Climb the Wind (2b/5?) Logan POV, adventure/character
- Continuing *directly* from 2a/5
Getting to the top was agony for me. We had to go up
stairs � flights and flights of stairs interrupted by
ducking periodically onto floors and running when we
heard guards in the stairwell. Each step grated on my
wounded hip. Pain interferes with my ability to think
clearly, triggers my animal instincts which I normally
manage to keep at bay. My fight-or-flight drive is
stronger than in most, and a healing factor makes me
bad at dealing with chronic pain. Short, sharp,
intense, sure. I punctured my own lungs to save
Marie, and I can bear about anything briefly because I
know it won't last. But high pain tolerance isn't
*long-term* pain tolerance. I used to think Summers a
wimp, but the last eight months at the mansion changed
my mind. He's got the other side of the coin. He
suffers every day of his life. Headaches from his
power. Mild to severe, and accompanying neck and
shoulder pain from tension. I see him rub his neck a
lot, when he thinks no one is looking, and once or
twice when he disappeared for a day or two, Jean told
me he was down with a migraine. If he doesn't take
aspirin soon enough after it reaches a certain level,
he winds up in a dark room unable to move without
throwing up because of the pressure inside his skull.
But he functions, and functions mostly normally.
Marie told me once that watching him during the time
I'd been away had taught her something about "grin and
bear it," whether the pain was physical or
And I confess, that had irritated me, to know he'd
taught her something I couldn't.
But now he was teaching it to me. By talking to me.
Continually. There's never been a lot of love lost,
not to mention conversation, between us. Even the
past days we'd spent locked up, we hadn't talked much,
though for different reasons. Now he chattered like a
magpie as we made our way up the stairs in dim
emergency-light. He verbalized his decision-making
process, asked my opinion, made cynical cracks about
our captors with that wicked razor humor that saves
him from geek-dom � anything he could think of to give
me a focus outside the pain in my shoulder and hip.
When I snarled at one point, "Would you please shut
the fuck up?" he said only, "No. Get your mind off
We ran into two more sets of guards. The first was an
isolated trio with whom we came face-to-face at a
stairwell exit. Their own startled freeze killed
them. The second was in a hallway. We walked out a
door smack on top of a group comprised of the Suit �
the same who'd taken me from my cage to Summers � and
seven secret service men, none of the omnipresent
guards. I hadn't even heard them: the distraction of
pain. The Suit was as surprised to see us as we were
to see him. Clearly, they hadn't been hunting us
down; they'd been getting him out. Between shooting
up the computer core and remaining stubbornly on the
loose, we must have scared them into evacuating all
the High-n-Mighty Muckity-Mucks.
Summers had his vendettas. I had mine. Hip be
damned, I wanted to flay that son of a bitch with his
self-satisfied smirk. He was the man who'd put me in
that damn White Room. I was moving almost before they
registered us. But secret service were better than
mere guards. Within a second, they had him shoved to
the corridor floor, two bodies on top, and the rest
pulling weapons on us. As with the camera, I tried
racing half up a wall to come down on them from above
even as Summers was shooting. At near point-blank
range, it required speed and cool rather than skill.
I heard men scream, and hoped the kid didn't take me
out with friendly fire. Unfortunately, my hip didn't
obey me this time when I hit the wall. It gave, and I
collapsed to the floor. Ironically, that probably
saved my life. Automatic shot cut a swathe in plaster
where I would have been, while I wound up at ankle
level, claws raking. Service men fell and I finished
the job on what was left of them, including the two
covering the Suit, then I yanked the man to his knees.
"So glad to see you again, pal," I said and rammed
claws home through his belly, jerked up through
breastbone, heart and lungs. Painful and bloody but
Then I glanced around. Scott was down on his ass
against the door behind. His left hand held his right
side, and his right hand still gripped the gun, now
resting between his knees. His face looked startled.
My gut twisted. "Fuck." I was almost afraid to look,
but crawled over to pry his hand up anyway.
"It's not bad," he said, and it didn't seem to be.
