Sorting Things Out
Hidden in the Past 5: Sorting Things Out
rating: pg 13
main characters: Xander, Logan
story 5 in Hidden in the Past
disclaimer: I do not own anyone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or from the X-Men movie.
distribution: Twisting, Paula, anyone that asked for permission for one of the earlier Hidden in the Past installments.
summary: Logan comes to Sunnydale to find his past... and discovers his son, Xander. Season 1.
Logan had been scouring his dreams and the fragments of memory for specific details. He wanted to have something that he could use to get a location, to find answers. A name, a city... some specific landmark, more than an Italian restaurant that had an ocean to one side. If he could find a place to start...
Her name had been Jean Phillips. He'd remembered it, along with little fragments of what might have been a wedding. It wasn't a lot to go on, but it would be a place to start. He began searching for information on a female Caucasian, Phillips, Jean. Other dreams had placed her in a college, still in that same town near an ocean.
When he finally found her, it was purely by chance. An old obituary from her father's death listed the surviving relatives, including one Jean Phillips, of Sunnydale California. Finally, he had a location, a place to start looking deeper. A place to go. Sunnydale, California.
Remembering the run around that Chuck had given him about the dreams that had been memories, he decided not to worry about going with back up, or the support of the team. But, it wouldn't do to just vanish, no, that would upset Marie, and be a damn foolish thing. He decided to stop first to talk with Marie. She was on her way to study, arms full of some books and a bag of microwave popcorn.
"Marie. There's... I wanted to let you know." How could he explain this? He didn't want her to feel like he was abandoning her like her parents had.
She smiled at him. "Logan. What's going on? Does this have anything to do with why you've been talking to the Professor a lot?"
"Yeah. I've... I've found some bits of memories, and a name. I wanted... I need to go look into it." He wanted her to understand that he wasn't deserting her, that she wasn't going to loose this new family.
"Of course you have to go! I know how much it eats at you to not know... I've had you inside my head, remember? Just... be careful?" Her teasing grin ensured that there was no sting to her words. "Now get out and find the man you used to be."
Logan almost laughed. "You got spunk, kid."
But it wouldn't do for nobody to know where he went, what he was planning. Best tell the person who'd been the most supportive through this, even if half of that had been the much politer version of 'stop wasting time and get your act together'. Ororo Munroe.
He wasn't sure if she liked him, he wasn't even sure if he liked her sometimes. But he definitely respected her. She had courage, and cunning, and some impressive abilities. He would explain to her what he was doing. She would most likely understand.
She was in the gardens, hair loose, watering a small rose bush. Looking over at him, she gave a small smile, one of puzzled good manners. "Logan, good morning. I wasn't expecting you here."
"Morning to you, 'Ro. I'm going to be leaving the mansion again." He just didn't understand her sometimes... most of the time, actually.
"Why... does this have to do with the memory dreams?" She looked thoughtful. "You do not wish to take anyone with you?"
He shook his head. "No... especially not with the amount of foot dragging that Chuck gave me about all of this. I told Marie that I'm hunting for my past... But I wanted to tell you where. In case something goes wrong.. You're the safety net."
"That's... quite a lot of trust to put in me. Why me, out of all the people here?" She had put the watering can down, and was giving him this look, as if she could pluck answers from him by searching his face.
"Because I respect you. You have very useful abilities, and I don't just mean the mutation. You keep a level head in emergencies, you sure as hell don't leave people behind, and you're the only person here that I don't think would give me hell about trying to do this on my own."
She smiled, the expression as stunning as the sun appearing from behind clouds. "I'm honored. But, please be careful. And perhaps you could check back occasionally? That way, if you do not, I will know something has happened?"
"Right. Every two days, more if there's something big. I'm going to go to Sunnydale, California. Supposed to be a little town by the ocean, quiet and pretty much bypassed by the urban sprawl." Logan's voice had slowed, and he tried to puzzle out the feelings that he had.
"Supposed to be?" Apparently, some of his suspicions had transferred to Ororo.
Logan shook his head, wishing that everything made sense to him. "I can't explain it, but... It just doesn't feel like it would be that simple. And when is any place ever that quiet, that safe? I just... I feel like there's something rotten in Denmark, and I don't know what."
"That makes sense. Good luck to you, Logan." Ororo's words almost felt like a formal blessing.
"Thanks." With that, he turned to go get ready. He wanted to take a few things with him, make sure that he was prepared.
end part 1.
Xander glared at the book in his hands. He despised his math class, even if he could follow most of it, with a bit of help from Willow. He'd rather be outside, running, practicing fighting, hunting vampires... anything. But no, he'd come here after school, to the not so happy Harris home. The door slammed downstairs, and he could hear his father complaining about something at work, some idiot in management hiring a mutant to work in shipping and receiving.
Forget this. No way that he was staying in here for one of Mark Harris' soon to be drunken rages. He slipped over to the window, opening it up and ducking out, a careful movement having him crouched beside it on the slanted bit of roof. He edged the window sill down, so that it was only open a few inches, not enough to inspire suspicion. He moved slowly across the roof, lowering himself to the garage roof slowly to avoid any betraying noises. Following the solid support beam so as not to crash through the flimsy garage shingles, he leapt to the ground beside the garage, confident that nobody would see him.
It wasn't until he'd moved from his careful landing to a steady lope towards Willow's house that it really occurred to him what he'd done. He'd gone across the roof without loosing his balance and jumped off of the garage landing safely and quietly. As if it was a perfectly ordinary thing. Could he blame that on a residual hyena effect? Hmmm... Probably not, except that the Pack Leader didn't have the same conventions about what was and wasn't a good entrance. That meant the abilities were all his...
"Oh yeah, things have definitely gotten a bit stranger here. Got to talk to Wills about this." Xander shook his head, wondering how he could even explain it. After all, how can you not realize that you're crossing the roof and jumping off the garage?
He was still feeling worried and freaked out about the whole thing by the time he got to Willow's house. Her parent's weren't home, nobody but Willow and the mailman had even been to the door for days... And the fact that he still had the hyena intense smelling ability was just weird. He let himself into the house, walking to the kitchen. He felt hungry, maybe he could fix himself a sandwich. Except that there was not a lot of food, and most of it was things like pasta, vegetables, strange canned things that sounded nutritional and possibly foreign.
He caught her scent before he heard her footsteps. Willow... and something had made her sad. When he figured that she would hear him, he called out. "Hey Wills. Got some time? I think there's more weirdness resulting from fun time with hyenas."
"Sure, I have all the time in the world. We can sit in the living room." Her voice was oddly bland, as if... as if she was trying to flatten the emotions out. She smelled like she was trying not to cry.
Uh-oh. He knew something was wrong, and the way that she was trying to stuff every thing down... it was only a big sign that something was really bothering her. They moved into the living room, and he sat down, pulling her down beside him on the couch. "I was just freaking that I sort of accidentally ducked out the window, walked across the roof, and jumped off the garage. What's got you upset?"
"It's... I shouldn't let it get to me. Really." She sniffled a bit, and the scent of tears and sorrow was so thick that Xander could almost taste them.
"Come on, I can tell you're upset. You can talk to me... won't even tell anyone if you don't want me to." He wrapped his arm around her, and she burrowed closer to him, tears flowing onto his shirt.
"I had a call from my parents. They... they're not coming back for another month. Something about a conference about the mutant issue and how it will affect the psychological practices. They were just so... so cold. Like there's no commitment there, you know?" Her voice was a bit muffled as she spoke into his shoulder. "Like I don't matter to them."
He hugged her close, his eyes going shut as the darker part of his mind that had been opened up by the hyena contemplated her parents dying horribly. Torn apart by wild animals, or smashed on sharp rocks... "I'm sorry Wills. They don't deserve you. You're family to me, even if they aren't here."
