author: Alex L
rating/genre: (R) - Drama/Angst
warnings: Het, language, adult situations, attempted rape
summary: Not all homecomings are happy ones. R for language, disturbing imagery, and references to attempted rape. Featuring Iceman, Wolverine, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, and Storm, as well as other favorites.
comments/disclaimers: While I don't own any of the characters (Marvel), this story is mine, mine.
Chapter Thirteen: The Day I Tried To Live
Bluish-gray smoke billowed from the butt of Logan's cigar as he circled his motorcycle up the hill and towards the mansion. Much to Scott's surprise and unstated elation, Logan finally broke down and purchased a vintage Harley-Davidson late last month. It was a gorgeous, sleek piece of machinery, which purred ever so softly but was swift as the wind. He was as protective of it as he was of Jubilee. Now, he could go out on long rides without putting up with a lecture from the Boy Scout.
Logan raced through a thicket of black trees, their limbs devoid of any life. The snow that had fallen several days ago crunched underneath the tires of his motorcycle. As he turned a corner towards the gates, the wind suddenly began to die down. He pulled out the remote from his pocket of his worn leather jacket to open the wrought iron gates. As they slowly slid open, he peered up at the darkening sky overhead. While not threatening of any snow or rain, Logan decided he should get inside as soon as he could. There was something he did not like about the way it looked. He almost laughed at himself, shaking off his wariness and riding through the gates and into the garage. You'd think I was Storm or something.
To his surprise, inside the mansion was quiet and inactive. Closing the door behind him, he attributed it to the approaching holidays. Some of the students had finished their exams early and consequently, went home for the three-week long break. Not that he was complaining. Unlike Jean or Ororo, a house filled with noisy kids wasn't his idea of domestic bliss. Not that anyone could accuse Logan of being the domestic type. He welcomed the peace and tranquility that came with limited occupants at the institute. It reminded him of his solitary days in Canada.
Logan trudged up the winding staircase that led to the floor where his bedroom was located. Still puffing on his cigar, he made his way down the hallway to his room. He noticed that things were equally still, which was quite strange since many of the instructors/field team members on his floor had agreed to stay behind for the holidays. As he opened the door to his bedroom, he shrugged off his concerns. At least I can get some sleep in peace, he thought, pulling off his leather jacket and tossing it on a chair next to the door.
Unlike many of the rooms in the mansion, one would never know that Logan actually occupied this area. There was nothing that indicated any attachment to this place. The walls were stark, without any photographs or paintings hung up. On the far side of the room was a plain dresser, which was half-filled with the clothing he had brought with him from his last trip. Against the wall closest to the door was his bed-a queen-sized mattress and box spring on a metal frame. Next to his bedside was a small, wooden table with a black desk lamp and an alarm clock. On the other bedside table was a box of Cohibas Bishop had picked up for him a couple of weeks ago. Underneath the box was the dog-eared photograph he often carried of Jubilee as a young girl.
He remembered how Ororo and Rogue had constantly chided him over the emptiness of the room. This was many years ago, when he first arrived at the mansion. Rogue even bemoaned how cold it was, offering to help him redecorate. She and Ororo had even brought in fabric swatches and paint samples. He had responded with a raised brow and a trademark grunt.
While the idea was ridiculous to him, Logan did not disclose the truth behind his reluctance. He found it difficult to personalize the room when he had no idea what kind of person he was. Sure, he was tough and the epitome of strength and stoicism. However, those were aspects that were consciously available, known to him within the last fifteen years. Prior to that, there was no recollection as to who or what he had been. To cover up the emptiness, would be, in a way, lying to himself.
Logan stripped off the denim and flannel shirts he had been wearing over his white tank top. His wiry, muscular body was about to sink on to the comforting softness of his bed. He stopped himself when his ears picked up noises from outside his door. His brows knitted together as he willed himself to be quiet.
Thump, thump, thump.
He frowned as he yanked the door open and stared into the hallway. Nothing. He narrowed his eyes into razor-thin slits, still unconvinced that he was not alone.
"Who's there?" he called out, adamantium claws already bared. One could never be too carefully, especially with the likes of Friends of Humanity out in the world. It wasn't too long ago that the school had been broken into and the children terrorized by those slime bags.
Logan grunted, briskly walking down the hallway and opening the door to each room he passed. Every time, he found that each were missing their occupants. He grunted again. If someone was trying to scare him, they weren't close to doing it. However, they were doing a great job of pissing him off. He hated playing games.
"Come on out!" he barked, contemplating where he was going to aim his claws when he caught the person.
There was a long, deafening silence. Suddenly, a deep, condescending voice drawled, "Well, well, Logan. No need to get excited. It's just an old friend popping in for a visit."
Logan's green eyes widened; he did not need to see the person to know who it was. He growled, clenching his fists. "Get out here so I can see what I'm shredding to pieces!"
