NEW: la bas: song of the drowned -- by darkstar (7/16)
- Title: la bas: song of the drowned
Feedback: adored and craved
Archive: I would be honored, only please let me know :)
Codes: L/R relationship, angst. S/J relationship, angst.
Rating: PG-13 to R for mature themes of war violence.
Disclaimer: see introduction
Summary: In the aftermath of a war, four survivors struggle
to hold on to their identities in the face of a society meant to
la bas: song of the drowned (7/16
The Phoenix Compound
"You have five seconds to step away from my doorstep before I
blow a hole in your chest."
"Nice to see you too, Scooter."
I can see over his shoulder: the bronze lamplight, the threadbare
but neat blankets, the shadows of two women and a baby.
"One. Two. Three--"
"Scott, what is it?"
Jean appears behind him, her hand on his shoulder. Her eyes
widen when she sees me.
"Logan??! God, we heard you were dead...."
"He will be if he doesn't start moving back now."
"Don't be territorial, honey."
She only calls him that when she's aggravated at him and is
trying to hide it. "Let him in."
He moves back three feet, just enough to let me stand inside the
door. Marie stares at me a moment in something I can only
describe as pure shock (or is it really horror?), paralyzed. Her eyes
are too wide; too stark. She holds the baby her in arms like a cross
over her heart, warding me off. When I see the kid, I panic. I admit
it. But then I remember Jean was pregnant when we left, and I find
a way to breathe again. Gotta get to her. Gotta ask her why she's
afraid; why she thinks she has to keep me away from her.
I try to move toward her; Scott's hand moves to push back on
my chest. What exactly is he trying to pull, anyway?
"That's close enough, buddy."
"Marie?" She'll talk some sense into him
"Do what he says."
Oh, God, she sounds scared. Of me. I think I'm going to be sick.
"I just want to talk--"
"I'd say you gave up talking rights a long time ago."
Scott again. I ignore him, for the moment.
"Marie, just gimme-" I try to brush by Scott as I talk, but his hand
stiffens and shoots out against my chest and suddenly I find myself
on the floor. Ouch. That's going to leave a bruise. I grin up at him.
"I've had lots of practice here." His hand slides to his visor.
"Move and you lose an arm."
"Scott!" Jean grabs at his arm; he doesn't budge. "Scott, stop it!
What's going on?"
He doesn't even look at her. His gaze is fixed solely on me, and I
suspect that if I could see behind the glasses, I would find
something close to genuine anger. Or even hate. I've never got that
from him before.
"Tell her, Logan," he says. "Tell her how you abandoned Marie in
the middle of some god-forsaken wilderness. Tell her. Then she'll
tell you how Marie was when we found her, what they did to her
after you left her--"
"You're talking about things you don't understand, Scooter." I
cut him off with a low growl.
"Get out of my house."
"You go ahead and take that arm. I'm not moving."
"If that's how you want it--"
Then I forget all about him because Marie moves. And speaks.
"Scott, it's ok. I'll talk to him." She hands the baby to Jean.
Scott turns his head toward her, but I get the feeling he's still
watching me. "You don't have to do this."
Way to go, Captain Obvious.
She shifts her weight from one foot to another; rubs her
arms with her hands like she's suddenly cold. Her gloves have holes
in them. That isn't right.
"But we'll just be a minute." She says Right outside the door."
"Let them go." Jean, intervening again. "We're right here."
She's looking at me with this strange stare that is both pity and
accusation. And haunted, but I don't think that's me. I think that's
something else in her memory, although tonight I'm not going to
bother with what. Tonight is just about Marie and me. Let Scott
tend to his wife.
He touches Marie's shoulder; where did he get that right? Touching
her like he knows something about her that I don't, like he has to
protect her from me. His voice softens when he speaks to her.
"We'll be right here. If you start feeling uncomfortable at all, come
back inside. He says anything, does anything that you don't like,
you say the word and I'm out there."
I glare at him, but decide not to push my luck with a comment as I
stand up and walk outside. She follows me, silent on her feet. I
don't remember her moving that way before. She always walked
like she was ready to dance. Now she walks like she is ready to run,
or disappear. That makes me ache. She should have never had to
run. Never had to hide. I should have been there to make sure of it.
The door shuts behind us.
The first moments are the hardest: razor wire tension and a
Hundred words pouring through my mind. Things I want to say,
things I can't say, apologies, reasons, justifications. Finally I settle
on the one she might be willing to hear.
"I looked for you." I tell her. Just to make it clear.
She leans back against the door, hands in her pockets. The
moonlight cuts her face in two; half silver, half midnight, and all I
can think about is how beautiful she is, how much I missed
watching her. She's the mature one of us, tonight-- her voice
doesn't show an ounce of her earlier tension. It's calm. Tired.
"Did you even want to be found?"
"By you?" She drops her gaze, watching her feet kick up small
clouds of sand. "I don't know."
"Marie, what I did--"
"Don't say anything, Logan." The eyes come back up to meet me,
magnum force, black and hot and aching. "I just brought you out
here because I didn't want him doing anything I'd end up
"Like that kid would get his hands dirty."
