You sure you’re not furry on the inside?
Logan’s back was a blazing fire of pain and itching as his body rapidly stitched itself back together. He hadn’t been quick enough to catch her, but at least she didn’t look like she’d hit too hard. She’d just slumped where she stood. Likely just passed out.
Fucking hell, he grumbled to himself as he moved to pick her up.
Pain exploded through his lower back and he gritted his teeth against it as he grunted and stumbled to the ground. This was the true pain in the ass about his healing factor; he had discovered that unless his endorphins were going through the roof in combat, serious injuries hurt like a mad bastard until his body recovered. He had to be in that dark, cold place that his psyche swam in when he dropped into that swift, efficient killing place. Logan still wasn’t entirely used to the feel of his body patching itself back up after grievous bodily harm. The first couple of times had been debilitating when the endorphin high finally wore off. He would have to wait a few minutes for his back muscles to reknit themselves before he’d be able to move again.
Unfortunately, now that the tracer was out, they needed to get out of the area – quickly. He also needed to eat a substantial meal soon.
As soon as he was able to utilize his newly grown back muscles, he picked Max up and started dressing her. It was an awkward business, with an unconscious body. Although he wasn’t averse to the view she presented, a naked chick in the front seat of the car would call attention to them like nothing else would. It was a headache that neither of them needed. Once the major areas were covered, he shifted her as gently as he could into the passenger seat. He then strapped her in and walked over to pick up the tracer from the hood, inspecting it closely. As he turned it over in his fingers, he realized that it wasn’t a technology that he was remotely familiar with. He hoped that it was inert now that it was no longer lodged in his spinal column.
Had it also been monitoring his vitals? God only knew.
A flare of memory flickered to life – a disorienting series of images of men in lab coats standing around him. Was he in a tank of water? Two of them were furiously scribbling notes down on a set of clipboards. As he looked back at one of them, he felt something cold slide through his veins as he lost consciousness again.
Logan gritted his teeth and tossed the tracer into the trees, groaning as he picked the knife up. He slid into the driver’s seat and bright spots danced in his vision momentarily as he leaned back against the seat, waiting for the pain to die down. He was grateful that Max had left the keys in the ignition. As he started the car and stepped on the gas, he winced. At least the pain was becoming somewhat manageable now; if not easier to ignore and push through. The wheels kicked up gravel as they spun out, and Logan slammed on the gas as the car sped down the dirt road.
They would need to lose the ride soon, but he wasn’t likely to find anything helpful on this long stretch of back mountain road. It would need to be something that could accelerate quickly, but not something that would immediately be reported as a high priority retrieve for the local police. They’d have to make it into a suburban or city area where he could dump the car and run back to the booster.
“C’mon, darlin’. Wake up.” He grumbled, giving her a gentle shake.
Max groaned and shifted in her seat.
“Whua happened?” she muttered, brushing her hair out of her face.
“You fainted. Y’allright?”
Max sat up straighter now, looking over at him and blinking as the scenery whipped quickly around them.
“How can you..?” Max stammered in utter disbelief.
Logan cut her off with a grunt. “Told you. Been through worse.”
Max shook her head and murmured, “I just cut your back wide open. You shouldn’t be able to move yet.”
Logan let out a wry laugh and spun through a left hand turn.
“Yeah. Mutant, remember?”
Max’s eyes widened.
“So..when you say you’ve been through worse..”
“Been damn near dead a bunch ‘a times, darlin’. It don’t ever stop me though. Don’t worry about it – you did good back there.”
“Logan..” Max’s voice trailed off, sounding very small. She sounded like she was going into shock. That wasn’t going to do either of them any good.
“Max.” His tone was crisp and commanding. “We don’t have time for you to get all freaked out by this.”
He was right. She took a deep breath, then asked, “Okay, what can I do to help?”
Logan jammed a thumb towards the backseat. “Need food. ‘s in the backpack.”
Max nodded and quickly shifted in her seat to reach into the back, rummaging through his pack. She found several high energy bars and some of that beef jerky he had offered to her on the first night that they met. She pulled out hunks of the jerky and handed it to him. Logan wolfed the food down with a growl. After he finished all the jerky and several of the bars, he relaxed back into the driver’s seat.
