Hidden in the Past
Xander's Real Father Challenge
Hidden in the Past
we have an obsessive, violent stalker.
pairing: Jean/James, Jean/Mark
disclaimer: I do not hold legal rights to anyone you recognize or to the worlds they have been borrowed from.
distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth, anyone else that wants it, just ask.
chronology/continuity note: James Howlett is the name Marvel Comics has produced for Logan(Wolverine). I am using the movie timeline for dates and events.
Mark Harris was watching HER, feeling the intense need and desire that always went through his body when he looked at her. Jean Phillips was a goddess among women, sleek and graceful and so temptingly feminine, without looking like a tramp the way so many other women and girls did. She was perfect, glorious. She would be his.
He would be the one to run his fingers through her long dark hair, the one to gaze into her sparkling eyes as she smiled adoringly. It would be his hands that caressed her smooth skin and took pleasure from her night shrouded caresses.
He didn't care what it took. She would be his.
After all, he'd been waiting for the perfect chance since he was in tenth grade, when she'd first moved to this miserable town. She'd been a year younger than him, all long legs and uncertain movements, her eyes looking so big and soft and helpless... He'd known right then that he had to have her. He had to bury himself in her warmth and taste her screams during the most intimate of acts, to see her eyes, to taste her skin...
But it hadn't been the right time. There had been that overprotective father of hers, so sure that his precious baby girl deserved better than any of the boys at her school. He'd done such a fine job keeping them all away that nobody'd been able to claim her during school, nobody had marked her pale skin, nobody had felt her heat and sampled her body...
It had made him almost grateful to the meddling old fool. But he would have her, Jean would be his. Her father had talked to him, demanding a few words, mainly trying to convince him to leave his daughter alone. They'd had a big fight, one that had left him bruised and sore for weeks, but he'd left the old man unconscious and bleeding in the park.
He'd been dead well before morning, another victim of the dangers of Sunnydale. Jean had been left unprotected, and when she'd started attending the local college, Mark had felt that it was now time to make his move, the opportunity had arrived. She had no protectors, and no close friends. Nobody would be able to stop him.
That had been when that interfering poacher had arrived. James Howlett, an upperclassman majoring in military science and history. He had been stocky, but all of it was muscle, and even his wild dark hair hadn't been enough to keep Jean from falling for his smooth lines, his moves which had bedazzled her, wrapping her around his finger and under his spell. She seemed utterly besotted with the barbaric brute.
Even worse, he seemed entirely loyal to her, so there wouldn't be a breakup for that sort of reason. Nobody was more beautiful than Jean, so how could he be tempted away?
It wouldn't matter if it was difficult. Jean was a prize well worth working for.
Jean smiled at her boyfriend, thinking that life couldn't be better. She'd been a bit worried about life after her father's unexpected death, the victim of some sort of horrible violent attack while he was out for a walk, but... her mother had encouraged her to go to college, to try to learn more about herself, and to 'meet the right guy'. Her mother was very keen on the idea of college as a meeting ground for potential boyfriends or husbands, considering the possibility of a degree to be entirely secondary.
It was at college that she'd met James. He was three years older, and taking a double major in military science and history. Tall, with broad shoulders and wild dark hair, he looked perfect to star in every woman's most wild and passionate dreams. And he had chosen her. They'd bumped into each other at the campus bookstore, and again around town a few times, and eventually decided to just try dating, since they kept bumping into each other.
Maybe it was fate.
He'd been such a charming gentleman with her, encouraging her to try new things, but never pushing her to sleep with him, despite his persistent flirting. He'd said that when the time was right, she'd want to, and he could wait. Then he'd grinned and kissed her, whispering that he could still give her a few peeks to try to help her decide that soon would be better than later.
James Howlett... intelligent, charming when he tried, although he had a bit of a temper, always seeming comfortable and confident where ever he was... James the thrill seeker. He was perfect for her, and he kept telling her how perfect she seemed to him. He would bring her flowers, had made an effort to learn exactly what her favorites were and delivered them, even sending her a small pot of violets before each major test, to remind her that she was loved.
He'd promised to take her out for dinner tonight, to that new Italian place that she'd heard such good things about. There had also been a few hints that tonight would be special. Jean couldn't wait.
