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[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Stalemate
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: This is a mash-up of two things I do not own.
Summary: Logan is a telepath on a mission. Max is a metal-bender looking for revenge. [Scenes from an XMFC AU]
Warning: Contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the movie X-Men: First Class but none of the characters.
Words: 3,700
Author's Note: The X-Men AU where Max is Magneto, Logan is Xavier, Alec is Mystique and everything goes horribly wrong.


(Little Boy Blue)


It's harder to shield in a big area. The crush of downtown Seattle nearly kills him the first time and if he didn't have Alec to fall back on, he might have lost himself in the sea. Logan's not sure what he would have done if he'd never found the other boy. Between his parent's deaths, his aunt and uncle's indifference and constant press of the world's minds, Logan expects he would have been institutionalized.

But Alec, Alec is incredible, Alec walks into Logan's kitchen wearing his aunt's face and flickers through two others before finally settling on that of a tiny boy with blue skin. It's a defining moment, the first time he's ever looked at someone else and realized, I'm not alone. And more to the point, I'm not insane.

They grow up together. Logan flitting in and out of Alec's head like it's his own. He learns about secrets and it's a conscious effort to keep from learning everything.

But he hears things he doesn't want to hear, horrible things. After the Pulse, there is corruption that leaks through the city and each and every moment is etched into Logan's mind whether he wants it to be there or not. Sometimes he lies down in his apartment, puts a pillow over his head and moans about the state of the world.

Alec, ever practical, walks over, handsome face (mask) fading to golden eyes and blue skin and says, "So do something about it."

(Pulse)


Max makes her way through the chaos of the streets after the Pulse, just six years old, nothing but her brother Jack to cling to. During the riots, police started herding the children away and Jack's hand tears out of her, her brother pushed into a police car. She knows there's an officer next to her, restraining her, but she reaches out a hand straining for the car, and the metal door of the car reaches back, crumbling as it pulls itself free from the frame.

It's the spark that turns a riot into a massacre. Someone starts shouting about witchcraft. Jack is handcuffed but that's okay. Max can feel that metal too.

Gunfire erupts and something heavy crashes against the outside of her head.

*

Ames White is not a large man, but he has military straight posture and uses every inch of his meager frame. He stands when she enters and asks if she would like a home, a warm meal and a bed. "All you have to do is move this coin."

But she can't move the coin. Not without touching it because that's impossible.

She believes that, right until White brings out her brother and pulls a gun.

"You can do it," Jack says. "Maxie, I need you to look at me. You can do this."

She's six years old, but she's lived through the Pulse. She's been hungry for months and she knows that not all fairy tales have a happy ending. There are no superheroes. Just family.

It's only when her family falls at the crack of the gun that she forgets the rules. Forgets how the world is supposed to work and everything she can do tumbles out in a storm of rage. White leans back in his chair, motioning for the guards to take the corpse out from his site. "You're the future," he says and when he places a hand over Max's shoulder she's too tired to flinch away.


(Eyes Only)


There's a debate whose eyes to use. Alec sits in front of the camera and flips through the entire spectrum of eye color trying to pick out the one that goes best with the background. Logan shifts in his seat, looking through the program again, distracted as he says, "Why don't I just do it?"

Skepticism rolls off Alec in waves and he gets just a flash of what he looks like to his brother while he's doing his telepathy tricks. "Because you're not Clark Kent and within two minutes of meeting you, people have noticed that particular feature."

Logan keeps his voice as deadpan as possible. "So you think I have pretty eyes."

"I hate you."

"Super dreamy."

"Seriously, I will kill you. You know I can."

Logan taps his temples twice. "I know when you're lying."

"How about I do it?" Alec says suddenly. "That's the whole point about Eyes Only, unmasking the truth." His skin flickers and then he's blue, staring out at the camera with yellow eyes. "So let's give them something unmasked."

The yellow clashes horribly with red white and blue banner, but Logan kind of likes it. It's jarring, and Eyes Only should be jarring. Besides, they're a team effort, always have been. Logan scans minds for the secrets and Alec, infiltrates. Logan can run the hacks and Alec, he can be the voice. "They're going to think you're some sort of camera trick. Maybe make-up. They're do everything they can to poke holes in this operation, and that's going to include you."

