I've recently started writing, and I've just posted Chapter 1 of my
second Wolverine story. I'm hoping it'll turn out to be a love story
with a bit of hard action, but these things have a way of not
turning out as they are supposed to.
My first story was (trust me!) fairly awful, I'm working hard on
this one to make it more fun. It would be great if anyone would
spare a few minutes to read a couple of paragraphs and let me any
suggestions for improvements.
Killing Davy Crockett
Scott put a possessive arm around Jean when Logan entered the
kitchen. Logan ignored the younger man and went straight to the
fridge. He found a beer bottle and popped it open with one claw,
grinning at Scott's derisive sneer. "Hey Jean, you fancy going out
with a real man for a change?"
Jean merely smiled, the issue was long since settled between them,
but Scott fell for it every time. His eyes glittered behind the red-
tinted glasses, his grip on Jean's waist tightened. "She's made her
Logan cocked one eyebrow and took another sip. "Maybe you'd better
keep your eye on her, just in case." he said with a wink.
A private communication passed between the two, causing Scott to
smile sheepishly at his girl. Logan drained his beer to fill the
sudden hollow in the pit of his stomach and left the lovebirds to
In the lounge, a few stragglers were swatting over their homework,
the rest of the kids, including Marie, seemed to have succumbed to
the temptations of American Pie on the home entertainment system. He
shrugged into his old leather jacket and headed for the door,
approaching it more slowly when he heard someone knock
A young woman stood in the rectangle of light falling from the open
doorway, arms folded against the autumn chill. If the inclement
welcome had startled her, she didn't show it.
"Is Professor Xavier there?"
"What do you want with him?"
She craned her neck to look past him into the hall. "Is he there?"
Logan heard the familiar electric whirr of the wheelchair behind
him. The woman squeezed past him into the hall. For a moment, he
caught her scent, a hint of lavender and something else he couldn't
"Professor Xavier? It is an honour to meet you." She shook the old
man's proffered hand, speaking quickly. "My name is Rhea
Fitzpatrick, I'm a journalist
"Okay, that's enough." Logan grabbed her arm to haul her back out of
the door. The last thing they needed was an exclusive interview
on `How Mutants Spend Their Summer', but the professor held up his
hand and beckoned the woman towards him again.
"You were going to say?" he prompted.
She gave Logan a wary glance and put some extra distance between
them, staying just out of arm's reach. "I have some information you
might be interested in. Have you heard of xCell?" The professor
shook his head and she went on. "I hadn't heard of them myself until
recently. xCell is a small clinic in Vermont claiming to be able to
reverse mutations through gene therapy. I have
" Her voice shook and
took a deep breath. "I have reliable information that xCell possess
no such technology. The facility is a government-controlled
laboratory for capacity testing, with mutants as guinea pigs. My
source is adamant that testing will be completed by Sunday, and the
remaining subjects terminated."
She rummaged around her brown leather rucksack, muttering about
documentation. The professor's mine had grown serious. "Miss
Fitzpatrick, why don't you sit down?"
"Please, it's Rhea." She plopped down on the sofa and dug a few
crumpled pages out of her bag. The professor barely glanced at them
before handing them to Logan. He frowned at the dog-eared brochure
glibly advertising `a life free from the blight of genetic
divergences'. The photo on the cover page showed a modern glass-
fronted building in a lush countryside setting. Somebody had drawn a
heavy circle around the word `telepathy' on the list of so-
They were joined by Jean and Scott, who snatched the brochure from
Logan's fingers without a word. The professor gave brief
introductions before resuming his questions.
"These are serious allegations. How did you come by this
Rhea fidgeted in her seat. "I'm a journalist. I can't divulge my
"Bullshit. This is a major scoop. Why are you coming to us with
this?" She met Logan's hard stare evenly. It was either a look of
unaffected innocence or he was sitting opposite an accomplished
liar. "It's only a scoop if you can get it published. My editor
wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole."
"Why aren't you selling this to a different paper? Somebody is bound
to take it up." Scott asked.
Rhea smiled ruefully, revealing a deep dimple in one cheek. "I have
four brothers. It has been pointed out to me that statistically
speaking, a large family is much more prone to tragic incidents than
one might expect." She uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, hands
resting loosely on her knees. "I'm very fond of my family, and my
name can't be associated with this. But I can't just let it slide
either. There are people in this `clinic' who are being abused to
the point of death right at this very moment. Was I wrong to come
here? Is there nothing you can do to help?"
She cast around for some word of reassurance in the silence that
followed. Logan was watching her carefully. Something about her
story jarred him, there were pieces missing from her account, and
not just the mysterious `source' she wouldn't reveal. When no-one
spoke she picked up her bag and rose. "I see."
"Do you have any evidence at all to substantiate your claim?" The
professor gestured for her to sit back down. "I can't reveal my
source, but I will vouch for the veracity of the information. I just
can't prove it." She bit her lip, waiting.
"Sunday is only three days away. Are you this is the deadline for
anyone held in this clinic?" Scott asked.