But when he tried to stand, he almost fell. Not the
wound itself � simple shock. He was hyperventilating.
"Slow down the breathing, kid," I said, and somehow
got him into a closet. We'd discovered that the
closets were among the few rooms not sealed shut when
he'd destroyed the computers. "On the floor," I
ordered. "Head between your knees." It was a
janitor's closet, with sink. I washed blood off my
hands and coverall sleeves. They were getting too
"We can't take the time � "
"Shut the fuck up!" I got right in his face. "You
pass out, I can't carry you. Got that?" He nodded
and did as I said. I cut the side of his coverall
with a claw to examine the wound. We'd lucked out.
It truly wasn't bad: simple puncture at the very edge
of his abdomen, bullet exiting the other side,
probable damage only to the muscle. It wasn't far
enough in to have hit an intestine. "The burn'll
"For *you*, jackass. Hurts like hell for me."
"Treat it like you do one of your headaches. I know
you can handle it, Scott. Just don't strain it �
blood loss is your chief worry right now."
He nodded and forced his breathing to even out, though
he continued to sweat. He shifted his grip on the
gun. Another Smith and Wesson Magnum, .41 target
pistol this time, sleek and black and deadly in his
hand. "You hear anything out there?" he asked me.
I listened. "Not a footfall."
"They're waiting at ground level. They know we have
to get out. There can't be that many exits. They'll
have their men concentrated at those points."
He sounded resigned and fingered the gun. Clearly, he
didn't expect us to live. Hell, I didn't expect us to
live. "Better to die this way," I told him. He just
nodded again, grimly.
But abruptly his ex*pression changed and his jaw
jerked up. "What the hell am I thinking? Logan, who
says we have to use the fucking *doors*?"
"What? You think they got windows underground?"
"No. But they do have *air vents*."
"Shit." We just looked at each other. "They'll have
somebody covering those, too," I added. "It's an old
"Yeah, but I doubt they'll send the same number of men
as they'll have covering elevators and stairs. It may
be an old trick but I almost didn't remember it, and
neither did you."
On the way out, he exchanged guns again for what the
secret service carried (another Sig Sauer), and picked
up a spare, more clips. Then we found a vent and
wriggled in. Smooth silver aluminum. Almost too
narrow. Between wounds, exhaustion, and maltreatment,
neither of us was really up to hauling our bodies
forward on elbows and knees or climbing vertically,
back against one side and feet pressed to the other.
But when it's a matter of life or death, you manage.
Ahead of me, he stopped a few times so we could catch
our breaths. "You okay, Logan?" he asked at one
"Shut the fuck up and keep moving, kid."
As it turned out, the air vent dumped us right into
the generators. I heard his hiss of surprise, emerged
in time to see him break up laughing like some
demented schoolboy. "*Of course* it's at ground
level," he muttered, mostly to himself, and moved
toward the machines, studied them a moment. There
were two banks of them, one on either side of a short
aisle, bathed in the same red emergency lighting that
lit the rest of the building since he'd knocked out
the computers. But these didn't rely on computers to
keep functioning, at least, not all of them. A few
did show dead on the dials. "I think I'll give them
something else to worry about, besides us," he said,
and started flipping switches.
"Shit!" I tried to grab for him. "You'll overload
"That's the idea." The hum increased. "We won't be
in here, Logan." He had to shoot his way through the
lock on the gate covering the last machine, probably
the chief generator, then repeated with it what he'd
done to the others. Finished, he grabbed me and
shoved me towards the door, pushing his spare gun into
my hand (I'd lost mine at some point). "Out, low.
You roll left, me right. Converge on their flanks."
Men were waiting on us, but as we'd guessed, many
fewer than would've been covering normal exits. It
was also dark outside. And overcast. That helped a
lot. But they were shooting as soon as the door
cracked; Summers shot back. I really hate guns. I'm
no good with them but I got off a few rounds, at
least, and didn't acquire any more bullets. I heard
him cry out once, hoped he wasn't hit worse than
before. Hoped he wasn't dead.