"I don't care."

Logan shakes his head. "I'm better at the technical side anyway.

(Obsession)


She gets out when she's thirteen years old, with a barcode stamped on the back of her neck like she's something in a department store. She's not the only one either. There are stories all around the place about the Pulse Children. The orphans who spent years as subject in various heinous experiments, the ones who died because of lack of food. They write stories about them, write books about them. They are the faceless victims of the Pulse.

Max is not a victim. Max leaves the facility with the metal humming around her and a single goal in her mind.

Killing Ames White.

So she hones her body, tailors her needs, tracks down the other people involved, leaving a string of corpses behind her. She understands that she's little more than a monster: A plastic soldier molded specifically for destruction, but can't bring herself to care.

The man in front of her now was an accomplice. Was one of the people who strapped her down and cut her open.

He has a gun, but it's singing her tune.

(Extraordinary)


Asha Barlow is her name. Logan's on the drunk side of tipsy, sidling up to the bar as Alec attempts to pick up a conquest of his own just a few feet away. The alcohol makes him slow, but it's also enough to muffle the rest of the public and he can ease his shields just a bit.

Everyone within a five-foot radius feels at least on drink farther in than they are.

But Asha, Asha takes him aside, sits him down and says, "I know you have contact with Eyes Only. I need to ask him about certain… extraordinary people."

"I thought Eyes Only was about finding corruption," Logan says and sneaks his fingers up his temple, hiding the gesture by propping his head up with his hand. He gets just a flash of people, a man who looks like he's made of granite, a woman who holds tornados in her hands.

"Mutants—" Asha is saying aloud. "You've written stories about them for the science column, but you've also got bylines on some of the Eyes Only wrap-ups. I started to pull—Am I boring you, Mr. Cale? You look distracted."

"I can help you," Logan flags Alec down with a thought so loud it makes the other man wince and moves to close out his tab. "Whatever you need, I can get it for you. I promise."

(Submerge)


Logan wishes Alec were here, but Alec hates boats of all sort and Asha stuck her neck out enough to just get one person on board. Logan can feel the press of another telepath on board. There's nothing he can do. Their missiles are swallowed without effect or distress that Logan can detect.

Before he realizes what's happening, there's a floating anchor in the air and the ship's sunk.

And there's someone in the water. The most focused of any mind he's ever touched even as it flickers through the pain of the nearly drowned. Logan's over the rail before he fully understands the situation.

He'll never be sure what made Max let go, but treading water ten miles off the coast of California next to the most gorgeous woman he's ever seen, he wants to think at least part of it is his doing.

(First Impressions)


Alec hates Max on sight and the feeling is mutual. Logan doesn't realize just how far he's fallen into Max's head until he feels her impatience pushing out against him. He struggles to extract himself from Max's thoughts and keep from falling instead into the familiar shape of his brother's.

Max grudgingly allows Asha to pull her into debriefing, listening wordlessly as Logan outlines what little he could glean from the minds on board. She doesn't offer any of her own experiences, just stares at the case file as if willing it to come to her hands. "You were one of the Pulse children, weren't you?" Logan asks.

"Can't you just pull it out my head, physic wonder?"

"I'd never do something like that."

Her eyebrow arches sky high. "And here I thought for sure Eyes Only wanted you because you're a telepath."

"Eyes Only doesn't work like that. Max, we can help you. If you want White, you're going to need some help. You can't do this alone."

"You don't know anything about me."

Except Logan knows nearly everything, but he won't say that. Knows it's probably the best way to ensure he never sees her again. "Let me help, Max."

(Cerebro)


Cerebro is the mastermind of a mutant called Matt Sung. He's in Asha's division, but on the research side of things and he's built the most brilliant machine Logan's ever seen. When Logan's strapped in, his mind spirals out and he touches a half dozen mutants in the city before reaching farther. Vegas. San Francisco. Dallas. Chicago. Washington DC.

There are so many.

Coming down from the high makes Logan feel small, feel a prisoner in his own skin, but after that there is a road trip with Alec and Max at his side. There is a strip club and a woman called Original Cindy with wings that twist out of her skin. Then there's a kid name Calvin who calls himself Sketchy who has a supersonic scream. Another fellow named Bling who can adapt to everything and Zack who they find in prison after his plasma blast caught a civilian in the crossfire.

