When morning comes again I have the loneliness you left me
Each day drags by until finally my time descends on me
I go to sleep, and imagine that youre there with me
"I go to sleep", Sia cover
Don't call it a comeback.
Three years is a long time, eh? Let's finish this already, then. I just got caught up with some personal -positive- changes. And because I dropped off the face of the Earth, I just want to put out there a couple of acknowledgments and public apologies to a few people who I have been a terrible friend to by not keeping in touch. To Echo, who is a good soul and who I hope forgives me. To Marikosan-7, who is out there somewhere doing her thing, and brava to that I say. Onesyrinx, Ninamonkey and Minarya, you girls are my heroes and I became a writer reading y'all stuff. To StormyB28 to whom I've been the worst offender. I sincerely apologize. I keep intending to ping you back once I carve out some time for a full catch up but it never happens. Love ya, gurl. And to Darlin, who consistently kept dropping me lines telling me to get off my ass. Anyone else out there I missed? Please fuss at me. Totally. As you can see, I can sometimes be an asshole about things. It's not on purpose.
Now, what were these fools doing again? Oh... right.
Warning: Language and racial overtones.
Summary: "We Munroes- we don't stand down, lie down or kneel down! Come at us the wrong way, we throwing down, you understand me?"
Rememory, part five
It's a communal shout as the circumference of the people surrounding the quarreling spectacle expands with the appearance of Logan's mutation. The loud gasps of surprise coupled with female screams of terror quickly halts, leaving nothing but the scuffling sounds of David's feet instinctively scampering backward accompanied by Logan's menacing growl of engagement.
In an alley, outside a speakeasy, surrounding two men and one woman, after the initial shock and reactionary exclaim, no one says anything. Everyone stifled into paralysis. Everyone except those three.
All eyes are fixed at this panting, angry apparition with his infuriated breaths echoing throughout the corridor, and the woman who stands before him, ridiculously in-between the men as if she can protect the panicked one behind her against the looming, snarling man-now-animal inexplicably equipped with bone claws.
"Logan! No!" 'Re screams as she puts herself in the direct path of the strike zone. If he's going to hit David, he has to hit her first. All Wolverine can hear is the roar of outrage and fury coming from within. This sonovabitch David crossed into wrong territory when he even thought he could come at Logan the way he did. 'Baby?!?' Ha-ha this. The Wolverine rears his armed fist preparing to strike at David. David, catching on quick to the newly improvised rules of the game, continues to throw himself back against a wall in his attempted flight. With nowhere else to retreat to, he cringes knowing his good looks will be gone forever.
It's an odd, jerky three-way tango. Wolverine grunts in short frustration with the constant obstruction and deftly maneuvers new angles to get at his prey. David jumps and dodges in the quick movements of the mutant, seemingly almost impatient for the inevitable stab. Between them,'Re makes no such careful movements, and with each ocho cortado or molinete, grows more and more anxious. Yet she continues with all-wide eyes, open palms and weak attempts at a soft, soothing voice to lure Logan back to sensibility.
"Logan… Logan, NO," she states firmly but softly. "Logan, it's okay. We are not going to do this here." Her voice is cracking, trying to swallow back being overwhelmed in helpless emotion. And it starts to dawn on her: this is not 'Logan'.
Wolverine continues to move forward and she follows his movements, step by step, backwards and to the sides to protect the person of David. Black-eyed fury still smolders in Wolverine's eyes as he tries to regain a clear position to David around her head.
"Logan, Darling. Let's- WHOA!" he had quickly shifted to his left seeing an opening that 'Re soon closed just as quickly. Her voice continues to falter. He's not letting up. She's never felt this helpless before him ever. What is happening? This is too insane.
"Holy shit!" David exclaims through broken voice. Okay, THIS is something he never had to deal with before. David is very much mindful of the loss of safety of his person but he also sees the danger 'Re is putting herself in. David tries to guide her with a hand to her hip away the few times she isn't so quick to compensate for Logan's movements. David's continually thinking quick. Nothing in his mental toolbox has anything for this.
In the ever-erratic movements, the large flower blossom which was already precariously fastened her disintegrating hairstyle finally fully dislodges and starts to slip down her shoulder, between her and David, to the ground below. Unseen, it is pushed first by 'Re's heel then forward by David's toe as they shift about to avoid Logan's ever aggressive movements.
And the dance continues. Media vuelta. Mordida. Quebrada.
"Logan… SNAP! Logan!" she snaps her fingers in front of Wolverine's face to regain his attention. She is only answered with louder growls from him. She sees no recognition in his face, only his continued fury.
"Goddess, it's not working," she whispers in despair. David hears this and his stomach drops. She starts to heave in frightened frustration. She's not bringing him back. David's testicles jump further into his stomach with the thought that if she has no clue what do to, there's no holy way he does. Meanwhile the boyfriend is working himself up more and more.
"You callin her 'Baby?' You fucking think I'm some kind of punk?" Both David and 'Re stare hopelessly into Wolverine's dark, empty pools that were once his eyes. David cringes in fear of the furious uncertainty. 'Re face falls into slight horror; she's never seen this man before.
Wolverine continues to snarl and roar in infuriation, his words barely discernible as English. "You have no fucking clue where I have been or what I have gone through to get back here. I'll be damned if I let some chickenshit Jodie smile in my face and palm my woman."
Molton lava pumping through his veins. Electricity shooting through his nerves. There it is. The terror, the fear, the taste of the opponent's realization before the almighty strike and Wolverine laps it all up hungrily. Like the tapping of the foot before the long-awaited smoke. Inhaling the coffee fumes before the first morning sip. He's been waiting for this since Canada. Since the shower and the dangling chain around Creed's wrist. Since the talk of frails and ass. Since the one-word interrogation in Spanish after his last kill. He's got some shit to work through and he will work it all through the body of this sonovabitch.
Yet the mutant also tastes something sweeter and foreign beneath the menthol-flavored panic. He shakes it away as his vision gets redder and more focused on this piece of meat before him.
"Wha- What the FUCK?" David spits out. In his anxiety he grabs the shoulder in front of him. Logan sees that movement. No. Bad move. He is touching- he is holding onto-
Wolverine gives off a massive roar and rears up further about to plant everything he has into this feeling-up mother fucker-
"Logan, PLEASE!" Her scream pierces the alley and Logan stops startled. "You're scaring me!"
