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!
Logan headed down the drive, and as soon as John saw him, he exclaimed, “Jesus! What the fuck are you doing here?”
“I was gonna ask you the same thing,” Logan replied. John looked harmless in baggy jeans, an oversized t-shirt, and a beat-up leather jacket that was probably older than he was (you could find interesting stuff at thrift stores), with a knapsack slung over his shoulder. His hair was longer and shaggier, but otherwise he looked much the same as he had when he'd last seen him in Los Angeles. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“I’m not here to cause trouble.”
“Damn right you’re not.”
He attempted a laugh, but it withered in his throat. “Okay, yeah. Look, Logan, you’re the big badass, I get it, I’ve never wanted to fight you, okay?”
“Wouldn’t be much of a fight,” he replied, popping the claws on his left hand.
John jumped back a step and held out a hand in a warding off gesture. “Whoa! Damn it, man, would you listen to me? I’m not here to start shit. You can tell if someone’s lying, right? Am I lying?”
He paused and scented the air, which was quite easy now that the wind had picked up and big black rain clouds were boiling up overhead. Storm providing some back-up, presumably. “No.”
“Okay then. See?”
“So why are you here?” He may not have been lying about not wanting to fight, but Logan still wasn’t about to let him off the hook.
A steady downpour had started. The sky just opened up and started pelting them with big fat raindrops, more suited to a monsoon than a spring shower, and it would be difficult for Pyro to attempt to flame on in the middle of a monsoon. He must have known that, because John looked up at the sky and briefly rolled his eyes in disgust. He didn’t need two guesses to figure out who was raining on his parade. “I just … if I tell you anything but the truth, yer gonna kill me, aren’t you?”
“Might just wound ya. How big’s the lie?”
He scoffed, glancing down at the gravel drive. “You gotta fucked up sense of humor, dude.”
“Who said I was joking?”
John looked up at him sharply, once again trying to determine if he was lying, and not able to tell. Of course he couldn’t. Logan knew he couldn’t be as old as he was without learning how to keep a deadpan expression on his face. “Umm … I got no place else to go, man. Okay? I’m pathetic. That make you happy?”
Happy wasn’t exactly the word, but perversely satisfied would do.
It was Bobby who was most upset about letting Pyro back in the mansion. Never mind that he was absolutely drenched, and that Logan remained within lunging distance at all times (one swipe and he was done for), he was just pissed off. Probably because they used to be friends, and he'd taken his betrayal very seriously. Also, hadn't John tried to kill him? Logan knew not to take it too personally at this point, but Bobby probably still had to learn that. Since Giles was still camped out in Storm’s office, trying to get a stronger idea of where the hell Paloma was, they were forced to take this discussion to Xavier’s old study. Logan didn’t realize it hadn’t been used until he walked in, and the dust made him sneeze.
Pyro stood dripping against the far wall, and Logan was leaning against the wall near him, just a bit out of arm’s reach, with John occasionally sparing him a nervous glance. Bobby sat on the couch openly glowering at him, and Storm sat on the edge of the Processor’s old desk, trying to play mediator and failing just a bit. Then Logan yelled for John and Bobby to shut the fuck up, and they did. It did help to have the kids scared of you at times.
The story John told was not a surprise to Logan. Apparently, after the whole L.A. thing, he'd felt a little lost. He wasn’t interested in the Brotherhood anymore, mainly because they were idiots (and also because Bob told him he wasn’t, but John had no memory of that or Bob at all, so Logan didn’t mention it), but he wasn’t into the “good guy trip” either. Still, life as a “mundane” didn’t suit him either, and he'd basically run out of options, so he decided to come back and see if he could get back in here. “What d’ya want me to say? I fucked up?” John said, aiming it at Storm, but probably really saying it to Bobby. “Fine, I fucked up. I felt like you weren’t teaching me shit, ‘cept how not to scare the mundanes -”
“Stop calling them that,” Storm said.
“This is bullshit,” Bobby snapped, still giving him the stink eye. “You weren’t the center of attention so you flounced off like a drama queen.”
That pissed John off. His face seemed to collapse into a hard point, and he snapped, “So says the kiss-ass teacher’s pet. You’re really one to talk, you -”
“I'm gonna punch the next person who utters an insult,” Logan interrupted. John and Bobby exchanged evil glances, but fell silent. Storm flashed him a scolding look - okay, so she didn’t like him threatening violence against the kids, he got that, but it kept them in line, didn’t it?
