It's an Odd Coincidence
Annon: I haven't forgotten Scott. He just hasn't been all that important up until now. This story might be ending, but I doubt Logan will stay quiet for long. ;)
Miss: I'm not sure if Logan will ever find the middle ground between honesty and being too blunt. XD
Phoebe Turner: Thanks!
Chapter 57: Sooner or Later
"You make for a beautiful bride," said Bronweth as she arranged her daughter's veil around her face. Sidhien was positively glowing with joy. On her finger was a ring with a thin band and a single —but relatively large— diamond set in the centre and two smaller emeralds on either side. Logan had said that this was an 'engagement ring' which was the standard sort of betrothal gift a man gave to a woman in his world. He'd gone for a mithril band instead of the traditional gold. "Coz it's a prettier metal, and a strong one, so I think it suits you," he'd said when he'd presented it to her, during a family meal and on one knee, no less. Her aunt and mother had been rather delighted that he'd knelt before her.
"I am certain that the adan will be very pleased," said her aunt. Sidhien's gown was a lavish thing; much more lavish than anything she had imagined that she would ever wear. She had chosen a dove grey silk, a shade that her people favoured and that did not look too opulent. The queen herself had given her approval for the colour. However, any attempts at keeping the gown simple had been thwarted. There were tiny seed pearls sewn to the square neck of her gown in swirling patterns. There were also seed pearls on the cuffs.
"I hope he will be," said Sidhien truthfully. To be quite honest, she did not know if Logan would know how to appreciate the hours of craftsmanship that went into the making of the wedding gown. She wasn't sure she knew how to appreciate it fully either. The thing she was most worried about was somehow ruining the dress. If it had been up to her, she would have chosen something that she would be sure to wear more than once. Maybe this would be her one gown for courtly occasions.
"He would have to be blind not to," her mother assured her. "Then again, your Logan does have such strange taste." She shook her head, probably thinking about his usual attire of those fraying breeches, flapping shirt and tattered leather coat.
"My tastes are not entirely conventional, Naneth," said Sidhien with a smile. "I suppose that is one of the reasons why we suit each other." In fact, if her assessment of Logan's taste was correct, then he wouldn't care if she had gone to her wedding dressed in a sack.
Logan shifted his weight from one foot to another as he waited, along with the rest of the wedding party, outside the great hall for the bride to make her appearance. Apparently, this was the way it was done in Middle Earth. No one sat down until the ceremony began, except for those who were too old or too young to stand for long periods of time. And the VIPs, of course, which included Scott. He was actually one of the few guests whom Logan had invited personally. He was there with his new wife. The woman looked a bit uncomfortable but they all knew that her husband could not really attend anything without her being present, seeing as he couldn't see anything. She was his eyes.
"You got the rings?" Logan whispered to Boromir. The Steward had opted to stand with the groom, for which Logan was very grateful. At least there was someone he could talk to. Everyone else was murmuring amongst themselves, speculating about the bride, the circumstances of how the couple met, and everything else even vaguely related to the wedding. Logan could overhear the snippets of conversation quite clearly. The only people who weren't talking about him and Sidhien seemed to be Arwen and her company. The Lady Galadriel was looking at Logan knowingly. There was a wise glint in her eye. She probably had something planned.
"Of course," Boromir whispered back. "But are you certain that plain gold bands really are the best choice after...everything that we have been through?"
"I ain't gonna be wearin' any sparkly stones on my hands, all right, and gold suits me better than silver," said Logan.
"I never thought you would be one to care," said Boromir. Logan was trying to think up a smart reply when a wave of murmurs rippled through the gathered guests. Coming down the red carpet that had been rolled out for this special occasion —he'd never thought that he'd find himself on the red carpet and dressed up to the nines— was the most beautiful sight he had ever beheld, including a jug of frothy clear golden beer with droplets of condensation running down the sides and tiny bubbles rising to the top.
She seemed to glide down the length of the carpet. Her veil was floating like wisps of clouds around her face. Flowers had been braided into her hair and on her hand, her engagement ring sparkled. The soft grey of her gown only accentuated the darkness of her hair and the way her face was glowing with expectant joy. If he'd been alone with her, he was pretty sure he would have been doing something else other than staring.
