Logan, the X-Men, and the Friends of Humanity are Marvel's. No money. Don't sue.
Kai's mine. Consider me that overprotective rhino mother you always see on the Discovery channel. Use her without permission, and I'll ram my horn into your stomach. :) I am mine, too. Use me without permission and I'll sick the law on ya. ;)
Ages ago, I wrote a response to Matt Nute's self-insertion challenge called "Kai & Logan & (ulp!) Me!" It was just intended as a short little bit of nothingness, but I've had some people suggest a sequel. While mulling over my Faces of Hate challenge, this idea came to me. It's a bit less dark than many of the FoH stories have been thus far, and you might get a chuckle out of a part or two. I did. ;)
Comments toKayleeSama@aol.com. Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?! No? Well for heaven's sake...why not??
Kai & Logan: Dreamers
"Get me a beer while you're up, darlin'."
"You want anything else?"
"Nah, I'm stuffed. No thanks to you."
"Well it's hard for me to practice cooking when I've got you nattering at me all the time about how bad everything tastes."
"I believe in honesty."
"Logan...lie to me. Just once. Just tell me the damn spaghetti tastes halfway decent. Once."
"... D'I hafta actually eat it?"
"I got a healin' factor, Kai, but I'm pretty sure I can still die o' food poisoning."
"Just for that, tomorrow I'm cooking breakfast and you will eat it!"
"You gonna tie me down?"
"I just might, you pushy little--"
"... We'll finish this later." Click. "Hello? Hey, Scott. We're not gonna have to...? Oh good. Hm? What channel? Okay, gotcha. Thanks." Click. "Scott says to turn on WBRC. There's an FoH rally going on downtown. He wants us to keep an eye on it."
"He planning on getting us involved?"
"Don't think so. It's mostly just yammering right now. FoH has fallen outta style since Graydon bought it."
"Don't be sarcastic, Logan. It doesn't suit you."
"Bullshit it don't."
"Just turn on the damn TV."
"Gimme my damn beer an' I will."
They sat curled up on the couch watching the news, Logan drinking and Kai occasionally snagging his beer to take a swig herself. The reporter wasn't one either recognized, but the scene was. Twisted faces. Wide eyes that proclaimed fear and hate and the illicit thrill of publicly shouting their intolerance. The FoHers might as well have been wearing sheets, considering their words and their gestures.
"This is ridiculous," Kai muttered. "Is anyone actually listening to them?"
"Look at the crowd." He gestured with the beer towards the set. "They're reachin' some o' the audience."
And they were. Many faces were full of disgust, but more than a few listened with rapt attention to the ages-old gospel these men and women preached. Logan's eyes narrowed just a bit when the camera focused for a moment on a cluster of children staring in fascination at the speakers.
"Stupid," Kai said with a grimace. "People are ignorant as hell."
"Not all of 'em. That's the problem."
"Why's it so fucking easy for everyone to believe in this shit?" She stole his beer and tipped it back with an aggressive motion. "Were people just born to hate?"
The reporter had worked her way into the throng and now she held the mike towards a slim black man in a business suit. "What's your take on what you're seeing here today, sir?"
The man had camera presence, and seemed familiar with being the focus of attention. He straightened a bit and smiled slightly. "The Friends are extremists, but they do have some valid points. Do you realize that the bills for mutant-related damage in this city alone caused a tax increase of two percent last year?"
The reporter blinked, then recovered her composure swiftly. "And what's your name and occupation, sir?"
"Jim Baker. I own Two Mile Construction. Your tax increase pays my bills."
"Then I'd think you'd be glad of the work," the reporter said, smiling falsely just a bit.
His smile vanished. "No one's glad to see the destruction caused by mutants. And no one's glad to see the lives ruined because of them."
Logan and Kai were silent, each remembering some snippet of a fight that got out of hand, some moment when one of their team -- perhaps even one of them -- had said in a jocular tone, "You can always tell where the X-Men have been..."
Someone else elbowed in on the interview: a woman with a child clutching her neck and staring wide-eyed around at the milling crowd. "Should all mutants be punished for what a few do?" she demanded sharply. Her thick Hispanic accent and the heavy dark hair told of her origins, and the low quality of her clothes put her down in the poorer sections of town. "You gonna hate all my people 'cause we've got some kids who run around with guns and knives?"
The man glared. "Your people don't level buildings when they get mad!"
"Most mutants don't either!"
The reporter slipped away as the two embroiled themselves in a heated debate. She kept a running commentary going, but nothing of much substance was said. A moment later she paused by a young man whose eyes had a vacant stare and whose mouth hung half open in what looked like a permanent expression of perplexity. "And what do you think of what you're seeing here today?"
His voice was monotone, the words sounding rehearsed. The distinctive southern drawl seemed out of place on New York streets. "Ah think they're raht. Ah wanna be in th' FoH when Ah get older."
"You have a problem with mutants?"
"Yeah. Ah mean...they come in...they steal our jobs...we can't get no work 'cause they're always takin' th' good jobs..."
