First Story :
This is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #120 ], however, there are three additional pages:
Shortly after sending for his teammates, James Hudson looks at a bank of monitors, showing each of them in costume. He anticipates their arrival, as this will be their first mission as a team. It’s not quite what he had in mind. He looks at an image of Wolverine and recalls how, back when this all started, he was the brain-boy and Wolverine the bruiser. They would be the nucleus of a super-group, whose charter would be to protect Canada, so they wouldn’t have to depend on foreign teams like the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. National pride goeth before personal fall.
He makes a phone call to Heather, his wife, who works at Yukon Oil for Mr. Beresford. Mac asks if she’s having a nice day and she replies that she’s dealing with things in her usual scintillatingly efficient manner. Mac explains that the boss wants Logan back and won’t take no for an answer. Heather knows that, even if he succeeds, Logan will skip again the first chance he gets. Mac says he’s talked himself hoarse trying to explain that and said it is better to keep the X-Men their friends, in case they need their help someday. The boss though is adamant. Heather replies that so is Wolverine; body and soul. She tells him he could refuse; he did once before with Roxxon. Mac says this isn’t a corporation; this is country and he took an oath. Whatever happens, he has to believe it’s for the best.
Meanwhile, at Cape Wrath on the north coast of Scotland, running through the bitterly cold wilds is Jean Grey. The weather doesn’t bother her. Twenty miles of open water separate County Sutherland from Muir Isle and the weather has kept boats from making the crossing for the better part of a week. She can display her Phoenix effect as much as she like without fear of being seen. She meets up with Moira MacTaggert, sitting high up on a cliff in front of a roaring fire, thinking about Sean Cassidy. She enquires about the coldness not affecting Jean, who replies that it doesn’t matter; she’s unaffected by hail, rain nor sleet. She’d make a heckuva mailman. Moira smiles and says some have all the luck. Jean agrees but asks if it’s good or bad.
Moira hands over a hot brew and says so far so good. Jean asks if she’s ever heard the joke about the man who jumps off the Empire State Building. As he passes each floor, people hear him say, “So far, so good.” Moira thinks that’s an awfully bleak assessment but Jean replies that she’s one to talk, sitting out here - and she calls herself a doctor. She must be freezing. Moira explains that she has her reasons. Jean says they’re probably the same as why she runs all night. She adds that Moira loves Sean and she loves Scott.
She then holds her cup in front of her and says that another of the ramifications of being Phoenix is that she doesn’t actually need the drink. She doesn’t need food nor drink. She still likes the taste and the sensations but, as sustenance, they aren’t necessary. She calls herself human but there are times when she feels like she has more in common with the stars in the sky, than with other people. A glow appears around her, as she becomes emotional. Sometimes, she says, she can’t help but think that she should have died on that shuttle. “Resurrection is for gods. We humans should leave well enough alone.”
A tear forms under her eye and she asks what the point was anyway. The X-Men died a few months later anyway. She says that Scott used to say she was his window on the normal world. With her, he could try to touch feelings he’s spent a lifetime locking away to keep himself from getting hurt. But, he was her anchor too and never more so than after her change. His strength, his love, reminded her and reinforced what it meant to be human. Without him….
Jean’s speech trails away and Moira cuddles her, stroking her hair as they sit in front of the fire. She knows Jean’s pain. The hurt seems more than she can bear and the fear of the unknown, fear of the future is even worse. But she mustn’t despair. She has friends aplenty who’ll serve as her anchors and, with their help, god willing, she’ll be fine.
(Calgary, Albert, Canada, twenty years ago)
Logan is in the Hotel St. Cecil, arm-wrestling a guy named Vance, while a crowd of locals look on. They seem to think Vance can take him but Cracklin’ Rose, the proprietress, gives a wide smile as she says that the house says Logan will beat them all. Logan wins the contest and a big goon called Lefty, a shaven headed muscle-bound bruiser, says, “Waitta minute! We’re being taken.” Logan leans back and finishes off another short, grinning.
Logan is in Harry’s Bar, a pub near Xavier’s school which has become a haven for the X-Men. It’s a place to chew the fat and share some memories. Tonight, it’s the boy’s night out and he shares a table with Nightcrawler, who is using an image inducer, and Banshee. He tells them that, being in Calgary, reminded him of the way things were twenty years back. It was a different time of life, before he met Jamie Hudson or got into the hero business. Canadian Intelligence had Logan working the odd job, but they knew how he felt about his free time, so they didn’t ask questions. They never knew about him and Cracklin’ Rosa! Kurt grins. “A mystery woman!”
Logan chews on a cigar. He tells him that she was a one. She ran the bar at the Hotel St. Cecil until it burned down a while back. In its day it ran the cheapest rooms and most watered-down drinks in town. Banshee gathers that the laddies there were cheap and watered-down to match. Logan tells them that Rosa didn’t know what he could really do, but she was quick to see the possibilities in a guy who could win any fight and drink anyone under the table. “She knew what to do with a manly man, eh?” asks Nightcrawler. Logan replies that she knew how to sell booze and keep the wagers moving anyway.
(twenty years ago)
Logan’s next fight centers around Lefty, who Logan describes as a lump of hired muscle, as dumb as it gets. He must have seen his show before though. The two men lock wrists across the table and Lefty says that no man can drink that much, keep his wits and win every match. He sweats ,as his muscles push against Logan’s, and reckons that Rosa must have been serving him soda pop. Logan smirks, as Lefty is oblivious to his healing factor neutralizing the alcohol. Logan asks if he smells like he’s been drinking sodas, as he touches Lefty’s wrist to the table, winning the contest. His secret is safe and he has another drink to prove the point. At this point, some fool in the back sics Lefty’s pal, Turk, on him. He eggs Lefty on and it all breaks loose.
