Chapter 1: Chapter 1: I'm Scared Too
Chapter 1: I'm Scared Too
Grey. Everything was tinted grey. The skies. The landscape. The people. The smoke. Everything.
As I stepped off the train, I was joined with a mass crowd. Fear was normal by now. It was marked on every face around me. It gripped me as well, choking the life out of me, and sending my mind in a whirl wind. No time to think though as I was pushed to move forward with the crowd. There were shouts, orders that I did not understand. I looked at a woman next to me who was very thin and sickly looking. The weariness and fear in her cold eyes matched mine. They burned into me and I had to look away, only to be met by a younger girl who was shaking. No doubt an orphan who, like the rest of us, were terrified and sick. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I felt a small, cold hand grab my own and entwine her fingers in my own. I looked at her small face, tinted with the same grey expression everyone else had.
“No fear.” The woman beside me said with a sunken expression. She nodded towards a dark building. “Shower.” She pointed to her hair. “Louse.”
I looked at the eerie building. I had heard the same rumor as well. That we would all be getting showers to help relieve the lice. But something in me knew better...I couldn't shake the dark feeling I had. I didn't know what was in there but something it was not in anyway supposed to comfort us.
A man in uniform yelled at us to keep moving and I shuffled forward. The little girl still holding on to me with all her strength her little hand could muster. In the distance, smoke rose, dark and ominous. It spelled death and it only worsened my fears. At the entrance of the building, I stopped in my tracks, my breathing picking up. The little girl looked at me with a fearful expression. The woman that spoke to me earlier stopped as well and tried to urge me forward.
I shook my head. “No...no...no.” I breathed out.
The woman's eyes widened and looked towards the guards worriedly. “Come.” She whispers in a hushed tone.
The little girl pulls on my hand and I mechanically follow her. Inside, we are instructed to undress and separate into shower rooms.
As I undress, the woman beside me offers a weak smile. “See. Shower.” She says quietly.
Tears prick my eyes as I stand vulnerable with all the rest of the women. Soon, we're all ushered into a room that resembles a shower but it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel right at all. But there's nothing that I nor anyone else can do. All we can do is wait.
The little girl from earlier clings to my side, trembling. I swallow hard and kneel down to her level. She was no more than nine years old. My heart hurt for her. “What is your name?” I ask her softly.
“Sophia.” She whispers.
“Sophia.” I repeat with a small smile. “Pretty. Mine is Anna.” I introduce myself.
Sophia's blue eyes bore into my own. “Are we going to die, Anna?” She asks fearfully.
The question caught me off guard and I stumbled over my words. “I...I don't know.” I whispered truthfully.
Sophia closed her eyes and nodded. I quickly pull her into my arms and hold her close. We cry together and time stands still for a moment. How did we get here? It should've never been this way. Sophia should be making mud pies. I should be enjoying school and prepping for exams. Instead, we've turned out to be lambs ready for slaughter. The noise around us is deafening. A sea of people wondering what was happening.
All the sudden, we hear a noise that sounds like vents opening. But it's not the comforting, cleansing water we hoped for. Rather, it is a thick fog that fills the room, making it hard to breathe. Cries of panic fill the room, terrifying, booming off the concrete walls. The poison fills my lungs and I cough terribly, finding no relief. I catch sight of the woman I saw earlier and she is coughing frantically when she catches my eye. With tears in her eyes, she whispers, “Sorry.” Just barely enough for me to hear.
I collapse to my knees with Sophia in my arms. Soon, the noise lessens and that was the thing I remembered before darkness completely took over.
I wake up in a jolt and look around. Bodies littered everywhere and the silence is deafening. My breathing picks up and I find that my lungs are clear. I look down and notice that I'm still holding Sophia in my arms. “Sophia?” I shake her. “Sophia!” I scream but she doesn't budge. I tremble violently, looking around but there seemed to be no signs of life. Just surrounded by dark, grey, death.
A terrible, violent scream erupted from me, bouncing off the concrete walls. Men busted through the room, staring at me in disbelief, and ran over to me. They snatched me up and began to shake me as I continued to scream....
“Anna? Anna!” A voice called out to me, shaking me by the shoulders. I wake up, violently swinging at the voice only for my hands to be caught roughly.
“Let go of me!” I scream as I struggle against the grip.
“Anna! Look at me!” A man's gruff voice says, his grip still firm. “Focus on me. Focus on my voice.” He instructs, looking into my eyes.
My breathing is still erratic but I begin to recognize the man in front of me. “Logan.” I breathe out, feeling relieved. His grip softens and he lets out a relieved sigh. I look around and see that I'm laying on a mattress in the warehouse. Once I realize where I am and what happened, I sigh heavily and wipe my eyes. “Sorry.” I whisper.
Logan nods in understanding and releases me then sits on the edge of my bed. “Hell of nightmare, kid.” He says in a slightly concerned voice.
I nod, still trying to steady my breathing. “Auschwitz.” I whisper simply, knowing he'll understand. This wasn't the first time and it most likely wouldn't be the last.
Logan winces. “Same thing happen?” He asks, knowing there's multiple nightmares from that place.
I nod, rubbing my forehead. “Yeah. Gas chamber.” I sigh tiredly. “It felt so real. Hasn't been that bad in a while.”
Logan grunts quietly then gets up. “They always do.” He clears his throat and I notice the condition that he's in and frown.
“You look like shit.” I say as I look him over. He looked like he'd just got into a bad fight.
“Thanks.” He snorts.
I get up and pull off his coat and notice his bloodstained shirt. “Jeez, Logan, what happened to you?” I ask concerned.
He waves me off. “Just some assholes looking for a fight. Nothing new.”
I raise my eyebrows at him. “Well, looks like they found one.” I turn to face him. “Come on. Let's get you cleaned up.” I nod towards the bathroom.
“Nah, I'm fine.” He mutters then starts to walk away while coughing deeply.
“Hey!” I catch up with him and tug on his arm. “You are not fine. Look at you! You've been shot-”
“I said, I'm fine.” He says roughly. He pulls back his collar revealing an almost healed up bullet hole. “See? Bullet's out. Nothing to worry about.”
“There's plenty to worry about.” I say frustrated, crossing my arms. We've had this conversation a time or two.
He glares at me. “Don't start.” He warns, pointing a finger at me.
I sigh exasperated. “Will you at least let me look?” I practically plead. He gives me a weary look. My facial expressions soften. “Please.”
Logan continues to stare at me with tired eyes before letting out a raspy sigh. “Fine. Yeah. Whatever.” He throws his hands up then walks to the bathroom.
I follow him into the bathroom and begin taking out first aid supplies and alcohol. I glance and notice him looking into the mirror, his face unreadable. He breaks away and starts unbuttoning his shirt. Once he gets it off, I see the extent of the damage. A few bullet holes that were still healing. Bruises littering his body. What got me though was the scars. So many angry, brutal scars telling story after story. I stare for a moment, finding it hard to believe this was my same friend that just a few years ago was unstoppable and any bullet would've bounced off much less left any mark.
He catches me staring and I quickly push back my thoughts and get to cleaning his wounds. I clean the blood off and disinfect the wounds, not seeing a reason for the bandage as it was healing quickly after being cleaned. I move to his face, cleaning a few cuts when his eyes catch mine. Tired, old, weary, sick. Much like the woman from my dream. The thing is, we share the same look. We're both tired of life. Logan's just finally showing the physical side of it. A fact that terrifies me and makes me envious all the same.
I take out a stethoscope and bring it to his chest. “Breath deeply for me.” I instruct quietly. He obeys which makes him cough violently while exhaling. I frown, noticing the way he closes his eyes in pain.
“What's the verdict, doc?” He mumbles in a raspy voice.
I shake my head. “Not good. You're sick.” I reply simply, not meeting his eyes. “Let me see your hands.”
“We've already known that.” He says quietly.
I grab the alcohol and swabs, ignoring his comment. I examine his hands in my own. Bloody and slightly infected where his claws normally come out at the knuckles. I clean them as gently as I can then wrap them up. When I finish up, he grabs my hands in his own. I stare at them for a moment. Mine are small and untouched against his large, calloused, and worn hands. I glance up at my old friend and he offers a faint smile. “Thanks.”
I offer a failing smile before wiping my eyes and standing up wordlessly. “There's a clean shirt hanging up in the laundry room.” I inform him, desperately trying to change the subject. But he doesn't fall for it so easy.
“Also, Caliban is going to need those meds today. Old man didn't have a good night.” I say ignoring him.
“He's probably gonna give ya hard time today so head's up-'
“Anna.” He says firmly, bringing me to face him. “What's going on with you?”
“Nothing.” I lie then turn back to putting the supplies away.
“It's not nothing. If you've got something to say then say it.”
“Why? You won't listen anyway.” I reply bitterly.
“What's that supposed to mean?” He asks defensively.
“You know exactly what it means, Logan.” I slam the cabinet door then turn around with a glare. His breathing is picking up a bit and I know he's getting frustrated with me but he doesn't say much.
“Look, don't start this today, Ann. Caliban's already been on my ass enough.”
That's when I start to lose my tempter. Not out of just anger but fear. “And he has every right too, Logan! Look at you! You're not healing like you used too. You're exhausted all the time. That cough is getting worse. You're not sleeping. You barely eat.” I close my eyes and huff.
“Don't you think I know that?” He says bitterly. “It's no new news to me. What do want me to say, huh?” His voice cracks just a tad.
I stare at him sadly. “I want you to deal with it. You're not getting any better, Logan. You need to face that.”
He glares at me. “I already have, Ann. There's not much to face. And I'm sick of you and Caliban trying to counsel and nag me. I don't need your damn therapy.” He bites angrily.
I narrow my eyes at him. “That's what you think we're trying to do?”
“That's what I fuckin' know.” He says. “You don't like what's happenin' then leave! Cause whether you like it or not, things ain't changin' and when it all comes down to it, you know what's gonna happen.”
“I ain't leavin'.” I say stubbornly.
“Why the fuck not?” He mumbles then leaves the bathroom.
“Because that'd be too easy.” I answer and he stops in his tracks then looks at me. I sigh then bite my lip and look down at my hands. “You know, Logan, you and I have been alive for a very long time. Seen a lot of shit happen and you know just as much as I do how painful it is to live. Hell, right now it sucks now more than ever.” Tears prick my eyes. “But I refuse to leave.”
“Why?” He asks softly, no trace of anger in his voice.
“Because I'm stubborn.” I say with a sad smile then go to step around him. The fight gone out of me. “I'm going to do some laundry. Clean up a bit. Make myself useful. Get some rest.” I touch his shoulder before I leave the room.
The rest of the day, I do what I always do. Clean up as much as I can and join Caliban in the laundry room. “Need a hand?” I ask.
“Always. You know I hate fitted sheets.” He says warmly and hands them to me. We make small talk while folding the clothes. I like Caliban. He was a good addition to the weird family we had going on and he helped a lot with the professor though Charles couldn't always stand him. We tried to leave that part to Logan more so anyway as they are very close. Plus, it gave Logan something to do besides drive that limo and drink his life away.
“I heard you and Logan go at it earlier.” He mentions. “Everything alright?”
I shrug. “Just a spat. Nothing more. You know how he can be.”
“Are you okay?” He asks.
“Yeah.” I hand him a folded sheet. “It's not the worst fight we've ever gotten into. Trust me, there's been worse.”
“I see.” He looks at me. “But that's not what I'm talking about.”
I glance at him and sigh tiredly. “No, I'm not okay.” I confess. “He gets worse everyday.”
Caliban nods. “And you're not ready for that, are you?” He whispers.
I shake my head. “No, I'm not.” I answer honestly. “I've known Logan for a long time, Cal. He and the X-Men saved my life. Saved me from becoming a monster. They were the only family I had. Yet Logan was the only one that understood me. He didn't have to say much. Friend, comrade, brother, you name it, he was. He just listened and was just...there. Always. I don't know how else to describe it. He's always been there.” I clench the shirt in my hands. “I don't know what I'm going to do when he's not.”
Caliban grabs my hand and squeezes it gently. “You still have time, Anna.”
I laugh a bit bitterly. “Yeah, time. Time is all I've got.” I sniff then wipe my eyes angrily. “I'll see you later, Cal.” I say then squeeze his hand briefly then walk out of the room.
I spend the rest of the day cleaning, working outside, or taking care of the professor. The old man smiles whenever I come in and grabs my hand warmly. “Anna. I know you.” He says cheerfully. “Sweet girl.”
I smile at him. “Hey, old man.” I greet tenderly.
He tilts his head to the side. “Your smile's not reaching your eyes today.” He says concerned.
His observation catches me a bit off guard. “I-I'm alright. No need to worry.” I assure him.
Charles lifts his hand to my cheek. “Dear girl, life can be awfully sad and but you must remember. There is always hope and there is always purpose.” He whispers.
Tears clog my throat as I squeeze his hand and nod. These moments were rare and I held onto them for dear life. For even though I am technically a bit older, the professor would always be a mentor and dear friend to me, just as Logan was. He always offered wisdom and hope when we needed it most. He was there for me in ways Logan couldn't or didn't know how to be, even in times like this. It'd be hard to say goodbye to him too.
Needing time to myself, I head up to the roof, the sun beginning to set. This was my thinking spot. The only place I found peace. To say today was rough was an understatement. Life had always been hard to an extent but this time it just seemed like night would never end and the pain wouldn't stop. I pull my knees up to my chest and allow myself to release the tears I'd been holding back all day. I felt frustrated, scared, stuck, and more lonely than I had in a long time.
When the tears began to quiet down a bit, I heard someone crawling up the ladder. I don't budge, knowing exactly who it was, I simply move over a bit. Logan quietly makes his way over by me and sits down with a heavy sigh. We fall into a comfortable silence as the stars begin to appear more brightly in the pink sky.
“I'm sorry.” Logan breaks the silence. I glance up at him and know his apology is genuine. “I didn't mean what I said earlier.” I shake my head and sigh, unable to speak in fear of breaking down. “Anna.” He says my name and I swallow hard.
“I'm scared.” I choke out, tears leaking despite trying to will them back.
I feel Logan beside me shift and he puts his arm around me and pulls me to his side. I cling to him like he'd slip away any moment and more tears come. We hold each other for a long time, neither of us saying anything. There's not much to say and neither of us were good with words anyway.
“I'm scared too.” He whispers so faintly that I hardly catch it. I squeeze my eyes shut. “What are you scared of?” He asks.
“Living. Dying. Losing you and Charles. Being alone. You name it.” I answer softly.
Logan remains silent, his hold on me still firm. “Me too.” He finally replies tiredly.
“What do we do?” I ask in a small voice.
Logan sighs tiredly. “Be scared together.”
I squeeze my eyes shut and tighten my hold on my old friend and he does the same. The unknown was a scary place to think about. Terrifying. Especially when you know death is inevitable. But I made a vow that no matter what I wouldn't run. I wouldn't hide. I've seen some of the things Logan went through and we've shared our own war stories. He's had to go through so much and a lot of it he faced alone.
Not this time though. No matter how much I hated seeing him this way, I would not leave him. He will not die alone.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2: They're Gone Now
After surviving the gas chambers, I was taken in for questioning. Nobody survived the gas chamber. Nobody. Ever. And surviving meant you were both a threat and phenomenon. Questioning turned into testing which meant seeing how much I could handle. Shot, burned, beaten, poisoned, gassed, you name it they put me through it. And I always came back. I always healed. And each time I'd wake up to the shocked faces of police and doctors. They demanded answers to questions I couldn't answer. Apparently, there had been another unusual case with a boy who had bent the fences and they were convinced that I was associated with him but when brought face to face, I hadn't seen him a day in my life. All I knew was that I was a strange seventeen year old who could not die and could heal very fast. I didn't get a chance to talk to the boy. All we did was exchange the same scared looks but in a odd way find relief that were not the only one with strange abilities.
When the camps were finally liberated and the war had ended, I was found in a cell deep underground. I was questioned by different authorities but had chosen to lie to avoid further testing. However, one of the original doctors told them about my 'mutation', as they called it, and swore up and down that I could not be killed. One of the officers smirked at the doctor then held a gun up to me.
I braced myself for the pain but before he pulled the trigger, he whispered, “Stay down.” Before I could even register what he said, a shot rang out against the cement walls and a familiar searing pain went through the side of my head. Voices around the room spoke loudly but I kept my eyes closed and did what the man instructed me to do. I felt my body healing itself and hoped that they would leave before they saw that I was fine. The man that shot me chastised the officers and doctors and ordered that I be sent to the morgue. I was placed on a stretcher and covered. Despite the objections from the people that were testing on me, I was sent away. I laid there for a long time, wondering what I was going to do when suddenly the white sheet was yanked back and I was staring into the face of the man that shot me.
“Come.” He instructed with a thick German accent then looked around to make sure everything was clear.
I obeyed him hesitantly down a large corridor. At the end was a large door and he stopped there. He handed me a bag then said in a hushed tone, “Go.”
I looked at him fearfully. “Where?”
“Anywhere. As far as anyone knows, you are survivor of the camps, have no family left, and are looking for a fresh start.” He narrows his eyes at me and says in a warning tone. “Nothing more. Do not say a word to anyone. You have seen what they can do. If you do not wish to be another experiment, I suggest you keep your special...abilities...to yourself. Understood?”
Still trembling, I heed the man's warning and ask no further questions though I had a million. “Understood.” I whisper then go to step outside. I look back at the man and try to sound sincere though I was terrified. “Thank you.”
The man's eyes soften as he nods. “Go and be well, Anna.” He says softly.
Tears prick my eyes but I step outside into the unknown and began to run. I never looked back at Auschwitz. Not once. From there, I was nothing more than a terrified seventeen year old girl who had survived what they called the holocaust. I looked for family, friends, anyone that I knew but they were all gone. I shared my story with only a select few which included a family in Poland that took me in and gave me a fresh start. But even them I did not say a word about how I survived. It was bad enough that I couldn't explain why I didn't have any scars. Needless to say, my time there was limited to a few years as I noticed that I was not aging and I did not want to risk being caught again. That was how I lived for the next several years. Bouncing around from home to home, never staying in one place. I met several people, good and bad and decided that it was best to stay away from them all. I eventually moved to America in the 90s, trying to run away and forget about all that happened in Europe.
I made little connections in America. I became hard and would not allow anyone close. I didn't want to be hurt and I didn't want to hurt anyone else. I took it that I was somehow cursed until I discovered that there were other mutants alive, each having unique abilities. I came to the conclusion that I had the better end of the stick as aside from not being able to age or die, I looked pretty normal and there were definitely those who did not look...normal. I tried to stay as low as possible and it worked for a long time. Until they found me.
I had had a bad feeling that I was going to be found sooner or later. I became paranoid and hardly came out of hiding. But the big bad wolf had found me regardless of my precautions and like in Auschwitz, I was forced to undergo experimentation. I was told not to worry. I was told a lot of things. That I wouldn't be harmed and that everything that I would go through be for a greater purpose. I was told anything from that my DNA would have the possibility to cure deadly diseases such as cancer, that I was the hope the world had been looking for and that with science the possibilities were limitless. I became their pin cushion and guinea pig for a lot of things that I was left in the dark with. They discovered that I could be weakened, to the point of sleep, but that I always came back. Those experiments were hard and painful. To the point that I was begging them to stop but they only increased.
I don't know how long I was there, the days began to run into each other and I had finally given up hope. I relented to their experiments, mostly being due to being drugged up anyway. I was counting the specks on the ceiling when one day I heard a voice in my head. Thinking it was a dream or hallucinations, I dismissed them but they became more frequent. It was foggy though, like a distant voice in the wind. I couldn't completely make them out. Later on, I would realize that it was none other than Charles Xavier or Professor X as we so lovingly called him.
The day I was rescued was chaotic. I didn't know it at the time but I was being prepped to be turned into a dangerous weapon and there would be little to nothing left of my old self. I was hooked up to a lot of machines, ready to be submerged in water, my biggest fear, when the alarms went off. Shortly after, I heard a lot of screaming, fighting, and gunfire. The men that were in control of my procedure were dragged out and I saw the faint shadow of a man with claws fighting his way through. Terrified, I busted out of the contraption that was holding me and ran. Again, I heard the voice that was telling me to stay calm and trust the man with the claws, which I quickly dismissed after seeing the way he fought. I ran as far as I could go until I reached a dead end and collapsed. I crawled over to a corner behind a generator and gasped for air. I had no clothes and was doing what I could to stay covered. Again, the voice in my head said that I was okay, that I was being rescued, and to trust them. I dared not to move, I was tired and felt extremely vulnerable.
Suddenly, I see the man with the claws come around, looking for me. He turned his head, locking eyes with me, and paused. I backed up against the wall even more, covering myself the best I could. His eyes...I'll never forget them. Angry, sad, sympathetic, and a bit desperate. He retracts his claws and holds up his hands. “It's okay. I'm not gonna hurt you.” He says slowly. I don't say a word, making my distrust very clear. He takes off his leather jacket and hands it to me. “Here.” He holds it out but I look at it as if it's a snake ready to bite. “It's okay.” He insists.
I finally take it and he looks away as I slip it on. It swallows me and for that I'm grateful. I look up at him, still unable to find my words. I then see a few others show up. Mutants, I notice. They share a look with me then with the man who gave me the jacket. I shrink back again and he motions for them to take a step back then turns his attention to me.
“Listen, I know you're probably scared the hell out of your mind. Got every reason to be.” He kneels down in front of me. This time I don't flinch. “I've been where you are. It ain't fun and you're gonna have a lot of questions. But these people,” he nods towards the others. “they can help you.”
“There's been a lot of people who have tried to 'help' me.” I speak for the first time, still eyeing them suspiciously.
His eyes soften a bit. “I know.” A loud noise echoes through the halls and a woman with white hair hurries over to us.
“We need to go. Now!” She says hurriedly.
The man looks back at me with a slightly fearful expression. “You can stay and face this alone or, you can come with us.” I was heavily conflicted and didn't know what to do. He held out his hand. “Trust me, you don't want to face this alone.”
The weightiness in his voice and the look in his eyes is what finally led me to take the stranger's hand. I was trembling fiercely and all he offered was a quick faint smile before I was scooped up and carried out. The escape was terrifying, too many close calls, but once we were out, that was the last time I was there as a prisoner.
Our time on the roof was limited and it felt too short. I'd stay up there for hours if Logan would but these days, it's just too hard on him. So I wordlessly climb down first to help him down as much as I can or rather as much as he'll let me . I don't miss the pained face he makes getting down nor the unusual sounds in his breathing. I offer an arm out but he keeps going, ignoring my help.
I had a feeling we wouldn't be going up to the roof as much any more.
“Gotta go check on Charles.” He mumbles over his shoulder once we're inside.
I don't respond but stop in the kitchen area and prop myself at the table. I both watch as Logan snatches up the white bag containing the seizure pills, not bothering to make small talk with us. Deep in thought, a cup of hot tea and a small bowl of fruit appears in front of me.
I look up and see Caliban nod towards it. “Thanks.” I thank him as I nibble on a strawberry.
He offers a small smile then goes back to chopping vegetables. “How did it go up there?” He asks curiously.
I shrug. “Better than earlier. We actually talked a little bit. Wasn't much but I'll take it.” I answer.
“Least he talked to you. He barely says more than a few words to me much less apologize or talk about the important things.” He says with a bit of bitterness in his voice.
I take a sip of my tea. “Don't take it personally, Cal. It's just how he is. It's sometimes like pulling teeth getting him to talk to me and I've known him for years.” I try to assure him.
Caliban sighs and shakes his head. “Well, we all need to start communicating better around here if this is gonna work out. There's some things we need to straighten out.”
I give him a curious look. “Like what?”
“Like the fact that the meds that he got won't last us through the week and it's not even the right kind.” He replies.
“What do you mean?” I ask worriedly.
Caliban stops and looks at me. “Ibuprofen, Anna. That's what he got.”
I close my eyes and rub the bridge of my nose. “Shit.” I mumble.
“Yeah, 'shit' is right. You know what happens if he doesn't have the right stuff. But he wouldn't know because he can't read the bottle.” He says frustrated. “And while we're talking about Charles, we need to embrace the fact that he's asking questions that all of us are either avoiding or don't know how to answer. He's getting antsy being locked up-”
“Do you have an answer to all of these problems you're bringing up?” I snap impatiently.
“Then shut up!” I nearly yell.
Caliban slams down his cup. “Don't be like him, Anna. You can't both ignore what's going on here. Now, I'm trying to help you.” He says firmly.
“This is not helping, Cal. I don't have answers for you. I wish I did but I don't. I'm trying to figure things out too and I'm getting nowhere.” I say frustrated.
“It's because we need Logan to step up too.”
This isn't going anywhere. “Jeez, we have this conversation like once a week. I'm trying. I honestly am trying to get through to him but you know how he is.” I sigh. “Honestly, I don't think he's doing it on purpose. I think it's because he doesn't know what to do himself.”
“Is it that or that he's too scared?”
I ponder the question a moment before answering. “Both.” I answer quietly. “That's why he shuts down. That's why he drinks and works. That's why he ignores our questions and doesn't talk. Fear and pain, they go hand in hand. He's gone through so much that it's easier to zone out and numb it than face it. Then on top of that he's dying.”
Caliban's face softens then he looks down. “That's such a heavy burden to bare alone.”
I nod. “That's the only way he knows how to though, Caliban. He's done it that way for so long that he doesn't know any other way.” I sigh heavily. “Earlier he told me that if I didn't like what was going on to leave.”
Caliban looked slightly shocked. “Anna-”
I hold up a hand. “He doesn't mean it. He never does. Hell, in many ways I can relate. I haven't gone through half the shit he's gone through but I know what it's like to be alone. Which is why I refuse to leave him and why I'm still trying to figure out how to help him. The only solution I've come up with so far is just...being there.”
Caliban's anger starts to fade a little bit. “I'll try to be more understanding. I want to help. All of you. But as I said, there's things we need to try to face. Even if it's a little bit at a time. We can't keep living this way.” He says sincerely.
“I know,” is the only thing I can really say in response before I decide to get up. Just in time too because I hear arguing all the way from across the plant. “Duty calls.” I say with a small smirk.
Caliban nods then says after me, “He's lucky, you know.” I turn around. “To have you. Both of them are. I can see how much you mean to each other.”
I offer a faint smile. “More than you know.” I whisper then leave the room.
Across the plant, I hear the arguing getting louder and more intense. I hurry over and yank open the door just in time to see Charles fall on his back in his wheelchair.
I gasp and cover my mouth. Logan looks back at me for a brief second. “What are you doing to me?” Charles asks brokenly.
Logan's face softens and starts to make his way over. “Charles, come on now-”
A paralyzing wave hits us and I cry out in pain. I can’t move, can’t breathe, think, can't do anything. It vibrates through me, making me dizzy and feeling like the very energy from me is being sucked out. I hear Logan struggling to get to him and Charles struggling to breathe and ride out the seizure. The pain continues to course through me until my eyes are rolling into the back of my head. My ears ring and I see black spots when suddenly the wave lifts and I fall hard onto the floor. The breath is knocked out of me and I cough violently, trying to get air to come back into my lungs.
“How long have I been here?” I hear Charles ask brokenly.
I tremble on the floor, feeling weak and sick. Logan is breathing heavy too as he picks Charles up and puts him bed. As I focus on healing and getting my strength back, I hear them start to bicker. I pay little attention until I hear Charles say, “Fuck off, Logan.” It amuses and shocks me too, still not wrapping my head around the fact that my old friend could have such a potty mouth.
“Oh so you know who I am now?” Logan replies sarcastically.
“I always know who you are, it's just sometimes I don't recognize you.” Charles says.
I glance up. What a profound statement that explains all of our relationships with Logan. Even Logan pauses for a moment before instructing him to take his pills. He turns to me and looks slightly worried. “Anna, are you okay?” He moves to help me but I wave him off, still catching my breath.
“I'm fine. Just give me a minute.” I say knowing he'll understand. Charles seizures always leave me weak but I eventually gain my strength back from them.
He turns his attention back to Charles. “You leave me alone with that fucking albino. He doesn't listen to me. I know a damn speciation when I see one.” He rambles.
Logan and I exchange a look. “What?” he asks incredulously.
“Speciation.” Charles replies like it's the most obvious thing in the world. “New mutant. A young one. There are special forces-”
“Forces,” Logan repeats while shaking his head.
“They want help.” Charles continues.
“Too bad you're not in that business any more.” Logan says as he picks up his chair.
“They don't want me. They want you.” He says which makes me pause. Logan scoffs. “Oh yes, that's how fucking stupid they are. They're waiting for you at the Statue of Liberty.”
“The Statue of Liberty was a long time ago, Charles, a long time ago.” Logan tries to explain.
I shake my head, tuning out their banter then roll over and sit up. My hands rub my temples. Ouch. Seizures sucked, big time. I catch the end of Logan's sentence... “We always thought we were part of God's plan. Maybe...we were God's mistake.” I swallow hard, digesting his words. They were ones we've all thought, even before mutants started to go extinct.
I look up to see Charles grab Logan's chin. Much like a father would disciplining their children. “What a disappointment you are.” My eyes snap open. Even I felt the sting from that one. Logan swipes his hand away but Charles continues. “When I found you you were pursuing a career as a cage fighter. A warm capper to a life as an assassin, hooked on barbiturates. You were an animal. But we took you in. I gave you a family. You and Anna!” Tears threatened my eyes and I let out a shaky breath.
“And they're gone now.” Logan says bitterly.
The words hurt. Bad. More so because they were true. The ones who rescued us, gave us a home, a family, gone. Friends, dear comrades. Gone. All because of a horrible accident involving the broken old man in the room. It was such a sore wound for us both and is why we never talk about it.
“Logan...Logan...what did you do? Answer me! Why are we here?” Charles asks frantically.
Logan ignores him, walking past him over to me and offers his hand to help me up. Tears threaten my vision but I hold them back as I wordlessly accept his hand. However, I stand up too quickly, making my vision swim and I nearly lose my balance. Logan catches me, looping his arm around me to keep me steady.
“No one should live like this. Drugged in a fucking tank!” Charles shouts.
“It's for your own good!” Logan says a bit more cruelly than intended.
“Logan...” I whisper, not able to handle hearing him talk to the professor like that. Even more the cries we hear from him as we leave. Once the door was shut behind him, he helps me over to the other side. “That was cruel, Logan.” I say quietly.
Logan doesn't respond but in his eyes I see that he knows I'm right and feels the same way. Once in the other building, I let go of Logan and head to the bathroom. I quickly go to the sink and start splashing water on my face. I look in the mirror and see that I look tired, worn out. I felt like myself again, the effects of the seizure worn off for the most part. I knew Logan and Caliban would be feeling it though. I sighed, thinking about what just happened. I should've said something. Should've intervened but I couldn't make myself. I was shocked at the words the old man said and the pain hidden in them hurt me deeply. I looked at my reflection. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to punch something so hard until my hands bled. But I couldn't do any of those things. Not here. Not now. So I do what I always do. Take the punch and stuff it down even further.
As I leave the bathroom, I pass Logan's section of the room. I see him sitting on his bed, his claws stretched out but one of them not coming out all the way. His face contorts in pain and his breathing is heavy. I approach him slowly from the corner of the room. “Logan,” I say softly. He looks at me with heavy eyes. “Are you alright?” I ask. He stares at me with broken eyes then very quickly shakes his head then looks down at his claw. I kneel down next to him. “Let me help.” I whisper and he nods. I grab some alcohol from the bathroom then take his hand gently in my own and wrap a towel around the jammed claw. “Take a deep breath.” I warn him. He nods then closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
As carefully as I can, I pull the jammed claw out slowly. Logan grits his teeth, shaking as he embraces the pain. I feel his pain and it cuts through me like a knife. I struggle to keep my breath even and my eyes dry as I continue to pull the claw out. It's like reality hitting us both at the same time. We both knew there was something wrong with him. That he was sick and not in good shape. But this was just another piece of reality that made it all seem so definite. I struggle to keep it together as I finally get it all the way out. He's shaking and whimpering slightly from the pain but I feel that it is much more than the physical pain that is hurting him. I let out a shaky breath as I continue to wipe the blood away from his claw and hand. “Okay, um...see if you can retract them.” I whisper.
He takes a deep breath then does as I ask with a painful grunt as they slide the rest of the way in. He lets out the breath he'd been holding in but his eyes closed, still shaking slightly. Wordlessly, I thoroughly clean his hands again and dress them neatly. Once I'm done, I sit in silence with him as we both battle with our thoughts. He doesn't tell me to leave so I don't move a muscle, riding this pain out with him. He finally opens his eyes and picks up a liquor bottle and with trembling hands takes a long sip, coughing a bit. Then he picks up his dog tags and looks at them then looks at me wearily. Without any words, I understand what he is saying. I'm tired and broken. I gently touch his arm. “Rest.” I whisper.
