A Xenocide Production
A/N: Wow. I didn't really think I'd be motivated enough to write Ch5. this soon. Even though I don't have a great many reviews, the few I've received have given me enough of an ego boost to try my hand again.
~asdfasgh~ = Japanese (I'm trying out a new format. The -- just got annoying after a while. )
Summary: More often than not, a hero's most epic battle is the one you never see. It's the battle that goes on within him or herself. Not all of these battles are won. But neither are they all lost. A crossover with Marvel.
Disclaimer: I own neither Marvel nor Naruto.
Stanger in a Strange Land part 3
Naruto was seated in a cushy office chair, given socks and a somewhat loose t-shirt. His arms were folded across his chest and he was glaring at his captors fiercely.
Logan was leaning nonchalantly against one of the examination tables, mirroring the boy's pose, minus the glare. Spiderman was seated comfortably on the wall, his chin resting in his hand. Reed was seated in another chair across from the boy; not so close as to alarm him but not too far away to restrain him if the need arose.
Logan was the first to speak in the midst of the tense silence. "So when are the Avengers in the business of taking in every stray weirdo they come across?"
"I didn't really have much of a choice," Spiderman said. "Considering how I found him, I don't think it would have been wise to simply dump him in the ER."
"Not to mention the fact that this boy nearly managed to give him the slip," Reed added, still eyeing the boy with caution.
"Well, if he hadn't been struck head on by a car and broken almost every bone in his body, I'd say that he would have had no trouble hiding in the city." Spiderman ducked his head in shame at Reed's words, though neither man took notice of it.
Logan raised a bushy eyebrow and glanced at the boy. "He doesn't look like he just walked away from a hit and run. You're not pullin' my leg, are you?"
"We both saw him after the crash. I hauled him here in about 15 minutes. Before we could so much as put a band aid on him, he completely healed himself in five minutes flat," Spiderman explained.
Logan was silent. Advanced healing factors like his own were extremely rare and it piqued his interest to learn that a small boy seemed to possess the same capabilities as he. It also aroused his suspicion. There had been numerous attempts by various organizations and governments to duplicate him, the so-called perfect weapon. There had been far more failures than successes, but the few experiments that had succeeded were deadly. He found it far too coincidental that this boy would suddenly, literally, appear out of nowhere just as he arrived in New York.
He grunted and then nodded his head at the boy. "You tried talking to him yet? Find out where he came from?"
Spiderman shrugged helplessly. "He speaks Japanese. Or at least, I think that's what it is. It could be Mandarin for all I know."
"He hasn't said a word since he's been brought here," Mr. Fantastic noted. He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. "All he's done is sit and glare, quite frankly."
Logan pushed away from the bed and approached the boy, who refused to shrink away from the intimidating aura the X-Man constantly radiated, though his clear blue eyes shone with wariness. Logan chuckled inwardly in amusement.
Old enough to have some backbone, yet young enough to lack some sense. Reminds me of me at his age.
~So tell me, kid. What's your name?~
The boy's eyes widened in surprise and his lips parted softly. His eyes darted to Spiderman and Reed Richards in rapid succession then back to Logan, obviously bewildered. Logan sighed in annoyance.
~They don't speak your language. I picked it up a while ago and it's come in handy a time or two.~ He scratched his chin nonchalantly. ~Lucky for you I happened to stop by. You probably would have been tossed in a holding cell till they got a translator up here.~
Naruto, still cautious, spoke slowly. ~I haven't done anything wrong. Why am I being kept here?~
~Security reasons, kid.~ Logan pointed a thumb in Spiderman's direction. ~From what Webhead tells me, you appeared in thin air in the middle of Central Park without a stitch of clothing on. You're going to tell me you would have let someone who appeared like that on your turf go on their merry way without asking a few questions?~
Naruto nodded reluctantly. He didn't like it, but it made sense. All he had to do was lie through his teeth, they'd let him go, and he'd be free to track down this Strange guy the Spectre had mentioned…whoever he was. The last thing he wanted to do was attract attention to himself. It would be best if he could just up and be on his way.