Beside her, Maethor looked just like any other proud father-of-the-bride, except without the wrinkles and the grey hair. Sidhien's hand rested on his arm as the bridal procession made its way towards him. His heartbeat became louder and louder, drowning out all other sounds. He wasn't aware of the crowds, only of his bride. His bride. It sounded so foreign to him. He had always thought that he would be a perpetual bachelor, considering his tendency to get into life-threatening trouble. In the past, it had always been easier to keep himself emotionally distanced, but Middle Earth had changed him. For the first time, it was as if he truly dared to live instead of merely survive. Perhaps it was for the best. What was the point of surviving if one could not live?
The procession stopped just a few feet from the groom. As protocol dictated, Logan slowly walked up to meet Sidhien and her father. This was the moment when the father of the bride passed her over to her husband-to-be, and since it was so significant symbolically, he wanted to do it correctly. It was hard, though. Traditionally, he had to walk at a certain speed, and there were even rules dictating which foot ought to go first. However, for his sake, they'd simplified it, using the excuse that this was a wedding that incorporated elements from two very different cultures, which was also true.
He bowed and then held out an arm for Sidhien, who took it with a smile. Actually, she looked as if she was trying not to laugh. He grinned. Maybe it was a good thing that he looked ridiculous; if it could make her laugh, then it was worth it.
The ceremony had been long, and rather tedious if anyone was to ask for his honest opinion. Just as well they didn't, or else Logan would have had to show just how 'uncultured' he was. At least the formalities were almost over by the afternoon, and he was thankful for that. Kissing the bride was apparently not part of Middle Earth's customs. He had asked Gandalf beforehand whether they could incorporate it, since this was his wedding, and therefore, and therefore, it would be right to reflect his cultural background. The wizard had not been persuaded at all.
"The rings are tastefully symbolic, even if I have doubts about their design," Gandalf had told him. "However, kissing and the like should only be carried out in private. You are a friend of the king, now, Logan. You have to show dignity that is befitting of your station."
"My station?" Logan had retorted. "What, is 'Man of Six Claws' now a social status?"
"I liked you better when only your claws had been sharp, and not your tongue," the wizard had said, although he had been teasing Logan.
"Hey, I learned from the best,"
"Aye, I am afraid that our young friend Legolas has had an adverse effect on you. But come now. This is a special day. A man only ever gets married once, at least one would hope so. Do not wave your sharp tongue about so carelessly, lest you injure someone you did not intend to injure."
So far, he hadn't offended anyone, but it was early yet. There was still some time before they could all get drunk and make merry. After Gandalf had pronounced them husband and wife, in place of kissing the bride and throwing the bouquet —there wasn't even one— he and Sidhien had to go around thanking the most important guests —as in the ones who had supported their relationship and made it possible, because romance in Middle Earth involved a lot more than just two people— for attending the wedding and at the same time, receive gifts from them. It was a nice notion, but Logan, being what he was, would much rather write a thank you note than actually have to say it in person in a formal manner. One could hardly just nod thanks at the King of Gondor or the Prince of Greenwood, even if that had been a perfectly acceptable way of thanking Aragorn and Legolas.
As if sensing his nervousness, Sidhien gave his hand a gentle squeeze. He glanced at her and found that she was smiling, no, almost grinning in a most unladylike fashion, as if she was finding something very amusing. Oh, yeah. Him. He guessed he was being ridiculous. No one had expected him to be courtly. In fact, Legolas had as much as told him so before the wedding, being the wonderful friend that he was. "It might reflect poorly on your lady's taste, but she fell in love with you because you had been so refreshingly blunt and uncultured," the prince had said. "Why change who you are simply because you have a larger audience? You never cared before about what others thought of you. Why should you start caring now?"