"We don't need to set a pack of wild beasts to tear them apart. And yeah, I have you. My best friend..." She looked up, her eyes still filled with tears. "Maybe we could order pizza? You can get yourself a big one that is entirely non-kosher."
"Pizza! Yes, Wills, you are a life saver. How did you know..." Xander paused, trying to find the right words. Willow had known exactly what sort of images were going through his mind, but how? Was it just because she'd known him practically forever?
She frowned a bit. "You didn't say that? I could have sworn that you did... Maybe it is just that we've been friends forever. Or maybe... do you think maybe there's something in the air... some hellmouthy influence to make mutants more likely? Maybe I'm some sort of mutant mind reader... Everything's changing, Xander, and I think it's only going to get stranger, you know?"
"If this were any other town, I'd wonder how things could get stranger than they are. But... we hunt vampires, our pal Buffy the let's pretend nothing happened is the Chosen Slayer, we get to play name that demon... and last but not least we get mystical hyena possession." Xander just had to shake his head. Their lives sounded so bizarre when he put it like that.
"Yeah... Our lives are so weird." She gave a faint smile, rather weak and wobbly, but there were no more tears. "And you started the whole nothing thing, mister what happened."
Xander sighed as he wiped away the tear on her cheek. "I'll call for pizza. That should end up being relatively non-weird."
end part 2.
Xander was perfectly willing to let the whole 'Willow knew what he was thinking' slide out of his attention. After all, she was Willow, of course she knew all sorts of things. He was more willing to let himself think about the fact that she would always be there for him, and didn't think there was something wrong with him for these weird changes that had happened lately. After all, he was freaking out more than enough for both of them.
But school seemed determined to try and freak Xander out. Bad enough that he still smelled everything, and could hear it, but... In History, he wrote the assignment down, nodding slightly at the way Mr. Chen phrased it, and then discovered five minutes later as he announced it to the class who wrote it down that he hadn't said it earlier. He was listening to some of the Cordettes talking about this beach party they were planning over the weekend, trying to imagine them in their swimming suits when Harmony turned around, glaring at him.
"I'll have you know that my bikini is green, not red, and YOU are not invited to the party anyhow, looser."
Larry was in the utility closet with Jonathan... eeuuch. That was enough to almost freak him out all by itself. Miss Calendar smelled like she'd been really close to Giles, although thankfully she didn't smell like Giles and sex. That was also entirely worthy of freaking out. Buffy was in the library practicing, listening to some female singer whining about her miserable ex boyfriend, and there was this rip in her shirt, along the bottom of the arm seam, just enough that he could catch glimpses of her bra...
Buffy turned to glare at him. "What do you mean you can see my bra?"
Xander gasped, mumbling something while gesturing at the sleeve, and retreated to the back of the library. Today was just freaky weird, and he was ready for it to be over.
Willow found him, a somewhat puzzled expression on her face. Xander could tell that she'd been to talk to Miss Calendar, but had no idea why Willow looked so puzzled. "Hey Wills. What's up?"
"I umm... I talked with Miss Calendar. Trying to figure out if there was something hellmouthy at work about me knowing what was in you head. She... she told me that I have the potential to learn magic. I could be a witch. I'm sort of trying not to freak." Her eyes kept darting around, her fingers twitching and fussing with a loose thread on her sweater.
Blinking, Xander considered that. "A witch? Like Catherine Madison? ummm..."
"Yeah. Ummm. She doesn't think that the magical potential would be causing me to hear things that nobody else does." Willow sighed, sitting down beside him. "So I have nothing as an explanation beyond the fact that I've known you forever."
"So... our band of Scoobies is evolving? We'll have Buffy the Slayer, Xander the mutant, and Willow the witch? And Giles and Miss Calendar... are they... they're..." Xander's mind refused to let him finish that sentence.
"Dating. Yes, they are. They seem happier because of it." She gave him a small smile and passed him a chocolate bar. "I've found that chocolate helps in times of mental stress. It's even been documented."
"Let me go on record as saying the super sniffing thing has a downside. I get way too much information sometimes. And we don't want you going all cheer-crazy like Catherine did. Although hexing Cordelia might be pretty cool..." Xander wanted Willow to feel calmer, so he joked with her.
Willow giggled. "I can't hex Cordelia! I... don't know how. Wait, I should say because it's wrong..."
Xander grinned at her. "So... shall we try a patrol tonight? While Buffy is off making goo goo eyes at Deadboy?"
"That could be dangerous... maybe if we don't go into the places with the bigger nests? I'm not a super hero here." Willow looked thoughtful, as if her mind was already chewing the problem apart. "I can check the coroner's office for strange deaths."
"The fact that checking the coroner's seems perfectly normal is almost as bizarre sounding as the way my day's gone. I mean - Larry and Jonathan in the utility closet. That's just wrong. And Harmony jumped all over me about the color of her bikini when they were talking about their beach party, which I am most clearly not invited to attend. And... I seem to have heard the history assignment before Mr. Chen actually said it." Xander gave a slight shiver as he reflected on the day so far.
"if it's not me... Xander, maybe the telepath type is you. That's sort of cool." Willow was biting her lip a bit, her fingers still fussing with the loose thread on her sweater.
"err... can I give it back? Or maybe pass it to you? I've already got stuff to freak over, I'm the hyena guy here, remember?" Xander felt dread churn and twist in his stomach.
She gave a small, sad smile. "If you are a mutant telepath as well as the other things, then you can't give it back. Even if it does seem really weird."
"So... you get to grow up to be the wicked witch of the trophy case and I get to be the hunted maybe terrorist boogey man? This sucks. But at least I've got my best bud with me." Xander sighed, feeling change creeping up to choke him. "So... is this freaky mutant thing coming from one of my parents?"
Willow looked at him, her eyes filled with thoughts and questions. "I have no idea. But I can do a sort of background check on them, look for weird stuff."
The whole thing sounded way too bizarre. "You want to run a background check on my parents? That's just... wrong sounding. Go for it."
end part 3
So this was Sunnydale. It didn't seem like much, abandoned warehouses and empty factories loomed at the edge, like char edging a half burned paper. He could see a cemetery, large and frequently used. There was something in the air, not just the scent of the ocean, but... this feeling of something wrong. Logan couldn't explain it, but there was something not right about this place. He began his search for a suitable cheap hotel, and in the process passed almost a dozen churches, and another small cemetery. There was a scent in the air, one that reminded him of death, but not decay.
He was rather on edge by the time he found a hotel. The fact that there was a small cross carved into the front of the door, and another hidden underneath the inside window grated at his nerves. He felt like he'd walked into a horror movie and was somehow missing all the warning signs. But he was sure of one thing. This was not some safe, sleepy little town. Logan just didn't know what it was yet.
Dialing the mansion, he shifted on his feet, wondering just what was wrong with this place, and why it hadn't been in any of those fragmentary memories. He briefly spoke to Ororo, having little more to say than that'd he'd arrived, Scott's bike was still intact, and there seemed to be something off about the town. Too many empty buildings. Logan' didn't mention the scent of death, or the feeling of danger-dread-wrong that the place was giving him.
He felt much to restless. Maybe he should go for a walk, look for a fight of some sort. So, he left the duffel of things in the hotel, slipping the key into his pocket. Walking out, he just let himself meander through town. He wanted to get an idea where things were, to see if anything seemed familiar. He found himself in front of a coffee shop, named the Espresso Pump, and had the oddest feeling that the shop was familiar, but not the name. Shaking his head, he kept moving.
