This is a little story about Logan and Marie meeting under somewhat unusual circumstances. They’re both lonely, both desperate, and both willing to give up. It isn' t really going anywhere. I just wanted to write a somewhat little fic about two damaged people finding each other at the lowest point of their lives and sharing a moment of mutual understanding. I guess this is what I ended up with. I know there is lots of room for a sequel, but I like it the way it is. It was originally written for a Christmas Countdown over at WRFA. (Beta by angelsnow and Anna.)|
The roaring sound of an engine disturbs the stilled hum of the night. A lonely biker races the machine. Too fast. Too loud. He isn’t wearing a helmet. No gloves. No protection. Dressed in jeans and a beaten-up leather jacket, strangers he passes by think he’s risking his life by speeding like a madman and ignoring all the safety rules. He couldn’t care less.
Two days until Christmas.
He doesn’t care for holidays either. They come and they go, unnoticed by him most of the time. Only because some waitress had asked him if he was going home to celebrate the birth of Jesus with his family did he realize he managed to fuck up another year.
Home and family.
Both words are foreign to him.
So he races over the asphalt, ignoring the speed, ignoring the biting cold, and maybe, if he tries hard enough, he can even ignore his pathetic existence.
Bloodstained hazel eyes are scanning the road ahead. Just a few miles before the sharp U-turn to the left. He knows he’ll never make it with this speed.
He thinks about not even trying.
A lonesome figure in a dark cloak watches the depth of the cliff. She shivers, but it’s because of the cold outside.
Two days before Christmas, and this time she refuses the struggle to get through those days all by herself. She doesn’t have the energy to fight her inner demons anymore. It’s been enough.
She bends over to look at the gaping abyss while standing on a small ledge behind the crash barrier. If she jumps with the right angle, she’ll avoid the trees and hit the rocks.
Taking a deep breath, she looks over the peaceful landscape one more time to say goodbye to the world as she knows it. In the distance she hears the roaring sound of a motorcycle, and a voice in her head is accusing her of taking the easy way out. Faintly smiling, she’s justifies her decision. It might be easy, she might be a coward, but it’s also an effective method to gain the peace she longs for. She knows she’ll be gone the moment the motorcycle will pass by. She’ll finally be surrounded by blissful quietness. The voices will be gone.
Bracing herself for the jump, she pushes back all thoughts and disturbances of the night. The bike is coming closer. She has to hurry. It’s almost here.
Just when she’s about to take the leap, she suddenly hears a scream above the sound of the thunderous engine. Startled, she looks up and loses her balance.
No! This isn’t the way she’d planned her jump!
Her view seems to shift to a strange slow-motion blur. She watches the bike coming her way. She knows she won’t be able to reach out for the barrier to avoid tumbling over the edge, so she closes her eyes, holds her breath, and hopes she’ll miss the tree-line. She hears the bike crashing into the barrier and causing an explosion. She feels the glowing heat through her clothes, and when she looks up, she witnesses a sudden burst of red, orange and golden flames lightning up the sky.
Strangely calm, her eyes follow the parts of metal flying into the darkness. She feels herself floating along with them. All sounds seem muffled, and she wonders for a split-second if she’s in some sort of a twilight zone. She snaps out of the pensively trance quite abruptly. A strong, bloody hand grabs her arm. Suddenly she’s dangling in the cold air, gasping.
“What’re you thinking? You’ll die!” a deep and husky voice barks at her, and she looks up to meet a furious looking man, his leather jacket completely in shreds. On a different occasion she would’ve thought of it as satirical, but now, she’s squirming out of his tight grip.
“That’s the plan!” she yells back, surprised her voice still works. “Lemme go!”
The man looks a bit taken aback by her shouted command, but she doesn’t really care. When she starts to hyperventilate as a result of the shock, the absurdity of the situation finally sinks in.
Life is playing tricks on her. She can’t even kill herself properly. Here she is, hanging above a cliff, the choice of life and death now depending on some gruff-looking, probably wounded biker. Ironically, death suddenly doesn’t seem all that appealing anymore.
The biker seems to agree with her even though she hasn’t said it out loud. He’s trying to pull her up.
When she’s thinking of a prayer to thank God, she can’t help but wonder if this is His way to tell her she isn’t welcome in Heaven. Maybe she simply deserves to live in this hell. Maybe this is her punishment.