Logan had wanted to say that he really needed to convince Sidhien's family that he was the right man for her, but in retrospect, that wasn't really why he felt that he needed to become someone else. It was because he was a different man from when he had first entered this strange unscientific place, albeit only slightly. He respected these people, and their opinions mattered, especially those of Lord Elrond, who had been so kind to him when he had first arrived in Rivendell even though he had insulted just about everyone, and of the Lady Galadriel, who had put up with his irreverence a lot better than many other women of her station would have. These were people who had shaped the world around them, and that was more than he could say of most leaders and politicians back in his own world. They talked far too much about their ideologies and did next to nothing. He had no idea why they were being paid to sit around and yell at each other.
People in Middle Earth took marriage very seriously indeed. He had never seen such gifts before —or maybe it was because he had never really associated with kings and princes and whatnot until now— and they were really quite overwhelming. From Aragorn, or rather, King Elessar and Queen Arwen, there were two magnificent goblets wrought of mithril with gems embedded in the sides. "I doubt that even you can crush these in your adamantium grasp," Aragorn had said.
From Greenwood, there were bolts of silk so smooth that they felt like liquid. "Appearances do matter, my friend," Legolas had told him. From the House of Elrond, there were a dozen casks of the finest wine.
"I know how you appreciate a good vintage, Master Wolverine," said Elrond solemnly. "And these, I believe, are even older than you. Do not try to drink it all at once, as you have a tendency to do during one of those pointless drinking games."
"Ada does not think that one's ability to tolerate alcohol is dependent on one's masculinity," said Elrohir with a wink.
"I certainly do not," said Elrond. "If the tolerance of drink were an indicator of masculinity, then why, our women would be more masculine than the edain!"
"I suppose so," said his son thoughtfully. "Try not to engage in a drinking game with your wife, my friend. You will be unpleasantly surprised."
The last gift came from the Lady of the Golden Wood. Logan bowed low before her, now well aware of her deeds in long bygone ages. One did not spend all this time in Minas Tirith and not learn something about the history of Middle Earth. Gandalf, in particular, had enjoyed educating him on such matters. She bade him rise. "My gift is not a gift of any substance, Logan Howlett," she began. "Rather, I bring you a message from those who had sent you here. No, Logan. It was no odd coincidence that brought you to Middle Earth. Nothing happens for no reason. You are a man with a purpose in life. True, you shape your own destiny, but you cannot control what life may throw at you. Now has come for you to choose your path. It is your choice whether you remain or whether you return to the land of your birth."
"You mean I...I can just choose to go home and whoever it was that sent me here will just...send me back like a FedEx parcel?"
"I suppose so, yes," said the Lady, although it was obvious she had no idea what FedEx was.
Sometimes, Logan wished that he was someone else. Other people might have been able to deal with this conflict of emotions better. Other people were simply more in touch with what shrinks liked to call the subconscious. All this touchy-feely business was simply not part of who the Wolverine was. Unfortunately, he was the one who had to deal with all these feelings and thoughts. No one else could help him. It was his choice. The emotions and voices inside him surged until he could hardly tell what he was feeling. It was like listening to the cacophonic din of a rock concert. There were high whining wails of half-remembered recollections. The quick 'thud-thud' of his heart served as percussion, and the roaring of blood as it rushed past his ears and into his overwhelmed mind was the bass. He didn't know what to focus on, or even how to focus on anything. Did he want to go home? Yes, part of him did. He missed his students, he missed storm, and he missed motorbikes. Did he want to stay in Middle Earth? He wanted that too. He had friends, and now, he had family. But he had family back in the States too. It wasn't the conventional family, since none of them were actually related, but blood did not matter. Those were his kids back at that school. It didn't matter that he wasn't their biological father. For most of them, he had become more or less a parent —although a very cool parent who tried to give them six-packs of beer for Christmas one time. Storm had confiscated all the beer and threatened to search out his private stash of whisky and confiscate that too. He missed them all so much.
With no answer in sight, he turned to Sidhien. He couldn't leave her. He just couldn't. He supposed he could take her with him, but what about her family? It wasn't fair to tear her away from her family just because he wanted to be with his surrogate one, was it? "If..." he began softly. "If I...decide to go, then...I mean, you don't have to, but—" He was cut off in midsentence when she put a finger to his lips to silence him.
"There is no question about it," she said. It was almost a whisper, but he heard her clearly enough. "I was willing to give up immortality for you. I will follow you to whatever end, milord. Do not even think otherwise."
