Story Notes:
Hello again! The following is a little (emphasis on 'little') different from what I normally write. It is based on a handful of scenes I've been kicking around for some time and inspired, oddly enough, by what must be my fifty third (or fifty fourth, fifty fifth) viewing of Forest Gump. This will be a short one (anything would be, after The Girl), only six or seven chapters at most (but when are my forecasts ever accurate?), but though this first section is brief I expect the rest to be much longer.

Please forgive the rambling--in these notes and what follows. I'm reading a lot of Nabokov right now, who made drawn-out, convoluted sentences and art form and who evokes the same tendency in me (minus the art form-part).
Author's Chapter Notes:
This chapter is dedicated to:

Canceled and much-anticipated trips,
Lucky numbers,
Zero bars,
Playing Hooky,
People who contort their bodies in absurd and painful positions to avoid disturbing a sleeping cat (if you're one of them, you know what I mean),
And to anyone and everyone willing to stick with this mess long enough to review.

Bon Appetit
To Run In Circles

Chapter One

The tip of Logan's cigar bobbed, danced, to avoid the falling moisture that wished to turn its avid glow dark. The smoke mingled strangely with the rain, like a concentrated fog or the shadow of a phantom, haunting the twined leaves of what was clenched between his teeth. He stood beneath the awning--if it could be called such, an inch or two of stone and even less cloth was decoration, not shelter--of one of the more humble entrances to the mansion. Tobacco-laced air swirled down his throat to lungs made strong from years of pushing against his unique bones, found the space not to their liking, and rushed back out to rejoin the night.

He liked the rain, though the predator in him was considering the cold and the unrelenting Wet--which heightens some scents, and hopelessly blurrs others--with a wrinkled nose and a stiff jaw. He liked having his back against the mansion, against the noise and the collective body heat, liked the dusty stagnation of even this well-groomed Outside being washed away. Liked inhaling the evidence of this cleansing, although these days the water was laden with chemicals stolen from the atmosphere, hidden in each drop like candy in an expert shoplifter's pocket. Later he would have to take a shower, remove the starch-like feeling this pollution leaves on his skin, though now he was enjoying the flow that requires clouds rather than pipes.

Logan watched a caramel membrane of water form over the cobblestone, a glaze to what had been dry and sun-worn. The yard was empty of any movement besides those colossal teardrops and the lazy twists of a glass wind-chime. There was a sundial in the center of the courtyard, a proud project of last year's shop class, and his gaze returned to it again and again though its face was uselessly dark and weeping now. He closed his eyes, felt his chest rub against the inner weave of his shirt--the one Jean called revoltingly tacky but which had been clenched in the fists of a more appreciative woman just a week ago...who had screamed in a completely different way an hour later, spotting the key-chain bearing the Xmen insignia as it tumbled out of his pocket.
He was a few beers past what even the Wolverine would consider a limit--not itching for a fuck or a fight, as he normally would be, but bored. Tired. Despondent, like those men he'd always scorned in bars for not hiding their misery. His thoughts swirled, dry leaves in a wind too languid to carry them more than a drunkards step away. No purpose, no destination, shifting in noncommittal spurts only when the mood hits them. Sensations, fractions of ideas and recollections not unsimiliar to the mosaic of dreams.

Lightning struck to the north, less than a mile away. He heard the sizzle and hum, like a T.V's poor reception. Logan wondered idly if the storm was of Ororo's conjuring, to save her beds of flowers among other effects of the recent drought--but no. No. Of course not. It took him less time than usual to remember that Ororo was gone, that she has been for for a long time now. Strange, how long it was taking him to grow accustomed to that fact. Voices in the building behind him, some hushed but most high and chattering--children find ways to be hyper in any situation. A dog barking incessantly from the house down the road, a screech of some animal whose predator had been unfortunately untroubled by the rain. Vehicles, dozens, scores, each boasting a different radio station or phone call or argument between passengers.

But though Logan tried to let the rain drum this discordant symphony into the background, there was something--something that caused the nerves tied to his ears to perk up, hone their focus in on one instrument of the chorus. An engine broke free of the cluster, made its way past the distant neighbors, past the point that meant its goal was Somewhere Else. On to Xavier's land, down the picturesque lane with its fragile and too-generic beauty. The tires found the entrance, crawled up the gravel with the growl of a exhausted and slightly hoarse beast.

He tracked it without moving from his position, listened with less curiosity than instinct. Few visited the mansion anymore, though in the past benefactors and guests could be counted on to appear every week in well-fed and smiling skin, tailored suits. Now those who arrive were desperate, runaways or parents hoping to divest themselves of a child exhibiting traits that would turn them from pillars to outlaws of a community...Or else, more representatives of a government whose obliviousness and toleration toward the school had long been shed. He doubted this car was of the latter category, smelling too much of rust and not enough of arrogance, but you never knew.

It did not pull into the garage, but followed the same path that delivery vans took--tomorrow Jean would complain about the tire treads in the grass. It drew around the side. His side, in fact, a good choice for those familiar with the layout of the building and relying on a quick escape. And if he were to take a few steps, cross the courtyard to that stone arch, he could see...

