All The Way: Parts 1-2
This is a sequel to "The Twist Inside" and takes place two years after. Some readers asked for a story on Logan・s adventures as a merc, many asked for a large dose of angst and romance, so here it is with something for everyone, action, mystery and romance. And as a bonus, there's actually a serious plot! ;) If you haven't read "The Twist Inside", please do so as this story will make more sense. You can find "Twist" with as newly revised chapter 3 at fanfiction.net. Read it if you can. I need to email the new chapter to wolverineandjubilee.com and Itty Bitty Archive.
Rating: R, language, violence, disturbing images, adult situations Summary: Logan returns home close to death, his healing factor all but gone. Jubilee has a fiancee'. Logan doesn't like him. Jubilee thinks it's jealously, but there's a darker reason lurking behind Logan's dislike, one that can get them both killed.
Chapter One: Modus Operandi
Rain fell relentlessly from a slate gray sky and dripped from the rim of Logan's boonie hat. He blinked the streaming water from his eyes and looked through the spotting scope. He panned the magnified circle across a meadow rimmed by dense jungle, its vibrate colors muted to a dull green. Visible, just beyond the jungle, was the walled compound of Luis Baptista, international gunrunner. On the wall, in reinforced bunkers, he spied several teams manning 50mm guns. This evening, Logan's intention was to get a good shot at Baptista. If he nailed the bastard, he and his men could go home. Instead, by pure luck, Logan discovered something that made him forget his original task.
Logan focused the scope on the minute tremble of a tall stalk of grass. A face covered in grease paint appeared then disappeared. He continued to scan the area and counted thirty more men. Baptista's men. Then a familiar straw hat caught his attention.
"Son of a bitch," he muttered and reached for a rifle on a tripod next to him.
The weapon was a Marine Corps M40A3 sniper rifle accurate to 1000 yards, although Logan had tested it to only 800. It had been dead accurate, no pun intended. Although he preferred his fights up close and personal, the rifle had its uses and he'd found that he possessed a hitherto unknown skill with it. The stock felt comfortable against his shoulder, and the muscle memory in his trigger finger told him he'd done this before.
At the last moment, his hand dropped away from the rifle. The sound of the gun would give away his position. The last thing he needed was thirty of Baptista's men breathing down his neck. Two years of guerilla warfare in the Guatemalan jungle and numerous half-healed wounds had sapped his mutant healing factor. Not since Magneto tore out his adamantium had Logan needed to be careful.
Logan clipped the spotting scope to his belt, then quickly dismantled the gun and tripod and secured them with a strap over his shoulders. He dug his knees into the mud, turned on his belly and wiggled through the tall grass. In the pouring rain, four men waited behind the bank of a steady flowing stream. Logan slid feet first beside his comrades. He didn・t notice the water and mud pouring into his boots. After nearly two years, mud, insects, humid heat and the rain had ceased to register on the discomfort scale.
・Bad news, amigos,・ Logan said. ・We・re going to have company soon. Looks like Baptista's guerrillas have our coordinates.・
・Chingao!・ said a soldier with a Guatemalan accent. His name was Domingo and he・d been one of their guides through the jungle. ・How did he find out?"
"Not a clue," Logan lied. He had an idea how Baptista found out, but he kept the information to himself. It all had to do with that familiar straw hat he・d seen.
"Is the way through the riverbed blocked?・ Domingo asked.
・I・d say so. I counted thirty men, but I could have missed a few. Where is Miguel?・
・He went to・eh・ como se dice eschar una meada?・
・Take a leak,・ Logan said.
・Si, si. Miguel went to take a leak. He's been gone for awhile."
"If you saw Baptista's men, I bet they are what happened to Miguel," said a young, lean kid. Duane was from Texas, but despite his youth, he was an experienced soldier.
"Maybe. I'm going out to look for him," Logan said. "I want you all to split into two teams and head toward the extraction point. Watch your backs. Jeffers," he nodded at their communications tech, "hail Big Bird on the box and let him know we'd appreciate his company at," Logan glanced at his watch, "eighteen-hundred hours."
"Right away, sir." He put on a set of headphones and began adjusting the knobs on a small radio hooked to his belt.
"What about you?" Duane asked. He'd come to see Logan as a mentor and big brother.
"Don't worry about me. I'll catch up." He gave them a nod and the team packed up. Logan passed his sniper rifle to Domingo. "Keep this safe for me, muchacho."
"You're going after Baptista," Domingo said quietly as he hefted the rifle over his shoulder and gave it a hitch to a comfortable spot. Logan didn't answer and the Guatemalan shook his head.
"Eres un loco hijo de puta madre."
"Well, you're not the first to call me a crazy son of a bitch." They clasped hands. "Good luck."