He looks down and blinks trying to focus. He sees her finally. She is in front of David and directly in the line of fire of him and his claws. She covers her mouth with her hands, gasping in fright. He shakes his head in surprise. He did not know she was there.
"Logan, don't do this. Please." She is sobbing now, tears rolling down her cheeks, her eyes wide in fright. His eyes crease at the sight and state of her. Inside he feels a slight pulling back of the adrenaline.
"'Re?" he whispers, like a self-clarification.
"Please stop it. I'm sorry, whatever you need. He'll leave us alone. I just want to leave now."
It tastes sweet with an edge of tart… her fear. No- terror.
"David, get out of here. Just leave us alone, please."
"Wha-?" David's throat is suddenly dry. His testicles dance again when Wolverine's eyes shift to him at the mention of his name and the discovery of his movement. Red-rimmed eyes narrow in threat "I dunno what's-"
She turns her head slightly making sure he can hear her. "David, tell him this is over. Tell him you're not going to do anything."
David looks at the side of her face trying to digest her words. Logan is just panting over the both of them, trying to process this.
"TELL HIM!!" 'Re screams. David's stunned inaction panics her further. He quickly snaps out of it at her yell. His eyes dart and he sees his two friends in the background. Sonny, for once, is left without words, with a hand covering his mouth and eyes wide. Black has his teeth clenched and eyes furrowed in frustration and focus – with the unmistakable undercurrent of fear. David and Black exchange glances. Yes, David silently agrees, maybe THIS TIME he HAS gone too far.
"S'okay, man. It's cool. You got this," David blurts in assent throwing his palms up, shaky as they are, in a sign of compliance and slides slightly away along the wall with his eyes down.
"See? Nothing's going on," 'Re pleads and considers trying to bolster her argument by attempting a step closer to Logan.
But yet none of them move. David and 'Re too afraid to not knowing if it will set him off again. Logan's stands, panting, facially constricted as his body demands him to go forward but something else inside him wills him to stop. His eyes presses desperately shut.
"Please, Logan." She whispers in frantic terror, only audible to him. "Please."
He opens to look at 'Re. She is still emotionally short-winded, eyes open in question, rimmed red, watery, scared yet exhausted. He looks into her eyes of blue, but they soon begin to morph to gaze back stronger as eyes of deep brown. Eyes he left thousands of miles back at the jungle. The eyes he looked deep into before a white flash of heat and everything, even him, fell to pieces. The alley of brick and stone melts into the lush flora that surrounded that shadowy jungle glade. The sounds of the passing cars and sidewalk radios get remixed into the distant concussion pulses of exploded arsenal and the yells of militia. The crowd surrounding them became the trunks of the canopied hardwood trees that stood as unemotional witnesses to that last fight. That girl- Her straight brown hair unkempt, her ponytail shook free from her attempts to flee. The girl- With her hands to her chest holding that- She was before him then, much the way 'Re is now, questioning him in desperation with her tear-stained brown eyes. She, too, was also begging -pleading- to leave, to leave with the man she loved. But he- and then Logan- so then she-
David and 'Re jerk startled by Logan's roar. He grips his head with his hands while his claws are still engaged staggering backwards grunting in agony as if a bomb went off in his head. Re, confused, tries to follow his movements but David instinctively grabs her by her arm to hold her back.
Logan continues to stagger backwards through the grass... No- the alley. Eventually his back meets with the opposite wall. He reacts immediately, spinning around to face this unexpected obstruction. Quickly his claws go back into their sheathes right before he violently punches the brick wall in frustration. The blood from the holes of the claw's retraction mix with the wounds now created by the punches.
With each violent slam of his fists into the wall, David flinches, knowing that the power of each strike was originally meant for him, and tipped with claws no less. His knees feel a little weak at the notion. Thank goodness for Black's hand on his arm from behind. The three stand together in shock at the sight in front of them.
Logan releases all the rage and bewilderment at the wall. The pounding soon slows to frustrated hits resting his forehead on the wall. He lets out a loud mournful groan turning and sliding down resting his head and back on the wall, knees buckling beneath him.
All watching in stunned silence. David's friend in the periphery, Sonny, the shorter and louder of the two, finally finds his breath with the barely audible, "Holy shit."
"'Re?" Logan shouts out blindly. His blood-covered hand reaches out while he holds his head with the other. "N-?"
"Yes, it's me." She had already shaken away David's grip at the first utterance of her name.
She quickly runs to him, falling down to her knees to grab at his hands, to console him with her presence. She ignores the blood and holds his hands to her chest while placing her forehead on his.
"It's me, Logan. I'm here."
"I didn't mean to- I didn't know-" he explains like a chastised child. He wants to let her know it wasn't his fault. It was Him. The other one, he engaged him first. "They were only trying to-" He had given them a warning. That guy didn't have to- "I was just doing my job. I was just-" Logan feels that girl will never understand; he'll never be able to answer her question. How do you answer 'Porque'?
"It's alright, Logan. It's over now." She has no idea he isn't talking about this fight in this alley but another one miles away in location and reality. But being all too aware of the eyes around them, her first priority is to get him away from here. Back into their room. Back to their world where its safe.
"'Re- You don't understand. I almost-"
"Yes, Logan. I want to know. But come on. We'll get up and-" She somehow cajoles him to standing and she starts to walk him out of the alley, leaving the three men gaping behind them. All the while, 'Re's voice continues her soothing, almost musical cadence. "Logan? We'll go home now. Look, you've hurt yourself. We'll go home and make it better."
Logan opens his eyes and finds the jungle has retreated. Instead of blood splattered grasses, he sees the dirty gray of the asphalt beneath him and the retreating feet of the onlookers creating a path to their exit, thanks to the determined and warning eyes of 'Re while holding and guiding him. He looks down at his hand and barely regards the blood on him but with the sight of her hands covered in red he pants faster in panic. 'Re quickly recognizes this and briskly wipes them on her skirt, clearing her hands but not improving the horrific sight by the crowd of her covered in blood.
"No! No, it is not my blood. See? Sijambo. I am fine. Hali ngani, hah? How are you doing, my Mzungu Chisi?"
