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No Direction Home

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Some people will offer you their hand
And some won't
Last night I knew you,
Tonight I don't

-- Bob Dylan, Mississippi

Logan closes his eyes for a moment. His senses are all so keen that he sometimes gets overwhelmed; things are easier with his eyes shut.

He hears some small movements in the alley--rats, and maybe a cat. His sense of smell confirms small animals, but only one other human: Remy LeBeau. A few passerby had come out to observe the fight, but they've long since scattered. His hands are still holding LeBeau by his slender throat, pushing him against a brick wall. He can hear LeBeau's heart beating incredibly fast and feel his pulse racing under his hands. He has the kid beat, and they both know it. He smells LeBeau, too--a mixture of sweat and fear and pheromones. The more Logan smells him, the more he wants to taste him.

Try as he might, he doesn't hear or smell Victor or John. He opens his eyes and stares into Remy's face for a moment. He's caught his breath and his face is starting to regain the cocky expression it had had when Logan'd first walked into the club and seen him dealing cards. He remembers the conversation he'd had with John before entering the bar--"I'm gonna go cover the the back in case he rabbits." "What? I gotta get in a fight with everybody?" "Don't dogs kill cats?"

Logan was so used to being an animal, to thinking of others as animals, that he hadn't thought twice about John's pronouncement. But he also remembers Kayla's words to him--"Logan, you're not an animal." God, Kayla....

Sensing his distraction, LeBeau squirms. Logan tightens his grasp on the kid's neck and says, "You're gonna take me this Island, where I'm gonna kill Creed, Stryker, and pretty much everyone you hate in this world, you understand?"

"You're really gonna kill him?" LeBeau asks. His face is flushed, and Logan can't help but think what a pretty boy he is.

Logan says, "Long as you stay out of my way, yeah," and then sets him down, none too gently. Logan watches him land. LeBeau's favoring his right foot but trying to hide it.

"All right. I'll take you there. Tomorrow."

Logan growls and says, "You'll take me there right now!" He is consumed with the need for immediate revenge.

LeBeau cocks his head. "Look, mon ami, I got a few things to take care of before we can go. It ain't like we can just swim there, you know. Stryker ain't goin' anywhere. 'Sides, way I see it, you owe me a drink."

Logan raises his eyebrows. "I owe you a drink? You're the one let Creed get away."

LeBeau shrugs and drawls, "You started it, breaking up a perfectly fine card game with those shiny tags of yours. But I'm prepared to forgive you, after a drink or two. So let us retire to a more welcoming environment, d'accord?"

Logan can no longer smell any trace of fear from the kid. It's all cocky amusement now.

"Hold up on that," Logan says. "I... have to go back for my friend."

He starts walking back in the general direction of where he'd last seen Victor and John, and LeBeau calls, "I wouldn't go that way, if I was you. New Orleans might not have the finest police force around, but there's bound to be a few cops around after what just happened."

"I'm not gonna leave him."

"Course not. Follow me," LeBeau says, nimbly leading him toward a metal fire escape and up onto the roof of a nearby building. Logan follows the kid across a series of rooftops. Even injured, LeBeau moves with incredible grace. He never looks back to see if Logan is keeping up with him. They come down on top of a dumpster, and Logan gags at the smell. He takes another breath and this time he finds the stench even more repulsive. He picks up traces of John's blood, and some of Victor's, too. But he can't find the body. He whirls around and studies the tracks. Gone. Creed must have doubled back while Logan was fighting Gambit. Is John alive? He suspects not, not the way Victor had been holding him the last time Logan saw them. But if Victor has him, and Victor's working for Stryker, they'll probably both be at the Island.

He glances back at LeBeau, who's studying a fragment of his broken staff, somehow looking casual and elegant in the midst of this rubble.

"All right," Logan says. "Let's get out of here."

LeBeau says, "How'd you get here?"

"Got a bike out front."

"Get it and meet me back here."

Logan snorts. "What makes you think I'm dumb enough to fall for that?"

"Hey, mon ami, you said it yourself--you're going to kill everyone I hate. But I would prefer not to be seen by too many of my colleagues just now. Could get messy. We'll meet back here, d'accord?"