"I'm sure of it. I can't tell you how I came to know of this, but
any information from this particular source has always been
accurate. I have no doubt the situation in the clinic is very
serious, and frankly, I don't know where else to turn. I don't have
time to wait for the authorities to act. Those poor bastards in the
clinic don't have time for that." Logan rolled his eyes when the
professor nodded seriously at that passionate speech.
"I could mention it up at the committee meeting tomorrow." Jean
murmured. "See what comes up."
Rhea's eyes lit up. She began to ask Jean a dozen questions about
the function of the meeting, trying to assess what impact Jean's
input may have. Jean's admission that it was merely a steering
committee for mutant issues, with little influence in congress and
even less weight on Jean's own, mutant, voice, did nothing to dampen
"What do you think about Senator Valkerk sudden turn last year,
there was such a change in him, I couldn't help but wonder
broke off suddenly, and looked to the window. A heavy wind had come
up, buffeting gusts of rain against the glass. She rose, clutching
her bag. "I should go, it's later than I thought. Can I come by
tomorrow after the committee meeting?"
"You are welcome to stay the night, if you like. You don't live
locally, do you?" Jean asked. Logan groaned inwardly. Why didn't
they just invite the whole editorial team of whatever paper she was
with for a quick snoop around the school?
Rhea shook her head and looked to the window again. The rain showed
no sign of easing off. "Maybe you're right, if it's no
inconvenience. The motel looked a little grotty earlier." Jean
offered to show her to one of the guest rooms. Logan noticed for the
first time how tall their visitor was, almost the same height as
Jean in her high heels. Despite her size, she moved gracefully, with
a light self-assurance that made her rather attractive. Logan
unashamedly watched her as she followed Jean up the stairs. If a
woman didn't want attention, she shouldn't wear tight jeans. Scott's
sour smile didn't dent his new-found good humour at this minor
compensation for their intrusion. He waited for a few seconds until
the women were out of earshot, and raised a questioning eyebrow at
the professor. The old man shook his head. "I am not sure I could
see her fully, but I am certain she at least believed what she was
saying." "That doesn't mean it's true." Logan growled. "We'll find
out more tomorrow.", Xavier replied and bid them goodnight. Logan
stretched his legs out and sunk deeper into the cushions. The
professor was right. They would find out more tomorrow. There were
others means of getting the truth from someone than a bit of
* * *
Early the next morning, Scott drove Jean to Washington for the
committee meeting. The professor went with them to watch from the
public gallery as usual. Though he was normally content to let his
oldest student get on with her job, this time he would also probe
for answers using his telepathic powers to support Jean's questions
about the xCell facility.
Logan, left behind to make sure the kids didn't burn the house down
in their teachers' absence, watched their car disappear down the
long driveway. He stole a glance at Rhea beside him. She was gazing
after them wistfully, clearly wishing she could go with the others.
But access to the public gallery was restricted, and even Scott was
just acting as chauffeur. With one last glance at the park
stretching before them, she walked back to the house.
Inside, she paced the living room restlessly. Again and again she
was drawn to a window overlooking the green. The rain had eased off
over night, and swathes of mist were rising from the grass under the
tentative rays of the October sun. Logan slouched on the sofa, using
the Westchester Telegraph for a covert observation of Rhea's
breasts. He hadn't yet found out where she got her information from,
but he was fairly certain the speck of lace peeking out from between
the buttons of her top was either grey or light blue. Obviously, a
closer inspection was required to determine the exact colour of the
"It's beautiful outside." Rhea said and turned towards him. Logan
hastily buried his nose behind the newspaper, peering out from
behind the pages cautiously when her attention was on the garden
again. He grunted something in reply, his gaze travelling back to
the third top button of her sweater. Belatedly, his brain processed
her words. It could be an opportunity get her talking. "Would you
like me to show you around?" he asked, flashing his best grin. Rhea
accepted, and dashed upstairs to fetch her coat. They ambled through
the park quietly. Rhea huddled into her thick fleece when the breeze
picked up sharply. Logan walked beside her, wearing only his
customary jeans and t-shirt.
"You don't feel the cold." It was statement, not a question. She
shivered a little and walked on briskly. "All this belongs to the
school?" She gestured towards the stables and conservatory. They
made a quick round of the outlying park and buildings, and circled
back to the formal garden behind the main building. Rhea sat down on
the edge of the pond, prodding at the lily leaves with a
stick. "Most of the kids here are runaways, aren't they?"
"Mostly, yes. Some parents fooling themselves that is just a normal
boarding school. But mostly the kids just took off. The lucky ones
made it here."
She looked back at the house, a deep frown on her face. "I can't
imagine what it must be like to leave your family. Sure, we don't
always agree about agree about everything, but to leave would have
been unthinkable, no matter what."
Logan suppressed a sardonic smile at that naïve world view, thinking
she may have felt differently if she had any idea what she was
talking about. "No-one in your family is a mutant?" he asked.
"No." She turned away from him and went back to dunking water
lilies. He racked his brains for some way to get the conversation
going again. "How many brothers did you say you have?"