He looks at me then shakily lays down slowly as I steady his head and keep it from hitting the rail. I help him the rest of the way into bed and pull the covers over his shoulders. I touch his forehead then get up to let him rest. As I go to leave, I jump slightly when a rough hand grabs my own. I look into the broken eyes staring back at me, wordlessly pleading me to stay. Understanding, I sit on the edge of his bed, firmly grabbing one of his hands in my own while the other I gently rest on his forehead, lightly stroking it in a comforting manner. It's in that moment that a lot of things are silently communicated between us. Some things can't be spoken in words. They're too deep. Too painful to describe in words and can only be felt. It was hard to embrace this kind of pain with someone but no one deserved to face it alone. He already has to to some degree as there were areas that I couldn't go with him, demons that I couldn't face.
“I gave you a family.”
“And they're gone now.”
I close my eyes and grip Logan's hand a little harder remembering his words. I knew the pain behind those words all too well. I could only hope that he knew he wasn't alone. He finally gives into sleep and I feel him relax.
In the moonlight, as shadows flicked by from the train, I look up and silently pray that this isn't where it would end. That by some miracle we would make it out. That something would finally...give. Something. Anything. If not for me, for my friend that meant so much to me. I only had a strand of hope left and I held on to it for dear life.
“I'm still here.” I whisper so softly that I don't think he hears.
As tears fall silently, I lean down and kiss his forehead then lean my head down against him. The last thing I remember before sleep took me, I feel his hand squeeze mine slightly.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3: Let's Talk
The first few nights at the mansion were...awkward to say the least. I barely came out of my room and had the hardest processing what was going on. I kept expecting somebody to come through the door at any moment and drag me away to the testing room. I looked for any and every reason to not trust the people that had saved me, which wasn't fair because that been nothing but nice and welcoming. I, however, remained silent and refused to talk as much as possible. Even when I met the professor I only said my name. He was still kind though and said that I could take all the time that I needed to adjust and assured for the hundredth time that day that I was safe. They gave me space, which I appreciated. I felt bad being so defensive but I didn't know what to do and I sure as hell didn't want to be hurt again.
Today was going to be the first time I ventured out. I had wanted to talk to the professor about me being here I didn't really see a point. I had taken care of myself just fine until I was captured and though I was very grateful, I didn't really see the point of me staying here. All these kids had special powers and me...well, I was definitely a mutant but the only thing that I could do-or at least know that I could do-was not die. I had no purpose of being there.
As I ventured out into the big hallway, I was suddenly very intimidated by how big the place was and couldn't remember where I was. Looking around confused, I turned around too quickly and nearly walked into someone. I stopped suddenly with a gasp and realized it was the man with the claws. “Sorry.” I mumble as I look down.
He gives me a look then asks, “You lost, kid?”
I take a nervous step back. “Kind of...” I look around. “Yeah, I, um, I was looking for the professor's office. I wanted to speak with him...if he's not busy.” I confess.
“Mmm.” He grunts then signals for me to walk with him. “His office is on my way. I can show ya.” He offers. I bite my lip then nervously follow him, not making a sound as we walk down the hallway. It doesn't take long to get there but it was bit of a maze, it'd take some time for me to remember. When he stops in front of the door, he smirks then says, “This is it.”
“Thank you.” I whisper shyly in which he responds with a small smile. I stand in front of the big doors, suddenly very nervous and I'm about to back out when the man takes the liberty of knocking on the door for me. I give him a horrified look which makes him smirk and chuckle softly.
“Come in.” A voice on the other side says.
The man opens the door and waves. “Hey, someone wanted to see ya.” He informs the elderly man sitting at the table then nods his head towards me.
The professor looks up and gives me a warm, welcoming smile. “Anna, come on in.” I take a step forward then unsurely look at the man who escorted me who simply nods for me to go in.
“Thank you, Logan.” He smiles at the man who smiles back then looks at me.
“See ya, kid.” He says then exits the room.
Feeling very awkward and out of place, I rub my arms as I stand in front of the elderly man. “Please, take a seat and make yourself at home, Anna.” He nods towards the chair in front of his desk. I do as I'm told and take a seat, wrapping my arms around me protectively. “So, what can I do for you?” He asks kindly.
“Oh, I...I-” I stumble over my words terribly and am hit with anxiety.
“It's alright, Anna. Take your time. Breathe. Think.” He instructs and I close my eyes as I obey what he says.
I let out a slow breath. “I'm sorry, I'm just really nervous.” I confess.
Professor smiles comfortingly. “It's alright. No reason to be nervous. Why don't we start with the fact that you feel scared, out of place, and feel like you have no purpose here.”
I let out a nervous laugh and push my hair behind my ear. “Yeah, that about sums it up.” I confess. “I'm not trying to be ungrateful...I'm just trying to understand. My mutation...the only thing I know is that I haven't aged since 1943, I heal too fast, and so far, I haven't been able to die. But that's...that's as exciting as I get. There's nothing more to me.”
“On the contrary, Anna, there's much more to you than you realize but first I want to explain why you are here.” He motions to around the room. “This place is not just for recruiting extraordinary mutants and training their gifts. It's a refuge. A place to rest and find a family. I place to insure you that you're not alone in this big world.”
I swallow hard, it couldn't be as great as it sounded to be. “That sounds great and all, professor but I still don't understand why I'm here.”
“You here because you choose to be. Nothing is keeping you from walking out those doors. Understood? Now, we rescued you simply because you were in trouble. You were intended to be turned into a weapon. Trust me, the plans for you were not good for either you or for others.” He explains bluntly and I tremble a bit thinking about it. “But, your future is different now, Anna. You can move on, start over.”
“It's not that easy.” I whisper.
“It's not.” He agrees. “But, it is possible.”
Tears threaten my eyes. “How?”
He smiles softly. “One day at a time.” He says kindly. “As I said, Anna, there is more to you than you know. I am sure what you have had to endure was anything but easy but there is still purpose and there is still life. Not just surviving but living. That's why I wanted you to be here.”
The sincerity of his voice made the tears silently slide down my face. I was still very conflicted but I made the decision to at least try and see what the old man was talking about. “Alright. Alright, I'll try it out.” I finally say.
“Good.” He says happily. “Take all the time that you need and remember that nothing is forcing you to stay here. In fact, we have a couple who come and go as they please. And they know this, that they're always welcome back. Same goes for you.”
I nod, feeling relieved and grateful. “Thank you.” I whisper. “For everything.”
“You're welcome.” He smiles then lights up as he thinks of something. “There is one thing that I recommend doing. A person that I recommend talking too.”
“Okay.” I reply, a bit nervous as to what and who it is. “Who?”
“The man that escorted you over here. Logan. I believe he would be a great person for you to talk too.” He says a bit excited.
I give him an incredulous look. “Uh...no offense, Professor, but...he doesn't really look like the talking type.”
“He's not.” He agrees with a chuckle. “However, he is the one out of everyone else that understands what you are going through as he has gone through the same horrors and worse. If there is anyone who can help and understand you, it is him. And I believe that you'll be even able to help him one day as well as many others.”
Still doubtful and unsure how any of that would work, I shrug. “Okay. I'll try.” I say sincerely.
The professor smiles and nods excitedly. “Things are looking up, Anna. You'll see.”
A few hours later, I'm startled away by the sound of a buzz coming from Logan's phone. I sit up, groaning from my stiff and achy muscles. I couldn't been there for than a couple of hours and wondered why his phone would be going off. My hope of getting to it before he woke up was ruined when he opened up his bloodshot eyes sleepily. “It's just your phone. Go back to sleep.” I mumble but instead he yawns then stretches and looks at his phone.
He sighs then slowly gets up. “Gotta run to do.” He says sleepily.
I give him a disapproving look. “You should get some rest. You can miss this one.” I try to persuade him but of course, he shakes his head no.
“Nah, might as well take it. I'm up.” He says then gives me a look. “You been here all this time?”
I yawn myself and nod. “Yeah, I guess I fell asleep.” I say then stand up and stretch which causes my bones to crack.
“Your bones are crackin'. Gettin' old.” He teases with bit of a smirk.
I scoff a bit. “Makes two of us.” I retort playfully while popping my back and earning a light snicker from Logan. “I'll see you in a few.” I say with a quick smile then head into the kitchen area.
Caliban is in there and from the look on his face, something is about to go down. “What's that look for?” I ask curiously.
He gives me bit of a glare. “I'm about to confront him about the things we talked about earlier. I wasn't going too. I felt bad and was going to let it go but after that last seizure, I can't.”
“If you value your life, I would leave it alone, Caliban.” I warn as I brew a cup of coffee.
But he stubbornly stands his ground. “No, I'm done being quiet.”
“Cal, let it go. He's had a rough night.” I say as I stir the creamer in my coffee.
“We've all had a rough night, Anna.” He fires back. “A rough year to be exact. Everyday is a pain in the ass.”
“You don't get it.” I shake my head.
“Don't get what?” Logan asks as he limps into the room.
I exchange a look with Caliban, who is ironing Logan's clothes. 'Don't'. I mouth.
Logan between the two of us then grabs his clean shirt from the ironing board. “What's going on?”
Caliban looks from me to Logan, hesitating before he starts. “I don't want to fight but there's things we need to discuss.” I close my eyes and sigh heavily. Here we go.
“What things?” Logan asks nonchalantly as he pours himself a cup of coffee.
“Well, would it be considered nagging if I was to repeat my previous observation that the dose is too low to suppress the seizures.” Caliban says as he hands the bottle to Logan who takes it and gives it a quick glance.
“It's what the guy gave me. Wasn't in a position to make demands.” He says a bit annoyed.
“I almost died this morning. That seizure was...”
“It was barely a minute.” He snaps as he takes a seat next to me.
“It felt a lot longer than a minute. I couldn't breathe. You're less affected. You know he needs a higher dose.” Caliban continues as he fixes himself a cup of coffee. “And I know you got more money squirreled away.”
I look nervously at Logan
“That money's to get us out of here.” Logan replies, trying to keep his cool.
Caliban whips around. “No, not us. You, him, and Anna. You're saving to buy a Sunseeker. 'Sun' is the key word. I hardly see myself cowering below decks like Nosferatu, do you? Folding your underpants and making him spotted dick.”
“So glad I know what that is.” I mumble to myself as I sip myself, earning a brief glance from Logan.
Caliban walks around and pulls out a silver bullet. My blood goes cold. “Found this in your pocket.” He sniffs it quickly. “Adamantium.” My breathing picks up as I cover my mouth with my hand. Logan quickly snatches it away from him angrily. “If you are planning to blow your brains out, could you wait til' you're out on the high seas? I just mopped these floors.” He says sarcastically.
“Cal,” I warn with a glare.
“I don't need this shit.” Logan growls and turns back to his coffee.
Caliban pauses then slowly sits down beside him. “A year ago, you asked me to help you. And God knows I've tried. Anna has too.” He looks at me with a softer look then back to Logan. “But we can't help you, Logan, not really...if you're not going to talk to us.” I stare at the table, feeling heavy as I stir my coffee mindlessly as my hands shake a bit. I hated these moments. “We hear you at night, you're not sleeping. You don't wanna talk about that. Or the booze you're drinking. Or the puss you're wiping away from your knuckles.”
“Cal, drop it.” I whisper painfully.
“...or the fresh wounds in your chest. The ones that aren't healing. And I'm pretty sure you don't wanna talk about the fact that you can't read the label on that bottle.” He pauses, causing Logan to look up at him. “It says Ibuprofen.” With that, Logan gets mad and knocks Caliban's mug from his hands.
“That was my favorite mug.” Caliban complains.
“Stay outta my shit.” Logan snaps then yanks up his jacket.
“Something's happening on the inside, you're sick. I can smell it.” Caliban says as Logan hurries to leave.
Without thinking, I reach out and grab Logan's arm. He gives me an angry, hurt look. “Logan, please. We're trying to help you.” I gently plead but he only yanks his arm away.
That sets Caliban off again. “That's another thing, Logan. The way you treat her.” He points to me.
“Caliban, stop.” I warn again, knowing this is a sore subject.
“No, I won't stop, Anna.” He snaps back then looks back at Logan. “She busts her ass off for you and you can't show the least bit of respect.”
“Caliban, knock it off.” I say again loudly, trying to get him to stop.
“You mope around because of the people you lost. Well, what about Anna, huh? What about what she's lost? What about the shit she has to put up with? You know she's the one that's still stayed around for your sorry ass. She's the one who loses sleep, trying to keep your nightmares away. She's the one who stays up and worries herself sick wondering if you're still alive when you don't come home for days at a time or you sleep too late. She's tried her hardest to be there for you only to what?” I freeze awkwardly, not wanting to be on the spot like this.
Logan is seething now and I can see the hurt in his eyes. Caliban went too far. Way too far even though I knew he meant well. But he didn't know Logan like I did. He didn't mean half the things he did and the way he treated me or anyone for that matter was not intentional.
Surprisingly though Logan doesn't say anything in response and storms out of the kitchen. “Dammit, Cal, that was too far.” I fuss then run after Logan.
“Logan!” I call after him but he ignores me and walks faster to the car. “Logan, please wait!” I grab his arm, forcing him to look at me, his eyes full of anger.
“I told you. You don't like it here then leave.” He growls.
I stand my ground. “And I told you that I ain't going nowhere.” I fire back stubbornly. “Now Caliban may have gone too far in there but he's not wrong. These are serious things we need to confront together. Not just you. Not just me. Not just him. All of us. This isn't living, Logan.” I pause and let out a sigh, trying to keep myself together. “You have got to stop acting like you're alone.”
Logan gives me a long, weary look before yanking his door open and plopping in but I catch his door before he can close it. “Let it go, Anna.” He says in a warning tone but I linger.
Words were never our strong suit so I try my best to communicate how I feel before I let the door go. “Be careful. Please.” I whisper, deciding not to push him farther than he's already been pushed.
I can see in his eyes that he's still hurt and angry but he doesn't say anything else as he slams the door and speeds off.
I watch him a long time after he's gone then finally decide to go back in. He'd be out a long time tonight. As I go back into the kitchen, I cross my arms when I see Caliban. “That was too far.”
“Really? I didn't think it was far enough. Thought I was quite nice actually.” He retorts as he sweeps up the broken coffee mug.
“You don't know him like I do. He probably didn't receive any of that. If anything it just pissed him off more.”
“Well, I don't regret anything I said because it needed to be said. You know I was right.” He says calmly. I rub my temples as my head begins to pound painfully. “You're stressed out, Anna. You need to take care of yourself too. You're worrying yourself sick. It's not good for you.”
“What's gonna happen? I'm gonna keel over and die?” I scoff. “No such luck.”
Caliban gives me a stern look then sets the broom against the wall. “Look, I know how much you care about Logan and Charles and I'm sorry I said some of the things I did but as I said, things need to change.”
“I hear you. I really do. I know he does too. We just...don't know how.” I say a bit helplessly.
Caliban nods, finally softening a bit. “Well, you can start by getting a good night's sleep. And I mean sleep, not staying up worrying about him.”
“I can't sleep. I've gotta take care of Charles.” I say as I get but he points me towards my bed. “No, I am taking Charles tonight. You're going to sleep whether you do so willingly or I have to knock you out. Now, off you go.”
“Yes, Mom.” I say sarcastically but finally relent and walk towards to my bed. Suddenly, my heavy eyelids say it's not going to be hard to fall asleep.
Caliban smirks and shakes his head. Remembering something, I turn around. “Cal,” he looks at me curiously. I bite my lip and shift my weight to one side. “the bullet you found. Was...was that the only one?”
Caliban sighs, understanding where I'm going. “Yes.” He replies quietly.
“He was going to...” I trail off, not able to finish the sentence.
Caliban puts one hand on my shoulder and shakes his head. “Don't go there, Anna.” He warns gently then guides me to my bed. “Get some rest.”
I finally nod, trying my best to block out those awful thoughts. But even as I drift off to sleep, I'm haunted by new nightmares. And this time, there's no one to wake me up.
I wake up a few hours later to someone gently shaking me awake. “Anna.” A deep voice calls my name.
“Mmmm.” I roll over, swatting the hand away.
“Anna, come on. Wake up.” The voice says as he smooths my hair back from my face.
“Fuck off.” I mumble which earns a slight snicker and I can practically see his smirk, now knowing who it is.
“Come on. We need to talk.” He nudges me again.
“K. First things first. I hate you.” I grumble with my eyes closed, the corners of my mouth twitching.
“Yeah, join the club.” He says slightly amused.
I open my eyes and stretch. “What's going on?” I ask curiously, noting the time in the morning.
“I have to go away for a few days. There's a job, it's gonna bring in a lot of money but I have to go to North Dakota.” He explains.
“What?” My eyes snap open, suddenly wide awake.
“It's fine. It's a girl and her mother. They needed a ride to the border.” He tries to assure me.
“Why you, Logan? There's plenty other people capable of making that drive. Hell, why don't they just fly?” I ask, sensing there's something more.
“It's complicated.” He replies.
I sit up in bed. “You're not able to make that drive, Logan. Not by yourself.”
“I'll be fine. I'll stop along the way-”
“No. NO. Logan, what the hell is going on?” I ask angrily. I can tell he's hiding something and that thought alone upsets me.
He sighs. “These people...they're in trouble. This lady...she came up to yesterday at the cemetery begging me to help her. Said she was in trouble. I ignored her, blew her off.” He pauses, looking ahead. “Later on this asshole gets in and starts asking if I've seen her. I told him no, to get the fuck out of my car but he seemed pretty persistent.”
“Where do you think he's from?”
Logan hands me a card and when I read the name on it, I curse loudly and throw it down. “Shit.” I curse angrily and Logan nods in agreement.
“Yeah, that's what I said.” He sighs then continues. “The woman's name is Gabriella. She got me to come over to her hotel last night. Didn't know who it was, thought it was another pick up. I was about to walk out but she nearly passed out from a gunshot wound. I got her inside and kept begging me to help her. Said they wanted to kill her and take her daughter.”
“Do you know why?”
Logan shrugs. “No. She didn't say. But she offered me twenty grand there, thirty back.” My eyes widen a bit. “That'd be enough to get us out of here.”
“Yeah, but is it worth it, Logan? That's a long way and you know people with Alkali aren't meant to be fucked with.”
He thinks for a moment while rubbing his face. “I know and I wouldn't just do it for the hell of it. You know that. But, we need the money. And if I do this, we can.”
I close my eyes and sigh heavily. I didn't like it. I didn't like it one bit but what else were we going to do? “Alright. Alright.” I finally relent then look at him. “But you're not going alone. I'm going with you. Help you drive.”
I know by the look on his face that he doesn't want me to go. “I don't want you getting mixed up in this.”
“Well, I already am so we're both just gonna have to deal with it.” I reply a tad bitterly as I pull my shoes on. “Plus, I'm tired of being cooped up in here.”
As hesitant as he is, Logan finally agrees to let me go with him. I spend the next hour preparing for our trip and pack clothes and other necessities. I inform Caliban briefly of what's going on while Logan tells Charles and gets him set up before we leave. Once I make sure Logan is out of the room, I go to Caliban and hand him a bottle.
“Where did you get this?” Caliban asked surprised.
“I've kept it hidden for emergencies. It should be enough to last us while we're gone. There's one more bottle under my bed.” I confess.
Caliban shakes his head though he looks relieved. I thought I was about to get it but only claps my shoulder and says, “Good luck, Anna. Try not to kill him along the way.”
I smile and nod then head out to the car. Logan comes out, looking like he's in bit of a rush. “We gotta go.” He says then quickly gets in the car. I follow him and quickly slide in the passenger side.
Once we're on the road, I begin to relax a little bit even though the situation was a bit tense. “I kinda like this. It'll be like old times.” I try to lighten up.
Logan gives me a quick glance. “If things go south...”
“Then we'll deal with it.” I interrupt him then look out the window for the remainder of the ride to the hotel.
No matter how hard I tried I couldn't shake this feeling that this wasn't going to be a simple ride. It was too easy and nobody from Alkali ever just let somebody off the hook.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4: New Faces
Needless to say, I didn't talk to Logan right away, despite Professor X assuring me that it'd be okay. It wasn't personal, I didn't talk to anyone right away. I was still pretty closed off though people had actually started trying to talk to me. Not about anything too heavy but casual conversations, the ones I wasn't really good at but for the sake of promising that I would try, I tried my best to be polite. I got better at remembering names and did my best to stay out of my room. I connected more with the teachers more than the students. Most likely due to my age which also became easier after I revealed my age after getting tired of being mixed in with the kids. I wasn't trying to be above anyone but you could definitely tell there was an age difference.
I wish I could say the day I started to Logan was on casual, good terms but it was anything but. My nightmares, to say the least, were out of control. I would stay up days at a time until I couldn't help it anymore and even then I'd only get a few hours. Needless to say, I was very cranky during that time and people learned very quickly to stay out of my way. Was it what I really wanted? Yes and no. I just wanted to sleep one good night but it wasn't happening. I tried talking to the professor but it didn't go well, much to my dislike because I hated disrespecting him. But he told me himself that he wouldn't be able to help much in that area and I felt even more frustrated and helpless than I did before.
So the day I went off on some students was my breaking point. I was sleeping in the rec room after watching some flick on TV when I got a very rude awakening. Some students thought it'd be funny to throw cold water on me while I was in the middle of a bad nightmare. They were effective in waking me up but man did they regret it. I was not happy. At all. In fact, you could barely say that I was rational. I went off on those students, said a lot of stuff that I didn't mean and that poor rec room...it was trashed. After I scared those poor students off, I took my rage off on the room and trashed it completely. By the time I was done with it, it looked like a tornado had gone through it. I knew I was going to be in big trouble but there in the moment I just didn't care.
I slid down the wall and leaned my head against it, trying to catch my breath. A few of the teachers came down and stared in horror. They tried talking to me but I had nothing to say. I didn't move from my spot and when they tried to move me themselves I yanked my arm away and warned them to back off. They did for a while until he came in.
As I heard heavy footsteps crunch on the glass, I clenched my eyes closed and squeezed a piece of broken glass, cutting into my flesh brutally. “Go. Away.” I say through clenched teeth.
“I come in peace.” Logan says while plopping on the couch then pops a cigar in his mouth. “Like what you done with the place.” I give him the meanest glare I can manage in which he responds with a small smirk as he blows smoke into the air.
I roll my eyes then set my head against the wall again. “I'll clean it all up and apologize later. I just want to be left alone.”
“What set ya off, kid?” He asks curiously.
“I'm not a fuckin' kid, alright? I'm eighty years old.” I snap at him.
He raises his eyebrows and shrugs. “Ya look good for your age.” He says sarcastically. I give him another glare and flip him off which causes him to chuckle a bit. We fall into silence and I begin to tremble a bit from being cold and wet.
Logan notices and hands me his jacket which I hesitantly take but he nods, letting me know that it's okay. “That's the second time you've loaned me your jacket. I never thanked you for the first.” I say, my anger starting to leave. “Thank you.”
He nods. “Least you got ya clothes on this time” He teases with a small smirk.
I start to laugh a bit but it quickly turns bitter as I remember why. It causes me to cling to the wall a little tighter.
Logan gives me a look as he notices my change in demeanor. “Is that what's keeping ya up at night?” He asks tenderly. I don't answer at first but eventually I nod. “Happens a lot, huh?”
I let out a shaky sigh. “Every fuckin' night.” I reply tiredly.
“Mmmm.” He nods while blowing out smoke. “Well, I wish I could tell you it gets easier but it may get worse before it gets better.”
Lovely. I look at him curiously. “You have them too?”
“Mmm hmmm.” He mumbles quietly.
“What are yours about?” I blurt out, not really thinking that it might be too personal.
He stares at me for a while then shrugs. “Everything. War, killing people, being experimented on, there's a variety to choose from.”
I wince, understanding. “Me too. The camps, gas chambers, losing friends and family.” I shift into a more comfortable position facing him. “The experiments have taken the cake lately though. It's every night. I feel like I'm dying all over again.”
“What kind of experiments did they do?” Logan asks carefully.
I tense up, hesitating at first but then choose to be honest. “You name it, they did it.” I say bitterly. “A lot of it came down to them trying to see why I wasn't dying and how I healed so fast. They'd record how long it'd take me to come back and how fast I would heal. They'd take all these tests and biopsies but I was never sure what they were doing with them. All I remember was that none of it was painless.” I sigh deeply. “People are so eager to test on people who are different. They never think of how painful it is to be the guinea pig.”
Logan pays close attention, looking deep in thought. “Sucks, kid.” He whispers. Coming from anyone else, I would've rolled my eyes but coming from him...I knew that he felt my pain and understood more than I know. What I respected even more was he didn't try to fix me like the rest of them. A fact that I didn't let go unnoticed.
“What? No, 'don't worry, you're safe.' or 'it's gonna be okay, you'll get through this.'?” I say more sarcastically than I intended.
Logan shrugs then gives me a look. “No use in saying shit you already know. Not much else to say.” He takes a another puff of his cigar. “Fact is that isn't a cure for nightmares. You may always have them. That's what sucks about living through all that hell. There's a price to it. Gotta learn to live with it.”
“And what do you do to live it, Logan?” I ask softly.
He thinks for a moment. “Take it all as it comes. Accept it. Accept that bad things happened, I am what I am, and I did what I had to do. Doesn't excuse or erase anything but you can't change it so all there's left to do is move forward.”
I took a moment to think about Logan's words and oddly enough they are helpful and I understand them. I don't have much to say so I sigh and say, “Sorry about the rec room. And for going off on those kids.”
Logan smirks. “Eh, serves em' right. Makes you feel any better last person that woke me up from a nightmare got stabbed.”
My eyes widen a bit but I can't help but smirk and shake my head. “You're right. It does make me feel better.” I joke lightly then slowly stand up. “Guess I better get this cleaned up.”
Logan puts out his cigar then wordlessly begins to help me clean up. As we cleaned up, I was surprised that I began to unwind a bit and relax around him. It seemed weird because I was terrified of him at first. Still was slightly to be honest. But a weird sensation fell over me. I felt safe and I couldn't understand why. I'd known the man less than an hour and the advice that he gave me wasn't exactly typical feel good advice. It was real and raw, which is what made me respect him.
After we got everything cleaned up, we sit in the rec room next to the window and stay there until the sun rises. We didn't talk and I waited for him to leave but he never did. The more I got used to his presence, the more I could breathe and my thoughts quieted. When the sun was well into the sky, I finally realized how tired I was in every sense and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to sleep and I didn't care what dreams what came my way.
“You should get some sleep.” Logan eventually says, noticing my droopy eyes.
I yawned and stretched while nodding in agreement. “I'm gonna try.” I reply then stand up. I realize that I'm still wearing his jacket and take it off. “Uh, thanks.” I say a tad awkwardly as I hand him the jacket. He nods then takes it. I look up at him. “For everything.” I say, hoping to express my gratitude.
Logan smiles slightly and nods again. “Get some sleep, kid.” He says quietly.
I smile softly then leave him at the window. On the way to my room, I run into the professor. As always, he greets me with me a warm smile and acts as though I hadn't just gone crazy. “Good morning, Anna. Or should I rather say, good evening?” He chuckles and I join him.
“Yeah, I, uh...haven't gone to sleep yet but I think I'm finally ready for bed. Only so much your body can take before you pass out.” I reply lightly then turn serious. “Hey, I'm sorry about last night. I didn't mean to go all psycho on you guys.”
“No harm done. All is forgiven. Though I do believe you quite startled some of the students. I can safely say that they will not pull any more shenanigans on you again.” He says amused.
I laugh, silently feeling proud of myself. Serves them right. “I'll apologize to them later. I'm gonna get to bed.”
Professor smiles. “You seem to be in bit of a better mood.” He observes openly.
I shift to one side. “Yeah, um, Logan came down after everything happened and we talked for a few minutes.”
His eyes light up a bit. “Ah, and was he able to give you some good advice?” He asks.
“No.” I say bluntly with a laugh. “It wasn't your typical life saving advice. In fact, anyone else may have been offended. I know I almost was. But, he was honest and real. Think that's what I really needed.”
Professor nods with a smile. “Sometimes all we need is somebody to relate. One of the greatest fears people face, especially with your type of mutation, is being alone. It's always comforting to realize that we are not alone as we thought.” He says wisely and I nod in agreement. “I highly encourage you to continue being around Logan. Not many others would agree as he is a loner and is not always easy to get along with. But, he cares deeply about the people closest to him. He just doesn't always show it as much as others expect. However, I think you would understand that.”
“You're right. I do.” I say quietly.
Professor offers one more smile then turns to keep going his way. “Good night, Anna.”
“Good night, professor.” I reply then finally get back to my bedroom.
Once there, I collapse onto my bed and fall into a dreamless sleep. The perfect kind.
“Whatcha thinking about?” Logan asks, bringing me out of my thoughts.
“The night I went psycho on all those kids and trashed the rec room.” I reply, twisting in my seat.
Logan smirks. “That was a long time ago.” He says, keeping his eyes on the road.
“Yeah. I was surprised I didn't get in more trouble than I did.” I say laughing softly. “
“You were the new kid. They made exceptions.” Logan replies.
“I guess. Rogue and Bobby didn't come near me for months though.” I laugh, thinking about how they would very intentionally avoid me after that incident.
The corner's of Logan's mouth twitch. “Bobby was always a chicken shit anyway.”
“Ah lighten up, he wasn't that bad. You were just protective over Rogue.” I point out.
Logan becomes quiet and focused on the road. “Marie.” He corrects a bit somberly.
My face falls and I give him a sympathetic look. “She was a good kid, Logan.” I say softly. “They all were.”
Logan remains quiet but you could see the pain in his eyes. I should've known better though. It was a tender topic for us all. “Yeah.” He whispers so softly I barely hear it.
I let out a small sigh. “Do you ever wonder-”
“No.” He interrupts firmly. Not really a snap but I could hear the warning in his voice. Still too soon. Some things you just had to let go. He gives me a look, hoping I understand and I offer a faltering smile and gently squeeze his arm then look back to the road just in time for us to be pulling into a run down building. “We're here.” Logan announces.
“Fancy.” I say sarcastically, making a face.
I get out with Logan and walk with him to the door. I felt it something was wrong the minute I got out and I know Logan felt the same way by the way he looked at me. We both freeze when see the door has been broken into. I take a gun out of my belt, exchange a brief look then follow him inside. “Shit.” He curses under his breath.
As I come around him, I flinch slightly when I see a woman slumped over in a chair covered in blood. “Oh no.” I sigh heavily and lower my gun. Logan huffs, frustrated then starts looking around the room for any others. I stay alert, looking around for any signs of the people that did this. I see Logan pause and pick something up. It's a cell phone, which turns out to belong to the woman. She was in the middle of a text and the last thing she wrote but didn't get to send sent chills up my spine.
“They're here. Please hurry.”
It was something you'd see in a bad horror movie. I felt really shitty, like if we had only been there earlier, we would've made it. “Don't.” Logan says, reading my thoughts. What can I say? He knows me too well.
I sigh deeply as I close her eyes then pick her up and move her to the bed. “Sorry.” I whisper sadly then pull a sheet over her head. I exchange a look with Logan, who looks sort of lost. “What now?”
He shrugs. “We were never here and there was never a job.” He says then walks out hurriedly.
I follow Logan and get in the car. He speeds off, clearly agitated. “What about her daughter?” I ask.
“What about her? They took her. Lady said that was the plan. To kill her and take her daughter. I don't know why. Don't really care to know.” He says as he drives.
“You're not heartless, Logan.” I say gently.
“No, but it ain't our business. I was only ever the driver. That's it. Nothing more. It's not on us.” He replies firmly. “Besides, you didn't want me to take the job in the first place. You were right. It wasn't worth it. Now we don't have to worry about it.”
A pinch of conflicted emotion hits me. I really did feel bad for the girl but at the same time, I was relieved. If it were back a few years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated. But now...now I was nervous just riding in the car. There was too much to lose and after all that I've lost...well, there was no one that could ever be worth it.
We ride the rest of the way in silence and I find myself drifting off to sleep. While asleep, I see faces that I knew. Friends. Foes. Strangers. All a blur mixed in with memories flying by fast. A new face though is of a little girl being carried away against her will, screaming and kicking, crying out for help. I wanted too. I ran after her but it was like I was running in slow motion. I couldn't keep up. I couldn't-
“Anna, wake up.” I feel a rough hand shake me awake. I jolt awake and jump in my seat, ready to fight or fun. “Hey, hey!” The hand grabs my arm and I jump back like a snake was ready to bite me. But it's only Logan, looking at me half concerned. “We're here.” He says as he puts the car in park.
I settle down and catch my breath, wiping the sweat from my brow. “Sorry.” I mumble.