Chuckling softly, a solid-looking man in his late fifties sauntered from behind a column. All those years in the military could still be seen in his aging form. His graying hair and beard complemented the silver framed bifocals perched over his crooked nose. Always the crisp dresser, he wore a slate-colored, wool suit and a black turtleneck. As he edged closer to Logan, his fleshy lips curled into a sneer, his eyes flat and soulless.
"Now, now, Logan," the man said, his voice dripping with mockery, "that's no way to speak to an old friend."
"How the hell did you get in here?"
"Not even a hug for old times sake. I'm crushed, Logan. Absolutely crushed."
Logan held out an arm, claws still extended. "You're going to be more than crushed in a minute," he informed him, tracing a circle under the other man's chin. Then he spat out the man's name in disgust, "Stryker."
The former military general, William Stryker, paused in his steps, but retained his smug expression as if he still held the upper hand. "Well, at least you remember my name. Looks like that memory isn't all that bad, after all."
"You didn't answer my question, old man. What the hell are you doing here?" Logan tried to hide his shock at seeing the man who was responsible for his claws and shady past. The last time the two encountered each other, Logan had left him at the bottom of a snow covered mountain just before an avalanche swept through the Canadian forest. While he was no psychic, Logan had just assumed that Stryker met his fate as the billowing rush of snow tumbled down the mountain.
"You didn't think I was going to let you believe you were happy?" Stryker laughed sharply, taking a step backwards. "Only people can know happiness. You-you're nothing but a science experiment that's gone wrong. A mistake."
Logan leaped at him, grabbing him by the shirt and slamming him against the wall. He strategically placed his claws inches from the other man's throat. "I don't have listen to anything else, bub," he snapped, green eyes blazing with a mixture of fury and pain.
"Oh, but you do."
"Really? Looks like these claws you put in me say otherwise."
"That's right, Wolverine. Blame me for what you've become. The truth is, you were a mistake to begin with. I only tried to improve you. Let's say I tried to help you. How does that sound?"
"Perhaps that's why you're alone. I mean, what person in their right mind could ever see something decent in you?"
"You don't know a goddamn thing."
"That's where you're wrong, my dear Logan. I do know. I know you blame Scott Summers for taking Jean from you, and then Jubilee. What made you think you could make either one of them happy? You see, Scott, while a mutant, is more of a man than you could ever be."
Logan's grip tightened. "I'm over her, bub."
If Stryker was experiencing any fear of the man who was close to slicing his throat, he was doing a good job of masking it. He continued in a matter-of-fact tone. "A real man doesn't run at the first sign of trouble. A real man doesn't abandon those he claimed to hold dear. A real man takes responsibility. Given what I've said, I don't think you meet the criteria, do you?"
"And a real man doesn't sacrifice his kid to get revenge," Logan countered, referring to Stryker's late son, Jason, whose telepathic abilities rivaled that of the Professor's. He had died in that same avalanche all those years ago.
The verbal jab did not even faze Stryker. His face was expressionless as he replied, "Expendable. Much like you are. Face it, Logan, if you were to die tomorrow, do you honestly believe anyone would notice?"
Logan scowled. "Maybe you should be asking yourself that same question, bub." My hand could slip and accidentally stab him in the throat. Who's to say otherwise?
Stryker ignored his last comment. Instead, he laughed again. "Don't tell me you think that anyone here would miss you, would grieve for you? People are missed, not mistakes-and that's all you'll ever be, Logan. A mistake.
"Take Jean Grey. She's happily married to Scott, and I do believe they are thinking about starting a family. She feels pity for you, like she does for any freak of nature. How could you think she could ever love you? She has a real man to take care of her.
"And your dear Professor? I suppose he pities you as well. But it's nothing compared to the frustration he must feel. As much as the old man has tried to help you, Logan, you always manage to disappoint him by losing your temper and running off. How many times has he had to chastise you, like you were some poor animal? Hmm.Too many it would seem, would it not?
"Your teammates? Hah. Most of them either distrust you or quite afraid of you. You'd do them a favor if you just disappeared. You can't deny that I'm right on that one. Just observe how they look at and treat you. You're a disease to them, Logan. Fascinating, but nothing to get attached to.
"Finally, there's your precious Jubilee. Looks like she's doting on Scott Summers as well. Tell me, Logan, how did it feel that day you came back to see her embrace him the way she used to embrace you? And don't tell me the irony of the situation hasn't been lost on you as well. The man you consider responsible for not allowing you a future with Jean Grey is now taking on the role you tried to play years ago. Personally, I find it all quite amusing."
That was it. All that rage-blinding and hot-suddenly overwhelmed him. With a choked out scream, Logan plunged his claws into Stryker's abdomen. He closed his eyes tightly for a moment, hoping it would help him process what he had just done. When he opened them again, he had been expecting to be greeted with the sight of a pain-filled and dying Stryker.
He immediately retracted his claws when he saw the anguished face now had wide, pleading eyes.
