A Matter of Principle (1/more)
- 'K, all. Finally got my email working - it's good to go now, and with
any luck I won't have to change servers in the near future. I keep
running out of space! :-) adolpha@...
This is movie-based, 'cause the format's easier to work with and I
think certain friends of mine would kill me if I did this in the
comics. Asano is a real comic-book character (see the Wolvie limited
series with Chris Claremont and Frank Miller) but I've taken him way
off the comic track. COTA (pronounced "coat-uh") is my own
creation, and I'm rather proud of myself for coming up with it, so
don't take it without asking. Also, I lost all my italics and stuff
when I stuck it in the e-mail (duh), so if ya want 'em, I'll send you
an MS Word doc with all the goods. This is my VERY FIRST fanfic
EVER, it has not been read by anybody yet, and I submit it to your
mercy. I'm about halfway through the next part, so it should be
coming soon. Like most of my stuff, this is LONG and takes a while
to set up the plot. Hang with me.
Title: A Matter of Principle (1/?)
Characters: Logan, most of the prominent movie characters
(eventually), miscellaneous comicdom folks, two original characters
(so far) and one original organization
Rating: G for now - oh, I think there's some minor swearing
Disclaimer: You know the drill, don't you? yadda yadda, don't sue,
Archive: Wow, archive? Me? Cool. Let me know where it's going.
Apologies: to Asano, for so completely ruining his Japanese dignity
He waited for her outside the library in a black Monte Carlo of the
eighties generation. It was his style. It was other people's style,
too, of course, but she knew it was him before she was close enough
to see his face, before she was even close enough to let the faint
scent of incense drift her way. She'd taken a bit too public a
persona, and he'd come to talk to her about it, no doubt. He was
right on schedule.
She slipped into the passenger seat and made herself at ease,
the way she might with a good friend. Not unusual, except that Asano
was the only friend she'd ever trust enough to let her guard down.
She waited for him to pull out, and when he didn't, she knew that he
wanted her suggestion for a quiet place to go. They'd worked
together so many years they could often read each other without
words. She pointed south, and he drove.
"I've heard you're causing trouble at this school, Jo."
She shrugged. "These kids have got their politics all in a
knot. I straighten it out and fire them up. You know how I am."
He acknowledged her with a grim stare. "Yes, I do. I 'm
concerned that you'll make yourself too much of a presence on this
campus to be useful."
"Yeah, I might, at that." She grinned.
"Jo ..." He sighed. "I pushed this through because I know
you wanted to go to an American school, but you're still here for a
reason. You're here, if you've forgotten, to observe - "
"Oh, come on, Asano. The US isn't exactly preparing to
invade Canada - "
"You know that's not what we're after," he snapped, cutting
off her interjection. Jo was shocked into silence. Asano was always
cool and perfectly collected, and never snapped. "The situation is
very delicate right now," Asano continued. "The US has invested a
lot of trust in Canada over many years. We can't afford to break
that by sending in real operatives to uncover what they aren't
willing to tell us." He realized that he'd implied she wasn't up-to-
par with other field operatives, and retracted it quickly. "You're
She recognized Asano's cool form of almost-apology and
accepted it without acknowledgment. He meant that she just didn't
seem like a spy, and that made her useful for un-spy-like
things. "Uh-huh," she muttered. Then she broke into a satiric
grin. "Yup, the US expects its campuses to be rowdy, full of noisy
students. The just assume that those students will bring about a
social revolution before they're ever a danger to the government. I
can play on those assumptions."
He relaxed his grimace into what Jo knew must pass for a
smile in his mind's eye. "Just keep it in check, okay? Don't offend
too many persons, no matter what 'principles' are at stake."
"You know I don't let things pass just because I'm supposed
He laughed then, just a hint of a chuckle. An Asano laugh,
she thought, to go with his Asano smile and his Asano apology and
this Asano way of beating around the bush before being direct. "Yes,
you backwoodsmen and your goddamned principles. I had that problem
with your father, as well."
She watched him patiently until his instant of jovial mood
had died away. He could tell what was coming - Jo was never patient
unless it was important. "Have you heard anything about him?"