Logan studies the other man. He doesn't smell a lie, only Remy's unnaturally attractive pheromones. "All right," he says. He stalks off to retrieve his bike, looking sadly at John's for a moment. He puts it in neutral and silently pushes it around the back, trying to keep a low profile. Drunken revelers have already begun to reassemble in the street, though not as many as had been there before the vicious fight had broken out. When he returns to the alley, he finds it empty. "Goddamnit," he says. He sniffs the air and easily traces LeBeau's scent, like a hungry man picking up a whiff of steak. He follows it a ways down the alley and finds the younger man pushing his own motorcycle back to their meeting spot.

LeBeau raises an eyebrow. "Aw, cher, you miss me already?" he asks, a teasing smirk on his lips.

Logan growls. "Look, kid, I ain't playin' around."

"Well now, you know what they say about all work and no play."

Logan rolls his eyes. "I got places to be."

"Yeah, yeah, the Island. Follow me." LeBeau starts his bike, a sleek BMW, and heads off at a slow pace. He speeds up as soon as he hears Logan's bike behind him, and he leads him out of the French Quarter and into a quieter part of Uptown. They leave their bikes in front of a dingy bar, where their ragged appearance doesn't attract any second glances. LeBeau orders two whiskeys, neat. Logan watches him flirt with the bartender, a not-especially-pretty blonde woman, who blushes and gives them each an extra-long pour. LeBeau gives a charming grin in return and takes the two glasses to a table near the front door.

"Á votre santé!" LeBeau says, cheerfully raising his glass.

"You come here often?" Logan asks, letting the familiar taste of Seagram's wash over his tongue. He doesn't know which irritates him more: that LeBeau hadn't bothered to ask him what he was drinking, or that he had ordered exactly the right thing.

"Nope. This probably the last place anybody'd think to look for Remy LeBeau." He considers. "All right, the last place anybody'd think to look for Remy LeBeau would probably be, oh, a grade school."

Logan shakes his head. Who the fuck is this kid? "So where exactly is the Island?"

"Ah, the Island. It's up north. You'll see it soon enough. For now, how about if you tell me why you want to go there so bad? It ain't exactly a tourist attraction."

Logan reaches in his pocket and fishes out a cigar. It's taken a bit of damage in his pocket and he half-heartedly tries to reshape it. He frowns, looking for something to light it with. LeBeau produces a pack of clove cigarettes and a lighter from somewhere within his coat. He lights up his own smoke and then smoothly offers Logan a light. Logan nods his thanks and enjoys the first puff of his cigar. Then he says, "Stryker... betrayed me."

LeBeau's mouth twists into a sneer. "No surprise there, eh?"

Logan holds the cigar in his left hand and takes a long swig of his whiskey. No, he'd never trusted Stryker. But no matter what, no matter how unhinged Victor got, he'd thought he could trust his own brother. Not that LeBeau needs to know Logan's family business. Logan just shrugs.

LeBeau presses on, "So, you used to be one of Stryker's spooks? Then how come you don't know where the Island is, y'self?"

"I quit. Long time ago. I guess before he started using the Island. Stryker was--" Logan cuts off, remembering the night he'd left, just walked right off into the African savanna while Victor called his name. "I didn't want to work for him anymore," he concludes.

LeBeau gives a slight shake of his head, knocking his auburn hair away from his face and sending out a fresh wave of his scent in Logan's direction. Christ, he smells good. "Stryker's a sick son of a bitch," he says, matter-of-factly. "Nothin' compared to Creed, though."

Logan considers this. Which of the two is worse? The animal, or the one who let the animal off the leash? The one who killed Kayla, or the one who orchestrated her death? He shrugs again and downs the last of his whiskey. LeBeau raises his eyebrows at him over his own half-empty glass.

"Come on," Logan says. "Let's get out of here."

"No rush, mon ami, we cannot leave until tomorrow morning at the earliest. But best to wait until tomorrow night. So may as well have another drink, non?"

"Tomorrow night?" Logan can hear the growl in his own voice.

LeBeau holds his hands out, pacifying him. "It's like I told you, homme, we cannot swim there, eh? We can fly there, but I need to refuel my plane, and ain't nobody going to be out at that airstrip at this hour." Logan bites back a sigh, and LeBeau adds, "But it is best to arrive when it is dark out. So tomorrow morning, I refuel. Tomorrow afternoon, we leave, and tomorrow night, we arrive. And at any rate, I think we both need our beauty sleep before going to the Island, non?" The kid's face reveals nothing, but Logan can smell a wave of fear from him.