The voices in her head all seem to agree.
The man looks down on the girl whose arm he’s clasped in his tight grip. She doesn’t look scared, even though her life is literary in his hands. Is she stupid? Or on drugs? If she falls she won’t make it. What was she thinking standing on the ledge like that? Was she really serious about jumping? She’s just a kid. Boyfriend trouble isn’t worth ending a life for.
“Hold on, kid. I won’t let go,” he says, looking around for something to hold on to, but her movements are erratic and she continues squirming.
“Careful!” she shrieks almost breathlessly as his hand slips a little. “My skin!”
He doesn’t really understand her now frightened words, and he doesn’t understand why she isn’t trying to grab his hand. All she has to do is reach out, but she’s still wriggling unsteadily in the air, entirely depending on him.
The fabric of her green cloak is smooth and his hand is covered in greasy blood. No matter how tight his grip is, he feels her slipping away until he holds on to her bare wrist only. The moment her skin comes in contact with his, a tingling sensation overwhelms him and he hears her chocked up cry. As his energy leaves him, his last thoughts are a mixture of guilt and regret because he wasn’t able to keep his promise. She slips away from him.
The young woman stares at the man who saved her life fighting unconsciousness. The way his steady breathing has changed into restless panting tells her it’s time to create a little distance between them. She knows he won’t be pleased to find out where he is, but she couldn’t leave him lying on the side of the road just like that. She owes him a ‘thank you’ and an apology at least.
“Hey,” she says, trying not to startle him. “It’s okay. You’re safe.”
He stiffens at first, but in a blink of an eye he suddenly bolts to his feet and backs up against the wall, a metallic ‘snikt’ revealing three long claws from his fists.
Just like she’s been expecting.
“Where am I?” he almost growls, his eyes agitatedly darting through the room, looking for an exit and measuring her up to see what kind of a threat she is.
“My place,” she answers with a reassuring smile, concentrating to keep up her non-threatening attitude. “It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”
In any other context it would’ve been downright ridiculous to say that to a man. Especially a man who looks so fierce and strong as he does, but she knows she has to calm him down. In fact, she knows pretty much everything about him. She knows what’s going on in his head right now, when his skilled and observant hazel eyes are giving her a once over. It sends an unconscious shiver down her spine.
“You fell,” he says, and despite his intimidating stance and tone, she chuckles.
“Yes, but you gave me your healing. Heightened senses, too. Pretty nifty powers, mister.”
Any other wouldn’t have caught the slight puzzlement on the man’s dark, handsome features, but she can read his emotions quite easily.
“I’m sorry,” she says, an apologizing smile accompanying her soothing words. “I’m a mutant, just like you. I get the power of those who touch me skin to skin. And their memories. I sorta know all about you, so maybe I should introduce myself. You know, to be somewhat even.”
She carefully takes two steps closer, like she’s walking up to some dangerous animal, and slowly reaches out a gloved hand.
“I’m Marie. I know your name is Logan. It’s nice to meet you.” Then she adds a little sheepishly, shrugging one shoulder, “And uh… thanks for saving my life.”
Logan glares suspiciously at the girl’s out stretched gloved hand and tries to comprehend the information she just gave him. Is he dreaming? Hallucinating? Maybe *he* fell off that cliff and now he’s in some sort of coma? He feels his claws retreating, and when he looks down on them, he sees what he’s wearing. Are those *pink* sweat pants?
Her quiet giggle makes him look up again, just in time to see she’s trying to conceal her smile by biting her lower lip.
“I’d say pink is your color,” she says, trying to maintain a straight face but not succeeding very well.
She doesn’t seem insulted about the fact he didn’t shake her hand. What the hell is going on here? Is she making fun of him?
“Where are my clothes?” he demands to know, still not sure what to make of all this, but the girl - what’s her name again? Marie? She doesn’t seem impressed by him at all.
“In the dryer. What’s left of them, anyway. Don’t go anywhere, okay?”
With that, she turns around and leaves him still pressed against the far wall, trying to figure out the logic of this mess. It’s not the first time he'd woken up not knowing where he was, but he’s pretty damn sure he never woke up wearing pink sweats while some cheeky girl is making fun of him.