Logan caught their scent before they attacked, dirt and old blood and slow decay, the reek of death and predatory glee... vampires. They tried to corner him in the alley, ridged faces twisted into sneers as they moved towards him, their foul breath emerging between yellowed fangs. "Guess what... it's dinner time."
They lunged towards him, no finesse, no particular skill even. Dodging the first one, Logan his the second in the jaw, the weight of his bones adding to the impact. The one he'd hit staggered back, growling. "I'm not your dinner."
Logan found himself grinning as the fight continued. They had no skill, but were strong and fast enough to make it interesting. He was feeling better by the time the fight grew dull.
"It's been fun, boys, but I have other things to do." The claws slid forth with the now expected flicker of pain, and he slashed the head from the first one. The second just stared for a crucial moment, and found himself turning to dust as his heart was pierced and slashed by warm metal.
Logan wiped the dust from his claws, not wanting to find out if he was allergic to vampire dust. It just seemed... He didn't want any still clinging to his claws when he retracted them. "Vampires. Wonder how many more of them there are around here? Maybe that's why this town stinks..."
He went back to the hotel, trying to plan out his strategy for tomorrow. He wanted to find what had happened to Jean Phillips, the woman he was fairly certain he'd married. To find out who he'd been. Maybe even uncover something to tell him how he'd gone from whoever had known Jeannie to Logan the wandering mutant.
Logan had the suspicion that there would be answers that he didn't like before everything came out. He just hoped there wasn't anything he couldn't cope with.
end part 4.
Xander made his way into the library, part of his mind still turning over what Mrs. Taylor, an old friend of his mother's had been saying. Somebody was asking about his mother. Some strange man with an out of town accent. On the bright side, the guy'd been asking questions in the daytime, so he couldn't be a vampire. But... why was somebody looking into his mother's past? And here he was, on Saturday, arriving at the school for some remedial studies for history. At least he wasn't at home.
Buffy was training, sending kicks and punches towards a heavily padded Giles, who offered a few comments of her form, trying to correct balance and precision. But the comments lost a bit of weight when gasped out from impact numbed ribs.
"Careful there, you don't want to break your watcher." Xander couldn't quite resist teasing Buffy a little.
Willow dropped her pencil with a small near growl as she faced the computer monitor, probably glaring. "Why aren't there any good stories about mutants? Or witches? No heroic mutants rescuing people in distress, just scary mutants destroying buildings and breaking cars. No helpful witches except Glinda from Oz, just nasty old scary women that like to steal small children in fairy tales. uggh."
Giles glanced towards Willow, his voice still a bit faint. "Mutants are... different, and therefore somewhat frightening. It is simple for the media to focus only on things that are easy... not so hard, Buffy. Easy to understand, like the different being frightening or bad. There is also the sad fact that very few heroes of any sort are particularly publicized."
"But... what about mutants who just... want to have a normal life?" If only he had a way to let Giles know how important this was to know!
"Who gets a normal life? I'd like a normal life. One where I have a medical program." Buffy smiled cheerfully at Giles while one foot sped towards his head. "And while I'm at it, I want a week of vacation somewhere nice every year."
Giles blocked the kick, a movement that showed Buffy was definitely not putting her full strength into the move. "I don't think I've heard much about quiet mutants who don't want any attention."
Willow looked towards Xander, her eyes full of emotions - worry, sympathy, friendship. "Probably not considered attention catching enough."
"While that is quite possible, the fact remains that mutants are unpredictable, and dangerous." Giles sounded as if he was on the verge of slipping into lecture mode.
"Giles? I umm... I think I have to go home. Some stuff I need to get done... Xander? Can I talk you into helping me move a few things?" She looked a bit nervous, her eyes flickering a little too much.
Xander gave a half grin, certain that Willow was lying. If he was guessing right, she just wanted to get out before Giles started a mutants are dangerous lecture. The idea sounded good to him. "Sure thing, Wills. You can help me with that history project."
They walked out of the library, arms laden with books. Once he was certain that Giles wouldn't hear them, he grinned at her. "What are we moving?"
"Ourselves out of lecture range." Her voice had a slightly hopeful, slightly teasing tone.
Xander just laughed, finding the idea amusing. Even though she thought it was definitely of the weird that he was a mutant, she was still trying to keep him safe. "Thanks for the save then. Get anything on that history project?"
"I found some stuff... it's sort of unusual, but I'm not sure how it all fits together. I can explain all about it when we get to my house." She was fidgeting with the edge of her sleeve, something in various orange and gold stripes that nearly swallowed her.
For a moment, he considered asking her if she was trying to hide in her clothing before it occurred to him that that was exactly what she was trying to do. She didn't want the sort of attention that some of the girls got. She didn't want to be judged by what size her breasts were, or how short her skirts were. She wanted to be judged for what she could do... the way her parents had sort of pushed her. "Yeah... we can go over that at your place."
Walking in the Rosenberg house, he sighed. "What bizarre stuff did you find about my family? A criminal record for my dad? My mom's related to money? A Kennedy connection? Bacon link of three?" He grinned, dropping onto the couch.
She sat down, her face serious. "Did you know that Mark Harris isn't you mother's first husband?"
"There seems to be some guy trying to ask about my mother... say that again, Wills? I thought you just said something about my mom and husbands?" Xander had been only half listening, confident that Willow would go into detail, but that had grabbed his attention.
"When your mom was still in college the first time, she married a guy named James Logan Howlett. They were married about a month and a half before he was attacked, listed as presumed murdered, body not recovered. Seems he got knocked over the cliffs, over by Hewitt Point, where there's that really strong undertow. Apparently the guy who did it then tried to attack your mom, and she was rescued by Mark Harris, who married her two weeks later." Willow paused, her eyes getting that unfocused look that said she was working on a problem. "Is that even legal? umm... anyhow, she was married to this guy Howlett first."
"Whoa... nobody ever mentioned that. How long did they have to forget about that before I came along and changed everything?" Xander felt stunned. His mom had been married before? Something about that just screamed 'suspicious'.
Willow looked at him, her eyes now focused on him, glittering intensely. "About seven months. And I checked the hospital records on you, you were sort of smallish, but quite healthy."
"Umm, Wills? Seven month babies are generally pretty small and sickly." Xander had the oddest feeling that he was teetering on the edge of something. Something that would change everything.
"I know that, Xander." She looked at her hands, and took a slow, careful breath. "What if you weren't a seven month baby? What if you aren't the child of Mark Harris, but the son of James Howlett instead?"
He felt as if the world was spinning a bit, and put his hand out, seeking balance. "uhhhh.... yay me if I am Xander Howlett? What sort of guy was he?"
"I sort of hacked the Sunnydale College records. He didn't graduate on account of being shot and falling into the undertow and presumed dead, but... he'd been attending the college with a double major in History and Military Science. Pretty good grades too... I think I'm jealous. I even found a picture. See what you think." Her hand was shaking a bit as she passed a printed page to him, the scent of the ink still strong.
There was a black and white picture of a smiling couple, and a caption underneath - 'Howlett and Phillips Wed.' The man had dark hair that seemed to almost form a pair of peaks, and there was his mother, much younger, smiling, obviously so happy... He'd never seen her look so happy with his father... with Mr. Harris. There was also the fact that this Howlett guy sort of resembled him, or maybe it was that he resembled James Howlett. "Oh my God..."
"Yeah, I noticed the resemblance too." Her voice was soft, full of too many thoughts.
They both sat there for a while, pondering the implications of the picture. Xander wasn't a Harris, but a Howlett. And a mutant. He wondered if this picture had anything to do with the guy asking questions about his mother.
end part 5.
