Back in the Day: The Legend of Logan's Kin
Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, and other suggestive parts; I will warn beforehand
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or lyrics of any songs I place in my story, although I do wish I did.
A/N: Set in the 1870s, stylized like a western, but only partially takes place in the Wild West, I've taken the whole concept of romance and fueled it through my favorite couples (visit my profile page to read which ones if you haven't already guessed). I did do some research (thank goodness for libraries!), and tried my best to write as they would have talked in the nineteenth century, but the final product could be debated. And please let me know how it went (I'll give you props for making it all the way to the end)...now on to the story!
Anna Marie died today at exactly twenty minutes after three in the afternoon, and we are sorry for it.
She was hanged for killing Mr. Cody Robbins and her guardian, a man called "Logan." We speculate it is not his real name. Nor her real guardian.
The coroner announced that Mr. Cody Robbins was left for dead behind his family's property. His mother, God bless her, found her boy lifeless in the fields, after Anna Marie came running to tell her what had happened. He was killed a most curious way; was kiss, she admitted. They had known each other their whole lives and he had fancied her his sweetheart, saying he would marry her someday. We did not think his death would come from loving her so.
When they finally caught her, she was snarled so tight in her own dismay, a carpetbag half-packed, "Logan" dead at her feet. An accident, she claimed it. Dog bites are accidents; murder is another matter entirely.
And so she was hanged. And we all thought so highly of her; even when her body swayed at the will of that rope; poor Anna Marie, we said.
But that is the way of the world, these days and in the days of old. Of witch hunts and teetotalers and politics and such.
And of mutants, of course.
Part One: Mississippi Line
1. The Raging Storm
Caldecott, Mississippi: 1873
Do I cry, in the night?
Do I long to hold you tight?
And do I wake, wanting you?
Yes I do
Do I recall, everyday,
How you took my breath away?
Do I remember loving you?
Yes I do...
Something was wrong.
Anna Marie shifted in bed, her long auburn locks falling unto her pillow. The girl stared blankly at the ceiling above her bed, noticeably weathered in disrepair.
Must remind Logan, she told herself, tearing off the covers and leaving her room. The cock hadn't crowed. It was still early morning, and the sun was sleeping. The world was sleeping. Anna Marie was not. She was looking for Logan.
He was sitting up in his bed, face buried in his hands. Anna Marie had never seen him so distraught and she put it upon herself to fix it.
"Logan—" She knelt down in front of him, taking his hands into hers— "what's dah matter?" He stared past her, his thick, muscular figure off-set by the weak moonlight fighting through the clouds floating outside his window. The room was dark except for a small, orange light by Logan's side. He sighed, something he rarely did in front of Anna Marie, and a chord of alarm struck inside the girl.
"Nuthin.'" Anna Marie knew he was lying, gazing quietly into his sad, weary eyes. A storm was raging in those grey pools for a reason. He was thinking about her again.
"Talk tah me, Logan. Fer yer sake." Still he would not speak. Anna Marie joined him on the bed and put her head against his shoulder. This was one of his better nights; sometimes he'd wake up thrashing and yelling or he'd just leave all together and Anna Marie would not hear from him until at least three days later, when he was finally tuckered out from liquor and women and whatever else he did while he was away.
The man growled and shifted uneasily, smelling her worry. The way she said those words made him ache.
And just when Anna Marie thought he'd simply clam up before shoving off, Logan spoke.
"Ro." His voice was barely a whisper; he allowed himself a smile. "Ororo Munroe." The girl had heard that name before; Logan would sometimes call for her in his sleep. "There's this house in Philadelfy along the common highway. It's green with a white fence and shutters and roses growing up the walkway. She tends her plants all the time; I've watched her with those rain clouds…" Logan broke off then, as if catching himself becoming sentimental. A look of reluctance and regret knitted his brow and he shut pan, refusing to continue.
Anna Marie's words were hard to collect. "What e'er happened tah her?" But Logan shook his head hopelessly, that smile sure as gone from his face.