"Fine," Logan says. "Tomorrow." He supposes he could use a little sleep, at that--Las Vegas to New Orleans had been two long, hard days on his bike. He smokes his cigar meditatively, all the while watching LeBeau work his way through four cigarettes. A small, private smile never leaves the kid's face, and Logan wonders what the joke is. The pace of his smoking and the sound of his elevated heartrate are the only signs that LeBeau might be the slightest bit uneasy about his current situation. His face reveals nothing.

Eventually, Logan pushes away from the table and brings two more drinks back to the table. LeBeau acknowledges the new drink with a slight nod, and the two keep drinking. Logan's mutation keeps him from getting drunk, but he likes the taste of whiskey, the burn of it. He likes the act of sitting in a bar with a drink and a cigar. Somehow, sitting in a room with other people while he drinks and smokes is socially acceptable, even if he isn't talking to any of them.

After their third round of drinks, LeBeau says, "Well, mon ami, I got a few t'ings to take care of before tomorrow." His lilting Cajun accent is a little stronger than it was when they arrived, but he seems otherwise unaffected by the drinks. Logan watches him walk to the door carefully. He's not quite hiding a slight limp, but he's walking in a straight line. The kid's skinny but he can hold his alcohol.

They return to their bikes and LeBeau suddenly reaches out and grabs Logan's tags. Logan jerks back instinctively. LeBeau gives him an infuriating smirk and says, "I was just wondering what your name might be, M'sieur Wolverine."

"Christ, kid, call me Logan. You could have just asked."

"I could have asked, and p'rhaps you would have answered. All the same, now I have my answer, eh? Now, Logan, follow me. I know a place where you can stay tonight."

"Wait a second, where are you going to stay?"

"Ah, Logan, don't worry. You will not be lonely tonight. We will go to the safehouse. You will wait there while I make a few arrangements, and then I will return. Then tomorrow, I will take you to the Island, as I agreed." LeBeau takes in Logan's face and says, cheerfully, "What, you don't trust me?"

"'Bout as far as I can throw you."

"I figure a man like you could throw me pretty far, eh?" He hops on his bike and says, "Come on, Wolverine, follow me."

Logan starts his bike and follows, since this smarmy card dealer is currently the only person he knows who can help him exact his revenge for what's been done to Kayla, and for what's been done to himself.

They don't travel terribly far before coming to a stop in front of a nondescript little house. LeBeau reaches somewhere in the depths of his brown leather duster and produces a key, opening the door with a flourish before returning the key. It's a New Orleans shotgun house, long and narrow. If you stood in the front room, you could fire a bullet straight through to the back door without hitting any walls.

"I'll give you the grand tour," LeBeau says. They walk through the front room into a bedroom, another bedroom, a kitchen, and finally a small bathroom. The place doesn't look or smell lived-in.

"This your place?" Logan asks.

"Does it matter if it ain't?" LeBeau counters. Then he shrugs. "I figure people just might be looking for me at my place. This is a Guild safehouse. Ain't nobody gonna bother us here."


"The T'eves Guild."

It takes Logan a moment to understand that through the drunk Cajun accent. "There's a guild for thieves? What, like a union?" Logan asks incredulously.

LeBeau gives an infuriating smirk at that. "Oh, yeah, we got dental insurance and everything." He opens a cabinet and says, "There's sheets and towels here. You can have your pick of the beds. I'll be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail."

Logan hesitates. He's not too keen about being left behind, but he really does suppose he has to trust LeBeau at this point. Still, he says, "You need any help?"

"Nah. Sometimes two feet are better than four, eh?" LeBeau pauses in the doorway, turns back and says, "Hey, mon ami, I'd appreciate it if this place was still standing when I get back, d'accord?" He's out the door before Logan can point out that Gambit was the one who tended to knock down walls, not him. He listens and doesn't hear a motorcycle start. Whatever the kid's doing, he's doing it on foot.

Logan shrugs and decides to check out the kitchen. He might as well have a drink or three while he waits for LeBeau to come back. He pokes around the mostly-empty cabinets and finds a mostly-full bottle of Jack Daniels. He settles in at the kitchen table and waits. Even though LeBeau's not here, the little house still reeks of his scent, and it's driving him crazy.