“You have a dangerous power, John,” she told him. “Even teaching you to use it defensively has an inherent danger to it.”
“Oh, come on,” he protested.
“You control fire. Fire can destroy quickly in a short period of time. You’re not an idiot; you know that.”
“Don’t be so sure about that,” Bobby muttered.
“That’s one,” Logan said. Bobby gave him a startled look, but Logan just remained where he was, arms crossed over his chest, giving him a blank stare. Bobby seemed to cringe into the sofa. Logan wasn’t going to actually punch him - well, not unless he absolutely had to - but he liked the fact that it scared them so much. Like he wouldn’t pull it.
John looked like he wanted to say something back to Bobby, but Logan’s reminder shunted him away from that path. “But at least Magneto taught me how to really use my powers. Here, all I ever did was learn how to sculpt candle flames like ice sculptures.”
“That’s not true,” she replied, giving him the scolding look for a change.
“Whatever your excuse is, you compromised the school, and you attacked us, or did you forget that bit, asshole?” Bobby snarled from his hunched position on the brown leather sofa. “How many people have you killed, huh? You keep track? Make little hash marks on your Zippo?”
“Hey, Logan’s killed a shitload of people!” John exclaimed defensively, flinging out an arm in his direction. “He used to be an assassin, for fuck’s sake!” And then John realized what he’d just said about who, and he seemed to wince as he turned his gaze cautiously towards him. “Aw crap, are you gonna hit me?” he asked, with such timid earnestness that Logan actually felt sorry for him.
Bobby looked vaguely startled. “Assassin?” Wow, Rogue hadn’t blabbed that about him? For once she'd kept her mouth shut - go figure. He supposed he should revise his opinion of her secret keeping skills.
“Logan was brainwashed by a telepath, John,” Storm said icily. “You don’t have that excuse.”
Bobby was looking at Logan wide-eyed over the couch. “You were?”
Logan faintly shrugged. “It was a long time ago.”
“So you really were an assassin? Wow, I thought that was just gossip.” He chewed on that for a moment, then sat back the way he'd been. “Explains how you ran through all those soldiers in the mansion.”
“It also explains why he can kick all our asses,” John said, still cringing away slightly.
“How do you know?” Logan asked. He meant about the assassin bit, not being able to kick all their asses.
John seemed to understand what he was asking. “Magneto told me. He said you were a mutant killer, that you killed way above your power set, although he wasn’t really sure how, since you weren’t very -” he paused suddenly.
“Smart?” Logan guessed. “I know what Lensher thinks of me.”
John nodded. “He said he figured Xavier taking you in either proved he had totally lost his mind or was finally wising up. He wasn’t sure which.”
“We’re not discussing Logan, we’re discussing you,” Storm interjected. “And we have no reason to trust you, John. I’m all for second chances, but what guarantee do we have that you won’t simply abandon - or attack - us again when you’re back on your feet ?”
John made a gesture that meant nothing, both exasperated and vague, and said, “I dunno, except … yeah, I fucked up, and I’m sorry. It’s just that Magneto taught me more about what I could do than anybody. And for a while there he kinda made sense.”
“But now you decided he doesn’t, just because he’s a depowered old man?” Bobby replied scathingly. “What the hell changed your mind? Poverty?”
“Tone it down,” Logan warned him. He knew that what had changed John’s worldview so drastically was Bob - John thought he was a god until he met Bob, and Bob told him in no uncertain terms that no, he wasn‘t, and wouldn‘t actually last a picosecond against a real one, and while he couldn’t remember that at all, he kept the knowledge that he had made a major miscalculation and had reached far beyond his grasp - but he wasn’t about to say that in front of John. Or Bobby even, who might mock him with it someday.
Storm raised a questioning eyebrow at him. She knew there was something he wasn’t saying. “Do you have something more to add, Logan?”
“Put him on probation,” he replied. “I’ll watch him.”
“What?” Bobby exclaimed, sitting up straight. “You can’t be serious.”
“Everybody deserves a second chance. Besides, if he betrays us again, he’s dead, and he knows it.” Logan looked at John. “You got that, yeah?”
“Like a cold,” John admitted sullenly, looking down at the pattern his dripping hair was making on the Oriental carpet.
