Murderers and Killers

June 13, 2014: After a night out damaging his liver, Wolverine is tracked down by his genetic clone, X-23 for a … chat.

TriBeCa - New York City

Tribeca is dominated by former industrial buildings that have been converted into residential buildings and lofts, similar to those of the neighboring SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the neighborhood was a center of the textile/cotton trade.



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Mood Music:

Some people just ain’t worth trustin’.

While testing the limits of his healing factor by way of whiskey and his liver in Madripoor and offer came through. Transplanting himself to New York City at the promise of a big payday, Logan now finds himself waiting on that check with nothing better to do. The casual observer would note that he’s been holding up the bar at O’Toole’s, one of the few remaining watering holes from Tribeca’s industrial days, every night til closing for the last week and a half. His tab is skyrocketing but, well, the owner of the place isn’t quite willing to try and call it in.

The stink of summer in New York is almost something to choke on for those with sharper-than-normal senses. As Logan half-strolls, half-ambles out into the street he crinkles his nose and fishes for a cigar from the inside pocket of the beaten, brown leather jacket he wears. Biting the end off and spitting it casually into the gutter, he lights up and immediately proceeds to surround himself in a cloud of noxious smoke.

Satisfied, he heads down the street in the grey light of early, early morning towards his lodgings a few blocks north.

It had taken her a lot of time and effort to even get to this point. This point, where Laura even had a clue of where Wolverine was exactly. Government computers hacked, files stolen - news scoured. All it told her was that he was here, in New York. And New York was a tremendously large place.

So, after another day of fruitless searching, Laura was striding down a sidewalk, dressed in a dark leather jacket, cream blouse - and skirt that reached her knees, her big military boots laced up tight.

It was the noxious scent of cigar that catches her attention at first. It came with the scent of /him/, her eyes snapping up and locking on the man across the way. Laura was not certain she'd even recognize him if she saw him for the first time.

But he looked like his photos. But above all else - the scent confirmed it for her.

Tucking her hands into her jacket, she crosses the street without taking the time to glance for traffic, her eyes staring into the back of his head like twin lasers.

“ – a charger, that charges through th’ night like a orange bolt a lightnin’ passin’ e’ry’thin’ in sight –“

Logan half-sings to himself around the cigar, the whiskey sloshing around in his brain at levels that would be sending most men to the morgue. For him, it’s a buzz but nothing more. His head tilts slightly as he pauses, dropping his lighter into his pocket. His eyes narrow for a second before he carries on, hands thrust into his pockets and boots falling heavy on the concrete. His shoulders hunch up, the early morning fog catching the skin and chilling despite the season.

“Hmm mmm mmm,” he hums the rest of the old Johnny Cash tune, carrying on seemingly clueless of the young woman following him, “Mmm mm mmm.”

It was not a tune that she knew. Music was something that she was introduced to in California, but it was not quite something those at the Facility felt would make for a good assassin.

Those intense green eyes level upon him, a mixture of emotions warring in her chest. Perhaps he caught the similar, if different scent from her. Perhaps he would hear the pounding of her heart, the short - intense drawing of her lungs.

Her own boots, soles softened from use, made nary a whisper as she walked on. Shoulders hunching, coat drawn tighter around her.

There he was, there he was.

What should she do?

She would just follow for now, eyes careful of any sign of his knowledge of her presence.

“Hmm mmm – look, are you gonna share why you’re chasin’ me around or do I need to guess?”

Logan speaks before he turns around, catching the scent and biorhythmic sounds of her presence before he gets a good look. His rugged features glow momentarily in the orange ember of his cigar, eyes looking her up and down twice.

“You’re a little young for me, sweetheart. An’ if you’re thinking of boostin’ my wallet, I’ll save you some time – it’s empty.”

That look in her eyes - it was anger, it was rage. It was a mask to overshadow the guilt, the… longing for some form of human attachment that danced in her heart and in the back of her mind.

He turns, and she doesn't flinch away, her chin lifting up, those green eyes glaring up at him.

And for a long moment, Laura Kinney stands there, her shoulders and arms nearly quivering - her whole form quivering.