When Logan looks back on it later, he'll remember it as the best two weeks of his life.

At the time it feels like a beginning.

(Granite)


Max and Logan are acting on a tip about White that only really gives them Donald Lydecker. And Logan can't read Lydecker when he's stone.

But the funny thing about stone is that metal is stronger. Max raises a hand and says, "Do you know what happens when you apply pressure to granite?"

The bed frame has a metal post and Lydecker's eyes get wider and wider. Logan's sure she's going to kill him, shatter him into a thousand pieces right up until the time she stops. Logan picks the pieces of White's plan from his head, plans of biological weaponry designed to take down the everyone but the mutants. When they take him into custody, Logan's near giddy. He's never done the policing half of this. Usually he just takes the information and uses Eyes Only to put in out into the word. But this is something different and Logan thinks that maybe the group of them can stop this before it even starts.

He thinks that right up until they make it back to Asha's safe house and find that Bling's dead and Cindy's gone.

Training at the family estate has a more somber tone than Logan would have liked, sorrow echoing through every face. Then there's Alec, Max and Zack whose anger burns like a beacon. Despite worlds of improvement, Logan can't see how this is ever going to turn out all right.

(Exposure)


"You know you can't walk around like that in public."

Alec turns around, blue skin flushing deeper in anger. "I'm sick of pretending to be someone I'm not."

"This isn't just about you," Logan says, putting and arm on Alec's shoulder. "The world doesn't know people like us exist, but if someone starts walking around with blue skin in the open, they're going to look into Eyes Only and we're going to be found out."

"I guess I just need to hide forever then, huh Logan?" Alec retorts, stalking out of the room.

(Check)


"It's not going to work, Max." The chess board is dimly light by the waning light of Logan's last candle. "You know what White can do. He's a mutant. Just your power is not going to be enough."

"I'm going to kill him." Max says. Her mind is broadcasting White's face along with a host of invasive tests and Logan tries not to wince at her tone. "Not hand him over to the police."

"They're never going to reestablish a legal system if people don't get due process."

"The second the government hears about us, they're going to get real friendly with restrictions again, Logan. I want White dead before that happens."

"You can't just kill a man in cold blood."

"And how many drug dealers are dead because Eyes Only saw fit to shout their sins to the world?"

"That's different."

"If you were really confident about your mode of justice, you'd show them your face. You've been hiding behind your brother."

"My issues are not what's on trial here. We need a plan for White. There's a chance I could hold him with my mind, but just a chance. You need to understand that. There's every possibility that he'll be prepared for me."

There's every chance this is a suicide mission.

(Submarine)


His friends hover on the outskirts of his mind and Logan can feel his entire life's work moving to a crescendo in this moment, but he can't focus on any of it because Max is hanging half out their plane, her hair whipping into her face, one hand stretched toward the water.

And slowly a submarine floats into the air.

White is somewhere on that sub and they're likely going to die before the day is out, but the sense of satisfaction rolling off her in waves is addictive and Logan's not sure he's ever seen anything more beautiful in his life.

(Helmet)


Logan's gone the second she steps into the mirrored room to meet White. Max hadn't realized quite how used to his presence she's because she feels the loss strumming out of the same place she keeps Jack's death.

"You always were my favorite," White says. "Out of all the children I had the pleasure to train, you were the one with promise. When the world starts again, I would like it to happen with you at my side."

When he touches her it looks deceptively gentle but even the lightest touch hits with the force of a freight train. Max hits the wall hard, glass shattering and thinks of Jack's face as he falls, the shape of the coin in her pocket. The one she's carried for years.

She hits the floor hard and the glass splinters behind her. Then Logan's back in her head, screaming her name, Max! Max! God, I thought you were gone. I can't feel White but…

Max can guess why. The helmet White wears isn't a fashion statement and Alec had mentioned that he'd taken it off at the facility the second he'd realized Logan wasn't there. She throws out her hands, ripping at the foundations of the sub. White smiles, pleased her power, but not intimidated. He advances, walking into steal like it's nothing. "They're never going to accept you. They didn't care when we rounded you up after the Pulse and the outcry later." He laughs. "They would have applauded if they'd have known what you are. But you're stronger than them now. Better. Look at all you can accomplish now. Think of all we can do in the future. Together."