He opened his mouth to say something, then paused. "Jo - "
"It's a yes or a no, Asano. Simple enough."
"Jo, it's been almost twenty years - " he started, trying to
get in a few rational words before she overrode him in her quiet way
of being forceful. He thought it would be a wasted effort, and he
"No, actually, it's been sixteen years, one month, twenty-two
days, and shall I count the hours for you? Don't even start on that
road. You and I both know that twenty years is a drop in the
barrel. He could be on an op - "
"There haven't been any ops."
"He could be taking care of something personal, something the
Department wouldn't approve of," she continued, ignoring him. "He
could be holed up some place so remote it doesn't even have access to
a post office. He could have tails so tight he doesn't want them to
trace communication back to me. Maybe he's working with S.H.E.I.L.D.
so far away he wouldn't even know how to communicate back to Earth."
"Maybe he's having a very peaceful retirement somewhere and
he's completely forgotten about you."
She stared at him. That's twice today Asano had shocked her,
which bumped the total up to three, ever. "Yes, that's also a
possibility." Asano looked over at her and frowned. Another Asano
apology. I'm going to have to start writing these down. "There are
a thousand reasons why a man like him might not be able to make
contact for a long time, and you know that as well as I do. Maybe
he's just trying to give me room to grow up on my own."
"Tough love?" Asano asked skeptically. "I don't buy it. I
know you believe in him, Jo. But if anyone in the Department knew
anything about it, I'd have come across it by now. He just
disappeared." He pursed his lips tightly together, debating how to
continue. "Most of us who disappear don't make it back. I just hope
that ..." he muttered something else to himself.
"What was that?"
"Nothing important, Jo. Only - " She gave him that same
patient stare, and he decided he had to go on. "There was a doctor
who's civilian rep had gone sour over malpractice suits. The
Department contracted him for some kind of research because he had a
good head for science, just one that was greedy. I know that your
father fascinated him. Cornelius - the doctor - wanted your father's
help with some sort of project, but they never found anyone with
enough education to head it up."
Every time she talked to Asano, she asked him the same
question. Every time, he gave her the same polite answer. That he
had volunteered actual, possibly useful information chilled her to
the core. "What kind of project?" she asked slowly.
"What little I know, I can't tell you. I just know that it
had something to do with super soldiers or master mutants, and they
needed a brain to head the thing up before it could go down. Just -
" He seemed about to say more, so Jo waited.
"If Cornelius got him, pray that he is dead."
The doorbell rang again, twice. Heather Hudson laid down the
rag she'd been using to clean her .22 and got up to stretch. Whoever
was on the other side couldn't wait long enough for her to come out
of the den and to the front door before giving up on the doorbell and
knocking loudly. "I'm coming," she hollered, rather annoyed. Most
of the people who came calling at this residence had a bit more
patience than this one.
She pushed the heavy oak door open and leaned against the
frame. "What can I do for - Logan!" The tired lines of worry on her
face shattered into a smile. "How are you? I haven't seen you for
"I know it, darlin'. You gonna make me stand in the doorway
She shook her head. "You could benefit from some patience,
buster. There's leftovers on the table," she said before he could
ask. "I was just getting ready to heat some up, myself."
"Much obliged." He dipped his hat like a gentleman and
remembered to take his boots off at the door. Heather chuckled to
herself. Full of surprises, he never missed a hint or ignored a
woman. He must have made some female somewhere along the line very
She and her husband James had found him wandering through
northern Alberta more than fifteen years ago, naked, wild, and
utterly despondent. He'd been broken in every way a man could be
broken, and her remembered little more about it except flashes of
nightmares and pain. He knew his name was Logan, and clung to that
raft in the wasteland of his mind. Heather had been working for the
game commission at the time, and shot him with a tranquilizer when
he'd attacked James. They hadn't known what to make of this shell of
a man. Heather thought perhaps he'd been abandoned and raised by
wolves. It wasn't unheard of; written history recorded a boy in
France and two girls in India who'd been adopted by lupine families,
and the oral traditions of local Native tribes included several more.
When Logan came to, however, it was clear that wasn't the case. He
spoke clearly in English and acted like a human. Little habits like
wrinkling his brow when deep in thought and examining foreign objects
with his hands that he wouldn't have picked up from wolves were clues.
