A/N: So it's NYC to party tonight, woohoo. Except.. pfft, I'm getting old. Anybody gonna be at Bed after 9? We could ditch everyone else and yak all night about how Logan should do Scott when they finally do get together yeah? :) *bats eyelids hopefully* Oh alright. Here's chapter 11. Hope you guys have a great weekend!
Calling Lake, Alberta
The Athabasca airstrip was where they had the private charter planes that operated under very little regulation. So it wouldn’t be a problem paying our way on board one of those flights even if Logan did not have his passport on him. We were back in his truck, him driving with a cigar in his mouth… he didn’t light it though. Just held it there between his lips. Looking at him out of a corner of my eye I visualized what he’d look like if he shaved. The whole rugged, bushy look suited him just fine, but I was curious to see that sharp lookin’ jaw-line minus the hairy wilderness.
I wondered if I should ask him about his passport, if he had a valid one though it was highly unlikely, but it might make him suspicious of my intentions. Not so fast Summers. One step at a time.
I wondered what it said on his passport for his age and nationality. I wondered what it said for his *name*. The Professor hadn’t been much help there.
//His name’s Logan.//
//Logan what? Or what Logan?//
//I can’t be sure. But he uses the pseudonym Wolverine when he fights.//
//So that’s one thing less we need to come up with.//
//I get the impression he’s been trained by the military. Could be American, or Canadian. I’m not very certain. Perhaps that’s where the call sign comes from. I’m not getting a clear reading on his mutation either. His mind’s… like a maze!//
//Okay. So now he’s what - a drifter bum exploring the geographic extremities of Canada for a living?//
“So, is Logan… your first name?”
“Last name then?”
He ignored me completely, kept driving. I waited. Looked out the window and back again. Nah, he wasn’t gonna talk to me about this. Held myself by the middle, partly to keep warm and partly in fear that my stomach would once again expel the apple juice and meds I so desperately needed to stick. I noticed a dull metallic chain around his neck.
“Were you in the army?
“Special forces? Canadian?”
He tucked the dog tags back under his shirt. I was getting a little annoyed at his cold-shouldering me all morning. Just because I refused to let him help me take a piss?
“Someone’s in a jolly mood today.”
“Trust me you don’t wanna see what a bad mood on me looks like.”
“What’d I do?”
“You suck at interrogation alright so don’t bother.”
“I’m just trying to talk, that’s all. It’s a long ride and your fucking radio doesn’t work.”
Think I whined a bit, deep in my throat. I love automobiles, love working in the garage, tinkering with Professor’s impressive collection of wheels, both antique and futuristic. And I had to admit this old truck’s engine sounded perfectly tuned from where I sat and the ride was smooth enough so obviously Logan was taking care of the essentials. But he clearly wasn’t much of an accessorizer. If this were my ride I’d be seriously bothered that a door was jammed and the radio didn’t work and the paint was peeling and the seat cushions weren’t cushiony at all… really I could go on and on.
“This thing looks like it could fall apart any second. It’d be like in the cartoons – little pieces of junk dropping to the ground all around with you and me still in the middle. And then our seat collapses last and for a second we just… hang in mid-air then we look at each other and…”
“Hey if you prefer the road…”
“No! It’s great. It’s… perfect.”
Spoil my fun would you. I think I pouted.
“I love antiques. Really I do!”
Balls. Aren’t men supposed to bond over things like football and women and cars? And since we were inside one as we spoke shouldn’t it be the easiest one to start with? Besides I wasn’t that much into football or… um.
Cars it is.
“How old is this truck again?”
“How old are *you*?”
The brakes screeched as he pulled over violently to the side on national highway number I don’t know what. I realized then I had trusted him implicitly with directions to where ever he was driving me, and I never do that. *Never*.
Logan turned to me in utter annoyance that was rapidly and irrationally turning into utter fury. “Get out.”
“Oh come on.”
“Get out now.”
I glared at him just as vehemently. All fear of abandonment forgotten for now. “Why are you so reluctant to talk about yourself?”
“Why are you so eager to talk period?”
“Is it some sort of national secret this second name of yours? What could be worse than Aikenhead? Unless it *is* Aikenhead?”
“How about you answer some questions for a change huh?”
“You’re changing the subject again.”
“What is your mutation?”
I was taken aback by that, although I shouldn’t have. I knew the question would resurface sooner than later.
“I know what’s worse than Aikenhead - Botliker. Honestly you don’t look like a Bot…”
“WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING MUTATION??”
Wolverine bares his teeth when he growls.
Okay so, yeah I was in this ridiculous suppress-it-and-it-will-go-away mode and I really wasn’t willing to talk about it. Then again I couldn’t tell him it was none of his fucking business because it was. I’d *made* it his.
“What, is it some sort of national secret this fucking *gift* of yours?”
Bastard. He won the staring contest that followed and I returned to glaring out of my jammed frosted window. He waited.
“I lost it.”
“It’s gone. That’s why we’re one mutant short.”
In a lower voice I added, “It’s why we need you.”
He didn’t press. But I knew he had questions. I sighed and looked up into his face again. The anger in his eyes had subsided, his perpetual frown returned to its usual place. “Optic force blasts. Out of my eyes.”
He thought about what he’d just heard, the expression on his face cynical as ever. “Optic blasts.”