She lit up a little "Four. My parents are firm believers in `the
more, the merrier'. Me Mum's Oirish, you know." She drawled in an
appalling imitation of an Irish brogue and laughed at this stunned
expression. "Ripley says it's nothing to do with religion, Mum just
wanted a large brood so she could call us her ridiculous names."
He said there was nothing wrong with her name, and she laughed
again, flashing her dimple. "You haven't heard them all yet. There's
" she hesitated briefly, "
myself and Jean-Luc. My
father is a history professor, my Mum is a science-fiction buff, so
depending on who you ask we're named after mythical heroes or
"You're kidding me."
She grinned at him. "No, absolutely not. Ripley is a terrible
misnomer, he's such a softie. But Jean-Luc positively relishes it.
Everybody calls him Picard at college, and he swells up like a
peacock. What about your family?"
He rose and began to walk again. "I don't remember." Her long legs
caught her up with him easily.
"You don't remember?"
"No." He steered her back towards the house, annoyed with himself
for letting his guard slip. He was supposed to be asking the
questions, not her. He could feel her intent look.
"How far back do you remember?"
"Fifteen years." He was desperate to change the subject. "Come on,
let's get back inside."
He wanted to lead her quickly through the garage, but Rhea began
rummaging through Scott's meticulously sorted collection of tools,
nuts and bolts.
"Very neat. Yours?" He explained Scott's role as a mechanics teacher
while she rifled through a selection of variously sized pliers,
discovering a few strings of soft metal underneath. "Ooh, solder!"
she cooed. She dug deeper and unearthed battered soldering
iron. "Somebody's not been cleaning the tip." She clicked her tongue
in disapproval. For a moment he thought she was having him on, but
Rhea didn't give up until she had found a small jar of tip cleaner
and forced a grudging silver sparkle from the mistreated instrument.
"You're into cars then?" Logan asked, wondering if she'd go around
and check all the oil levels next. She gave the iron one last polish
and stuffed it into an empty drawer with the solder. "God, no!
That's what brothers are for. They don't play with dolls but they
sure fix your car."
Rhea had unzipped her fleece now that they were out of the wind, and
he found himself staring at that elusive bit of silk lace under her
top again. She was tall, with broad shoulders and strong hands, and
he didn't normally like big women. But she wasn't bulky, just on a
larger scale than usual. She was looking at him expectantly, and
Logan realised he had no idea what she had just said.
"When do you think they'll be back?" she repeated.
"Not before afternoon." She frowned, biting her lip. "If Jean can't
get any evidence, or at least a solid lead today, I will have wasted
an entire day. But short of burning the place to the ground I can't
think of what to do, and even that won't help anybody inside."
"This is very important to you?" he asked, hoping for more. He
needed to know why she cared so much. The entire issue of mutant
torture might make his own hair stand up, but it was absolutely
nothing to do with her. She looked at him seriously.
"Is that so surprising? We live in cynical times if you need to
belong to the club to be allowed to care. And you must have great
faith in the professor's abilities if you stand here so calmly
" She stopped and dug her fists in her pockets, her brow knit
"Nothing. I'm sorry. My source
was very full of vivid descriptions.
I want this to be over. Shall we go back inside?" She ducked into
the adjoining doorway and disappeared into the house without waiting
for an answer.
* * *
Jean sat down kicking off her stilettos. She wriggled her toes,
luxuriating in their decompression. Rhea bobbed impatiently on the
edge of her seat. "What did they say? What happened?"
Jean waited for the professor to join them in the lounge. "Not a
great deal." she said. "I asked about xCell, about facilities in
general, and nobody seemed to know anything."
Rhea was taken aback. "They must know. Davy... my source said xCell
was government-controlled. They must have been lying!"
Logan raised an eyebrow, wondering if the professor had picked up on
"Not necessarily lying." Xavier said. "But nobody in the room knew
anything about the clinic. Jean and I did very careful screening of
everyone there, and we came up with nothing."
"Then all I did was waste another day." The colour drained from
Rhea's face and she ran her hand through her short hair, looking
dejected. Logan almost felt sorry for her, yet he felt certain she
was lying about something, even if the professor thought she was
sincere in her worry. If they were to go in and check out the
information she had got from her mysterious source he needed to know
what she was hiding. He cast an appreciative eye over Rhea. There
was a hint of red in her brown hair matching her pale complexion,
the kind of skin that either freckled or burnt in summer. A strong
jaw and prominent cheekbones made her handsome rather than
beautiful, with a warm, quick smile to soften the impression. He had
a feeling his charm offensive was far from over. Besides, there was
still the issue of that lacy underwear to settle.
Jean smiled gratefully at Scott as he sat down next to her with two
steaming mugs of coffee. She took one off him and continued between
sips. "It wasn't a total blow-out. I ran into one of Senator
Valkerk's aids in the corridor, and I got a definite reaction from
the man." She gently blew at the hot liquid.
"Did he know anything?" Rhea asked.
"No, or at least no details. But he was scared. Very, very scared."
- To be continued -