The Hard Way: Part 4

by Perri Smith



She could stay mad as long as there was a chance they were coming back. When she knew they were gone, Siryn dropped back to the bunk and buried her face in the thin excuse for a mattress. It was a long time since anyone had made her cry; she was damned if she was going to start again over some damn mercenary. But it was close.

"Hey, Irish, you okay over there?" It was Wolverine, who had apparently gotten a handle on his own temper.

"I'm fine!" She almost spit it out, lifting her head from the mattress. "And I'll better once I kill Wade Wilson, damn his black heart t' hell!"

"Stand in line, Irish, there's a lot o' people ahead o' ya."

She wasn't listening, being more interested in yelling. "Dad told me not t' get attached t' him, and I didn't listen, so it's m'own damn fault for trusting the merc! But I'll be damned if I'll do it again! I'll slice and dice him inta so many pieces not even his healin' factor'll be able t' put him together! I'll --"

"Save it, Siryn!" The flat command cut through the air, effectively halting her rampage. "Save it for when you've got yer hands on him."

"It can't come soon enough," she hissed, angrier than she'd ever been, although she couldn't say if it was aimed more at Deadpool or herself.

"Tell me about it." He leaned back against his wall, the picture of relaxation -- if you were stupid or blind. Otherwise, he looked like a caged tiger. "Knew Deadpool had a history with X-Force, but that sounded personal."

"M'dad and I teamed up with him about six months ago, t' stop m'uncle and Juggernaut. I trusted him. I thought we were friends."*

"After what he pulled on Domino and Cable? You got strange taste in friends, Irish." **

"Put a sock in it, Wolverine!" she flared up.

"Great, Delphi's still spreadin' that damn phrase around."

Curiosity beat out anger, at least for the moment. She rolled onto her stomach, propping her head up on her hands to look at him. "Ye know the woman?"

"The Texas Tornado? Yeah, unfortunately. She's Wilson's kid sister."

"His sister?" Her voice went up almost an octave with that surprise.

"Yeah. Been hangin' with him for years, gets inta more trouble'n he does. Been on the side o' the angels for the last few years; I thought she'd come t' her senses. Guess not."

"Guess not," Siryn echoed with derision. "Must be in the genes."

Wolverine didn't answer and Siryn didn't care. The anger left as quickly as it had come, leaving her drained. She let her head fall back to the pillow, strongly tempted to just bury her face in her hands and pretend she was back in the mansion asleep.

Logan must have read her mind. "Get some sleep, kid. There's nothin' we can do right now, and it'll keep ya from thinkin'."

She couldn't think of anything better to do, and whatever had knocked them out hadn't been exactly restful. "Wolverine," she thought to ask, "Why are ye takin' this so calm?"

"'Cause if I don't, I'm gonna get us both killed. Don't care too much about me, but I ain't about t' tell Cable and Banshee how I took you with me." She rolled over just enough to look at him, scared by something in his voice. He looked back at her steadily; she could see something wild burning behind his eyes.

"If I lose it, kid, get as far away from me as ya can. I ain't gonna be real good at tellin' friends from enemies. You could get hurt."

She nodded, hearing what he was saying, as well as what he wasn't.

"I hear ye, Wolverine. But we leave here together, or not at all."

She didn't give him a chance to answer, just rolled back over and closed her eyes.

But her mind refused to let her slip away into blissful unconciousness, instead keeping her awake with images -- her father; Deadpool the first time she had met him, when he had saved her life then fainted - no, blacked out - at her feet; Deadpool staring at her with nothing in his eyes but indifference.

She tossed and turned for what seemed like hours before giving up and opening her eyes. She stared at the stone ceiling for a while before speaking. "Wolverine?"


"How d'ye know Delphi?"

"We used t' move in the same circles. Still do, I guess. Ran inta her about seven years ago, in Madripoor. The kid's been a pain in the neck since the second I laid eyes on her. "

She waited patiently; finally, he sighed and kept talking.

"The son of a couple of old friends a mine had gotten himself inta trouble with some o' the powers that be in that part o' the world. He was supposed t' meet with them t' keep things from gettin' nasty. Jack probably deserved whatever trouble he was in, but I owed his parents, so I went along. . . "


Madripoor, Seven Years Earlier

"The Princess Bar. Nowhere is there a more wretched hive of scum and villany. . ."