“Yeah. Concentrated beams of concussive force, red in color.”
“Out of your eyes.”
“At maximum strength, like drill a hole in a mountain strong? They’re pure energy… it’s complicated. We’re still working on it. Some inter-dimensional transference crap the Professor could elaborate more on for you when you see him. Not sure I understand it that well myself.”
Took him barely a nanosecond to retort with a scoff. “Where does the energy come from? You generate it? In that delicate body of yours?”
I bit my lip, uncannily hurt. “You don’t believe me.”
“You’re telling me you’ve got these blasts comin’ out of your eyes whenever you wish them to? Some eyeballs you got there, kid. Don’t tell me, your eyelids are made of lead or something to like keep the freakin’ kryptonite contained? Inside your almighty lead sockets?”
He was smirking. I hadn’t spoken about my damn mutation ever since the accident, ever since Hank told me I might have to get used to living without it. And this particular conversation wasn’t exactly therapeutic either. This was when I realized with a terrifying jolt, that I was about to cry. I turned away fast as I could, toward the frosted window just in case. Seconds passed in silence as I successfully battled the damn tears down, relieved and surprised that Logan didn’t push it any further.
The engine was gunned and we pulled into the main lane once again. Took me a few minutes to be sure I wasn’t going to start bawling before I spoke again. “I didn’t ask you to explain how your healing thing works. Or why you got those stupid blades in your hands. If you were born with them or if they were implanted later to make you the ultimate killing machine or something equally fucked up or worse. I trusted you. If you can’t trust me then it is your fucking problem. I’m done explainin’ myself to you.”
He said nothing.
“It doesn’t matter anyway. They’re gone.”
I swallowed and nodded. Silence followed. Painful to admit, but fact’s a fact. I had been rendered obsolete. I had no business being part of the X-Men team… all I was good for was pushing papers, administration and PR and shit. Obviously staffing and recruitment wasn’t my area of expertise either. Damn I still needed this guy, but I was so pissed off at him I didn’t even want to look at him. Or be anywhere on the same continent as him.
“Most people would love to have what you have.”
Great, *now* he wanted to talk. And what the hell was he talking about? I glared back at him; he wasn’t frowning anymore, kept staring straight ahead and drove.
I scoffed and turned away. “They can have mine. I’m not sure I want it anymore.”
“You and I are the lucky ones bub, we can hide in plain sight, pretend we’re normal. Some aren’t as lucky you know. This kid I once saw, he was blue. Like from head to toe. Even had a long tail and pointed ears like them Tolkien’s elves.”
I looked at him then. More than a little wide-eyed at his reference to one of my all-time favorite authors with such casual familiarity. Besides I was surprised (and delighted) as hell, he didn’t *look* the reading type you know. He sent a scowl my way, a benign one.
“YES, I’ve read him.”
Oh yeah? “The Silmarillion?”
Crap. Despite that little defeat I felt better, victorious. At last the man reveals something about himself. No matter how irrelevant it may be to the actual subject under discussion.
“I can empathize with the kid actually.”
Logan looked at me questioningly. I shook my head, couldn’t believe I was about to divulge this to him. He was just going to make more fun of me, I was certain of it. But if I were to win his trust enough for him to open up… guess I’d just have to suffer through some more humiliation at his hands.
“I couldn’t control the blasts. Every time I opened my eyes, they’d come out… destroy everything in their path. I was a walking talking weapon of destruction, until I closed my eyes. The energy gets absorbed by my body, it won't hurt me. And no I didn’t produce it in my body, just… transferred it from another dimension to… this… one. Like I said I don’t understand it that well myself.”
He grimaced. “You couldn’t go around with your eyes closed all the time.”
I snorted. “I *did*. For over a year before the Professor found me. He figured out that the only way to stop them was if I wore glasses made from ruby quartz. It somehow seems to be able to absorb the energy, contain it.”
He concentrated hard on the road, softly whispered. “Your visor.”
How did he know?
The dream this morning. I must have said that aloud, damn. I wondered what other dirty secrets I’d revealed in my state of delirium.
“Yeah… I’ve got normal everyday glasses; the visor I use for missions… helps me regulate the strength of the blasts. You know, width and intensity of the beams and such.”
“And I guess you can imagine how wearing something like that all the fucking time tended to single me out instantly as a freak.”
Five minutes, maybe less passed in not so comfortable silence. I could hear the wheels turning in his head as he thought over everything I’d said. At last he muttered.
“Blue kid still got it worse.”
The big bad Wolverine obviously never learned how to apologize.
“I guess. Where did you see him?”
There it was, the stone walled curtain falling over his face and between the two of us again. I could practically hear him shuttering down this time.
“I o-only asked ‘cause… maybe we could… give him a safe place to stay if he needs one? That’s all.”
I gave up then. This guy was unbreakable. This mission was doomed from the word go. Turned away towards my window again, shook my head, cursing under a shaky breath. Noticed a milestone that indicated the airstrip was still a few miles away. Was supposed to be half past nine but there was no sign of sunlight anywhere… a timeless time of the day for all intents and purposes, not to mention dank and fucking depressing. My great adventure in the Canadian wild was about to come to a pathetic close.
“I can’t remember.”
“There is a good part of my life that’s… a blank. Amnesia. I guess.”
Oh. Fuck. That… that… fuck.
That explained a lot.
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