Logan gives me a look and then releases my arm, letting out a shaky breath. “Looks like we'll be here for a while more.”
I swallow a little hard. “Don't worry about it. We'll figure it out. We always do.” I say hoarsely.
Logan stares out the window for a moment, looking a bit frustrated and lost. I grab his arm. “Hey,” I say, forcing him to look at me. “we'll figure it out, okay? All this,” I motion around the site. “is temporary. It won't last forever. I promise.”
He looks at me for a long moment and I can see the doubt in his eyes. “Yeah.” He whispers then slowly gets out of the car.
I sigh deeply then get out myself and slam the door shut. Caliban comes out, decked out in all his sun clothes. I can practically hear his questioning thoughts.
“Yeah?” Logan replies, opening a door.
“What happened? Something go wrong?” Caliban asks.
“The job was wrong to begin with.” Logan says frustrated then stomps inside.
Caliban turns to me but I hold up a hand, not really wanting to talk about it either. “I'll fill you in later.” I say then follow Logan inside.
We're about to go check on Charles when Caliban calls Logan outside. Logan ignores him at first but then he sounds more frantic the more he calls his name. He gives me a questioning look and I shrug. “Go ahead. I'll be with Charles.”
With that, we part ways and I go over to Charles' place. I freeze when I find his door already opened. I quickly run inside. “Charles? Charles!” I practically yell frantically.
“Anna!” A cheerful voice greets and I whip around to see Charles smiling excitedly.
I let go of the breath that I was holding and go over and give him a hug. “I saw the door open...you scared the shit out of me.”
“Nonsense. It's alright.” He says calmly then let's me go. “Laura is here!”
My eyebrows furrow together in confusion. “Laura? Who's Laura?” I ask.
“She's the new mutant I was telling you about. She's here!” He says excitedly.
I sigh. So it was going to be one of those days. “Charles, there's no one here.” I try to explain gently.
“But she's right over here. Come! See for yourself.” He insists then wheels excitedly away.
“Charles-” I turn around but then freeze in my tracks. There, in front of me, a young girl stands up and approaches cautiously. Her face is stoic but her body language says that she's ready to fight any second. She's no more than eleven or twelve years old but even I can tell that she's not that threatened by me.
Charles looks at me excitedly.
“Anna, this is Laura.”
Chapter 5: Chapter 5: Didn't See That Coming
My alarm blared louder than usual and I jolted up in bed. Annoyed, I looked over to the right and saw the angry red numbers flashing 5:30am. I hit the clock hard, taking my frustration out on it then rolled over. I usually didn't get up until later, depending out how late my nightmares kept me up, but this morning was exception. This morning, I was going to attempt to join everyone for breakfast. It was not my idea....at all. Actually, it was Logan's, much to my surprise. I didn't take him for a morning person but he said that it could be a small stepping stone. So I figured, well, you gotta start somewhere. Might as well try here.
However, when I finally got up, I was regretting my decision already. I was grumpy and knew that coffee would definitely have to be a first before I spoke to anybody. I combed through my hair briefly, brushed my teeth and face then threw on a bathrobe and slippers. I sighed at my reflection. I looked as good as I felt. Rough. But, this was as good as it was gonna get today.
As I made my way into the kitchen, I noticed that I was the first one this morning and wondered how and why. I shrugged to myself, not completely disappointed. Instead, I made a beeline to the coffee maker and quickly brewed a pot, deciding that others may want some as well. My first act of kindness of the day. As I perched myself at the table, I was in deep thought when Logan came in. Noticing me, he raised his eyebrows a deep. Maybe I gave him a look that I didn't really mean or something but he raised his hands in surrender and wordlessly turn to make himself a cup of coffee. As he leaned against the counter, he raised his cup in a cheers kind of way, nodded towards me and silently sipped his coffee. The corner of my lips twitched as I turned back to my coffee. He was a smart man.
Soon, others made their way down, mostly teachers like Storm, Jean, and Cyclops. They smiled at me kindly, saying a quick greeting before turning to get their cups of coffee and breakfast. I was kind of amused at the way everyone seemed to give me my space. I must've had one heck of a look on my face. Or maybe I just didn't seem like a morning person. I mean, that's correct but still.
I'll never forget though when Bobby, Kitty, and Rogue made their way down and were chatting happily. Much too cheerful for my sake but I kept my mouth. These were the kids that poured water on me. It took a good month for them to even come near me after that. But, I tried my best to be civil and had actually been able to hold a conversation with Rogue. She was a sweet kid and I didn't mind running into her in the halls. Logan had introduced us and I knew right away that he was fond of her and I figured, a friend of Logan could be a friend of mine. They were very few people that I trusted there but Logan was the main one and I, for the most part, trusted his judgment. Her boyfriend, however, got on my nerves. I didn't hate him but I didn't really like him either and that morning, was not the morning to aggravate me.
I don't remember what he completely said but it caused me to squeeze my coffee cup a little harder. He smirks and says, “Good morning, Anna, you look-”
“If the world is ending, keep talking. Otherwise, fuck off, I'm enjoying my coffee.” I cut him off grumpily with a glare then take another sip of my coffee.
Needless to say, I caused heads to turn and earned surprised looks with my colorful language. Rogue's eyes grew wide and looked between us nervously. Even Logan raised his eyebrows at me, the corners of his mouth twitching.
“Anna...” Storm scolded in a disapproving tone in which I shrugged.
Bobby, however, raised his hands in surrender, nodded, and said, “Ok...understood.” It was comical to say the least the way he backed off and went to quickly making his breakfast.
Logan smirked then nods towards the others. “I like her.” He says amused then tips his coffee cup towards me again then leaves the room.
That broke the tension in the room with a few chuckles and head shakes. Even Rogue started laughing and shrugged as Bobby gave her a look. Needless to say, nobody ever bothered me again in the morning and they always, ALWAYS, waited for me to finish my coffee first before talking to me.
“Charles...” I say unsure, looking between and Laura. “What the hell is going on?”
Charles moves excitedly towards me. “It's alright, Anna. This is Laura. This is the mutant that I was telling you about. The one I've been communicating with. She's-”
“What the fuck is she doing here, Charles? Do you have any idea how much trouble we're in?” I say heated.
“It's alright, Anna-”
I lose my temper then. “No, it's not fuckin' alright, Charles!” I slam my hand on the table, causing Laura to jump slightly. “Her mom was dead when we got to the hotel. These people aren't fuckin' around!” I throw the card Logan showed me earlier in his lap. “Alkali is involved. They're the exact people we need to avoid!”
“I know, Anna. That's why we need to help her-”
“We can't fuckin' afford to help her!” I yell at him, my emotions getting the best of me. I sigh heavily, trying to pull myself together. I turn to Laura. “Look, kid, you climbed in the wrong trunk-”
Laura gives me a look but Charles grabs my arm. “She needs our help, Anna. You were going to help them before, don't back out now.” He pleads. I run my hand over my face, trying to figure this situation out. My humanity conflicting with the reality of the situation.
“We need to talk to Logan. Now.” I say sternly.
“Yes, of course.” He replies calmly then heads for the door. “Come, Laura.” He calls to the girl who eyes me cautiously then trails after him.
I follow them, feeling anxiety rise up. What the hell had we gotten ourselves into?
A whole load of shit, I answer myself as I walk outside and see Logan talking to a man I recognize. One that I haven't seen in years and had no intention on seeing again. I see Logan holding his robotic hand, a sly smile on the man's face. I was about to intervene when Laura all the sudden picks up a pipe and chucks it at the man's head as hard as she can with a yell, knocking him out. She throws another one at Logan, who narrowly misses it but catches it easily.
Logan, who looks confused, is about to retaliate when Charles wheels out in front. “Logan, Logan! This is Laura!” He says as excitedly as he had to me. Logan gives him a confused look then looks at me. “Caliban, come!” He calls to Caliban who comes out in his sun clothes. “This is who I've been telling you about. This is Laura.” Charles turns to Laura. “Come, Laura, it's okay.”
Laura comes out, glaring at the rest of us. Charles keep coaxing her, letting her know it's okay and that she's safe. Before she follows Charles again, she walks over to Logan who is holding a backpack. She gives a nasty glare then snatches it from his hands, picks up a bouncing ball then follows Charles inside.
Caliban and I approach Logan as he turns the man over with his foot. “Looks like ex military. Bounty hunter, maybe?” Caliban questions.
“Worse.” Logan says then hands him the Alkali card.
“Fuckin' scumbag, is what he is.” I growl, earning a look from Logan.
“You know him?” Caliban asks.
“Yeah, I fuckin' know him.”
“Is he by himself?” He asks.
Logan looks around. “Not for long.” He answers then instructs Caliban to dump him somewhere.
“We should end it right here.” I cock my gun at his forehead. “Won't have to worry about it anymore.”
Logan grabs my arm and gives me a long, hard look, one that I return then yank my arm away. Logan repeats his orders, keeping an eye on me.
“What if he wakes up before I get there?” Caliban asks concerned.
Logan kicks him another good time in the head then hands him a gun. “Text me where you are. We'll pick you up.” He replies then stomps off towards inside.
I scoff, frustrated. “So that's your great plan? Send Caliban off by himself?”
“We got things to discuss.”
“Oh sure, now you wanna talk!” I snap but he ignores me then continues on inside.
I turn to the man, Donald Pierce, is his name and give him a few hard kicks myself to his head to take out my hatred and frustration. I then help Caliban throw him in the truck, making sure I'm not careful. I turn to Caliban. “He makes one move, you pull that trigger. Don't hesitate.” I instruct darkly and he nods. I can't see his face but I squeeze his shoulder. “Be careful.” I say then go back inside.
Inside, Logan and Laura were fighting over a backpack and Charles was trying to reason with them. Laura finally won by snatching it away and holding it firmly by her side. “Logan, the woman that you met, that's not her mother.” Charles says.
I give Logan an annoyed look. “So she talks?” Logan asks.
“Yes, well, we're communicating.” Charles replies and I roll my eyes. Great.
“We're communicating.” Logan repeats to himself then snatches a bottle of pills and gives one to Charles. “We gotta outta here. It's not safe here anymore and you can't have an attack out there, you understand?”
Charles waves him off and nods. “Yes, but this is the mutant that I told you about.” I roll my eyes and rub my temples while cursing underneath my breath.
“Shit, she's not a mutant!” Logan growls then stomps away. “Start packin'.” He instructs me and I nod then searching for a bag to start packing food in.
“Yes, she is!” Charles insists.
“What's her gift, Charles? Eating? High throwing?” Logan asks sarcastically.
I throw a can of peaches in the bag a little more forcefully than I intended. Logan pauses and gives me a look. “You got somethin' to say?”
“Oh, I got plenty to say.” I snap then throw another can in the bag. “Like for starters, why didn't you give me a heads up that it was Pierce that was on our ass all this time?”
“Wasn't on the forefront of my mind.” He snaps back.
“Bullshit.” I spat. “Now you sent Caliban out there with him to what? Dump him and hope for the best?”
“Anna-” Charles starts but I cut him off.
“We should've killed him while we had the chance.” I say angrily as I zip the backpack up forcefully.
“I get it, you're pissed!” He yells at me.
“Damn right, I'm fuckin' pissed.” I snatch up another bag. “What the hell were you thinking?”
“You were just fine with it until you found out Pierce was involved. You knew it was trouble to begin with. What changed your mind?”
“I know what Pierce is capable of and the people that he fucks around with-”
“It doesn't matter who it was. Nobody from Alkali is good, you know that!”
Just then the whole place shakes and Laura looks slightly concerned but Charles assures her that it's just a train passing. Before Logan and I can go at each other again, Charles intervenes in between us. “Anna, Logan, let's not argue any more. Especially in front of Laura. That language is not suitable for a child.”
I scoff then roll my eyes, biting my tongue. Logan doing the same but then looks at me. “We need to get out here.” He says seriously.
I throw two bags at him with an attitude. “There's your first round.”
He gives me an angry look then stomps out the room to take it to the car.
I shake my head then run around, packing medicine and trying to keep just the necessities. “Anna.” Charles tries speaking to me but I ignore him first time. “Anna!” He calls again.
“What?!” I snap, turning on my heel to face him.
“You mustn't be so angry with Logan.” He says calmly.
I scoff then go back to throwing things in a bag. “I keep my mouth shut about a lot of things. Bout' time I start speaking my mind around here.”
“I understand that you're upset, Anna, but-”
“But nothing, Charles! We're in serious trouble. Don't you get that?” I say frustrated.
The walls shake again and Charles once again goes to assuring Laura that it's just a train but to me, it seems like he's trying too hard to cover something up. My suspicions are proved to be right when I look at the security cam and see a a lot vehicles driving up. “Shit!” I curse then toss the bag over my shoulder.
Just then Logan comes running into the room. “It's not a choo choo!” He says hurriedly.
“Logan!” I yell over my shoulder while watching the security cam.
“I know.” He says, coming along side me. “We gotta get out of here. Take what you can, I'll get Charles.”
“What about the kid?” I ask.
“She's not our problem.” He says and we exchange a brief look. Again, my conscious is screaming at me but I push it back with a nod and obey Logan's orders.
Charles is still trying to convince Laura to sit down and stay calm when Logan hurriedly starts pushing him towards the door. “We gotta go!”
“What?!” Charles asks confused. “Where?!”
I ignore Charles frantic questions and don't bother looking at the girl who is still sitting at the table, eating her cereal. It confused me a bit, honestly. Normally any kid would be running behind or at quivering in a corner. But no matter, because I wasn't going to let myself get attached. I couldn't. We needed to get out, now. But even I knew it wasn't going to be this easy.
Once out in the car, I through the rest of what I have in the back and help Logan get Charles in the car. I hurriedly get into the passenger seat and slam the door as Logan starts the car. “Logan, Anna, we mustn't forget about Laura.” He begs.
“She's not our problem!” He repeats the same thing as he did. Again, the pang in my chest hits but I ignore it and brace myself for the goose chase about to begin.
Logan speeds out but then more trucks bust down a gate and it seems like in every direction we're surrounded. Logan is cursing loudly as he tries his best to figure a way out but there's simply too many of them. I wouldn't be lying if I didn't say fear was causing my heart to race rapidly. They block us in and I exchange a frantic look with Logan. There's men outside shouting in spanish and holding up a wanted sign for the girl inside.
“Logan...” Charles says worriedly.
“Yeah, I'm thinking.” He says, breathing hard.
“Logan, the child. We mustn't forget about Laura.” Charles insists.
“Please be quiet!” Logan snaps but Charles insists further.
Outside, I lock eyes with a man that was supposed to be dead. I glare into Pierce's eyes as he comes up along the car with a cat like sly grin. “Well, well, look who it is. Anna, long time no see.”
“Yeah, fuck off.” I growl, which causes him to smile even more.
“Haven't changed a bit, I see.” He laughs then looks past me. “Charles Xavier-”
“Where's Caliban?” Logan demands and just then my blood runs cold as I think about my friend and what he was supposed to do.
“America's most wanted octogenarian.” Pierce continues.
“I'm a nonagenarian, actually.” Charles corrects sarcastically.
Logan uses that opportunity to bust out, knocking the person on the other side to the ground. I do the same, taking pleasure in knocking Pierce on his ass. Another man hits me in the side of my head hard, causing me to stumble back into the car. My ear rings for a moment and I feel blood trickle from it as Pierce gets up laughing. “Same old Anna. One hell of a punch and kick, ya got there.” He says as he makes his way over to me.
I'm about to go at him again when a gun cocks at me and I just stare at him. “You know I'm not scared of guns.” I say bored.
“No, course not.” He says slyly, stopping just in front of me. “But I do what you are scared of.” He smiles cockily
I hear Logan snarl as he gets ready to fight but Pierce holds his hands up and orders for the others to halt. “Where's Caliban?!” Logan asks again.
Pierce winks at me then circles around to Logan. “Why don't you tell me where the girl is first? Or I could ask Cue Ball. He seems quite friendly.” Pierce says.
I step in front of Charles door, causing more guns to cock. “Stay away from him.” I warn.
“I told you, she's not here!” Logan snaps at Pierce. “Where's Caliban, motherfucker?”
Pierce is not phased though as he takes a step closer to Logan. “Well, I left him in the same ditch he was gonna leave me in.” He answers darkly, causing the color to drain from Logan's face
Ice water floods through me followed by rage. “You son of a bitch.” I yell as I lunge for him but am quickly knocked on my ass by other men as they kick me while I'm down. The breath is knocked out of me but I quickly regain myself and start fighting back. I briefly see and hear Logan fighting as well and I suddenly become worried as I remember he doesn't heal as easy as I do. I start fighting my way over there but Pierce grabs me by the hair and puts a knife to my neck.
“Haven't you learned to put your hair back yet while ya fight?” He whispers in my ear.
I quickly head butt him hard in the nose which earns a loud grunt from him but he catches me again and throws me down hard into the other soldiers who pin me down. “Damn, Anna. Thought you had more in ya than that.” He laughs then circles over to Logan who was pinned as well, guns cocked all around him.
“Jeez, Wolverine, seeing ya like this just breaks my damn heart.” Pierce says sarcastically.
“As soon as I rip it out of your chest, fuck-stick.” Logan snarls but Pierce cuts him off by kicking him in the head.
“No!” I yell, trying my best to break free. “She's in there, just take her and leave!”
Pierce stalks over to me. “In there?” He points towards our hide out.
“No, in the other fucking hide out.” I reply sarcastically which earns a laugh from Pierce.
“Go get her.” He demands the other men.
He looks down at me with a smile then kicks me hard in the ribs. I yelp, breathing hard, and causing Logan to struggle to get to me but they hold him in place. “Now why'd you'd have to make this so hard, Anna?” He asks, kneeling in front of me.
“What do you have to be such an asshole?” I grumble at him through the pain, catching my breath.
He smiles. “I'm not the asshole, you are. I was looking for one thing and you and Wolvie over there just had to play hard and dodge all the questions, cause a big fuss-”
“You got what you wanted now leave us alone.” I snap at him.
He scoffs then grabs my neck with his robotic hand and squeezes it hard, choking me. “Not everything.” He says.
Logan tries to lunge forward but is knocked back once again. “Leave her alone!” He yells but is cut off by a coughing fit.
“Logan.” I choke out, clawing at Pierce's hand, who just laughs.
“Sucks when you can't be the hero anymore, doesn't it?” He taunts.
I start to see black spots as he squeezes harder but then lets go suddenly, standing up. I take a big gulp of air, breathing deeply and make quick eye contact with Logan who looks concerned but then changes his attention to what everyone else is looking at. It's an eerie moment when Laura comes, making her way slowly towards us.
“That a girl!” Pierce says happily as Laura comes towards him. “Hey baby.” He says creepily while waving at her. It's then that I notice she's holding something and tosses it towards Pierce. My eyes widen a bit as I realize that it's a severed head. Pierce doesn't look too surprised though. “Laura...” he says cautiously and hold up his hands as she throws a pair of restraints towards him, still walking to him. “Laura! Honey, you wanna stay where you are. You wanna see your friends, right?”
A soldier shouts something in Spanish and Pierce quickly commands him to stop. I exchange a look with Logan who is just as confused as I am.
“You said alive or dead!” A man says as Laura shrugs off her backpack.
“Laura!” Pierce shouts. “Laura...Laura.” I see something that I had only seen one other person do. Two claws retract from her knuckles as she approaches Pierce. “Laura, no. No!” He takes a step back. “Move! Go!” He yells to his men.
And that's when all hell breaks loose. The little girl, who had seemed so frail before, had turned into an animal who was fierce and killed every person that got in her way. It left me speechless and I finally understood why Alkali wanted her. What she was doing was brutal to watch, something out of a horror movie and I'd be lying if I said I was the slightest bit afraid. Pierce had a lot of nerve to mess with her, especially since he didn't have a healing gift.
Pierce's men started shooting at her which caused her to run and dodge the bullets easily or take them straight up. “Stop. Shooting! She heals!” Pierce yelled at him then ordered them to follow her.
Logan snaps me out of my thoughts as he offers a hand. “You good?”
I nod as I let him pull me up. “Yeah. What the hell is that thing?” I ask, referring to Laura.
“I don't know.” Logan mumbles. “Come on!”
Just then Laura screams angrily as an arrow pierces through her small frame. She starts fighting back and Logan exchanges a quick look before running to help her.
“Logan, don't!” I yell but then find myself going to help him.
I take out a few men while cutting the cable that attached to Laura as Logan continues to fight the others. Laura continues fighting but then is caught and dragged backward. Logan goes to help her but then notices men surrounding the car. “Go! I got it!” I yell at him as I notice his frantic expression. Logan hesitates briefly before leaving us to it.
Laura and I continue fighting together against them, Laura doing most of the killing after I've knocked them down or have them in a difficult position. It's almost like a brutal, dark dance that we have going on the way we use each other and take one by one out. It all seemed too familiar. I was rusty in the beginning but all the combat training that I had came back full force and I took all my anger out on them. I hated to admit but it was exhilarating, not having had a good fight in a long time. I was beginning to tire just as Logan came barreling down the road. He narrowly misses Laura but just jumps on the hood of the limo just in time. They exchange a brief look before Laura climbs up the window and in through the sun roof. I hop in through the passenger window, hanging on for dear life as Logan speeds off before I can get all the way in.
Logan speeds through, trying to ditch them but we both curse as they start shooting. I quickly climb in the back and move behind Laura and Charles. “Get down!” I order as I use myself as a shield. Just in time too as I feel the sting of bullets in my back. I yell through clenched teeth but do my best to hang on. I look up just in time to see Logan heading right for the fence.
“Hold on!” He yells and I quickly fall into the seat next to Charles and shield him the best that I can, bracing for impact. I feel the sharp jolt as we hit the fence but it doesn't give way. Logan curses loudly then puts it in reverse and speeds backwards, taking the fence with him. Bullets start flying again in every direction and I once again try to stop them from hitting mainly Charles. I can't completely see what's going on but I look up just in time to see men on motorcycles bust through the window, reaching for Laura. Laura takes care the majority of them while I shoot the others. I feel a sharp stab in my shoulder from behind and I scream out in pain. Laura quickly jumps behind me and stabs the prick that stabbed me, getting rid of him for good. They're beside now along with a train. Logan makes a split decision then gives us no warning as he whips the limo across the tracks. We make it but the truck that was beside us was crushed by the train. We skid to a stop, watching the train speed by us. Snapping out of it, Logan speeds off again, not waiting for the train to hurry by. It wouldn't loose them for long but it'd buy us some time.
As I turn back in my seat, I'm suddenly aware of all of my injuries thanks to the excruciating pain. “Dammit!” I hiss, gripping the arm of the seat.
Logan gives me a concerned look through the rear view window. Charles and Laura turn their attention to me, Laura's face a bit stoic while Charles looks slightly worried. “Anna, are you alright?” He asks.
“Yeah,” I let out a painful breath. “Never better.”
“Ann-” Logan starts but I wave him off, annoyed.
“I'm fine, keep driving.” I bite, not meaning too.
Charles leans forward. “Let's take a look.” He says and I obey as I turn for him to see the bullet holes in my back along with the gash in my shoulder. I feel the blood trickling from the wounds, making me feel slightly lightheaded.
I see Laura looking at me, her face softened, concerned slightly. “I'm fine.” I try to reassure her. “I'm like you.” She relaxes a bit but still remains quiet.
“It'll heal faster if we get the bullets out.” Charles says but I quickly shake my head.
“I'm fine.” I insist. “They'll come out on the own eventually.”
My vision swims, my breathing growing a bit shallower. Charles says something but I don't catch it. Laura rips a shirt then leans forward, taking my jacket off and dresses the wound the best she can. I wince but nod at her after she's done. “Thanks.” I whisper. Laura then gently twists me around, getting a better look at the bullet holes. I wave her off. “Leave it. It's fine.” She gives me a look but sits back.
Logan glances back at us, worried at first then angry when his eyes land on Laura. “You.” He nods to Laura. “Who the hell are you?” I look at her but she offers no explanation. “Hey! I asked you a question. Who are you?!” He demands but she remains silent.
“You know who she is, Logan.” Charles speaks up for her.
“No, I don't.” Logan replies firmly.
“Does she remind you of anybody?” He asks calmly.
Logan, needless to say looks shocked. I am too but am too tired and too weak to care. I grow dizzy again and decide the best thing to do is to slowly lay down in the seat. My breath is shallow and I feel a bit shaky. It wasn't completely unusual but I normally was fine by now. “Ann? Ann!” I hear Logan's voice call me. I look at him wearily, meeting his worried eyes. “You good?” He asks.
“I'm fine.” I breathe out. “I'm fine. Just tired.” I close my eyes and focus on breathing. Before I fall completely asleep, I remember something. “Logan,” he looks at me with questioning eyes. “I'm sorry. For yelling at you.” I close my eyes and sigh. “Didn't have my coffee this morning.” I mumble then find myself falling into a dreamless sleep.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6: I See Me
“Meet me at the training center-Logan.” Was what the note on my door read. That's weird, I remembered thinking. I looked at my watch and it was already 6pm. I figured we would have a chat anyway because of what happened that day. I caused a scene. Another one. And this time...I had gone too far.
It had been about eight months since I had been there and though I initially thought it was getting better with the students, I still had my issues. I still got into fights. I still fought nightmares. I was still stressed beyond my limit and I was still...angry. Time there gave me time to think. Way too much time to think and it fueled my anger every time I thought about it. I tried talking to the professor and other teachers about it and though they helped, it didn't completely solve my issues. And Logan, well he always left it up to me to bring stuff up. Most of the time we didn't talk much when we hung out. And we didn't hang out as much as people thought either. We weren't best friends but we weren't enemies. We had an understanding about each other though and he would try to help if I wanted it which was not very often. In fact lately, I started closing off again and though he would give the questioning glances, he never pressed or really asked. If I got an attitude, he would give it right back and ask me what my problem was. So, due to being partially afraid, I held back from snapping at him too much. However, that didn't always save the other students from my bad days. Even Rogue caught my attitude sometimes and would back off. That caused a lot of problems because it made me isolate myself more and more each day.
Today though I caused a fight and it got people hurt. I went off on a student at lunch and his power, which he was barely able to control anyway, was unleashed and it caused a lot of damage. He was aiming for me but kept missing and it ended up hitting another girl. She was okay but paralyzed temporarily. When the teachers ran in after students screaming for help, fingers pointed at me which was just because I did start it. I was speechless, scared to death that the girl was dead, and when questioned, I didn't know what to say other than it was my fault. I was brought into the office after the other boy was released, who gave me an apologetic look before I went in. All the teachers were there, Logan included, and I notice that the professor wasn't there yet so it was Storm that did most of the talking. She told the other student's side of the story, asked me for my side but all I did was shrug and state that it was all true. That I had started it, I flipped the table, causing food to go everywhere, then threw the first punch, and all went from there. She asked me if I understood the seriousness of the situation which I replied yes but didn't fully. Some of the other teachers spoke, scolding my behavior but I mostly tuned them out like an ill behaved child. I looked up once at Logan, who's expression was not readable. When they asked Logan if he had anything to say, he just shrugged and said in stern tone, “Serious shit, kid.” Right after that was the professor came in. There was an eeriness about that moment that I will never forget. I had been talked to before but this...this was something way different and I knew it. I had crossed the line big time. Every seemed to take a step back and I looked up at the stern face of a man that I truly did respect but today...I disrespected him deeply. I had never ever seen him angry before, much less raise his voice but today, he let me have it. His voice was raised but he did not yell but I could hear the disappointment, the angry, and the hurt in his voice. It made me shake in bones and I was filled with deep regret. It was mainly because the student got hurt and she could've gotten killed. That wasn't tolerated in the slightest. And though he was mad, I could hear the passion in his voice and how much he truly did care about his students and anything that got in the way would not be tolerated, even if it came from another student.
When he finished his rant, he took a deep breath and I looked around the other teachers, who looked slightly shocked but kept their mouth shut. “We care deeply for you Anna, as we do every student but you have got to find a way to start controlling these outbursts. We are trying everything we can to help you but you have got to work with us too.”
I sigh but hold my head up high and face him. “I understand. I take full responsibility.” I say as respectfully as I can.
He sighs deeply before softening a bit. “Good. Now, if you'll excuse me.” He says then exits the room quickly, leaving me slightly confused. What was my punishment?
When he left, I let out a shaky breath and shyly pushed my hair back. The other teachers gave me a look then left the room. Before Storm could fully leave, I spoke up. “I truly am sorry.” I whisper. She looks back at me with sympathetic eyes then sighs and sits down next to me.
“I understand you're going through a lot, Anna. We all do and we're doing everything to help but it just seems like you're not fully letting us through. You're not a child and you have every right to keep to yourself but accidents like today are the results of doing just that.” She explains softly.
“I shouldn't be here.” I say after a few moments pass.
“Running isn't the answer. It's easier, yes, but you and I both know that running does no good. In the end, you'll be back where you started. Isolated and alone.”
“I'm better off alone. Nobody gets hurt.” I mumble, hugging myself tightly.
“Says almost person who walks into this place.” She smiles sadly. “But I don't think you fully believe that. Otherwise you'd be long gone by now.” She points out.
I shrug. “I don't know anymore, Storm. I don't know what happens. I don't like fighting. I honestly don't. It just comes out and whoever is in my way is in trouble.” I sigh deeply, rubbing my temples.
Storm squeezes my arm in a motherly way. “We'll get it figured out. Go on now.” She nods towards the door.
I get up wordless then wave goodbye. I head to the dinning area where it's still trashed and see the boy cleaning. When I walk in, he freezes and looks at me almost in fear but also in defense. I hold my hands up, offer a faint smile in which he relaxes. “I'm sorry.” I apologize as sincerely as I can. “I didn't mean to get you into this mess. What I did was wrong and should've never happened.”
The hard look on his face softens. “Nah, it was me just as much as it was you. I'm the one who-”
“Don't.” I interrupt, knowing where he was going. “Don't go there. You'll never get back if you do. It was my fault, my responsibility. It's not on you.”
He looks down, rubbing the back of his neck, then back at me. “I retaliated. I could've controlled that. We talk about it all the time in class. I knew better.” He walks toward me then stops. “So maybe we can share the responsibility and move on? After we've totally sucked up to Kate?”
I manage a small laugh. “Yeah. That sounds good.” I say, feeling the weight ease a bit. I nod towards the trash bag he's holding. “Need a hand?”
“Uh, yeah.” He laughs. “We made a mess.”
I look around and nod. “Yeah...that's what I do best it seems.” I shake my head then start picking up trash. I begin to relax a little, despite that Kate is still in the back of my mind. She was the next person that I would need to talk too. I was trying to make things right. I hoped the professor could see that.
By the time we were done, Kate received the majority of her feeling back in her legs but Jean wanted her to stay there through the night just in case. I just did my best to be civil the rest of the day and try to make up for what I did. It still nagged me though. Shame and regret had settled in, coming back like unwanted friends. I knew it was going to be a long night and predicted what my nightmares would be like. I didn't look forward to sleeping. Whenever I saw teachers, I avoided them for the rest of the day. Logan included. By the end of the night, I was drained. I was just on my way to my room when I found the note left by Logan. I looked at my watch then walked down to the training center.
Logan was waiting for me, leaning against the wall, puffing on a cigar. When he saw me coming, he put it out. “Hey,” I greet him kind of hesitantly. “What's going on?”
He opens the door to the training center then motions for me to follow him. “Come on.” He instructs then walks in.
I follow him then stop and cross my arms. “What are we doing here, Logan?”
“Gonna give you a chance to get some of that anger out, kid.” He replies, facing me.
I feel a blush coming on. “Logan, I-” I huff, frustrated and embarrassed. “There's no need for this.”
“Really?” He asks, raising his eyebrows.
I give him a look. “I know, I...I messed up today but I'm fine now.” I try to insist.
He snorts. “Yeah, until the next person pisses you off. Or you wake up in another bad mood. Or you have another nightmare. Or-”
“I get it!” I snap at him.
Logan raises his eye brows, basically saying that I was proving his point. I sigh heavily then look down at my feet. I feel Logan come closer and hand me a pair of gloves. “Here. Put these on.” He instructs.
I take them hesitantly but then shrug when I put them on. “I don't really know how to use these.”
Logan backs up and plants his feet. “Doesn't matter. Start swingin'.” He demands.
“Logan, this is stupid.” I say defiantly.
“Come on!” He claps his hands together. “Show me whatcha got!”
I roll my eyes then very lamely hit him. It doesn't phase him one bit. “You call that a hit? Come on! Hit me!” He demands more loudly but I am hesitant.
“Come on, Anna.” He starts circling me. “Show me how pissed off you are. You got every right to be. Life dealt ya a shitty hand. Assholes can't seem to leave ya alone. Not to mention all the crap that's YOUR fault.”
