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Aftermath (1/1) Just about everyone [PG-13] X1

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  • pphillips914
    This is the sequel to Lost Innocence . Title: Aftermath Author: Pat Phillips Summary: Logan describes what happened in Lost Innocence pretty well, The girl
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2003
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      This is the sequel to "Lost Innocence".

      Title: Aftermath
      Author: Pat Phillips
      Summary:
      Logan describes what happened in
      "Lost Innocence" pretty well,

      "The girl we were looking for was killed.
      Jeanie was in her head when she died.
      I wasted the two guys who killed the girl.
      Ororo let me do it."

      In the aftermath of the Reno mission,
      everyone tries to deal with the consequences.

      Rating|warning & pairing|characters:
      Rated PG-13.
      Scott, Jean, Ororo, Logan, Professor Xavier,
      Jubilee, Marie, Bobby.

      Disclaimer:

      I do not own the characters of in this story.
      Instead, they are the property of Marvel Comics.

      As a firm believer in property rights, it's
      only reasonable that I specify that my use of
      these characters should in no way be interpreted
      as a threat to Marvel's ownership of them.

      All of my fan fiction, including this story,
      is a not-for-profit venture. After all, when
      you get down to it, who would pay for this stuff?

      Note that this story assumes that there was
      a significant period of time between the defeat of
      Magneto and the Brotherhood at the Statue of Liberty
      and Logan's leaving to investigate the Alkali Lake
      facility. During that time Jean, Scott, Ororo, and
      Logan conducted missions for the Professor. That
      may not be exactly canon, but it allows for some
      interesting stories.

      The story is rated "PG-13" mostly for language and a
      description of a particularly horrible dream.

      It's a bit on the dark side, but is fundamentally
      much more optimistic than "Lost Innocence".

      Thanks to everyone who had such nice things to say
      about "Lost Innocence". I probably would not have
      written this story without your show of interest.
      So if this is good, you get part of the credit.
      If it sucks, you get part of the blame.

      AFTERMATH

      Marie: Back in Mississippi, the preacher at my family's church had
      this saying that he liked. As I recall, it went something like
      this, "I was angry that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no
      feet."

      It does get you thinking, doesn't it?

      I saw Jean, Ororo, and Logan get back from that mission in Reno. I
      saw them in their car coming up the driveway. Logan was driving.
      Both Jean and Ororo were in the back. Jean had her shoulder resting
      on Ororo's shoulder and Ororo had her arm around Jean. Right then
      and there, I knew something was wrong. Jean and Ororo are friends
      from way back. I've seen them touch before. But they're never that
      kind of intimate in public.

      Then the Professor wheeled out onto the patio. He nodded to me.
      That was a bit odd as well. Normally, he always has something to
      say whenever you see him. He seemed distracted and distant.

      Then I remembered hearing something last night about Scott being
      recalled from his mission in England. He was due in later today.

      All three of those things clicked together and I began to get
      worried.

      Logan popped out of the car like a well-trained chauffeur and held
      the door for Jean and Ororo. They got out, Jean moving slowly, but
      not like she was physically hurt or anything. Logan carefully
      watched Jean -- like he was scared that she might fall or
      something. He only relaxed when Ororo got out of the car and took
      over. Ororo and Jean walked over to the Professor, holding hands,
      while Logan retrieved baggage from the trunk of the car.

      I began getting the feeling that maybe I shouldn't be on the patio
      when Jean, Ororo, and the Professor finally started talking. So I
      drifted over to Logan to give him a hand with the bags.

      As I passed Jean and Ororo, I said, "Hello, Miss Munroe. Hello, Dr.
      Grey."

      Ororo nodded. Jean didn't seem to notice me.

      Oh, for Pete's sake. I went from being worried to being actually
      frightened. Something was dead, dead, dead wrong. Ororo looked
      bad. Jean looked worse. And I could tell that Jean had been
      crying. A lot.

      They got to the patio. I turned my back to help Logan, refusing to
      stare at what took place on the patio.

      At the car, Logan was piling up the luggage.

      "Hey, Logan. How's it going?" I asked.

      He gave me the Check. That's what I call it: the Check. He looks
      me up and down with his head cocked to one side, and he sniffs
      slightly. It took me a long time to figure out the Check.
      Unfortunately, he's not examining those parts of me that Dr. Grey
      described as "female secondary sexual characteristics" in
      her "Introduction to Human Biology" class. Logan only does the
      Check after some danger that involved me has passed. He's making
      sure that I'm not hurt. He doesn't do that for hardly anyone else --
      which I find a combination of flattering and infuriating. And he
      doesn't do it just because we haven't seen each other for a few days.