"But...your family..." said Logan. He glanced up. Maethor and Bronweth were staring at them. The former was wearing a mask of impassivity whilst his wife looked devastated at the thought of losing their youngest daughter so soon. However, surprisingly, it was Maethor who broke the tense silence.
"I may not be willing to let her go," he began, "but this is her choice. I cannot decide for her. As unbelievable as I find it to be, my daughter cannot be happy without you, Logan. Each young bird must someday spread its wings and leave the nest." Logan looked at him blankly for a moment, trying to absorb whatever it was he had just said. This was not at all what he had expected from his father-in-law. He was so protective of Sidhien, and...
"So you would leave your family behind...to follow me?" the Wolverine asked of his new wife.
"Yes," said Sidhien. Her voice was shaking. She swallowed. "I have made my choice. I made it long ago before we were even betrothed." She bowed her head, as if submitting to his authority as her husband. This was too much for him. He needed advice. He looked around. Standing there behind the rest of his VIP friends was Scott, blindfolded, but not blind to what was going on. They really needed to talk.
"I...I need some time..." he said.
"Of course," said Galadriel "It would be most unwise to make a rash decision." The compassion and understanding in her voice only made his heart constrict more. He wasn't used to it. People in his world, outside of his inner circle, either treated him like a mini version of the Cloverfield Monster or a lucrative investment à la William Stryker, even if no one else had ever gone to such extremes. Mostly, he was just the dangerous outcast.
The merry mood was gone, replaced by a tense one of anticipation. Everyone wanted to hear Logan's decision. If anything, it would make for a good tale to tell to the grandchildren in the years to come. The company —at least those who were officially invited— filed into the second hall where great trestle tables had been set up. They were piled high with the most elaborate appetizers Logan had ever seen, not that he had much of an appetite at the moment. Really, he just wanted to consult with his friends, see what they thought —although they would probably tell him to do whatever he wanted and generally be unhelpful, but maybe in their unhelpfulness, he might find something that could sway his decision.
Wine and ale poured freely. Apart from those who knew him personally, the numerous wedding guests forgot about the clawed man's dilemma. They relaxed in the warmth of the food and alcohol. The musicians struck up a lively dance tune full of twanging. "Come," said Sidhien, pulling him to his feet. For a moment, he didn't realize what he was being dragged into, but then it soon dawned on him.
"But I can't dance!" he protested. And he really was in no mood for a polka or something just as ridiculous."
"A warrior like you?" said Sidhien. "I doubt it." Her bright tone sounded a little forced, and he knew that she, too, was contemplating the prospect of leaving behind Middle Earth. It was probably even more daunting for her and yet, here she was, trying to enjoy her wedding day despite all of this. "Besides, the bride and groom must dance first before anyone else can," she whispered as she curtseyed and he awkwardly bowed.
"I have to do this for every dance?" he whispered back. He might have some very vague memories of fifties' style swing dancing, but that was about it. The Wolverine did not do pirouettes!
"If I said yes, what would you do?" asked his wife in all seriousness.
"I dunno...pretend to break an ankle?" He took her hand in his and then placed his other on her waist, they way people did it in the movies.
"And do you really believe that anyone would believe you?"
He couldn't help but grin at that as his body recalled the steps of a waltz. Hmm, maybe he wasn't as hopeless as he had once thought.
"Are you truly thinking of going back?" Sidhien asked him. Her voice had grown sombre again. She looked so young. Although she was almost two centuries old, she had an air of innocence about her that reminded him of someone much younger. Maybe that had been one of the reasons he had been drawn to her in the first place. They did seem like such an unlikely couple.
"Yeah," he said. "I...I just belong there, y'know? But if you really don't wanna leave, I think I can deal with stayin'..."
"But you would not ever be truly content to stay here, would you? I do not want you to be torn. I know that I will have to bid my family farewell someday. That is what a woman has to do. You are one of the edain, and I doubt that you will be granted entry into the Undying Lands. It is only a matter of time. So, yes. If you asked me what I would suggest you do, then I would suggest you go back to your world, where you are needed, and I would come with you. Indeed, my mother has mentioned how she intends to sail soon once she has seen me settled, and I am settled, more or less. We will have to take leave of one another sooner or later."