"Button it, Jack, I've seen the movie." His 'Patch' persona firmly in place, Logan shoved past his loud-mouthed companion, walking into the Princess and heading straight for the bar. He kept his eyes open - the Princess was as far from the yuppie bars in Manhattan as it was possible to get without leaving the planet. The usual crowd was rough, even by his standards. Tonight, though, things seemed pretty calm, which probably had something to do with the piano someone was playing in the back, accompanying a bluesy soprano -- a damn good one too, he noticed, wondering for a moment what a voice like that was doing in a pit like this. But he had other things to think about.

"Try having a sense of humor, Logan -- it comes in handy sometimes." Jack strolled into the bar slowly, looking around as if he was thinking about buying the place. A young hooker, dressed in less material than found in your average string bikini, caught his eye. He winked and she giggled in response, giving him a 'come-hither' look. He started to take her up on it, then caught Logan's sideways glance and joined him at the bar.

"A sense of humor isn't the only thing you need to work on," he said, motioning the bartender over. "Double of Laphroaig single malt, neat with water on the side for my wet-blanket friend here; I'll take whatever you've got on tap."

"You like livin' dangerously," Logan observed. "Where are ya supposed t' meet this crew yer in trouble with?"

Jack didn't look directly at him. "They said they'd . . . um, find us."

"Great. You gonna tell me what ya did this time? And is it any worse than what ya did last time?"

"Well," Jack almost stuttered, "yeah, I . . . ." Something across the room caught his eye; he turned pale, then blurted, "I have to go take care of something. I'll be right back." He lunged away from the bar and lost himself in the sea of what could loosely be called humanity.

"Jack!" Logan started to yell, then decided against it as his drink arrived. If the kid wanted to run around looking for more trouble instead of getting out of what he was already in, that was his problem. He polished off the whiskey in one swallow. Just as long as none of that trouble came knocking on his door. He had more than enough already.

Absently, he noticed that the piano that had been playing in the background had stopped, and with it the singer. The music had been replaced by the sounds of a scuffle, which sounded like it could turn into a brawl. He kept a wary eye on it in the mirror over the bar.

While he watched, the crowd parted to let someone the size of a 18-wheeler hit the floor, to a chorus of jeers and catcalls. Standing over him was a tiny brunette dressed in a flame-red dress that covered marginally more than the hooker's outfit had. She had to be the singer, he figured. And judging by the martial arts stance she was in, singing wasn't all she was good at.

She looked up from the unconscious figure of her opponent, casting a challenging glare at everyone else in the room. Several indecent propositions and a few profanities came her way, but no one took her up on the challenge. The crowd broke up as fast as it had formed, the drinkers returning to their drinks as the woman walked over to the bar, stepping on her opponent as she went, her high heels hitting with brutal accuracy.

The bartender handed her a bottle as she sat a few stools down from Logan, the short skirt showing off a ridiculous amount of leg for such a short woman; Logan figured that without the heels she was about an inch shorter than him.

She felt his eyes and looked up, glaring back. "Problem?"

"Nope. Just admirin' the scenery."

She snorted, shoving short, dark hair off of her neck and going back to her beer. She looked relaxed, staring into her bottle and seeming oblivious to the world around her. But he had the distinct impression she wasn't missing a thing.

She finished the beer and motioned for another bottle. "Did you know you've got company?" Her voice was quiet, but pitched to carry above the crowd.

"Yup. The two guys in back; came in right after me and the kid."

"That would be them. Ignore the big one. He's slow. The little one's the one you've got watch. He plays nasty, and he wants your boy."

"Thanks for the tip," he answered warily, trying to figure out her angle.

She caught his sideways look and almost smiled, still not looking at anything in particular. "Relax," she advised him. "You're the only guy in this place who hasn't tried to grab me; I figure that entitles you to a freebee." Behind them, Jack emerged from the crowd. The two thugs got up from their table, moving to flank him.

"Nothin' comes free. What do they want with the kid?" Logan was pretty far from relaxed; the woman wasn't either. Both of them were watching the drama going on behind them.

"Ain't that the truth," she agreed with another almost-smile, "And I'm clairvoyant, not omniscient; I have no clue. But they want him bad." Jack suddenly seemed to become aware of his danger, turning to Logan with panicked eyes. The thugs had a quick conversation, then the bigger one peeled off, following Jack's look and heading directly for the pair at the bar. "As a matter of fact," she continued nonchalantly, "they want him almost as bad as they want me."

With that, she slipped off the barstool, picked it up and met the big thug's fist with it.

Part 5

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