      "Hey, kid," he said in a real distracted way.

      Man, oh, man. Logan was giving off bad vibes as well.

      "What's up?"

      You don't have to use a lot of words with Logan. He smells what
      you're really trying to say.

      "Later."

      "Oh," was all I could think to say. I had questions, but when Logan
      starts talking in that flat a manner, I usually leave him alone.

      We carried the bags back into the school. Jean and the Professor
      had vanished from the patio. Ororo was sitting in the swing. She
      had kicked her shoes off and curled her legs underneath her body.
      She seemed to be watching the the front gate.

      I saw Ororo and Logan exchange a look. It was strange. Almost
      intimate, yet also challenging.

      Logan stopped before Ororo.

      "Cut it out, 'Ro," said Logan, "You couldn't have stopped me."

      She gave him a long look, "Maybe. But then again, I didn't try, did
      I?"

      Huh?

      Inside, we dropped the bags in the foyer. Logan paused, looking out
      a window at Ororo as she sat in the swing and gazed out at nothing
      much. Logan has this, "I don't give a crap about anyone's opinion"
      attitude. Most of the time that's true. But if you are one of the
      very few people that he let's inside that concrete and barbed-wire
      bunker he calls his soul, then he cares. Up until then, I hadn't
      realized that Ororo had made it in.

      "Dammit, Logan! What the hell is going on?" I exploded.

      He looked at me, "Reno went bad. The girl we were looking for was
      killed. Jeanie was in her head when she died. I wasted the two
      guys who killed the girl. Ororo let me do it."

      That's my Logan, a man of many words. He walked away while I stood
      there with my mouth open.

      By the time I got my act together, I'd lost track of Logan. I
      searched all morning and afternoon, but he had vanished into the
      woods surrounding the school. I knew he would come back. But I was
      really worried about him. Logan lives on a dangerous edge. He has
      shown signs of becoming more... civilized lately. I didn't want him
      to lose that.

      Later, back in my room, I thought about that saying -- the one about
      shoes and feet. I was raised a Baptist, but I haven't done much
      praying lately. Maybe I thought that since God didn't seem much
      concerned with me, there was no point in being concerned with him.
      Maybe I was just busy. Maybe a bit of both.

      That night, I said my first prayer in a long time. I prayed for
      that poor dead girl and her family. I prayed for Logan, Miss
      Munroe, and Dr. Grey. I prayed for my family that I haven't seen
      for so long. I thanked God for the gift of a home and friends.
      And, although maybe this part was wrong, I also thanked God for not
      making me a telepath.

      When bedtime came, I slept in my favorite "Old Miss" T-shirt and a
      pair of panties. I left the long nightgown, socks, and gloves in my
      chest of drawers.

      I have problems, deadly real and serious problems, but it's time to
      stop pretending that they're worse than they actually are. And
      especially that they are worse than everyone else's.

      *****

      Scott: what happened in Reno left Jean, Ororo, and Logan a mess.
      Jean was the worst, of course. I don't even want to think about
      what it must have been like for her -- inside the head of a young
      girl who was being beaten to death...

      Jean did it to help the girl. To shut down, as best she could, the
      pain receptors in the girl's brain. And she stayed with the girl --
      Lisa, damn it, she had a name! -- until the end.

      Once the Professor got in touch with me and told me what happened, I
      flew back from England as soon as possible. All the way home, I was
      cursing the decision to not go on the Reno mission with the others.
      Maybe I could have made a difference.

      No. I knew that was a load of crap. Jean and Ororo have been doing
      that kind of rescue and recovery operation for years now. If
      anything, they're better at it than I am. And while Logan and I
      have our differences, he's extremely good in the field.

      Back at the mansion, the Professor met me at the door. He calmed me
      down. Then once he knew that I was thinking instead of reacting, he
      sent me on my way to Jean. I've never gotten around to thanking him
      for that.

      I found Jean lying in our bed, with the covers pulled up to her
      neck. That splash of dark red hair against a white pillowcase is
      one of the joys of my life. This time, it scared the hell out of me
      because she looked so small and alone. After taking off my jacket
      and kicking off my boots, I slid into bed next to her, curling up
      against her back and wrapping my arms around her.

      She turned around and the expression on her face hurt me more than I
      can even begin to describe. Then she buried her head into my chest
      and hugged me so tight that the air was driven out of me with a gasp.