He wasn't. Our flanking tactic worked, pinchered them
between us. I trusted he wouldn't hit me while he
picked them off. I'd given up the gun already, took
out two with claws. There were only six. I bent to
search one � we needed shoes � but Summers was
grabbing me and hauling me off towards a small copse
of trees, shoving me down in the dirt on my face.
The building went up behind us. Dirt erupted god knew
how many feet in the air, concrete and twisted metal
with it. Trees offered some protection but we were
still pelted by a few � fortunately small � bits of
debris. We could hear more eruptions in the ground
below; the earth shook.
Well, he'd wanted to bring the place down around their
ears. He'd done a pretty damn good job.
As the explosions lessened, we crawled a little deeper
into the underbrush beneath the trees, hid and
watched. Men ran helter-skelter out there, but
Summers had been right. They had other things to
worry about just now. He clutched his left shoulder
with his hand and pressed his elbow to his wounded
side. When I glanced over, he said, "It just grazed
me this time."
"Lady Luck must be your whore."
He didn't reply immediately, finally spoke. "Where
was she eleven days ago? Think she might have been
jealous of Jean?"
I could have kicked myself, turned instead to watch
the dark shapes of men fleeing. "We need shoes," I
said, changing the subject. We were on the edge of a
large field. The bunker must have been buried
beneath, down hundreds of feet.
"We need some money, too," he added. "You stay here;
you're still having trouble walking. I'll try to get
back to the guards without anyone spotting me. What
size shoe do you wear?"
I just stared at him in the dark. "You're going to go
*shoe shopping*, One Eye?"
"Just tell me!"
"One size up from me." And he was gone. I held my
breath and waited. In less than five minutes, he was
back, even more grim-faced. He tossed me shoes.
"They're too big, but better big than small. Put them
on. We've got to get away from here before any
emergency vehicles arrive. And Logan, look at this."
He had a pair of jackets, too � black jackets which
the outside guards had been wearing. He flipped one
so I could see the back.
A great big FBI in white.
"Holy fucking Christ."
Xavier's contact � the one who'd told us about mutants
in the subway tunnels in the first place � had been
But it was cold out here, so I grabbed the jacket and
put it on. "You find money?"
Shake of the head.
Damn. Well, we had shoes and jackets. Two out of
three wasn't bad.
Now that we were free, reaction shock was setting in,
not to mention trauma from our wounds. We wobbled and
stumbled our way through the dense undergrowth.
Judging by the fauna, we were still in the northeast
somewhere. It was slow going. March-bare branches
and brambles pulled at us, cutting skin and slowing us
down. I healed; he didn't. At least without his
glasses, he did seem to have a predator's night
vision, like me. His pupils were preternaturally
expanded. It kept us both from falling into ditches
or den holes. But it was getting harder to think.
When thwarted at one point by a simple barbed-wire
fence, he stared at it dumbly, looked ready to cry in
frustration despite what we'd just crawled out of. I
popped claws to cut through it. We kept moving,
didn't say a word for perhaps two miles. I suspect we
were both as stunned by what the jackets meant as we
were by all of the rest of it.
The FBI. The fucking US government. The question was
*why*? Xavier's little X-Men project was known to a
handful of high-placed feds. And approved.
Yet they'd known entirely too much about us. The kind
of information that came from the inside.
"What motherfucker sold us out?"
"I have no idea, but I'm going to make bacon out of
the pig when I learn."
"We've got to alert the professor."
"*No shit*, Logan. Why do you think I'm still *on my
I didn't say snap back. If I felt betrayed, what must
he feel? "We need sleep, too, kid." I was worried
about his blood loss. Even in the dark, I could see
that his right side beneath the jacket was dark and
wet, and his stumbling was getting worse. I made him
stop so I could wrap his abdomen with strips cut from
the bottom of a jacket.
"We need to find shelter, first," he said while I
worked. "Someplace we can hide." He ran a hand over
his cheek. Almost two weeks' growth had given us both
decent beards, and neither of us had seen a shower
since we'd been taken. I'd grown used to our stink.