~Well? You got a name or what?~ Logan scowled impatiently.
Naruto nodded inwardly. Time to get this over with as quickly as possible. ~Yeah, old man. I got a name. It's Uzumaki Naruto. What about you?~
~Old man, huh? I guess compared to a brat like you, I really am an old man. Name's Logan.~ He pointed at Spiderman, then at Reed Richards. ~The guy that hauled you in is Spiderman. The other one, the absent-minded professor, is Reed Richards.~
Naruto looked at the two appraisingly and Spiderman waved slightly at the mention of his name. Naruto just ignored him. ~What's with the costumes and weird names?~
Logan stared at the boy in surprise. Everyone knew who Spiderman and Reed Richards were. You'd have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades to not know who they were. It was almost as if he'd never seen or heard of a superhero before, much less two of the biggest names in the business.
~In the superhero business, it's not exactly a good idea to run around with your real name and face on display to the world. Unless you're good enough to not worry about it in the first place, like Reed here.~ Logan gauged the boy's reaction. Confusion was rampant on the boy's expression.
~Umm…what's a superhero?~ Naruto's expression was certainly sincere, but it was hard for Logan to grasp the idea that the boy simply had no comprehension of what the world had taken for granted for five decades or so.
~You're not from around here, are you?~
~I— ~ Naruto opened his mouth to speak…and discovered that he was drawing a blank. He searched the recesses of his memory for someplace, any place that he could claim as home and get his interrogators to swallow it. But there was nothing. Nothing except green light in the empty spaces of his memory. ~I can't remember.~
Logan narrowed his eyes. The boy wasn't lying as far as he could tell. He'd been trained to catch the most minute of signs that a person was lying; a shift of the eyes, a rise in heart rate, even the scent of apprehension. No, the boy—Naruto—was simply very confused and lost.
~What's your birthday? How old are you? Who were your parents? What's the last thing you can remember?~
The flood of rapid questions floored Naruto, confusing him even further. ~I—I… can't remember. I just don't know!~ Naruto was slowly coming to grips with the fact that whoever—whatever—he had agreed to serve had left him with the mere basics of who he was. All he had was the clothing he wore, his name, and the disembodied voices that sometimes gave good advice.
"Well, Logan?" Reed prompted.
Logan turned to address his colleagues. "Here's what we've got so far: his name's Naruto Uzumaki, he's Japanese from what I can tell, and he appeared out of thin air with no memories whatsoever of this world or his past. He has a healing factor that's probably damn near close to mine and his speed and strength is enough to put him on par with Webhead."
"Just your normal, everyday scenario, right?" Spiderman quipped brightly. "No day would be complete without some seriously weird shit happening in New York."
"The kid ain't a mutant?" Logan asked quietly. He and Reed were talking in the research room adjacent to the Medlab, both in view of Naruto and Spiderman who were still in their original places.
"Not according to the data I have. His cell show some interesting characteristics, but he most certainly does not have the X-gene."
Logan glanced at the boy, who was gazing blankly at a spot just directly over Spiderman's head. "I don't like this, Reed. Not one bit. Stranger things have happened, I know, but this is just plain odd." He met Reed's eyes, frowning. "A blonde, blue-eyed Asian gets dumped in New York, either of his own free will or against it, with no clothes, no memories of his own, and it just so happens to be that Webhead was patrolling that area and brought him here, and that I happened to stop by Avenger Tower on a random check in."
Reed sighed lightly. "You've more a right than most to be paranoid—"
"Usually because I'm right all the goddamn time," Logan grumbled under his breath.
"—but this is nothing more than coincidence. A strange occurrence, to be sure, but nothing more than that. I'm rather glad that Spiderman brought him by. Can you imagine what would have happened to the poor boy if he had gotten loose in the city? Although…" Reed trailed off thoughtfully.
"Don't leave me hanging, bub. You know how much I hate that."