And left in their wake, amongst the others who are whispering to themselves, are the three men, David and his closest friends. Bound together by not only their word, but by constant association. "Black", "Sonny" and, logically, "Munny", a warping of David's last name.
"Holy sh- Yo, Black! You seen that shit?"
Black makes no movement to answer Sonny. He still holds on to his best friend, mouth slightly agape trying to process the just-ended scene in front of them. David, on the other hand, is left still panting, his heart starting to slow their race, recovering from having to face the black eyes of his then-impending mortality. He runs his fingers through his short hair as he tries to regroup his thoughts. Still quickly trying to analyze not only the confrontation, but the odd dynamic of the couple walking away from them. He's also wondering whether he gives enough shit to care or just to laugh this one off as he usually does. But, no matter how hard he runs his nails through his scalp, David is left in shock.
The mind adapts to continuous adversity in remarkable ways. Black people pride themselves with an unusual adeptness for street common sense. They are wary of everything yet surprised by nothing as people who live precariously on the periphery do. Surrealism and realism goes hand in hand when the profane and sacred reply in familiar head nods and share a beer, usually on the corner, swapping tales and dropping names. A man who has seen everything from dogs and fire hoses put on schoolchildren to a cop who turns a blind eye at an inequitable slight and then smacks a woman with the friendly end of his pistol without the transitional blink reacts to surreal drama in front of him in the only way his cerebellum can process. In amazed and nervous laughter, cause surely this done beat all. In this fine tradition, the round-cheeked Sonny chuckles uncomfortably yet in awe.
"I mean, hoe-lee shee-it! He's a mutant."
"Not now, Sonny. Please." David replies flatly. He sees the couple approach the corner of the building, about to make that left onto the sidewalk. After that turn he could either not see this woman ever again or be the stupidest man alive and search her out another day to persist his affections upon her.
"Ain't that about'a- Black!" Sonny's energy could have been more helpful during the fight than in his now excitedly running his mouth. "Yo, you saw that? Ain't that a kick in the head?"
"Just shut up! I need to think." David's feeling really stupid right now.
"Oh, NOW you think? Wasn't quite thinking straight with the whole exotic eyes, hair and accent thing."
"Damn," Black's finally found his voice.
"And the boyfriend's white. Yeah, that's pretty sticky enough. But leave it up to Munny to piss off one of those new, im-prooved white boys. One of those freaking mutants they're starting to talk about."
Adrenaline still is pumping in David's veins. Whether its his instinct to fight or flee he still can't decide. In his mind are extremely convincing reasons for both.
"Motherfuckin CLAWS, Man. You saw that? Rolling up with fucking claws and shit. Badass as HELL!"
His first clear motivation, though, is to move away from the yammering jaws of his friend, Sonny, whose unending commentary is the last voice he needs out of the many now running in his head. Second loudest is his mother's voice telling him how a woman should be treated. Meanwhile, he also hears his father sucking his teeth at him. He never did know how to translate those constant verbal jewels of the elder Munroe.
"Absolutely classic, Man. You certainly know how to pick 'em, I swear to God!"
David feels the need to pace some of this residue energy away and is about to step forward when something suddenly catches his eye below him. Directly underfoot he finds the large purple blossom he remembers accessorizing 'Re not too long ago almost about to be flatted by his shoe. He glances up at her parting figure leading Logan away, her hair now totally free from its almost perfect arrangement before. He slowly stoops down to pick it up. With furrowed brow, he regards it closely, as if to smell it, twirling it slightly by the stem.
He recalls mentally noting how perfectly the subtle purple-tinted color complemented her while bound to her hair. The large, distinct petals bouncing along with each step as they walked down the street together. When he didn't think she would notice at the traffic light, he daringly stroked one supple petal with his finger, craving the feel of its soft texture. The softness gave way to silk the deeper within to the core, flooding his imagination and fascination with this woman. He wanted to get closer. To have more. More of her softness. If only...
"This is crazy," he mutters low to himself and to the blossom that captures his breath. He looks up at the couple again. They are almost at that corner. "No. Not that easy," he says slightly louder, twirling the flower faster to match the gears in his head. He feet starts to propel him forward causing a startled reaction from his two friends. David quickly drops the flower into his blazer pocket. "I can't let it go down like this. 'Re!"
"What the HELL?!" Sonny utters in disbelief. He quickly catches David by the crook of his arm wrenching it back while trotting up to face him. "Man, you'se crazy?!"
"No, leaning back and doing nothing is crazy," he counters quickly.
"Mun," Black's voice is deep with seriousness laced heavy with concern. "What you thinking, brother?"
"He's dangerous. He may turn on her." Out of the two of them, Black would understand and probably back him up. They always got each other's back.
'Re cringed slightly at hearing David call to her. She quickly looks over to Logan whose face is still tensed with some sort of inner turmoil she is starting to suspect goes deeper than this argument. She is nearly pulling him out of the area once she hears the men's low voiced argument behind them, hoping against hope against another episode. She'll deal with David later, Logan's her first priority.
Logan almost killed a guy just now. He knows that. And he would have killed a guy right in front of 'Re. Bewildered would be an understatement. He still can't quite pinpoint where exactly he is. He's still trying to discern between reality's sounds and the echoing cacophony in his head. Joyful squeals of sidewalk skipping children or the screams of women running from a firefight. Booming percussion from a passing car radio or launched grenades. He lost it back there and with that he almost lost it all. He's chanting to himself left foot right foot left to keep himself moving until he can get his senses straight. He just needs to get straight again.
Throughout all the noises, both real and imagined, one word pierces all.
Sonny throws his hands up from his obviously suicidal friend in jive relent. "Not for nothing, but all this over some African bitch-"
"What?! What the-?" David quickly turns to face his friend. Face creasing and eyes wide in heightening fury. "What the fuck you call her?"
"What?" Sonny has his palms up and eyes clueless like he just said the sky was cloudy. "U'm just saying all this shit and the BITCH ain't even wor-"
With a quick OOF, Sonny is abruptly doubled over after the fist to the gut by David. He falls HARD to the ground gripping his middle with David standing over him like he's about to pounce and roll on him further.
