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TITLE: “More Human Than Human”
FANDOM: X-Men (Movieverse)
SUMMARY: Somewhere beneath the overriding eau de vomit and urine that permeated the bus station was a familiar scent. One he hadn’t smelled in a while, and had hoped never to smell again.
RATING: R (for language)

CHAPTER ONE: Ratfinks, Suicide Tanks and Cannibal Girls
CHAPTER TWO: Two-Lane Blacktop



CHAPTER
THREE

HOW to MAKE a MONSTER


Of all the hells man had created on earth, bus stations had to be somewhere near the top of the list. First you had your hobos and smackheads begging for money. Then there were the recently-released convicts—easily to spot because they were carrying their belongings in a clear plastic bag. Add in a lot of snot-nosed kids and parents long past their last nerve, give them all a bellyful of snack bar nacho cheese, douse them in diesel fumes, and then let them sit around musing on the prospect of being squeezed into a smelly, cramped bus with questionably functional toilets for hours on end. Guantanamo had nothing on Greyhound.

Logan stood in the midst of all this misery, staring at the departure schedule and trying to decide where he wanted to go. He’d been more or less drifting for weeks now, roaming randomly from place to place. It was easy when you were hitchhiking, you just went wherever the guy who picked you up was going. But now that he was in a bus station he had to make an actual decision. Or else go back to hitching. Truth be told, though, he was pretty damn sick of the smell of stale fries and BO-soaked upholstery. Maybe he ought to try and figure out what the hell he was doing out here.

The original idea had been to get away for a while—like a vacation of sorts—to give him some time to clear his head and get his bearings after the all shit that had gone down. He wasn’t exactly a vacation kind of guy, though. Checking into some fancy hotel and laying around by the pool? Not really his thing. And sightseeing? He’d rather punch himself in the balls repeatedly. So he’d ended up rambling aimlessly from shit hole to shit hole, which was not exactly turning out to be the tranquil getaway he’d dreamed of.

He could always pack it in and go back to the mansion, of course. There was a bus leaving in a few hours that would eventually get him to New York. Eventually. Christ, he’d be better off stealing a fucking car. But was he ready to go back? The place held a lot of memories and a lot of grief. Not to mention the prospect of having face Summers again.

Screw it, he’d decide later. First he was going to take a piss.

In the men’s room some pipsqueak decided it’d be a good idea to strike up a conversation at the urinals. Logan felt pretty proud of himself for resisting the urge to leave the guy’s guts dangling over the urinal cake. He washed his hands and face at the sink and stared at himself in the mirror. Even he had to admit he looked like hell. Even more like hell than usual. He wondered what that girl Elizabeth must have made of him.

She was an odd duck. A smart, pretty girl like that living in her car? Hanging around seedy truck stops the middle of the night and picking up mutant hitchhikers like it was nothing? And there was something funny about her accent, too. He was pretty sure it was fake. Ten to one she was on the run. From what, was the question. Not that he’d ever find out. The kid was probably halfway to the state line by now.

Logan stepped out the restroom, looked around, and froze as two cops came charging down the corridor in his direction. They blew past him without a second glance. Whoever they were looking for, it apparently wasn’t him. He started to wander back out into the terminal and then froze again, every muscle in his body taut with apprehension. His nostrils flared as he sniffed the air. Somewhere beneath the overriding eau de vomit and urine that permeated the bus station was a familiar scent. One he hadn’t smelled in a while, and had hoped never to smell again.

He turned back the direction the cops had headed and took off running.


- X -


There was no sign of Logan inside the terminal. And no sign of the police, either. Elizabeth waved off a panhandler and walked outside to the loading and unloading area. It was mostly empty this early in the morning; a few empty buses were lined up at the gates, waiting to be put into service, and there was a guy sleeping on the ground under a newspaper, but it wasn’t Logan unless he’d lost about eighty pounds in the last ten minutes.

A flash of movement between two of the buses caught her eye so she went to investigate. When she got there no one was in sight, though. She wandered toward the back of the buses, her eyes moving from side to side as she searched for some sign of Logan.

Her nerves jangled a warning a split second before she was hit in the back. The blow knocked the air out of her lungs and send her sprawling face down on the ground. Before she could suck in a breath or even try to push herself to her knees a clawed hand wrapped itself around her throat, lifted her up off the ground and slammed her against the side of the bus.

“You stole something that belonged to us,” snarled a voice.

Victor. The part of her brain that wasn’t already maddened with panic sent a fresh spike of cold fear down her spine. The Brotherhood had tracked her down.

His fingers tightened on her windpipe, his long fingernails piercing the skin of her throat. Terror clawed at her insides, screaming at all her senses. She struggled violently, trying to pry his hand away and kicking her legs out wildly, but she was no match for his overwhelming brute strength. He wasn’t bothering to question her, he was neutralizing her. Which meant the interrogation would take place later, in front of Magneto, and it would be extremely unpleasant. Just as she felt herself beginning to lose consciousness she heard the distinctive SNIKT of metal claws extending.

“Let her go,” Logan said.

Victor roared and tossed her like a rag doll. She bounced off the side of a bus and crumpled to the ground in heap. Pain flared in her head as it struck the concrete; her vision went momentarily white, then dark, before gradually beginning to clear. She sucked in a lungful of air, grateful for every molecule despite the pain tearing at her throat. Blood trickled down her neck, hot and sticky. She braced a shaky hand against the ground and levered herself up to a sitting position.

Logan and Victor were battling like two wild animals. She heard a crash as Logan slammed into the side of a bus, hard enough to leave body-shaped dent in it. His long metal claws swiped at Victor and missed. He was forced to dodge as Victor snapped at his face, sharp fangs just centimeters away from ripping into his throat. Logan responded with a kick that sent Victor careening into a trash can. And then suddenly Victor was leaping up over the top of the bus and away, disappearing as abruptly as he’d appeared. Logan looked for a second like he might go after him, but hurried to Elizabeth’s side instead.