“Fuck..” he murmured, keeping his eyes sharply focused on the road.
“Are all your bones made out of metal?” she ventured, dropping the rest of the energy bars into the glovebox.
Logan replied with a grim nod, his hands tight on the wheel. “Seem to be.”
He remembered the first time he’d discovered it. He’d taken shrapnel all along his side from a fragmentation grenade about two weeks out his escape from the facility. It had blown the majority of the meat off his hand and part of his arm, leaving shredded, bloody chunks of flesh clinging to a silvery articulated skeleton. By the time he’d cut his pursuers to ribbons in a frenzied haze that he only partially remembered, his hand was fully restored. As long as he kept fighting, it seemed to short circuit the pain receptors in his nervous system. It was one of the reasons that pulling away from the darkness inside his psyche after a fight was so difficult; awareness brought physical agony while his body reacted to and repaired his injuries.
“Is that part of your..mutation as well?” she asked, turning in her seat to face him.
“I don’t remember.” he murmured, frowning.
Max cocked her head and leaned her shoulder against the seat. “What part don’t you remember?”
Logan shifted in his seat, and the pain in his back lowered to a dull throbbing. It felt like just a torn muscle now.
He wasn’t comfortable talking about this. He hadn’t spoken about it with anybody since he had first fought his way out of that lab rathole and stepped into the blinding light of day reflected back against a sheet of snow two feet high.
Max placed her head back against the headrest, her voice soft as she added, “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me..”
Logan cut her off, his tone gruff. “No. ‘s okay. It’s just – a headfuck. I can’t remember much of anything past a year ago.”
“Amnesia?” she asked, peering at him curiously.
“Possibly.” he replied, relieved that they were finally turning onto a paved road.
“I have nightmares, but it’s all in pieces. I can’t really put any of it together.”
“Logan.” Max began quietly, “Have people been tracking you since then?”
“Do you know who they are? Why they’re after you?”
Logan grunted and explained, “All I know is I got away from a place that seriously fucked with my head a year ago and I been on the move ever since. I got no idea who these assholes are.”
Why was he telling her all this?
“Got nailed by a team of ’em a week ago. Not a dogtag between ’em. No ID. Kept me drugged until some idiot forgot to check the dosage one night. I cut up four or five of ’em and the ones left took it personal. They’re the ones that dumped me where you found me.”
He let out a harsh laugh. “If they were smart, they’da kept me locked up.”
“I’m hopin’ to put enough distance between us and that tracer you pulled outta me so that I can get some rest and recuperate. Figure out my next move.”
Logan glanced over at her, frowning. His words probably weren’t helping her any. She was starting to get that look on her face again. He was going to have to try to find a way to keep her talking – keep her distracted so she didn’t get shocky. He didn’t need to take care of a medical emergency while driving at the same time. There was already too much to deal with at the moment.
“Talk to me, Max. What’s goin’ on over there?”
Her eyes darted away, back to the road, as she murmured, “You sure you’re not furry on the inside?”
She then gave a weak, halfhearted laugh.
“What makes you ask?” he prompted; eyes back on the road.
“The pits..” she started, a cold chill rolling through her body as the memory resurfaced.
“When the Tribes were bigger – more united, a gathering called a Buck was held once a year. The strongest fighters from the various Packs across the country would show up at a designated point that would move to a different location each year.”
Max turned to look out the window, watching the scenery whip by.
“The one rule for these fights – well, more like riots at times – was that only pups up to a certain year could enter. It’s kinda like the ‘coming of age’ trials that some of the indigenous human tribes had for their teenagers, but this was brutal. Feral.”
Max swallowed and turned to look over at him as she continued, “Most of the kids that fought ended up pretty badly damaged, but for my kind that’s more of an inconvenience than anything else. The point of the thing was to take as much damage or pain as possible. To prove yourself – both to your Pack and to yourself. In a way, it was an affirmation that you belonged.”
She could feel Logan tense beside her as he asked, “Did you fight?”
Max nodded, feeling a mixture of pride and discomfort.
“I was the best in the ring that year. It was also my first kill.”
“How old were you?”