But combined with the weird array of our clothing, not
to mention all the blood, we'd probably scare the shit
out of anyone we met. As if reading my thoughts, he
said, "We don't dare go where we might be seen by
civilians, but maybe we can find a barn the horses
will share." Through the underbrush, off to our
right, we could see a stretch of expensive semi-rural
burbs stitched across gently rolling hills.
Triple-story homes that started in 500 thousand range.
Yet a few older farm houses persisted here and there;
some still had barns or stables. "There may be people
looking for us," he added.
"I doubt it, kid."
"You want to bet our lives on it?" So much anger and
no where for it to go but at me.
"No," I said mildly.
He breathed out. "Sorry."
"S'okay." I finished tying off the makeshift bandage.
We stumbled finally onto a double-lane country road.
Summers said it was a little after midnight, but we
stayed near the undergrowth along the side so we could
duck out of sight if a car came. One or two did, but
mostly it remained deserted. We saw a small sign,
reflective green and white department of
transportation milage marker: BOYDS 3.
"Boyds, Boyds," he muttered to himself. "The name's
"Ya got me."
We kept walking. Two minutes later, he said, "Boyds,
Maryland. We're just north of DC."
If I didn't know much about the geography of the US
Northeast, I did know that Washington wasn't far from
the Baltimore subways where we'd been caught. Still,
how did he remembered that kind of geography shit?
Did he study maps for fun in his spare time? But I
had to admit, it came in handy.
And it just brought us right back to the whole
federal-involvement issue. How deep did this go? We
were just north of Washington, DC wearing FBI jackets
we'd taken from guards trying to prevent our escape
from a very expensive high-security bunker facility.
It was at that moment I heard the sound, the
engine-whine of an aircraft at low altitude. He
couldn't hear it yet. I grabbed his arm and hauled
him to a stop, looked around for cover. "What is it?"
he asked. But now he heard it, too, looked up. "The
I've never heard so much relief, and so much
apprehension, in two words.
I learned later that ever since our disappearance, the
professor had practically lived in Cerebro, waiting,
searching. Hoping. But the bunker in which we'd been
held had blocked him from sensing us. I doubt he'd
have kept trying so long for me, but Jean and Scott
had been his very first students. He'd have died and
gone to hell before he gave up on them, same as I
would for Marie.
So within minutes of our re-emergence � and despite
the hour � he'd sensed our minds and sent off Beast
and Storm in the X-jet to fetch us. Good thing we
were wandering around in the country. Made landing
But instead of running for the jet which set down in a
nearby field, Summers collapsed in the cold dirt at
the edge of the tree line. It was as if, now that
rescue was immanent, he couldn't hold himself up any
longer. The plane engines shut off and the door
popped open to reveal the Blue Guy. I waved and McCoy
hauled ass in our direction. Damn, for someone over
three hundred pounds, he could move when he wanted to.
He slowed his pace about ten feet from us, hesitated,
and came forward. Glancing at me, swaying on my feet,
he decided I wasn't in immediate danger and knelt down
in front of Summers instead. The kid had drawn up his
knees to rest forearms and head on them. "Scott?
Summers looked up and McCoy flinched back
instinctively as soon as he could see Summers'
"Oh, my god!"
But that wasn't McCoy. The Storm Queen had joined us,
fell down in front of Summers and grabbed him, hugging
tight. I'd never seen her that emotional. "Your
eyes! Scott, what *happened*?"
"Cyclops?" McCoy asked again. "Where's Jean?"
Summers broke. Pushing his face against Ororo's neck,
he let the tears take him, shook his head back and
forth violently. Whatever he was saying, it wasn't
coherent. But it didn't need to be. It was obvious.
We were here; Jean wasn't. McCoy looked away and put
the back of one big, clawed hand up to his face while
the Storm Queen reached around to grip his other, her
arm still about Summers. He clung like his life
depended on it, and overhead, clouds gathered and the
thunder rolled, resplendent with all the grief her
face concealed. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, over
and over. "I am so sorry, Scott."