"It just doesn't seem feasible for the boy to have such a devastating case of amnesia concerning his origins, current world events, and basic geography, only being able to remember his name." Reek shook his head in a manner indicating his perplexment. "It's too fantastic."
"My money's on brainwashing gone wrong," the X-Man said darkly. "Either that or some psychic has fried the kid's brain. Memories aside, I still want to know why the hell he was dumped on our doorstep!"
"That is a question I would like answered as well."
There was a short, thoughtful silence.
"I know the fastest way to take care of this, Reed. Lemme take him up to the Institute and let Ice Queen take a look at him. If there's anything to be found in that empty head of his, she can find it."
"You know how I, along with many other Avengers, feel about unsanctioned and unwanted psychic evaluations, Logan."
Logan opened his mouth—
"And before you try to force some nonsensical claim of how dangerous not purposefully and knowingly violating his privacy is, I remind you of all the times you've been subjected to such treatment."
—and shut it with a growl, his canines snapping together with an audible click.
"You're not being smart, Richards."
"I refuse to engage in any unethical acts without first obtaining his permission, which I find it highly unlikely we'll get."
Reed turned slightly and tapped a few keys on the monitor, where the results of a more detailed scan of Naruto's DNA were being compiled. Logan folded his arms across his chest, annoyed that Reed was being so incredibly dense. Being ethical was all fine and good as long as it didn't conflict with a guy's interests in remaining safe and alive.
"So as long as I get him to agree, I can take the kid to see her?"
"Yes, Logan," Reed said without turning his head from the monitor. "But! You must impress upon the boy the nature of what he'll be subjecting himself. Not everyone is comfortable with placing themselves under so intense a scrutiny such as that of Emma Frost."
"Don't I know it," Wolverine muttered caustically.
"If you do happen to obtain his permission, have him back in two days at the most. I'm sure I'll be able to come up with a more reasonable explanation of who and what his by the time you return."
And with that, the clacking and clattering of keystrokes nearly drowned out the cool hiss of the air conditioning; a clear dismissal if Logan had ever heard one. A scowl on his face, Logan stomped out of the room and back to where the boy and Spiderman were. Logan paused at the doorframe, observing the staring contest between the wallcrawler and the strange boy.
~You know, I think that a wall would have an easier time beating Webhead in a staring contest. I've seen the guy actually fall asleep during a meeting with none the wiser. That mask of his is a pain in the ass.~
Startled, the two broke eye contact and craned their heads in Logan's direction. He stalked forward and dropped down onto a stool in front of the two.
"What's up, Doc?" Spiderman asked cheerfully.
Logan glared and the kid just glanced at him confusedly.
"Oh yeah. Forgot I was dealing with Mr. Too-Badass-For-Humor and his sidekick, Culturally Challenged Kid."
The X-Man snorted in contempt.
"My idea of humor and your own are about as similar to our ideas on fashion." Logan smirked and made a great show of eyeing Spiderman's spandex clad form.
"Hey!" Spidey protested, "I spent a week coming up with this costume!"
"And that makes it any less seizure inducing how?"
Not giving the arachnid a chance to respond, he turned to the kid and addressed him.
~Here's the deal, kid. We think that we may have a way to restore your memories. It's risky, but it's the best plan that we've got.~
Looking slightly suspicious, Naruto asked, ~What plan is that?~
Now, Logan had his own sense of honor and a set of principles. For instance, if he gave his word to someone, whether they be friend or foe, he'd keep it, even if it meant his death. However, when if came to self-preservation, or the safety of those he considered his friends, Logan wasn't above bending his code of morals to ensure that safety.
He despised liars. His life revolved and had been built around lies. He had lived and breathed them for so long that he sometimes felt that people lied just as easily as breathing, if only to perpetuate the lies that ran the rest of the world.
Logan had never lied nor would he ever consider it.
But…he had become extremely skilled in the art of being misleading with the truth.
