FANDOM: X-Men (Movieverse)
SUMMARY: “Try to look protective,” she whispered. “There’s a deranged mutant on the loose, remember?”
RATING: R (for language)
CHAPTER ONE: Ratfinks, Suicide Tanks and Cannibal Girls
Elizabeth’s gaze locked with the mutant’s and held for a long, tense moment. His eyes were wide and feral, his teeth bared in a silent snarl.
She heard the telltale crunch of footsteps approaching to her right and stepped quickly away from the truck. Another state trooper, much younger than the one who’d been questioning her, appeared around the front of the truck, shining a flashlight up into the windows of the cab. He halted when he saw her.
“You shouldn't be wandering around alone, lady. That mutant's still on the loose.”
“I’m not sure, but think maybe I saw someone running off toward those trees over there,” Elizabeth said, pointing across the far side of the lot.
“I’ll look into it,” the deputy said. He hurried off in the direction she’d indicated.
Once he was out of sight Elizabeth turned back to where the mutant was crouched, frozen in the shadows. “I can get you away from here,” she said.
His eyes narrowed and flicked back and forth suspiciously. He didn’t move.
“We don’t have all night,” she said. “Do you want my help or not?”
“How?” he asked finally.
“Take off your jacket,” she said. She pulled her sweatshirt over her head and tossed it up to him. “Put that on.”
He looked skeptical, but he did it. As it happened it was an XXL, baggy enough even to fit over his broad back and shoulders.
She dug around in her purse, pulled out a black knit cap and tossed that up to him as well. “And that.”
The hat was a tight fit, but it was stretchy. And it managed to cover up most of his hair. The hair on his head, anyway; there was nothing to be done about the muttonchops he was sporting.
He jumped down onto the pavement beside her and his lips peeled back into a grimace that might have been a smile. “How do I look?”
“You’ll do,” she said. “Give me your jacket.”
He held it out and she slipped the jacket on. It was a good thing she was tall or it would have swallowed her up completely. For the finishing touch she un-knotted the scarf tied to her purse and fastened it around her head, effectively hiding most of her purple hair.
“Ready?” she asked.
“Hold my hand. You’re my boyfriend now.”
“Whatever you say, sweetheart.” He twined his meaty fingers with hers. She tried not to think about the claws that had come shooting out of that fist earlier or what would happen to her fingers if he extended them now. They stepped out into the open and started moving toward her car. A cluster of uniformed men had gathered over on the far side of the lot where she’d directed the trooper, but there was no one in their immediate vicinity.
“Try to look protective,” she whispered. “There’s a deranged mutant on the loose, remember?”
His mouth crooked in what she was almost certain was a smile this time.
Half the lights in the parking lot were out, including the one above her car. An anorexic sliver of moon shone halfheartedly through the clouds and the hills along the horizon rose up like a blacker stain on the black night around them. They walked across the parking lot hand-in-hand, at a leisurely pace, like any two normal people would if they were definitely not trying to avoid the police.
Just when she thought they were going to make it a sheriff’s department cruiser peeled off from the roadblock and started heading in their direction. She felt the man beside her tense.
“Be cool,” she warned quietly as the cruiser approached. It pulled up alongside them and the deputy at the wheel rolled down the window.
Elizabeth leaned over to talk to him, casually positioning herself so that she was mostly blocking his view of the man who was supposed to be her boyfriend. “You guys find that mutie yet?” she asked.
“Not yet,” he said. “But they’re bringing in the dogs. We’ll get him for sure, then.”
“I hope so.”
“You two give your statements already?”
“Yeah, the state troopers said they were all through with us. We didn’t see anything.”
“All right. Be safe, you hear?”
“You too.” She stepped back and watched as the cruiser pulled away and drove off toward the diner. Her heart felt like it was about to pound its way out of her chest. She reached into her pocket and squeezed the remote for her little white Honda. “Get in,” she said, jerking open the driver’s side door.
“That was close,” the man growled as he slid into the passenger seat beside her.
“We’ve still got to get past the roadblock.” She started the car and slowly navigated through the parking lot and out onto the feeder. The object, she silently reminded herself, was to get away without looking like you were trying to get away. She approached the waiting deputy and eased to a stop, rolling the window down.
“I thought those state troopers would never let us go,” she said. “We’re trying to get to St. Louis in time for my cousin’s bridesmaid’s luncheon tomorrow.”
He nodded and shined his flashlight through the windows of the car. Her hands clenched the steering wheel in a death grip while the deputy peered at the man in the passenger seat. After a moment that only felt like an eternity he turned away to check out the backseat. “Pop your trunk for me, ma’am.”
“Sure.” She hit the trunk release by her feet and waited.
After another few moments she felt the trunk slam closed and the deputy reappeared at her window. “Ya’ll take it easy, now.”
“Thanks.” She rolled up the window, pulled away from the roadblock, and exhaled deeply.
“Some roadblock,” the man beside her said. “I can’t believe they just let me ride right past ‘em.”