Logan was starting to feel frustrated. He'd been here for a few days, trying to find information on Jean Phillips. Apparently, it was Jean Harris now, and she worked at the local hospital. He'd checked the phone book, finding a couple Harris listings, and was debating which of them he should go try to check out. He'd gone out walking every night, feeling oddly confined in the motel room. Every night, he'd found vampires, every night he'd had to fight to keep them from feeding on him. Actually, it was pretty good exercise.
It had also provided an excuse for him to not check out the addresses. He was feeling a bit nervous about it. It had been years... what if he'd been forgotten? What if it was all some elaborate fantasy? Or what if he had to explain what had happened to him?
But it wasn't something that he could put off forever. Taking a deep breath in hopes that it would make this easier, He left the room. If only he could figure out why this was so much harder than facing a hail of bullets, or a vicious mutant almost twice his size. How could he be so unsettled by the idea of looking up a woman from his past? He shook his head, musing on his thoughts as he headed across town.
Briefly, he paused near the town's main teen hang out, a club called the Bronze. There was someone else fighting a vampire, a blonde girl that had to be about the same age as Marie. But she seemed to have things well in hand, even making comments and insulting the vampire before stabbing it with something, a knife? He wasn't quite certain what she'd had in her hand, but whatever it was, the vampire turned to dust. She was quite the bundle of energy. But why was she looking for vampires anyhow?
Pondering the girl called Buffy, and what sort of girl announced that she was 'Buffy the vampire slayer' anyhow, he shook his head. She didn't have anything to do with his reasons for coming here. He might as well keep going, heading towards the first Harris house. How hard could it be, anyhow? The worst that might happen would be running into a fight with something, right?
Still trying to figure out why some girl would be out hunting vampires, he pulled out the map of Sunnydale that he'd picked up. He'd put together a list of the Harris addresses from the phone book, but that would only help if he had some idea where to look for them. After all, where in the hell was Oak Street, and how did he get there from the motel on... LaVerde? Shaking his head, he concluded that he definitely would be taking a while to find all of these places. Glaring at the map, he managed to figure out where he was, and a few more moments located Oak Street. Hmmm... hell of a lot of cemeteries in this town. The shortest route to Oak Street took him through a park and past a cemetery. Grumbling, he started walking, wondering how many vampires he'd run into tonight.
Shaking his head, he pondered all the scents in the air. He'd started to adjust to the whole oppressive something in the air, a something he'd decided to think of as the stench of evil. There were the scents of various people, and the old blood and decay stench of vampires, and other scents, things that weren't human but he couldn't put a name too. If ever there was a place that might be a hiding place for mutants... well, they'd probably run a high risk of becoming vampire bait. He was starting to think it was amazing that anyone got out of this place alive. The idea that they could do it without an appalling amount of mental and emotional problems would be almost miraculous.
The woman that he'd talked to had seemed... well, it was the feeling that he should know who she was but couldn't quite place a name to her. She'd been willing to tell him some things about Jean Phillips, such as the fact that she was Jean Harris now, but not where she lived. No other details that would help him find her. Which was what had him walking around this town hunting for addresses in the dark.
The first address was a definite no. None of the scents of the residents seemed even remotely familiar. The same with the second. He started acoss town toward the third house, passing yet another cemetery and heard sounds of fighting. Fighting? Curious, he made his way closer. There was a young man with dark hair fighting what had to be a vampire, while a red haired female held two other vampires at bay with what looked like a super soaker squirt gun. The young man moved smoothly, confidently as he dodged at punched, and something about his fighting style seemed almost familiar to Logan. He felt a bit frustrated that he couldn't get a good look at the face of whoever it was.
The vampires fell to the ground as dust, and the young man stopped, suddenly tense. Logan frowned, wondering what had changed. The wind had shifted, could the fighter smell him? Regardless, it was time to move on, to check out the other two addresses. One of them had to be the home of Jeannie.
He stopped in front of the house on Mulberry Street. It wasn't particularly impressive, just a basic ranch style house. But... something about it seemed almost familiar. And he could smell a woman's scent, a familiar scent. His Jeannie lived here. There was also a man, someone who's scent made him growl softly, as if some deep instinct or buried memory said this man was an enemy. There was a third scent, one that suggested a bit of Jeannie, but definitely distinct. He'd have to guess a young man, probably Jeannie's son. But... something about the scent seemed almost familiar, and for lack of a better term, it seemed right to him.
But why in the world would the boy have been jumping off of the garage and sneaking across the side yard?
end part 6.
Jeannie lived in that house. And a boy that jumped off of houses lived in there as well. What was he going to do about it? How did he approach her? He had so many questions, but there was one thing that he was certain of. The urge to go inside and shred the Other Man would not help things go smoothly. Perhaps it would be best to think a bit about things first, and approach her when he had calmed down?
Instead, it might be good to try to learn more about what the boy was up to. Where had he gone after jumping from the roof? What had made him leave the house that way instead of the door?
Questions danced in his head as he followed the scent. The boy had headed east, apparently calm. Long strides, dominant male pheromones... He didn't think this boy was the son of the other man. But why were his movement patterns so familiar?
A snarl was the only warning he had before a vampire attacked him, trying to pounce from behind. He spun, his own growl filling the air, louder and more menacing than the vampire's had been. Claws flickered, and the vampire fell to dust, still staring in disbelief at the claws. Not a particularly impressive vampire by any stretch.
That interruption attended to, he continued following the scent. It lead to a two story house, the yard a bit overgrown, hedges untrimmed, curtains closed. Walking over, he looked for a name on the mailbox, where block letters proclaimed 'ROSENBERG'. Hmmm... the scent had gone right to the front door here, which implied that he felt comfortable going in by more normal means than over garages, and presumably through a window.
Careful investigation found a spare key, and he unlocked the door, making a quick inspection. The ground floor reminded him of a display home, with no personal photographs, no shelves of treasured objects. But the boy had sat on the couch, with a young woman beside him. She'd cried for some reason, but hadn't been afraid.
Moving upstairs, there was an unused feeling room with a walnut bedroom set, a bathroom, and the girl's room, this one decorated with posters, a computer in one corner, a fish tank, and a board of pictures.
On the one hand, he knew that he really shouldn't be in here, but he felt very curious. There was something about the boy, something that almost demanded he learn more. The pictures spanned years, the older ones showing a red haired little girl and a pair of smiling boys, one with dark hair, the other more of a brownish blond. The pictures continued, the children getting older, sometimes with a blond girl laughing with them, sometimes with a couple that appeared to be the lighter haired boy's parents. About the time the dark haired boy looked maybe fifteen or sixteen, the other boy stopped appearing in the pictures. There was a blond girl in flashy clothing, and there was something different about their eyes, sadder.
What was the most unsettling was the way the boy sort of resembled him. With the most obnoxious shirts. But the features... it was uncanny.
Could the boy be his son? That would explain why there was no similarity to the scent of the Other Man, and the resemblance, but... The idea of being a parent was new and strange feeling.
If that was the case... if he had a son... This was definitely not a good place for children. Not with the teeming numbers of vampires. Not with the reek of evil that was in the air. But, what could he do about it? He couldn't exactly go kicking down the Harris door and demanding the return of his... his wife and son? That had an oddly fitting sound to it - his wife and son. Too bad he had no idea how the boy, young man had turned out. Other than dreadful shirts and jumping off garages, which really wasn't helpful.
Carefully, he let himself out of the house, locking the door behind him. He had a lot to think about. How to talk to his Jeannie, what to do about a son that he'd not even known existed...
When he'd returned to the dingy hotel, he called Ororo. She'd wanted him to check in regularly. "Hey 'Ro."
:Has your search been at all productive? Have you found any answers?: Her voice sounded a bit tired.