“Excuse me?” I glare at him.
“Oh yeah, and I'm not talking about just today.” He says still circling me. “I'm talking about all the shit you did in between 1943 til now. The lies you've had to tell. The people you've hurt. Not to mention the people you've killed.” He taunts cynically.
That last part stabs me. “Logan, stop.” I say sternly.
“Ooohh that's a touchy subject, isn't it?” He continues.
“Those people deserved it.” I say through my teeth.
“I'm sure they did. What about the ones who didn't?”
The pain intensifies and I feel myself growing more and more defensive. He's got me cornered and he knows it. “I don't know what you're talking about.”
“You know exactly what I'm talking about.” He fires back.
“Logan, knock it off.” I warn.
“What was her name again? Ally?”
I wince and my breathing picks up. My fingernails dig into my palm. “Stop.” I whisper.
“Oh and Daniel, right? The one, you know-” He holds up two fingers to his head and pretends to shoot himself.
I punch Logan as hard as I can in the face and surprisingly knock him back a step. “I said, knock. it. OFF!” I seethe angrily then walk towards the door.
He grabs me roughly by the arm. “Oh no, you don't-”
I haul off and punch him again then push him back with all my strength. “I didn't tell that shit for you to use against me, Logan.” I growl. I wasn't just angry. I felt hurt in more ways than one.
“You're right. I'm just another one of those assholes, right?” He takes a step towards me. “Show me how you feel. How you really feel.” He says a bit more softly and it's then that I see something in him that I didn't see before. He wasn't trying to be an asshole.
So once again, I gave him my best shot and hit him as hard as I could. It hurt myself physically and I could feel bones in my hand break. But I kept hitting. Harder and harder each time. I felt the anger come out in each punch as each memory surfaced. It was like drawing an infection out from a wound. I screamed as angry tears began to pour down my face. My strength was wearing down and the punches had less power but I kept on hitting him. Eventually, Logan catches my arm and I tremble in his grasp. My hands are bloody and sweat is pouring down my face, mixed in with tears. I look up and I see the brokenness in Logan's eyes. I break completely and begin to sink to my knees. He grabs my other arm so I don't fall and lowers me to the ground. I expect him to leave me there, having done his job of breaking me down, but he doesn't go anywhere. Instead, he adjusts himself then wraps his arms around me, pulling me to him. I cry even harder as I bury my face into his chest and cling to him. This wasn't me. This wasn't him either. We're not the kind of people to hug and mope about our feelings. But sometimes, there's only so many times you can be dropped before you break naturally.
Logan was quiet but it was in the smallest gestures that he communicated that he understood my pain. He didn't mean a word he had said and I knew that. It was bringing up the fact that those were the demons that I faced on a daily basis. That's what caused the nightmares. That what caused me to lash out unexpectedly. What made me want to run. And though I understood Logan wasn't the only one who understood how I felt, he was the only one that knew that this was the only way to get to me. Because I wasn't just stubborn and angry but I was afraid. Deep down, I knew that how he felt too and perhaps helping a broken girl could somehow help him as well.
My sobs soon quieted and my grip loosened a bit but I didn't let go. Neither did Logan for a while. I was exhausted mentally and physically. But, I felt like I had gotten out of surgery. Still in a bit of pain but healing. Eventually, he picks me up bridal style and carries me to my room and puts me to bed. I fall asleep immediately but that night, I had no nightmares. My sleep was dreamless.
I wake up, noticing the ceiling of a car and that it's daylight outside. I take a deep breath then stretch, groaning a bit at the stiffness in my neck and the rest of my joints. I look to my side and notice two sets of legs belonging to Charles and Logan. They're not paying attention to me though as they are watching something on a phone. I slowly sit up which gets their attention and Logan puts the phone down.
“Bout' time you woke up, Old Lady.” He teases lightly.
“Yeah nice spectacles, Gramps.” I fire back lamely but nonetheless earns a faint smirk and a chuckle from Charles. I notice a faint throb but nothing to what it was. “That sucked.” I inform them, in which they exchange a look that I can't totally read. “What?”
“Nothing, Anna, it's just that...we noticed that you didn't heal as quickly as you usually do.” Charles says.
I brush him off with a shrug. “I've never healed as fast as Logan. You know that.”
“Laura cut out the bullets. That helped a lot. Just as I had said.” Charles continues.
“Laura...” I groan, rubbing my temples. “So it wasn't all a bad dream?”
“Not this time, kid.” Logan replies quietly.
“Where is she?” I ask.
He nods to where Laura is riding a mechanical horse outside a gas station. I wipe my eyes then ask, “What are we doing here?”
Logan holds up the phone he had earlier. “Found a video from the chick that was taking care of Laura. Looks like she wanted us to see it.” I get up and shakily fall into the seat next to him. He pushes the play button and suddenly everything begins to make sense. Laura. Alkali. Pierce. It was all part of a messed up plan. The video was a mash up of footage of children being experimented on, forced to fight, and committing suicide. As Gabriella described what was going on, I felt tears stinging my eyes. I understood being experimented on but these kids were literally made for fighting and who knows what else. When she showed Laura being worked on and implanting the claws, my stomach lurched and I felt a hard lump growing in my throat. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair at all. I thought about the way she fought earlier, how ruthless she was. It wasn't her fault. She wasn't just trained, it was do or die. And Gabriella...I understood her reasoning for wanting to save the children and her desperation for saving them. But the main question was...how? How did she expect us to be able to do anything about it? Before we could find out, the video ended suddenly and we all sighed frustrated.
“Freakin' sick people.” I grumbled bitterly and cross my arms.
Logan and Charles nodded in agreement. “North Dakota.” Charles states.
“Mmm.” Logan grumbles.
“You took that woman's money. You said you would take the child there.” Charles says, causing me to look from him to Logan. We hear rattling outside and see Laura is angrily shaking coin machine that operates the mechanical horse.
“What is she?” Logan asks.
“She's your daughter, Logan.” Charles replies softly.
My eyes grow wide as does Logan's. “That's impossible, isn't it?” I ask incredulously.
“Alkali has his genetic code.” Charles explains.
“Not just mine.” Logan says as he huffs then hurriedly gets out of the car.
“Logan!” I call after him. “We have to talk about this.” I insist, as this was new information for us.
“I don't wanna talk about it. I don't wanna hear about it.” He snaps.
“Logan.” Charles calls him back.
“Just stop!” He demands firmly.
“I have to pee.” Charles replies calmly.
Logan sighs then helps Charles out of the car. I go to get out but Logan stops me and hands me a jacket and a back pack. “Might wanna change.” He says and I look down and am reminded of my very bloody shirt.
I snatch the jacket from him along with the back pack and make sure there's a a fresh shirt in there. I pull the jacket on then get out and see Laura about to stab the machine before Logan grabs her hand. “Last ride.” He sticks in a quarter. “You're welcome.” Laura just glares at him and goes back to enjoying the ride.
I raise my eyebrows at Logan. “Definitely your kid.” I tease, smirking but Logan doesn't find it so funny as he brushes past me angrily. “Aw, lighten up, Logan.” I say after him but he continues to ignore me.
I roll my eyes then head to the bathroom. I pass the cashier on the way who gives me a curious look. I must look like a real sight. “Hey.” I wave awkwardly then quickly hurry to the bathroom. Once in there, I could see why I got the look I did. I was covered in blood and my hair was a mess. I did my best to clean myself up. A nasty mixture of blood and dirt fill the sink. The gash on my shoulder is nothing but a fleshy scar that will also go away. I couldn't fully see my back but just then I hear a knock on the door.
“It's me.” Logan says on the other side and I unlock the door. He comes in and I do my best to keep my front covered up. “Hey. You alright in here?” He asks.
“Yeah, just can't see or reach my back.” I reply.
Logan comes all the in then locks the door. “Here.” He mumbles then reaches for the rag I made out of the old shirt. I turn around and he begins to wash my back. It may seem awkward to some people but we'd been through enough and cleaned enough of each others wounds to really care any more. “How's it look back there?” I finally ask, breaking the silence.
He glances at me through the mirror. “You're fine. Just a few marks. Give it another hour, it'll probably be gone by then.” Logan answers as he continues.
I nod then stay silent for a moment. “What do you think about what Charles said, Logan?” I whisper and he gives me a look. “Not trying to fight. Just asking.”
“I don't know to think right now.” He replies eventually then sighs. “Just have to see how it all pans out. Wait til we know more.” Logan hands me a new shirt then tosses the old rags in the trash. “Meet us out front.” And with that, he's gone.
I shake my head. Not really sure what to think myself. We would need to figure the rest out as we continue to unlock the mystery behind Laura. I finish cleaning up and getting dressed then hear a bunch of ruckus out front. I quickly grab my bag, running to the front of the store just in time to see Logan stopping Laura from stabbing the store clerk. “Not. Okay!” He reprimands Laura then pulls her off then awkwardly apologizes to the clerk. Before he leaves though, he turns and asks him if they sell cell phone chargers. The clerk, still obviously terrified, points to them. Logan snags the phone charger and a cigar then barges out the door with Laura in hand. It was honestly pretty comical but I felt bad for the clerk who gave me a scared and disbelieving look.
I shrug then shake my head. “Kids.” I say, rolling my eyes like an exasperated mom. “Sorry.” I apologize then slap a twenty on the counter and leave quickly.
The rest of the day is filled with traveling and nobody says much. We didn't know what to say. Eventually, Laura and Charles fall asleep in the back, myself shortly behind. When I wake up, we're pulled over on a cliff overlooking the city. I stretch, my bones cracking and I let out a tired yawn then dig through my back pack looking for water.
Logan wakes up shortly after to the sound of the phone turning on. “How long you been up?” He asks sleepily.
“Not long. Just woke up.” I reply softly then offer him the water which he gladly takes. He then starts coughing deeply, which he tries to hold back from waking up the others. Once the phone is completely on, it brings back up the video we were watching.
Logan looks at me then presses play. The video picks up with Laura's surgery and Gabrielle continues to explain what was going on. There's footage of Laura cutting herself and watching herself heal which brings back memories of myself doing the very same thing. She talks about a safe place for mutants called Eden which I am vaguely aware of but don't remember from where. She goes on to continue to explain what they are making. A new experiment. A clone or something. Something without a soul. Something better. Something more powerful. Something that there was successful with as they were putting all of the children to sleep, having no more use for them. Gabrielle and other nurses were trying to help them escape and save them. There were screaming children and gunfire as they were trying to escape quickly.
“If you are watching this...it means that I am dead.” Gabrielle says into the camera. “I am not sure if any other children survived. We were separated. There is no more money. That was a lie. She is not my child but I love her. You may not love her. But she is your child. Please. I beg you...take her to safety.”
And with that, the video ends and I find myself wiping my eyes and looking back at Laura sleeping soundly in the back. I hear Logan sigh and I turn in my seat to face him. “What are we gonna do?” I ask in a whisper.
“I don't know.” Logan mumbles.
I sigh then look down at the seat. “After Auschwitz, I was put in a cell like that except much smaller. Days were long and I was scared. One day, I took a jagged rock and cut myself, trying to kill myself.” I feel Logan's eyes on me. “But I healed quickly. So I kept doing it. I tried and tried but it never did any good. It just healed up like it was never there. So I did it any way. Just because. Just like her.” I sigh and look at my clean wrists, save for the numbers from camp. “Not one scar to prove it.” I say then sigh deeply. “I don't know what you want to do, Logan. You know I've got your back no matter what. But I will say this. She is better off dead than going back to Alkali. I don't care if that means us killing her ourselves.” Logan gives me a long, hard, and weary look. He knows that I'm right but doesn't say much. I lean my head back and breath deeply.
“We'll sleep on it tonight. Figure it out tomorrow.” Logan finally speaks up. He turns on the limo and pulls out. I say nothing in return and keep my eyes focused on the scenery outside.
We drive for a while longer and soon find ourselves in the city. I hear stirring in the back and see that Laura is propped up at the window, watching the city lights with wide eyes. “This is what they call a city, Laura.” I say to the young girl in the back. She looks at with curiosity and I give her a very faint smile. She then turns her attention to Charles who has just woken up as well. She gives him a small smile and it's that simple gesture that assures she's not completely heartless.
Charles then returns the smile then turns to Logan. “Is this where we're hiding out?” He asks Logan.
“We're not hiding out. We're gonna get a couple hours' sleep, clean up, get some new clothes, get a new ride and get outta here.” Logan explains.
Eventually, we pull up to a big hotel with a casino inside. Laura looks around in awe but Logan urges us to hurry. Laura stops at store and stares at a manikin with a rainbow t shirt and jean jacket. “Hey, Laura. Let's go.” He calls after her.
“We need clothes.” Charles comes to her defense.
Logan gives us both a look then digs out some money and motions towards Laura. “That's your department.” He says.
I roll my eyes and take the money. “Typical man.”
“Yeah, hurry.” He retorts then takes Charles to the men's section.
“Laura,” I get her attention then nods towards the model. “Think that outfit would look better on you.” I say softly then offer my hand. “Come on.”
To my surprise, she takes it wordlessly. Her hands feel soft and dainty compared to my own and it almost feels natural to lead her as we walk into the store. I find the kids section and pull the same clothes from the rack, guessing her sizes. Laura finds a couple of other t shirts that she likes which I praise then help her find the right size. I show her a dress, curious to see what her reaction would be. She wrinkles her nose at it and shakes her head, making me laugh. She doesn't say a word but we communicate fairly well despite a few hiccups here and there. Once she is done, I find a few shirts and jeans of my own that I like. I feel Laura tug on my sleeve and motions for me to follow her. She points towards a red, lacy, lingerie dress. I freeze in my tracks surprise. The gesture was innocent but it also happened to be right as Logan walks towards us.
I clear my throat. “That's uh, nice but-” I let out a nervous cough. “That's um, not the kind of dress we wear during the day.” I explain awkwardly and cringe. That was not the way to explain it.
“Only at night.” Logan says casually as I guide Laura away from that section.
“Shut up.” I hiss and slap him. He holds up in brief surrender, earning a chuckle from Charles. Laura tilts her head in curiosity but then shrugs, losing interest. I know I'm already blushing a deep red. “Let's go.” I demand and out of the corner of my eye, I can see a faint smirk on Logan's face.
Once we pay, we head straight for the elevator. Once inside, Charles digs out a hat and places it on his head and smiles excitedly at me. “Looks good, Gramps.” Charles smiles again then digs out a baseball hat and tries to hand it to Logan.
“Logan, it's for you.” Charles insists.
“What?” Logan says confused then waves him off. “In the room. We'll get changed in the room.”
Once we make it to our hotel room, I realize how truly tired I am and even notice Laura yawning. I help her get dressed and settled for bed. Logan gets Charles settled in then heads off to the bathroom. I plop down on the bed, sighing happily for an actual good and soft bed instead of a lumpy mattress. Laura walks over from the window then crawls into bed with me. It startles me slightly, making her pause and look at him with big questioning eyes, as if to ask permission. I get over it and nod as I pull the corner back of the blanket for her to get in. She hops up then nestles herself in, pulling then blanket to her chest. She looks at me with those big doe eyes then smiles softly. I return her smile then brush her back like my mom used to do to me.
“Sweet dreams, Laura.” I whisper. With that, she lays her head down, burying her face into the pillow and closes her eyes. Within a couple of minutes, her soft breathing can be heard. I stay up for a while, lost in my own thoughts. Logan finally emerges from the bathroom, looking refreshed from a shower. He looks at me and I give him a faint smile. “Bought time you took a bath.” I tease lightly, causing him to roll eyes. “How are you feeling?” I ask seriously.
“Sore. Tired.” He answers honestly.
I offer a sympathetic smile. “Get some rest.” I say gently in which he nods then
look at Laura. “She was exhausted.”
“A lot going in.” He says quietly.
Just then, I feel Laura start jerking in her sleep, her face contorting in fear.
I look at Logan in surprise and he raises his eyebrows slightly at me in concern. She continues, starting to whimper softly. My arm hesitantly settles over her and I stroke her hair in a comforting manner. “Shhhh...” I whisper as she flinches from my touch. I continue to do so until her movements begin to still and her face relaxes. “You're too young for nightmares.” I say softly, tears threatening me.
I look up at Logan, who's expression is sympathetic. “You're good with her.” He compliments.
I swallow hard and look down at the young girl. “I don't want to be.” I whisper sadly. He gives me a questioning look but I shrug him off.
“You know why.” I say then sigh heavily. “She didn't ask for this. None of us did. It's not fair.”
“Hey...” Logan walks over and squeezes my shoulder. “Get some rest. We'll figure it out tomorrow.” He says gently then heads over to his side of the room.
I settle into bed and Laura snuggles up a little closer. I stayed awake a while longer, playing with her hair and wondering how in the world we were going to figure all of this out.
A lot happened since that day in the training center but I was never the same. When I woke up the next day, I was different. My mind was clear. I was peaceful. I didn't feel as heavy as I did. Sure, the memories was in the back of my mind but I didn't feel tormented. I didn't understand it but nevertheless, I was thankful. So, the first thing that I did that day was get ready for classes and showed up early for breakfast. Though I felt a little anxiety when everyone started coming in, I didn't clench up like I normally did. In fact, I even tried to smile at a few people which definitely caught them off guard. I went to class and remained calm and actually listened to what the professor was saying. This carried on for a few days. I had rough dreams again but I was able to wake up easily and talk myself out of it. I was still doing okay in classes and around other students. I didn't push it but I was polite when the few tried talking to me. I talked to Kate, who was doing pretty well. She let the accident go and was pleasant to talk too. Rogue started talking to me again and would sit with me at lunch. She mainly did the talking but I didn't mind.
The teachers took a big notice of the sudden change in behavior. The professor did too and we decided to have a meeting about it. When I came in, I was worried that I was in trouble. Especially when I saw all the teachers in there. “You're not in trouble, Anna. In fact, we're here to talk about how well you've been doing.” The professor assures me.
I glance at Logan, who raises his eyebrows a little bit but otherwise doesn't say anything. “We all feel that there's been a drastic change in you since the accident a few days ago and we're pleased but want to know what happened.” The professor says. I don't know why he asks me these things. It's not like he couldn't read my mind and know for himself.
I shift my weight to one side. “I punched Logan in the face.” I replied with a shrug, earning several surprised looks in the room but then a laugh from Scott. Logan smirked. Even the professor chuckled a bit. I laughed a little then decide it's best to elaborate. “After the accident, Logan and I met at the training center. We, uh, talked for a few minutes then he let me get out a lot of my anger by fighting him. It...” I sigh, looking at Logan. “It helped a lot. I know that might sound crazy but it did. I felt a lot better. My head was clearer. I've still had a couple of bad dreams but not as bad.” I look back at the professor. “I'm trying. I truly am trying to do better.”
The professor smiles warmly. “I know you are, Anna. We all do and we're pleased with how well you've done the past days. Logan has also spoken about your session with him and after much discussion, I'd to propose an option for you.”
“Okay.” I say hesitantly.
“We'd like for you to continue having one on one sessions with Logan.” He says and I pause, looking from him to Logan then back to the professor. “It won't just be for stress relief but to actually train you in hand to hand combat. All students have to go through it but we feel you'd do better working by yourself.”
I didn't really know what to say. I didn't really want to be treated differently but, at the same time, didn't want to hurt anyone else again either. Sensing my discomfort, Storm speaks up. “You're welcome to say no, Anna. We just think that it'd help a lot for you to have that outlet you've been looking for.” She says.
“Storm is right.” Jean says. “You were so much better after that night. You were more pleasant to be around. More so, we could see that you were really trying. Even some of the students could tell the difference. You're more liked around here than you realize.”
I swallow hard, still not sure what to think. I look hesitantly at Logan. “What do you think about all this?” I ask quietly.
“Up to you, kid. Only if you want too. I heal faster than those kids though.” He replies.
“Logan.” Jean scolds but Logan just shrugs. A few other teachers look uncomfortable but it doesn't really effect me that much.
I clear my throat and brush my hair back. “He's not wrong.” I say in his defense.
“Yes, well, know that these wouldn't be the only sessions you'd have. Throughout the week, you'll meet with Storm and Jean to stay connected and learn new skills as well.” The professor says.
“Our hope is to train you in areas that you're already familiar with and also try new things such as medicine.” Jean says.
“Why all of this?” I curiously.
“Well, you may be a student, Anna, but you are not a child.” The professor chuckles softly. “We see a lot of potential in you and want to see you continue to grow here. And please understand, there is no ulterior motive in doing this. You're free to come and go as you please. You're family now and you'll be always be welcome here.”
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding in. I didn't want to be pressured and I knew that wasn't their intention. So, I took a big step and I found myself agreeing. “Okay. I'll do it.”
All of them seemed pleased, excited even. I didn't know what I was saying yes too. It was the best and worst decision I had ever made because that 'yes' led to several roads that was glorious and painful. The training with Logan was great but also brutal. He knocked me on my ass more times that I could count but I learned a lot and became a great fighter in hand to hand combat. And just like they predicted, it gave me the outlet that I needed to stay sane, if you will. My mind stayed clearer and on the rough days, I talked to Logan or one of the others about it. My relationships with the other students grew and I developed a deep compassion for them. The teachers, Storm, Jean, Scott, Logan, and the professor became dear friends of mine. They were the family that I never had. Over the next few years, I would accompany them on many adventures and missions which were times that I would never forget. They were fun, thrilling, and it gave me life. Purpose, which is what I had longed for.
But I should've known that all good things come to an end eventually. When we lost Jean and Scott, things just weren't the same. We'd almost lost the professor too but by some miracle he made it. However, it took a huge toll on Logan. He shut down for a while. Not talking to anyone of us and I didn't press him. I knew how much it hurt to lose somebody you love. So I gave him his space and grieved myself. Jean was special to all us and we lost her twice. It was like ripping a scab off of an old wound. What I didn't expect was the day he came walking down the hallway with a backpack over his shoulder and I knew something wasn't right.
“Logan?” I called after him, causing him to turn around.
“Hey.” I greet with a soft smile and approach him.
“Hey, kid.” He mumbles gruffly.
“You going on a trip?” I ask, nodding towards his backpack.
“Yeah. Gotta get outta here.” He replies quietly.
“How long will you be gone?”
He stays quiet for a few moments, not looking me in the eye. “I don't know.”
The color drains from my face. “What do you mean? Days? Weeks? Months?” I ask, my anxiety picking up slightly. Logan has left before but he always came back. The longest he had been gone was six months and that felt like an eternity.
“I don't know, Anna.” He repeats himself.
I felt the tears pricking my eyes. “You can't...you can't just leave. You're coming back, right?” I felt like a lost child, especially when he doesn't say anything. “Right?”
Logan looks pained. “I don't know, kid.” He whispers.
“Stop saying that!” I snap harshly. “You either are or you're not.”
“I said, I don't know.” He says with my force. “All I know is that I can't stand being here any more. Least not right now.”
“So you're just going to run because you're moping over Jean?” I ask angrily, knowing my words were awful but I was hurt too. “News flash, Logan, we're all hurting. You can't just run from it. You have people here who need you.”
“Oh, like who? You?” He snaps angrily, taking an intimidating step towards me but I don't flinch. “I haven't held your hand enough to make the scary monsters go away?” That did hurt and I was very confused by his sudden nasty behavior. “Or I haven't let you bash my face in enough when you're pissed off?”
“Logan, what the hell?!” I nearly yell, the hurt evident in my voice.
“I've done my time, kid. I'm outta here.” He says meanly then starts to stomp off.
I grab his arm and force him to face me. “Done your time? What the hell does that mean?”
“You know exactly what it means. It means I'm done being your babysitter.” He snaps at me.
“What-where is this coming from, Logan? You know damn well that no one forced you to help me. That was YOU.” I jab my finger at him angrily.
“Ever think that I felt sorry for your ass? Or that I just didn't want more people getting killed? Or, maybe even the old man guilt tripped me into it?” He bites.
“Yeah, I did. A lot.” I fire back. “And maybe all that is true but you know what? I'm still here because of it. Because of YOU.”
“Whoopdy doo, can I go now?” He asks sarcastically as he side steps around me.
“You're a coward, you know that?” I say to his back. “Angry and moping over a chick that wasn't even yours.” That makes him stop and turn around angrily.
“What did you say?”
“Mmm hmm. Nothing but a homewrecker, screwin' around with someone else' girl.” I taunt him.
“Stop it right now, Anna.” He warns, coming closer.
“Sad thing is that she never really loved you and you knew it but didn't give a shit. You just wanted someone to screw!”
“That's ENOUGH!” He yells and I can see the veins popping out, showing just how angry he is.
“It's a really good thing she didn't fall for you. She eventually would've seen how much of coward you are!” I stand my ground.
“I said, SHUT THE FUCK UP!” He yells and before I know I'm gasping for air and feel hot liquid trickling down my back.
I glare at Logan, who is still shaking with anger and a hint of fear. “That. HURTS!” I growl then kick him back as hard as I can that actually knocks him back a good few feet. He growls back at me then throws another swing which I easily catch and block. “It hurts doesn't it, Logan? Throwing the truth in someone's face. It pisses you off because it brings up a whole bunch of shit. But you can't run from it. I've tried and it doesn't work. It just leaves you angry and pissed off at the world.” He's still seething but I let go of his hand. “You do what you want. Run. Scream. Hide. Kill. But you know that's a lonely and painful path.” I'm still trembling but my voice finally begins to lower. “You helped bring me out of it and I can't just let you do that to yourself again. Not after you've come so far.”
Logan stares at me for a long time, weighing my words. I hated these fights but I hoped that he would at least reconsider leaving for good. “I need some time. Alone.” He finally says, making my shoulders sag a bit. “I don't know if I'll be back any time soon and I don't wanna make a promise I won't keep. You deserve more than that.”
I bit my lip as I viciously wiped my eyes. “You're turning this into a sappy sitcom, Wolvie.” I whisper hoarsely with a watery smile.
Logan smiles faintly and brushes a stray tear from my cheek. “Take care of yourself, old lady.” He says softly.
I sniff back more tears as I squeeze his hand. “You too, old man.” I reply quietly.
And with that, he lingered for a moment then wordlessly left me standing alone. I didn't call out for him. I didn't say a word. I just watched him leave and it was one of the most painful things I'd ever done. For the first time since I'd been there, I was alone. And I would be for the next two years.
I wake up to the sun breaking through the window and the sound of an old western playing in the background. The blankets wrap around me like a warm fuzzy cocoon and I felt more peaceful than I had in a while. Where was I anyway? I didn't really care. I closed my eyes again, not really sleeping, but enjoying how warm and safe I feel in the moment.
Unfortunately, that feeling doesn't last long enough and is interrupted by Logan's rough voice. “Anna? You awake?” I hear him ask. I choose to remain silent, knowing I won't fool him but trying to delay leaving my safe haven. “Come on. Time to get up.” Again, I try my best to appear sleep. “I know you're not sleeping. You snore like a bear.”
“I do not!” I protest, breaking my cover. I hear a few snickers in the room and can practically see Logan's smirk.
I feel the bed sink down a bit from his weight. “Good morning.” He greets roughly.
“Mmmm.” I grumble back, pulling the covers closer to me. I'd never been a morning person. This morning was no different.
“It's time to get up. Got lots of stuff to do and figure out.”
“I'd rather be bed sushi.” I reply sleepily, earning a faint laugh from Logan and then he playfully slaps me on the rump, which startles me even more awake.
“Come on. Get up.” He says more sternly then gets up.
I groan then stretch dramatically. “You suck at waking people up.” I bicker.
“Only because you're a pain in the ass to wake up.” He throws back then goes into the bathroom.
I roll my eyes then hear Charles' warm laugh. I sit up in bed and look to Laura chilling casually with Charles on his bed. “Anna has never been a morning person, Laura. In fact, it's quite the dangerous task. Only Logan has been the brave soul to dare wake her from her slumber.” He tells Laura dramatically while giving me a mischievous yet affectionate smile.
I give him a look then playfully throw a pillow at him which he easily catches while laughing at me. Laughter bubbles up and I can't hold it back. It's a strange sound, one that I haven't heard in a while but it feels good. It's interrupted too soon by harsh coughing coming from the bathroom and the sound of something knocking over.
I exchange a worried look with Charles then quickly rip the covers off me and dodge towards the bathroom. “Logan?” I bang on the door.
“I'm...fine...” He says roughly between coughing attacks.
I ignore him then let myself in. Logan's hunched over the sink, coughing into a towel. I start to come but he holds up a hand, stopping me. He finally stops, looking into the towel before throwing it on the sink. I sigh then look around, noticing the abundance of liquor bottles. “Logan...” I say sadly, picking up a bottle. “This isn't going to help.”
“Don't start.” He warns hoarsely.
“I'm not trying too. But you sound and look like shit.” I say concerned. Again, he gives a warning look and I huff. “Just be more careful. Please. We need you. Not the drunk you. You do stupid shit when you're drunk.”
He says nothing while shrugging on his shirt and roughly buttoning up his shirt. I walk over and start to help him but he growls slightly and pushes me back. “Oh, stop acting like such a baby. I'm trying to help you.” I scold.
“I don't need your help.” He snaps.
“Ah, well, you missed three spots.” I point out, nodding to his shirt while crossing my arms. He looks down then curses under his breath when he sees what I'm talking about. He fumbles with the buttons without his glasses and I give him a look then once again try to help him. This time he lets, though I can sense his aggravation. “There.” I say when I'm done. I roll my eyes at the slight glare he gives me. “Jeez. You call me cranky in the mornings.”
He walks past me over to the green backpack that Laura had. As I turn to leave, he calls me back. “Anna.” He calls and I turn to face him with a questioning look. He holds up a bunch of folders. I tilt my head to the side in curiosity then sit next to him, looking through the different folders. We come across Laura's and we find that she's the same as Logan. Adamantium skeleton and healing ability. She was only eleven years old and, her DNA source was none other than James Howlett. Logan's real name. “Charles was right. She is your daughter.” I say quietly.
“She's a clone.” He snaps the folder shut then keeps digging through the pile. “Nothing more.”
Besides exchanging a brief look, I don't press the issue. There was nothing that I could do or say right now. Logan would have to take that information in on his own and process it until he was ready to talk. I had no desire to talk much about it. It was a sore subject with me as well and I wouldn't press it until he was ready.
Logan brings me out of it by cursing then throws down what appears to be an X-Men comic. I look at it in disbelief then at Logan who's now even more angry. “Got us out here running for our life over a bunch of bullshit.” He snaps then stands up and marches into the other room.
“Hang on, Logan, maybe there's more too it.” I try to reason as I scramble after him but he's already past me.
Once in the living room where Laura and Charles are still watching TV, Logan holds up in the comics. “You read these in your spare time?” He asks sarcastically, receiving a glare from Laura. “Oh yeah, Charles we got ourselves an X-Men fan. You do know they're all bullshit, right?” He starts skim through them. “Every quarter of it happened but not like this.” I wince, knowing what he's referring too. “In the real world, people die. And no self promoting asshole in a fucking leotard can stop it. This is ice cream for bed wetters!”
“Logan.” Charles interrupts but Logan keeps going.
“Her nurse has been feeding her some grade-A bullshit.”
Charles has enough. “I don't think Laura needs reminding of life's impermanence.” He says firmly. “Didn't you say something about finding us a new ride?”
Logan gives him a glare then hands a bottle of pills to me then stomps out the door. I sigh then look at Charles. “You better go with him.” He says gently.
I nod then shrug on some clothes real quick and brush through my hair quickly. Once I'm done, I had the bottle of pills to Laura. “Listen very carefully. He needs to take two of these in one hour.” I point to the clock. “It's very important, Laura. Please don't forget. Understood?” Laura nods solemnly while taking the bottle. “Don't forget.” I remind her again then assure them that we'll be back soon.
Once I leave, I head down and start looking for Logan. I find him in the parking garage, sitting in the limo. “Logan!” I call out, my voice echoing off the walls. His head snaps up towards me as I come over and get in the passenger seat.
“The hell you doing here?”
“Nice to see you too.” I answer sarcastically. “I'm coming with you.”
“No. No, you have to keep an eye on Charles. He needs those pills in an hour.” He says urgently.
“Relax. I gave Laura instructions. It'll be fine.” I try to assure him while buckling my seat belt.
“That makes me feel so much better.” He grumbles.
“Just drive.” I snap impatiently.
Logan gives me a nasty glare before huffing then pulling out with an attitude. We ride in silence all the way to a junk yard. Some guys walk, demanding to know who we are and such but we for the most part ignore as we clean out our stuff. I hear Logan curse and right as I'm about to ask him what's wrong he jabs a familiar blue pill at me. “Shit.” I echo his curse from earlier and sigh tiredly.