“You okay?” he asked, his eyes flicking to her bruised and bleeding throat.

“Have ... to ... run,” she rasped, every word an agony to her injured windpipe.

“You don’t need to worry about that guy.”

“No ... the police—“

The rest of her words were cut off by the approaching thunder of booted feet on asphalt. SNIKT. SNIKT. The blades shot out of Logan’s hands as if by reflex. It was already too late to get away. Nearly a dozen police officers fanned out around them, weapons drawn. Reinforcements had apparently arrived.

“Put your hands up and move away from the woman,” ordered one of the officers.

Logan stood up and turned to face the cops, his claws glinting in the early morning sun. The faces that stared back at him were contorted with fear and disgust. Several held their guns in visibly shaking hands. This was it. Elizabeth’s vision was happening right now and it was all her fault.

“Don’t hurt him!” she cried. Her voice, still weak and reedy, was drowned out by the roar of a low-flying plane overhead. She needed to focus, if only she could clear her mind. She forced herself to her feet, but as soon as she was upright her vision started to swim. She swayed and started to pitch forward.

Logan reached out to steady her, the long metal claws moving in her direction—

The police opened fire. Logan was thrown backwards by the force of the bullets hitting his chest. Elizabeth threw herself to the ground, covering her her ears to shut out the shattering burst of gunfire. It was over in seconds. She could see Logan’s body sprawled on the ground, blood just beginning to pool beneath him. Dazed, she crawled to his side. Multiple gunshot wounds bloomed on his chest. She fumbled at his throat for a pulse, knowing even as she did so that she wouldn’t find one. His eyes were open wide, unfocused and unseeing.

He was dead. He was dead because he’d tried to help her.

The tight rein she struggled to keep on her emotions shattered and she felt rage bubble up inside her, thick and oily. Her fists balled at her sides. She could taste the bitter tang of adrenaline on the back of her tongue.

Those bloody humans, all they knew how to do was hate. They always had to divide the world up into “us” and “them” so they’d have an enemy to fear. Someone ought to make them pay, said a voice in her head. Someone ought to make them hurt, the way they’ve made us hurt.

“Step away from the body ma’am. Nice and slow, with your hands in the air.”

Her mind crackled with fury as the power uncoiled within her, ready to strike at her command. She looked up at the tense, ashen faces of Lexington’s Finest and pushed.

A wave of pure psionic energy blasted the police, sending them all flying backwards. Some writhed on the floor, clutching their heads in agony. Others lay unmoving and unconscious—or maybe dead—where they fell. Guns littered the ground; the smell of hot metal and fear filled the air.

With blurring eyes Elizabeth surveyed the damage she had done and felt the power drain away, leaving her with an empty, sick feeling. Despair and remorse welled up inside her, displacing the anger that had driven her only moments ago.

There was a noise behind her.

She spun around and gasped in surprise. A mutant stood not two feet away, where there had certainly been no one a moment before. He was blue and the skin of his face was covered in some sort of ritual scars. If he was one of the Brotherhood he was one she’d never seen before.

He blinked yellow eyes at her and grinned, revealing a mouthful of sharp, fang-like teeth. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “I’m a friend of Logan’s.” He had a gentle voice with a pronounced German accent

“Logan’s dead,” Elizabeth said numbly.

“We will care take of him, but first, we must get you somewhere safe. Please forgive me for being so forward on such short acquaintance, but—“ He stepped forward and embraced her.

Suddenly she was nowhere. It wasn’t just that the ground had dropped away beneath her, the whole universe had dropped away. There was just ... nothing. Nothing except the burning smell of sulfur. It was frighteningly close to what she had always imagined hell must be like. And then, just as suddenly, she was somewhere again.

The sense of disorientation was overwhelming, like the worst case of motion sickness she’d ever had, times ten. Her stomach heaved and she was hit by a wave of dizziness strong enough to send her to her knees.

“I think she’s going to vomit,” said a girl’s voice.

“For God’s sake, someone get her air sickness bag,” said another female voice, older than the first.

She was pretty sure she was on an airplane, she could figure that much out from the sound and the vibrations. Someone pressed a paper bag into her hand. “Here,” the girl said. “It’ll pass soon. Kinda freaky the first time, isn’t it?”

“Look after her,” she heard the German say. And then there was another strange noise, similar to the one she’d heard in the bus station, but much louder.

She managed to open one eye without spilling her guts. She was in fact on an airplane of some kind—it was sleek and sci-fi looking, like a military jet or some kind of super high-tech private plane—and the blue guy was nowhere to be seen. The girl crouching next to her smiled. She was pretty, but with a prominent streak of gray hair framing her face. The other woman she’d heard speak was flying the plane. Elizabeth couldn’t see her face, but her hair was pure white.

There was another noise and the blue guy appeared out of nowhere, trailing wisps of blue smoke and clutching Logan’s body. Elizabeth doubled over as the smell of sulfur sent her stomach churning all over again.

The girl ran over to help him ease Logan’s inert form onto the floor of the aisle. “That is a lot of bullet holes,” she said. “It might take him a while to wake up this time.”

“Wake up?” Elizabeth managed to say through the waves of nausea.

The German stood up and brushed off the front of his jacket. “I assure you, it will take more than a few bullets to kill our friend Logan.”

“One time I saw him get shot right between the eyes ,” the girl said. “He was up and walking around like five minutes later.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth said. And then she fainted.


CONTINUED in CHAPTER FOUR ...


 

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