~I think a psychic could solve the problem.~
Spiderman perked up at the mention of psychics and fixed his gaze on Logan, who calmly ignored him. Spiderman was kicking himself for not learning a few extra languages besides mangled Spanish.
Logan grimaced in annoyance. Explaining psychics to someone who didn't even have the faintest idea of what a hero was would be a daunting task.
~Psychics are people who can do extraordinary things with their minds. The most common ability they all share is the ability to read minds. Stronger psychics can even erase and restore memories.~
Logan carefully omitted the fact that the more powerful psychics could fry his mind with a mere thought. Strangely, the boy seemed comfortable with the idea of psychics, even if his face was fixed in a slightly puzzled expression.
~So…this psychick,~ The hero perched on the wall snickered at his pronunciation ~, is going to root around in my head and give me my memories back? Won't they see them? Some of that stuff might be private.~
~Most psychics have a strict moral code regarding their telepathic powers. They never use their abilities on someone who hasn't given them permission. It can't be helped that some of your memories will be seen during that kind of procedure, but they won't actively search through them, either. ~
Logan also neglected to mention that the psychic he had in mind most certainly had no compunction against flagrantly violating someone's privacy if she felt like it. Naruto thought for a few moments, then nodded.
~Fair enough. I don't really understand…but if you think it's a good idea, let's go for it.~
Logan let none of the surprise he felt at the kid's easy agreement show on his face. To be so trusting, especially in the position the kid was in, was a damn easy way to get yourself stranded up shit creek without a boat, much less an oar. Of course, Naruto didn't fully understand what he was agreeing to, either. He was far too easygoing about the idea of psychics for someone who supposedly had widespread amnesia. More learned men than him had panicked at the mere mention of a psychic even thinking of performing such a procedure, no pun intended.
The small flame of suspicion in the back of Logan's mind flared slightly. Something was off about this kid. He didn't know what, but he'd dig it out eventually.
With his bare hands, if need be.
Logan stood up and gestured to the door that led to the hallway of Naruto's failed escape. ~Let's get you some decent clothes and get outta here. It's a fair way's up to Xavier's.~
Naruto nodded and headed for the door, Logan in tow.
Spiderman, completely lost, called out, "Uh…I don't think Reed is gonna be happy with wherever you're taking him."
"Do I look like I care?"
"You look like you need a full body bikini wax."
Logan flicked out a very rude middle claw in response before the door whished shut softly, cutting off the retreating figures from Spiderman's sight.
"Well, that was just childish. I don't know how everybody puts up with that guy."
Once Naruto stepped into the elevator and it began its rapid descent, he began asking the gruff man all sorts of irritating questions about said elevator; how fast did it go, what powered it, what material was it made of, etc., etc. The boy could hardly believe that such unbelievable technology could exist. The vague murmurings in the back of his mind could not recall seeing anything of this sort from his previous existence, though he wasn't operating with a great deal of information concerning his past life in the first place.
Logan took it all in stride, answering with what little patience he had, ignoring those questions that he was either ignorant of or had no desire to explain.
The doors opened with a soft ding at the ground floor. He ushered the wide eyed lad, now dressed in a simple white long sleeved shirt, khaki pants, and tennis shoes, across the floor towards the door, ignoring the guards but favoring Sophia with a confident grin. She returned his attention with a slight nod and then returned her attention to her work, whatever that may have been.
They crossed the threshold…and Naruto stopped in his tracks, his jaws dropping and his face flush with surprise.
~What's the matter, kid? Never been in a big city before?~
Naruto could only nod dumbly in response. Towering skyscrapers blocked his view of the evening sky. The roar of those demonic beasts drilled into his head. More people than he knew could occupy the same place streamed by him and Logan, chattering to each other or to strange devices that they held up to their ears. It was overwhelming and frightening. Naruto was no stranger to cities but none had been this big, this loud, this…alien.
~What—~, Naruto swallowed nervously, ~what is this place?~
Logan made a small encompassing motion with his hand.