“Yeah, 'shit' is right. And you left him with a kid.” He says angrily.
“Lighten up, Logan. It'll be fine. The faster we get all this done, the faster we get back. So let's go.” I snap back at him, trying to diffuse my own worry.
Logan turns towards to the guys and throws them the keys. “Knock yourselves out.”
We walk over to a car dealership and a dealer greets us. Logan greets her politely and introduces himself. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Howlett. Is this your daughter?” She nods towards me.
I stifle a laugh, trying my best not to smile at the look Logan gives her. He clears his throat then goes along with it. “Uh, yeah. This is my daughter, uh, Melanie.” He replies and I inwardly cringe at the name. It wouldn't have been my first choice in secret names.
“Nice to meet ya, sweetie.” The lady says and I give her a small smile. After discussing what we need, the lady quickly does her job. “I have just the right choice for ya. Follow me.”
Logan starts to follow and I catch up behind him. “'Melanie?' Really?” I whisper somewhat amused. Logan shrugs but can't hide the faint smirk that flashes quickly across his face.
After a while of negotiating, we settle on a truck that fits our needs and the lady agrees to waive all the paper work with the exception that the tires would have to be serviced right away due to them being bald. Both our faces fall a bit when she informs us that it's going to be an hour before the truck is ready. All we could do was agree and wait it out.
Logan leads us to a bar which I protest at first but give in when I conclude that I too want a drink. Of course, I'm asked for my ID which I dramatically roll my eyes at along with ignoring the judgmental stares we were getting. “We have quite the audience today.” I say, sipping my drink.
Logan glances around the room then shrugs. “Don't we always?” He mumbles.
“Should we give them something to stare at?” I ask mischievously.
“Don't even think about it.” He warns, causing me to snicker.
“Remember New Jersey?” I ask while laughing. I was referring to years ago when we stopped at a bar while on a mission. Logan had always looked older than me and no matter where we went, heads would turn, especially in bars. This one particular day though this old couple stared us down the entire time and was really starting to get on our nerves. Right as Logan was about fed up and about to leave, I got a wild idea and told him to trust me. I flirtatiously slid onto his lap, grabbed his jacket, then gave him a nice passionate kiss right on the lips. It took him by surprise for sure but he went along with it. To say people were shocked was understatement. He then gently pushed me off his lap, wrapped his jacket around me, laid a tip on the counter, then escorted me outside with his arm wrapped around me. Through the window, I winked and waved at the old couple who were besides themselves then wrapped my arm around Logan and walked down the street out of sight. Once away from the bar, we both busted out laughing so hard that were near crying.
Logan smirks. “Poor old folks didn't know what to think.” He replies while knocking back the rest of his drink. I choke on my beer, sputtering and giggling. “You're still going to hell for that.” He shakes his head, trying not to laugh as I laugh harder.
“Oh man,” I wipe my eyes as I sober up. “Good times.”
He smiles a bit, fiddling with his empty glass, lost in deep thought. “Yeah. Good times.” He says a bit sadly.
“You know, I don't regret any of it.” Logan at me as I smile sadly. “The times we've all had. The years at the school. The missions. It sucks...knowing that it'll never happen again.” I look down at my hands. “But I'll never forget or regret them. No matter how much pain it brought losing them.”
“You always were a sappy drunk.” Logan teases lightly after a few moments, earning a slight chuckle from me.
“Always.” I agree then look at him. “But I mean it.”
Logan stares at me for a moment then nods as he takes out some comics. “Lost a lot of good people.” He whispers.
“Yeah, we did. And it hurts like hell but I don't know...it's still better.” I say softly.
“Better than what?” He asks.
“Being alone.” I answer gently, meaning every word.
Logan exchanges a weary look with me then starts flipping through the pages. I see Rogue and immediately fight back tears. I missed her so much. I look away but then jump slightly when I hear Logan curse. “What?” I ask worriedly.
He smacks the comic in front of me as he digs out the package with the money in it. “Look.” He points to the address in the comic book and compares it. My face goes white, realizing what he's saying. “You gotta be fuckin' kidding me.” He hisses then stands up quickly. “Let's go.”
“Logan,” I call after him as he stomps off. I catch up with him quickly.
“It's been a bunch of bullshit. Chasing a fuckin' fantasy.” He fumes.
“Logan, I get you're upset but don't take it out on Laura or Charles. They didn't know.”
“Nah, it's my fuckin' fault. Should've known better.” He growls.
“I get you're upset but we have to figure this out. Laura-”
“Oh, I'll tell you what we were going to do about Laura. We're gonna give them what they've been hunting us down for this whole time.” He says over his shoulder.
I stop in my tracks. “We can't...we can't do that.”
“Oh yes, we can. And we will. I'm done bullshitting around here.” He snaps.
“You know what they will do to her.” I say, my voice raising.
“Not my problem.” He grumbles.
“She is your problem, Logan. She's your daughter!” I nearly yell at him.
“She's not my fuckin' daughter!” He snaps at me, yanking me by the arms. “Now I am done playing these fuckin' games. The only people I have responsibility for are for you and Charles. And I am not losing either of you for some screwed up experiment. Understood?!”
I glare at Logan, tears threatening but I know going against him any more wouldn't help at all. “Yes, sir.” I bite back bitterly, my voice breaking a bit. Then I yank my arms away and stomp around him.
We finally end up at the dealership again, pick up the truck and drive to the casino, not saying a word to each other. Once we're there, we get out, and I immediately notice something off. “Logan.” I get his attention.
“I know.” He says in a low voice. “Keep your head down and keep quiet.” He orders as we sneak around the men that were after us.
As we quickly head inside, a familiar painful wave hits me. I cry out and everything around us stills. No, no, no. Not here. Not now. I try to press through it but Logan is the only one that can force himself through the crowd. Again, I feel the life being sucked out of me as everything pulsates around me. I can't breath, think, or move. All I could think of was was that all too familiar memory of Westchester and I inwardly begged for it to be over soon.
Just as I was seeing black, the wave lifted, I fell the ground, gasping desperately for breath. I felt unbearably weak. So much that I couldn't lift my head or anything else. I waited for strength to come back but it was unusually slow. Everyone around was able to get up but why wasn't I? I healed faster. Didn't I? Didn't I?
I tried lifting myself up but couldn't get past a couple inches. What was going on? Everything blurred around me and I couldn't make much sense. All I knew was that I had to get out of there. Soon, I see Logan, Laura, and Charles racing down, trying to escape quickly. Logan looks around frantically until his worried eyes meet mine. “Anna, come on!” He demands. And I try to obey but my legs and arms are too heavy and too shaky. He continues running and I start to panic.
“Logan!” I call after but my voice is lost in the chaos around me. I then feel a rough hand yank me up by the hair and I cry out weakly. I'm then being dragged through the lobby by one of Pierce's men. I try to fight but I can't and it's then that I really get scared. “Logan!” I scream, thankful that my voice wasn't effected too much.
Logan turns around after he's gotten Charles in the truck. He gives me a frantic look, says something to Laura as she starts to run after me, making her stay behind. “Anna!” He yells my name, chasing after us. Finally, he catches up with the man and starts fighting him. I'm finally let go but still am too weak to get up. He shouts at me for me to run, to get up and I want too but can't.
Logan finally finishes off my attempted kidnapper then drops down in front of me, panting and looking extremely anxious. “Come on.” He yanks on my arms and I try but I can't get my legs to fully move.
“I can't.” I cry, becoming panicked.
“What do you mean you can't?” He asks confused.
“I can't move.” I say in a wobbly, scared voice.
Logan looks very worried but he quickly scoops me up and rushes me over to the truck and sets me in the back with Charles then gets up front and speeds away.
“Anna?” Charles says beside and I give him my attention. “Are you alright?”
“I don't know...”I answer trembling, locking eyes with Logan in the review mirror. “I couldn't get up. I couldn't move.” I look at Charles. “I'm scared.” I confess then push myself against the corner of the seat.
The last thing I remember before closing my eyes was them telling to rest and that I was going to be ok.
Chapter 8: Ch 8: Marie
Due to how long this memory ended up being, I decided to go ahead and let it have it's own chapter as the next one will be long as well and I didn't want to overwhelm by it being so long :) Part 2 of the present day will be posted tomorrow as the next chapter!
'Anna, might I see you in my office? Please come as soon as you're able.” I heard the Professor's voice in my head, sounding urgent.
'Yes sir.' I answered then closed the book I had been teaching out of. “Alright class, that's it for today. Don't forget, reports are due on Monday!” And with that students excitedly exited the building.
I made my way quickly to the professor's office and knocked on his door. He politely told me to come in which I obliged. “You wanted to see me?” I asked as I poked my head in. Right away I knew something wasn't right. All the staff was present and you could feel something in the air. This wasn't a normal meeting. I looked at the professor and I could see it in his eyes that something was very wrong.
He turned around with a tired look and motioned for me to sit. “Take a seat, Anna.” He says softly.
Concern is written all over my face. I've never seen him this way before. “What is it, Professor?” I ask but he's hesitant to answer me. “Is it Logan?”
He sighs tiredly then shakes his head. “No, my dear. I still haven't heard from him.” He comes around from the desk to face us all. “Thank you all for coming on such short notice but I am afraid that I have some...shocking and hard news with you all. As you know, a cure was presented to the world. A cure that would end a mutants powers, allowing them to live a normal life. One of own former students, Rogue, opted for it due to her powers limiting her and putting herself and others at risk. However...it seems that the injection has only worked against her. It has broken down her system and is continuing to do so. Bobby informed me last week of what was happening and Hank quickly went to their aid but today I was informed that there is nothing more that they can do.” He looks at me, tears shining in his eyes. “I'm afraid to inform you all that Rogue is dying.”
A few gaps can be heard throughout the room along with lots of murmuring. I felt like cold water washed down my back, taking my breath away. Storm looks beside herself. Jean is holding onto Scott for support. Others just look numb and sad.
“That...that can't be true. How?...” I breathe out.
The professor gives me a sad look. “I looked into it and though it seems like the number is small, there have been reports of similar situations. The injection has been suspended until further notice. Do more research so that they can prevent this from happening again.” He explains.
“How long does she have?” I ask shakily.
“Not very long, I'm afraid. A few days I'd suspect.”
“A few-” I'm cut off by shock and fear, feeling my stomach lurch.
Others start asking more questions which he answers quickly but keeps coming back to me. Tears are streaming down my face as I can't wrap my mind around this news. “Bobby is bringing her here today. It's where she wanted to be.” She hears him say. “Preparations are being made now to keep her comfortable.”
Each word hurts more than the last but I finally start joining the conversation asking what else needed to be done. After a few minutes of practicals, I speak up about someone who wasn't but needed to be there the most. “We need to find Logan.”
Professor nods. “I am trying but was not able to last time.” He says. “And I'm afraid that he may take it too hard even if I was able to reach him.”
I shake my head. “No, you don't understand. He needs to be here. He'd never forgive himself if he wasn't.” I take a shaky breath. “Rogue will want him here too. We need to find him.”
Storm comes over and places a hand on my shoulder. “Anna is right. Logan brought her here. Saved her life. Those two mean a lot to each other. We need to do our best to find and bring him back here before it's too late.” She with a bit of sadness in her voice.
Professor sighs then finally relents with an understanding nod. “Alright. We'll go down to Cerebro in a few minutes. Storm, Anna, feel free to join me. The rest of you, thank you for coming and please make sure that you keep an eye out for our guests and make sure that everything is in order.”
Everyone quickly dispersed and we followed Professor X down to the basement were Cerebro was. After a few minutes of instructions on what to do and what to press, we finally watch as the Professor powers up and starts tracking Logan. It takes a few moments but he finally locks in on Logan and says, “There. He's somewhere on a mountain.” He focuses and starts to call Logan's name. After a minute or so, he chuckles softly. “Nice to hear from you too, old friend.” I step forward, forever in awe of this device, seeing all the mutants in the world lit up. “Logan, you are needed back at the mansion. There is an emergency-” He pauses for a moment listening. “No, not that kind of emergency. Please listen.”
“Same old Logan.” I roll my eyes causing Storm to smirk.
We listen as the professor fills Logan in briefly about Rogue and I can practically hear Logan's response. Storm wraps an arm around me as I'm stilling having a hard time swallowing the news myself. “No time for that. Go to the nearest airport and arrangements will be made when you get there. Shouldn't be a long flight. Someone will be there to pick you up when you arrive.” After another minute of practicals, I see tears welling up in the professor's eyes. “I will, Logan. Hurry.”
And with that, the conversation seems to be over. The professor took off his helmet, laid it down, then turned to us. “Make preparations and get the quickest flight available booked now.” He says to Storm who nods then exits the room. “Anna, would you mind picking him up at the airport upon his arrival?”
“Yes sir.” I answer quietly.
“Good.” He replies with a faint smile then starts to leave but I call his name.
“Professor?” He turns to face me. I just give him a questioning look.
“He's in shock, Anna. His mind...it was filled with grief and worry. He's going to need you.” He sighs sadly. “I know you two didn't leave on the best of terms but please do try to reconcile. He's going to need a friend but he will probably fight you tooth and nail. You two are very similar in how you deal with grief and I feel as though you may be the only person to even remotely connect to him.”
I wince and swallow hard. “I'll try.” I whisper.
Charles offers a sad smile then straightens up, listening to something. “They're here.” He announces then beckons me to follow him.
We go down a few different hallways then we are met with Bobby, Storm, and Hank all discussing something. Storm is hugging Bobby tightly and I can hear the emotion in his voice. I greet Bobby who is trying his best to stay strong but having a hard time. “She's uh, she's been asking for you. You and Logan.” He informs me.
I squeeze his arm. “Can I see her?” I ask politely.
“Of course.” He says wiping his eyes then motions for me to go inside.
When I step inside, I barely recognize the frail young woman on the bed. Her color is fading and her breathing is labored but when she sees me, she immediately brightens up. “Anna.” She greets excitedly.
I smile, choking back my tears. “Hey trouble maker. What are you in for?” I tease lightly, making her grin from ear to ear as she reaches for me. I sit on her bed and grab her hand.
“I'm a little sick.” She says with a soft laugh.
“I heard.” I swallow hard.
“It's funny though...I'm dying but I've never felt better. I'm not in pain...just a little weak.” She informs me.
“That's...that's good.” I clear my throat, trying not to cry. “That's really good.” I feel so stupid because I really don't know what to say.
She gives my hand a slight squeeze. “Is Logan coming?”
“Yeah, uh, I'm going to pick him up soon. We just got a hold of him. He's on his way.” I whisper.
She smiles again excitedly. “Good. I miss him.”
I bite my lip. “Yeah. I do too.”
“Did you two ever work things out?” She asks.
I look down at my hands. “Uh, no. We didn't. Last time I saw him was at your wedding. Only briefly. Before that, it was about a year.”
She nods in understanding. “That was a good day.” She remembers fondly, closing her eyes briefly before laughing to herself.
“Yeah...it was. You looked amazing.” I smile.
“I felt amazing. Felt, Anna.” She says happily squeezing my hand. “That was the best kiss ever.” She laughs then sighs happily.
I laugh with her. “We didn't think you'd ever let go.” I chuckle. “Remember Logan's speech?”
“Oh gosh, don't remind me.” She giggles, smacking her face.
I snort, grinning ear to ear. “Best speech ever in my opinion.”
“Did you see Bobby's face? Scared the shit out of him.”
I laugh loudly, shaking my head. “That was my favorite part.”
We laugh and reminisce and catch up like nothing was wrong. Like we were simply old friends catching up. She was still the same girl I knew and loved as a sister. I didn't bring up the evident. We both already knew anyway. My goal was to keep her happy and comfortable. A few others came in to visit, the professor included. It was more pleasant than I thought it was going to be. The hours slipped by like sand and eventually I was told it was time to pick up Logan.
“I'll be right back.” I say then kiss her forehead then leave quickly, anxious to get out of that room.
I'm given Logan's flight information and a car and I speed out of the driveway like something is chasing me. The airport is twenty minutes away and on my way there, I let loose the tears I'd been holding in and ugly cry the whole way. Why did it have to be her? It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair at all. I thought we had fixed that detail when we went back but Hank was right. Some things stay the same even if you change others. The cure was still made. She still wanted it and nothing could ever persuade her otherwise. At the time, I was happy for her. But now...now I'm just kicking myself harder for being more sensible. Of course, the stupid drug would have an effect. It was the perfect way to casually kill somebody. I should've seen it coming. We all should have.
Once at the airport, I wait anxiously at the exit point for Logan, finding myself starting to pace. I didn't want to waste time. Finally, I see Logan walking quickly towards the exit, looking around frantically. “Logan!” I call his name and his head snap towards me.
He breaks into a sprint and I feel another sob break from me as I throw myself into his arms. He squeezes me tightly then pulls away to face me. I can read the emotions on his face. He tries to speak but stumbles over his words. “Is..is she-”
“She's still alive. She's tired and weak but she's in a good mood. She's waiting on you.” I whisper. He nods then numbly follows me to the car.
Once in the car, I speed home. Logan is mostly quiet and I steal a glance from him. His eyes are watery and focused on the passing trees. I try to find words. Anything to break the silence but I can't. So I focus on the road and on getting us back to the mansion. We're barely in the driveway when Logan quickly opens the door and sprints inside. I grab my stuff and follow him.
Logan ignores the greetings from the others aside from the professor who gives him directions to Rogues room. When Logan gets there, he stops at the door and takes a deep, shaky breath. Noticing his struggle, I walk over to him and grab his shoulder. “It's okay, Logan.”
He gives me a long, weary, and broken look before finally finding the courage to go in. For a split second, I fear it's too late as Rogue was sleeping soundly but when Logan walks in she yawns, wiping her eyes then perks up when she sees Logan. “Hello Logan.” She greets softly in her southern accent.
Logan smiles faintly. “Hey, kid.” He replies then sits on her bed. “Heard you weren't feeling too hot.”
She waves him off. “Ain't nothin' to be worried about. I wanted to show you somethin'.” She says then takes her hand out from underneath the covers. She grabs his hand and his automatic reaction is to flinch away but she holds it firmly. “See? You don't have to be afraid any more.”
I cover my mouth and I see Logan start to break. I see Rogue starting to tear up as Logan squeezes her hand firmly, wrapping his other hand around it and giving hers a soft kiss. “That's great, kid.”
She smiles then sees me in the doorway. “Anna.” She calls me over and I wipe my face and sit on her other side, grabbing her free hand. She sighs content. “This is all I wanted. To be held. To be loved. To feel. Even if it was for a short time.”
“You're gonna be fine. We'll figure something out.” Logan tries to reassure her as he brushes her hair back.
She gives him a watery smile. “Not this time, sugah.” She says sadly. “But thank you. For giving me more time. For allowing me to be able to truly live.”
I bite my lip, looking away. Especially as Logan let's out a choked sob and starts to cry. “You're killing me, kid.” He says hoarsely.
Rogue starts crying too as she laughs softly, wiping the tears from his cheek. “When you'd get so sappy?” She teases.
He smirks a bit. “It's all your fault.” He replies.
Rogue starts to laugh but then starts coughing awfully. It scares the hell out of both of us and I stand up. Logan lifts her up, telling her it's okay. Afraid, I quickly stick my head out the door. “Bobby!” I shout for him, which he responds quickly, bursting into the room.
Logan gives him a quick worried glance then turns his attention back to Rogue as she starts to calm down. “It's okay, Rogue. I'm here. I'm here.” Logan assures her over and over, holding her firmly in his arms.
She smiles then brushes his cheek with her hand. “Marie.” She corrects softly, a couple tears escaping. “I love you, Logan.”
Tears stream down Logan's face as he brushes hair back again with a quick nod. “Marie.” He whispers gently with a soft smile then kissed her temple, lingering there for a moment. And with that, she Marie smiled one last time then closed her eyes for the last time and fell asleep in Logan's arms.
Bobby joined Logan beside him but didn't say anything as he held her hand. Shortly after, Marie let out her last breath and she was gone. Logan was in denial at first and it was a painful scene to take in as he called her name and wanted her to wake up. I had only seen Logan cry a couple of times before but this was different. It was heart breaking and all who watched it cried as well.
After a while, I hear the professor's voice in my head telling me that it was time to let her go and to help him. I nod faintly as I slowly approach the broken man in front of me. “Logan?” I say his name gently. He turns towards me with a broken expression. “Logan, we have to let her go.”
He says nothing, continuing to brush her hair back. He sniffles, holding her close. I place a gentle hand on his shoulder and he breaks even more, sobbing uncontrollably. “Bobby.” I whisper, motioning from to come on over. I sit down beside Logan and rub his back soothingly. Bobby cautiously walks over, tears streaming down his own face. “Logan, we gotta let her go.”
Logan faintly nods, still crying. He leans down, kisses her forehead, and lays his head against hers for a moment. “I love you too, kid.” He whispers then slowly lifts her up and turns towards me. Tears blur my vision as I too lean down and kiss her forehead. “Goodbye, sweetie.” I barely manage to get out. Logan swallows hard then hands her over to Bobby carefully, nods tearfully at him then quickly exits the room.
Normally I would stay but I find myself running after Logan, not able to stay in there any longer. I finally catch up to him and he's getting ready to get in a car. “Logan!” I yell after him but he ignores me. “Logan, wait!”
“Get away from me, Anna.” He warns, his voice breaking.
I silently pull out a set of car keys and jingle them. He reaches forward to grab them but I step back. “Give me the keys.” He demands tiredly.
I shake my head. “You can't keeping running, Logan. You-”
“Give me the fuckin' keys, Anna!” He yells at me but I don't flinch.
“No.” I answer firmly. Logan's rage takes over and he starts to fight me but not like he usually does. With every hit I block, I watch his eyes and I can see him break down even more.
Finally, he gives up, breathing heavily. “Just...just give me the keys.” He whispers brokenly. “Please.”
“Hey, hey.” I bring him to face me. I place my hands gently on his face, making him look at him. I brush the tears away from his cheeks. “No more running.” I whisper, tears trailing down my own face.
Logan drops to his knees, crying and shaking. I wrap my arms around him protectively, crying with him. He holds on to me tightly and I feel the pain radiating off of him. The sky above us echos our emotions as the sky erupts with thunder and the rain pours down. Our cries are lost in the thunder along with our tears in the rain. We stayed like for what seemed hours. Even after the storm passed.
Soaking and drenched to the bone, I eventually move and throw Logan's arm around me. “Come on.” I whisper then lift him the rest of the way up. I let him lean on me as I get him inside and get him into a room where a fresh pair of clean clothes was waiting for us both thanks to the professor knowing our predicament. As I take off his clothes, I notice that he's stopped crying but he's still in pain. He barely notices as I help him get dressed the rest of the way. I dress myself in the bathroom and come out to Logan sitting on the side of the bed, looking sad and lost. I had never ever seen him this way and honestly, it kind of scared me but at the same, I honored him. Logan was someone I looked up too for so long for his strength. I never imagined that he could be this broken. But all the same, I appreciated it because it showed how much he loved Marie. This time it was my turn to be strong for him, even if he didn't want me there.
I stayed with Logan the whole night. Most of it was spent in silence. Sometimes he'd cry. Sometimes he'd talk briefly about her and I'd listen. When he laid down, I stayed by his side, stroking his forehead. Nightmares came and I quickly woke him up. This went on the whole night until the sun finally rose and started a new day.
Arrangements were made. Phone calls to family and close friends. An announcement was made for students. The funeral was beautiful but not over done which is how she preferred it. Professor X and I were supposed to give a speech. I had to end mine sooner than I wanted because I broke down during it. I apologized profusely but was met by Logan. He held out an arm for me to take which I did and he led me away then wrapped an arm around me as I cried. Storm took over and did it better than I ever could have. I was never good at goodbyes. A few of Marie's closest school friends shared memories that made us laugh. Bobby also came up and paid his respects. His stories were romantic, beautiful, and made us laugh and cry. All in all, it was a beautiful service that I knew Marie would be proud of.
Before it ended, Logan went up to the casket and put a daisy, Marie's favorite flower on it out of respect. “Climbing in the back of my trailer was the stupidest and the best thing you ever did.” He manages a small smile before clapping the casket affectionately. “Fly high, kid.”
Thank you for your support! Comment below what you think! Happy reading!
Chapter 9: Chapter 9: The Blame Game
Click click click
What on earth is that noise?
Click click click
Oh jeez, make it stop already.
Click click click
I'm gonna kill somebody.
“...Westchester incident over a year ago...”
Click click click
“...over 600 injured...”
Oh no...where am I?
I groan as painful needles pierce my body. I try to move but am extremely weak. Suddenly, I remember what happened. Faces. People on the ground. Storm...where was she? I was just with her. Something happened...but what? Earth quake?
Click click click
“Knock it off.” A vaguely annoyed voice fills the air.
Where am I? I wonder again. Oh no...I was supposed to warn them. I was supposed to meet back with Storm and Hank. I had to get out of there. I had to find them.
Click click click
“I said, knock it off.” The angry voice demands again.
“She's a child, Logan.” Logan? Professor?
Click click click
The professor, I was supposed to find him too. He'd know what to do....why was it so quiet? Did we escape?
Click click click
I jolt upright suddenly, breathing heavily. I look around confused and feeling the panic take over. I immediately get the attention of the people in the car, none of whom I recognize.
“Anna?” The older gentlemen says my name in a concerned voice.
“Where am I?” I ask hoarsely. Suddenly, the faces start to come familiar. “Professor?”
The old man gives me a funny look. “Yes, Anna. Are you alright?” I look around again, trying to figure everything out. Then I remember.
“Where are the others?” I ask frantically.
The man driving looks at me in the review mirror, worry and confusion etched on his face. “Hey, what's wrong with you?” He asks.
“No, no, no. The others...the-Logan?” The man becomes familiar and I become vaguely aware of what we were supposed to do. “Where are we?”
I look around and notice we're nowhere near Westchester. Then I notice the girl up front. Who is she? “Who are you?” I shake my head, which makes me dizzy. The girl raises her eyebrows at me then looks at Logan. “Never mind that. Logan, we have to go back.”
“Anna, what are you talking about?” He asks annoyed.
“We can't just leave them.” I say fearfully. Why wasn't he listening to me? “Professor, tell him. Tell him we have to go back.”
The professor just looks confused. “Anna, what's wrong?”
I become really panicked. Nobody is listening and our friends are in trouble. I find myself start rambling, not really making sense to myself. I'm confused. Scared. Desperate. “We gotta go back.” I whisper over and over.
“Anna, what the hell?” Logan ask more worriedly. But I become more frantic and scared to the point where Logan pulls over on the side of the road. I feel claustrophobic and shaky. “Hey.” He grabs my arm and I nearly jump out of my skin.
“It's alright, Anna.” The professor tries to assure but I shake my head wildly.
“No, no. It's not. Storm...Hank...I lost them. I was supposed to meet up with them and I...I lost...I lost them.”I try to explain and make sense of it all. The professor looks awfully confused and sad and Logan...his face is unreadable. Like a mix of fear, worry, and anger.
“They're not here.” He says lowly.
I'm taken aback. “Well, of course they're not here, we left them! We have to go back!” I say more frantically, feeling panicked again. Logan growls frustrated then yanks his seat belt off and opens his door. “Logan!” He ignores me then yanks my door open. “Logan, we have to-”
“Anna, stop it.” He warns.
“Stop what? We can't leave them!” I cry.
“There's no one to go back for! They're gone! Now stop it.” He yells as he grabs my arms forcefully, scaring the hell out of me.
“What do you mean?” I whisper fearfully
His grip relaxes a bit, his face softening as he sighs tiredly. “They're gone, Anna. They didn't make it. None of them did. Just us.” He explains.
I feel my eyes watering and my lip quivering. “Ohh...” I choke out, feeling the tears escape.
“Hey, hey.” Logan's rough hand wipes away my tears. “What's going on with you?” He asks worriedly.
“I...I don't know. What happened?” I ask.
Logan hesitates, briefly looking past me then back to me. “Think about it, Anna. Westchester...it happened over a year ago.” He explains.
I sit there in shock but slowly but surely it all starts to come back. Logan was right. It had been over a year. I remembered everything that happened then and in between leading up to now. My head pounds horribly and I feel sick to my stomach. “Shit.” I curse under my breath then close my eyes and rub my temples. “Sorry, Logan.” I apologize over and over.
Logan sighs then rubs his face. “What the hell happened to you?” He whispers more to himself then straightens up. “Think you can walk?” He asks me.
I wiggle my toes and slowly move my legs. “I think so.”
Logan slips his arm under mine, supporting me as I take a step out of the truck. “Easy.” He says as I wobble back and forth. I lean on him heavily as I take a step forward. “We'll be right back.” Logan says Charles and Laura in which Charles responds with a nod.
“Did I let the cat out of the bag?” I ask as I hobble with Logan.
“I don't know. Not worried about it right now.” He replies shortly.
“I'm sorry...I didn't know what was going on. It felt like...it felt like I was back at the mansion on that day. Old man wasn't looking too good. Hank wanted to meet with the rest of us to discuss it. I was walking with Storm when it happened.” A silence falls between us as my shaky legs get stronger. “It felt so real. Like it was happening all over again.”
“Stop.” Logan says as he stops a few feet from the truck. I'm unable to look him in the eye for some reason. I knew this was my fault. If I just stayed behind like he'd told me too...He says nothing though and I think that's worse.
Logan bites his lip then shrugs me off, making me nearly lose my balance, then stomps back to the car. “Logan, wait.” I call after him as I shakily follow him.
“Get in the car.” He demands roughly.
“Now!” He nearly yells, trying his best to hold his anger in.
I sigh wearily then heave myself back into the truck. I slide in next to Charles who quickly grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze. I give him a small smile. “Hey, Pop. Sorry bout' that.”
“Are you alright?” He asks worriedly.
“Yeah.” I squeeze his hand back. “Sorry about that. Bad dream. Car sick.” I try to excuse my behavior. All he does is nod but I can see something in his eyes. He feels responsible. Guilty.
Logan scoffs which I give him a slight glare through the rear view mirror. Laura looks back at me with a curious look and I smile faintly at her then turn my attention to the passing scenery. A million questions was racing through my mind. What was going on with me? What was causing it? Why here? Why now? It was the worst time to not have my powers. The absolute worse. I could feel myself beginning to panic and it's all I can to keep myself settled.
“It's alright, Anna.” Charles whispers to me. I turn my attention to his concerned face. He must've been reading my mind. I look down and see that my hands are trembling. It needed to be discussed but Logan was so mad that I couldn't bring myself to do it.
After a while, Logan speaks up. “How long has it been since you took your medicine?” He asks Charles. Charles looks away, exhaling loudly, avoiding the question. “Tell me, how long has it been?”
“I don't know!” Charles cries then shrugs. “Two days.” He confesses.
I give him a worried look and Logan curses under his breath. “You saw what happened yesterday. If that shit had gone on any longer, everyone in that casino would have-”
“Logan-” I start to cut in.
“I did what I had to do to save Laura.” Charles says forcefully.
“You didn't do anything. You just freaked out and had a fucking seizure. And that wouldn't have had to do anything if Anna had stayed there in the first fuckin' place like I told her to and made sure you took them instead of leaving that up to some kid.” He snaps.
Ouch. I wince. There it was. Out in the daylight. I couldn't say anything though. He was right.
“Don't blame Anna, Logan. I wouldn't have taken them anyway. Besides, the seizure delayed those men from doing any harm.” Charles tries to defend.
“Oh, are we lookin' on the fuckin' shiny side of life now?” Logan scoffs sarcastically.
“I guess you prefer me pharmaceutically castrated, rambling on like a lunatic. So much easier for you.” Charles fires back.
“Easier? Jesus. There is nothing easy about you, Charles, nothing!”
“Yes, yes please be like the rest of the world. Blaming someone else for your boring shit.” Charles says dramatically.
“I know, Pop, I'm such a giant disappointment.” Logan says sarcastically but I can read in between the lines and know that he actually feels those words.
“You honestly derive no sense of purpose from what we're doing?” He asks.
“Okay, what are we doing, Charles? Hmm?”
“There is a young mutant sitting in our car.” Charles says with a bit of excitement.
“Mmmhmm. Yep. I see that.”
“And where we're taking her, there are others.”
“Does that mean nothing to you?” Charles ask incredulously.
“Uh, yeah, it means nothing to me.” Logan replies bluntly to Charles' face. “Especially since Nurse Gabriela made all that Eden shit up with fuckin' comic books.”
“What are you talking about?” Charles asks confused. Did he honestly not know?
Logan takes out a bottle of pills and hands them to Laura. “Give those to him, will ya? Take two pills out and give them to him.” He orders her. She's doing as she's told but is not fast for him.
“Logan! Logan!” Charles calls him again, demanding answers.