"You were…" she says, her voice cracking a bit at, her tone a bit lower than her usual. "Singing. What were you singing?" she asks, and then another question, her tone becoming dangerous. "…why were you singing it?"

"There some law against the Man in Black that got passed while I was away?"

The dangerous tone does not go unnoticed and he girds himself for whatever reaction she might have. His shoulders square, his hands slide free from his pockets and hang at his sides and he puts one foot just slightly before the other. Still, the way he speaks is nonchalant and his heart doesn't race - if he's concerned even those usually tell-tale signs don't show it.

"It's a Johnny Cash song and I was singin' it because I can. You look like you want to tear my throat out, girl. Let me tell you right now that ain't gonna work out in any way yer gonna like."

His nose wrinkles as he sniffs at the air, eyebrows lifting slightly, "Or maybe it will. You're not some average cooze, are ya?"

Laura was taking a measure of him. He was calm - much calmer than she would be in a similar situation. It had to be a trick.

Laura's jaw clenches tightly. She stalks forward - taking another step forward, and then one more. To get within his reach perhaps. Just… a couple meters away. Out of arm's reach for most, sure. But one suspected that most couldn't move like these two could.

Laura's shoulders square. Hands still in the pockets of her coat - but that gaze, furious - lingering upon Logan's own. "…you're a killer. How many did you kill, Weapon X-0?" she asks, her tone underscored with a roiling loathing. "How many more /will/ you kill?"

Whatever haze of alcoholic stupor was lingering over Logan’s face evaporates the moment she calls him out. That time in his life he barely remembers. Where once was Logan is now the Wolverine, his teeth slightly bared and his eyes narrowed viciously. A meaty hand raises to pull the cigar away, momentarily masking his features in a cloud of white-grey smoke. The cigar still glowing at the end. Brought slowly forward and down to his side. The aim? To draw her attention.

His other hand moves faster. He lunges, employing unnatural strength to grab at her throat – taller than him though she may be. There’s no effort to choke or harm, merely to shock her and hold her there when he speaks. His voice demanding and tinged with cold ferocity. The cigar topples from his fingers, landing on the pavement in a cloud of embers.

“Who the fuck are you?!”

To shock her - to hold her.

As that haze of cigarette smoke clouds his face, her eyes were on his features. A breeze blows the long locks of her hair out of place, to drift into her eyes. Not one moment does her gaze waver from his own. In the end, Logan was stronger than she was, possibly would ever be, just by nature of genetics. But she was not weak. And she was /fast/. But not right now.

Not right now, with his meaty hands wrapping around her throat, clutching her so tightly.

Tension fills her, fills her shoulders, and her hands come up to his wrists. But not once does her gaze waver, even for a moment.

"/Murderer/," she whispers, her voice rich and rolling with utter hatred. She actually did not know how many people Weapon X ever killed. But she knew how many she had.

At the edges of her eyes - tears bead up - start to swell with water before cutting down her features. The natural mascara - something she would have never worn until California - the tears cut rivulets into it as they track down her cheeks.

And then she moves. She might not be as strong as him, but she was desperately strong. And dextrous. He might realize this as she kicks up her foot to hammer against one of his knees - a distraction to hopefully stun him enough for her to bring her fingers up and free her throat with a harsh chop against his wrist - and fingers of her own hand to pry between his grasp and her neck.

The Wolverine’s expression softens almost imperceptibly when he sees the tears in the corner of her eyes. No assassin sent to kill him would react that way. Unless she was playing him. That moment of doubt is all she needs, though, and the kick to his knees followed by the chop to his wrist compels him to draw his hand away. He moves with the momentum of the attack, tucking and rolling backwards before kipping up to his feet.

“Killer an’ murderer are two diff’rent things, girl. I kill the people who deserve killin’. Whoever sent you here has it wrong.”

Laura Kinney doesn't move away when he rolls backwards from her. She opens her stance wide - hunching her shoulders, bringing up hands, curled into fists, palms and knuckles facing the sky. To his words, she gives a shake of her head, her tears running a bit freer.

Another moment, and there was a flexing of muscles in her forearms that don't exist in any human. And there were twin claws that spring out of the knuckles of both hands.