"I don't know," was the answer, but it was not enough for Anna Marie.
Nothing was ever enough between them.
Yes I do dream of all we had together
Yes it's true we lost it all forever
Do I pray anyway?
Yes I do…(1)
2. Anna Marie called Rogue
near Caldecott, Mississippi: 1877
It was a sweltering hot day in September as Anna Marie was being read her charges to be put to death in front of a crowd banded with pitchforks and knives and torched straw. "…For the murder of Cody Robbins and Mr. Logan (no last name known) just this morning, bodies found about two hours apart…" She closed her eyes, if only to shut out the misery unfolding all around her. She had watched them haul away Logan's lifeless body and burn the house to the ground with all her mother's good plates and Italian curtains and wrap-around porch, only to discover later that they had saved her for last, and tied the rope taut around her neck. She should not be lynched like this, but Mississippi did not charge murderers based on mutant powers. So the town decided to hang her as justice must be served after all.
It was a lovely Sycamore they had chosen specifically for the occasion. Rogue would never have known who or what was forcing her off its branches, but she remembered the tree, sturdy and strong for the burden it would bear soon enough.
The man behind her asked if she had any last words. Anna Marie wanted to say she never asked to be a mutant, but the crowd taunted her as Mrs. Robbins wailed for her son's life and yelled that Anna Marie would rot in hell for the deeds she had done. "Yah varmint! Dirty, mutant rogue! Not e'en sorry, dah bitch!" She sneered that last word; a condemnation just like all the others she had hurled at her all day. Just as well, Anna Marie supposed, better off dead, a mutant like me.
They draped the black cloth about her head and fixed the noose tighter, taking great care not to touch her. A man's voice rang loud and clear over the hisses and cackles of the crowd. "May God have mercy on your soul." Such a Christian touch; Logan would've been beside himself with their feverish, Baptist ways. Someone shoved her off then, and with nothing but the noose holding her up, she hung there, swaying between the Sycamore's branches.
Even in the end, she gave them what they wanted; always a fighter, good for show, she dangled uselessly above their heads until she went limp altogether. The mob cheered in her defeat. But the rope had been carelessly wound and did not trap the air in her lungs. Because they dared not touch the girl who'd taken the ones she herself loved.
She cut her hands free with the dagger that Logan made her take, so by the time the last person left, she was already sawing the rope above. It was a wonder how she made it in time, how she finally dropped to the ground and promised never to take the good old earth for granted again. Pulling the black cloth off her head, she coughed and sputtered until all she could do was lie there in her own mess, waiting until the breath would come back to her. And when it did, she took to running, as far and as fast as she could until there wasn't another mile left in her worth trekking.
Four Hours Before
Logan was a strange man with a stranger past who lived with a girl named Anna Marie in the then tiny town of Caldecott, Mississippi. They weren't related, but no one would believe it since they practically acted like family. In fact, they were all they had left: her folks had packed up and shipped away somewhere far while Logan had left everything behind up North to go find South so he could curl up and die.
Eight years ago, the two bumped into each other, had an argument over tomatoes, and ended up staying together ever since. They were known in Caldecott as the girl and her guardian. The two never had much money, but Anna Marie had a home and that sure was good enough for the both of them.
The friends knew each other very well, so when Anna Marie came running up the path to meet Logan, he had eight years of experience to know something had gone terribly wrong.
Her face was streaked with dirt and tears, but when she finally reached her friend, she did not immediately run into his arms, astonishing him and he could smell the fear on her, quicker than she came into view.
"Marie-" Logan couldn't stand calling her Anna Marie; he figured it long and fussy. "Marie, what's goin' on?" He glanced over her dirty face, streaked with filthy tears. His gaze hardened some. "You're a mess…"
She didn't wait for him to finish. "Ah don't know…Ah don't know…" she wiped at her cheeks and the stench of blood—her blood—wrestled with his nose, and then with his heart. She had tripped somewhere in her rush to return, her hands and knees scuffed but forgotten by the time she got to him. And if she were in pain, she sure didn't show it. "It was an accident…"
Her distressed tone made his breath catch. "Marie…?"