"Don't you ever- EVER!" David shouts at his friend with pointed finger.
"Fuck, Munny. Damn!" Sonny spits out to the ground.
"You don't ever call her no type of names and-" Black grabs his infuriated friend from behind to prevent another punch or perhaps this time a kick which inflames David more. David successfully shakes the larger one off. "Oh, you grabbing folks now, Black? NOW you trying to break shit up?"
With the heard female gasp and the sharp change of footfalls behind them, the three look towards the street to find Logan and 'Re watching. 'Re slightly turned with a look of shock at more instances of sudden violence. Logan turned the same, his eyes refocusing his ire.
"Oh, what the fuck?" David calls out, "She heard you?!" Sonny yelps a couple of octaves higher than usual at Logan's sudden personal attention.
Like a shot, David grabs Sonny by the collar and starts to shake him vigorously up to his feet. "I told you, you idiot, to mind yourself around her. What the hell is wrong with you? DAMN!"
Before Black can stop him, David pulls the shaken Sonny towards the couple. Alarmed and confused, 'Re's eyes go wider and she starts pulling away cautiously at Logan's arm trying for another exit attempt. David's proving as unpredictable as Logan. Logan eyes everything closely as David and his haul gets closer. Sonny, disoriented and still bent over slightly from the fierce right to the gut looks up and sees himself almost directly in the path of Logan. His mouth suddenly goes dry with those darkening grays focusing straight at him, Logan's teeth baring in salivated anticipation.
"Go!" David orders, pointing at 'Re. "Apologize!"
"Whut?" Sonny turns to David in confusion. 'Re looks at David also with the same look on her face. Logan's eyebrows furrows barely concealing his bemusement as he watches David's intention.
"Fucking apologize or I swear to God…" David's pinch on the back of Sony's neck punctuates his point.
"Shit! Okay, I'm sorry!" Then he quickly adds to 'Re trying to sound as pathetically sincere as he's able, "I'm sorry. I'm an asshole! Shit, Munny!"
'Re gapes at the hapless sight. "I- uh. Okay...?" She offers a disoriented shrug. "Accepted?"
"OKAY!" Sonny yelps again in response to, hopefully, 'Re's adequate assent. "She said 'Okay,' D! Damn!"
David takes what seems to be eternal seconds regarding 'Re and Sonny, evaluating whether he's satisfied. He then grabs his friend with both hands about his collar and wrenches Sonny's face to his face. His mouth and eyes constrict madly like he's about to unload more obscenities then he visually releases a breath, and fixes his gaze hard on him. "Hide. Now," David mutters low to Sonny's startled look.
Sonny's disheveled person suddenly drops to the ground and he, without much grace, scampers away.
The four watch him trot out of the alley, taking a right, to jog down the block. 'Re then looks at David who is still looking overly annoyed at his friend and his outburst. When their eyes meet, gives him an exhausted, outraged sigh. But deep down she isn't surprised. All these weeks in his company, she knew he was particularly sensitive to his friends and acquaintances being on their best behavior and showing her the utmost respect. She never once, though, saw his flashes of anger. Although she must admit his reaction to a cuss at her direction was appreciated, in the back of her mind she whispers to herself, 'Not you too.'
Despite her sign of frustration at him and the situation, David still holds her gaze with conviction. "He shouldn't have said that," he says with a slight explanatory shrug.
"Thank you for that," she starts cautiously, completely aware that Logan is still in an episodic state. She tries, unconvincingly, to gain control during the lull in activity. "Um, we gotta go now," trying to pull Logan out again.
Also seeing an advantage in the few seconds of peace, David takes a chance and reaches out to them outstretching his arm as they attempt their exit. "No. No, you can't," his voice is quieter with a bit of hesitation.
"What?" 'Re gasps at another David-led interference. Logan, who barely moved to begin with, still stares at the other man sizing up his options through his haze, barely stifling a growl.
At the sound, David quickly retracts his reach and throws his arms up to show no disrespect or aggression. "All this here, I didn't know," he begins to Logan. "I mean I knew but..." He sighs at himself at his uncharacteristic lack of articulation. He might as well speak plain. "'Re. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell him what?" Logan demands, immediately releasing her grasp of him.
"Tell you what?" She's surprised by the perceived accusation. "You knew- He knew I was spoken for."
David roughly scratches the back of his head. No, that he knew. He waves in the direction of the boyfriend. "The mutant thing…"
She visually recoils at the concept she felt was so minor in her perception of her man. "What would it have mattered? I'm not discussing this now," completely entrenched in being annoyed.
"No, you're right. It doesn't matter. It doesn't make a difference but-" he adds quickly. Jesus, how does he say this without all hell breaking loose? Shit, his dumb ass shouldn't have said anything at all. Dammit.
Logan tilts his head in both curiosity and in anticipation, awaiting whatever David is evidently about to throw at them. The brown-skinned man is obviously in full inner dialog now, constricting his face as if to speak but trying to stop himself at the same time. A baffling sight akin to watching a cat's hind legs running at full speed with the fore paws braced in front in dead brake.
"I..." Either let her go and shut the fuck up or be the stupidest mother fucker alive and-
David is feeling like the stupidest mother fucker ever.
"I can't let you leave with him," he exhales out in one breath, ending with a slight cringe.
"Let?! Listen, Jack. You're this close to-" Logan barely kept himself from pouncing on the fool.
"David! You have no right-" 'Re's too through with all of this insanity. She didn't even want this confrontation to begin with, much less for it to continue.
David just holds his palms up speaking in normal tones trying to get his say above the two speaking over each other. "Hear me out-"
"We are LEAVING now!" 'Re states with finality.
"I don't ever want to see your face again," Logan sneers in menace.
David kicks in with his Big Man voice to Logan at the threat. Balls to the wall, oh, he WILL be heard.
"With all due fucking respect, you seem like a pretty dangerous, on-edge motherfucker. And I am just not too God damned comfortable with her leaving with you. Frankly, Man, I don't know if you're going to be throwing HER up against a wall later on over this. Or if you'll get all pissed off and claw-like one morning if the eggs ain't over easy properly!"
Logan snarls while moving to regain a more combative stance. David's going places in his relationship no one has the right to go.