Banshee suddenly recalls the names. He tells Logan that he once arrested their boss, Borelli. Logan says that they didn’t work for him, ‘cept that one time. He suddenly twigs. “Aw, blazes Irish. Don’t tell me you were behind that! Y’idiot. That left me sore for days!” Before Banshee can reply, Scott Summers arrives, but asks Sean not to let him interrupt his tale. Banshee explains that life was less merry for him back then.
(twenty years ago)
He buries himself in his work, trying to forget Maeve, his poor dead bride. He has discreet hearing to balance his Banshee screaming and it’s a handy talent for an Interpol man, such as he is. Some bragging by a jewel thief’s young son about his father’s travels lead him to Canada for a rodeo. The Calgary Stampede draws big spenders from all around and Arsene, the jewel thief, is there too. He is a second-generation felon; proud of his heritage and used to well-oiled situations. To his annoyance, the local ‘middlemen’ aren’t properly impressed.
Finally, Sean gets wind that a meeting is arranged and of the thugs who will keep an eye over it. Turk and Lefty are well known to the Mounties. The classy Frenchman isn’t too happy about conducting business in such as place as Cecil’s Bar, but it makes Sean’s job easier. It’s a rough place but, with so many out-of-towners in the area, no one pays much attention to one more stranger. Sean takes a seat not far from his targets and sets to tightening the net.
Lefty and the Turk, a tall wiry man sporting a red fez, stand guard, as Arsene meets with Borelli. Sean can’t believe the noise in the bar and sees a large crowd at the far side, betting on something as Cracklin’ Rosa takes their money. Arsene’s European French accent rises above the French-Canadian accents. He is quick to anger, as his international reputation isn’t worth much so far from home. Borelli, a distinguished looking man, tells Arsene that he isn’t sure about the deal. Everyone is bringing him gold chains of late and the pearls Arsene carries aren’t so well matched. Arsene moves his pearls out of Borelli’s reach and tells Lefty to get them something to drink. He and his pal Lefty can relax later.
The two men continue their conversation and can’t see what Sean can see. He sees Lefty bypass the bar, drawn to the shouting around the house favorite. Sean makes a mental note about them being pals. In the present, Wolverine then takes over the story.
From where he sits, locking fingers with the best the bar has to offer, it is a night out of a dream. There are plenty of cowboys and posers in town for the stampede, with nothing better to do than try to put the local champ, him, in his place. He and Rosa are cleaning up.
Logan remembers to play at being drunk when lefty shows up and calls him over. Rosa takes bets, which grow larger as the money goes on the big guy. Logan is having fun and beats Lefty fairly easily. Maybe the booze is finally accumulating and he forgets to struggle a while as the bets increased.
Banshee listens with interest to this part of the tale and can’t believe that it was Logan who gave him the diversion he needed back then. He tells Logan that he started the tension with Lefty, just as his targets were settlin’ down to compromise. Distracting Turk was a snap then.
(twenty years ago)
Sean calls the Turk over and asks him if that’s his pal getting punched out. Turk sees Logan and Lefty fighting and heads off in their direction. Borelli and Arsene continue their negotiations, oblivious to the fact that their lookouts have gone. Borelli says he has the cash but they have to be careful. Arsene is happy with the way things have gone and asks to count the cash. Outside the bar, peering in through the window, the Mounties get the signal from Sean to enter and they nab Borelli with his hands on the stolen goods.
“Without working up a sweat?” adds Logan. “Real slick, Irish.”
(twenty years ago)
As the two men are hustled out of Cecil’s by the Mounties, Logan and Lefty continue to fight, with the customers taking bets on who will win. Sean watches the melee and grins. Their timing had been perfect. Turk had barely left the area and the pigeons hadn’t noticed it yet. It was a perfect piece of police work and the Canadian boyos had everything wrapped up before anyone was the wiser.
(present) Logan says that it’s funny Sean should talk about cooperation.
(twenty years ago)
He remembers what Rosa has told him and strings Lefty along a bit to raise the stakes. He avoids most of Lefty’s hardest punches until, finally, when he realizes Lefty is getting sloppy, he takes him out with a huge uppercut. After that it’s mostly over, save for the mopping up. There is, however, more to winning a fight. He always wins the fights. This one is special because it‘s a partnership between him and Rosa. The Turk just plods along, thinking Lefty did pretty good, considering. He returns to his bodyguard duties to find Borelli and Arsene have vanished. Who’s gonna pay them now?
Logan reckons the Turk still drops in to where Cecil’s was out of habit. Some guys never learn. He learned, though. His instincts said plow through the fight but Rosa’s way gave everyone a good show and upped the odds to boot. As for Banshee, he used to have a pretty low opinion of that kind of sneaking around. Then, after a while, his extra-sharp senses made government work a logical step for him too. Sean says that they both learned some lessons about teamwork that night, it seems. His undercover work often saw him alone and at risk. He says Logan can imagine his relief at having the Mounties come to the rescue. Much as he still mourned Maeve, he knew then that he only had to seek help, teammates to find it.
The glasses and bottles have mounted up on the X-Men’s table and Nightcrawler and Cyke seem happy to listen to the old-timers chat. Sean admits that, in those days, he thought screaming braggarts like him deserved a bad end but, indeed, sometimes a bit of bravado can get the job done, as he does while calling himself Banshee. Scott says he’s glad to see that a couple of guys who were such temperamental loners could grow into people he’s proud to call teammates. Logan grins. “Then I’d say there’s hope for you too, junior.” They laugh and, for now, everything is just sweet.