I might have felt abandoned as I watched them grieve
together, but these three � and Jean � had been the
core of the professor's dream for more than five
years. I couldn't blame them for closing in around
each other just then.
McCoy pulled himself together first, wiped his eyes
and moved forward to pry Summers free of Ororo, check
him over. He found the bullet wounds. "We need to
get these disinfected and wrapped better, and an IV in
him to make up for fluid loss. I have my jump bag on
the Bird. Ro, help him get over there."
Storm hauled Summers up as McCoy came to check me.
"I'm fine," I said, "except for the bullet still in my
left hip. My healing factor is none too happy about
"Interesting." But his famous curiosity wasn't really
on the way my mutation worked. "What happened,
I explained � terse, succinct, and glossing over a
lot. I'm sure he could tell but he didn't press. Now
wasn't the time for a debriefing. He just glanced
back at Storm leading Scott toward the plane. The
only question he had concerned Jean's death. "Was it
quick? Did she suffer?"
"She didn't suffer."
So I lied. For a few minutes, she'd *suffered*, but
he didn't need to know that. Nobody needed to know
that, except me and maybe the professor. Let them
take comfort in thinking she'd died fast. Maybe Scott
knew, but he'd never said anything about it. In fact,
not once during our captivity had he talked about her
death unless I counted a reference during his threat
to the goon. The few times he'd mentioned her, it had
concerned their life before. But he wasn't in denial.
He'd never used the present tense, either, even
accidentally. "I guess her body hasn't turned up?" I
"No. And we searched the subways tunnels.
"Hank, you see the jackets?" I turned so he could see
"We took them off the men who were trying to prevent
us from getting away."
His head jerked up, but he didn't reply. McCoy is
anything but dumb. I could see him adding it all
"They knew our names, our powers," I explained. "They
knew way too much about us. Radio the professor as
soon as we're in the air."
He nodded. "I shall. But I doubt they'll attempt
"Probably not. But do you want to take that chance?
We have no idea how far this goes, if the military's
involved. What if they attack us before we can get
"Let them try, Logan." All trace of Hank's habitual
lightness had disappeared. "Just let them try. I've
been flying that plane longer than Scott. Hell, I
*built* it. The only thing that could catch us is
another Blackbird. And unlike the SR-71 which
provided the basic frame, ours is heavily armed."
He led me across the field and, back on board, tended
Summers' wounds then got an IV into him before lifting
off. My injuries would have to wait. "I'm not taking
the bullet out here," he said. "We'll do that when we
reach the mansion." He gave me painkillers instead.
I hoped my body didn't neutralize them before they did
me any good.
McCoy flew with Storm as co-pilot. Summers was
slumped under a blanket in the seat behind McCoy �
Jean's old chair. The kid had closed his eyes and
zoned out. He wasn't asleep � I could tell from his
breathing � but he'd quit responding to outside
stimuli. McCoy spoke on the radio to Xavier while
Ororo asked me questions. With flight time on our
hands, I gave her a more complete account, including
assurances that Scott's power wasn't gone, just
drained. She kept glancing at him. I couldn't tell
if it was with concern and pity, or maybe just in
shock at being able to see his whole face. He looked
younger than her, though I knew he was the elder by a
couple years. I guess I'd gotten used to his
appearance, and realized abruptly that it would be
frustrating to have him locked behind rose quartz
again. How easily we forget to what degree we depend
on reading a man's eyes to understand him. I'd never
understood Cyclops. But I understood the blue-eyed
kid strapped in across the aisle from me.
"Hey," I said, reaching over to grip his forearm
briefly, pat it. "We're going home, One Eye."
And then the tears started again � slow slide out from
under closed lids, down his cheeks to his chin,
dripping off onto the blanket. He didn't bother to
wipe them, and they didn't stop the whole way back.
The rest of us found something else to look at. It
hurt too much to look at him.
He was going home, all right. He was going home to an
empty double bed and an ivory lace wedding dress that
would never be worn.
*God, Jean. God.*
Okay, whaddaya think? Shall I continue? <evil grin>
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