He tugs at the fabric and realizes the pants must be her hers. They’re probably her baggiest, but on him they are rather… tight. He uncomfortably shifts his weight from one foot to another and checks her room one more time before she returns, her arms full of fresh smelling laundry.
“Here you go,” she says cheerfully, dropping the pile of clothes on the bed. “Bathroom’s the first on your right,” she points out. “I’ll be in the kitchen if you need anything. You hungry?”
Actually, yeah. He is. His healing must’ve been in overdrive. He feels rather worn out. What did she do to him? One moment he’s trying to haul her back on the ledge, the next he wakes up in her bedroom. This isn’t making any sense.
“What happened?” he asks, still a little edgy, picking up his shirt and hastily throwing it over his head.
It takes her a while to answer. “I’ll tell you what, you get dressed, and I’ll make some scrambled eggs. When you’re done, you can join me in the kitchen so I can explain everything. How’s that?”
Somewhat more at ease and buttoning up his flannel, he gives her the benefit of the doubt. She doesn’t seem hostile, plus he feels more or less starved. If this turns out bad, he’d rather fight his way out with a full stomach. “Fair enough.”
Marie’s humming a soft tune while she waits for Logan to show up. Their second meeting went rather well, considering his background and his temper. She congratulates herself for remaining calm.
“Hey.” The man in question walks into her kitchen and she has to admit she finds him attractive in a strange, primitive kind of way.
“How are you feeling?” she asks, keeping an eye on the frying pan to hide her blush.
“Hungry,” is his immediate answer, and when she glances up, she meets guarded eyes.
Of course. He doesn’t know her. She keeps forgetting that. It’s bizarre to know so much about another person in just a matter of seconds. The part she took from him blended perfectly well with her own personality already. He’s quite compatible, unlike the others in her head, and he’s actually still alive. No one else survived a touch that long. She was so scared when he touched her skin. She doesn’t think she can take another--
His unexpected, almost hesitant question surprises her, and she forces her depressing thoughts in the back of her mind. Smiling, she shoves a well-filled plate over the counter separating them. “Yeah. Here, you eat and I’ll talk.”
Sitting down on one of the stools, he stays quiet and pulls the plate a little closer.
“Okay,” she starts, toweling off her hands, “so what do you remember last?”
Walking up to the refrigerator and pouring him a glass of milk, she tries to buy time. What to tell? She doesn’t want to scare him with the horror-story of her skin. It’s nice to have some company again, but she knows she can’t get away with lies. He’ll smell it on her instantly.
“I’m a mutant, just like you,” she explains him again. “When someone touches my skin, I absorb their life force and memories. In case of mutants, I get their powers for a short while as well.”
Unless she kills them, she adds silently, but again, Logan breaks her depressing thoughts by asking, “Life force? That’s the reason I went out cold?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry. I tried to warn you, but--”
“--I was too busy trying to save your ass. What the hell were you thinking anyway?”
Knowing the question would pop up some time, she sighs. “Same as you before you saw me.”
His head perks up and he regards her with a fierce, penetrating glower. She can almost read his mind and knows he doesn’t want to go there. His body might look in his prime, but his mind is tired. Just like her, he just wanted it all to end. His life, this world, or even the universe. He couldn’t summon the strength to face another day. She knows he’d never confide those thoughts to her though. He’s the kind of man who doesn’t talk about his feelings. Or any feeling for that matter.
Much to her relief he changes the subject. “You said you got memories too. You got mine?”
“Basically I know everything you remember, but I don’t have access to your mind that easily. It’s not like I can sort through it like I search for socks in a messed up drawer.”
He keeps staring at her, a little warily this time, his eggs totally forgotten. Aware of the fact this all must sound very strange, she tries to think of a better way to describe what it feels like in her head.
“Suppose you’ve seen a movie where a character passes a pink wall several times. Then, one day, you walk past that pink wall yourself and you recognize it. But it’s actually a fake memory because you’ve never been there before. That’s what it’s like. Well, sort of.”
Staring at the counter, he seems to mull it over.
She doesn’t know if this explanation makes sense at all. It’s hard to put those feelings into words. There are all sorts of situations and scents that can trigger memories, and she always has to figure out whether they are her own or someone else’s. She still isn’t used to the fact she remembers building a snowman in her backyard while she’s never seen snow in her entire life. Not to mention she has memories of being pregnant and giving birth to a baby girl. In real life she’s never even had sex.