"No, David!" 'Re yells in defense. "He would never do that...!" but her voice falters at the end of the statement. Like a flash of memory that blinked before her eyes and stifled the conviction in her words. An abrupt slam of unspoken realization punctuated by a dull thud. A female back hitting drywall resulting in a surprised forced exhalation. The burning imprints of fingers desperately clutching her shoulders to keep her from leaving during an impassioned fight. Her face falls slightly as those words were uttered. She then steals a glance at Logan who caught the inflection, knowing what caused it. He looks at her with a ghost of guilt in his darkened eyes. No, he swore to himself that night. He would never do that... again.
David watches the look they shared while measuring the weight and cadence of her words. His jaw twitches and firms in realization and understanding at her unshed admission. Due to his many years on the streets, he has learned to read messages in looks and unspoken words like a blind man knows Braille. His back steels in his own conviction. He's made up his mind. He should have known to trust his instincts from the door. And he will gladly take this guy's femur – or whatever fucking bones those are – in his gut if he knows he's on the side of the angels. And the thought of anyone manhandling this woman he's grown to seriously care about is righteousness enough.
David straightens up to his full length and without fear takes a couple of steps towards Logan, his dark brown gaze firm in his eyes. He talks slowly and with no wavering in his resolve.
"Man, I don't know what you do, who you are, or what'ch you're all about. I don't fucking care." His face is stern. He points and gestures with authority. "But if anything happens to even one little hair on her head and it's YOU and ME."
Logan steps closer to his challenge, adding more wildness to his physical menace. "What happens to her is my business, not yours."
David doesn't stifle a short laugh. "Again- with all due FUCKING respect, great fucking job you've been doing so far…" David's not backing down, and not allowing any quarter.
"That's enough!" 'Re yells, trying to physically inject herself between them again. "You are going too far, David."
Sucking his teeth and gasping in frustration at her, he backs up slightly and addresses her in his loss of patience.
"Nothing's too far! There is no 'far enough' when it comes to you, Girl!" David then shifts his look back at her always absent boyfriend. The erratic, violent one she's been defending. The one David thinks doesn't deserve her. "And he should know that already."
The two men stare at each other. Their mutual distaste is clear. Yet, between the men, their look reflects a certain regard. They tested each other, drew their own respective lines in the sand. Made it particularly clear what their stances are. Logan sized this fool up. He knew he could tear him apart within seconds. But in David's eyes, he could see that he didn't care. David's eyes... clear, defiant, like ice in his convictions. His stare... cold, remorseless, ready to throw down in his determination. His fierceness and resolve only partially concealing an inherent wild mischievousness in the face of an almost assured defeat. Logan had to admit to himself 'how remarkable' in a man in the face of personified danger. Almost an honorable stupidity. Stupid just the same.
"I'm going," 'Re interrupts in defeat, so exhausted and frustrated in the men's obvious intent on posturing and aggression. Supposedly the fight was about her but with her having neither say nor effect on the combatants. She throws her hands and starts to walk out of the alley, though slowing the closer she gets to the street.
The farther 'Re walks from Logan, the harder the invisible tug to her grows. All between the two men now with her absence is space and opportunity. Yet neither takes advantage.
Logan, steps forward once to David. The other, unmoving, maintaining his stare and stance. Logan decides he should impart some wisdom on this 'boy' with an aggressive grimace. "You should stand the fuck down when you are obviously outmatched and outmuscled, asshole." Logan then slowly turns to follow 'Re whose steps slowed considerably to stall.
David cracks a sardonic half-grin. "Not in my nature. You'll see that soon enough," he ends with a head nod.
"You talking about natures here, Bub?" Logan waves his closed fist above him while continuing towards 'Re to follow her. Thick streams of blood still congealing to the back of his hands like grotesque red paint trails.
David slowly trails out of the alley behind them, Black shadowing him within arm's length. David continues to regard the confrontation and the woman in contest, gritting his teeth in dissatisfaction in the outcome. "Yeah, I think we understand each other, Long-Gone," he mutters to Logan's retreating back.
'Re had slowed her deliberate stroll to a linger at the mouth of the alleyway, pausing and turning to make sure Logan was behind her. The closer Logan gets to her position, his pace quickens, barely brushing past her as he took the left to the sidewalk of the side street. 'Re is startled as he breezed past her so abruptly, looking after him with a distressed look her face. She then glances back into the alley, to David. Her face softens and her eyes fall at how badly everything had turned out. As David approaches closer she realizes how quickly Logan is now pacing and starts after him again, calling for him to slow, her thin heels shuffling beneath her haste.
David and his companion finally make it to the end of the alley, to the sunlight of the street. He watches 'Re's jogging form running after that erratic and still slightly stumbling man of hers. Logan, in his full exit of the area, proceeds to hold his head again in the evident waves of confusion if not complete disorientation he exhibited when he was in that bloody rage and attacked the brick wall. David's eyes crease in disbelief. The heavy hand of his best friend on his back reminds him that it all really did happen. And as he turns to say something to Black, David also remembers it all happened in public, at his usual haunt. Where everybody knows him. Shit.
He looks back to gage Logan. The distance was far enough now. Can't leave shit like this.
The bystanders started to snicker a little louder. David is now more aware of how the whole fight looked, especially when the other guy is George Jefferson-walkin off into the sunset with the girl. Fuck. And he has to live here. Dammit.
Clear the throat, adjust the groin to the left, stand straighter, cock the head back…
"Yeah! You got me?" Now project using the diaphragm. Make sure the arm gestures are exaggerated and forceful. "We Munroes- we don't stand down, lie down or kneel down! Come at us the wrong way, we throwing down, you understand me?" Now look around real quick to gage how the others are reacting to your in-the-street taunt.
Black just comes up behind close to David, keeping his eye on the retreating form of Logan, just in case he DOES turn back. David continues in his weak taunt, Black swears theatre is in his friend's blood. "When you learn to properly care for your woman, holla back. Otherwise I'm in the side of your eye and all in your ass! Until SHE tells me different!" That should do it.
"Growlin ass sonovabitch," David mumbles in a more normal turn. He pivots to find Black beside him. David smirks while still continuing his long distance posturing by proxy. "He ain't doing shee-it. I'll take a baseball bat over bone any day."