“Give em' to him. Now!” He snaps at Laura who finally manages to get the pills out and hands them to Charles.
Charles gives me a look in which I reply with a faint smile. “Take the pills, Charles.” I whisper.
He swallows them, chasing them down with some water.
“I want to see it.” Logan says, turning around to face him
“Blahhh.” Charles sticks out his tongue at Logan dramatically who just shake his head and turns back to the road.
I can't help but smirk and chuckle softly to myself as I turn back to the window. We keep driving and after a while, I can't help my curiosity. I took out my pocket knife and bring it to my wrist. I hesitate...unsure what's going to happen and if I really want to know.
“Anna...what are you doing?” Charles asks concerned.
I shake my head, waving him off. “I just want to check something.” I reply and without giving him a chance to object, I make a quick slash across my arm. “Mmm.” I bite my lip against the pain, breathing deeply as the blood oozes out.
“Anna!” Charles gasps.
Logan's head snaps back to see what I'm doing. “What the fu-?”
“Logan, road!” I snap as we nearly hit another car. He quickly corrects himself, narrowly missing the car who slams on their horn. The jolt makes my head hurt and I curse under my breath.
“Anna, what the hell?” Logan demands.
“I just wanted to see.” I try to explain myself. I lift up my hand from where the wound is, which is still bleeding.
“Jeez.” Logan curses as he takes out a towel from the glove compartment and hands it to me.
I press it against the gash and hold it there for a few minutes. When I take it away, it's healing a bit but not nearly as quick as it normally does. Charles, who has taken interest, gives me an unreadable look. “You were right, Charles. It's slowing down.” I sigh frustrated.
“How it looking?” Logan asks concerned. I show him the cut and he looks it then curses. “Just give it some time.” He tries to assure me but I know what he's thinking.
“The effects of the seizure must be breaking down your powers.” Charles explains quietly.
“We don't know that.” I try convince him but he shakes his head.
“It's not impossible, Anna-”
“We don't know that, Charles. It could've been anything. I could just...be old.” I exchange a brief look with Logan.
“You've gotten weaker each time he's had a seizure, Anna. He could be right.” Logan tries to reason.
“Don't say that.” I snap defensively. “If it were going to hurt me, it already would have.”
“Not necessarily. It could've been happening this whole time. A slow break down, getting worse each time.” Charles explains then looks at me guiltily. “I'm sorry, Anna.”
“Hey.” I snap, getting his attention. “It's not your fault, Charles. Understand me?...It's not your fault. We'll figure it out. Even if it did break it down, I'm still here. It's...it's just a little slower than usual. But it's not your fault.” It's mine. I think to myself. Charles...though I can tell he's not totally convinced by the guilty look on his face. He simply nods, giving a small smile then turns his attention to the window.
Tears prick my eyes and I blink them away fiercely. I catch Logan's worried gaze in the mirror. I swallow hard and mouth, “I'm sorry.” Logan sighs then reaches back for my hand. He grabs my free hand, not caring that it's caked with blood, and squeezes it. He holds on firmly and that's all that I need in the moment. Just knowing he was there was enough to calm my nerves enough for me to lean my head back and fall back asleep.
When I wake up, my head is no longer pounding and my legs feel more strengthened. I quickly look where I had cut my arm and nothing but a faint scab remains. I look over at Charles who gives me a warm smile. “Good evening, Sleeping Beauty.” He greets warmly.
I stretch like a cat and twist my back to give it a nice pop. “Hey, Pops.” I mumble back but then snap to reality. “How long have I been out?”
“Not long. Two or three hours. You look better though. You have some color.” He informs me.
I jump slightly when a truck comes speeding by. “Mother fuckin' auto-trucks.” Logan curses at the machine.
“Language, Logan. And you're screaming at a machine.” Charles scolded in a fatherly tone, making me laugh.
“Oh what? She can get a man with her feet but she can't hear a few naughty words, huh?” Logan asks sarcastically.
“She can learn to be better.” Charles tries to reason.
“You mean better than me?” Logan grumbles.
“Oh don't be so dramatic.” I speak up, making Logan roll his eyes.
“Actually, yes.” Charles replies bluntly, which triggers another giggle from me. “And by the way, Laura's foot claws are the obvious result of her gender, you know.” He informs us.
“Is that a fact?” Logan amuses him.
“In a pride of lions, the female is both hunter and caregiver.”
“Good to know.” Logan says, not really caring.
“She uses her front claws for hunting and the back claws defensively.” Charles continues, earning Laura's interest as she takes her glasses off to look at him.
“Thus ensuring their survival.” Charles ends.
It was comical the way Laura and Logan exchange a look and how she put her glasses back on with a sassy attitude. Charles and I share a small laugh right before an auto-truck next to us gets closer and closer and beeps their horn at us.
“Hey, hey!” Logan screams as the truck hit us and throws us into the median. We hang on as Logan does his best to get the truck under control and out of the opposite lane. I hit my head on the side of the door, causing a small gash. After a few close calls and a few donuts in the road, we finally skid to a stop.
We all are shaken up and breathing deeply. “You alright, Charles?” I ask him, in which he nods.
“Your head.” He points out.
I feel it and my hand comes away with blood. “Just a small cut.” I inform them.
I hear horses neighing ahead and look up to see a trailer stuck on the side of the road, horses running wildly across the road. “We should help them.” Charles says to Logan.
Logan considers it for a split second then shakes his head. “No, we have to keep going. Someone will come along.”
“Someone has come along.” Charles insists.
Logan sighs after watching the chaos in front of us then finally relents as he drives the truck to the other side. The owners of the horses desperately try to get the horses back together but have a hard time with it. Logan and I get out of the truck and try to help but the horse are running wildly and scared to death. Suddenly, the all start to calm down and I look back to see Charles with his window down and eyes closed. Almost immediately the horses start to come back towards their owners. One black horse makes eye contact with me and I walk over to it in the road. “Hey, hey.” I greet gently as I approach slowly. “Quite the ride there, wasn't it boy?” I reach out and start petting him. His breathing picks up but I brush him down. “That's it. I'm not gonna hurt ya.” I continue talking softly to him until his breathing steadies. “Let's get out of the middle of the road, huh?” I take his reign and gently start leading him to the trailer. “That's it. Easy does it.” I coo as we walk. Logan and another man watch in amazement as I guide the horse to them. “Good boy. Good boy.” I praise, patting his flanks.
I make eye contact with a lady then lead the horse over to her. “There ya go. Good boy.” I say softly as I hand him over to her.
“Wow, uh, you're really good with horses.” She compliments while petting her now content horse.
“Nah. He's a good boy. He came right to me. No trouble at all.” I say with a smile.
“That's what I mean. He's usually the trouble maker.” She laughs as she continues petting him then hands him over to whom I assume is her son. “Thank you.” She says gratefully in which I nod then go to stand next to Logan.
After the horses are taken care of, Logan nods towards the truck. “Hey, uh, you need a hand?” He asks politely.
The couple quickly agree then we form a plan to get the truck out. I join Logan in helping push the truck out of the mud while the woman floors it. After a good push, we manage to get it out, ending with cheers and high fives.
“Come on, let get home.” The man says to his family.
“Laura!” Logan calls after Laura, who standing on the horse trailer admiring the horses.
“Thanks so much for your help.” The lady thanks us. “I'm Kathryn.” She shakes Logan's hand.
“James.” Logan replies.
“This is my son, Nate.” She introduces us to a teenage boy, who greets us both.
“These your daughters?” She asks, pointing between Laura and I.
“Uh, yeah. This is Annie.” He introduces me in which I smile and shake their hands. “That's Laura.” He points to Laura who is still looking at the horses. He points to Charles who is sitting the truck. “That's my dad, Chuck.” Who waves back. “Come on, Laura, let's go!” He calls after her again.
“Well, can we show our appreciation and treat the four of you to a decent meal? We don't live far from here.” Kathryn offers.
“Uh, no, thanks.” Logan declines.
“That would be lovely!” Charles says from the truck.
I hesitate, giving Logan a look. “Please. It's the least the we could do.” Kathyrn offers again.
Logan sighs then finally relents. “Alright.” He gives in. “Thank you.”
Kathryn smiles then gives Logan directions to their house. While walking back to the car, I look at him. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” I ask him.
“No.” He answers honestly. “Just go along with it.”
I try to convince myself that it's okay but I feel it my bones that this is a big mistake. I should've never pushed that feeling down.
Thanks for reading! Comment your thoughts!
Chapter 10: Chapter 10: I Remember What It Felt Like
“Logan, no.” I said firmly with my feet planted outside of the door.
“C'mon, you big chicken.” Logan tugs at my arm.
“NO. I...I can't. They're going to hate me.” I argue.
“They already know you, Anna. It's not like it's the first they've been around you.”
“Exactly. They already know me. That's even worse.” I huff. “I have no business teaching a class. A year ago I was throwing the same kids around. What makes you think they'll give me the time of day?”
“Because they've warmed up to you. More kids look up to you more than you know.” He points out.
I bite my lip. “I don't know, Logan.” I say nervously. Feeling extremely nervous.
“I do.” He says with a smirk. “I know the professor wouldn't have put you up to it unless he was confident that you could do it.”
I sigh heavily. “I don't even know what to say. I've never ever taught a class.”
“Neither did I. And I damn sure never thought I'd be teaching history.” He chuckles to himself. He holds out his hand. “C'mon. You don't have to say much.” I look at him nervously. “Trust me.”
Nervously, I take his hand and follow him into the classroom. All the students straighten up and quiet down and give Logan they're full attention. It was kind of comical to say the least.
“Mornin'.” Logan greeted the class.
“Good morning, Mr. Logan.” They all said in unison. Again, I stifle a laugh at the respect given to Logan.
“For those of you who don't know, this is Anna Burke. She'll be our guest speaker today. Give her all your attention and respect when she speaks but don't hesitate to ask questions either.” He informs them and I give a look. Are you kidding me?
He smirks a bit then shrugs and starts his lesson. The current students eye me curiously but don't say anything as they listen to Logan teach. I squirm a bit in my seat and keep my head down slightly. I don't know why I'm so nervous. I already know most of these kids and they're good kids at that. But I feel like I'm under a microscope and not sure what to do.
Logan is teaching on the different wars and focuses more on the ones that he's been through. He shares his experience and the students are glued to him, clearly interested. I myself am very interested as this is some stuff that I've never heard before. Some of it was terrifying. Some of it was amazing. Some of it I could relate too.
Eventually, Logan stops and looks at me. “Anna's mutation is similar to mine. She's been alive since the 1920's and survived World War 2.” The students look at me curiously. “Any questions?” He asks them.
It's silent at first and you can tell they want to ask but are unsure. I turn a shade of red and nervously pushed my hair back. Eventually, a boy who looked nervously around then at me raised his hand. “Go ahead, Bryan.” Logan permitted.
Bryan gave me a curious look then asked his question. “The tattoo on your arm. What does it mean?”
I look down at my arm, rubbing it gently with my thumb as memories came back. “They were for those who were supposed to work in the camp. It was to try to keep up with us. It was hard though because there were so many.” I explain.
“Did you work?” He asks with interest.
“I did. For a while.”
“Is that how you survived? By working there?” Another student asks.
I shake my head. “No. I was still sent to the gas chambers. It was there that I found out about my mutation. I was the only survivor.” Logan gives me a curious look. He'd never heard this whole story.
Student after student asked me many questions and I ended telling my whole story about my time at Auschwitz and after. They listened. Some cried. I thought it'd be hard but it wasn't. If anything, it felt good to release. It felt like a whole life time ago.
“One more. Then it's time to go.” Logan announces, looking at the clock.
A young girl in the back raises her hand and I nod at her to go ahead. “You said you lost a lot of good friends then and over time. What would be your advise to us? Especially if we lose someone in battle. How do you get over it?”
I look at Logan for a moment and he raises his eyebrows a bit. That was a deep last minute question but after moment, I heard her answer. “You don't. You never get over it. You bare it. It's the only thing you can do.” I take a breath, trying to stay steady. “When you lose someone, you'll wish you'd never meant them. Because the pain from that loss wounds and changes you.” I bite my lip then look at the window for a brief moment. “The people I lost...it hurt deeply but I remember that pain is just a sign of how much they meant to me and why I should keep going.” The whole is eerily quiet. I finally look back at the girl. “My advice for you all...honor and love your friends and comrades fiercely. Accept now that it won't be easy when they're gone and whatever you do, when it does happen, allow yourself to feel it and don't ever run from it.”
I felt Logan staring at me for a long time but then he addressed the class. “Remember what she did, kids. You'll need it.” He nodded to himself. “Reports are due Monday. Class is dismissed.” And with that, my time was up and the students stood up and respectfully applauded.
The whole ride to the Munson's house was tense and you could tell that Logan and I were nervous. Logan began giving us instructions, more so to Laura, on how to act and to not say anything that would cause a scene. Which, Laura you didn't really have to worry about as she hasn't one bit since we started this whole mess.
Finally, I can't take the tension any longer and decide to try to lighten things up a bit. “So what should I call you? Pops? Daddy-O?” I tease with a grin which earns a nice signature glare from Logan which makes Charles laugh and Laura's mouth twitch upward towards a smile.
“Don't start.” Logan warns, wagging a finger at me.
“Oh don't be so grumpy.” I laugh. “It's not my fault I aged like fine wine and you...well, you're looking like that old man on the oat meal box.” That really sets Charles off in a fit of giggles and I can't help but join him. It was so nice to hear his light laughter again.
Logan once again gives me a look and shakes his head. “Keep it up, Old Lady. It'll catch up to ya one day.”
“Yeah, probably. But it caught you first.” I fire back and laugh loudly as Logan gives me the middle finger.
Charles continues to laugh and then wipes his eyes. “This reminds me of that mission we went on a few years back. The two of you fought the whole way.” He recalls with a chuckle.
I snort and break a grin breaks across my face. “That wasn't fighting. That was harmless bickering.” I wink at Laura who is eyeing me curiously.
“Oh yes, well that harmless bickering as you call it caused a busted radio.” He points out which makes me giggle and even Logan smirks a bit as he recalls that trip.
Shortly after, we pull in behind the Munson's. The same feeling I had earlier returns and Logan I know feels it too. He clears his throat then addresses all of us. “Remember what I said. We do this thing. We thank the family then we head out. Can't waste too much time here.”
“Logan, what will make us blend in the most will be acting like a family.” Charles suggests.
Logan gives him a look then nods. “Let's go.”
And with that, we all get out of the car and once again greet the Munson's. Laura once again becomes entranced by the horses as they're unloaded. Logan got Charles settled inside while I helped Kathryn in the kitchen with dinner. Well, as much as she would let me. I eventually join Laura outside who is petting the horses with Nate. The horse she was petting bent down to nuzzle her face, earning a big grin from Laura.
“Think you made a friend.” I speak out, causing Laura to turn and smile at me while continuing to pet the horse.
“That's Lola. She's friends with anyone who gives her an apple.” Nate says while continuing to brush her down.
The black horse from earlier comes towards me calmly and stops in front of me. “Hey, boy.” I greet him, ruffling his flanks. Who in return nibbles my shoulder, tickling me.
“That's Panther. He's usually the rowdy one. Not around you though.” He looks at Panther shaking his head. “Traitor.” Nate says rolling his eyes.
Panther huffs, shaking his head in response which makes us all laugh. We stay out there for a while, enjoying the evening air and playing with the horses.
From across the field, I can see Logan watching us with his hands in his pockets. Normally, I would join him right away but I found myself staying outside with Laura and Nate. These moments were far and few between and I wasn't going to let it go. Plus...I still blamed myself for the seizure that Charles had. Logan was right. I should have stayed. I've been so paranoid about losing Logan that I didn't think about the innocent eleven and ninety year old in my care. I had just as much of a responsibility to them as I did to Logan. Logan was weak but he wasn't defenseless. Hell, he's saved my ass more times than I could count since we've been out here. Wish it hadn't taken so much to show me that. Now, he was upset with me and he had every right to be. I planned to apologize later on.
I watch Laura closely as she interacts with them. It's the first time I've seen a true smile from her and it honestly feels good to see it. A child. Not just some sort of mutant or experiment gone wrong. But a little girl who loves horses and is stuck in one hell of a mess. I wondered if Logan would even consider opening up to her but I don't hold out much for it. If it had been years ago when I first met him, I would've said yes, he would. He may of even taken her in. But now...now it's all he can do to get out of bed every morning. Weighed down by physical and emotional pain, I just don't think he'd have it in him any more to let anyone else in. I wondered...would I be the same way? I didn't want to shut her out. I wanted to help her to safety but that's all I can do. I don't know how I can do that either because if Logan is right and Eden doesn't exist...what then? I suppose that was a bridge we'd cross when we came to it.
I'm jolted out of my thoughts when a loud bell is rung. “Supper time!” Kathryn yelled.
“You guys can go. I'm gonna put them up real quick.” Nate says to us.
I nod then prompt Laura to follow me. “C'mon. Let's go wash up.” I hold out my hand for her and she takes it, following me into the house.
Laura and I wash our hands then take our seats at the table. I on one side of Logan and Laura on the other. Kathryn asks Nate to say grace which he obliges. Once he is done, they all say 'amen' and start passing food around. We're an odd bunch to say the least. Mostly due to Logan having to correct Laura on table manners. Kathryn gives me a curious look in which I shrug and go back to eating. I nearly moan at the taste of a home cooked meal. It'd been way too long.
“This is delicious.” Charles voices my opinion.
“Oh, thank you.” Kathryn replies politely.
“It's so good.” Charles says again which makes me smile. I know he's enjoying this a lot.
“I think Anna agrees. She looks like she's in heaven.” Nate teases which causes everyone then to look at me.
“I am.” I agree, not ashamed one bit which makes everyone else laugh.
“Where are ya'll headed?” Will asks.
Logan and Charles say at the same time, exchanging an awkward look. “Well, Oregon and then South Dakota.” Charles recovers.
“Vacation?” Kathryn asks.
“Uh, yes. Long over due. We're city folk. Always wanted to take a road trip, see the country, and meet the people in it.” Charles explains. Logan looks at me and I shrug. Good enough excuse for me.
“That sounds lovely. Been trying to get Will here to take a vacation for years now.” Kathryn replies, hinting at her husband.
Oh boy. Here we go.
“Oh, if we go traipsing all over the country, who's gonna take care of this place?” Will points out.
“Exactly, I say let it go.”
“And live off what?”
I look at Nate who just shakes his head. I could see this was normal.
“The Lord will provide.” Kathryn says a bit sarcastically.
“I'm still waiting for the Lord to provide me with a new thresher.” Will replies, causing Nate to laugh.
“All the same, I've love to travel someday.” Kathryn says casually.
“And I bet you will.” Charles says encouragingly.
“I could drop out of school.” Nate offers.
“Ok, let's not go that far.” Kathryn warns in her motherly tone.
“I mean, I'll do it.” He laughs.
“Why not? You wanna travel. I wanna travel.” He tries to persuade them and I chuckle under my breath. Kids.
“Sounds good to you, right?” Will chimes in.
“This is the perfect plan.” Nate laughs.
“Now why would you want to do that, Nate?” Charles asks. Sounding much like the old professor I once knew.
“Careful, you're speaking to a man who ran a school for a lot of years, right Charles?” Logan speaks up, nodding to Charles who smiles and holds up a hand.
“Yes, it was a sort of special needs school.” He starts to explain.
Logan smirks. “Uh-huh. That's a good description.” Logan says sarcastically, causing me to kick him slightly under the table, which makes him smirk even more.
“He was there, too.” Charles throws him under the bus.
Laura's curiosity perks up as she looks between the two men. “Oh, yeah, no. Um, I got kicked out a few times.” I give him a look. No, you took off, I want to say. Nate just laughs at the exchange, totally oblivious.
“I wish I could say you were a good pupil but the words would choke me.” Charles teases, causing everyone to laugh and look at Logan.
I nearly choke on my drink, finding it very hilarious as I exchange a mischievous smile with Logan, who then actually smiles affectionately at Charles. It's been a long time since I'd seen one of those.
“What about you, Anna? How'd you do in school?” Kathryn asks me.
I smirk. “Apple didn't fall far from the tree.” I reply, raising my eyebrows at Logan, who continues to smirk, getting my message.
“Got that right.” He laughs with everyone else.
“Have you graduated yet?” Will asks.
“Mmm hmm. Last year.” I answer politely.
“Lucky.” Nate scoffs. “Two more years of torture for me.”
“You'll get through it. It'll be over before you know it and you'll probably miss it. Enjoy it while you can. Good and the bad.” I advise, feeling the old councilor in me come out. Nate considers it the shrugs.
“Good advice.” Kathryn compliments me then looks at Logan and Charles. “You must be proud.”
“Oh, I know I am.” Charles meaningfully. “Anna had a rough start and had her struggles but she has overcome every challenge thrown her way. She's strong, smart, caring, and so talented. She never ceases to amaze me and I am proud of her.” Charles looks me in the eye, meaning every word. “So very proud.”
I feel the tears prick my eyes as I didn't expect Charles to go there. They were words that I needed but felt like I didn't totally deserve. Nevertheless, I would always hold on to them. “Thanks, Gramps.” I choke out with a sincere watery smile.
“Me too.” Logan says, which gains my attention quickly. His eyes say everything and I can tell that he's sincere. It's strange how two simple words can break you. But after everything that happened these past couple of days...they meant more to me than they'd ever know.
I couldn't attempt to speak in the moment so I gave him a broken smile and squeezed his hand under the table. The Munson's smiled at us and Laura smiled softly at me with a bit of curiosity and longing. I furiously wipe the tears from my eyes and try to change the subject. The rest of the dinner goes by too quickly as we small talk about different stuff. The conversation is light and filled with laughter. Something I haven't gotten to experience in a long time. It reminded of good days at the mansion and even, as vague as the memories are, my own family before the war.
As we're all finishing and putting dishes in the sink, I notice a beautiful old piano that catches my eye. It'd been so long since I'd played. It looked like it been kept in good shape and had been played recently. As I run my fingers along the keys, Kathryn comes in.
“That old thing has been in my family a long time but it still plays beautifully. Do you play?”
“Uh, yeah. I do. It's been a while but I do.” I reply a bit shyly.
“She's being modest.” Charles says from across the room. “Anna is an excellent player. She majored in it at one point.”
“Really?” Kathryn asks slightly surprised, looking at me.
I shrug. “It's a good hobby.” I offer in response.
“Would you play for us?” She asks.
“What?” My head snaps up.
She nods towards the piano. “Play something for us!”
I look nervously from Logan who shrugs then back to Kathryn. “Oh no, no, I-”
“Come on, Anna. It's been too long since we've heard you play. And it's the least we could do to thank our guests.” Charles insists.
I look nervously around the room at the expectant faces. “Yeah, c'mon Anna. Show us whatcha got.” Nate encourages.
I sigh then look back to Kathryn who nods excitedly. “Alright.” I relent then take a seat at the piano. “Any requests?” I ask nervously.
“Whatever you want.” Kathryn says while taking a seat.
I bite my lip, trying to think of what I could play that they'd be familiar with...and from this time era. I look around the room and notice a few signed Johnny Cash pictures. “Are you guys Johnny Cash fans?” I ask, pointing to the pictures.
“My wife and I am. Nate's a bit young for it but he likes a few songs.” Will speaks up.
I try to think if I know anything and then suddenly remember one that I used to play a lot. So I settled on it then adjusted myself and began to play. My fingers began to press the keys in a beautiful, haunting melody. As I played, the lyrics came back to mind and they sent a shiver through me and I realized that I was playing Logan and I's story.
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
As I play, I notice come all the way in and lean against the wall. I closed my eyes as I played the chorus, allowing myself to get lost in the music.
What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
I swallow hard, taking in the song in a whole new different way. I thought of myself as I played the second verse.
I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here
The last line I played hard leading into a very emotional chorus. As I played, memory after memory crossed my mind. Especially of the two men that meant everything to me. Words could never ever portray how much loved them nor the pain I felt already over just the thought of losing them. It was too hard. Everything came out as I continued to play. Every memory. Every regret. Every fear. All of it came out in the form of raw and broken music. As I played the chorus one last time, I caught Logan's eye and couldn't look away. A million memories and emotions came rushing over me as I held his gaze and played the keys hard and loud. His eyes were haunted as were my own and full of emotion. It was a look that I would never forget.
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way
As I finish the last line, I slowed down and finished the rest of the song. The memories lifted and my thoughts cleared as I played the last note. My shook a bit but I quickly wipe my eyes and turn around to face the other people in the room. Shocked faces turn into smiles as they applaud me.
“Wow, Charles was right. You are modest. That was incredible.” Kathryn says.
“Best cover of that song I've heard. You'd make Mr. Cash proud.” Will compliments me.
I look to Charles who nods and smiles in agreement. “Yes. Beautiful.” He says softly and I know there's more on his mind.
Logan nods also then clears his throat. “Ma'am I can't thank you enough for this. Uh, it was great. But we have a long drive ahead of us so...”
“But you need to rest, don't you?” Kathryn interrupts him.
“Yeah, we'll find a motel somewhere.” Logan tries again. I give him a nervous look. We can't stay here...
“The nearest one is two hours from here and it's not even that nice.” Will joins his wife.
“We have a perfectly fine room for your daughters and father and you can sleep in the living room on the convertible.” Kathryn insists.
“Kathryn, it's very nice of you but we really should go.” Logan says.
“Logan, we can leave early in the morning. Break of dawn, as it were.” Charles cuts in.
Logan sighs deeply, slightly frustrated. “Why don't we wash up, Pop?” Logan finally relents then takes Charles to the restroom.
I stand there in slight shock. We couldn't possibly be staying. “Uh, sweetie, do you want some dessert?” Kathryn asks Laura who nods slightly. She then looks at me. “Anna? Dessert?” She holds up a pie.
I smile but shake my head. “No thank you. I, uh, I'm gonna go outside for a few minutes. Look at the stars. We don't see them in the city.” I excuse myself then head outside before anyone can say anything.
Once outside, I sit on the stairs of the porch. It's different out here. Peaceful, quiet and the only light coming from the moon and some distant lights. I pull my knees up to my chest, feeling tired in every way. I was definitely feeling my age tonight but deep down, I was missing so many people. I'm over a hundred years old but want nothing more than to be held by my mother.
A few minutes later, I hear heavy footsteps beside me. “Hey.” I greet Logan with a forced smile.
“Hey.” He grunts as he takes a seat next to me. “You okay?” He asks after a minute passes.
I shrug. “I don't know what okay is anymore.” I answer honestly. Logan nods as he lights up a cigar. “I'm tired, Logan.”
“You should get some rest.” He replies quietly.
“Not that kind of tired. Well, I mean, yeah kinda but it's more than that.” I look at Logan wearily. “I'm tired, Logan.” I repeat myself with a sigh. “Tired and scared.” I look down then at Logan again. “Tonight...was amazing. I forgot what it felt like. To be in a home. Part of a family. To laugh and have fun. It was great but, my mind keeps calling me back to reality. We're not safe. We're taking a risk every second of being here. And knowing that...it scares and tires me more.”
Logan sighs deeply as he nods in agreement. “Welcome to old age” He whispers, blowing out smoke.
I laugh slightly. “Being old isn't what bothers me. It's the in between.” I reply.
I swallow hard then rest my head on my arms sitting on my knees. “I'm sorry, Logan. For yesterday. It was my fault. I wasn't thinking I should've listened to you.”
Logan shakes his head. “I'm sorry I was hard on you about it.”
“No, you weren't. You were right.”
“Doesn't matter. I was an ass. And I know why you did it.” Logan says.
“Do you?” I fire back lightly.
Logan pauses but then looks me in the eye. “Yeah, I do. I'm afraid of losing you too.” He takes a deep breath. “You scared the shit out of me. Back at the casino and after you were shot. I was afraid you wouldn't wake up. And the thought of losing another person because I failed to keep them safe....” He trails off but I nod.
Tears slide down my cheek. “Logan, one day one of us isn't going to wake up.” My lip quivers a bit. “What do we do when that happens?”
Logan blows out a long line of smoke then looks at me. “Find the nearest bar and raise a glass.” He says quietly, his voice thick with emotion.
Despite the moment, I laugh and shake my head. “Alright. I promise.” I whisper.
“Gonna hold you to it.” He says with a soft smirk.
“Okay.” I attempt to say but my voice cracks and more tears come. With that, Logan scoots closer, wraps his arms around me, bringing me to his chest. I hug him tightly, letting my tears fall softly onto his shirt. He kisses my temple softly, letting it linger for a moment, then lets his head rest softly on mine.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11: Be At Peace, My Dear Friend
“Anna?” Hank's voice caught my attention as I looked up from grading papers.
“Hi, Hank.” I greeted with a smile. “What brings you here this evening?”
Hank offers a quick smile and nod but it quickly fades. “I'm trying to arrange a meeting as soon as possible. I need staff, especially X-Men members, to be there. It's urgent.”
“What's going on?” I ask concerned.
“It's concerning the professor.” He sighs, rubbing his neck. “I found something during his last check up that I feel needs to be addressed as soon as possible.”
My eyebrows furrowed together. “What is it, Hank?”
Hank shrugs. “It could be nothing but...on the other hand, it could very well be something and regardless, it needs to be addressed with everyone as soon as possible.” He says seriously.
“Okay, um...when do you want us to meet?” I ask.
“In an hour. Same place as always.” He replies.
“Okay, I'll be there. Is there anything I can do?”
“Just make sure everyone is aware. I think I've got everyone but if you could just make sure, that would be a great help.” He says.
I nod in understanding. “I can do that.” I say reassuringly.
Hank smiles. “Thank you, Anna. See you soon.” He says then disappears.
I spend the next hour finishing the rest of my paperwork and texting people to make sure they're aware of the meeting. The hour goes by fast as I look up and see that I have ten minutes. I hear a knock on my door and Storm sticks her head in. “Hey, Anna.” She greets with a kind smile. “I decided to head down early to the meeting. You know how Hank is. Would you like to walk with me?”
“Sure.” I nod with a smile. I look at my phone, texts from Logan appearing.
Me: 'Meeting at 4. Hank says it's urgent. Be there.'
Logan: 'On my way. Tell fur ball I'll be late.'
Me: 'He's gonna kill you.'
Logan: 'Good day to die as any.'
I send a face rolling it's eyes in which Logan sends back a winking face.
Logan: 'Still on for tonight?'
I look up from my phone, biting my lip, trying to hold back a smile then finally text back.
Me: 'Yeah. Where we going?'
Logan: “You'll see.
I smile again, giggling to myself as I stuff my phone in my pocket. I look at Storm who gives me a mischievous smile. “What?” I ask innocently.
“Don't 'what' me.” She laughs. “I see that silly grin. Must be Logan.” She wiggles her eyebrows.
I roll my eyes while laughing. “Maybe.”
Storm laughs while elbowing me affectionately. “Where ya going?”
“I don't know. He won't tell me.” I reply.
“Think he's gonna propose?” She asks raising her eyebrows.
“What? No!” I exclaim, making Storm laugh even harder.
“I don't know, Anna.” She sings. “You two are getting pretty serious.”
“Yeah but not that serious.” I insist.
She gives me a look. “Only because you won't let it get fully serious.”
“Ah, Storm, not again.” I stop in the hallway. “You know how I feel about Logan. But I don't want to get my hopes up.”
She tilts her head to the side. “Why not?” I look away. “Do you love him?” She asks after a moment of silence.
I close my eyes then sigh. No use in denying it. “Yeah. I do.”
Storm smiles softly. “It's clear that he loves you too. Why are you afraid?”
“Because...I don't know, it's Logan.” I huff frustrated.
She chuckles softly. “Normally I would agree with you but not this one. He's different around you, Anna. Always has been.”
“I just don't want to ruin anything between us, Storm. Logan's my best friend and I don't want to lose him because of some stupid romantic crap.” I say honestly.
“Honey, you two have been through hell and back already and through enough fights than I could ever count. I think you've proven that you're stuck with each other.” She laughs softly. “If there's one thing that I know for sure about Logan is that he says everything with his actions and he doesn't say anything unless he fully means it. And everything that he's saying about you is that he loves you.” She grabs my hand. “You're not just a good night in bed to him, Anna. I know that's what you fear but it's not true. He loves you deeply, in more ways than one.” She gives me a kind, motherly look. “I believe you know that too.”
I smile back and squeeze her hand. She was right. I did but man it scared the hell out of me all the same. “Thanks, Storm.” I whisper then start walking down the hallway again.
We make small talk as we go down the long corridors. “So Hank said this meeting is about the professor. Do you think it's going to be bad?” I ask curiously.
“I'm not sure. He hasn't been doing very well lately with his health, it seems. From what I was told, tests weren't coming back normal.” She says with a hint of worry in her voice.
I frown. “What do you think that means?”