The reporter hesitated. "Uh...mutants? Are stealing jobs?"
The boy blinked slowly. "Oh. Naw. That's immigrants. Mah bad."
Kai burst out laughing. "Oh, damn...that's priceless. Punk can't even keep straight why he's supposed to hate everyone!"
"Yeah, it's real funny 'til ya realize that he speaks for half the people out there," Logan countered in a level voice.
She stopped laughing.
The reporter -- face still in its careful mask of solemnity that she'd evidently crafted with enough practice that it gave no clue as to honest emotion -- had moved on towards another person in the crowd. Before she could thrust the mike forward and ask more questions, however, she was interrupted by what sounded like chanting and the marching of feet getting closer to the proceedings. She stopped talking and looked around sharply, trained newshound eyes searching for something different to cover. As soon as she spotted it, she gestured frantically at the cameraman to get him to turn off to the left. The camera swiveled to fix on the new arrivals.
"Goddamn," Kai murmured. "Would you look at that..."
Dozens -- more than dozens of people were marching down the main street. Signs bobbed above their heads with slogans ranging from "Stop the Hate" to "FoH = Facsimiles of Humanity." White T-shirts emblazoned with red lettering making up more anti-hate slogans adorned each of them. Black, white, yellow, red...and green and mauve and indigo? Yes, skin colors were as varied as height, weight, bearing. Obvious mutants walked side by side with people who looked as human as the FoHers.
But every face was set and furious, and every mouth moved to the words, "Hell no, we won't go! Hell no, we won't go!"
For a moment even the reporter couldn't find anything to say. Logan and Kai stared at the new arrivals in silence for a few of their marching steps, beer forgotten.
Then Logan cleared his throat. "'Hell no, we won't go'? Ain't that supposed t' be what ya say at a sit-in?"
A slow grin spread across Kai's face. "Their hearts are in the right place."
The reporter started spewing out words as if to make up for the time she'd lost in confusion. "We seem to have...well this is unexpected...dozens of people marching on the rally with picket signs. There's been no word of a protest in the making..."
The camera closed in on the myriad of faces that turned stormily towards the stunned FoH speakers. Logan chortled suddenly. "Christ, look at that! It's Harry!"
"Hah! Oh, I hope everyone's watching this..."
The picketers set themselves to marching in front of the rally, voices loud enough to overwhelm the single speaker at the podium. FoHers shouted obscenities. No few of the picketers answered in kind. The reporter had to shout to be heard over the racket. "...have set up a picket line in front of the Friends of Humanity speakers! Police officers are moving into formation to separate the protesters from the FoH! Tension is high..."
Kai's grin was nearly splitting her face as she leaned forward to grab a cigarette. "This is fucking beautiful."
"We might wanna think about headin' down there. Could get ugly."
"Shush. She's about to talk to some of 'em."
The reporter -- words barely audible over the chaos -- was literally pushing her way to the protesters. Kai lit the cigarette and sat back, still grinning, stretching out and crossing her legs over Logan's lap. He propped his own feet up on the coffee table and settled into watching, raising the beer to take a final swig as the view onscreen turned to the picketer the reporter had chosen to talk to.
Then he spluttered, beer spraying out, as the new interviewee's face came into focus. "Holy shit, it's the kid!"
Kai's eyes went wide. "Jaya??"
"When the hell did she grow a horn?!"
Jaya's sign read, "Hitler was convincing, too." Her expression was as righteous and furious as the rest.
"Would you care to comment on what's going on here today?" shouted the reporter over the noise.
"I would!" Jaya shouted right back. "We're here to show that for every one of the racist SOBs who turned out to speak against mutants, there're two people willing to stand up and tell them that they're wrong!" The horn on her head bobbed with her words. It wasn't quite centered, and some of the paper it was evidently made of was fraying a bit at the end. "This country has put up with bigots for too long!"
"Got all the fire of a Sunday preacher, doesn't she?" Kai commented in a mild voice that almost covered her shock.
"Who are all these people?" the reporter was asking loudly. "Where did you all come from?"
"Colleges! Hospitals! Gutters! The café over there! Everywhere!"
"Who organized this?"
"No one! Everyone! That's what's so great about it!" The young woman's eyes were almost glowing with excitement under the ridiculous horn. "We've got people from all over, and we're going to be heard! We have the voice, we have the right, and we have the will!"
The reporter asked something else, but it was lost in the racket and the two spent a few moments shouting "What?" back and forth to each other. Logan shook his heads slowly, struggling to suppress a smile.
"She strike you as the sort who'd free lobsters from the tank at a restaurant?"
"Logan, she's wearing a horn."
He considered. "Yup. Lobsters. 'Run free, little sea-brothers!'" He snorted, and Kai choked.