"Ah juss kissed him!" Her voice trilled shrilly, making him cringe. "An' then…" Rogue's eyes flitted to him in horror. "An' then Ah kilt him!"
Logan did nothing but let his jaw hang open. Maybe he was surprised, but all he felt was confused. "How could you do both?"
"Ah don't know, Logan! Ah don't know!" She was slipping into a conniption fit and Logan always hated her hysterics. "Somethin's wrong with me, Logan. Ah juss touch someone an'…an' they die!" She stopped talking and sobbed for a time. "An' there's a mob after me, threatenin' tah lynch me good…"
"Mob!" This Logan understood. He peered down the road and saw the angry crowd just at the end of the road, making its way up their path. "Mutant! Freak! Cherry (2)!" If he didn't know any better, he might have believed them to be yelling at him... Quickly, Logan motioned for the house. There was little time to spare and still so much to do.
"What am Ah gonna do?" Anna Marie wept, not expecting an answer. She sat on the ground, watching as Logan paced the floor, deliberating. He then proceeded to open the closet door and remove his luggage.
"We're leavin'." He threw a lamp into the case, making Anna Marie jump to her feet.
"Where?" she asked as Logan tossed in some bread.
"North. I have friends there..." He paused, vaguely wondering if that were still true. Eight years was a long time to go a-missing…Logan turned to Anna Marie, his expression drawn stern. "If we get separated (which I highly doubt), keep going North—it's the safest place for you. Charles Xavier will help you…can you remember that? Wait for me there."
Anna Marie had never seen him so concerned. Not since the fox got in the hen house and killed all their birds while they slept. She nodded, not exactly sure what answer he wanted to hear. "Y-yes, Logan. Ah'll look for a Charles Xavier up North."
"An' don't tell anybody where you're headin'—got that?" He handed her his dagger, kept faithfully in his boot, although he never had to use it in Caldecott before. "Chase the North and look for Xavier. I'll find you there."
Anna Marie did not have to ask what the weapon was for; she took it without hesitation. "Not a soul," she vowed. And then there came a banging at the door, startling both friends inside. Logan immediately grabbed Anna Marie's bare hand, intending to drag her out the back, completely forgetting about what happened the last time she directly touched someone. The sensation was as if his innards were being sucked clean from his body, and he dropped to the floor, cold as hoarfrost, as soon as Anna Marie was able to pry her hand loose.
The girl fell to screaming over Logan's unconscious body, and she was still screaming when the mob burst into the room. There was no question about it, after one man stooped to check Logan's pulse: kaput.
They pulled her still shrieking after them out of the house.
3. The Infamous Philanderer
Location Unknown: 1877
Anna Marie awoke, lying face down in the dust. She glanced around, her eyes squinting at the brightness of the sun. The air was dry and tight; dirt gathered and choked her worse than that California collar she managed to cut free from around her neck.
"Simply horrible," the girl muttered to herself, absently rubbing the rope burns at her throat. Her dress was wrinkled and filled with earth that she shook off the best she could, and when she felt right, Rogue got to her feet. Or at least tried to. She couldn't remember how she got to where she was but it sure didn't look familiar.
How ironic. Even in those days, it was ironic. Ironic nobody woke her up. Ironic nobody found her.
Ironic she wasn't killed.
She slowly got to her feet. Her back ached, but that didn't surprise her. One step. Two step. It wasn't far, but it was progress. She needed to get on, even though she wasn't certain where she was at the moment.