“I don't know, Anna. Guess we'll find out soon enough.” She says softly.
Not even a minute later, everything froze and a huge wave hit us that made me cry out in pain. It was unlike anything that I had felt or experienced before. I couldn't breath, think, move, anything. Everything just stopped but it was painful being hit wave after wave and it seemed like time just wouldn't go forward. Eventually, I began to see black spots and I willed myself not to black out but soon enough it took me and when I finally woke up, my whole world had changed.
I was nearly asleep when I hear voices cursing inside and I felt Logan tense beneath me. “What's going on?” I ask sleepily.
“I don't know. I'm gonna go find out.” He says letting go of me.
We go inside and find the Munson's rushing around and barking orders at each other. “What's going on?” Logan asks.
“The pump station that supplies us is about a mile and a half from here. Sometimes it gets itself shut off.” Will explains.
“Yeah, by assholes.” Nate rolls his eyes, causing Will to reprimand him. At the same time, Laura is about to help herself to some dessert but Logan quickly intervenes.
“My son is happy to go with you.” Charles volunteers Logan.
“No, no, no, it's fine.” Will tries to reassure us. “The men that do this some time they can be...”
“I can go.” Nate volunteers.
“No, you have homework.” Kathryn objects.
“Alright, I'll go. Just uh...let me get my dad settled.” Logan says then turns to me. “Get your sister settled and ready for bed.”
I nod. “Okay.” I obey then turn to Laura. “Let's get you ready for bed, sweetie.”
I hold out my hand and she takes it, following me to the bathroom. I wait for her to change into her clothes then take out a bottle of dry shampoo. “Dry shampoo.” I explain as I feel her curious eyes looking at me through the mirror. “A woman's best friend but after day three or four, time for a shower.” I smirk as I begin to spray her hair. I run my fingers through it then brush through the tangles. “Voila. Clean, shiny hair.” I say and watch in amusement as Laura runs her finger through it, amazed.
After she gets done in the bathroom, she explores the house more and disappears into Nate's room. I take the time to get myself changed into pajamas and freshened up. When I come out, Logan catches me in the hallway as he leaves Charle's room. “He's had his pills and is settled, ready for bed. I'll be back soon.” He informs me.
“Okay.” I nod. He gives me a faint smile then goes to walk downstairs. “Logan.” I call after him. He turns to me. “Be careful.”
He holds my gaze for a moment then nods. “Be back soon.” He says then disappears downstairs.
Laura comes back out with a phone and head phones. I smile at her. “Looks like Nate hooked you up.”
She nods then shows me what she's listening too. “Ah. Good song.” I compliment then nods towards the door. “Come on. Let's get ready for bed. It's been a long day.”
Laura follows me to the bedroom and I see an air mattress big enough for the both of us. I motion for her to get in first then I slide down next to her. I quickly feel sleep beginning to take over me but after a few minutes, I notice that the room is oddly quiet and not filled with sleeping sounds. “Laura?” I whisper and she rolls over, taking her head phone out. “You okay?” She thinks for a moment then hands me a folded piece of paper. “What's this?” I wonder out loud.
I prop myself on my elbow and open the piece of paper. It turns out to be a photo and see about six children and two nurses, one of them being the slain nurse that I saw in the hotel room. I sigh heavily. “Are these your friends?” I ask her.
She nods very slightly, looking sad. “They're probably the only family you've ever known, huh?” I ask as I hand the picture back to Laura. She takes it then looks up at me. “I had friends once too. They were...they were everything. I lost my family at a young age and was alone for many years. When they found me...I had all but lost myself. I was alone. Scared. Tired and worn from being experimented on. Charles...and Logan...they saved my life. They brought me back.” Laura listens intently and it feels weird talking about this with her. It feels like ages ago. “I know what it feels like to lose the very people you dare call family. And it hurts. It hurts like hell and you never fully recover from it. And I won't tell you it gets easier because sometimes it just doesn't. However, it shows the impact they had on you. Shows how much you cared for them and there's nothing wrong with that. I pause, feeling tears threatening my eyes. I see them shining in Laura's too. “I can't promise you that we'll find them, Laura. But I can promise that we'll try, okay?” I brush the hair from her face and smile.
Next thing I know Laura comes and snuggles close to me and I freeze at first but then wrap my arms around her and hold her close. We stay like that for a long time before I feel her breathing soften and her arms around me relax. I stayed wide away for a while. Staring at the moon through the window and enjoying the stillness. An hour must've passed before I hear stirring in the room. “Anna?” I hear Charles call my name.
I get up slowly, trying not to disturb Laura as she rolls over. “Hey, Pops.” I whisper as I sit on the edge of his bed. “You alright?”
“Yes.” He whispers. “Better than alright, actually.”
I smile, grabbing his hand. “Good night, huh?”
“Oh, this was without a doubt the most perfect night that I've had in a very long time.” He says softly with a smile but then it quickly breaks as his face falls and his voice cracks. “But I don't deserve it. Do I?”
I frown and tilt my head to the side. “Why would you say something like that?” I ask concerned.
His face continues to contort in pain. “I did something. Something unspeakable.” He whispers as he remembers something then looks at me with broken eyes. “I've remembered what happened in Westchester.” I look at him in shock and feeling very cornered but let him continue. “It's not the first time I've hurt people.” He sighs closing his eyes then looking back at me. “Until today I didn't know. Logan wouldn't tell me...neither would you. So we just kept...running away from it.”
Tears fill my eyes as I take his hand and notice the door opens. I look back briefly and notice that it's Logan but I turn my attention back to Charles. “It wasn't your fault, Charles. We knew something was wrong. Hank caught it.” I clear my throat of the tears clogging it. “We were on our way to discuss it but you had the seizure before we could do anything. By the time it was over...they were gone. It was just Logan and I left. We never told you because we were trying to protect you.”
Charles pulls the blanket close to his face, closing his eyes in pain. “I'm so sorry, Anna. So sorry.” He whispers, tears running down his cheek.
“Hey, shhh...” I whisper comfortingly while cupping his cheek in my hand. “It's not your fault, Charles, okay? It's not your fault. It was an accident. A terrible one. But it wasn't your fault.” Charles takes a shaky breath as I brush the tears away from his face with my thumb. “Be at peace, my friend.” I say softly while letting my one hand linger on his cheek and my hand squeezing his.
Charles takes a deep breath, finally relaxing as he squeezes my hand back. I felt a weight in a way lifted from my shoulders. Logan and I had hidden this truth for so long thinking that we were protecting him but really...he needed this. He needed to know and face it. I hoped Logan wasn't too upset with me as this was something we debated a lot.
Speaking of Logan, I heard his footsteps come closer but I immediately sensed something was off. Where was his ragged breathing? His heavy footsteps? Why hadn't he said anything yet? Charles went to say something to me but he turned his attention to Logan. “Logan?” He said reaching out for him. I looked at Logan but a ice cold chill surged through me as I realized something was definitely wrong.
“Charles!” I screamed as I threw myself over him to protect him but I was cut off by a painful, hot piercing that went through my back. It knocked the breath out of me and I gasped in pain, immediately feeling my lungs fill up. But what hurt even worse was the pained and surprised gasp that came from Charles. The claws that went through me retracted and I let out another painful yelp as I collapsed next to Charles.
I then hear a manic scream come from Laura as she attacks Logan and they fight back and forth. I was worried for Laura but more concerned for my friend next to me. “Charles?” I cough violently. “Charles!” As I shake him and he looks at me scared.
“Anna?” He whispers hoarsely, blood coming from his mouth.
“Charles, stay with me!” I plead with him as I press down on his wounds.
I look back frantically at Laura and Logan who are still violently fighting. What was going on? My vision was blacking and I shook my head fiercely to clear it. I jump as Laura goes crashing into the wall, knocking her out. “Laura!” I cry out.
Logan makes his way over to me slowly and I shake violently. That wasn't Logan though. That was some sort of clone. Just then Nate comes in and knocks the thing over the head with a baseball bat which was a big mistake.
“No, Nate, run! Get out of here!” I yell at him but I'm too late as the clone stabs Nate fatally, killing him instantly.
Shock and fear paralyze me and I want to do something but I can't leave Charles. I watch as the thing puts Laura in restraints.
“Nate?” I hear Kathryn cry as she sees her son then fiercely points the gun at the clone.
“Put her down.” She growls.
“Kathryn, get outta here! Run!” I plead with her, not wanting to see another life lost.
“Honey?” I hear Will downstairs.
“Stay down there Will!” Kathryn yells as she stands her ground. “No, stop!” She screams as the clone rips into her.
Laura screams bloody murder and I scream too before I'm cut off by violent coughing. “Anna.” Charles whispers and I try to look up but get dizzy. “Anna, you mustn't let them take Laura.” He pleads. “Go. Stop him!”
I shake my head rapidly. “I'm not leaving you, Charles. Now hang on. Hang on.” I say as I frantically try to see what I'm doing to stop then bleeding. I cry more as I hear another gun shot and hear someone falling down the stairs, knowing that it was the last Munson.
“Anna. You have...to...go.” He pleads again as we hear Laura scream again, this time farther away.
“I'm sorry, Charles. I can't. I can't.” I cry.
“Charles?!” I hear someone say from down stairs. “Charles!”
My head swims violently and I near pass out as my ears ring. I suddenly feel a rough hand grab and I instantly come too and fight back swinging and screaming. “No, no!” I scream as the assailant but I'm easily caught by both arms.
“Anna, it's me! It's me!” The real Logan says frantically then looks at my wounds and Charles' wounds. “Shit.” He curses as he holds down the already bloody compress on Charles' chest. “Hold this. It wasn't me. It wasn't me.” He whispers in Charles' ear.
Seeing that Logan has Charles, I force myself and run out the room. “Anna!” He calls after me.
“I have to get Laura!” I yell back over my shoulder.
A rush of adrenaline courses through me as I run outside looking for Laura. I stop in my tracks as the clone is facing off against a bunch of people that I don't know. In a moment it turns into a horrific blood bath that you'd only see in horror films. I look around frantically for Laura and finally spot her not too far away. I stagger her way and fall next to her. Laura growls and screeches but I put my hand on her forehead. “It's okay.” I say coughing. “I'm here. I'm gonna get you out.”
Laura relaxes a tiny bit as I desperately look for a way to unlock her. I can't figure it out so I pick her up or try to anyway but my vision swims and I nearly drop her.
“Come on, Anna. You got more fight in you than that.” I stop in my tracks to see none than Scott Summers.
“Scott?” I stammer confused. I shake my head. It can't be. He's dead.
I run with Laura but it feels like I'm in slow motion. I lose my balance and drop Laura with a grunt.
“Come on, Anna. Get up!” Hank coaxes me.
I shake my head again and pick Laura up and try to run again.
“Don't stop.” I hear Jean say as I pass her.
I run harder but I fall again with Laura in my arms. “I can't. I can't.” I cry as my legs give out. My vision swims again and I feel myself panicking more and more. Laura screams more at something behind me and I look back and see the clone above me staring at me angrily.
He swings at me and I block him but then his claws come out and I have to dodge him. He comes after me and my only weapon is a metal pole. I know it's feeble but I fight him regardless. It's the scariest thing I've ever been faced with. More so than any experiments because this is too personal. Finally, he makes a hit, slicing through my side. I scream, trying my best to block him.
“Remember your training.” I see Scott again the background.
I try everything that I know but he is faster than I am and full of rage. I'm backed up against a tree and get away. My energy fails me, not able to fight anymore. I look one last time into fiery eyes of the clone of my best friend. He growls the slices across my chest. I try to block him with the pole he slices through and rakes his claws across my abdomen, cutting deeply. I scream loudly in pain as I fall to the ground. He picks me up by the hair and throws me on to my back. I watch helplessly as I prepare for my death but at the last moment, Logan comes through body slams him away from me. They start fighting but I can barely pay attention as I shake violently from fear and pain. I gasp and cough violently for air and I vaguely hear Laura scream in the background.
I feel hand a faint hand grab my own and I look up over to see Marie holding it, smiling down at me. “Don't worry, Anna. It'll be over soon.”
I close my eyes, still panting frantically. I can feel the hot, sticky pool of blood form around me. “Focus on your breathing, Anna. Slow down.” I look over and see Storm sitting on a tree stump.
“Help me.” I plead desperately to no one as I cough up blood.
In the back ground I hear Logan screaming in pain and I fear the worst as my breathing picks up and I can't catch my breath. “Oh, dear. What do we have here?” I look over and see none other than Magneto walking slowly towards me. He stops in front of me, kneeling down and sighing deeply. I continue to wheeze painfully. “This is the very thing that I was afraid of, Anna. This is the very reason I fought so hard against them. Humans. They did this.” He sighs, shaking his head. “I tried to warn Charles. I truly did. I tried to warn all of you but I was always taken the wrong way. Too bad, really. Us mutants...we could've had so much. Could've done so much. But there was too much focus on trying to coexist.” He places a hand on my forehead, brushing the hair away from my face. “Such a shame. You tried though. You tried.”
As Magneto disappears, the pain comes back full force and I can't breath properly without coughing up blood. I just wanted to die. Right then and there. Anything to escape this pain. I felt myself growing colder and colder, my vision beginning to darken. As I begin to still, I'm jolted awake by hands shaking me.
“Anna? Baby, wake up.” I hear a familiar voice. As I come too, the pain grips me again and I cry out in pain. “Stay still. Stay still.” I hear Logan's deep voice.
“Logan.” I gasp, my breathing ragged and hoarse.
“Shh, shh.” He whispers as he presses something against me hard and I yelp but am cut off by a violent coughing spell. “I know, it hurts like hell.” I try to breathe but can't easily. I feel myself slipping further and further. I feel another shake. “Anna, stay with me, baby. Stay with me.” He demands. I open my eyes and see Logan's scared eyes filled with tears. He cups my bloody cheek in his hand. “Anna.” He whispers, his voice cracking.
I grab his hand, still trying to breathe. “Charles.” I whisper so faintly that he doesn't hear it. “Charles.” I gasp again, coughing again painfully.
“Shh.” He coos as he smooths my nappy hair back.
I look at Logan again, tears falling down my face. “I tried.” I mumble over and over through my ragged breathing. I hold his hand more firmly with what little strength I have left and look up at him one last time. “I tried.”
And with that, I exhaled one more time before darkness over took and the fear and pain released it's grip.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12: Not Supposed to Be This Way
It was early morning when I walked down the hallway, my intentions on heading to the balcony for a smoke. The sun was just coming up and it was my daily routine to come and be alone for a while before starting the rest of my day. While lighting my cigar, I squint my eyes and notice two figures in the courtyard. Eyes adjusting, I notice that it's Anna and a student by the name of Julie I believe. Anna is teaching her self defense and from the looks of it, is doing a great job. Anna had been here for three years now and had a great reputation with the students. She didn't think so but I saw the way they respected her and paid attention to anything she had to say. She also took time with the students who needed it and worked on anything that she could help them with, mostly with their powers. She was good at it too as the students who were labeled troubled began to get better and better. It was impressive to watch, especially considering where she herself came from.
“Good morning, Logan.” Professor greeted from behind me, earning my attention. “Might I join you?”
“Mornin'.” I reply with a nod then take a step to the side.
“I see Anna is up and at it already.” He nods towards the fighting pair.
“Yep. Beating the shit out of that kid.” I reply as Anna easily knocks the kid off her feet, using a technique that I taught her.
Professor chuckles, a warm smile tugging at his lips as he watches them. “Learned from the best, I see.”
I smirk. “She's always had potential. Just needed some training.”
“Indeed. That's one of the reasons I paired her with you.” He says then turns his attention Anna, who is taking a break and just talking with the kid.
Her full attention was on the girl she was coaching and her was cocked a bit to the side as it usually is when she is listening. It was one of the special things about Anna that I respected. She was a good listener, always knowing when to listen and speak when needed. Sometimes she spoke up. Sometimes she was just there. When she did speak, you couldn't help but hang on to every word.
“She's a special woman, Anna is.” Professor nods towards Anna. “She's come a long way.”
“Mmm hmmm.” I mumble in agreement as I blow out smoke, keeping my eyes on Anna.
“A lot of her progress is thanks to you, you know.” He says and I shrug.
“All I did was piss her off and make her work.”
Professor chuckles softly. “Yes, and though that was effective, there is more to the story.” He says, raising his eyebrows at me. “She's very fond of you, Logan.”
“Mmm.” I mumble with a shrug. “She's a good kid.”
“She's not a child, Logan. You know that.” He smiles. “I dare say that you too are fond of her.” I give him a look, which makes his smile bigger then he holds his hands up in surrender. “She's good for you, Logan. As I have seen a change in you and we all know the soft spot you have for her.”
“Watch it, Wheels.” I warn while pointing a finger at him.
“I'll only speak my observations once.” He says firmly. “I am not against the friendship you two share. As I said, you both have been good for each other and even if doesn't progress more than friendship, you're still a solid foundation for you both to come back too.” He looks from Anna to me. “I think you'll find that if there was anyone to stay with you through the worst times, it would be her.” He smiles then turns his chair around to leave. “Takes someone very stubborn to do that.” He chuckles then leaves me standing with a mind racing.
I look back to Anna who is now standing and showing the student which position to stand in. As if noticing me watching her, she turns her head and makes eye contact with me. I wave at her slightly. She holds my gaze for a moment before giving a short, soft smile then turns back to the girl and starts fighting her. I never knew how right the professor would be.
“Anna?...Anna?” I say worriedly as her hand releases mine, falling by her side. I shake her by the arms gently, trying to get some sort of reaction from her. Nothing. Her head rolls to the side and her chest is still. “No...no. Anna, c'mon wake up.” I shake her more desperately. She couldn't be gone. No response. “Anna, dammit, wake up!” I shake her more forcefully, looking for any trace of life. She couldn't die. Not now. Not this way. Not because of me. It wasn't supposed to be this way. “Don't you do this to me, Anna. You promised it wouldn't be this way. Wake up. Wake up!” I nearly yell as my voice cracks and I'm cut off by painful coughing of my own. I hear Laura screaming in the background and know that we have to get out of here. I look back at Anna, waiting for her to come back but she remains limp in my arms. The sight of her kills me. Her hair and face is matted with dirt and blood. Deep, angry lacerations are across her chest and stomach along with puncture wounds that matched Charles. She tried to save him. Now a large puddle of blood had formed beneath her
There was so much that was going around but it seemed like everything was in slow motion. Gun fire, screaming, orders being shouted but my eyes were glued to my lifeless friend that was in my arms. She couldn't be gone. Not for good. My ears rang and my movements robotic as I lifted my friend, who felt cold and frail, into my arms and hurried as fast as I could to the truck. “You're gonna be okay. You're gonna be okay.” I said over and over more to myself than to her as I brushed her hair back. Afterwards, everything came too as I limped back to get Laura, who was still screaming frantically as she was bound by restraints. She only stopped briefly when I picked her up and hurriedly got her into the truck.
Once in the truck, Laura looked back and saw Anna and Charles. She screamed angrily and I demanded her to sit down as I sped off. She kept struggling against the restraints and screaming. I finally had enough and turned to her. “Hold still. Hold still!” I demanded as I withdrew my claws and cut through the restraint. She immediately stopped and she looked back at Anna, who still showed no signs of life, and looked back at me with a sad and lost expression. I held her gaze for a few moments before turning back to the road.
We rode in silence and I did my best to block out the panic and guilt that I felt. I tried to focus on my own physical pain, which ached terribly but was nothing compared the emotional pain. In less than an hour, I lost the two most important people that I had left in my life and now...I didn't know what to do. They were the only ones that kept me grounded. The only ones I lived for. Now they're gone and they went in the worst way possible. I was the last thing they saw even though it wasn't me. I kept trying to tell myself that they knew that but it still haunted me. It seemed like no matter how far I tried to run from it, the worst side of me always got out and hurt somebody.
All I could think of was the things that I never got a chance to say. Things that should've been discussed. Thank you's and apologies given. Confessions made. A chance to lay it on the table. But it never happened and that was my fault. Anna...rest her soul...she tried. She tried so hard and I shut her out. We'd get so far before I couldn't handle it any more and shut down. I always thought I had plenty of time. If not with Charles, with Anna. Everything that happened to her...it wasn't supposed to happen. Nothing that happened tonight was supposed to happen the way it did. At 8:53pm which was right now, we were supposed to be driving somewhere. Anna was supposed to be by my side, looking out the window with that peaceful look on her face, maybe offer that sideways smile of hers when she remembered something that made her laugh or feel good. Charles would laugh along with her, adding in his own memories, or some profound wisdom, or even a smart remark. Laura...she'd look between us all, taking in all the information, trying to figure us out. That's what was supposed to be happening right now. I should've listened to the gut feeling I had about staying. I knew Anna felt it too and perhaps even Charles did too. But instead we took a risk by staying and now...now I was paying for it. Five lives lost. Innocent, good hearted people. Yet somehow I of all people was still breathing. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became.
After driving for an hour or two more, Laura looks back at Anna. I look in hopes of her noticing any signs of life but still nothing. Laura kept staring though and for some reason, it was really beginning to bug me. “She's gone, kid.” I mumble.
She responds with a familiar glare then takes off her seat belt and climbs to the back seat. “Hey, what are you doing?” I ask impatiently. She ignores me and I hear her move Anna around. “Hey, leave her alone!” I demand, feeling protective. Again, she ignores me and I see her settle down into the passenger seat with Anna's head in her lap, holding onto her limp hand. The scene made my chest hurt and I sighed deeply, rubbing my face tiredly and trying my best not to lose it here. “Shit, kid.” I whisper brokenly.
Memory after memory of Anna, Charles, and all of the people that I've lost hit me in waves and I try my best to drown them out but it seems to be impossible. Especially, those of Anna. I remember when I first met her. How scared, broken, and angry she was. I remember how I fought Charles when he suggested I help her. I didn't want too. Then I met her and everything changed. She changed. She became a friend that meant the world to me, which scared the shit out of me, and this was why. Everyone I love, I lose.
Finally, I decided that I needed to find a place to bury them. I couldn't stand this. They needed to be at rest and I needed to be on my way. After driving a while longer, I see a place on a lake that looks as good as any and decide to pull over. I get out and pull the tail gate down. I try to be as numb as possible as I gently lift Charles' body and take him to a small clearing in the woods. When I come back to the truck, I open the passenger door and Laura looks at me with unreadable eyes. As I reach for Anna, Laura flinches away and holds Anna's body closer to her. I give her a look, mirroring her intense eyes. “C'mon, kid. It's gotta be done.” I reach for Anna again but Laura protectively flinches away from me, not wanting to let her go. I huff, frustrated and give her a glare, which she gives right back. “She's gone, kid. She's not coming back. Now give her here.” I reach for her again but once again, she refuses. “Fuck.” I curse, becoming very agitated. “Fine. Hold on to her while I dig these holes.” I snap then stomp over the burial ground.
I begin to dig, trying my best to ignore the pain all over my body. I take my anger out on shoveling, my vision beginning to blur through angry tears. It wasn't supposed to end this way. With either of them. We were supposed to get the job done and be soaking up the sun on the Sun Seeker with a cold beer in our hands. Charles was supposed to go peacefully with Anna and I at his side. I was supposed to die before Anna and her be with me like she promised. This...this wasn't right. It was all. Fucked. up.
As I started on the next hole, I got angrier. There wasn't supposed to be a second hole. Not for her. She wasn't supposed to die scared. She wasn't supposed to die with regret and grief. She wasn't supposed to die not knowing that I loved her. Not knowing the impact that she had on me and how grateful I was for her. She'd never know how many times she saved me. She showed me what it was like to love and trust again despite what she came from. She saw me at my worst and my seemingly best. She was a faithful friend, comrade, and lover through it all. I never had the words to express what I felt for her. Thank you was too short and too shallow. Nothing I ever said seemed to convey what I really felt. But it never mattered because she loved fiercely no matter what without having to say a word. An image of her mangled body flashed through my mind. I dug harder. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
When I was done, I threw the shovel to the ground, panting hard, wiping away angry tears and limped back to the truck. I slung the door open, ready to snatch Anna from Laura, but all my fight left me as I was met with teary doe eyes. Her lip quivered as she sniffed and looked down at Anna. I sighed heavily and shook my head. I wanted to be so pissed and angry with this kid and to an extent, I still was, but the way she acted with Anna showed me that she wasn't incapable of emotion. I gave her a look, hoping that she wouldn't fight me again because I just didn't have it in me. She held my gaze for a moment then carefully lifted Anna's upper body towards me. “Easy.” I whisper as I gently take her from Laura. I grunt as I lift Anna up and shift her in my arms. She was too frail. Too light.
As I carried her, memories of her bright smile and laughter flooded my mind. One time she ambushed me with a water gun from behind at a picnic. I heard her coming way before but decided to amuse her. She was so proud of herself and laughed as I growled then chased her. It was that image of her as she looked over her shoulder at me while laughing that was forever embedded in my mind. That was what I had lived for. Now, it taunted me and hurt like hell, knowing that I'd never see her like that again.
I gently set her down next to the hole while beginning to shovel the dirt over Charles. It was all too final. Memories of him flooded my mind too. Guilt and regret washed over me as I buried him. He too deserved better. He was my father and mentor. Age didn't mean a damn to me. He saved my life and gave me the family I never thought was possible to have. I was grateful and angry. Grateful because those were the best years of my life. The family he gave me meant the world to me. But all the same, that's why I was angry. Because it didn't last and it hurt too damn much to lose them. After the Westchester accident, I never told him the whole truth of what happened and I regret it. I can say that I was trying to protect him but I was also angry with him. I didn't want to talk. So we ended up just surviving. Leaving him stuck in a tank and trying to keep him medicated enough to where I didn't have to worry about him. It was stupid. Selfish. And I'd do anything to have one last conversation with him. But this was the real world and it just wasn't going to happen.
As I finished, I backed away and tried to find the right words but they just wouldn't come. “Well...it's uh...it...it's got water.” My voice cracked and tears blurred my vision. “It's got water...” Damn it, this hurt like hell.
I quickly looked away and walked over to Anna's body, whom Laura was still with. She looked at me and I could tell she expected me to tell her off or something but I just didn't have the strength. I sank down to my knees next to her and pulled Anna close to me. I brushed her hair back and let my hand rest on her cheek for a while. Silent tears rolled slow down my cheek and I made eye contact with Laura, who was looking sad and angry as she held Anna's hand. “Toughest chick I ever met.” I say numbly. I feel angry again as I see her wounds again, which don't show any signs of healing. My grip tightens on her, my hands shaking. “It wasn't supposed to be this way.” I choke out. Laura moves closer to me, placing a small hand on my shoulder. I let out a painful, shaky sigh. “Damn you for making me do this.” I say angrily to Anna as I feel myself beginning to break. I pull her closer to me, holding her as tears soak her hair. “I'm sorry.” I whisper over and over as a deep, sickening regret washed over me again and again.
As time passed, I finally let her go and stood up. Laura stared at me as I paced back and forth, feeling angrier by the moment. I knew what had to be done but I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was too final. Once I threw in the dirt, there was no going back. I was mumbling and ranting to myself like a mad man. Laura stood up, reaching out to grab my wrist and I froze, giving her a hard look. I angrily yank my wrist away from her and take a step back. “You just...you just had to come to us, huh?” I see her freeze and then her face becomes hard. I had plenty to say but I'm cut off by a small gasp of air.
I look down at Anna, who is not moving. I had to imagine it but then Laura looks in the same direction. I wait another moment before I notice a very faint pulse. It couldn't be. “Anna?” I whisper. Suddenly, she gasps, taking a deep breath then coughs violently. “Oh my god.” I say over and over as I drop to my knees beside her and quickly hold her up as she continues to cough and struggle for air. Her eyes flutter open and she begins to panic, which causes her to cough and struggle even more. I try my best to calm her down, letting her know that I'm there. She struggles for air, her breathing ragged and uneven. “Shhh shhhh.” I say as I brush her hair back, trying to get her to calm down.
“Logan...” She squeaks out weakly, trying her best to breath.
“I'm here. I'm here.” I whisper, my hand cupping her cheek, my thumb wiping away involuntary tears.
Anna holds my gaze for a second before she squeezes them shut, her face contorting in pain. “Ow.” She whimpers painfully, still struggling to breath properly. “Son of a bitch.” She curses, more tears rolling down her cheeks.
My chest tightens, tears threatening my own eyes. I lifted up her shirt, or what was left of it, and examined her wounds They had healed a little but they were still painfully deep and angry looking. She needed help. “Hang on, Anna. Hang on.” I whisper as I start to get up. She mumbles something through her pain but I don't catch it. “What?” I ask.
“Charles.” She chokes out, keeping eye contact with me.
I feel like ice cold water was poured over me as I look from her to Laura to Charles' grave. I sigh heavily, wincing as I look back at her pain filled eyes. She knew. I hold her closer. “He didn't make it.” I whisper.
Anna immediately closes her eyes, biting her lip as she takes a deep, shaky breath. “No...no.” She cries as fresh tears roll down her cheeks as she sees Charles' grave.
“Hey.” I whisper as I pull her to my chest, wrapping my arms around her. She cried loudly into my chest, her tears soaking my shirt. I cried too as I held on to her, knowing exactly how she felt. We had to get out of there. I couldn't take any more and Anna needed help. “C'mon.” I whisper as I lift her up, trying not to lose my balance. She buries her face into my chest as I carry her to the truck. I set her in the backseat and I close the door, I look back to the grave sight and notice Laura standing there, looking at me. I shake my head and don't bother trying to offer for her to come along. I had had enough.
But luck would have it that the damn truck would not start. I lose it then, cursing up a storm as I popped the hood. As I take a look, it's to my dismay that the truck is shot and not going anywhere any time soon. This day couldn't get any fuckin' worse. I snatch the shovel from the back of the truck and start beating it as hard as I can while cursing loudly. I hear Anna call for me, knowing she's concerned, but I keep going.
Eventually, Anna opens her door and attempts to get out, looking very weak and leaning heavily on the truck. I continue hitting and breaking the truck even more. My strength begins to drain fast as I become more aware of my own wounds. “Logan.” Anna calls me in a broken voice. My breathing becomes ragged as I drop the shovel and lean against the truck. She hobbles over to me and nearly loses her balance if I hadn't caught her. My vision swims and I feel extremely light headed. We both crumble to the ground, holding each other.
That was the last thing I remember before darkness taking over.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13: Guilt
“Do you believe in making promises, Logan?” I asked him while watching the sunset on the balcony.
Logan shrugs, looking slightly confused. “Don't know. Guess it depends on what it is and who it's to. Why?”
“Mmm. Just curious I guess. Promises...sometimes I just feel like they're good intentions. I've made plenty. Some I've kept. Some I haven't. Sometimes it's in my control and sometimes it isn't.” I keep my eyes on the sunset. “Sometimes it just seems pointless because a lot of the promises I've made and failed is to people I've cared about the most. It's not a good feeling.”
“It's just something you gotta learn to live with, kid. Gotta learn to let it go.” He says.
I smile faintly. “I wish it were that easy.”
“Logan?” I shake him roughly. “Logan, come on, don't do this to me.” His breathing was labored and his face was pale. He too had lacerations on his side leading to his stomach.
I honestly wasn't in any better shape. My wounds, though they were very slowly healing, hurt like hell and I was in shock. I try pulling him up but I get lightheaded and dizzy real fast. I look around, struggling to breathe and feeling very hopeless in the moment. I see Laura. We make eye contact and her eyes look hurt and scared. I hobble towards her and she reaches out to help me when I start to stumble.
“The truck is shot. It's not going anywhere. We need to find a way to get some help.” I say. Laura looks from me to a guy playing with his dog, his truck parked behind him. “Maybe.” I whisper and feel myself get dizzy again. Laura holds me steady then makes me sit down. “We can't...we can't stay here.” I say through the pain.
Laura remains silent as she runs off. I try to get up but can't without help. I hit the ground with my fist, becoming frustrated very fast. I was supposed to be saving the day and instead this is the time my powers decide to not work. I look up wearily and my blood goes cold. There were two graves. One for Charles. And one for...me. It was a haunting feeling...knowing that you were so close to death. Knowing that this time you wouldn't have come back. Part of me wishes that that was it because while I was out...everything was silent and peaceful. I wasn't in pain in anyway and it was a harsh reality when I came back. But I was also relieved. Logan really believed that I was gone and my heart hurt for him. He's lost so much and I knew it probably near killed him losing us both. Leaving him now would be so unfair.
I look at the other grave...Charles. His was definite. I couldn't wrap my mind around it. The pain of losing him was still very fresh and every memory of how I lost him was like salt in a wound. I tried so hard to save him but it wasn't enough. Angry tears ran down my face. I let him down. I let Logan down. We both knew we were losing Charles day by day and mentally prepared for it but not this way. No. This way was cruel and unfitting for the father he was to us. “I'm sorry, Charles. I'm so sorry.” I whisper brokenly to the grave.