Maroon paint, dark like partially dried blood. A Camero with more dents than not, a drained and crumpled tin can. Strips of cardboard and tin foil taped over the holes in the back window, thin tires that sat an inch deep in mud the consistency of saliva, greasy and threadbare. Its driver was an abstract and sullen shadow that remained behind the wheel for a long time, long enough for Logan and the sea and the whole world to take several deep breaths. Then a creak, a protesting scream of metal as the door swung open, and the shadow climbed out.

The figure draped in dark greens and black moved slowly, as the old or injured do. Headless of the downpour, or seeming to be. A jacket of thick wool covered most of her, though it lacked a hood and her locks--streaked white through yet another fashion beyond his comprehension or patience--were soaked within moments. Slim, young, and Logan admired the wholesome curve of her breasts beneath that jacket as well as other pleasing features even as he clocks, measures, and categorizes those that might prove vulnerable or threatening in a fight (thought there appeared to be few of the latter). She walked to the tail of the Camaro, removed from the back seat a duffel bag and from the trunk a second(or even third, fourth)hand suitcase. The easy lift and maneuvering of these suggested that the action had been performed many times before.

The oppressive sky, hanging like a circus tent about to collapse, a child's fort who's supporting chairs are about to tip over; the dim and deceitful light; their inexplicable aloneness and something single-minded in her movements suggested a certain surreality. This wasn't real; they weren't real--their surroundings were nothing but a stage and theater props. Nothing had existed before this moment, and it was possible nothing would after. He felt suddenly and violently nauseous, and swallowed the sensation away.

Still, he watched her drag the suitcase through the slush, listened to her socks squelch within old and certainly not waterproof boots. A creature with the huddled dignity of a refugee or a prisoner, being herded into their respective camps. Making his judgments, assumptions, as those who have been trained to rely on first impressions for convenience and survival do. Yes, definitely another runaway. Another stomach to growl behind the already bursting-at-the-seams walls, splitting all the amenities once so happily and freely provided.

But when she finally glanced up, finally noticed him in the arch as minor heroines or token victims in crime dramas spot, belatedly and fatally, the mugger, the rapist, the murderer, in the alley. She stared, her neck straightening in that perfect, horrible, awareness--a look that was the same no matter what species the Hunted belonged to. It was not until later that Logan would think about this moment, in one of his memory's many renditions, and realize that despite her expression, despite the swift addition of fear to her scent, her stride never so much as faltered. A small, meaningful detail forgivably overshadowed by the sudden visibility of her face.

She was both young and older than he'd expected. In her early twenties, with full lips and an oval, yet starved face...though she couldn't have been completely destitute, for those ivory streaks completely coated the roots of her hair--the dye job must have been recent. A long neck, a complexion that matched the tint of the moon. Breasts that were even more satisfying viewed frontally than in profile. Wide, nice eyes that shifted from alarm to intentional detachment.

He moved--not enough to entirely block her path, but enough to deter any thought of passing him.

"'Scuse me." Her voice was thick with weariness and The South. And there was a fragrance, wavering on the edge of identification, behind those naturally feminine aromas and skin that yearned for soap--but it danced out of his focus.

"You a mutant?"

"What do you think?", she asked, in a tone both flat and over-prepared for confrontation, throwing with all of her force a ball he had merely rolled to her.

"What's your power?"

"Telekinetic castration. What's yours?" He blinked. The lack of amusement or irony in her expression might have sold him, if her scent had been equally free of a lie. Logan grunted.

"Anyone expecting you?"

"Yes." Impatient now, more irritated than fear should allow and her clothes were starting to resemble blankets pulled too soon from a washing machine. But these were standard questions put to every newcomer; this was not a motel and he was not the polite clerk in the lobby--and entertainment was in limited and often repetitive supply these days.

Logan jerked his head in the vague direction of her luggage, or perhaps her breasts. "You got somewhere to put those?"


He raised an eyebrow, looked at her coolly and lengthily, as she began to shiver and acquire a strange hardness at the same time, like some molten core was loosing its heat and solidifying. "Want me to take you to The Professor? Let him know you're here?"

The coldness that had nothing to do with the weather slipped away from her expression as quickly at it had come, wispy strip of fabric that had grazed, briefly and insufficiently, on the barken fingertips of some tree before the wind carried it away. Her gaze fell to some place not visible to any eyes but her's.

She sighed. "He knows I'm here."

A nod to his right, another "Excuse me", and this time Logan stepped aside. Her elbow, her shoulder--a slender thing beneath the sopping coat--brushed his chest as she passed, and the scent he'd been struggling to name offered itself to him with sudden submission. It was certainly not an unfamiliar mixture; he couldn't understand why his nose had found it so foreign--or appealing. A little marijuana, a few tears, and a great deal of hopelessness...And beneath those, so subtle it was overlooked in his triumph of recognizing the others, a fraction of something that in his long and mostly unrecollected years had never touched his airways.

Chapter End Notes:
We can't keep meeting like this.

....We-ell, I'm embarking on a new (you thought I was going to say 'journey', didn't you? Didn't you? I'm not. Too cheesy. Gotta pretend I have some dignity.) fic, one I hope you will both enjoy and, more importantly (isn't that pathetic? Yes, I am that desperate), review. I'm never sure how I feel about a story until I am two or three chapters in, and I cannot begin to express how greatly you feedback would be appreciated/my nails bitten nervously in the meantime.

Stalling. Anxious, knowing full well how my insides will be twisted up after first clicking that 'submit' button....Ah, well....Here we go...

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