And with that, she attacks. With that, she springs higher unto the air, jacket whipping behind her. She was jumping before him, and bringing her claws down - to bury them into his shoulders if she could in a downwards chop. That would likely be halted by his skeleton, but it was just a start.

The Wolverine's eyes widen. The sight of the claws gives him pause. The sort of halt in his step that he never experiences. He doesn't take joy in killing people but he's never truly been shocked into a standstill - this is a first for him.

“What the h—!”

His words are cut short as Laura dives through the air at him. His own claws pop, slicing through the flesh between his knuckles and leaving a splattering of blood on the concrete. But he’s slow. The shock of seeing someone like him – far more like him than anyone he’s seen before – hampers his reaction. His swing misses her, the claws burying deep into his shoulder and temporarily severing tendons that prompt his right arm to go limp.

The pain lights a fire under him. For all the questions he has for this strange girl with her own set of metal claws, the feral part of him wants to survive long enough to ask them. He brings up his other hand, claws still retracted, in a backhanded slap towards her jaw. Adamantium wrapped in a thin veil of flesh and all his strength behind it. Get her away. Make some space.

“Who. Are. You.”

His voice is low and rumbling, his eyes wild and his body hunched. The blood seeps into the white wife-beater under his shredded jacket, running in rivulets and sticking cotton to skin. His arm still hangs limp next to him, claws popped but otherwise useless as flesh, tendon and nerve quickly knit themselves together again.

What might add to his swing missing her was the way that she twists through the air - as if she were expecting a counterattack just like he did. Landing on the ground - Laura was quick - very quick. But she wasn't used to people with the sorts of speeds that these two could use.

Logan's slap finds a surface. She was heavier than him, far heavier than a girl her size and build should be. But that didn't stop her head from snapping to one side, or her to start stumbling that way. Laura decides to use the momentum for more than falling, so she kicks off of the ground, spinning in the air in the direction of the slap, and providing enough space for her to land on the soles of her boots.

The redness that came to her cheeks with the slap had already faded - the bruised cells and cracking jaw that caused the discoloring repairing themselves in a handful of heartbeats. He had bought himself some space.

But Laura knew that his arm was a temporary thing. The blood at her own knuckles - her blood, that had emerged when her claws had pierced her own skin - was joined with the droplets of his own at the tips of her claws.

Green eyes were wild now. There was a feralness to her as well, tamped back behind the programming of the Facility that she was trying to buck. And Logan could no doubt see that fierceness rattle the edges of that discipline in her features. Laura shakes her head.

"A mistake. A murderer," she says, her words rolling like a confession out of her mouth. But something twists in her features. There was a step forward - and a upward swing of claws - this time hoping to slice across his belly - a move that would disembowel a normal man.

But the strike lacked heart. Lacked conviction. "/Why/. Why are you a killer!?" she demands, her voice lifting high - almost shrill.

The Wolverine’s arm is already twitching, muscles clenching and loosening involuntarily as ruined pathways become active once more. Though still messily stained with blood, the wound itself has now closed and the only memory of the savage blow is a phantom pain where it had been.

The slice at his stomach is something he’s prepared for, and the lack of conviction behind it something he can take advantage of. His once-ruined arm comes up, claws unsheathed, and clashes with Laura’s own. The brief contact of the metal clanging noisily but serving to deflect a potentially devastating blow.

“Someone has to,” he growls, not attacking her himself and instead maintaining his defences, “When there ain’t any other option left, someone has to do the dirty work.”

Laura pauses another moment - a little glimmer of the anger of before finding her eyes. Doubly so when she finally finds more fight from the elder man. Claws clash against the other, adamantium sliding against adamantium - and that actually elicits a curling of Laura's lip. No growl - no sound from her quite yet.

But a sharp breath in makes a strained sound that might be a precursor of the same.

"Will you live forever?" she asks - twisting those claws back towards herself defensively - taking a step away from him, those boots clashing against the sidewalk.

This was a New York street - pedestrians were clamoring and pointing. And perhaps in the distance, there were the sound of sirens. Laura's jaw clenches - her green eyes looking at his. The anger was a judgement in her eyes - a judgement of him, perhaps.