Logan was so very astounded by her speech. For a moment, he simply couldn't say anything.
"I guess..." he finally began hesitantly. "Yeah, you're right. I have to go back. There's so much that needs doin'. Humans are always fightin' each other and killin' each other and I gotta stop them from...I dunno, bringin' on the apocalypse early—" He never managed to finish what he was about to say. At that moment, he felt something pulling at him. It wasn't a particularly strong force, but it was obvious nonetheless. People around him started to panic. He was starting to panic. Sidhien clung to him, unsure of what was going on.
"Dammit!" roared the Wolverine as he began to understand. "I said I wanted to go back! I didn't mean now!" The second hall was filled with complete and utter chaos. Women were screaming, men were shouting, and Scott was hurrying towards the two of them with as fast as he could, led by his wife.
"What do you think you're doin'?" demanded Logan.
"It's only a guess, but if it's what I think it is, then I don't want to miss out!" the other mutant shouted back. "And Maeneth said that she would come with me! We're in more or less the same situation, you and me, except my wedding didn't get ruined!"
A pulsating light grew around them, becoming brighter and brighter with each passing second. Logan felt someone grab his arm. He wasn't sure who, but it sure as hell wasn't his wife, unless Sidhien had grown another hand, this one much bigger than her original two. He couldn't see anything. He couldn't hear anything either. It was as if he was in a vacuum of light. And then he was sailing through the air, or at least it felt that way. He felt bile rising up in his throat and swallowed rapidly. His arms were wrapped tightly about Sidhien and she clung to him for all she was worth. Was he screaming? He couldn't tell. The wind was so loud. And then they stopped, still miraculously on their feet. The world reeled around for a moment before everything settled.
The first thing Logan saw was a urinal.
Boromir fought back the urge to bring up whatever wine and food he'd consumed. It was not just the fact that his head was reeling. Everything around him smelled foul, as if he was standing next to a midden pit. He reached out with a hand to try and grab something, and at the same time, realized that he was still holding onto his friend's arm with his other hand as if that was his last link to life. And as his vision settled, he realized that Logan's arm was probably going to keep him from falling to his knees, so great was his shock. He had seen nothing like this before in his life.
They were in a dimly lit room, with things that could only be called stalls to one side. There were also some very oddly shaped niches or basins sticking out of the wall. He realized that the stench came from those basins and the stalls. The source of light came from a single glowing globe suspended from the ceiling. It emitted an unwavering, if dirty, glow. Water was dripping from short bent silver pipes into some of the basins at a steady rate.
"Dear God!" Logan was muttering. "Of all the places we can land...it has to be the gents'."
"Is it a bathroom that's in the States?" asked Scott.
Boromir vaguely recalled that a 'bathroom' was not necessarily a room for a bath in Logan's odd dialect. It could also mean...well, that certainly accounted for the smell.
"Won't know until we get out," said Logan, "and I'm pretty sure that we're gonna stick out no matter what country we're in."
They left the 'bathroom' and found themselves in a short narrow corridor lit with some very odd looking glowing tubes that sometimes flickered. They were much brighter than the glowing globe in the 'bathroom', but the light they emitted was unnatural. Instead of being yellow, as firelight ought to be, the light was blue. Blue. The sound of laughter and shouting and very loud music was coming from one end of the corridor. The Wolverine's ears were twitching continuously.
"Definitely American, by the sounds o' things," he said. "And it sounds like one of those geek conventions where they dress up in those weird costumes—" He came to another heavy door, this one with narrow glass windows. Above the door was a green glowing box with writing. Through the window, Boromir glimpsed a world that moved so fast that it seemed like a blur to him. People dressed in great dark coats hurried past with their heads bowed against the sleet, not even looking at one another. Vehicles with two lights like eyes at the front crawled at a snail-like pace, forming continuous chains on the slick wet roads.