"Logan?" Jean managed to whisper. Blood began to rain down from her pink lips and onto the cream-colored, wool turtleneck she was wearing. She coughed, revealing her blood-soaked teeth. "Why?"
"Jean, I-I didn't. I didn't mean." Logan watched in horror as he watched the statuesque redhead begin to sink to her feet, still pressed against the wall. He quickly began to apply pressure to her wound, the thick, coppery liquid flushing through his fingers. "Stay with me. Come on, don't."
Then he screamed, "Someone help me! Help me!"
Jean's eyes rolled in the back of her head. The coughs coming from her mouth were getting softer and lessening in frequency. Suddenly, she was very still. Logan, shocked and horrified, was frozen as he stared at the now dead woman in his arms. This beautiful creature was now gone. He had done this; he alone. He pulled her close and buried his face against her swan-like neck.
His eyes snapped down at the face that was now beneath him. Jubilee's crystalline blue eyes were brimming with tears, which were mixing with the blood that was streaming from the corners of her mouth. Her face was growing increasingly pale as she continued to lose blood from the wound in her abdomen.
Confused, he began to breathe shallow breaths. Sweat beaded at his brow furiously. He found himself paralyzed, unsure of what to do now. All his super-sensitive senses were stunted, particularly his sense of smell. For the first time in his life, Logan felt a sense of uncertainty and fear- emotions foreign and unknown to him. What is happening? How is this happening? Oh God.
"Why did you do this to me?" Jubilee whispered, holding out a hand with her palm open. It was now dripping with blood-her blood, blood from a wound he thought he had inflicted on Jean.
How? I-I-didn't mean to, kid. Please. Angry, bitter tears flooded his eyes. Logan's face twisted itself into an expression of anguish. His hands shook violently as he struggled to rack his brain as to what he should do next.
He had failed again. Why had he failed again? Blinking the stinging tears away, he scooped her into his arms and whispered, "Hold on, kid. Just hold on. You're going to be OK."
"No, she won't."
Logan peered down at his arms, which were now empty. Then he looked up to see a smirking and wound-free William Stryker. The other man crossed his arms over his broad chest. Logan's face now reflected a myriad of new feelings-confusion and fury. His jaw clenched as he darted down the hall, toward the other man.
Logan's rumbling growl soon turned into a loud roar. With claws extended, he hurled himself towards the other man, who was still smirking, still smug. He slashed at Stryker's face, slicing into his cheeks, forehead and chin. His other set of claws gouged into Stryker's middle, digging deep and tearing through flesh and muscle until he could feel them scraping at the other man's vertebrate. However, while Logan could watch himself repeatedly stab Stryker, he could not smell the growing pool of blood around him.
He was so consumed with his own fury that he could not hear his own name being called out.
Only, it wasn't Stryker's voice that was calling it out.
Suddenly, it became very cold. A strong wind barreled from behind him. It forced him to knees, forcing his arms away from his body.
Then things went pitch-black.
"Logan!" Ororo Munroe lowered her arms, calming the swirling winds that lifted her long, white tresses from her shoulders. She had just arrived at the mansion from a day at the mall with Rogue and Kitty when she heard Logan screaming from upstairs. Being the only one inside (the other women were unpacking Rogue's car), she went up to investigate. After repeated knocks at Logan's door, Ororo had let herself in.
What she found was quite horrifying-Logan screaming and howling in pain while slashing in the air with his adamantium claws. It was reminiscent of when he had first arrived at the mansion, where he suffered from recurrent hallucinations of tortured, but mysterious past. The weather goddess called out to him over and again, wary of getting close to him as he attacked his imaginary foe. When it was clear she was not going to get through to him, she summoned a paralyzing wind to attempt to shake her old friend out of his confused state.
Her wide eyes watched him collapsed in a heap in the middle of his bedroom floor, claws retracted. Quickly, she darted to his side and knelt down to inspect him. He was unconscious, but he appeared to be otherwise unhurt. Sweat beaded at his brows while his breaths came out shallow and rapid.
"Oh, Logan," Ororo whispered, her heart becoming heavy with sympathy and some confusion. He had been doing so well since his return to the mansion- so stable and free of his traumatic re-experiencing. "What has happened?"
She was contemplating taking him to the med-lab to Hank and Cecilia when his eyes fluttered open. Logan's brows knitted together as the rest of his face drew itself in a perplexed expression. No Stryker, but Storm, who was kneeling over him and looking as if she were going to cry.
"What's going on, Princess?" He used the old nickname he reserved just for her, his voice husky. Then he made an attempt to sit up, but instead slumped against her, feeling very weakened. "Is everyone alright?"
Ororo's dark eyes attempted to hide what the fear she was suddenly feeling as she held him up. He has no idea. "Yes, Logan," she replied, "everyone is fine."
As she uttered the last part of her sentence, the lie left a bitter taste in her mouth.
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