"Oh-Kay, Munny. Whatever," Black chuckles at his friend humoring him with wide eyes. He takes advantage of David's back being turned from the departing couple during their conversation and takes David by the shoulder to try to direct him back into the club with a heavy handed pat. "Let's get a drink," he knows his best friend needs one, and so does he for that matter cause Sonny was right. This was a new one. Mutants. Yes, that IS some shee-it.
David shrugs him off and walks back towards the street to keep an eye on the departing couple. He knows it's not over for him. Not for a long shot.
"Logan, wait!" 'Re shouts, trotting behind him unprogressively in her heels. He is only a few steps ahead of her, but his distance is too far for her. And it's been too long a time since last she's seen him for him to be so far.
Logan barely dodges a pedestrian while walking purposefully, holding his head to abate the pounding and the noises. The jungle's coming back for him. The noises, the yelling and then David's taunting. He almost just killed a man just now. He's almost about to real soon if the motherfucker doesn't shut up. He grunts and bends over trying to still everything around him. A high pitched tinny rings in his ears.
"Logan!" She's caught up to him. Panting while she bends over to find his face. "What is it? What's happening?"
He remains bent over, resting his hands on his knees. His eyes stay fixed on the gray sidewalk beneath him, trying to quell the beginning of nausea. With each breath he does an inventory. Okay. Concrete, not grass. Those feet, the hand on his back. That's 'Re. He's back. Back in New York. Back with her. It's all over. Whatever happened back there, it's gone now. He attempts to straighten up and begin walking again but suddenly everything grows disoriented again. Like it was back at the LZ, waiting for the others. While under the effects of the morphine. These waves of sick he thought were gone during the couple of hours ride back. Something must have brought them back, exacerbated it. The shock and anger of the thing with 'Re and- He groans again and clutches his stomach. Through his shirt clothes he feels wetness.
At his pain, 'Re screams to him again. Just give him a damn minute, he says to himself. He looks up and sees a stoop leading up to an entrance to a building. "Wait- a fucking second. Just let me-" and he slowly straightens himself, just reaching to the banister to pull himself to sit on the stairs.
At the sight of small spots of blood below his ribs beginning to seep through his t-shirt, 'Re silently gasps and backs up in shock. Her eyes go wide at the thought of him bleeding. Instinctively she looks around as if for help. She looks back and sees David and his friend leaning up against the lamppost outside the alleyway down the block. No, it didn't happen back there, she remembers. Logan roughly sits on the worn marble stairs and leans back to touch that sore spot on his torso again, sucking his teeth, cursing low to himself and then holding his head with his elbows resting on his knees. Muttering unintelligibly in between moans, quieting the physical pain while sorting through the stuff in his head.
'Re slowly lowers herself beside him, a step lower, trying to see his face through his hands.
"What the fuck was that, 'Re?" he growls unaggressively through the many levels of hurt.
"What was what, Logan?" she answers softly. "Are you in pain? Why are you bleeding there?"
He gives off a short, sardonic grunt. "That, Woman. What the fuck were you doing back there with-"
"There was nothing going on," she answers flatly, slightly sucking her teeth. "I told you."
"Fuck what you told me. I have eyes. What are you doing out with some guy?"
"David- He's just-" How stupid she feels right now. In hindsight, maybe he was a bit too friendly. "They're my friends, Logan. I was just out-"
"No. No friends." He says this like a finite conclusion. A Golden Rule never to be broken. "We have no friends, 'Re. It's just you and me."
"What?" the realization to his obtuseness hits her like a slap. "'No friends?' What does that mean? I just stay upstairs-?"
"-by myself all the time? For days, weeks-?"
"Yes. There you stay safe. Stay there until I get back. Waiting for me-"
"I WAS waiting for you!" That fire again in her belly. First lit then quickly extinguished when she tried to ultimatum him months ago for a change in their lifestyle. "Every day I waited for you. That's not fair, Logan. You can't have it both ways. That's not right. It doesn't work that way."
"'It doesn't-'" Logan spits out a mordant chuckle. Fucking Maverick, again. His absolute insistence that Logan's leaving the Team would neither happen nor be allowed. "Why is everybody telling me that?" 'Re looks at him in annoyed confusion to his reference. "It HAS to. Or else it will all-" but she's about to retort again. Her eyes watery in emotional fury dampened with confusion. Those eyes, they look like-
"Jesus Christ!" Logan spits out in his reactive cringe to the flashback. That girl- Why didn't she listen to him- Why didn't she- 'Re flinched along with Logan's shout, watching him holding his head again more confused than ever.
"Jesus... Re- you don't understand-"
"I want to understand!" He never explains. The constant walling out one side of his life to the one he shares with her is getting to be too much. "Please... Why?"
The slight desperate whine to her question makes him flinch again to the memory of the girl in the jungle. "Stop! Stop that-"
"Wha- what am I doing?" she almost pales at his visible pain.
"God... Re. I almost-" his voice is choking. She's still in his head. That girl. She's staring at him, demanding an answer.
He had no answer for her. They were orders. He was following through on his orders. She got in his way. The 'frails'- they always get in the way. "I didn't come for this. From so fucking far."
"What happened?" she leans closer to him. He never says anything about where he goes or why he must leave time and time again. She is hoping this some sort of breakthrough. He'll finally tell her something to make everything about their solitary lives make sense.
"You never would have known." That was the last thought in his head before he went down back there in the jungle grasslands. 'Re. She never would have known. As his face met the earth he knew this was his last time and she would have been waiting forever.
"Please tell me."
"I almost fucking di-"
Across the street, a shopkeeper closes the security gate for the evening. The fierce series of clacking so close in proximity jars Logan with the sounds' resemblance to gunfire. He's back there. Back in the jungle. As he stares out into the unseeing distance, thick vines of suffocating green starts to creep and overtake the street before him. The sounds of the children nearby playing a form of localized tag around the legs of passing by adults, mailboxes, garbage cans and parked cars begin to morph into the audio of frightened screaming, panicked footfalls and cries for sanity. Feckless laughter of flirting teenagers idling on street corners remix into shouts of position or the last spontaneous syllables of prayer.