Onscreen, Jaya had evidently given up on being interviewed and had...grabbed the mike? Yes, she had. Right from the reporter's hand. And now she stared straight into the camera, voice rising with the passion of her belief and horn beginning to sag lopsidedly across her forehead. "Yes, they can be dangerous! Yes, they can kill! But so can normal humans! We have a 'right to bear arms,' remember?? They just happen to come with built-in ones! It's not something they can help, and we don't have the right to persecute them because of it!"
"She's cute, but ignorant," Kai put in. "It's not that simple. No one's gonna be convinced over arguments like those."
"She's tryin'. Give her credit for that."
"I am. Just wish she'd be a bit more realistic and down to earth."
"See this?" Jaya demanded, jamming a finger at the horn on her forehead. It wobbled precariously as whatever adhesive she'd used started giving out. She frowned and grabbed it in her hand, pressing it hard against her skin until it stood out a bit more firmly. "There," she said, clearing her throat and continuing. "Most mutants have differences that are less harmful that this. It's no different than a person being born with an extra finger, or with webbing between his toes. You going to be scared of them? You going to hate them? Oh sure, there are the more dangerous ones...and I for one don't want to meet guys like Magneto or anything...but this blanket hate is blind! What the hell are you people doing, turning my country into a staging ground for this?!"
"Reporter looks pissed," Logan said idly when Jaya paused for breath.
"She'll get over it."
"Think we had anything to do with the kid going off on this high horse?"
"I hope so."
"--and things won't be right until mutants feel as free to walk the streets here as I do! We're not two races! We're one race with some exceptional members!"
Logan grunted. "She is pretty damn naïve, isn't she?"
"Like I said...it's just not that simple."
"No easy answers. Sooner she learns that, the better."
"I think she's about to figure it out."
The reporter had flagged over a cop, and now pointed accusingly at the girl speaking earnestly into the camera. The police officer came over and tried to pull the mike from her hands. Jaya resisted, shouting again, struggling against his hands as he attempted to drag her away.
"Wonder if it's the first time she's been arrested."
"Probably. Poor kid. She's in for a real wakeup call."
"You ever been arrested, Kai?"
"Whadda you think?"
"Stupid question, huh?"
Another cop had come over to see what the ruckus was, and between the two of them Jaya was being pulled away from mike and camera despite all her protests. Her shouts held indignant anger now as well as the righteous kind.
"Yeah, good kid...but that naiveté is gonna cost her. Things just ain't so black and white in the real world."
"I know that. She's a dreamer. Sweet, but a dreamer."
Jaya gripped the mike for a last moment, voice strained and fervent. "We make the world! All of us! Is it wrong to fight for an ideal? Is it wrong to believe humanity might be capable of achieving it??"
Logan had been about to say something else, but his words trailed off. The ash from Kai's forgotten cigarette dropped to dust the carpet. They watched in silence as the cops finally pulled her away from her two minutes of fame and clamped the cuffs on her.
The coverage went on, but Logan picked up the remote and muted the television. "Huh," he grunted succinctly.
"Yeah," Kai said in agreement.
"What's that saying?"
"I think you're thinking of 'out of the mouths of babes'..."
"Yeah, that one." He held his hand out for her cigarette. She handed it to him, and he took a lengthy drag. "She's still a dreamer."
"But then..." He turned to face her. "So's Charlie."
"An' Jean an' Ororo an' the rest."
"Realists, I've always preferred."
"Same difference." He took another drag, eyes distant and considering. "But you notice we're still fightin' with the dreamers."
"That's 'cause we're idiots."
"Think it makes us hypocrites?"
She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Hm. I think it makes you a hypocrite."
She smiled. "I'm just hanging around 'cause I wanna go to space one of these days. All the rest is just a fringe benefit."
He snorted, then continued in a mock-announcer's voice. "A fringe benefit like a 'spacious apartment in the lower-east side of Manhattan, complete with thin walls, an active criminal element, and a smelly dumpster around the corner.'"
"Well...some of the benefits are less beneficial than others."
He grinned and stubbed out the cigarette, pushing her legs off his lap -- which garnered a muted protest from her -- and standing into a stretch. "Enough philosophizing. Let's go."
Kai stood more slowly, taking a moment to pinch up the ash that had dropped and depositing it in the ashtray. "You paying?"
She rolled her shoulders a moment to loosen up, then strode over to the breakfast bar to grab the keys to her Jeep. Took a moment to turn on the answering machine, then walked towards the door where he was already waiting.
Kai snickered just a bit. "I call first comment on the horn."
"No way. If I'm posting bail, I get to say somethin' first."
"... Maybe I should pay after all..."
"Hush up an' get movin', woman."
"I'm going, I'm going. And no making the kid feel like too much of an idiot. Her heart was in the right place."
"Just so long as her brain is, I'm happy."
"You sure you're the one to give her advice on that front?"
The words continued, bantering and affectionate, as the door clicked shut to mark their departure.
Notes from Kaylee: I think I actually portrayed 'me' pretty accurately. Although I'd've been cussing more. ;) I do have a hefty naïve streak running through me, but at least I'm aware of it. Kinda like it, too. Keeps the cynicism in line.<g>