|Sat, 17 Apr 1999
"Kaylee Gordon" <email@example.com>
"Lacrimae Lupae: Prologue" ["Lupus" sequel]
They're Marvel's. No money. Don't sue.
This is the sequel to "Lupus." I'd suggest you read that first (can be found on the IBAs -- http://thundercrack.interspeed.net/logan.htm -- or Fonts of Wisdom or Northlight's Page or Stories for the Reality Impaired... and maybe somewhere else, but I can't remember), but basically all you have to know is that Moira died of Legacy, Rahne cared for her at the end, and Rahne came to Logan after the memorial and asked him to teach her to fight. (It makes more sense if you read the story. Honest. ;)
This'll be a series, and I can pretty much promise it'll be SLOW coming out. I'm not really writing fanfic now (shush, people... I'm NOT ;), so I'm only working on stuff as the muse demands.
That said... comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. As Lyssie once said -- no comments? No cookie for you!
Special thanks to DuAnn for the beta. :)
This one's dedicated to Teri J., who's not only a wonderful feedbacker, but also an all-around nifty woman AND someone who gave me a really nifty idea to play with later in this series. Danke, Teri!
(Oh, btw, 'Lacrimae Lupae' is Latin for 'Wolf Tears.' Alicia McKenzie was kind enough to supply me with the language. I'm translating my lame titles to other languages to make them seem more interesting. Clever, innit? ;)
Lacrimae Lupae: Prologue
The wind blew her hair back with ghostly fingers, stroking her furred face gently as she mused.
Time. It was a cruel prankster.
Yes, those were the words. Cruel. And prankster.
A month ago it had been an infant, crawling on tottering limbs, making slow, slow progress towards a destination she'd fought tooth and nail.
And yearned for, in the deep parts of her heart that she didn't want to face.
Her mother's life, held in the palm of Time. Her mother's labored breaths, laughed at by the prankster.
Her mother's pain... mocked by that which wouldn't let it end.
Until it did. Suddenly. A moment when Time let go, just for a long heartbeat, and gave her a chance to say goodbye.
Then the prankster came back, and this time those limbs were strong, and it raced along more swiftly than an Olympic hurdler sprinting for the end of the race.
Rahne closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. Her were-form let her catch the subtle hints of life in the woods around the mansion, carrying a thousand messages of scent, of sound, of an awareness that transcended both. She'd been spending a lot of time in this form lately. Some of the others thought it was her way of distancing herself from emotions that were too strong for her to face; Jean had told her as much, warm voice layered with concern, green eyes full of frustration.
Maybe they were right.
But she still clung to this form fervently, finding no desire to change.
There had been enough change over the past months, hadn't there? She'd deny Time its due to her dying breath, from here on out. Let it race on frantic feet, carrying the others with it. She'd stay behind. She'd fight it. She wouldn't be lulled into false confidence by the charlatan again.
She wouldn't let it trick her.
She wouldn't remember the way it had made her feel.
She wouldn't remember how very, very tired she'd been. How those long nights had only gotten longer as the weeks trickled by. How wearing it had been to look only to each day, refusing to allow herself to think ahead, refusing to think of anything beyond her mother's needs for the next moment.
She wouldn't remember the night she'd knuckled forward on the ground, tears streaming into cold dirt, praying with everything in her soul for God to come and take her mother away so that it all could finally _end._
She wouldn't think about that.
And she wouldn't forgive Time for slowing when she needed it to run, or running when she needed it to halt.
Not any more than she'd forgive herself for begging her deity to take the unending burden away.
She growled. The sound came from that place deep inside that she didn't dare to examine -- that chasm that had swallowed so much of her emotion over the past months. There was too much to fear in those dark depths... too much she didn't want to know about what lurked there. Things that pushed her... things that guided her in ways she didn't understand. The one time she'd tried to find out just _what_ occupied the chasm...
A shiver took her briefly. She'd never known she was capable of such... anger. Such primal, unfettered, uncontrolled anger.
She hadn't looked again after that.
And now here she was... Westchester, New York. This place had been a home to her, once. She'd met her dearest friends here. Suffered the pangs of youthful crushes and grown through the agony of a low self-esteem. Part of her had expected the welcoming arms of the grounds to give her that... that _thing_ she needed. That thing that would make her feel as if she _could_ allow Time to move on again, that she _could_ allow herself to move forward and onward.