Through the haze he hears 'Re. Screaming to him. Logan. No. Please don't do this again. What is he doing, he asks with his blank eyes and gaped mouth. His nails in his anxiousness digs into his hands, the last bodily reflex to regain reality. Behind the percussion of explosions and the ever-constant staccato of gunfire, white static noise as if from an open channel radio grows in intonation. Talk to her, he hears 'Re screaming. Come out of it and tell her what happened. Her voice fades further and further into the periphery.
But she's gone now. It's the jungle. With its screams and the rapid fire. The explosions and the smoke. Red mixing with green and then the white hotness leading to the slow stinging burn. The white noise it grows. It seems to fill up his spacial existence.
Westside! KKRCK Report! It's all gone to shit!
No! He didn't want to be here again!
And with the visual cacophony, along comes the voices, more noises to add to his disorientation. The faces of the people constantly challenging his resolve and his choices. Their taunting words.
David's resolute, angry face, questioning his worth. "Who you are-"
Silverfox joins him with a sarcastic smirk and mouthing words, twirling her finger around her midsection pantomiming his injury. "Slop-ee."
"What you do- What'ch you're all about- Nothing's too far!" David shouted. Logan cringes now like a corrected schoolboy.
"My nature," he repeats to himself. On this stoop and back in that alley.
"It doesn't work that way," Maverick's stern voice of finality.
"Watch it, Dickless!" Victor Creed's throwaway mock behind his back after that innocent's kill.
Logan, your position! Where are you?!
"Matter of time," Wraith's flat, gravelly voice. His eyes just as lifeless. Like he knew something. Like he knew this would happen. Like the acts of wars were always a smoke's wisp away.
"Frail," the word poured out of Creed's mouth like crystallized syrup. "Don't let the skirts throw ya!"
"Porque?" The girl. Her eyes. Her heartbeat competing with a timer...
KA-THUMP KA-THUMP tick tick tick... BOOM-
Beside 'Re on the street, Logan reacts again as if to an explosion. His head wrenches back in pain to 'Re's astonishment and he holds his ears to quell the noise she does not hear. A high pitched ring like his ear drums were punched through with a vengeful fist. Below that brain-piercing sound, muffled greatly, the radio in his head. The panicked cries of a female dueling with that of the woman beside him... Man down! Man down!
It all goes white.
Where it's blue and white, with the woman sitting immediately before him providing the only browns, Logan holds his ears in pain. In this cobalt world of his subconscious, he also fights the images and voices training down upon him like a freight train. In this internal space of Logan's self-imposed reflections, which has stood as the launching pad of all his forgotten memories, his 'rememories' as his long unremembered visitor 'Re calls them, he fights desperately against these recollections still.
This vision of 'Re, long deceased but now re-imagined and re-alized, sits on her knees in front of him trying patiently to refocus him. To help him from fighting himself; to stop him fighting things that cannot be changed, only recognized, re-evaluated and accepted.
"Logan... let it go. Let it come forth," she speaks calmly but with purpose to talk him out of his fugue.
"No- I can't," his voice is choking. He doesn't want to see what happened in the rememory. Still doesn't want to see now. He came here, to this cobalt world, to remember, but he didn't want this. Not these memories. "I am-"
"You have to see, Logan. You said you wanted to see."
But he said, years ago, he didn't want to know anymore. The little bit, and it was scarcely nothing, that he learned about his past, how he became the adamantium-laced mutant that he is now, told him it wasn't worth it. On the shore of Alkali Lake, when he ripped out and threw down his dogtags, he swore to himself that he would move on. Start from there. Live on with his life. Never look back again.
But it wasn't that easy, he realized later. What he didn't want to come forth was destroying the little happiness he allowed himself in this world of Xavier's he started to nest in. But it was all coming back. The memories from his past. Shaking him for attention. Both in his night times and in waking life. Wanting its recognition. He couldn't run away from what- From who-
Who am I?
Years ago, Logan asked a question. Buried up to the knuckles in the underarm of a man grimacing in the agony Logan and his claws were subjecting him to in his heartless interrogation, Logan wanted answers.
"Who am I?" Logan demanded with bared teeth and the promise of slow murder in his eyes to the man who taunted him with his knowledge.
Stryker. The man who took it all away. The man Logan depended on to give it all back.
Through his pain, Stryker still laughed. He knew he wasn't expendable yet. Wolverine still needed him. Stryker had his secrets. Logan's secrets. He still had a chip to bargain with though as hopeless as the stakes were.
With an anguished yet triumphant look, Stryker drawled out his reply, "If you really knew..."
He gave no answers. Stryker never intended to.
"If you really knew about your past... What kinds of person you were!"
But his desperate taunts haunt Logan still. They've floated around in his head, in this blue, blue subconscious world ever since.
Hearing the voice of the man floating around her, 'Re is determined to cut through the malicious mocking to help Logan find his answer. "You must remember, Logan."
"No. I don't want to anymore, 'Re. Stop this. Make this stop."
"This is what you wanted, Logan. What you came here to see."
Who has the answers, Wolverine?
Logan opens his eyes and looks desperately back at 'Re. "I came here to see you." He wants the good times. He wants to remember the happiness he once shared with the hopes that maybe he could find that internal peace again with another person.
"You came for the truth," she responds sternly. There is no happiness without some struggle. Nothing, not life, not even death, comes without the other side of pain. Avoiding one does not make the other come so easy. "Don't turn away now."
If you knew the kind of person you used to be...
"No. I don't want to anymore," he shuts his eyes again, gripping his hair. He fights harder.
You're an animal then, you're an animal now!
"What happened, Logan? Only you can see it."
People don't change, Wolverine.
He's panting faster. Stryker is louder as if sitting upon his shoulders.
"An animal…" he weakly counters.
"I'm an animal," He pulls his head down further almost in a fetal position above his lotus bent knees.
"No, you know different!" She shouts in frustration.
She's unable to bring him out of this cycle of self-pity and insecurity. Stryker, along with Logan's many other mental demons, are dominant here. Here in this safe place Logan has unknowingly cultivated for years within him. This place where even the actualized inner wall where in his wiped past he had kept one side of himself from the other, the "animal" and the man, remains here, broken and in pieces, shattered finally with the process that stole his memory. Only now in the last few years in the safest place for all mutants has he been able to begin to find balance. Balance and the tools to merge the man and the personified residual effects of his mutantcy. Here he still allows his guilts and personal torments to inhibit him.