Logan sat on the lumpy bed, feeling worried about Ororo. She tended to push herself too hard. "Productive... I'm not sure I'd say that. But I've found some answers. Apparently, I was here, almost twenty years ago. In the local college, and apparently I was a history major. I found... well, I haven't talked to her, but I found where Jeanie lives."
:The red haired woman in your dreams?: Her voice sounded curious. :How is she?:
"I haven't talked to her yet. But I know where she lives. She has a husband, and a son. I think... I think he might be mine."
:What? Are you... Logan, are you sure?: The surprise in her voice was clear.
"Sure that she has a son, yes. Sure that he's mine? No, but there's a few things... and I looked at a picture of him... I think maybe that's sort of how I looked at that age." Logan frowned, wondering all over again how to approach the young man, or Jeannie.
:And is the place, Sunnydale, is it as safe as you expected?: She sounded as if she wasn't ready to talk about him having a son either.
"Worse. I'd expected trouble, but I hadn't expected all the vampires. This place is evil." Logan sighed. "I don't like the idea of my son being here. Or my... my wife, assuming those dreams were real."
:What do you intend to do about it?: Her voice was hesitant, as if she wasn't certain she'd like his answer.
"I don't know." It wasn't much of an answer, but it was the only one he had.
end part 7.
Willow and Xander were smiling as they meandered back to Willow's house. For once, they'd actually done well when faced with vampires on their own. Okay, maybe it had been mostly Xander fighting with his super hyena enhancements, but Willow and her super soaker had kept the vampires from swarming them. Good aim with a squirt gun was having some benefits after all. And Xander had watched her stake a couple over the night that had been thrown to the ground, just darting in and stabbing before they could recover.
"I'm thinking that maybe it's good that everything didn't go away or whatever let it still be there. I would have been... really dead on my own." Willow smiled at Xander, still apparently a bit shaken.
Xander smiled back, hiding his frown at the various images of Willow, broken, crumpled, drained flittered through his mind. Were they his imaginings or hers? "Yeah, well if Buffy wasn't so hung up on deadboy, we wouldn't be out here trying to patrol by ourselves."
"Yeah but..." Willow sounded as if she was trying to defend Buffy. "Well, okay, she shouldn't have ditched patrol with us. But we did pretty good! Or, at least, you did pretty good, and I didn't you know, scream or get knocked out or anything, so, yay us."
Xander nodded. "Right. She ditched us to get kisses from the walking corpse. Last time we ever fall for 'meet me in Eternal Rest'... I'm telling you, it's just..." His words slowed, and he reached out, halting Willow.
"Xander?" Her voice sounded worried, and there was a hint of fear in her scent.
"Someone has been here. In your house." Xander's voice had a faint hint of growl. Someone had intruded on Willow's territory, and he knew that she wouldn't be strong enough to defend it in a fight... "Damn hyena instincts."
Willow gasped, one hand clutching nervously at his arm. "Who was it? Are they still here? And umm... what did they want?"
"I don't know who he is, no idea what he wanted, but he's not here anymore." Xander was frowning, wondering the answers to the first two questions himself.
Stepping inside, he looked around, wondering why someone would be interested in the Rosenberg house. The only one who was ever home was Willow. Nothing looked out of place, everything just as neat and bland as ever. But the stranger had been inside, his scent hung in the air. He'd even gone upstairs, intruding into Willow's room.
"Nothing looks out of place... anything been moved?" Why had the man been here? Xander frowned, uncertain of anything involving the other's motivation.
Willow was looking around her room, the super soaker in one hand, her eyes wide. "Everything still here, papers haven't been moved, and... wait a minute, the pictures. Someone's touched the pictures. That doesn't make any sense. Why would someone break well, not really break but go into my house and look at the pictures on my board?"
"I have no idea. I mean, no offense, but who'd care enough to bother?" Xander felt baffled and frustrated.
Willow gave a small almost laugh as she sank onto her bed. "Yeah... who'd care enough to bother? Not like my parents would need to break in, not like any of their rivals would know about me to bother, and if it were someone upset about me hacking into a system, there'd be a mess, or a threatening letter or... something. Umm... you can smell him, was he human?"
"I think so. A little different than normal, but... not demony, not dead so I'm going to guess human. Or maybe a mutant." Xander sat beside her, shoulders slumping.
"And again I come to the question of why anyone would bother." Xander's sigh left him feeling almost more comfortable physically, but just as confused inside. "Will you be okay here tonight?"
She frowned a bit. "umm... I think so. I mean, he was already here, did whatever, and he'd gone now, so I should be... safe enough."
He was still unhappy about the whole thing, but he concluded that Willow was probably right. Why would the guy come back again tonight? He still didn't like it.
He liked it even less when he realized that the guy had apparently followed his scent here, from the not-so-happy Harris home.
"Who in the heck is it? And why was he here? Why would he care?" Xander just wanted enough information to figure out what to do.
end part 8.
Logan had found himself unable to sleep, even after a shower to soothe knotted muscles. As a result, he'd found himself laying in the bed, his hands behind his head as he tried to think about things. What had happened that he'd ended up elsewhere, in Stryker's Weapon X program? Why couldn't he remember, was it the Program or something else that had happened before, or after? Was the boy his son? Had he married Jeannie, or was that just a dream?
What would he do with a teenage son? He didn't really know much about being a parent, but he did know that it would change things a lot. He knew this place was unsafe, did the boy? What was the name of his maybe son? How could he convince him and Jeannie to leave this miserable place? Did he want to try to be a parent, more than just by blood, but an actual guide and role model?
While Logan had no idea how to convince Jeannie and the boy to leave, he knew that he wanted to be involved in the boy's life. And probably a good place to start would be to learn the kid's name. If he knew more about him, he might have some idea how to explain the fundamental wrongness of this place, maybe convince him to leave here. He wondered what the boy did, was he in sports, a good student? Did he have a girlfriend? The whole idea of suddenly being the parent of a teenager, possibly a rebellious, surly defiant teenager made him groan, and he closed his eyes, wondering if there was something to the whole idea of karma.
But it was a place to start that he wanted to be involved, that he wanted the boy to be safe. Perhaps that he wanted to see what the boy already liked to do, where his interests were rather than trying to make him into a younger version of himself. He knew that wasn't what being a parent was about. But what was he supposed to do? Walk up to him and say 'hey, I used to be involved with your mom, I'm pretty sure that I'm your father, let's get the hell out of this town because it's wrong and filled with vampires?' That would probably be a miserable failure. Probably convince the kid that he had mental problems.
If he could find a more believable way to explain the dangers of this place... could he convince the boy to leave? Could he convince him to listen at all? Maybe the boy would decide that some stranger, even someone that had been involved with his mother, was nobody to listen to, should be avoided. What if he thought that Logan was a danger to him? The very idea made him feel cold and angry inside, but he couldn't ignore the possibility. He had no real idea how things had been for the boy, how his childhood had shaped him.
He needed to learn more about the situation before he tried to change things. Name, interests, habits of the boy, was Jeannie happy, how had she ended up with that other man, and why in the hell did he feel like growling at the very thought of the other guy? He knew that his instincts were a bit different, but this had to be more than jealousy over a half remembered love. He had to get a grip on his emotions.
That prompted a bitter smile. Get a grip on his emotions. He'd been fighting to manage that for... well, as long as he could remember. So far, he'd done a bang up job. But this was important, if he couldn't control his temper, or at least reign it in, he would blow his chance for... whatever with Jeannie. Of at least figuring out the past, if not changing the future. And the chances for something with his probably son would be ruined as well. Probably a good thing that he hadn't left anything to indicate his visit to the girl's house. It probably wouldn't make the boy happy to think that someone had been spying on his friend.