The sun was high, so it must have been about noon when she spotted a lone figure on horseback coming towards her. She almost turned to run if it weren't for the fact that he was singing to himself a song that she herself knew:
Chere 'tit zozo quoi t'apre fe? 'Tit z-herbe tout vert, 'tit z-herbe tout moux Quand jou vini n'a p'u soleil
T'apre sauter, t'apre chanter
To pas connais n'a p'us Marie
Marie mouri, Marie mouri
Faut p'us to fais un lit pou nous
To pas connais n'a p'us Marie
Marie mouri, Marie mouri
Quand nuit vini n'a pas sommeil
Quand monde content mo p'us ca ri
Marie mouri, Marie mouri
'Tit z-herbe tout vert, 'tit z-herbe tout moux
Quand jou vini n'a p'u soleil
Anna Marie thought about her options: killing that stranger or stealing his horse or doing it all as well as she could manage. Well, she'd have to do it all quickly, and maybe lift a few silver dollars off his belt while she was at it.
There was no denying it: the man was a city cowboy; she could tell that much from what clothes he was sporting. His wide Stetson was drawn low over his eyes, Levi's jeans belted with shiny silver, Justin's boots polished and shined. But Anna Marie settled her sights on that flashy Colt .45 at his hip and thought of nothing else until he had rode his horse close to where she stood.
"'Scuse me, miss," he said, trying to get by with a tip of his hat. That was when she caught sight of a star on his chest. A star meant sheriff. Sheriff meant arrest, meaning death if he recognized her as that Rogue Murderer from Caldecott. It was enough to drive the girl to reach for his gun and shove the pointer into his ribcage.
"If yah knew any better, you'd get down and throw me anythin' else yah got." The man apparently did know better for he quietly obeyed, keeping his hands in the air. The city cowboy emptied his pockets filled only with chewing tobacco, snuff, some whiskey, and plenty of playing cards. He was a mighty curious kind of sheriff, Anna Marie had to admit. And as she looked over his collection, the man ventured to ask why a girl like her would want to shoot some stranger like him. The question made her laugh in his face.
"What makes yah think this bullet's for yah?" She put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger.
But nothing happened. Even death wouldn't give her a chance.
"Man Alive! Who in Sam Hill carries a gun without bullets?" she cried, throwing the worthless weapon to the ground. The man raised his head slightly, quietly decided that this cherry was mad enough to swallow a horn-toad backwards, and was resolved to figure out why.
"Beb, y' better have a good explanation f' bein' a scalawag when y've no business here." He smoothed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "B'sides, I used all my bullets déjà—dey just wasn't f' y'." He gathered up his belongings as Anna Marie looked on hopelessly, her spirit breaking all over again. The man covertly watched her from the corner of his eye and felt a pang of pity; there was something so graceless and sorry about her that bothered the man enough to face her once more.
"Sont vous a perdu?" he asked. She did not understand, and so he translated: "Are y' lost?" Her eyes lit up frantically and betrayed her confusion.
"No…yes…" He shook his head; she sure as hell wasn't helpful. But he wasn't one to give up so easily.
"Y're from 'round these parts?" He had taken notice of her drawl, an accent too distinctly Southern to have earned her a place elsewhere.
"If we're in Mississippi, then sure." She moved a few spaces from him. "Look, Ah didn't mean to drag yah into this, so if yah went on yah way…"
"Ga Lee," he hissed in realization making her heart skip a beat. "Y're thet Rogue Mutant Murderer from Mississippi, ain't y'? Y's pitchers are plastered all over…"
"It wasn't mah fault, all raht!" She clenched her fist, all in a pucker. "Ah never asted tah be no mutant!" The man, despite himself, frowned at her.
"An' what's wrong w' bein' a mutant?" He removed his hat and Anna Marie could now see, plain as day, his eyes glowing—actually glowing—a curious scarlet tint. She had enough sense to fix her eyes on the ground, embarrassed all to pieces with her blunder.
"Well, don't that juss beat the Dutch," she muttered after a moment. "Ah didn't know yah were…one of them." The man walked around her, those red eyes of his never once leaving the girl's face.
"From de looks of it, y' are too, Miss Rogue Murderer."
"Don't call me that!" she snapped. The man just chuckled at her balderdash. "It was an accident," she added quietly before settling into a deliberate, hasty silence.