She fussed with her appearance, debating dresses and hairstyles for well over an hour, twisting her dark red brown hair into all sorts of styles before deciding that a simple french twist would be best, with a few pale flowers as an accent, and a pale sundress that suggested her figure without clinging to everything. She hoped that she looked good.
He arrived in his car, a deep blue mustang convertible. She loved riding with him, the top down, the wind in her hair and James beside her... That car was wonderful. And James looked... oh wow, he looked wonderful.
Apparently he felt the same way, considering his expression when he was her. His eyes went dark, and he leaned forward, licking his lips slightly. "Jeannie... you look... darling, you look wonderful."
She smiled, feeling almost powerful in that moment. The way that James was looking at her... it was as if she was the center of his world. Jean had to admit that it was a good feeling.
James must have made a few arrangements, because their dinner was on the back patio, lit by a combination of candles and a few paper lanterns. They sat in near isolation, looking over the beach as the moon rose over the ocean, a gleaming orange gold mass in the sky. The whole scene was so romantic that Jean could hardly believe it.
Dinner was wonderful. The food was delicious, the sea air smelled refreshing and whispered of the wild outdoors. His eye rarely left hers, and he kept smiling, this smile that hinted of some secret knowledge.
When the waiter finally asked if they wanted dessert, and was politely refused, James slid out of his chair, walking around to Jean's side. He pulled a small box from his pocket, holding it in one hand as he gazed up at her, a trace of nervousness showing in the tiny trembling of his hand.
"Jeannie? Will you... would you marry me?"
Tears of joy blurred her vision as she flung her arms around him, sounds of pure happiness emerging from her rose colored lips.
"I'd love to marry you, James Logan Howlett." Jean finally managed to get an answer out in words.
end part 1.
Everything was wonderful, and their wedding was organized in short order. Logan had bought a house, and they had started picking furniture together, all the sort of plans for making a home together, instead of just a place where two people lived. They were so much in love that anybody could see it. Her mother, her friends, even that creepy Mark Harris. Everyone was so happy for them, and she was still planning to get her degree in nursing. They would be so happy together.
It felt like no time at all until they were married, legally bound together until death do them part. She couldn't be happier. Not only that, but the nights... well, she rather wondered why she'd been so nervous. He was strong and passionate and things between them were oh so pleasurable. It made her get flustered just to think about it.
Jean was delighted with her husband, and they even had more time together since college was out for the summer. James had a part time job with one of the local construction companies, and he was working a bit more during the summer, but they still had plenty of time together. Things would have been entirely perfect except for this nagging sort of bug that she'd caught, making everything taste flat, and her stomach did these weird flips and rolls at about three in the morning. But she would get over it, and everything would go back to the picture of early marital bliss.
He'd laugh, and tease her about the way the summer sunshine was turning her hair red, and say that it looked like fire when she was backlit. He kept doing sweet things for her, bringing tiny flowers, brushing her hair for her at night, rubbing all the tensions out of her back. She was one of the luckiest women in the world.
One saturday, they decided to go for a picnic on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. The cliffs weren't particularly high, but the view was nice. Still, it was best to be careful, there was a vicious undertow along this section. James had just sat the basket down, laughing about her healthy appetite when the shot rang out. There was something red on his shirt, a spreading stain, and he swayed on his feet, an expression of shock on his face.
"Jean?" His voice was a hoarse whisper, as if he wanted her to tell him that it wasn't true, that everything was just fine...
He reached out to her, his fingertips brushing hers as he swayed, and then he toppled over the cliff, a startled noise emerging as he fell.
"James!" She lunged, trying desperately to catch him, ignoring the fact that she wasn't strong enough or heavy enough to keep from falling over with him. He entered the water with a big splash, and she could see a spreading red stain over the water. "James..."
"Don't worry, you'll be back with him soon enough." There was a man speaking, a man with a deep, gravelly voice and something repulsive in his tone. He grabbed her arm, spinning her around so that she could see him. Ordinary height and build with a mask on, and brown eyes... He reached towards her blouse, and she screamed, her mind figuring out what he intended. This man had shot her husband and now intended to rape and kill her. She struggled, managing to knock the gun out of his hand.
