. “Okay. Heard you took over the self-defense class.”
His big, potato-fed Russian farm boy face broke into a big grin. “Yeah, and the kids never stop complaining about how I never teach them the good stuff, like you did.”
“Like killing people by breaking their nose.”
“Oh. Yeah, I thought Cyclop’s head was gonna explode when he heard about that.”
There was an awkward moment as they were reminded of the fact that Scott was dead too, Piotr’s smile fading. He then jerked his head toward the end of the hall, and said, “Can I talk to you in private for a moment?”
“Sure.” He had a mildly bad feeling about this, but cowards never learned a damn thing. He followed him down to the place where the halls connected, which was often a quiet area when the kids weren’t running around. As soon as they got there and a visual scan confirmed the coast was clear, Piotr leaned in and whispered, “I heard you’ve been fighting the Russian mafia.”
“Ah, now, I gotta say those are vicious rumors …”
“If you fight them again, I want in,” he continued. ”My Uncle Eugeni was killed by those -” he used a delightfully filthy Russian curse that didn’t have an English equivalent, possibly for good reason. “I wouldn’t mind teaching some of them a lesson.”
Wow, a big angry Russian metal guy? That’d be fun. How would they deal with that? It’d be funny to find out. “Next time I get up to somethin’, I’ll give you a call, get you a front row seat,” he told him.
“Good.” Piotr seemed really happy. Wow, he really did want to hurt them, didn’t he? He was going to tell him not to mention it to Storm, who would probably accuse him of being a bad influence, but Piotr was smart enough not to talk about it.
Logan realized he was kind of uncomfortable waiting for Giles where all the kids could gawk at him, or where Storm could possibly pull him into another conversation he didn’t want to have, so he wandered down to his room to see if anything had changed in his absence.
The answer was a big fat no. Clothes were still mussed up in dresser drawers, his closet was almost bare, with a beaten denim jacket and a couple of heavy flannel shirts taking up meager space, the Joseph Hansen paperback he was reading last time he was here still on his nightstand with the matchbook cover bookmark. In the bathroom, his hand towel was still draped partially on the sink. It was like a room caught in time. Maybe if he stayed here long enough, Jean would walk in and ask him what the hell he thought he was doing teaching children how to kill someone. He could then point out that sometimes you had no choice; sometimes people’s powers went nuts, and the only way to shut it down was to shut them down. Like her.
He couldn’t stay here too long. He was already moping.
He was sifting through the clothes in the drawer, trying to determine if they were all clean by smell, when there was a knock on the door. As he looked, a hand came through the door and waved at him. He sighed. “What is it, Kitty?”
She walked through the door, not bothering to open it. “Sorry to bug you,” she said, biting her lower lip nervously. “But I screwed up, didn’t I?”
“What? No, kid, you didn’t. You got out alive. That’s never a fuck up.”
“But Paloma got kidnapped. Maybe if I was faster or just attacked them -”
“No,” he interrupted. “Fuck no. You didn’t know the players or what powers they had, and you were outnumbered.”
“That wouldn’t have stopped you,” she pointed out.
He snorted. “Yeah well, I’m an idiot.”
She fixed him with an evil stare that was more appropriate to women ten years older whom he’d also had deeper relationships with, and put her hands on her hips. “Says the guy who can read every language known to man.”
“I ain’t so good with Sumerian,” he offered.
That look continued. She was not amused. That was another effect he had on women.
There was another knock on the door, so unexpected that Kitty actually jumped before turning to face the door. “Wow, it’s fucking Grand Central Station, isn’t it,” Logan grumbled, before barking, “Yeah, what?”
“Well, at least I know I have the right room,” Giles commented dryly, opening the door. He paused in surprise when he saw Kitty standing there, but gave her a friendly nod before looking at Logan. “I’m not interrupting something, am I?”
“Not really. What’s the problem?”
“Why do you assume it’s a problem?”
“There’s always a problem. It’s like gravity or Bob singing - pretty unavoidable.”
Giles nodded briefly, conceding the point. “Am I free to talk here?”
“Yeah, Kitty’s been through some weird shit with us. Haven’t ya?”
Kitty looked between them and shrugged, a bit startled but game to play along. “Uh, yeah. There was that weird thing with Fenrir and the coin. I’m still not sure I understand what happened …”
Giles looked at her with new eyes, impressed. “You faced Fenrir and lived? That’s astonishing.”
“We teach ‘em well here,” Logan said. “What’s the problem?”
Giles sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “I believe Paloma is a Slayer, but I think there’s more going on here than we realize. She was being cloaked by a warlock.”
“So we’re not dealing with mutants here, just magic assholes?”
Kitty was looking between then, eyebrows scrunching into a vee. “Uh, Slayer?”
They ignored the question for the moment. “For the record, he’s not a very good one,” Giles continued. “It didn’t take me long to break his spell. But from what I could tell before a new, stronger spell went up, they’re underground.”
“Sewer tunnels or subway tunnels?” Logan asked.
Giles was forced to shrug. “Could be either. But I did get a sense of some powerful dark magic. This might not be as simple as it seems.”
“What is?” Logan asked, weary but not surprised.
As if to cement that point, Bobby rushed up outside the open door, and said, “Logan, we have a big problem.”
Good lord, he hadn’t even been back an entire hour yet, and the shit just kept coming. “What now?”
“Pyro’s coming up the walk.”
“What?” Kitty exclaimed, more shocked than anyone else. Well, save for Bobby perhaps. “What the hell is he doing here?”
Logan sighed. “I’ll go ask him.”
“I’ll help,” Bobby offered.
Logan waved him off as he walked past Giles and Kitty. “Don’t need it. A little fire never hurt me. For long.”
Besides, he made the kid a promise he had to keep. If John was here to start some shit, he was getting a set of claws through his cerebellum. Logan felt he was nothing if he was not a man of his word.
No matter how grisly it was.