Logan pushed open the door. Cold air tainted with foul smoke slammed into Boromir, stinging his eyes and his throat. He had not been prepared for this at all. He was certainly not dressed for this...labyrinth of steel and rock and glass. Great spires towered above them, seeming to pierce dark storm clouds that were lit up by all the lights below. He had never seen such a bright night before. It was as if the sun had never set and had merely descended to the land and split into lights of many colours, more colours than even a rainbow had. They were flashing, moving...the Gondorian was completely overwhelmed by it all. Apparently, he was not the only one. Scott's wife and Sidhien both looked just as shocked. They did not cling to their menfolk, being the sort of women they were, but they did stay rather close.
If Logan noticed his wife's nervousness, then he gave little indication of it. Or perhaps he didn't notice. The Wolverine's brow was furrowed as he read a giant proclamation that had been stuck to the wall of the building they had just come out of. A vein throbbed in his temple; a sign that he was furious. "Come on," he said gruffly. His voice was tense, as if he was preparing for a fight, even though there was no identifiable threat around. He ducked into one of the dark alleyways between the buildings, one of the few places where the night truly seemed like night. There were a few men there, talking quietly amongst themselves. They cast a wary look at the bunch of oddly garbed people, following their every movement with eyes hidden in shadow. Logan took no notice of them. It was as if they did not exist at all. Perhaps ignoring people was the way one interacted with others in this strange world. With no better example, Boromir copied what his clawed friend was doing.
The Wolverine led them through alleyway upon alleyway. He did not speak; he did not even grunt. He only glanced back frequently and held onto Sidhien's hand very tightly as if he was afraid that he might lose her in this maze. The snow and rain did not look as if it was going to abate.
"What is going on?" hissed Scott. "Don't tell me that it's nothing, Logan, because I know you."
"They've passed the bill," said the Wolverine. "They're now gonna mark us like they marked the Jews before they slaughtered 'em." He spat out the word 'slaughtered' as if it tasted foul in his mouth. "How many more times must history repeat itself, huh?"
"My God..." whispered Scott. "The kids..."
This was a nightmare. One of his worst fears had come true. His kind, and all those he cared about, was on the brink of annihilation. He didn't want to think about what would happen if they got their hands on his Marie, or on any of the kids for that matter. And what about his wife and his friends? With Scott still blindfolded, he was in charge. Logan glanced down at Sidhien. Snow stuck to her long dark eyelashes, and although it was freezing, she did not seem to feel the cold as much as Maeneth did. For once, he was glad that his wedding costume had come with a velvet cape. Said cape was wrapped around the poor woman's shoulders, and it was probably the one thing between her and hypothermia.
They quickly formed a plan. Logan had an acquaintance, an Italian mechanic called Silvio who loved motorbikes just as much as Logan did and who owned a small automobile repair shop. "He's a good sort, once you get to know 'im," said Logan. "And he knows I'm gonna make his life a livin' hell if he so much as turns us in." The idea was to find Silvio, somehow persuade him to lend them his truck, and then Logan would drive them to the mansion. It sounded simple, but there was the matter of avoiding detection. There were so many policemen walking about and asking people for identification.
After taking several time-wasting detours in order to avoid busy streets —and passing through alleyways strewn with used needles and condoms— Logan finally found himself staring at the front door of Silvio's shop. The mechanic lived in a loft above his garage. He could hear the sounds of sumo wrestling coming from within.
"It does not look very safe," said Boromir.
"Well, this city ain't Minas Tirith," said Logan. "We're not all architectural geniuses."
"Are you certain you can trust this guy, Logan?" demanded Scott.
"Positive," snapped Logan. "An' if you don't trust my judgement, then it's just too bad coz I'm the one who can see where I'm goin'." He knocked softly on the door before Scott could come back with a rebuttal.
"Who is it?" called someone from behind the door.
"It's Logan," said the clawed man. "Open up, or I'll cut my way through."
They heard the clicking of locks as the key was turned and moments later, the door was yanked open. "What is this, Halloween?" said the short squat man with dark hair who had answered the door as he took in the sight of their garb.
"It's my wedding night, bub," growled Logan.
"Meh, close enough," said the man. "But come on in before someone catches you. The things that mutants are subjected to these days..." he shook his head. "I've only heard the rumours, but apparently they've been arresting mutants left and right because they don't have the right documentation, and some of these people just disappeared."