~Welcome to New York. One of the most screwed up cities on God's green earth and home to some of the weirdest people you'll ever have the displeasure to meet.~
He started down the steps to plaza, getting the boy to follow him with a sharp look. They walked in silence, with Naruto's head whipping violently from side to side in a desperate bid to take in everything at once and somehow keep the entire crowd of people under his eye; an impossible task.
Once they crossed the plaza and merged into the stream of humanity on the sidewalks, it seemed to Naruto that Logan took a meandering path through the city, sometimes ducking down alleyways, sometimes crossing the street at unexpected junctures (nearly causing another accident when Naruto froze in front of traffic), and sometimes backtracking along his previous path to emerge slightly behind their original starting point. Naruto observed as much as he could, refraining from asking Logan anymore questions, his initial excitement overwhelmed by the influx of his outlandish surroundings.
Naruto knew instinctively that the man was being especially careful to hide their trail and destination, wherever that may be. He was not surprised by the thought that Logan might have enemies. In fact, he wryly reflected, it would not surprise him in the least if Logan had a constant stream of enemies out for his blood. Naruto was closer to the truth than he ever would have suspected.
~Where are we going, exactly?~
~I've got my cycle stashed about a block from here. We're headed up to the Institute, about an hour or so upstate.~ Logan tossed over his shoulder, making a turn yet down another filthy alleyway.
~And this psychic is at this…Institute?~
Naruto, sensing Logan's unwillingness to explain more than he had to, remained silent and wide-eyed, choosing to concentrate on his surroundings once more.
He was in the middle of gaping at a rat that just had to be bigger than the biggest housecat he'd ever seen—
(and a dim memory of three children chasing a demonic feline through a brightly lit forest tried to swim to the forefront of his conciousness)
—and he walked facefirst into Logan's unyielding back, causing his nose to twinge painfully with the impact.
Logan was standing stock still, tense and alert.
~What's wrong, old man?~
Naruto peered around Logan to see what was the cause of his sudden stop, only to gape yet again.
He seemed to be doing that a lot lately.
At the mouth of the alley, where a crowded sidewalk and busy street should have been, there was an empty, run down street running in the same direction as the alleyway.. Absurdly, there was a signpost at juncture where the mouth of the alley and the out of place street met.
Though Naruto couldn't read English, Logan knew very well the name of the street before them.
Once a haven for the more bohemian aspects of American culture, it's now mostly known for its appeal as a Greenwich Village nightclub district.
"Oh, don't you dare pull this shit on me, Strange." Logan snarled angrily.
He whirled around and shoved past Naruto, who was extremely confused at the appearance of a street where it obviously should not be and at Logan's apparent anger at said street's appearance. Naruto turned to follow Logan and demand some answers, when he ran into the man's steel like back yet again.
Goddammit it all! His nose was already red from the abuse as he crossed his eyes to inspect the damage. Cradling his sore nose, Naruto peered around Logan's side for a second time, only to be visited with an astounding view.
The signpost and the beginnings of an empty street.
Logan was trembling.
Not in fear, but anger. He didn't like being herded to a destination like so much cattle. People like Stephen Strange had little concern for the ego and well being of others, so long as they came quietly and willingly, which equated to him giving them no choice in the matter.
Naruto, on the other hand, was understandably confused and more than a little frightened. Even in a world with such fascinating and otherworldly technology, Naruto was quite sure that one did not ordinarily find the same entrance to a street at separate locations…especially one right across from the other.
~What's going on, old man?~
Logan was silent for a moment. Then, he started forwards, Naruto scampering to catch up.
~We're off the see the fucking Wizard of Oz, that's what's going on.~
In a fit of anger, Logan unsheathed his adamantium claws and sliced through the neon green signpost, rendering its quaint lettering unreadable.
I've long since given up any pretense of being a punctual or regular writer. I will no longer apologize for the time in between chapters of various fics. I write when I write. No more, no less.
On the bright side, I've decided that I really need to continue work on the newest chapter of Initial Offensive, so expect a new chapter there…eventually.