“Logan,” Storm said. “What have I said about making death threats?”
“It’s not a threat. I promised him back in L.A. that I would if he ever attacked the kids again. I keep my word.”
“But he’s -” Bobby began, sputtering, words temporarily abandoning him in his apoplexy.
“You think I can’t kill him? You think I wouldn’t?”
Bobby fell silent. No and no seemed to be the answers, and they were the right ones. After all, he’d already killed Jean - that pretty much meant he had the wherewithal to kill anyone and everyone. After an awkward moment, John asked quietly, “What d’ya mean... probation?"
“You do what I say when I say it, and when I give you the rules, you follow them. Any deviation will be unpleasant for you. Do good and I’ll dial it down. Do bad, and if yer still sucking air, yer out on your ass. Comprende?”
John scowled, but gave him a sarcastic salute. “Yes sir. Do I have to wear an orange jumpsuit?”
“Keep up the ‘tude, yeah.”
“John, Bobby, could you leave us please? Logan and I have to talk in private,” Storm said. Logan wasn’t wildly concerned. As soon as he told her Bob was behind John’s change of heart, she’d know that he wasn’t about to flip on them again. But perhaps she just wanted to lecture him about threatening the kids.
“Where am I supposed to go?” John asked.
Logan looked across the room at Storm. “His old room taken?”
“Not at the moment.”
“Go there. And stay there ‘til I come get you,” Logan told him. “Open the door to no one but me or Storm. Got it?”
He scoffed. “I’m under house arrest?”
“Do you really think talkin’ back to me is the way forward?” he countered.
John rolled his eyes again, but his shoulders slumped in resignation.
Before John could protest, Logan said, “No, you’ll go your own way, and you’ll stay away from him. Piotr can make sure he gets back to his room. He’s even fireproof when he’s metal, so don’t think you’re the only fireproof person around here, Bobby.”
Bobby frowned, and huffed a breath through his nose like a horse, but knew better than to say anything. The same couldn’t be said for John. “You’re not fireproof, y’know,” he said, looking at Logan.
He stared at him flatly. “No, but I heal from third degree burns. Can you heal from a decapitation?” John visibly blanched, while behind him, over his shoulder, Storm flared her eyes at him for making such a threat. But it wasn’t a threat - it was a point. “Didn’t think so.”
John shook his head. “You just don’t fuck around, do ya? Aren’t you supposed to be a good guy? Good guys are wimps.”
“I’m a bad good guy,” Logan admitted.
There was a rapid knock on the door, and out of habit Logan barked, “What?” It must have caught John off-guard, as he jerked to a straighter posture.
The door opened a crack, and Kitty peeked inside. “Sorry to bother you, but I think something’s happened to Mr. Giles.”
That made Logan feel like someone smacked him on the back of the head. “What do you mean something’s happened to him?”
“He, um, asked me to stand outside the door of the office, and not to come in under any circumstances,” she reported anxiously. “But then there was … a yelp I guess, and a sound like breaking glass, and a puff of smoke and light came under the door. I knocked and asked him if he was all right, but there was no answer. I thought about looking in, but he was pretty adamant about me not going in there; he said I should get you if something went wrong.” She then scratched her head, and added, “He said you were Bob’s. What did that mean?”
Oh fuck. What was Giles doing that was so risky only an avatar would be safe? “Figure of speech. Stay here,” he said, heading out the door. He heard Storm take a breath to say something, but he looked back at her and said, “Later.” He’d have to hope she’d understood, or he’d be looking down the barrel of a lightning bolt enema.
He ran down the corridor and braced himself for a fight before bursting into Storm’s office.
The first thing he was hit with was a smell like burning rocks and hair; he made a noise of disgust and shook his head, trying unsuccessfully to clear it from his nose. Giles was sprawled out on the floor beside a ring of salt on the carpet, which he knew from past experience was a protection circle. He looked for a burned spot or broken glass and didn’t see any, which seemed like a bad sign. There was a bit of blood trickling from Giles’s nose, so he knew he was alive, just unconscious. But why? Did something attack him? Was it still here?
A quick search of the office seemed to suggest that if it was here, it was invisible, and he couldn’t detect it in any other way. He knelt beside him and patted his face. “Giles? Hey, Rupert, what the fuck did you do?”
No answer at all; Giles didn’t move. He suddenly wondered if there was a doctor in the house.