Or of herself.

Laura takes another handful of steps away - relaxing her arms - claws falling back into them, her shoulders rising and falling with her quickened breaths.

"I don't know," he answers, voice softening slightly as his claws retract into his forearms, "Maybe."

Logan's eyes flick to the spectators. Few and far between given the hour but they're still there. And someone listening high above has indeed called the cops, who sound like they're making their way here from a fair distance.

"I don't know 'bout you, but I'm not much for an audience. You've got questions and I've got 'bout a half million of them myself. Come with me an' we'll see 'bout answerin' 'em. Or we can fight more. You're good, kid, but I'm older and you know how that'll go."

There were two urges warring in her. Fight. Or flight. Less flight - that was an instinct that wasn't strong in her, but more escape. From the hammering of her heart - from the twisting confusion in the back of her mind.

The presence of oncoming police was enough to draw her from the feral heat of the moment.

"I can kill you," she says, her voice low.

There wasn't any uncertainty in her voice. In fact - there was a note of conviction. The young woman takes a step forward - takes a step again. Arm's reach.

"And maybe it will go that way. Maybe it will go the other way," she says, lifting her chin up - defiant.

“Takes a lot to kill me,” Logan answers flatly, reaching into his pocket to produce another cigar, “Adamantium claws don’t make up half of it.”

The end of the cigar is bitten off and he lights the thing, taking a few steps backwards as though daring her to follow him.

“You an’ me obviously have some sorta connection. You know me. I don’t know you. Maybe we’ve never met, maybe we have an’ I just don’t remember it. I’m bankin’ on the first one. You want to know about me. You want the chance to kill me or air yer grievances or whatever – you come along. Because you tracked me down here when I wasn’t tryin’ t’ hide. You ever want to see me again, princess, you’ll come quiet.”

He doesn’t wait for a response to his challenge. He’s had enough of standing in the street and making himself known. People might be vaguely use to mutants but that doesn’t mean he wants to be stared at and photographed. He turns on his heels and starts to walk, hands thrust into his pockets.

Laura lets her eyes droop down - lets her anger fade into a more severe frown. But she wasn't the sort that got generally cranky - she bottled it up, and bottled it up - until it tended to explode all over the place.

So the way the anger drained into nothing might be odd in her stance, in her gait. As she kinda melted back into just being a teenager here on the streets, her hands curling to fists in her jacket.

"I just don't understand what good talking will do. You have to /die/," she says. And with that word die, the anger that she supposedly had put away turns into a biting snap, but just for a moment. Again. Again it starts to be put away, like she had dropped a box full of toys and was meticulously replacing them back into their places.

"We have to die." she says, words quieter.

“Maybe,” Logan replies, “But we don’t die easy. Folks’ve been tryin’ t’ kill me since before yer grandma’s grandma was a twinkle in the milkman’s eye. Doesn’t stick. I end up comin’ back. Judgin’ by those claws and the way yer face patched itself back there, I’m figurin’ yer the same kinda freakshow.”

He brings the cigar up for another puff, mulling the thought over, “Tell me, whose yer mama? Where you from originally. If yer gonna kill me and have me kill you then the least you can do is tell me where yer from.”

"Sarah Kinney," says Laura. It was doubtful if Logan knew the name - it belonged to a biogeneticist of some renown. A biogeneticist who had since quietly gone missing - who was no doubt brilliant, her work considered clever in several research circles. And maybe Logan was well-read enough to keep up on those things.

Laura certainly didn't read research reports.

And that would attest for the differences in Laura's looks. The green eyes, perhaps. The sharper, more slender features.

"But I come from The Facility. 50.58 by -79.76," says Laura, lips pursing as she glances back towards Logan, tilting her head to one side. Another pause, the corners of her eyes pinching. "…I was created from your genetic material."

Logan's eyebrows raise slightly at the answer he's given, nodding his head thoughtfully. It is a lot to process but, to his credit, he doesn't look gobsmacked. He takes it on board. He's certainly heard weirder things and he's known shadowy agencies who aren't beyond cloning people to get what they want.