Thanks to this man sitting across from her, she now also knows what it’s like to have liquid metal poured into her body, and what it’s like to have claws cutting thought her hands. She knows what it’s like to kill and to be killed in so many ways she’s lost count.
“That sucks,” he suddenly breaks her thoughts, and showing him a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes, she agrees.
Logan takes another appreciating bite while he quietly observes Marie. She turns her back to him, and his accurate senses are picking up all sorts of mixed emotions. He’s at a loss for a moment. It’s clear she’s hiding something under her supposedly carefree appearance, but if she really knows all about him, she also should know about his ability to see right through her.
He ponders why he’s not all that upset by the fact she’s seen his thoughts. In a twisted kind of way he actually likes the idea. Someone else knows what he’s been through and he didn’t even have to say or explain anything. There’s a witness now. Someone who might understand what it’s like to be him. What it’s like to be so goddamn tired of it all. He’s still somewhat puzzled about *her* motives to be on the ledge, though. What confuses him even more is that he wants to give in to the curiosity.
“What made you go up there?” he asks, and he can hear her nervously rub her gloved hands together. He waits patiently for her to get past the somewhat uncomfortable tension, and when she finally turns around, her eyes seem too old for her age.
“Guilt,” she almost whispers, dropping her gaze to the tiled floor. “Exhaustion. Loneliness.” There’s an awkward shrug. “Guess I’d reached my limit. Just like you.”
Yes, that’s pretty accurate. Tired of the questions, drained from going around in circles. Exhausted from trying so hard but never actually getting anywhere. He’s been chasing ghosts for years, and there were times he questioned if maybe he is a ghost himself, trapped in time. Everybody else is aging, some of them even died. Why can’t he? He doesn’t even wish for heaven. Hell is just as good.
He feels slightly uncomfortable as reality sinks in. It’s one thing to hear she has his thoughts, it’s another to actually talk about them. If there exists a topic with the word ‘exit’ written all over it, this is the one.
He quickly takes a few sips from the glass of milk, puts down his cutlery, and gets up to his feet. “Okay, thanks.” He vaguely gestures to his now empty plate, looking around for the front door already.
Her short reply is a peculiar mixture of an order and a plea. Something about it fascinates him, and he turns around almost unwillingly.
She opens her mouth and closes it just the same without producing a single sound. Nervously swallowing past the sudden lump in her throat, she tries again. “Because… all your stuff went up in flames and… uh… it’s Christmas Eve. You can’t buy anything tonight.”
Christmas Eve? He’s been out an entire day? That must’ve been one hell of a mutation.
Still not sure about her intentions, he asks, “What do you mean?”
She sighs tiredly and walks around the counter to hop on one of the stools, folding her hands in her lap. “I was hoping… maybe we can, you know, celebrate. Together. Here.” Her cheeks are reddening and she averts her gaze.
He finds her embarrassed stammer endearing, and he frowns at the thought, because… endearing? Since when does he find something - or someone - endearing? He’s pretty sure he’s never even used that word. Ever.
Keeping her eyes locked on her fumbling hands, she continues, “I know you didn’t have any plans for the holidays, and God knows I didn’t have either. I’ll make sure my skin stays covered entirely, and I obviously didn’t do groceries, but we’ll have cheap wine and pretzels.” Glancing up with an honest vulnerability he doesn’t quite know how to handle, she asks, “What do you say?”
Is she serious? Is she actually asking him to celebrate Christmas with her? Why would she do that? She’s seen his thoughts, she knows what he is. Hell, she’s even seen the claws, but instead of an appropriate response, like screaming or fainting, she chose to comfort him. He never had anyone comforting him after popping the blades. He never had anyone comforting him, period. What is he supposed to do now?
She’s still looking at him. Tilting her head, she shows him a shy smile and tries, “The worst that can happen is waking up with a hangover and food poisoning.” There’s the awkward shrug again and she continues, “We’re suicidal anyway. Let’s live life to the edge.”
He can’t stop the unfamiliar feeling of a smile replacing his earlier scowl. Her dark sense of humor is something he didn’t expect, but it serves its purpose. Not quite sure what to make of this conflicted young woman on the other side of the kitchen, he decides he’s got nothing to lose.
“Cheap wine and pretzels? Bless mutant healing powers.”