She watched his features tighten, and explained, “We all fought. It’s just our way.”
Logan took a slow breath in, then asked, “How bad was it?”
Max looked away, her voice barely audible as she replied, “Bad. I literally took my opponent apart with my bare hands – but I don’t remember doing it. Everything blanked out and the next time I remember opening my eyes – she was just..in pieces.”
Her hands were trembling as she looked back over at him.
“The way I won was by enduring my punishment for killing an opponent.”
She took a deep breath, then quietly murmured, “I can fight if I need to, but it scares me. I don’t want to black out again.”
Logan nodded, then looked over at her and chuckled.
Max glared at him, irritated. “What?”
“Hellofa thing, you finding me the way you did.” he murmured, and Max relaxed a little, leaning back into her seat.
“Sorry I got you into this?” Logan asked, his tone a little softer.
Max shifted in her seat, shaking her head slightly. “Not really. The wolf’s been itching to get out into the world for a while now. She’s elated.”
“Jury’s still out.”
Max looked away, peering out the window. “I have to admit that I’m not entirely against the idea of running with you…”
Her voice dropped to a hushed whisper.
“..as long as I don’t have to cut you up like that again.”
“If it’ll make you feel any better, you can check my back out now if ya want. It’s all healed up.”
Logan wasn’t entirely certain how to reassure her. He wasn’t exactly in ‘comfort and reassure’ mode at the moment. Fight or flight had kicked in like a bitch, and he was torn between listening to her and finding them another ride.
Max shook her head slowly.
“No – it’s okay. Do you know where you’re going?”
He spotted a glow in the clouds off in the distance. Hopefully it was a gas station. First order of business was more food, then a map.
She chuckled and replied, “We’re a bit far out of my stomping grounds for me to know where we are. I’ve never been this far north.”
Logan spotted a gas station up ahead. He scanned the area around it for anything out of the ordinary, pulling in and parking the car at the pump.
“Got any cash?”
Max fished around in the bag behind her seat, pulling out her wallet. She had about sixty dollars.
“Good.” he murmured. “We’ll need more, though – eventually.”
“I can just use the ATM inside..” she explained and Logan shook his head.
“Can’t. It’s traceable.”
“How do you know they’re tracking me now?”
He eyed her and explained, “Darlin’, like I said, it’s a good bet that they ran your tags before they jumped us.”
“How do you know that?” she asked, frowning.
“It’s what I would’a done.” he answered, looking over towards the mini-mart.
She paused for a moment, thinking. “How are we supposed to get more money?”
Logan presented her with a sharp, predatory smile.
“We improvise. Stay here and fill the tank. I’ll go in and get supplies.”
Max nodded, then handed him the money and got out of the car. Logan sat in the driver’s side seat for a moment, watching the kid at the cash register.
This place was still somewhat remote and there weren’t any other customers.
Max was inserting the nozzle into the car when she heard the driver’s side door close.
Logan walked towards the front door of the station with a strange look on his face. When the nozzle finally clicked off, she moved to place it back on its resting hook and spotted Logan coming back out with a large, full grocery bag.
He set the bag in the back seat. It was almost overflowing with bags of jerky, trail mix and potato chips. It would last them for a while, but already the wolf was wanting to get out to pull down some real game again.
She slid into the driver’s seat and asked, “Are we roughing it again tonight?”
Logan nodded as he closed the car door. “Yep.”
“Good. Then I’ll get us dinner.”
Max smiled as she started the car up and pulled out of the station.
MARVEL owns the copyright on their own characters, but I’ve fussed with and taken liberties with canon, and Max is my own creation.
Chapter 1 :: Chapter 2 :: Chapter 3 :: Chapter 4 :: Chapter 5 :: Chapter 6 :: Chapter 7 :: Chapter 8 :: Chapter 9 :: Chapter 10 :: Chapter 11 :: Chapter 12 :: Chapter 13 :: Chapter 14 :: Chapter 15 :: Chapter 16 :: Chapter 17 :: Chapter 18 :: Chapter 19 :: Chapter 20 :: Chapter 21 :: Chapter 22 :: Chapter 23 :: Chapter 24 :: Chapter 25