"E tu," Domingo answered. "If anyone can do this, you can." The Guatemalan teamed up with Duane and faded into the jungle.
Logan crouch-ran down a muddy trail, his hyper-aware senses identifying and categorizing each minute sound. A snake slithered through the undergrowth to his left. Above him a parrot ruffled its feather. He hoped he could keep Baptista's men off his men's backs until they reach the helicopter, a good two-hour hard hike through the forest. At a faint, odd sucking noise, he stepped off the side of the trail. A few moments later, a small wiry figure wearing a straw hat trudged into view. Logan stepped out, grabbed him by the throat and pushed him up against a tree.
・Logan!・ Miguel said and licked his lips, his eyes darting back and forth. ・I thought you were one of Baptista・s men.・
・That so,・ Logan said. ・But then, you wouldn・t have anything to worry 'bout. Would you?・
Realizing that Logan knew about his duplicity, Miguel・s face twisted into a mask of hatred and fury. He spat into Logan・s face. ・You think I help you, stupid gringos. Chupemale! Por que no te vas a joder por ahi. You・re all dead.・
・Not yet, but you definitely are.・
Logan shoved his fist to Miguel・s forehead and popped his claws. The adamantium points pierced bone and brain tissue, popping out the other side and pinning the jerking body to the tree. Logan pulled free his claws and the body dropped to the ground.
・Big mistake, bub.・ He wiped his claws on the man・s shirt before retracting them.
Logan pulled the body off the trail and concealed it with large tree fronds and dead branches. It was all Miguel deserved for a grave; his treachery could still get them all killed. Logan hoped he could distract Baptista・s men long enough to allow the others to get away. At the sound of soft steps coming down the trail, Logan slunk into the undergrowth, creeping along like a jungle cat until he came abreast of a figure half-shrouded in the deep shade. He popped his claws and leapt from the jungle, tackling the man, pushing him to the ground and shoving his knee between their shoulder blades. The tips of one set of claws pressed to the back of their exposed neck. Logan caught a familiar scent. Irritated more at himself than Duane, he stood and sheathed his claws before Duane saw them.
・What the hell? Since when did you stop following orders?・ Logan growled. ・You should be at the dust-off point.・
Duane climbed out of the mud, turned stared at Logan as though he・d committed mutiny. ・Fuckin・-A, commander, didn・t you trust us? You didn・t think we could handle this? We・re suppose to be here, not fucking turning tail and running.・ Duane was angry, twitching.・
・I gave you an order, and as your commander, I expect to be followed・・
Logan sensed the guerilla too late. Like a silver bird, a knife silently streaked from the jungle, clipped Logan・s arm in a quick-hot flash of pain and embedded itself into Duane・s chest. The kid hands came up spasmodically and grasped its wooden handle. Blood trickled between his fingers, his face held an almost comical expression of shock and surprise and he crumpled to the muddy trail.
Logan had no time to help him; he spun, and drew back. His adversary, quick and nimble, circled, not attacking not retreating. Savoring the fight. Logan sized him up. He was a short, stocky man with hard, dark eyes. At one time his flat nose had been broken and it curved to one side of his face. He had branches and leafs tied the back of his jungle camouflage suit. It was what had helped mask his scent. Over one shoulder he had a M16 but did not try to draw it. Instead he pulled out twin K-Bar knives from a double sheath at his waist. He twirled them, the blades・ clean, polished lengths in sharp contrast to its owners mud spattered clothing. He smiled, unpleasant, and fell into a fighting crouch.
・You are El Tigre,・ the man said in Spanish. ・I hear you are good with knives. But I am better.・
・Maybe,・ Logan growled, crouched and popped one set of claws. ・But I don・t use knives, bub.・
The guerilla・s eyes widened and he sucked in a quick breath. ・You are no man, but a demon,・ the man said. Fear beaded sweat on his forehead, but he did not retreat.
・It gets better.・ Logan popped the other set and held them up before his face, staring at the man from between six adamantium claws. ・Come get some.・
With a cry of anger, the guerilla leapt toward him, slicing with the knives. Logan jumped away, slashing with his right set of claws, cutting at air. The guerilla had already moved away, and came quickly back in, both knives whirling and creating a defensive curtain of steel. Logan fell back. He had to admit the guerilla was swift, and desperation lent him determination and sharpened his skills. Logan ducked a quick, forward thrust, feeling the blade of one knife nick his ear. He dove to his left, and cut upward with his right, ripping through the fabric and flesh of the guerilla・s left leg. The guerilla cried out and staggered back, but not before he managed an uppercut that opened a six-inch long gash up Logan・s right bicep and skimming upward along his cheek and scalp. Blood fell in a blinding, stinging curtain. Grunting, Logan fell to one knee, lunged forward while slashing upwards. Adamantium met flesh and opened the man up from crotch to sternum.