Suddenly, she was rescued, someone dragging her attacker off of her, resulting in a pair of men fighting, rolling on the ground, curses and shouts filling the air. She'd been saved... by Mark Harris? Jean collapsed on the ground, every muscle shaking like leaves in a windstorm, feeling as if this had been one shock to many.
The masked man tried to get away, kicking Mark in the stomach, and with a rasped curse, Mark grabbed at his attacker, dragging him back down. The fight continued, looking desperate, Mark bruised and bleeding from a cut over his eye, his lip split and bloody.
Mark made a forceful kick, and the masked killer fell over the cliff, now just as gone as James. Stolen by the ocean.
"Jean? Are you..." Mark looked at her, his eyes bright from... everything.
She burst into tears, overwhelmed by everything. She couldn't even bring herself to object when Mark took her away to the police station, reporting the attack, explaining how he'd happened to be there for his daily run, had been able to save her from a horrible fate.
Jean just felt numb, her whole future shattered in a single afternoon. Gone were her plans of happily after with James, her hopes of a house full of little Howletts. If not for Mark Harris, she could only shudder to think how things would have been. He'd saved her, been a hero in her time of need. It almost managed to cause a flicker of something, maybe gratitude?
Somehow, she found herself talked into marriage with Mark, and now, instead of being Jean Howlett, she found herself Mrs. Mark Harris. Once again, there were nights of passion, and she found herself welcoming his touch, just because it was the only time she felt alive anymore. The only time that she could really feel anything besides numb.
Mark was so happy when she turned out to be pregnant, all proud and delighted, talking about how she would have a whole house full of little Harris children, more than enough to keep her hands full. His vision of the future had her as a stay at home wife and mother, taking care of his needs and of a houseful of his children. Something inside of Jean tried to rebel, fluttering like a hummingbird against a window, but even that wasn't enough to break out of her numbness.
The police had dredged the beach area, and they'd found her attacker, but not James. His body must have been carried out to sea by the undertow, gone forever in a watery grave. She found herself growing more emotional again, weeping for James' loss in the middle of the day, when she knew Mark wouldn't know. Mark was a bit jealous, and worried that she was unhappy being married to him. She didn't want to upset him...
It was with great delight that she finally went into labor, having been pregnant for what felt like forever. She hadn't had a period since her wedding... her first wedding. She was amazed that all her pain and efforts produced a seven pound baby boy, his cap of dark hair so soft on his tiny head. Mark had a name already picked out: Alexander Lavelle, after the great conqueror and his father, the new Grandpa Harris. He seemed so tiny to have been the cause of so much pain... Mark seemed to think he'd been an early baby, considering that he was so much smaller than generations of Harris' had been. Jean had only smiled, saying that she was glad he was finally here.
She didn't think it would be good to upset Mark, he'd been having such a tough time at work lately... Best to let him think little Alex was early. Best not to let him count days and find out that she'd been barely pregnant when James had died, that she'd just given birth to the son of James Howlett, not the son of Mark Harris. There was no need to upset him.
Dressed in a white lab coat, the scientist looked at the injured man. So far, he was one of only a handful to survive into the second phase of the program. The man's dark hair had been cut short, and was trying to grow unevenly, his cheeks dark with stubble.
"Well, it seems that you're responding well to the treatments, Howlett. If things continue at this rate, you just might be the first success of the Weapon X program. You'll be among the first line of your country's defense... a miracle of modern technology and metallurgical bonding." Making a few notes on his clipboard, the scientist gestured at his assistants.
"Take him to the tank. I think we can start him on the immuno suppressants to prepare him for the adamantium bonding. At this rate, if he survives, he'll be a new man in two more months."
With a nod, the large assistants took the unconscious man to a large glass cylinder, placing him inside. Carefully, a breathing mask was placed over his face, and he was submerged into a chemical solution that would take a page to describe, a thick cold gel with a pale yellow cast. He looked almost like a floating specimen in a jar. The analogy was almost perfect, except that this specimen wouldn't be remaining in the jar.
"Begin administering the formula." There was no emotion in the scientist's voice.
If he survived the procedure, there was a good chance that the pain of it would drive out all the memories of the man in the glass. It shouldn't be much of a loss, he'd been found nearly dead in the ocean, a gunshot wound in his chest. What could he have to go back to anyhow?