Maybe it would be best if he just tried to observe for a while before approaching the boy. If he could learn some about him before they talked... And maybe by then, the idea of parenthood wouldn't feel quite so awkwardly new and unsettling anymore. Maybe he could have time to make a few plans, a few possible things to do depending on what he learned. And in the meantime, he could kill vampires so that they wouldn't endanger his boy. It was amazing good luck that he was still around, considering this place.
Logan wasn't very well acquainted with the Hellmouth's refusal to permit plans to go as their makers desired. He had no idea how much things would change, how little of his half formed plans would happen the way he'd imagined. No idea just how much living in this place of evil had affected his son. But he would find out soon.
end part 9.
Xander had decided that he'd try to get a decent night's sleep, and then in the morning, he'd follow the scent back to wherever the guy who'd been in Willow's house was staying. Since it was Friday, none of the teachers would be trying for anything too demanding, and it wasn't like he was a model of the perfect student anyhow. He'd just have Willow help him go over what he missed, and meanwhile, he could figure out who was checking out Willow's house and his house, and the big one - why. He'd like a few answers.
Besides, this way, Willow wouldn't get all flustered and panicky until after the fact. Everything would be over and done with by the time she found out that he'd checked out the guy. Not that Wills thought he was helpless, especially now, but he was pretty much the closest to family that she had, and she worried. Probably a lot more than she would about her actual parents. But this was something that he had to do. He had to find out what this guy was up to, especially since human or mutant human didn't mean harmless.
He pulled on clean clothing, nothing that would restrict his movements if the guy was trouble, and nothing that he'd be upset if it got torn, stained, or otherwise damaged. Just because the scent didn't give him the wiggins didn't mean that there might not be trouble. Especially here in Sunnydale, home of the Hellmouth.
He slipped out the front door, just as if he was going to school, and made his way down the street, following the scent. It wasn't quite as strong as it had been last night, but he could still follow it easily enough. As he turned a corner a few blocks down, he had to laugh at the sort of absurdity of the situation. He was following a scent to find out why someone had been shuffling through Willow's house. The only part of the whole thing that didn't sound all Twilight Zone was the fact that he was skipping school to do it.
Eventually, he found himself standing at a motel, not quite a scary place, but definitely on the cheap end of temporary shelter. Could vampires get into hotel rooms without an invitation? He shook his head, trying to remind himself to focus on first things first - find the guy who'd been in Willow's house, get answers. Carefully, he tried to find the room, and ended up in front of room twelve. Listening carefully, he could hear the sound of someone moving inside, smell the sharp scent of coffee.
For a few very long moments, he just stood in front of the door, staring at it as questions and possibilities flickered through his mind. How should he do this? Just kick the door down, leap in, and demand answers? Or knock on the door like a sort of civilized person? Hmm... kicking down the door would definitely be seen as aggressive, possibly challenging behavior. Best wait until he had an idea what he was getting into before challenging. Raising his hand and swallowing his worries, he knocked on the door.
A man's voice, deep, a bit gruff, the words sounding just enough different that he knew the speaker wasn't from around here. "Hang on, I'll be there in a moment."
The door opened, leaving Xander face to face with... it was James Logan Howlett, the guy from the picture that Willow had found. But he didn't look any older, the sun was shining onto him, and the resemblance to himself was just... amazing and incredibly freaky. "You... oh, man. You were at my house last night. And Willow's house."
His eyes narrowed a bit, and he gave Xander a searching look, as if he wanted to know how Xander had known. "Yeah. How did you know? What in the hell were you jumping off the garage for?"
Something stirred inside of Xander, and he glared at the other man, trying not to growl. "Why do you care? It's not... well, actually it is. But why are you here now? You haven't been for a long time."
"Maybe we should sit down for this." The other man's voice was softer, as if he was feeling just as surprised by all of this as Xander was. "I'm Logan. Who are you?"
"Xander Harris. At least, that's what I'd always thought. Except that Willow did a little research, and now that I'm looking at you, I'm thinking that it shouldn't be Harris after all." Xander moved into the room, sitting on the ugly brown chair. Something didn't feel quite right, not dangerous off, but... like there was something odd about Logan's mind?
Sitting on the edge of the bed, the man who'd called himself Logan looked at him, eyes intent. "What should it be then?"
"Xander Howlett, after you. Your name's James Logan Howlett, and... you were married to my mom. You're supposed to be dead, but... you're not. So, where the hell have you been?" He couldn't help the question, it spilled out. If this man hadn't vanished, hadn't fallen over the cliff and never returned, he wouldn't have grown up with Mark Harris as a father-figure.
Logan sighed, almost seeming to shrink into himself a bit. "I can't remember. I was in some sort of experimental program... the memories are gone. But... I had some dreams, things I thought were from my past. I wanted to find out. There was a woman named Jeannie with reddish hair, a restaurant... What's this about supposed to be dead?"
"Willow found the police report. You were shot, fell into the ocean. They figured the undertow lost the body.
"Shot... so I was married to her. Does everybody know more about my past than I do?" The last words carried a deep irritation, and there was an almost threatening change to his scent.
Xander found himself growling a bit. "Look, I don't know who this 'everybody' is, but I only know because I had Willow investigate my parents. She found out that my mom had been married before, which was news to me. But I needed to know."
"Did you just growl at me?" Logan looked surprised, and it seemed to have distracted him from his earlier anger.
Xander felt his insides go tense, as well as his muscles. What if Logan got angry that his son was a mutant? What if he didn't like the idea? His hyena instincts wanted to growl, and he reminded himself that he wasn't the same pathetic tenth grade looser that he'd been before. He was the all new, half feral tenth grade social looser who could kick vampire ass. "Yeah. I seem to be a mutant."
"Huh. Shouldn't be that much of a surprise, considering. Guess that comes from me." Logan sounded as if he wasn't thinking in a lot of detail, just trying to process everything.
Xander looked at him, trying to compare the man before him to the picture that Willow had found. "So... you have something that keeps you from getting old? Whoa, that's just... sort of cool. And the whole smell thing."
Looking at Logan, the man who had turned out to be his biological father, Xander gave a small smile. Maybe these changes weren't from the hyena after all. Maybe they were just things that he'd inherited from his father. Enhanced senses, the hair, he even sort of looked like him. Best of all, this meant that he wasn't related to Mark Harris after all.
Wait just a moment... Logan or James Howlett, or whatever the right name was, had been shot, a clear effort to kill him. Then, Mark Harris had married Jean Phillips-Howlett just a really short as in maybe illegally short time after that. Had Mark Harris had something to do with the presumed death of James Howlett? "I think... I don't think you're getting shot and presumed dead was an accident or a coincidence. I think... I think Mark Harris had something to do with it."
"Maybe we should find out what, then." Logan's voice had a hint of growl to it, and he smelled angry.
But it was only right to be angry about someone apparently having tried to kill you. And it was a definite problem. "Hey, if you're not dead, then mom can't be married to Mark, it wouldn't be legal. Can we kick him out of the house?"
Logan just bared his teeth in something that wasn't quite a smile. "Sounds good to me."
end part 10.
Logan watched as Xander used the telephone, calling someone. Calling Jeanie. He asked her to meet him at the Espresso Pump after she got off work, fending of unhappy sounding accusations of skipping school with a vague 'this is more important.' He watched as hands were run through dark hair, leaving it a rumpled disarray. Eventually, he hung up the phone, sighing.
"I think Mom should know about this. And maybe she can give me a few answers. So, Espresso Pump at three thirty, when she's done at the hospital. She's a nurse." There was traces of pride and worry both in his voice.