"Huh. Shit. Guess that explains the healin' and the claws. Yer missin' one, though. Thought you might be a kid for a minute. Had a couple here and there. Most're older'n you, though. Speakin' of agin' - how old're you? Did you inherit that little trick from Pop's genetic material?"

It was the calm as mentioned before. "And I am not missing a claw. Gender dimorphism, or so they said - my claws are just in different places than your own. And I am…" Laura's eyes go a bit distant as she tries to think. "… I do not know. I…" another handful of moments, as if she were searching something behind her eyes. "Sixteen to twenty-one," she concludes.

"I was… Weapon X-23. Why were you Weapon X-0? Were you created too?" she asks.

“Nope. Born.”

The precise location and time of that particular event doesn’t come. In truth, he’s not sure if he even remembers it. Parts are fuzzy, other parts are clear as crystal. He takes a long drag from the cigar, thinking.

“Don’t remember much about the Weapon program, I’ll be honest. I know they gave me the claws an’ that’s prob’ly why you got ‘em, too. The metal skeleton is them, too. The healin’ is all mine, though. Had that as long as I can remember.”

"I don't have a metal skeleton. They were going to put that in when I was finished growing. They… could not wait for the claws, however, so they put the metal on those," says Laura, breathing in, before letting that breath go in a long sigh, her eyes drifting shut. A beat of a moment, and a shaking of her head.

"Why did you kill? Why did you kill innocents?" she asks, her voice soft.

“Wait, what do you mean they put the metal on the claws?”

Logan’s brow furrows and he holds out his own hand before himself, looking over it carefully. He’d always just assumed the claws were something given to him by Weapon X. Try as he might he just couldn’t remember having them before. Maybe he did? He winces, the stress of trying to dredge up buried memories a bit much for now.

“I don’t kill innocent folks. I kill people that deserve killin’. I won’t apologize for that. Whatever the Program did to me, they did it when I wasn’t myself. I don’t remember it. They brought out an animal in me. Doesn’t think, just does. If yer anythin’ like me, you know it too. Where everythin’ just clouds over and you don’t know what yer doin’ until it’s done.”

And now there was a bit of consternation on Laura's features as well.

Her hands - rubbing the points of exit for her claws - return to doing just that. "I… thought that is what they did. But there were…" Laura pauses, remembering. Remembering being young - very young, scratching shapes on the walls with the tip of a jagged bone claw. "…perhaps they put them there as well," she admits.

And to Logan's explanation, Laura just nods once. "…not all of the time. Not for me. I just… did what I was told," she says, softly.

"Yeah, they got a way with people like that," Logan mutters darkly, shaking his head and glancing sidelong at his clone, "But fuck 'em. Yer out now, right? I figure if they'd sent you t' kill me then we wouldn't be havin' this conversation. If you're yer own woman now then you get to pick what you do. Kill the killers. Don't kill at all. You got choices. You need help reconcilin' it all in your head? I know places you can go for that. Make peace with yerself."

"They are already dead," says Laura, her eyes widening a bit as she glances towards the ground - seeing things that were not quite there. "I killed them all. I destroyed all of their data, and set off an explosion in the Facility. They are all dead," she says. Little did she know how untrue that really was.

Another handful of beats, and her eyes - still seeing nothing, lift back towards Logan.

"Where?" It was a simple question.

"Japan," Logan answers, apparently unfazed by the tale of the Facility's destruction - he'd thought he'd killed them all at one point, too, "Learn to get control over yerself. Learn to fight smarter rather'n wilder. Ya gotta get it all sorted out in yer head. Learn t' put a leash on that rabid dog inside."

He shrugs his shoulders, stepping off the sidewalk onto a small flight of stone steps leading into a dingy apartment building about due for gentrification, "It's somethin' ya gotta do yerself, though. I hold yer hand through it ya won't learn a thing - leastways not the things ya need to learn. But I'll show ya the way an' help where I can. I know yer mad, kid, but ya didn't ask t' be like me and now ya ain't got a choice. Least I can do is show ya how to be me. How t' live with it."

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