When he first awoke, three claws had shot from each hand and
he'd cut through the ropes they'd secured him to a bed with. He rose
to attack Heather, and she'd reached for the gun again. He looked at
the gun, then down at his hands, as if seeing the claws for the first
time. They'd sunk back into his hands and he'd collapsed on the
floor and cried. Little pieces of his story came to her in halting
bits until a fuzzy image of his past formed in her mind. He had been
part of some terrible experiment, chosen because of his mutant
ability to heal. Heather and James helped him see past his past,
gave him clothing and supplies, and set up a job for him in town. A
nine-to-five routine didn't suit him much, though, and soon after he
thanked them and left. She'd barely seen him at all since then, and
only when he was passing through to somewhere else.
"Where's Jimmy?" Logan asked, digging into the moose meat
left on the kitchen table.
"Working late, as always."
"He still leading that crazy outfit?"
"For the moment." Heather moved to the refrigerator and
poured a glass of milk for each of them. "Where are you headed?"
He put his fork down and looked at her. "I'm not on the road
every time I come through here, am I?"
"Logan, you're on the road every time you're anywhere. I've
only known you to come by if you planned to use my house as a stop on
the way to somewhere else."
He lowered his eyes. "Guess you're right. Sorry. I just
ain't got much time for visiting. Always someplace to be." He
started eating again. "Actually, I came by to ask if Jimmy's offer
Heather almost choked on her milk. Logan shoved his chair
back and rushed to help her, but she waved him away. He sat back
down, eyeing her curiously. "I'm sorry. I just didn't think you'd
be much interested in Department H."
"I'm not. Just want to know if it's still open, that's
all." He was lying through his teeth, and he could tell from her
eyes that she wasn't buying a word of it. Logan got what he wanted
when he wanted it. He wasn't one to go around checking to see if his
options were still open.
As if on cue, James MacDonald Hudson stumbled through the
door, laughing at someone in a truck outside. He had gained a
reputation as the mutant Vindicator that preceded him wherever he
went, and was currently the head of Alpha Flight, a team of mutants
backed by Canada's governmental Department H. The lighthearted
obscenities hurled at him from the truck sounded as though they came
from Puck, another member of Alpha Flight. James shook himself like
a bear and tossed his coat over a chair in the entryway. "Heather?"
"In here," she called. "Logan's with me."
He kicked his boots off and sat down backwards in a chair
facing the two of them. "Good to see you again, Logan." He turned
to Heather with a grin. "It's been a long day. Very, very
"You'll have to tell me all about it." Heather took a sip of
milk, and James knew her well enough to see that the action was made
to hide the pause in her speech. She took a breath and decided to be
blunt. "Logan is interested in Alpha Flight."
Logan looked at her sharply over his glass. "I didn't say
She looked back to her husband, an uneasy grin plastered on
her face. "He most certainly did. I think it would do you both good
to work with each other again."
James nodded, the smile put there by events earlier in the
day unfazed. "Alpha flight is just getting on its feet right now.
Logan, we could really use you."
"Excuse me if I ain't too keen on working for the
government," Logan said abruptly, pushing his chair back with so much
force it nearly tipped over. "I remember how the last time turned
"Oh, come on, now, Logan. It won't be like that. I wouldn't
lie to you."
"Ain't you I'm worried about, Jimmy." Having lost the almost
lighthearted mood he'd arrived with, Logan turned toward the window
and noticed a light snow turning the ground to white. It was late
for snow, even in the mountains. "I'm gonna hit the sack. I got
some miles to make tomorrow mornin'. I'll be gone when you wake up."
After he'd left the room, Heather lowered her eyes. "I think
I pushed it too much."
James shook his head. "No. He's just not ... ready. Let
him go. He might come around."
"All I am asking is whether or not you can spare someone to
monitor the situation." the young man repeated. His work had made
him older than his years, and his emotions hovered ten years removed
from what they might have told him in an easier life. Still, he was
an operative fresh from the field, promoted (or, some thought,
retired) to a mostly desk job setting up other people's ops. A new
supervisor who'd just come out of the shit, he still thought he could
give the guys in the field a little better than he'd had it. That
was why Lefevbre thought of him as young.