Logan watched as Xander sat in the ugly chair, wondering about him. What did he do, how were his grades, and... "Why did you go jumping off the Harris garage last night?"
Xander looked at him, a few traces of amusement in his eyes. "I didn't want to take the door?" There was a pause, and the amusement drained away. "I needed to talk to Willow, and nobody would see me leave that way."
"You know that it's not the safest out after dark?" The question came out, almost making him wince. He sounded like some bad after school special. "Aren't you supposed to be in school?"
"I skipped. Figured it was more important to figure out why someone's breaking into my friend's place than to go listen to something about prepositions and clauses." There was a causal indifference to his school that was obvious in his voice. "And yeah, I know Sunnydale's not too safe at night. You probably know that too... You can smell it. I had no idea how much minions stank, and the demons... let me just say deodorant?"
Something twisted in Logan's insides. "You know what's out there, and still went out? Why? And yeah, some of them are pretty rank."
"Yeah, there's big scary stuff out there. Much easier to fight it now... How could I not do something now that I know what's out there?" He looked so serious just then, almost like a grown man instead of a teenage boy. "Got to try to keep things safer, got to defend my territory..." The words were a low murmur, something he would have missed if he didn't have enhanced hearing.
"What changed?" He had a suspicion that it was the mutation becoming known, but asked the question anyhow. He also made a note that school work and good grades didn't seem to be a high priority for Xander.
Xander made a small shrug, his scent changing a bit, becoming a bit nervous, a bit agitated. "I got possessed by this hyena... it was freaky. I had all these senses, stronger, faster... and then there were the whole predatory instincts. Wills and I found a way to put him back, but... the stuff didn't go away. I thought it was some sort of after affects, but... Wills mentioned that it could be a mutation, and we started to think she was right. I'm a lot better at fighting vamps now."
"So, was it you in the cemetery fighting vampires? There was a girl with you... Carrying a big squirt gun?" Logan asked the question, trying to make sense of his son. Possessed by a hyena? He'd never heard of anything like that before.
Xander nodded, a small, almost proud smile on his face. "Yeah, that was me and Willow. Super Soakers with holy water do bad things to vampires - it's great. She started trying to do some research on my parents after the stuff didn't go away, found out my mom had been married before, checked out husband number one, James Logan Howlett. Someone that she met at college, and apparently, you were pretty smart. She said a double major in history and military science, and apparently doing pretty good at it. Wills said she was jealous. That's a compliment, she's smart."
"How did she find the college records anyhow?" Logan wasn't certain, but he didn't think they would just let random people check those out. And the idea of being in college... with a double major? It sounded almost alien to him, and it seemed to fit at the same time.
Xander made a small shrug. "She probably hacked into the college records, just like she hacked into the police files on your getting shot. And the hospital records to get more information on me and mom's medical history, and maybe the city hall records for the marriage information."
Logan found himself nodding, a bit impressed. That wasn't the easiest thing to manage. Add in the fact that if she was one of Xander's friends, she was probably only about fifteen or sixteen... it was pretty impressive. "Does she hack into computer records often?"
"Define often. She's currently trying to find things on mutants that lead normal lives, maybe even mutants considered good guys. The whole mutant thing sort of freaked us out a bit. Why, is there something you'd like her to hack into?"
Logan looked at Xander, feeling amusement bubble up inside. Xander was something, not at all like a younger version of Wolverine, which could only be good. "What if I said I wanted her to track down and crack into military records?"
"I don't know... We've never needed military information. Maybe we should ask her and find out?" Xander smiled, slouching a bit in the seat. "Buffy's going to flip..."
The name caught his attention. "Buffy? Blond, close to your age, maybe five and a half feet tall, goes out stabbing vampires?"
"Yeah. She's supposed to have this big ol' destiny thing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She's a lot tougher than her name implies." Xander looked almost wistful, maybe he had a thing for the girl? "And it's not just stabbing, it's a wooden stake, put that into a vampire's heart and they go poof. Fire and sunlight do pretty good, same with beheading."
"What's she think about you being a mutant?" Logan wondered how accepting his son's friends were.
Xander looked at his scuffed shoe, his words almost guarded. "I don't know. Haven't told anyone but Willow."
Logan wasn't quite sure how to react to that. But it did sound like Xander was putting an awful lot of trust in him, considering that they'd only just met. "Huh. So, tell me a bit about yourself. We got several hours before three."
end part 11.
Xander was a bit nervous as they made their way to the Espresso Pump. He had realized while covering the stories of his childhood that he was spilling an awful lot to this guy, but... he wanted to trust him. Wanted to believe in his dad, who wasn't Mark harris. He'd explained some about how he'd met Buffy, how he'd learned about the scary things out there, about Jesse dying and how he didn't have anyone else but Willow, and the sort of friendship with Buffy. Now, he was feeling all exposed, and hoping that he'd been right thinking he could trust Logan, trust his dad.
He was also wondering exactly how this would go over with his mom. After all, he was arranging her to meet someone that she hadn't seen in years. Someone that she'd been close to, someone that she'd thought she'd seen die. Yeah, his mom would be pretty surprised by this.
They'd settled at a table near the back, Logan having a big cup of coffee. Finally, he saw her come into the building, still dressed in her dark blue scrubs, her hair a pretty red brown and piled onto her head. She didn't look old enough to be the mother of a teenager, but she looked... she looked tired.
Walking over, she tried to smile, the expression faltering as she saw Logan. She just seemed to go pale, her eyes very large, ringed with white as she whispered a single word. "James?"
Logan took one hand, tugging her towards a seat, which she sank into in stunned shock. "Hey Jeannie."
"But... you were... you were shot. I thought... I thought that you were... You were gone, James. Why didn't you come back?" Her voice was still barely over a whisper, and practically shook with emotions, surprise, shock, hope, fear, and a not so suppressed anger.
"I can't remember everything. But... Apparently I was taken for some sort of research program. I started having dreams... Memory fragments. I wanted to find you, find out if they were real. I'm... I'm sorry." Logan reached out, just barely touching her fingertips. It looked at if he was trying to reassure himself that she was really there, that she was flesh and blood and not just a mirage.
"I want to believe that... But how can I know?" She looked at him, her eyes shining.
Xander watched, feeling rather awkward. It almost felt like he was intruding. This was also more raw emotion from his mother than he'd seen in years...
Logan put on hand up, towards the middle of the table, and slowly, three sharp metal blades emerged from the back of his hand, slicing through the skin, a few drops of blood falling to the table. "They took my memories, but I have these."
She reached one hand out, almost but not quite touching the blades. "Oh my god... James, that's... that had to be horrible."
"I can't... I can't remember it." His voice barely shook, subtle enough that only Xander caught it.
Frowning, Xander tried to listen, feeling a bit awkward as he tried to look into the mind of his father, hoping that he wouldn't catch anything X-rated about his mother. There were jumbled images, a room with a tank of bubbling metal, a glass box beside it, a flash of floating naked and trapped inside a glass tube, the confusion of not remembering... He shook his head, trying to convince his muscles to stop quivering, reminding himself that there was nobody he could fight about that. Nothing that he could do.
They started to talk, a few words, scattered questions about the past sixteen years, the sort of small talk of two people trying to make sense of something big and unsettling and confusing. But his mother was smiling, looked happy to see Logan. He couldn't remember his mother looking so happy ever before.
Everything still seemed pretty calm, and even not to high on the 'things to wig about' scale, but... But it couldn't last forever. And, thanks to the delight that was living over the Hellmouth, things couldn't just go a little bad, they went a lot bad.
Mark Harris stomped his way into the shop, scowling at everyone inside. His tone was harsh, angry that instead of being at home, fixing dinner or managing laundry, she was instead here, talking to some other man. "Jean! What are you doing here?"