“Most cops are idiots. As long as you act like you belong they can’t be bothered to think any different.” She eased the car onto the interstate, accelerated, and set the cruise control for exactly 65 m.p.h. The truck stop gradually receded in the rearview mirror.
“Guess I owe you for getting me out of there,” the man said gruffly, pulling the knit hat off his head and stuffing it into the console between them.
“It was the least I could do,” she said. “I’m Elizabeth, by the way.”
He reached up to fiddle with the air vents and she found herself staring at his knuckles, wondering where the blades came out, exactly. And where they went when he retracted them. She couldn’t imagine it could be comfortable.
“You’re not afraid of me are you?” He’d caught her staring at his hands.
“Should I be?” she asked.
The corner of his mouth twitched, but he didn’t say anything.
She put on her turn signal and moved into the left lane to pass a slow-moving truck. “You can control them, right? I mean, the blades don’t just shoot out randomly do they?”
He snorted lightly. “I can control them.”
“In that case I guess I’ll be fine.” They were both silent a while. “You leave a car back there?” she asked finally.
“Nah, I was hitching.”
“Headed east or west?”
“Well, you’re going west now. Sorry.”
“Once we get over the state line you’ll probably be all right. I can drop you at the bus station in Lexington if you like.”
“Appreciate it.” He pulled the sweatshirt she’d given him off over his head and turned to toss it into the back seat. His gaze lingered on the clutter of clothes and discarded fast food containers she’d collected back there. “You living out of your car or something?”
“I’m sort of between places at the moment,” she said. “I was staying with friends, but...” The sentence died on her lips. But they turned out to be terrorists plotting the mass murder of thousands of innocent people. It wasn’t the sort of thing you could go around telling people.
“But what?” he prompted.
“It didn’t work out,” she said simply.
“So where you headed now?”
“Mind if turn on the radio?” She reached over and hit the button before he could answer. Static blared over the speakers and she hit seek, searching for some music.
“Guess I’m not the only one with a secret,” he said, smirking.
She didn’t say anything, just kept skipping through the radio stations looking for something tolerable to fill up the silence and obviate the need for further conversation. Logan apparently got the message that she wasn’t interested in chatting, because he slouched down in his seat and closed his eyes. By the time she’d found a halfway decent ‘80s station he was snoring like a buzz saw.
She drove into Lexington a couple of hours later as the first watery rays of morning sunlight peeked over the horizon. When she pulled off the freeway her passenger roused himself and sat up, rubbing his eyes. She followed the signs to the Greyhound terminal and parked in the mostly-empty lot. It was in a dismal-looking part of town that mostly seemed to consist of dollar stores and check cashing joints. A stray dog pawed hopefully at a discarded fast food bag in the parking lot in a few yards away.
“So,” she said awkwardly. “Here we are.”
“Yep,” he said. “Can I get my jacket back now?”
“Course, sorry.” She’d completely forgotten she was still wearing it. It was the kind of authentic vintage motorcycle jacket fashionistas coveted; there was a time not so long ago when Elizabeth would have seriously fancied such a thing. Now she handed it over without comment.
His fingers brushed against her hand as he took the jacket from her and a sudden burst of blinding pain exploded in her head. Her stomach lurched and then she was looking down on Logan’s body. He was sprawled on the ground in a pool of blood; multiple bullet wounds bloomed on his chest. His eyes were wide open in a glassy, unseeing stare.
She jerked her hand away and she was back in the Honda and Logan was giving her an odd look.
“You okay, kid? You got real pale all of sudden.”
“Yeah, fine,” she said, rubbing her eyes with the heels of hands. “Just a migraine coming on.”
“Well anyway, thanks for the ride. And for everything else.”
She swallowed thickly. The sweet tang of blood was still in her nose. “It was the least I could do.”
He grunted. “Some people woulda done less, believe me.” He opened the door and got out.
“Hey, Logan?” she called out before he’d shut the door.
He leaned back into the car, eyebrows raised. “Yeah?”
“Be careful, okay?”
The corner of his mouth flicked upward. “Always am.” He slammed the door shut and strolled toward the bus station.
Elizabeth sat in the car watching him until he’d disappeared through the double doors. Part of her thought maybe she should have tried to stop him, but the more pragmatic side of her knew there was no way to be certain when—or even if—the vision she’d had would come true. For all she knew it was years away. And what good would come of telling him about it? Even if he believed her, he’d only spend the rest of his life worrying about something he probably had no power to prevent.
No, she’d done the right thing. Besides, she had her own problems at the moment; she couldn’t afford to take on anyone else’s.
She put the car into reverse and was just about to back out when two police cars screeched into the parking lot, lights flashing but no sirens. They pulled up to the curb and two sets of uniformed officers jumped out and ran inside the bus station.
“Shit,” Elizabeth said, to no one in particular. She tapped her thumbnails against the steering wheel, thinking furiously. Her instinct for self-preservation told her to just drive away. If she was smart, that’s exactly what she’d do.
She slammed the car back into park, pulled the keys out of the ignition and followed the cops inside.