The man regarded her for a moment. "Bien, bien. Rogue then, all right?" He offered, not unkindly, and though the girl did not especially like that word, it was far safer than telling him her real name.
"Ah respect that fahne," she said simply. He smiled, showing off all the nice parts of his face that, even in her bind, Rogue took to noticing.
"Remy LeBeau, an' don't y' forget it," he introduced himself, holding out his hand to shake. "Louisiana-born, infamous philanderer of de South, an' sakes alive, mutant t' de bone." Anna Marie now called Rogue did not take his outstretched hand. Instead, she pouted and folded her arms across her chest. "Less than friendly, aren't y'?" he joked lightly, witnessing her obvious withdrawal and finding it somewhat charming.
"Where are we, Mister LeBeau?" she asked, ignoring his observation. Red-Eyes grinned, feeling slighted. He pulled out some chewing tobacco and bit into a plug.
"Well, y' sure made a wrong turn somewhere Miss Rogue; usually when someone like y' needs t' hightail outta de States, they go West." He chewed his tobacco thoughtfully. "But y' plumb missed de Mississippi River altogether. All in all, I'd say y's in Alabama by now. Nothin' t' see, but de food's all right. Whenever I'm in Whistle Stop, I lunch on fried green tomatoes (4)…"
"Man alive, how yah talk!" Rogue suddenly interrupted. "Reckon Ah can get on from here on my own. Thank yah fer yah time, Mister LeBeau… maybe when Ah'm in Nawlins, Ah'll ring yah up an' we can get together and go over how stupid Ah was with yah gun an' all… Oh! An' Ah reckon Ah'd appreciate it if yah denied ever seein' the likes of me anywhere…" She started walking away but immediately stopped when there in the distance came the thundering of hooves. A mob of maybe five men were coming their way. It was enough to send the girl running back to Remy LeBeau who was spitting snuff from his mouth.
"Mister LeBeau!" she cried, pointing at the cloud of dust and dirt which was quickly approaching them. He glanced up, wiped his chops, and actually grinned.
"They've found me!" They both said at once. The two immediately looked at each other and cried, "They've found you?"
Red-Eyes tugged at the bandanna around his neck. "I wasn't plannin' t' tell y', but I'm not exactly de most popular bastard in Alabama."
The world seemed to echo with the beat of her heart and Rogue bit her lower lip. "W-What have yah done?"
The man shrugged. "Among other things…I kinda borrowed a horse…an' never returned it."
"Yah stole a hoss?" The girl was beside herself in shock. "Isn't dat illegal everywhere?!"
"Shucks, Miss Rogue," the thief sighed, feigning remorse, "when y' put it thet way…"
The mob was now a few feet from them and fast approaching. Rogue started sweating in her boots while Remy, unaffected and casual as a summer day, actually began whistling and petting the stolen horse. Less than five minutes later, the front man of the mob jumped from his steed and defiantly pointed a finger at Red-Eyes.
"You, Mister, are under arrest for stealing a man's horse, potentially stranding another by killing his calico, and knocking over an officer in duty."
Remy snorted. "Really? I thought I killed dat last one…" He trailed off, and Rogue waited to see how he could possibly get out of this bind. "Well, gentlemen, I reckon y've accused de right man. But I intend to wake snakes 'fore y' haul my ass in." With that, he pulled out two cards from his front pocket and threw them at the mob with sickening accuracy. It seemed whatever he touched, he charged, and whenever he threw, something exploded. The first one knocked Rogue to the ground and there she was kept for a time.
Remy LeBeau was holding the brutes off pretty well, and he would have continued to raise Jesse if it weren't for someone calling out: "You better quit this ruckus, mutant." Red-Eyes turned and saw that the front man had his arm around Rogue's neck while holding a gun to her temple. There was no denying that this weapon was fully loaded. "The cherry gets it if you don't come with us."
The thief hadn't a chance; he dropped his arms in defeat. Suddenly, things weren't looking so good after all.