She flinched, and glanced towards Mark with uneasy eyes. Then, she glanced back at Logan, and something seemed to slid into her eyes, a dark, unhappy suspicion. "I was catching up with someone that I haven't seen in a long time. Do you remember James Howlett?"
"You! You can't be here! You're dead!" Mark Harris recoiled, his eyes going wide as he sucked in his breath. He also glanced at the window, still bright with sunshine.
Seeing that glance, Xander suddenly knew that the man he'd thought was his father had known about vampires, and hadn't bothered to warn him, hadn't bothered to warn his mother. The sudden knowledge sat in his stomach like lead. "He's not a vampire."
"I got better." Logan's voice was flat, and Xander could feel something, a red angry something seething just below the surface of Logan's mind.
"Nobody could survive that. It is't possible! That's why it was..." The words trailed of, but everyone could fill in the rest. Mark stood there, eyes furious, his face flushed and the veins bulging on his temple, at his neck, along his arms.
"That's why you set it up, isn't it? That's why you arranged for someone to shoot my husband on the cliffs, it that what you were going to say, Mark?" Jean's voice was soft, but it shook with tangled emotions. Rage, fear, shock, and something akin to disgust, their scents swirling around her.
"You were meant to be mine!" His angry bellow was almost in her face.
"The only reason you ever had a chance was because I'd just seen my husband shot! Because the man that I loved... still love wasn't there! You wanted a prize, and that's all I ever was to you! Forget it." She turned, attempting to leave the store.
With a sound that could almost be described as a bellow, he punched her, his fist hitting her in the back, causing her to fall to the ground with a sharp gasp. No sooner had he done that than Logan had moved, his fist connecting to Mark Harris' jaw, causing his head to snap back. Logan continued, blocking every blow from Harris, landing a few of his own, intended to stun, to immobilize rather than kill. Xander knelt by his mother, wondering if this was the first time Mark Harris had hit her or only the first time that he'd seen it.
There was a scuffling noise, hard soled shoes, nervous men. Xander recognized the scents of a pair of police deputies. That surprised him, Sunnydale cops actually in a place to be useful? Looking up, he saw that they were wrestling Mark Harris into handcuffs, one of them now bruising around his eye. Somehow, he doubted that would help Mark Harris in his stay.
He heard one of them reading the Miranda rights to Mark Harris, while the second began asking people if they could explain what had just happened. Things got pretty interesting when people started mentioning that not only had the fight started after Mister Harris had hit his wife, but that apparently, he'd tried to have the other guy killed. And there was something about maybe the other guy was supposed to be her husband?
"Xander?" Deputy Sanchez, the guy most often sent to investigate and take reports from the assorted stuff that happened at the high school sounded a bit unhappy. "Xander, why am I not surprised that you're here? Can you tell me what just happened here?"
Offering a small smile for the deputy, Xander sat back a little bit. "One of my friends sort of found a newspaper article that said my mom had been married to someone who wasn't Mark Harris. That would be him, James Logan Howlett. I was a bit confused about that, so... I asked him here to try and get a few answers, and then I thought that mom would want to know he was here, so... I called her and asked if she'd want to drop over after her shift. She came over, it turns out that he.. um, James Logan Howlett that it, was shot and fell into the ocean. Guess everyone thought he was dead. When D... Mark Harris came in, he got really angry, and started yelling, and there was something... I think he had something to do with Logan being shot. But Mom tried to leave, and Harris hit her... he hit her in the back and she fell down." Xander felt like things were spinning around him, all chaos and confusion. His mom had hit her head on the table when she fell, and there was a large bump, the skin split open and blood still trying to flow.
"We'll have her taken over to the hospital to get checked out. And to see if she wants to press charges." Deputy Sanchez looked a bit unhappy about the whole mess. He looked especially unhappy about the knot on Jean's temple.
Xander just sort of stood there as his mom was taken to the hospital, and Mark Harris was carted off to jail. Everything had changed just now, and he wasn't sure how things would look. "I want to talk to Willow."
end part 12.
So, after the police had left, Xander and Logan went to Willow's house. Logan wasn't quite certain what Willow would be able to do about this, but he could see just how important it was to Xander to talk to her. He wasn't really surprised that they returned to the same house he'd been in before, the two story house with Rosenberg on the mailbox.
The fragile looking red head didn't look like someone that would be facing vampires in a cemetery. But she did have the sort of eyes that said she was always thinking, always planning something. She would be the person with a plan. The idea of her hacking into the computer records didn't seem quite so far fetched any more. He nodded towards her, uncertain exactly what to say.
"Wills, this is... well, you found the info, so you know. But... he's my dad. And we talked... you can give the the unsafety speech later. But... Mark Harris is in the pokey and mom's at the hospital." Xander was pacing, short arcs that moved around the furniture as he ran his hands through his hair again.
She sighed, and looked at Xander. "Calm down, relax, sit down. No more asymmetrical arcs or else I'll ask you to calculate their degrees." Her words carried a note of humor.
"Yeah, like that would work very well." Xander dropped into the chair before giving a quick rehashing of the day's events, a bit more honest than the version he'd give the police.
She looked amazed. "Wow, and sort of yikes. That's obsession for you, and I thought the report sounded just a little suspicious when I looked it up. But that's just way creepy, and over the top, and really stalker like. I hope your mom is okay, I could... no, there wouldn't be any records in just yet. Maybe an admitted at, but no details. So, what are you going to do now? I mean, we've figured out the whole what's with the two husbands thing, and now we know that it's definitely a mutation and where it comes from, but what happens now? Are you going to go away to live with him... um, with Logan wherever he's been recently? Are you staying here? Is he staying here? And how long can they imprison your.. Mark Harris? Do you want to start proceedings to change your legal name..." The words flowed in a stream from her lips, gestures accentuating them as she skipped from topic to topic.
Xander just nodded, apparently following the whole tangle of words. "I don't know how long he'll be there, but hopefully a long time. No clue yet about who goes where, but yeah. Can I change my name?
"I think maybe I'll stay here a bit. I need.. there are things I need to talk about with Jeannie. And I want to get to know Xander." Logan felt himself smiling a bit at her.
"Willow's been like family for me. And she's also been the smart one, my salvation when it comes to school work." Xander grinned, obviously certain that he had one of the best friends in the world.
Willow blushed, tilting her head down a bit and letting her hair fall forward, almost hiding her face. "It's not that bad, you just would rather not study is all."
"Hey! I study!" Xander sounded almost indignant.
She giggled, looking back up with laughter dancing in her eyes. "But most people study sooner than the night before the test."
"I was possessed!" Xander tried to scowl, but his laughter ruined the expression. "Cut me a little slack, studying geometry wasn't a major hyena priority!"
"Still, there wasn't much studying going on. And I think you still could have done... well, probably not. He probably would have skipped the test." She teased at Xander.
Watching the two of them, he sighed, feeling a bit jealous at the friendship they shared. If he took Xander back to New York, surely he'd have to take Willow as well. Logan had a nagging suspicion that there would be some complications to that idea. He shook his head, considering everything before the words emerged. "Yeah, we're definitely staying in Sunnydale for a while. But not forever, this place is just... wrong. Evil."
"That would be from the Hellmouth... Evil has a smell? Xander never mentioned that." Willow glanced at her friend, her eyes filled with questions. "You'll need to find a house, something better than that hotel, and can vampires go into hotels without an invitation? Maybe Giles would know, or Angel should if Giles doesn't. But... it should be interesting to have you here."
Logan just sighed, wondering what he'd gotten himself into.
end part 13, end Sorting Things Out.