"Why?" Lefevbre asked, his voice just as deathly calm. "Why
bother to check it out? What if you get there and find out it really
is a government front, eh? What if this, this - what is it? 'School
for the Gifted' is a cover for some kind of government
experimentation or God-knows-what-else group. What then?"
The young man set his jaw. "Then we remove the mutants from
Lefevbre rolled his eyes. "You know, you should listen to
yourself. You sound like you want to be some sort of fucking hero or
something. That's you, stealing from the rich to give to the poor."
He glared in return; sarcasm from Lefevbre this early in the
day was not a good sign. "You know that we are trying to build a
rapport with the mutant community to keep this COTA from erupting.
If we expose this place, perhaps put pressure on their government to
shut it down, we win - uh - brownie points."
"Ah, 'put pressure on the government'," Lefevbre recited
mockingly. "Yes, of course, why didn't I think of that? We'll
threaten them with all the trade agreements and airshow stunts we've
got. The United States is a very large sleeping dog to go poking
with a stick, don't you think?"
The other man knew Lefevbre had it in him to take his
suggestion seriously and give it an honest consideration, and a flat,
sincere, "No chance in hell" was what the young man expected anyway.
But Lefevbre was making a point of mocking him with it, and it
quickly got under his skin. "I'm only asking to send someone in
under the table - perhaps one of our own 'gifted' personages. If the
place is a front, you can decide what to do once we have that
knowledge. If it's not, then you can announce it to the mutant
community as a good place to be. You've still got your brownie
points," he cracked a sly grin, "without upsetting the world balance
Lefevbre crashed down into his chair and glared at the
ceiling, still laughing to himself. He motioned for the school's
prospectus brochure, and the supervisor passed it over. "Xavier's
School for Gifted Youngsters," he read aloud, scanning through
pictures of smiling children and young adults. "Seems like a nice
place, doesn't it?" he said absently. "Just who were you planning on
He shrugged. "Whoever you can spare."
Lefevbre raised an eyebrow. "I know you. You never do
anything halfway. Not only do you almost certainly have a specific
operative picked out, but you've probably already briefed him and
taken care of everything that doesn't require my signature."
"Things have been known to happen quickly around here," the
young man offered innocently. "No, I haven't briefed her."
"I was thinking of sending JoHanna Amaguk."
"WHAT?" Lefevbre bellowed. "Absolutely not. She's the one who shut
down the Project - "
"I know," he replied. "That's why the local mutant underground
trusts her. If she checks it out and says it's okay, they'll believe
her. If we send anyone else in, the story won't have enough
credibility to get us any tangible results."
"Let me get this straight. You walk in telling me that our cease-
fire with COTA is so unstable that we need some sort of - of -
offering to get us back into the black. I let you talk me into that
so I could see how you played it out. Now, I'm supposed to believe
that it won't work unless I send who you want me to?"
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Well, I guess you could put it
"Fine. When COTA erupts, remember this conversation, ending with me
telling you that you can't stop it with spies once it becomes an
"This girl shut down a huge government project because it didn't fit
with some group's principles!"
"I believe the group was Amnesty International - "
"It doesn't matter who the group is! This girl single-handedly
almost caused a revolution, over something just like what you suspect
The young man had to smile at that one. He'd have to remember to
tell it to Jo later.
"If this is a government program, she's not going to report
back! She's going to try and shut it down, probably get herself and
a few other operatives killed, and have us answering to the US for
decades. Absolutely not."
The young man gave an exaggerated bow. "Have it your way."
Even as he spoke, Lefevbre gathered up a stack of paperwork,
glaring all the while. He signed everything necessary, all blank,
and handed them over. He was taking a huge gamble just by allowing
this op. If he was going in, he might as well go in all the way and
let this young supervisor run things the way he pleased. Shaking his
head, he tossed the approved work - nearly half a mission cache right
there - at the other man. "You'd better get me some kind of
results. And if they're philosophical, Asano, I'll stuff 'em down
"I wouldn't have it any other way."