"Just disappeared?" demanded Scott as they followed Silvio into his cramped flat. There were several empty pizza boxes scattered everywhere. A large dog with droopy ears and mournful eyes was lying on a rug. He lifted his head slightly, and then decided that the newcomers were not worth getting up for. "This is the United States of America, for God's sake! Isn't there some law against that?"
"Probably," said Silvio, "but the authorities are either involved in the disappearances, or they're turning a blind eye."
"Why hasn't anyone done anythin' about it?" demanded Logan.
"What could they have done?" Silvio gave them the quickest rundown he could of the Mutant Registration Bill and the new Homeland Security Bill. Logan felt his blood go cold as he listened. He held onto Sidhien's hand. Her presence soothed him somewhat, but nothing could make the growing fear inside him dissipate. He was transported back to another time, a time before adamantium, when he had stood at the edge of deep pits inside the forests of Germany that were filled with the naked and emaciated corpses of men, women and children, covered in only in a thin layer of lime powder. Those people had been killed simply because they had been different from the majority of the society in which they had lived. No one had seemed to care that they had still been human beings, that they had been able to feel the same emotions of anger, love, joy and sorrow. They had been rounded up and disposed of like animals in a slaughter house, and then left stripped of their dignity and identity inside a pit. No one had even given them the dignity of burying them.
"We need to get to the mansion," he said quietly. "Now."
The purring of the 'truck' was strangely comforting to Boromir. At first, it had annoyed him to no end, but now, he felt that it sounded rather like a lullaby. But no, he could not afford to sleep just ye.t He had to be on his guard in case anything happened. Silvio had mentioned how the 'cars' were all searched at 'check points' and if they found unregistere 'mew tents' there, they would all be as Logan put it so eloquently, 'in deep shit'. So they were huddled in the dark at the back of the truck, feeling every bump it passed over and hoping that no one would find them. For safety measures, Silvio had put his 'bikes' in the back along with them so that they could either hide behind the 'bikes' or use them to escape, not that Boromir thought that he would stand a chance if he rode of these two-wheeled contraptions.
The truck suddenly ground to a halt. Boromir's hand flew to the hilt of his sword, although he did not draw his blade for fear that the noise would attract attention. Maeneth, who had been sleeping, woke. "What's—" she began, but Logan quickly clapped a hand over her mouth.
"Don't give us away," he warned. They heard voices. First, an official sounding one asked Silvio for identification. Silvio laughed and said something that Boromir could not quite understand, although the Gondorian could guess his meaning. The guard laughed too before the truck started moving again.
"Close call," whispered Scott.
"What would they have done if they had found us?" whispered Boromir. He had been clutching his sword the whole time. He now loosened his grip. The pattern of the hilt had been pressed into his palms.
"What my people can do to one another makes the orcs' habits look civilized," said Logan darkly.
The mansion was a sprawling building of stone and tile. It looked like a sleeping beast in the moonlight, waiting for the sun's rays to warm it and make it come alive. It was a curious piece of architecture. For one, Boromir wondered about its sturdiness due to the many large windows that it seemed to have. And unlike windows in Gondor or anywhere else in Middle Earth, these were covered by a piece of smooth flat glass. Logan approached the door and then pressed a small round button. Inside, there came the sound of something that was like a bell, but not quite. He didn't know why it didn't sound like a bell. It was certainly supposed to sound like one.
Moments later, they heard the door unlock and moments later, the most exotic looking woman Boromir had ever beheld had yanked open the door and flung her arms around Logan. "Thank God!" she breathed. "We thought you were dead..."
"We don't seem to be very good at stayin' dead for long," said Logan, returning her hug awkwardly with one arm. "Um...Stormy? Think you can let go for a moment?"
"I'm sorry," said the woman as she released him. "I was just so..." Then her voice trailed off as her eyes settled on Scott.
"Hi, Storm," said the other mutant.
To use Logan's language, all hell broke loose.