He's just inches away from her now, pressing his advantage and Max knows she has just one chance. The tenuous hold on a pair of wires snaking closer to White's head. "None of this would have been possible without you," Max says. "Without you, I'd never have this chance."

She snatches the helmet and White freezes in place, Logan wrestling with his mind from a hundred yards away. He's having the fight of his life, but Max feels like time is slowing down. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a coin.

Don't, Max. Logan pleads. Don’t, there's anoth—

She puts on the helmet.

(White Out)


Logan will never remember exactly what happen on the beach. His own thoughts are splintered, strewn with fragments of White's mind. He's out of his mind by the time he reaches the sand to find Max dropping White's corpse.

He pulls the rest of it out of people's mind because his own mind is blank for the next day and a half. There's Sketchy watching in horror as a thousand missiles soar through the air toward them. Matt's relief as Max catches them in the air.

Alec who sees that she's going to turn them around before she even starts.

Logan will watch this moment from a half dozen different vantage point through the years, himself lunging for Max, with the sole need to get the helmet off of her. Make her stop. Make her see reason. He'll play it from every angle, wondering if there is something else he could have said. Something he could have done. But every path he can draw ends the same way. Asha starts shooting. Max deflects the bullets with a wave of her hand.

And Logan scrambles to his feat, would always scramble to his feet because there has to be some way to save Max. To stop Max.

He's grateful he doesn't remember the bullet, doesn't remember Max's mumbled apologies or the moment when she stands and tells the mutants on the beach that it's us or them. No more hiding.

He doesn't remember her leaving or the look on Alec's face as he moves from Logan's side to take her hand.

(Terrorism)


It's still Alec's eyes staring out from the banner that Logan designed. Streaming Freedom. He watches the hack in the hospital, the one that interrupted a news story about a thirty government workers slaughtered in a military facility, the inmates escaping.

Logan can guess even before the familiar voice recites the speech they came up with together that there were mutants in that facility. He feels his hands clench around the rim of his wheelchair and he must be broadcasting his distress because Zack and Matt are in the room before the broadcast is even over. Both of them stop dead when the see the face. "Your brother's Eyes Only?"

"We both were," Logan says, wondering how Alec had managed to set up a remote hack without his help. "I made the hack, he did the recording. Looks like I've been outsourced."

"Max'll look after him," Matt promises. "You know she will."

Logan tries not to hate her.
(Stalemate)


He's had to modify the house. Put in elevators to supplement the stairs. Widen some doors. The Cale family fortune has been his for years and he hates having to use it for something like this. It was supposed to be for Eyes Only. Supposed to change the world. There's only one option left to him. Matt's already working on reconfiguring Cerebro. There are a lot of mutants out there who will need help. Especially now that Max has made sure the world has a reason to fear them.

"I can hear you brooding two states away."

When Logan looks up, Max is there, leaning against his window frame, wearing the same black catsuit she'd had on when he pulled her from the water. The only difference is the helmet shining in the moonlight.

"I have just been shot," he says. "Takes a while to get over."

"Yeah." She lands lightly on the ground, waving her hand and closing the door across the room. "Sorry about that."

"Why are you here, Max?"

"Some of the people we broke out. They're just kids. They need a place to stay."

"So you're bringing them here?"

"They've got nowhere else to go. I thought..."

"Of course they can stay here, you know they can. That's not what I was asking. Why are you here, Max?"

Under the metal of the helmet, Logan can't read her face. He has no idea what she's thinking. He may never know again.

"You know I was expecting a lecture. Thou shall not kill. Thought you would have Zack and Sketchy chase me off the premises."

"You're welcome here," Logan says. "I can't say that's going to be true forever, but if you want to come back. You're more the welcome."

"I'd just have to give up the fight, right Cale? No more killing humans. Embrace a life of nonviolence and political espionage."

Logan's mouth quirks up in a wry smile as he undoes the locks on his chair to roll closer to her. His back hurts, but it's the first time in a long time anyone's looked at him without pity. "I'm still fighting. We're not enemies, you and I."

"No," Max says. "Not yet."

(end)

THINK I'M GOING TO GO WRITE SOME HOCKEY FIC NOW. THIS IS A GOOD PLAN.