'Re's face fixes into a look of slightly familiar determination. She knows one sense of comfort she can arm herself with. A person who will rouse him to motivation. The one anchor in his life that will spur him to unlatch and release all of his defensive armor, giving him reason to lay them about his feet.
She closes her eyes and holds her hands above his head. Her mouth twitches in distaste with Stryker's voice still resonating trying to offset her efforts.
She holds one hand in front of Logan's closed off face. Fingers preparing for movement.
"No-! That's who- An animal! A killer!" Logan screams. 'Re's middle finger and thumb join to quickly-
Logan's head rebounds with the sharp sound. Fingers snapping. But the audio joined with the paper-like snip of a photograph being flicked in his face.
"What I do and who I am are two different things."
Logan's eyes open to the familiar, soft voice of his best friend. He sees her, as he did a few years back. Her face wearied and dirty from their recent mission. A mission that went bad. They are sitting on the floor, uniforms partially undone, unkempt, filthy from battle resting in a metallic hallway of the sub-basement below Xavier's mansion. The first moment of peace after the gunfire and the angry men. The screams of powers unleashed and bodies falling. The fierce close combat and the blood. There was blood. There was blood on the arms of her uniform, drying, congealed. Her face still carried the salty traces of tears that cut through the traces of smoke and ash on her face.
After her statement, she had closely regarded Logan. Looking at him for any response to her personal statement of being. Challenging him to do the same.
"This 'Storm'. A storm is a thing. I am more than a thing, a wielder of abilities or mutant powers. Beyond that is a person." She had broken her stare at him for a moment, her eyes went distant as if to remember a long held regret. "I've made mistakes. I live with them everyday." She brought her eyes back to him, harder than before. "That's what I must do. WHO I am."
He looked up at her from his newly revealed cigar back then, in the hallway. He arched an eyebrow, waiting for the point to her impromptu speech.
"Wolverine. Do you know the difference?" she wanted an answer. With the nature of questions, the arched intonation her voice had to make belied the hoarseness from the previous minutes' impassioned screaming. She was emotional then. Upset at the actions that she felt were necessary for the resolution of the mission. How quickly she turned the situation and conversation back to him. How remarkable.
He met her eyes without pause, always up to a challenge of any sort. "Yes."
She kept her gaze on him. Not judging, that would be another set of looks. More regarding. Reading behind his throwaway tone translating the texture of his answer. Unwavering in her analysis of him. Eyes he recognizes well now after the recent rememory.
After a stretch of silence, her eyes went wide and she flashed her palms flagging her impatience in his not going further. "So?"
"So?" he spit back, annoyed. What did she want? A dissertation?
"Are you just 'The Wolverine'?"
He gave her a short, amused grunt. If she wanted self-analysis, she was going to the wrong guy. "That's all what I am, Darlin," he spoke out to the air, reveling in the sight of his soon to be enjoyed smoke.
"Not 'what'. 'WHO'," she spoke quickly and resolutely with pointed finger. Like a rule of titanium never to be broken. "Never 'what'. Remember that." He looked at her cautiously, not understanding. She laid her head back on the wall, tilting, brows still furrowed in the finality in her words, still waiting for an answer. He frowned at her, about to tell her where to stuff her questions. She interrupted without hesitation.
Before him and his eyes lost in that recent scene of his present, 'Re pushes still beyond the memory.
Ororo's lips thin, waiting for her answer. "Tell me about 'Logan'."
Logan pants again and closes his eyes shut in the subconscious world. He closes his eyes to the sub-basement and the determined, waiting eyes of Ororo. Her voice floats about still, asking for his answer.
"Remember," 'Re continues. "Show me, Logan."
It's all rushing back at him from those scant moments of quiet during the hallway flashback. The noises of the jungle. The street sounds of the alleyway fight. Even the white noise from the radio. Stryker's voice still wants attention. 'Re's calming cadence pushing him to continue. Ororo's flatly placed questions.
"You know what happened, Logan." 'Re speaks into his face. "You know..."
"You do know there is a 'Logan', right?" Ororo pushed further. "I want to know-"
If you really knew-! Stryker crooned to goad Logan in the biting Canadian cold.
It's overwhelming. The voices of taunting, pushing, egging. The white noise of radio static occasionally broken by shouts grow until it surrounds him like an avalanche. He's fighting. 'Re grits her teeth as he doesn't let go. Stop fighting, she says below what would have been breath.
"No- I don't know. Stop-"
One more. One more should do it.
'Re's face is determined yet calm like the visage of a saint's statue in a grandmother's kitchen. "Remember, Logan. Remember why..."
Logan's eyes open to Ororo's voice again. She is different, livelier here. Her face is smiling, she is playful, teasing without malice in her easy way, the way she is in private with him. They are outside beyond the mansion on Xavier's grounds, by the lake. Their lake he dared to call it after a while. It was nighttime under the brightest moon in recent memory. Weeks ago. Before the little life he started to be comfortable with and build at Xavier's all went to shit. Her bright eyes competing and winning against the moon's light. She had snapped a photograph in his face out there then, challenging him for an explanation of the image's contents, laughing, already knowing. He was laughing with her at that time. He is smiling now. That night, everything was going to change. Everything between the two of them. He was going to- He really wanted to- But then it all went wrong.
"So-? Tell me the story, Logan?" She giggled then. He smiled in response and moved in closer...
He wants to answer her. He wants to go to her and give her an answer finally. He needs to. He has to make it all right. Reverse what went wrong. He'll tell her. He'll show her.
The image in the picture in her hand, it's moving. The image is green. Green and brown. It's moving forward, moving faster. It's like an overgrown pathway of flora. And he's running. Running in the picture; within the picture. The image in the photo grows larger. The white noise of the radio shouting in chaos grows again. That and the sound of his footsteps. The image overtakes him with Ororo's smiling face falling into the periphery. He is running. Running faster. The trees, they're all around him now. Must run faster. He is-
in medias res
(Confused? A lot of shit going on? Yup. Imagine how Logan feels. Count to two – two days – and get an answer and resolution. Well, one resolution. Not all. That would be too easy.)