"We're still open for business, thank God," Storm said as she ladled out leftover soup that she had reheated. Now that he was out of the cold and wearing —borrowed— fresh clothes, Boromir suddenly realized how hungry he was. It had been how many hours since he had last eaten? He didn't know. Storm, or Ororo, as she had introduced herself had been busy making them comfortable. She'd led Boromir to a room herself and taught him the basics about how to use the new amenities. During that time, he had been able to observe her a little, and he had found that she was absolutely nothing like the women back in the Gondorian court. There was no coyness; she had not tried any tricks with him. Maybe it was because she didn't really know who he was, but even so, he knew what sort of effect he had on women. His father had been an impressive man in his youth and apparently, he was a lot like his father. However, he did not seem to have impressed her at all. Ororo had merely treated him with the same courtesy that all guests deserved.
Upon meeting him, she had shaken his hand in the manner of men and he was still not quite used to the fact that women in Logan's world wore breeches. He supposed breeches were a lot less cumbersome than skirts, but they were rather unfeminine. Still, no one could deny this woman's femininity. It was simply a form of femininity that he was not used to. This was a woman who was accustomed to giving orders to men and having them obeyed.
"It's just as well, because mutant children have been flooding in from all over the country," she continued. "With the Mutant Registration Bill, kids who are 'too powerful' have been banned from going to school, and those who are below class two are having difficulties integrating."
"Have you heard about the disappearances?" asked Scott. He looked so different now that he was no longer blindfolded, but wearing his own 'glasses'. He even sounded different, for he was back where he belonged. Boromir looked around the spacious kitchen that they were in. It looked nothing like the kitchens back at home. Here, there wasn't even a hearth. Instead, it was filled with shiny metal and a tap from which they could get water. It was, in effect, a water pump that even a small child could use.
"Of course," said Ororo. "But I am hoping —praying— that these are only rumours. No one has any solid proof that they have been snatching people off the streets." She handed Scott a bowl of soup. "We can't do anything until we get more information, and that's a fact."
She slid into a seat next to Boromir at the kitchen table. She was such a small woman, and yet he could detect her underlying strength. Even Logan seemed to accept her authority. Her colouring was most curious, for he had never seen hair so white, except maybe on Gandalf and Saruman. It was a stark contrast to her smooth dark skin.
"So, what happened to you two anyway?" she asked, indicating Logan and Scott. "You disappear off for one year, or three, in Scott's case, and then come back with strange clothes and a new friend and wives."
"It's a long story," said Scott. "And Logan can probably tell you more, seeing as I wasn't capable of seeing much during my stay in Middle Earth, which was a pity, because I liked what I saw."
Logan looked as if he almost spat out some soup. He quickly swallowed. "You want me to explain?" he demanded.
"You are one of the great heroes of the war, after all," Scott reminded him. "Who was it that cut off a dragon's head while it was flying?"
"Fine, fine, but can't this wait until...well, this is my wedding night."
THE END...OR NOT.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading this tale. I know it's been a long ride, and I must admit that sometimes it hasn't been easy. Still, I can at least say I finished my longest story to date. :P Now this part of the tale has more or less concluded. The next instalment, when I get around to writing it, will probably be a direct continuation. As you can probably tell by now, I love writing about culture shock and I would hate to miss seeing our world from an elvish/Gondorian newcomer's point of view.
Special thanks to Navig8r, who has been extremely helpful with canon information and picking up on my language errors.
IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO HAPPEN...
Will Turner: How did we end up here again?
Jack Sparrow: Things didn't quite go according to plan...
Jack Sparrow: Welcome to Tortuga!
Balian of Ibeliln: I was under the impression that this was Hell.
Achilles holds a longsword at a redcoat's throat while guns are pointed at him.
ONLY THE FITTEST WILL SURVIVE...
Paris holds a gun to someone's head.
Elizabeth is steering a ship through a storm.
Anna-Maria dresses up as a lady's maid.
HONOUR WILL BE TESTED...
Legolas stares at his hands.
Balian grabs someone's throat.
Gimli is peering through a telescope.
From the author of the Chance Encounter series and It's an Odd Coincidence comes
CHANCE ENCOUNTER V: FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Soon to be found in the Lord of the Rings/Kingdom of Heaven crossover section.