Man! challenge in a can Man!





Victoria P.

"They died instantly."

Logan heard the words, but his mind refused to process them.

"The jet exploded in mid-air. We don't know yet what went wrong. But it was over quickly. They didn't feel any pain."

"No," he whispered. He squeezed the delicate cell phone, barely the size of a credit card, trying to crush it. He could still hear Hank talking, calling his name, but all rational thought was gone.

Enraged, he flung the phone across the room. With a satisfying sting, he unsheathed the claws and ran the TV through, silencing the pretty-boy anchorman as he reported about the mysterious explosion in the night sky over Salem Center.

The television frizzled, and the sparks landed on his skin, which hissed and burned for a moment or two before the sparks faded. The smell of his own singed and rapidly healing flesh triggered more rage.

"It should have been me," he muttered over and over as he wrecked the apartment.

He shredded the leather couch; the foam stuffing stuck to his claws and in his hair. He pushed over the curio holding all her little knickknacks. The snow-globes and shot glasses she collected on their travels together shattered, littering the wood floor with shards of glass. His bare feet were a bloody mess, unnoticed in his fury, as he stalked through the living room.

The walls were next; he left huge gaping holes in them, scoring the cheery yellow paint she'd chosen to brighten up the room in defiance of his wish for plain white walls and minimal decoration.

He remembered the first night he'd seen it. He had come back from a mission, and after the debriefing, they'd immediately headed out for their new apartment in the city. It was their haven, a space apart from the goings-on at the mansion, which seemed to intrude constantly on their personal life.

She'd giggled and wiggled her hips in that endearingly impish way of hers, telling him to close his eyes before turning the lights on. The room had glowed with a warm cheerfulness, easing the tension that was always coiled in his neck and shoulders. Even when he didn't agree, she ended up doing what was best for him.

He moved into the bedroom, overturning the night tables and gouging holes in the dresser. He knocked the contents of her vanity to the floor, spilling powders and lotions on the new carpeting he'd insisted on. He was a tough guy, sure, but he didn't like walking barefoot on a cold wood floor in the middle of the night whenever he had to take a piss.

The scent of her light perfume permeated the room, engulfing him, bringing him back to himself. The berserker rage faded as the enormity of his loss sank in.

Marie was dead.

She had teased him before she'd left. "It's my last mission, and then we're on our own. No more X-Men, no more Brotherhood, no more of this ridiculous leather outfit--"

"I like the leather."

"I know, sugar. Think they'll let me keep it?"

Then her phone had beeped and it was time to let her go. "See you at the apartment," he'd said. Not, "I love you." Not, "Good luck." He'd thought he'd had all the time in the world to say the first, and no need to say the second. It had been a routine pick up. She could take care of herself in a fight; he'd trained her and she was good. And Scott kept the Blackbird in top fighting trim. There had been no need to worry.

She'd kissed him and boarded the jet.

And now she was dead.

He fell to his knees on the carpet, metal-reinforced bones denting the floor even through the extra padding she'd insisted on, and pressed his face into the comforter that still held their mingled scents.

For the first time in the twenty years he could remember, he wept, in bitter, wracking sobs that made him feel as if he would never stop, could never stop.

Finally, he climbed into the bed, wrapped himself in the sheets that still smelled of her, and willed himself to sleep, so he could dream that she was in his arms.

Hank found him that way an hour later, and hadn't the heart to wake him.

Logan. Credit card. Enraged.

Man! challenge in a can Man!