But Logan -- who'd promised to train her, there on that cliff above the memorial -- hadn't looked twice at her since she'd come back with the team. It seemed he was already regretting that agreement... already looking for a way to take it back.
Rahne's first reaction had been to draw quietly back into herself, letting him pull away without so much as a protest.
Something in that chasm inside didn't much like that response.
So she stood now, strength gathered, and ghosted through the woods back towards the mansion and the man who _wouldn't_ deny her what she'd asked for because she wouldn't _allow_ him to.
He leaned against the wall and lit a cigar, flame dancing brief light across his craggy face. Most of the mansion occupants had finally turned in after a lengthy dinner and a discussion over things that were, in his opinion, none of their damned business. Sure, they had a right to be concerned over the kid - -- she was young, and Moira's death had hit her harder than he thought she'd ever admit -- but the plans for 'drawing her out' and 'encouraging her to share' were bullshit, so far as he was concerned. They didn't know what they were dealing with in that girl. No matter how much Cyke wanted to give her focus through duty -- he'd found that himself more than once, hadn't he? -- that way wouldn't work. She'd _been_ dutiful, and it had gotten her nothing. 'Ro's overtures to Rahne had been rebuffed by a faint, lupine smile and closed, guarded eyes. Bobby and his good-humored pranks... Jean with her hopeful distractions... Hank actually taking the time to come out of the lab, only to watch the girl silently from a distance, wearing himself down with guilt for his failure but making no effort to know who Rahne had become as a result of this. When they looked at her they only saw the quiet, reserved, kind-hearted little creature she'd been before, back in the days of the New Mutants. They saw her as though that same girl was only wrapped tightly in grief, but could be brought back out as those layers were peeled away.
Somehow they missed seeing the spark he'd seen that night above the memorial. They missed the growl that was almost a constant note in her voice now... the nervy, wary flicker of her eyes as she entered every new well-meaning situation that was intended to 'help' her. They missed it because it was something mingled tightly with the _animal_ side of her nature; the wild creature shying away from the human hand reaching for it.
The animal. That was something he could understand.
Rahne was coming from the edge of the trees, body a little larger, stronger, more casually graceful than her human form. She came straight for him -- not like he wasn't being obvious with the cigar or anything -- and there was solid _purpose_ in her stride that he almost smiled at.
~It's about damn time.~
She stopped a few strides away, that same stubborn thrust to her jaw and the same wary confusion of emotions in her eyes. "Ye told me ye'd teach me how tae fight," she said firmly, without preamble. He almost smiled again. She'd probably been psyching herself up for hours to approach him this boldly.
None of his amused approval showed in his face or voice, though. "I did."
"We havenae done a _thing_ about tha'."
"That's right." He puffed the cigar. Eyed her casually.
Blue-green eyes snapped with frustration. "A want tae learn."
"Good for you."
"A want tae start _noo._"
With a flick of the fingers he sent his cigar sailing. It landed with a spark and a quiet thud on the concrete by the pool. "Good," he said again. "Took ya long enough."
She blinked, twice. "Ye mean...? Ye were just..."
"Waitin' for you to get off your butt an' make a decision? Yep." He ignored the dawning understanding and faint embarrassment in her face. "Go change. Sweats an' runnin' shoes. Meet me back out here in five minutes."
His lips quirked slightly to the side. "Ya said 'now,' kid."
She nodded. Tonight they'd finally begin. "A'right. A'll be right back." Started for the back door without another word.
She looked back. "Yes?"
His face was expressionless. Unreadable. "Human form when ya come back."
Her eyes narrowed. "A dinnae want--"
"Human form," he said again. "Or I don't teach you. You gotta deal with the weakest part before you can start on the strongest."
She wanted to argue so badly that he could see the anger vibrating along her slim frame, making fur rustle quietly over skin.
Instead she nodded, jaw tight. "Human form." Turned on her heel with angry abruptness.
Logan allowed himself that faint smile once her back was to him.
Then he went to go rescue his abandoned Havana -- it'd been a good gesture, but half the cigar was still asking to be smoked - -- and settled back against the wall to wait five minutes.
Five minutes, and not a second longer.
If she wanted this, she'd have to prove how much. And he'd do her no favors by making it easy on her.