      For a while, we simply held one another.

      Finally I said, "However you want to call it, Jean. I'm with you.
      We stay with the Professor. Or we go. It's your decision. And
      I'll be with you no matter what it is."

      There was no hesitation.

      "We stay," she said in a muffled voice.

      *****

      Jean: Everytime I close my eyes, I'm with Lisa in that alleyway. I
      can hear them laughing as they kill her.

      I have to get better. Everyone is worried sick about me.

      I need to sleep. I dozed a bit in Ororo's arms last night as she
      whispered to me and her breath warmed my hair. But it wasn't enough
      and I need to sleep.

      But every time I close my eyes...

      Scott is with me. Holding me. The Professor is linked to me, just
      like when I was a teenager and first became his student. He's a
      warm presence in the back of my head that I can call on when things
      get too bad.

      Scott kisses the top of my head. Thank God he's here.

      I reach out to the others. Ororo is seated out front on the patio.
      She doesn't even realize that she's unconciously watching the front
      door. Logan is prowling the woods, dimly aware that he's actually
      patrolling. Both of them are upset and guarding. Always guarding.
      Oh, my friends, you are so similar and so different.

      I'll drop off eventually. I'll simply get too exhausted to stay
      awake. Then the nightmare will wake me.

      Then, after lying awake for a while, I'll do it again. Only this
      time I'll sleep just a bit longer. And the nightmare won't be quite
      as intense.

      That's how you recover. Slowly. Step-by-step.

      Logan killed those two bastards. Ororo feels terrible about that.
      She thinks she should have stopped him.

      When I get better, I'll talk to her. I'll tell her that Logan was
      wrong, but he wasn't completely wrong.

      I'll tell her that if Logan hadn't killed them, then I eventually
      would have.

      *****

      Professor Xavier: There are no rules on how to handle this kind of
      situation. There are no panels of learned experts, no painstakingly
      referenced journal articles, no body of carefully accumulated
      knowledge.

      This is not theoretical to me. I have had experiences similar to
      that which Jean is suffering through. I would not wish it upon
      anyone.

      Jean was suffering. Suffering terribly. And it was in my power to
      stop that.

      It would be simple. Jean is a strong telepath, but inexperienced
      and currently nigh defenseless. I could enter her mind and
      manipulate it. She would forget what happened in Reno. Forget what
      she saw and felt in that poor girl's mind.

      Except that might be exactly the wrong thing to do.

      There are moral questions about "helping" someone in this manner.
      Who am I to manipulate another human being in such a fundamental
      manner? Everyone is a sum of their experiences -- including the bad
      ones. To delete a part of someone's memory is not a decision that
      can be made lightly.

      There's more. Telepaths learn how to survive through hard
      experience. We learn to deal with the constant psionic background
      noise of humanity. We learn to filter out the thoughts of others.
      We learn to understand and forgive the minor human frailties that
      our talents reveal to us. And we learn to deal with human pain.
      The silent, agonized cry of a mother mourning a dead child can be
      heard by a telepath miles away. We have to learn how to deal with
      those sort of experiences. Or else we go mad.

      So it might be unwise to "help" Jean. If she survives this -- and
      Jean is a very resilient person -- then she will become a much
      stronger and surer telepath. A telepath far more capable of
      surviving in our harsh world.

      I've made my decision. I will help Jean as much as I can via almost-
      constant telepathic contact. But I will not edit her memory. I can
      only pray that my decision is correct.

      *****

      Ororo: After getting Jean to the Professor, I sat on the porch for
      hours. Students came and went -- the front door, patio, and
      driveway form a major thoroughfare in the mansion. The children
      flitted about like butterflies on intensely active missions. They
      were so full of urgency and life.

      I would miss them.

      After sunset, I sought out the Professor. I found him in his
      office, at his desk, grading papers. He didn't look well. I felt
      terrible that I was about to add to his burdens, but there was no
      point to putting this off.

      "Professor, I'm afraid that I must tender my resignation from the
      faculty," I spoke as calmly as I could manage.

      He set down his pen and looked at me, "Your resignation is not
      accepted."

      "I'm sorry, Professor, but you cannot stop me from leaving."

      "No, I cannot. And I would never try. But you will always have a
      place here. You can leave. But you cannot quit."

      "There's something I must tell you..."

      "I know what happened," he said simply.

      This conversation was not going as planned, "Then you know I can't
      stay here. I betrayed you and everything you taught me."

      "No. You betrayed Logan. Learn from that."