That was what he thought, before Rogue managed to find her assailant's bare wrists and press her naked fingers into his skin.
Remy LeBeau had never seen anything like it. The man's whole body seemed to compress as the girl sucked away the rest of his life before anyone could bat an eye. In less than a minute, the man sunk to the ground, cold as a wagon tire, nothing left to keep him upright. The scene suddenly turned chaotic as the rest of the mob fled, frightened as children upon witnessing Rogue's mutant powers.
The girl shivered as she watched them leave, her dirty hair tangled and hanging limply in her face. She knew she could not stay here, pretending to be the Anna Marie she had always been before today. Not after murdering three people before the first one could possibly turn cold. And for once she was grateful that Logan was dead so he could never see the day she turned rogue on this town, probably even this country.
The girl glanced at the thief, her face hard and expressionless. "Lahke Ah said, Mister LeBeau, Ah can take it from here." Her body felt almost leaden by the burden she left behind her and she made to leave, not wanting to stay any longer.
And then, out of the blue, he spoke. "Wait." She stopped at the sound of his voice and lingered until he joined her side. "I don't doubt y' know where y' goin'. But from de looks of it, y' ain't goin' anywhere if y' don't have help." He shrugged uncomfortably, as if he had never offered anything to anybody before. "Granted de train station's far from here an' I got me a horse…"
She looked at him incredulously. He explained it was just an offer—take it or leave it—either way, he wouldn't think any less of her.
Rogue put her bangs behind her ear and blinked, trying to understand what he was saying. "Yah saw what happened…yah know what Ah can do."
He stopped her by taking ahold of her shoulder. Alarmed at his touch, she immediately fell away from him; the last thing she needed was another stranger dead at her feet. But she couldn't stop staring at him, how his eyes burned a brilliant scarlet in the brightness while the sun scorched her face as she looked on, somehow captivated by his daring.
"Rogue, trust me. Out here, dese days…it's all y' can have in a body, an' b'sides, y' cain't ask much more from a thief like me." She knew it was all wrong, trusting a stranger—a bandit and outlaw—she barely met, who had seen for himself all her bad parts and knew she was a threat to society, to herself, to him.
But then she knew there was nothing left for her here. Chase the North and find Xavier, Logan had advised. I'll find you there. She thought of him then, bitterly; her guardian, her friend, dead on her account. She hadn't a clue where to start, how to get up there at all. I'll find you there, he had promised. And looking at Red-Eyes now, she saw the promise materialize; that someone had actually offered to help and she only needed to trust him to get her out of this tired, miserable town. They were on the same side of the Law, she realized then. The mutant side, that is.
They wasted no time getting on that dusty, Alabama road on such a damned sweltering day in September.
It's crazy, I know, to count on this road to give me what I need.
But with every state line, somehow I find, another part of me...
I'm gonna pack my bags and never look back
Run a parallel line with the railroad tracks and make my getaway
I'll put the pedal to the metal as the sun goes down
Leave everybody sleeping in this sleepy town, and by the break of day
I'll be a runaway…(5)
(1) Rascal Flatts. Yes I Do. Not really as sad as I would want it but the lyrics are pretty accurate—you'll see a lot from this band—I used them as inspiration to get that Midwest mood. They aren't half-bad, if you're not keen on country, like I once was.
(2) Vulgar term for a young woman.
(3) Linda Ronstadt's Marie Mouri; translation:
Dear little bird, what are you doing
You are jumping, you are singing
Didn't you know Marie is no longer here
Marie is dead, Marie is dead
Little green grass, little soft grass
You no longer need to make a bed for us
Didn't you know Marie is no longer here
Marie is dead, Marie is dead
When the day comes the sun is no longer there
When night comes there is no sleep for me
When people are happy I can no longer laugh
Marie is dead, Marie is dead
(4) Reference to Fannie Flagg's novel.
(5) Love and Theft. Runaway.
So what do you think? Send me some love…or hate…and review!