The guerilla・s knives fell from slack fingers to the mud, he pressed one hand to his stomach he pitched forward, one foot twitching.
Logan sat down heavily, his chin fell to his chest. Detached, like his consciousness floated somewhere above his body, he watched crimson drops of his blood dribbled down his arm and turn pink the water puddled in a bootprint. His healing factor wasn't responding. His mind wandered, thinking, searching for・ what? Faces. The professor. A serious but beautiful face topped by flaming red hair. Jean. A voice calling to him down a dark driveway. A woman-child who twisted him inside out. Jubilee.
He hadn・t allowed himself to think of her or what she had wanted to tell him the night they parted.
And here in the jungle, in the steaming, pouring rain, his blood turning the water around him pink, he allowed himself to ask forgiveness. But she wasn・t here. Still he thought it was better than nothing.
Was the voice in his head real or imagined? A phantom of wishful thinking? It was enough to help him shake off creeping lethargy. He crawled to the dead man, tore a strip of cloth from the jungle camouflage, sat back against a tree and wrapped his wounded arm, pulling it tight. He heard faint noises coming down the trail and cocked his head. There were five of them. He might be able to crawl away, but they would find him.
Failure was not an option.
Logan knew he couldn't fight his way through Baptista's men, not in this weakened state, but he had to get inside the compound. All he needed was one strike at Baptista and that would be that. He allowed his body to relax and he slowed his breathing and slumped against the tree. He heard bootsteps all around him in the glen.
・This one over here is dead,・ said a voice. ・It is one of the Americanos.・
"My brother!" cried another voice. Logan heard the rustling of clothing. ・Madre de dios! He is almost cut in half.・
・These are the marks of El Tigre!・ exclaimed a third voice thick with fear.
"This one is wounded but alive," said a forth. Someone kicked Logan in the ribs. He repressed reaction and let the motion force him to the ground where he remained unmoving. "I recognize him from the description Miguel gave us."
"Let me kill him!" said the insistent one. Logan heard a tussle.
"No!" replied an authoritative voice. Logan guessed this was the group・s leader. Another set of footsteps approach and a hand grasped Logan・s hair and pulled his head up, then let it go. "It is the man Miguel called El Tigre. A very dangerous man. He was the leader of the Americanos. He will have information on our enemies. Your brother did a good deed before dying, without him, we would not capture this one. El capitan wants him alive.・
Logan didn't hear the insistent one reply, instead he felt rough arms grasp his arms and legs and lift him. He forced himself to remain limp.
"Mierda, this gringo is heavy!"
"What about the others, they will get away," said another voice as they carried Logan down the trail.
"This one is more important. Let the other mice go," replied the authoritative voice. "We should get him in a cell before he awakes. From the stories I hear, he would kill all five of us."
・Not one man,・ snorted the insistent voice. ・Ese chingado va a pagar por lo que me hizo.・
・I will tell el capitan and perhaps when he hears the Americano killed your brother, he will let you have your revenge,・ said the leader.
Logan heard the leader get on a mobile phone and call off the search. Logan realized his ploy worked and his men were safe, at least for now, and it would get him into the compound. Nothing could be done about Duane.
Chapter Two: Long Distant Call
People change. Grow. Leave their families to move on and make their own life. It was a natural progression, the age-old path from child to adult.
Jubilee felt her footsteps along that path today more keenly than in the past four years. She looked across the mansion lawn decorated for her college graduation party. Throughout college, the prankster and the attitude had gradually vanished and in their absence an educated young woman emerged. One that was admired by friends and colleagues. Who would have thought it? Jubilee wondered inwardly. When she reflected on her past, and when she thought of her first vision of Logan, hanging, wounded, nailed to a cross by the Reavers, it seemed those experiences belonged to a stranger. She viewed those memories with an out-of-body like feeling. When nostalgia threatened to stifle her, she cast it off and refused to mourn the loss of those carefree days. Most of all, she refused to grieve for her friendship with a surely mutant whom she had not seen in two years, three months one week and six days.
**Where had that come from! ** Her subconscious betrayed her. She often used to think of him, and when months went by with no word, she forced herself to banish him from memory. Out of sight, out of mind.