      *****

      Jubilee: I couldn't sleep worth a damn. All of us kids knew that
      something was wrong, but nobody knew exactly what. Well, except for
      Marie. Our little miss, "I've got a direct line to the top via the
      Wolvster", had some idea of what was going on, but she wasn't
      talking.

      That bitch. It would be really easy to hate her -- except for the
      fact that she's one of my best friends.

      I tossed and turned for an hour or two. Then I decided that it was
      time for a midnight refrigerator raid.

      After pulling on a robe, I padded out into the hallway on bare-
      feet. Then I almost peed my panties.

      Something dangerous, and massive, and predatory was coiled up on the
      hallway floor just before Marie's door. It flowed to it's feet,
      dimly visible in the darkness, eyes locked on my face as it decided
      what to do with me.

      Logan. Sleeping in front of Marie's door.

      "What's up, Jubes?" he growled.

      I opened my mouth, and for a second nothing happened. Terrified, I
      realized that words were soon going to be coming out of my mouth,
      and that I would have no real control over what they would be.

      That happens to me sometimes. I just sorta lose control of my
      mouth. Yes, I know, you might find that kind of hard to believe.

      Take this situation, for example: I might say, "Please don't kill
      me," or I might say, "Please take me back to my room and pop my
      cherry," or I might even say, "Behind this brash act I'm really just
      a scared kid, and I don't have anywhere else to go if this place
      falls apart, and everyone I respect here is flipping out, so please
      tell me what's happening."

      All of those were serious possibilities. All of them had their
      value, I guess.

      So what I finally heard myself say was, "Oh, hi. How's it going?"

      The master of the insightful question. That's me.

      "I'm catching some sleep," he answered reasonably.

      "On the hallway floor!?"

      "You sleep where you're comfortable," he replied with a shrug.

      And tonight he was comfortable sleeping on a hard wood floor in
      front of Marie's door. Protecting her.

      Damn her. And her tall, tight body. And her green eyes. And her
      flawless complexion. And her perfectly sized and shaped tits. And
      those cool white streaks in her hair. Damn her to hell.

      And the fact that she can't touch anyone? And that sad look she
      gets whenever she sees someone kissing or holding hands? How did
      those fit into my nasty little list? Sigh. OK, I'm not really mad
      at Marie.

      "Where you going?" he asked.

      "Kitchen. Snack run. There is a hollow place in my soul that can
      only be filled with ice-cream."

      "It's after hours. Be back in five minutes or I come looking for
      you."

      "Uh, sure. Want something?" What the heck? Logan normally didn't
      care about that sort of thing.

      "No."

      I walked past him. Then I realized something.

      Marie's room was the first one in this wing of the building. That
      meant it was the first one in the girl's dorm. Yeah, he was outside
      Marie's door. But he was also blocking the only way into the girl's
      section. In fact, if you wanted to go into the boy's section, you
      had to enter the intersection just next to Marie's room.

      Logan was back on the floor in a coiled knot of muscle, I caught the
      glitter of eyes.

      Whatever had happened in Reno, this was part of the fallout. Yeah,
      it was a bit crazy. But this was the only place Logan was
      comfortable tonight. The only place he could relax.

      Protecting Marie. And protecting us.

      *****

      Logan: Charlie caught up to me the next morning. It was time to
      pay the piper.

      The Professor came rolling down the hallway, spruced up like
      always. We both knew we were alone, the closest other person was a
      kid who was two rooms away.

      "Are you going to throw me out, Charlie?" I asked. There was no
      challenge in my voice. He had the right to run this place as he saw
      fit. I'd never say it in so many words, but I respected him and
      what he was doing. It should have been obvious to both of us from
      the start that I wouldn't fit in around here.

      I was going to miss everyone. Shit. Even Scott. Wasn't that a
      kick in the ass?

      "No," he said in response to my question.

      I hate how that guy always surprises me.

      "Let me clear something up for you, Charlie. It wasn't a fight or
      self-defense. Those two assholes didn't stand a chance against me.
      I mean, those guys were no loss -- they were both trash. And Lisa
      wasn't the first person they'd killed and wouldn't have been the
      last. But I know you don't hold with what I did. And it's not the
      kind of thing you can just ignore."

      "You might be surprised at just what I'll tolerate, Logan."

      I stared, "You're kidding me."

      "Logan, you asked me to enter your mind, remember? I've been there
      several times, trying to help you piece together what we can about
      your past. Much of your past is a cipher. But I know what you've
      done the last few years. Which means I know what you are capable of
      doing."