"He's changed. We've all changed. That's what I want you to
understand. You came here looking for someone you thought you
knew. You even told her you loved her once. I'm not that girl. I'm
not clean and I'm not beautiful and most of all I'm not innocent.
"You're wrong. You're still Marie. That's enough for me."
The left corner of her lip flips into a sad smile.
"But not for me." She stands up, arms folding into a barrier at her
waist. "Look, I appreciate your coming back for me, but I think
you should just go."
"This doesn't have to be harder than you make it."
"You actually want to stay in this place?"
"I spent six months on the outside after you left. I've seen all I care
"It'll be different this time. I've got friends--"
"Just like before?" There is no arsenic in the question; it is merely
a question and that stings more than bitterness.
"Better than before. They got me in. They can get us out."
"Please, just go."
"I'm not leaving you, Marie."
"It's a little late for that." The smile sharpens; the voice cuts deeper
into the bone. "Now go. Go or I'll call Scott."
"So that's it? I don't love you anymore, Logan, thanks for risking
your life and all to find me, but I'll be seeing you later. Then again
I won't. Is that all you have to say to me?!!"
I'm shouting now; it can't be helped.
"Do you have any idea what it took for me to get here? What I let
them put in me?"
She doesn't shout back; she whispers, but it breaks my rage down
until it disappears. Anger isn't the only thing shattering, though; an
throbbing starts within my chest from the moment she starts talking.
"I never said I didn't love you."
"Then give me this chance. C'mon." If I can just get a little closer
to her, if I can just touch her face or her hand, then maybe she'll
know that I'm telling the truth. That I love her, that she's beautiful,
that I would never go away again.
Her hands shoot up; palms splayed open, a half-wild gleam
springing to her eyes. "Stay away from me, Logan."
"You said you loved me and you won't even let me near you?"
"I didn't say I loved you. I said that I never didn't love you."
"There's a difference?" I could touch her now; stretch out my arm
and brush her cheek with my fingertips, but I don't want her at arms
length. I want her close.
She backs away until her head bumps against the door.
"Logan, that's enough. Enough."
"Tell me what the difference is and I'll go."
Her voice drops to a hiss, a growl. "Don't. Touch. Me."
Then I understand what wall is keeping us apart. What she's
holding inside of her that's standing between her and me. I swallow
the bile in the back of my throat at the memory and try to force the
words out as gently as possible.
"I know about the farmhouse."
Three seconds later, I'm lying on my back, spitting blood and
watching a star supernova inside my head, bright and red and hot.
When did Scooter learn to pack a punch like that? Or move that
fast? I didn't even have time to duck, much less block. My claws
itch, whine, beg to give back measure for measure, but I can't. Not
when she's here. I have to show her I'm better than that.
I spit a mouthful of blood in Scott's direction and move to my
"I've had just about enough of that from you tonight. I didn't
come here looking for a fight."
"Fine. But I'm not going anywhere."
I raise my voice so it carries over his shoulder.
"You hear that, Marie? I'm staying right here until I do whatever it
takes to convince you that it's not over between us."
He turns back to her.
"Go back inside. You don't have to listen to anything from him."
She stares at me, her face whiter than her hair, dazed as if she's
never seen me bleed this much before. For one second, I think
she's going to say something. Anything. But she doesn't. She drops
her head and walks inside.
Once the door shuts behind her, all pretense can be dropped.
"You think you own her or something?"
"If by owning her do you mean that I am responsible for her? That
I'm supposed to keep her safe because you couldn't? Then yes. I
"Not if I can help it. They told me the rules to this place. Twelve
days until the next challenge."
"You're going to have get through me first."
"Not a problem, kid."
"Has it occurred to you that this isn't what she wants?"
"It is. She just doesn't know it yet."
"Be careful, Logan."
He's calmer now; not so hostile now that she's away from me. I
don't know what irritates me more-- his macho leader attitude
before or his big brother attitude now.
"She's been plenty of places she doesn't want to go, and you don't
want to become another one of those."
"I'd never hurt her. You know that."
"You already have."
I use my sleeve to wipe away the latest spurt of blood from my
nose; I still haven't gotten used to bleeding this much from one
punch. It's never easy to go from Superman to Clark Kent, even if
it's for a good cause.
But the blood doesn't hurt near as much as the fact that he's right.
I start to walk away, but one last thought holds me in place a
"Tell her I'm sorry, at least? Will you? Tell her I didn't mean to scare
her. And that I won't give up."
I walk away alone.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Nativity Scene: Logan
It's Christmas, tomorrow, she tells you when you both climb out of
the back of the truck.
We'll be in Canada by then, you promise. A foolish reassurance;
this is the last stage of your journey and of course it is the most
dangerous. Like the last day of battle, when soldiers get hit by stray
sniper fire or step on hidden mines right before they get onto the
boat home. Like a tree limb breaking under your feet right before
you can grab another branch.