**Yeah right! Like who・s fooling who here?**
Jubilee allowed her self the luxury of conjuring his memory like a ghost from the past. When she closed her eyes she could see that cock-sure strut, and hear his gruff drawl. The best damn attitude problem in the universe, without equal. Logan. Irritating. Lovable. **Jerk!**
**He should be here,** she thought. **More than anyone, he made this possible and shaped who I・ve become.**
Jubilee took a deep breath to brace herself, and forced a smile on her face. No bad-tempered phantoms would ruin her party. She mingled, accepted congratulations from her friends with outward smiles and an inward sense of relief. She had the diploma and long, sleepless nights of studying to prove its worth. The former mall rat had done it. She had attained, through hard work and dedication, a bachelor's degree in political science, and next week she would continue her internship with the mutant rights advocate, Senator Grossman. Next fall she would be returning to continue her education. Her new view on life taught her there were non-violent means with which to fight for mutant rights.
Jean and Ororo gave her hugs. Hank wrapped his arms around her, and swung her around in a big bear hug. Rogue was busy orchestrating the party staff and helping her was Jenny Grossman, the senator's daughter and a mutant with telekinetic abilities.
Professor Xavier wheeled up in his chair and Jubilee leaned down, hugged him and gave him a peck on the check. ・Thank you for this,・ she said.
・You・ve earned it. I'm proud of you, Jubilee," he said, approval in his expression. ・I plan to follow your political career with great interest.・
"That I have your support means everything." She took his hand and he squeezed it.
A frown marred the professor's brow for a moment, and he pressed two fingers to his temple, his eyes squeezed shut. His head lolled to one side and his eyebrows fell.
"Is everything okay, professor?" Jubilee asked, leaning down and peering into his face.
The professor opened his eyes and blinked. "I・. I think so. But・,・ his voice trailed off and looked off into the distance then shook his head. ・There was something for a moment. It went away before I could identify it. A familiar sense, very faint." He sighed and cast Jubilee a smile. "It was nothing. Let's go enjoy the party, shall we?"
Jubilee smiled, but was not convinced. She looked up as a shadow fell over them.
"Party time!" said a tall, blonde haired young man. He dropped his arm around Jubilee・s shoulders. She reached up, took his hand. They shared a warm smile and she snuggled closer. "You two lok too serious. We have a lot to celebrate."
"Yes indeed," said the professor. "How are you, Doug?"
"Fine, sir." His handshake with the professor was firm, the handshake of a budding politician. "It is good to see you again."
"Yes. I hope we'll be seeing more of you over the summer."
"Count on it. Jubilee and I will be working together with Senator Grossman.・
・Excellent news,・ the professor replied. ・Now I will have two of you to keep me informed on mutant rights.・
Jubilee and Doug walked together into the party, the professor hung back. Her graduation party was a private affair, but still large enough that the mansion's backyard was filled with people. It had been two years since the mansion had hosted a party of this size. The joy drained from Jubilee for a moment as she thought back to that time. It seemed like more than two years ago that Logan had rode off, and since then, no one had seen or heard of him. It was like he had dropped off the face of the planet. She took a deep breath, her hands balling to fists. A few sparklers trickled from her fingertips, but no one noticed.
"He isn't even here so I'm not going to let him ruin my party," she admonished herself. ・Just stop thinking about him!・
"What was that?" asked Doug. He took her hand and led her across the yard to the buffet table.
"Nothing. Just thinking aloud."
"Excited?" he asked.
"Very. I'm looking forward to applying my studies to the real thing."
Like a shadow, aAn odd expression passed over Doug's handsome features but was quickly gone. "Yeah, I know what you mean.・ His usual good-humored smile appeared again and he gave her hand a squeeze. "How about some of these sliced meats and a roll. He began loading up a plate for her and placed it in her hands.
"Are you serving me?"
"Don't I always." He leaned down and pressed a quick kiss to her lips and gave her a wink. "I am your willing slave. Would you like me to feed you?・
"Now that has possibilities."
"And maybe we'll explore them later." He wiggled his eyebrows and Jubilee laughed. She happened to glance toward the professor and her smile faded.
He sat alone, his head down, his hands pressed to his temples, a grimace of tortured pain on his face. It appeared Jean had noticed, too and she was hurrying across the grass toward him, Scott in her wake.
"Can you hold this a sec," she asked Doug, and shoved her plate at him, her gaze never leaving the professor as she began to run.
・Wait! Jubilee?・ Doug called. She didn・t answer, his voice distant.
Jean had reached the professor and was bent over him like a worried hen with an injured chick. "What is it, professor," she was asking, and pressed a gentle finger to his brow.
・Is it the same thing, professor?・ Jubilee asked, crouching down next to him, a hand on his knee. Doug had joined them and touched her shoulder, letting her know he was there.
"I'm not certain," the professor said, his voice hoarse. "It's very faint. I think・. I think it・s・ Logan.・
Jubilee stopped breathing and the world slowed and stopped. Everything and everyone faded until her whole existence focused on that single word.
"Logan." She didn't realize she'd said the name aloud until the professor pinned her with his gaze.
"I think he's in trouble," he said.