      I nodded slowly, "And you still invited me to stay. I wondered
      about that."

      "Correct. Let's not be coy. You're an extremely dangerous man and
      we both know that. I just happen to know that you are far, far less
      likely to kill if you are with us than if you are out wandering on
      your own. Because I know how to place your killer instincts under
      control."

      Control. I don't like the word. I've had all sorts of experience
      with people who are big fans of control.

      "So how are you going to 'control' me, Chuck?" I asked in voice that
      was suddenly and dangerously even.

      "By pointing out what your actions have done to the people that you
      care about."

      Something twisted inside of me. This was going to hurt. Mostly
      because it was going to be true.

      "'Ro..." I said quietly.

      "She tried to resign. She was willing to quit the faculty here."

      That was like a blow. A noise kinda like a half-formed grunt
      escaped from me. This place was everything to 'Ro. She couldn't...

      "And then there's Jean," he continued. "Oh, she'll forgive you.
      But will she forgive herself? She'll always wonder what she should
      have done differently to prevent things from going so wrong."

      My stomach slowly turned over. That was exactly what Jean would
      think. She was always too damn responsible for her own good.

      "OK, I get it," I said, not wanting to hear any more.

      "Not quite yet, Logan. And how about Marie? She has always been
      frightened for you. Did she ever tell you about that recurring
      nightmare she used to have? She's back in that bar in which you
      two first met. You are in that cage -- the one in which you used to
      fight. There's a ring of people around the cage, jeering and
      laughing and spitting and poking sticks at the freak inside.
      Creatures are thrown into the cage. A tiger, or a bear, or
      sometimes a pack of dogs or wolves. The onlookers take bets on how
      long they will last against you. Once the fight is over, you howl
      and lick the blood off the bars of the cage. Then you start
      feeding."

      "She had the nightmare last night, Logan. For the first time in
      months."

      I closed my eyes. Marie had never told me. No. Please, no.

      "Damn it. Stop," I was sorta whispering now.

      He was quiet for a while. Giving me a chance to recover.

      "I'm sorry, Logan," he said. And, damn him, he meant that. This
      would be so much easier if I could just hate him.

      "Fuck you, Charlie," was all I could say in response.

      There was another long pause before he began talking again.

      "I'm simplifying this a bit, since some of the concepts are
      difficult to convey to a non-telepath. But please let me explain my
      thinking, Logan. You have two natures within you: the killer and
      the defender. For years, the killer has been ascendent. But the
      defender keeps making his appearances. It's most obvious with
      Marie. But I keep seeing flashes of him elsewhere. And those
      appearances are more and more frequent."

      "There's an interesting thing about the defender type of
      personality, Logan. Very often, they can't do much for themselves.
      But they can do almost anything if it is for the people that they
      care about."

      "Every day you spend among us, the circle of those you care about
      widens and deepens. You connect with more people. And those
      connections are like chains, Logan. Chains that are tangling up and
      weighing down the killer, while the defender keeps finding himself
      with more and greater responsibilities. More people to protect.
      More people he cannot, he dare not, disappoint."

      "I'm not really controlling you, Logan. I'm letting you control
      yourself."

      My eyes were still closed as I heard him leave. I was trying not to
      think of Ororo walking out the door, Jean staring up at the ceiling
      every damn night, and Marie hiding her face from something howling
      in a cage.

      ****

      Bobby: That was strange. Hell, it was beyond strange.

      Logan walked into the kitchen. He looked even grimmer than normal.
      There was only Miss Munroe and me in there, both of us sitting at
      the table. Logan completely ignored me, grabbed a chair, and sat
      down next to Miss Munroe.

      She got a bit tense, but didn't say anything. She glanced at Logan
      once, then looked away. Then she just sipped her tea and ignored
      him.

      A few seconds crawled by. Logan stared at the side of Miss Munroe's
      face, while she stared straight ahead. Both seemed to be trying to
      say something. But nothing was coming out.

      Then, with a face like stone, Logan said, "Ororo. I put you in an
      impossible position. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Please help
      me."

      I dropped my spoon into my cereal. Miss Munroe looked utterly
      shocked. Then she turned, slowly reaching out one hand to grab
      Logan's shoulder, while the other touched the side of his hard
      face. I don't know. Maybe she was trying to see if he was sick or
      something.

      Then she gave me a look. I, uh... ran for the door. Yeesh, people
      think Logan can be scary.

      I wonder if this has something to do with whatever went wrong in
      Reno?
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