The farmhouse is cold, but it is functional and anonymous and
that is all you ask for. Baked beans for dinner, eaten straight out of
the can. The other three travelers-- brothers-- pass around a bottle
of cheap whiskey and sing Good King Wenceslaus in a key that she
tells you doesn't even exist. The key of H major, she says. She
laughs. The sound is too high, too thin. She's nervous.
Just like you are.
There's one mattress in the corner; dusty and moth-eaten but you
stake claim to it anyway. You aren't going to let her sleep on the
floor. And she'll want to sleep, eventually. Her body exhausts itself
easily; she lives so much more completely than you do. A minute
might pass in sixty seconds for you, but she always wants to stretch
it out; make it last longer than it really is.
The transport won't be there until morning. A furniture moving
van; they will hide in the back behind the boxes but it won't be
necessary. The necessary bribes have been arranged; they should
pass through without any more trouble than cramped legs and
eight hours without a bathroom.
Dawn is five hours away; too much can happen.
You do not tell her this. You wrap your jacket around her and
hold her against your chest, partly to warm her bones, partly to
show the three brothers what they're going to have to go through to get to
her. They pretend nonchalance, but you smell the intentions on
them, like the scent of an animal that has been dead in the sun too
long. You might end up fighting one of them before the night is
over. Or all of them.
(You know what this feels like?
The Christmas stories my momma used to tell me when I was
a little girl. We're a regular Mary and Joseph. Without the kid, of
That's one way of looking at it.)
So is that what you are? Mary and Joseph, sleeping in the barn
because there is no room in the inn. There is no room in any of the
inns; the doors are shut and barred and locked when they see you
Only in this story, there's no baby Jesus. No redemption.
A man shuffles across the room, his shadow looming against
the wall in the light of the two kerosene lanterns, his scent heavy
with of lust and alcohol. You ease her weight to your left arm,
ready to push her behind you and start fighting. This one's the
worst; the oldest. Loud, pushy, arrogant, dirty-mouthed. It's his
power that bothers you the most....he can neutralize other
mutations with his touch.
This means that her skin isn't the magic charm, this time.
This means she could get hurt.
But you won't let that happen. Your claws aren't some mutation.
They're real as steel can be. So what if it'd hurt a little more when
they came out? The effects are only temporary.
(How about sending your little girlfriend over here for a while?
Me and my brothers was thinking we could share her, y'know....have
a little Christmas Eve celebration...)
Her fingers dig into your arm clean through the three layers of
clothing you're wearing. You squeeze her shoulder.
(Go back to your corner with the other animals.)
You snarl at him.
(Not unless I take her with me. Or unless you want to do something
to try and stop me.
You're about three steps away from being stone drunk. Do you
really want to get into a fight?
I don't wanna fight. I wanna take your slut and throw her up
against the wall and--)
He never finishes. Adamantium claws against the neck have that
effect on a man. As does the smell of their own blood.
Your voice is barely audible, a growl.
(You want to go on being a man, you go back to that corner
and keep your mouth shut until the transport gets here. I won't kill
you if you try anything with her. I won't be that kind.)
He chokes out words that sound like yes, ok, whatever you want,
but you're not really listening to him. First you glance at the other
two brothers. No threat there. They're still staring at the claws, jaws
lolling and eyes flared.
Then you widen your gaze until you find Marie.
She's not watching. Her forehead is resting on her knees; she's
Just for that, you should remove this freak's spleen and shove it
in a new and interesting place. But that's too noisy. Discovery is still
a viable threat. You settle for a nice, quiet, kick to the groin; he
drops like a sack of wet flour, his mouth opening and closing like a
fish. One more kick to the stomach adds a nice closing effect.
(You can open your eyes now.)
You crouch down beside her, stroking the back of her head,
rubbing her back.
(He isn't coming over here again.
What could you be sorry for?
I cause trouble for you.
That wasn't trouble, darlin'. That was me playing around with a
stupid drunk freak. That was easy.
I'm not talking about just with him. With everything.
What do you mean?
This whole thing. You would have been in Canada by now if you
didn't have to take me along. I'm not stupid. I know how dangerous
this is. What will happen if we get caught.
You let me worry about that. You just trust me.
I'm not worth it.
I'm not. You're doing this because you want to protect me, want to
save me, but I'm not worth that.)
You bring your finger up to hover just about her lips.
(Don't ever tell me that. Let me believe that I'm able to save
something. Just let me believe it.)
She leans into you, wrapping her arms around your ribcage and
squeezing like she wants to pop your heart out of the bone and metal
(We're in this together, right?
No matter what? You won't leave me.)
You kiss her on the back of her head, the smooth ridge of her
(I won't. No matter what.)
Hope is more dangerous than fear. It gets soldiers shot on the last
day of war, prisoners hung for trying to escape the day before they
were to be released. It worms in your blood, a tiny white parasite,
and before you know it, you are saying things you would never
have said if you had just taken a moment to gauge the odds.
But it is Christmas Eve, and you love her, and she is in your
arms; how can you stop to think what you were promising?
How can you even suspect that it would be a lie?
to be continued.
stay tuned :)
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