Wave after wave of pain and emotion washed over me. Reality was cruel. Nothing was moving fast enough. I wanted to fast forward get through all of this quickly. I jump as I feel a hand on my shoulder and see Laura with keys in her hand. I give her a questioning look and then see the vehicle from the man and dog behind her. I look around and don't see them. “Please tell me you didn't...”I trail off.
She shakes her head but still says nothing. I know I should get up but another round of tears hit me out of nowhere. Charles' death was hitting me hard and I felt torn between wanting to stay and grieve but also knowing Logan needed our help. We couldn't just leave him. And I couldn't afford to lose him. Not both of them in one day. Move, damn it! I commanded myself but couldn't move. Laura sits down beside me and wraps her arms around me. The gesture breaks me as I lose it again. Laura continued to comfort for a few moments but then eventually stood up and pulled me along with her. Her eyes are weary but she motions towards Logan.
“Okay.” I nod, understanding what she was getting at. Before I leave though, I turn around and linger a moment at Charles' grave. “Goodbye, my friend. Thank you for everything.” I say my farewell. The words fall short but I can only hope that he knew how much we loved him.
Once we get back to the truck, I quickly check Logan's pulse which is faint but still there. “We need to get some help. Quickly. Nearest doctor, urgent care, something. ” I say to Laura who nods. “Help me.” I mumble as I struggle to get Logan in the truck. I yelped a few times, feeling fresh blood trickle down my stomach. Once I got him in, I was out of breath and fighting off black spots. I finally clasped against the truck and Laura stands there for a moment, looking concerned. “If I don't make it, make sure he does.” I whisper.
Laura's expression is hard and solemn. She pulls me up, struggling a bit because I'm taller but she's much stronger than I am right now. She helps into the back seat of the truck. I adjust Logan's head in my lap, absent mindlessly running my fingers through his hair for some sort of comfort. Laura gets into the driver's seat and looks back at me. Normally I wouldn't approve of a child driving but she was our only hope. I give her basic instructions which she follows and after a few minutes of getting used to it, she was like a pro. I laid my head back against the seat, trying to keep my breath steady. The last thing I remember is watching the woods go by in a blur, leaving behind a grave of a dear friend and an empty one that was still calling my name.
When I wake up, I hear voices in the back ground. The first thing I sense is the air, which smells like medicine. Then comes the dull ache that's been in my stomach and chest. It wasn't nearly as bad as before but it still hurt like hell. I let out an uncomfortable groan and the voices stop. “Anna?” I hear Logan's deep voice fill the room and his presence come closer. My eyes flutter open and I see Logan standing over me, looking down on me with concerned eyes.
“Oh, thank god.” He says, wiping his hand over his face then grabs my hand. He looks over at the doctor standing in the corner. “Can you, uh, just give us a moment please?”
“Certainly.” He says then leaves the room.
Logan turns back to me and I relax a bit then shudder violently, realizing how cold I am and that I am pretty much naked from the waist up. Logan looks around then takes off his button down shirt. He gently and carefully helps me sit up, which hurts like a bitch, then starts to button up the shirt. He stops for a moment, his hands pausing at the lacerations on my body then looks at me. “That sucked.” I say with a small smirk then wince.
He tries to smile but it fails and his eyes water. “I almost lost you.” He says, his voice full of emotion as he smooths back my hair and cups my cheek in his hand.
“Close call, huh?” I whisper then place my hand over his on my cheek, keeping eye contact with him.
“Too close.” He replies. “Way too close.” He sighs, shaking his head. “Scared the shit out of me.” He says brokenly, his eyes watering.
I give his hand a slight squeeze, leaning into it. “I'm not going anywhere.” I reply reassuringly.
He holds my gaze for a moment before pushing my hair back and kissing my temple a few times then letting the last one linger on my forehead. I closed my eyes and a few tears trailed down my cheek. This was rare for Logan. He wasn't one to show emotion but when he did...you felt it deeply. I know I did. “When you'd become so soft?” I whisper as he wipes my tears away with his thumb.
He offers a small smile then kisses my forehead one more time before finishing buttoning up the shirt, which is twice as big as I am but is still comforting. “We need to leave now before they catch up.” He says seriously.
I nod, understanding then pause, remembering something. “Where's Laura and Charles? He's due for his medicine.”
Logan freezes, his face becoming hard and sad. “Laura's out front. She got us here. Charles didn't make it, Anna.” He says somberly.
The news took my breath away but then memories of what happened came back and I remembered saying a final goodbye at his grave. “Oh...shit.” I mumble, reprimanding myself for forgetting so quickly. “Sorry, Logan. I forgot. It's not...it's not real to me yet.” I say brokenly.
Logan's expression is sad but he doesn't say a thing as he helps me up. Once he makes sure that I'm steady, he starts towards the door but I stop him. “Logan.” I say as I grab his arm, causing him to stop and turn around. “I'm sorry. Charles...he and I were talking when that thing came in. I thought it was you. I didn't realize it wasn't until it was too late.” Tears ran down my face as I let out my confession. “I tried to block it but the blades went through. It wasn't enough.” I bit my lip, looking down and shaking my head, beginning to feel angry. “It wasn't enough. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”
“It wasn't your fault, Anna.” He says calmly as he takes a step closer to me, lifting my head up. “Hey. It wasn't your fault. You understand me? Don't think for a second otherwise.”
“You can say it all you want, Logan but it's never gonna convince me otherwise.” I say honestly. “Just gonna have to live with it.”
I pull away from him then open the door. He gives me a look then puts a hand on my shoulder and guides me out. Once out in the hallway, the doctor looks at us concerned but Logan ignores him and walks over to Laura, who looks at us expectantly. “Please mister, if you don't want to go to a hospital, maybe I can help you. I can run some tests-”
“Look Doc, you seem like a nice guy. Alright, you wanna save a life, save your own. Forget we were here.” He tells the kind man who looks genuinely concerned for us. “Let's go.” He prompts Laura and I.
Laura leads the way outside and Logan calls after her but she keeps on going til she stops at a truck parked across the street. She gives Logan a look then opens the door. I feel dizzy again and Logan grabs my arm to bring me back to reality. “I'll drive. Just rest.” He says.
I'm about to argue, considering he's in just as bad shape as I am but I just nod and open the back door. “Just for a little while.” I say numbly then heave myself into the back, wincing as I feel the wounds stretch a little too much.
Logan's having the same issues as I am as I see him wince and his face contorts in pain. Laura adjusts herself in the passenger seats and waits patiently for us to leave. Once he closes his door, Logan turns to Laura. “I don't know how you got us here but uh, thank you.” I look at Logan surprised. That's as nice as he's been to her this whole trip.
“De nada.” Laura replies. Wait, what? My head snaps up towards the front.
“Yeah...” Logan says then has the same thoughts as I do. “You can talk?” He asks her in which she responds with a slight nod. He gives me a 'what the hell?' look then turns back to Laura. “You can talk?” He asks again and she responds the same way. “What the fu-well why the fuck...what's been with this bullshit the last two thousand fuckin' miles?”
Laura then goes off on Logan in spanish and I see the Logan temper come out in her. I don't know what she said completely but she was telling him off.
“What? Shut up...shut up..SHUT THE FUCK UP!” He yells at her as she continues and won't let up.
Laura pauses and gives Logan a look that could kill. “Jonah, Gideon, Rebecca, Delilah, Rictor.” She says.
“Who is that?” Logan asks confused but she repeats the same names. “Who is that?!” Logan asks again, losing his patience. Laura glares at Logan then rummages for something in her back pack while mumbling the names to herself.
Logan gives me a curious look in which I shrug, not really in the mood to deal with this crap.
Laura pulls out the envelope that has the money in it and shows it to Logan. “North Dakota.”
“What?” He asks, reaching for the envelope which she snatches back.
Por favor.” He tries again and she snatches it back further. “No, for favor!” She says firmly.
Logan glares at her. “This place, okay. Your nurse, she read too many stories. You understand? Too many stories.”
This was the fun part that I'd been wondering about. What were going to do if this place wasn't real? What we were going to do with Laura? I was at a crossroads. I didn't want anything to happen to her but at the same time I was over the whole thing. I knew Logan was too. We were both exhausted and hurt both physically and mentally. We already gave up so much and for what?
Laura and Logan continued to argue and I rubbed my forehead tiredly, wanting it all to stop. Finally, Logan had enough as well. Laura was pointing at a map, rambling on in Spanish. “I know, I know. This is a long way. You understand? I am not taking you to North Dakota.” He says very firmly, looking tired and weary. He glances at me briefly before turning back to her. “We are fucked up and we cannot get you there. It is a two day drive and I am not taking you-”
Suddenly, Laura hauls off and punches the hell out of Logan in the face. My reflexes kick in and I jolt forward to intervene but Logan easily catches her fist. “Don't fucking hit me!” He scolds her as she screams at him. “Don't hit me!” He yells again.
Laura pauses then starts saying the names again over and over. “Jonah, Gideon, Rebecca, Delilah, Rictor.”
“Stop saying those names.” Logan demands but she continues.
I huff, squeezing my eyes shut and rubbing my temples. Finally, I lose it. “Shit, let's just fuckin' go already!” I snap, causing them both to look at me.
“You can't be serious.” He says.
I throw my hands up in the air. “We're already up shit creek, might as well go the rest of the way. Besides she's not gonna shut up the hell up until we get her there.” I say frustrated.
“You are in no shape to make that kind of drive and you know it. Now I am not gonna lose you again.”
“I'm already dead, Logan!” I nearly yell at him, making him freeze. “What if she's right and there really is something there? Let's just do it and get it over with.” I cross my arms, feeling the anger drain my energy. “Besides, Charles would've wanted it. It's the least we can do for him.”
Logan holds my gaze for a long time before finally snatching up the keys. “Fine, fuck it.” He grumbles, shoving the key into the ignition. “Let's go to fuckin' fantasy land.”
Logan speeds out onto the road and I know he's upset. Oh well, I was done with everything. I was tired, in pain in every area, and just wanted to be done with it all and the only way to do so was to keep our promise to Charles and get Laura to where she needed to go. His death was still eating me alive and though it wouldn't matter much, the least I could look forward to was that we did what we could to get her to her friends, if it was still a real thing. It was a gamble but so was everything else.
About twenty minutes into the drive, Laura looks back at me. “Gracias.” She says quietly.
My head snaps up and before I know it, hateful words leave my tongue. “Let me set one thing straight. As soon as we get you to your friends, we are done. Understood?”
Laura looks slightly hurt for a few moments before her expression turns hard then turns to look out the window. Even Logan looks shocked as he gives me a concerned look through the rear view mirror. I shake my head then close my eyes. I was done.
When I wake up, we're still driving. Laura is passed out against the door and Logan looks exhausted. I rub the sleep from my eyes and slowly sit up, wincing a bit. Logan glances at me but says nothing and neither do I. It's a good thirty minutes before I speak up. “Gonna have to come up with some road trip games or something. This drive is boring as hell.” I joke slightly. Logan gives me a look then rolls his eyes then starts coughing violently.
I sit up straighter. “Logan, are you okay?” I ask concerned.
“I'm fine.” He waves me off.
I know better though. You can see the pain and tiredness in his eyes. It made me question why we were doing this trip at all.
Logan looks back at me. “How is it?” He asks.
I look down, unbuttoning the shirt a bit to take a look myself. It was still nasty looking but better than before. “It's getting there. Still hurts but better than it was.” I nod towards him. “What about you?”
Logan remains silent but I can read between the lines. “Why are we doing this?” He asks quietly.
I shrug. “I thought it was for Charles but I don't know anymore.” I answer honestly.
Logan scoffs a bit. “I don't think he knew what he wanted.”
I scowl at him. “He knew a lot more than what we gave him credit for.” I say defensively.
“Anna...” He says in a warning tone.
“It's true. You know it is.”
“Anna, Charles bought into the same lie that nurse did. We were chasing pipe dreams the moment we left and you know it.” Logan says tiredly. “He lost his life over comic book bullshit.”
“No, he lost his life because I wasn't paying attention.” I snap, causing him to look back at me.
“You still throwing a pity party over that?” Logan says bluntly.
I glare at him. “Yeah, I am actually. Not something I can easily get over.”
“Well, you need to because it wasn't your fault. You understand?”
“You weren't fuckin' there!” I raise my voice, and hit the seat, causing Laura to jolt out of her sleep.
“Hey!” Logan scolds.
“You weren't there.” I repeat, my voice lowered but still full of emotion. “I felt it, Logan. I knew something wasn't right. I knew we shouldn't have stayed. I knew the moment that thing walked into the room that something was off. You taught me to always trust my instincts and I didn't. That's on me.”
Logan abruptly pulls over and turns around to face me. “Listen to me. What's done is done. Alright? You can't go back and change it. Now you did what you could. ” He pauses, his face softening a bit. “I feel the same way you do. The fact that I had to explain that it wasn't me before he died killed me. It wasn't right. And it wasn't right that you had to go through that alone. But Charles wouldn't want you beating yourself up like this. He knew you cared. Hell, the fact that you almost lost your own life for him proved that.”
I bite my lip, shaking my head. “It wasn't enough.”
“Sometimes it's not and that fact alone will probably hurt like a bitch for a while.” He says honestly. “But we have to keep moving and hope the hell this Eden place is real.”
“You don't think it is.” I state.
“No.” He says bluntly then turns around and puts the key in the ignition. “But like you said, Charles would've wanted it.”
As we pull away, sleep pulls me back under as I focus on Logan's words. I really hoped this place was true. It was the only thing that would make this loss worth it. I fell asleep with the mental image of a wise old man with a warm smile telling me that I would see. That I would understand soon. I hoped he was right.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14: It's Real
“Understanding and loving someone is a gift, Anna. To both you and the other person. It can also be quite painful and sometimes terrifying at the same time.” Charles said to me while talking in his office one day. I had just confessed my feelings for Logan for the first time and I had honestly felt kind of embarrassed but of course, he wasn't surprised and remained calm and supportive. “When you love someone, it is nearly skies the limit as to what you'll do for them. True love is beautiful but it may also lead you to the grave if need be.” He pauses, letting the words sink in. “Do you think you have that kind of love for Logan?”
I pause, digesting his words carefully but I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace, confidence, and ease. “Yes.” I answer calmly. “I believe I do.”
Charles gives me a long look before smiling warmly. “I know you do. I know Logan does too. You two have already proved it over and over to each other. It is quite extraordinary. You prove it in the way you persevere in the good, bad, and the ugly. And to see Logan do the same...well, let's just say some of us never thought it would be such a possible thing.” He chuckles, earning a smile from me. “Don't fear it, Anna. Embrace it. You don't have to make a big scene. Just keep doing what you're doing. Continue to be there. Continue to be strong, steadfast, and honest. And whatever you do, be patient with him. Even if he tries to push you away. He can be quite stubborn but he needs you more than you realize.”
The drive to North Dakota was painfully long. We've only stopped briefly for the restroom and gas. None of us have been in the mood for talking except when giving instructions and short words here and there. Logan and I took turns driving and resting. They were short as both of us were exhausted and wanted to be there already. The wounds on my body were still healing but it was a long, drawn out process. My energy was pretty much on empty but I tried to keep going for Logan's sake. I hoped that where ever we ended up, there was a doctor or something there. He was looking worse by the hour and I was worried about him. Staring at him while he was driving, I could see the years of his life finally written in his eyes. Years of pain, torment, and battle were in the jagged scars all over his body. I understood to an extent but he has been around much than I have. I longed for him to have peace and to be happy again but I just didn't know if it was possible anymore.
When I finally woke up, I woke up in the middle of a conversation between Laura and Logan. At first, Laura insisted that she drive after Logan almost lost control which is what woke me up.
“....You are dying.” Laura says in a calm voice. “You want to die. Charles told me.” Her words made me wish I hadn't heard them. It was a fact that I knew was true but still hurt. Charles and I talked about it every now and then on his good days.
“What else did Charles tell you?” He asked curiously.
“To not let you.” She replies.
Tears prick my eyes as I bury my face further into the seat. I didn't have the strength to deal with this right now. Logan remains quiet but a few moments later I feel the truck jerk to the side suddenly then come to a stop. I sat up, making sure everyone was okay.
“Logan?” I say hoarsely.
Logan gives me an exhausted and weary look, his eyes becoming very heavy. Right as I'm about to offer to drive, Laura speaks up. “Rest.” She says softly. “Both of you.”
Logan and I exchange glances before he slowly slumps against the seat. I'm about to leave him like that but I know he'll be in a lot of pain if he does. So I get out of the car carefully and open his door. I place on his shoulder, causing him to flinch slightly. “Logan?” I say his name softly, earning a muffled grunt. “Logan, come to the back seat. You'll be more comfortable.” After a moment, he finally sits up and gives me a tired look. It makes my eyes water. “Come on.” I whisper, tugging at him gently. He slowly gets out of his seat, wincing, and breathing heavily.
I carefully help him into the truck then slide in next to him. I close the door then look over at Logan, who is already falling asleep against the window. I position myself to where I'm comfortable then place my hand on his shoulder, causing him to flinch slightly. “It's okay. It's just me.” I whisper then gently coax him to lay down. He lays his head down in my lap and I feel him tremble under my arm. I drape a dirty thin blanket over him in attempt to give him some comfort while whispering to him as I smooth his hair back.
Not too long after, Logan falls asleep, his breathing evening out. He's still pale and looks awfully worn. I hurt for him and with him. I feel eyes on me and notice Laura staring curiously at us. “You can, uh, feel free to drive if you'd like.” I offer tiredly.
Laura nods, not moving at first, staring intently at Logan. I follow her eyes, running my thumb gently across his cheek. “He needs help.” I say quietly.
Laura says nothing then slowly opens the door. “Laura.” I call to her, making her stop to look at me. My eyes water a bit as I search for words. “I'm sorry. For what I said earlier...I just...” I choke on my words, tears clogging my throat. “There's no excuse. I shouldn't have said what I did.”
Laura's expression softens a bit as she tilts her head to the side. “You love him.” She states more than asks. Her words shock me a bit, causing me to freeze. But then I relax and answer her.
“I do.” I say softly as I run my fingers through his hair. “More than I'll ever be able to express.”
Laura continues to stare at me for a moment before carefully climbing over into the driver's seat. She starts the truck then starts driving the final stretch. “We are almost there.” She says in her thick accent.
“I'll never be so glad for a road trip was over.” I say, earning a faint smirk from Laura. “I used to love them. I could drive for hours, even on a boring road. It always cleared my head.”
Laura remains quiet as she drives, a determined look on her face. “We'll get there, Laura. I know you want to see your friends. I get that. Logan does too. More than you know.” I say. She looks at me through the review mirror. “My friends...the X-men as you knew them...they were my family. They were all that I had.” I pause, seeing the faces of my passed friends.
“What happened to them?” Laura asks softly.
I look out the window, gripping Logan a little closer by reflex. “A terrible accident.” I whisper somberly. “It happened so fast. One moment we were all together then the next...they were gone.” I make eye contact with Laura, feeling myself beginning to drift back to sleep. “If we find your friends, Laura, make sure you hold onto them and appreciate every moment.” I look down at Logan. “You never know when you're gonna lose them.”
Laura gives me another look before I lean my head against the window and fall into a sleep riddled with nightmares.
Hours and miles later, I wake up to the sun blaring down on me. I groan, feeling stiff and hot. Where were we?
“Anna?” I hear Laura's thick accent call my name. “Anna! Wake up!” She says hurriedly. I twist around to see her excited face, motioning for me to hurry up.
“Where are we?” I ask groggily.
“We are here!” She says excitedly.
“Eden?” I ask in disbelief.
“Si! Si!” She exclaims as she hops out. “Come! Come look!”
It couldn't be. “Alright, alright. Give me a second.” I say tiredly. I suddenly look down at Logan to make sure he's still breathing. His pulse is weak and his breathing uneven but he's still alive. I look to Laura. “I can't leave him here. He needs help.”
“Do not worry. They will help.” She tries to reassure then motion for me to come with her. “Come.”
Still skeptical as I haven't seen anyone, I carefully get out, gently laying Logan down in the seat. I take a step back, hesitant to leave him but I feel a small hand grab my own. “Come.” Laura says softly, pulling slightly on my hand.
I finally relent and follow Laura. She takes me down a short path and all I see at first is rough terrain but then Laura points up at a look out on top of the cliff. She whistles then waits anxiously. I begin to worry when no one appears at first then freeze when several children come out. I couldn't believe it. “Holy shit...” I mumble in disbelief. “Is that them?” I ask her.
“Si!” She exclaims excitedly, grinning from ear to ear.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” I say, my voice thick with emotion. “Go on!”
She smiles then tugs at my hand. “Come!”
I look back at the truck and shake my head. “I can't leave Logan. I can't-”
She pulls once more. “We will come back. Now come!” She insists.
I sigh then reluctantly follow her. Laura runs ahead, shouting excitedly in Spanish to the others. I was in shock. A huge part of me was set on this whole thing being a waste. That there would be no children and it was all for nothing. But I'm also relieved that it wasn't. I wouldn't have known what to do with Laura if this whole thing was a fluke.
Now that we were here, I looked up at the big hill and wondered out loud, “How the hell are we gonna get up there?”
Laura runs back to me, grabs my hand, saying instructions so fast I can't understand her. She points to this makeshift pully and I give her a look. “You can't be serious.” But she continues to stand on the board and usher me forwards. “This is supposed to get us up there?” I point to the top.
“Si!” She says happily with a big grin.
“Mmmm great.” I grumble as I position myself. “I can see it now. Get shot, stabbed, and nearly buried then get all the way here just to fall to my death. Fantastic.”
Laura giggles, shaking her head then shouts something to the people above. Suddenly, we jerk and I yelp, saying a few colorful words as we're lifted up. Laura gives me a look as I'm holding tightly to the rope. “I, uh, I don't like heights.” I confess.
“Do not look down.” She says sarcastically.
“Mmmhmm that's what they always tell me.” I reply, squeezing my eyes shut.
Laura chuckles softly then grabs my hand for comfort. It actually does help and I relax a little bit. Before I know it, we're at the top and I feel them swing us to land. You didn't have to tell me twice to get up. I scurried off, making children laugh as I had never been so relieved to be on solid ground. Once I gain my cool and steady my breathing, I look around at the young kids around me and feel slightly overwhelmed.
Laura takes my hand and guides me in front of a few familiar kids that I'd seen in a picture she had before. She starts pointing to each one. “Jonah, Gideon, Rebecca, Delilah, and Rictor.” A face to every name she kept saying in the truck. I felt tears prick my eyes.
She turned around and pointed at me, causing curious eyes to land on me. “Anna.” She says as she introduces me.
The oldest boy, Rictor, I believe, steps forward. “Welcome to Eden. Anna.” He nods then offers his hand. I shake it in disbelief.
“This.” I motion around. “This is Eden?”
“Well, this is the meet up for Eden. It's beyond the border. Over there.” He points to some hills.
“Okay.” I whisper with a slight nod. “I can't believe you guys are here.” I say, wiping my eyes.
“It wasn't easy. For any of us. We lost a few along the way.” He says sadly, and a few children look down, a somber expression on their face. “But we're here now and where we're going...it's going to be worth it.”
I wipe a few unexpected tears then snap out of it when I nearly fall forward. “You are wounded.” Delilah speaks up, pointing towards my wounds.
“They aren't that bad.” I insist as a few other kids come closer to look.
“You need still treatment.” Rictor says while taking a look. “We have medicine.”
“Thank god.” I say relieved then look for the truck. “My friend. Logan. He's needs help right away. He's way worse than I am. Please help him.”
“Where is he?” He asks.
I point to the truck then notice a figure walking towards us. It was Logan, who was looking scared and confused. “Logan!” I shout out, my voice echoing off the hills. His head whips towards me and I wave my hands at him. Laura joins me, waving him over and shouting in Spanish. He stares at us in disbelief then hobbles our way.
“Get the rig ready.” Rictor orders the others, who scramble into place.
Suddenly, Logan passes out and falls to the ground. “Shit. Logan!” I scream but hands hold me back. “Get off of me! I have to help him!”
Several of the children are already either halfway or just jump from the cliff. “Don't worry, we're gonna help him.” He points to the kids who left. “They know what they're doing.” Rictor tries to assure me.
Laura joins me, grabbing my hand in attempts to comfort me. My hand trembles in her grasp as I watch them carry Logan hurriedly towards the lift. They took an old carrying board from an ambulance and strapped him in. They slowly start reeling him up and at about half way up, he wakes up, looks over and curses when he finds out how high he is. Laura gives me a look and I shrug. “He hates heights too.” Laura smirks a bit while watching him.
Finally, they get him all the way up and I hurry over to him, dropping to my knees beside him. “Anna.” He says relieved when he sees me.
“Hey.” I greet him while grabbing his hand.
“Fuckin' hate heights.” He grumbles, making me laugh.
“Look around you.” I say to him. Logan looks around at the children surrounding us curiously. “It's real.” I whisper.
Logan looks at them in slight disbelief before his head rolls back and he passes out again. I curse then start examining his wounds. They're healing extremely slow, barely at all and they need attention quick. Rictor starts giving orders to take him over to the look out. I help them, assisting them as we transfer him over to a bed. I start listing things that I need which is basic first aid stuff. We clean the wounds the best we can and I fear it's the best we can do before Rictor brings this green liquid that looks familiar.
“What is that?” I ask.
“We got it from the place we escaped. It'll help him heal.” He says, filling a syringe with a small dosage then handing it to me. It was a risk but we had no other choice. I carefully inject the medicine then lean back. That's all we could do for now.
To kill time, I wring out a wash cloth and begin cleaning his face. Layers and layers of dirt and mud drain from cloth into the basin. Rebecca changes the water twice as I move from his face to his chest area and arms.
“Is that really Wolverine?” One of the kids ask.
I continue to bathe him as I answer. “To some.”
“Cool.” He says excitedly.
“And who are you?” Another kids asks curiously.
“Nobody.” I reply, my eyes never leaving him. “Just Anna.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15: I Don't Wanna Sleep
“Sometimes good dreams are just as cruel as the bad ones.”
After I finish bathing Logan, I feel myself grow heavy and tired. Laura walks over and motions towards another bed. “You need to rest.” She says softly.
My vision goes blurry and my body feels heavier at the mention of rest. Normally I'd wave her off but this time I simply nod and let her guide me to a bed. I lay down and nearly moan at how good it feels to finally be on a real bed again. Laura, Delilah, and Rebecca come over and look at my wounds and mutter to each other in Spanish. They start doing the same thing as I did with Logan and gently cleaned all my wounds. When Rictor presented the medicine in the needle, I protested. “I hate needles. You use that for him.” I nod towards Logan. “He needs it more.”
“You need it too. It'll help you heal faster. You're gonna need your strength after you leave here.” Rictor points out.
Shit. He was right. I sigh the shake my head. “Alright.” I relent, holding my arm out. “Not too much though.” They inject it quickly and I feel it rush through my veins. I seize up, my breath coming quickly as I shake. Laura grabs my hand and I hold it firmly, whimpering a bit as I feel the medicine doing it's work.
Rebecca washes out the basin then fills it with fresh water. She hands Laura a clean wash cloth then begins cleaning my face. I allow myself to relax even though my instinct was to be up and actually doing something. I hated taking a moment to help myself but things were different now. I was different. I don't heal like I used to so I knew I needed to allow myself time to heal. Hopefully it wouldn't take long.
After Laura is done, I offer a faint smile. “Thank you.” I whisper.
She smiles briefly back then drapes a warm blanket over me. The strength and adrenaline wears off and I fall asleep while feeling the wounds on my body heal.
I woke up underneath a tree, the sun glistening through the leaves, making the ground around me sparkle. I knew this spot. It was where I used to go all the time to relax and think. I stood up, a bit confused. I was at the mansion but that couldn't be. Could it?
“Morning, sleepy head.” A familiar warm voice fills my ears. I turn around quickly and see Storm smiling at me.
“Storm?” I whisper in disbelief.
She smiles and I quickly wrap my around her in a huge hug. “Nice to see you too.” She laughs, hugging me back.
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
“I came to get you. We're having a get together and Charles wanted you to be there.” She says excitedly.
“Charles? He's...he's alive?” I ask skeptically.
Storm gives me a funny look. “Of course, he is. Why wouldn't he be?” I look down, feeling guilty, which Storm seems to notice then grabs my hand. “Everything is alright now. Come see.”
I give her a skeptical look but the sincerity in her voice compels me to follow her.
I walk with Storm, who is chatting happily about the new changes that have taken place and I look around and everything seems strange. It's too beautiful. Too bright. Too good to be true. I hear laughter in the distance and see a few familiar people making their way into the mansion. I stop, seeing Logan leaned up against the wall smoking a cigar. But something wasn't right. He wasn't aged. He looked like he had when I had first met him.
He smirked when he saw me, nodding in my direction to acknowledge me.
“Logan.” I breathe, walking up to him.
“Hey, old lady.” He says then cocks his head to the side. “What's wrong with ya? Look like you've seen a ghost.”
I stop in my tracks. “Oh, I...it's...it's nothing. You just...look different.” I take a step closer, examining him and notice that he doesn't have any scars or trouble breathing.
Storm gives me a curious look then looks at Logan and sort of shrugs. “I'll see you both in there.” She says then waves at us as she goes in.
He gives me a funny look then smirks. “Different, huh? You been drinking, kid? Party hasn't even started yet.”
I force a laugh and swipe at the tears in my eyes. “No, uh, I'm good.” I try to put on a convincing smile. “Let's go. I wanna see everyone.” I say somewhat anxiously.
I go to open the door but Logan grabs my arm, stopping me. “Anna, what's wrong?” He says in a bit of concerned but calm voice.
Should I tell him?
“Logan...this isn't you.” I whisper.
“What do you mean? Who else would I be?” He asks confused.
I back up a bit, tears in my eyes. “It's not you. Storm and the rest of them...they're not real either.”
Logan raises his eye brows then puts his cigar out. “What's going on, Anne?”
I stammer over my words. “I don't know. I don't...” I shake my head, feeling overwhelmed.
“Hey...” He comes over and lifts my chin up, making me look him in the eyes. “Bad dream?”
I can't but scoff, tears welling up. “Yeah, sure.” I choke out, placing my hand over his. “Bad dream.”
Logan doesn't move at first, a solemn look on his face. “It was just a dream, kid. It's over.” He says reassuringly.
“Is it?” I whisper.
Logan sighs then wipes the tears from my face. “Yeah. See for yourself.” He says then opens the door.
I stare down the familiar hallway, students running back and forth. “I, um...just uh, give me a minute. Please.”
Logan nods then gives a small smile. “See ya inside?” He asks, letting himself in.
“Yeah.” I say with a watery smile.
Before he closes the door, he holds my gaze for a few moments. I couldn't fully read the expression on his face. It was somewhat sad and full of longing. I wanted to follow him but something kept me waiting outside. I gave him one more reassuring smile and with that, he went in and closed the door.
Once the door was shut, I let out a huge breath that I had been holding and braced myself against the wall. A million thoughts and emotions were racing through my head and I just couldn't make sense of it. Where was I? What was happening? Was it real? Was it a dream? Or maybe...just maybe...everything that happened before...was a dream. The accident, escaping with Charles and Logan, Caliban, the hide out, Logan aging and being sick, Laura, the fight, Charles' death...everything. Maybe it was just a long crazy nightmare I dreamed under that mossy oak tree. It's possible...right?
Hope and adrenaline raced through my veins as I fought with my conscious and reality. Why didn't I just end the questions and find out for myself?
I took a deep breath, finally gaining the courage to go in, and I tugged on the door. Only to find out...it was locked or stuck. I couldn't get it to budge. I tried again and again to force it open but nothing was working. I took a step back, feeling suddenly panicked.
I began pounding on the door frantically. “No...no...Logan!” I screamed. I waited. No answer. I banged on the door with all my strength again. “Logan?! Storm...Charles...anybody! Let me in!” I cried, dropping to the floor, my trembling hand against the door. “Please let me in.” I whispered but no one ever came.
I woke up in a cold sweat and to the sound of Logan's voice. “It makes you crazy, is what it does. It'll kill you.”
Where was I? I asked myself as I took in my surroundings.
“Not if you use it small doses. It's helping you heal.” Rictor objects.
Oh...right. I sighed heavily, squeezing my eyes shut. So it was a dream.
I moan a bit, earning Logan and a few other's attention. “Anna...” Logan begins but I wave him off.
“I'm fine.” I say in a groggy voice, not ready to get up just yet. Something feels weird. I lift up the blanket to see my wounds almost fully healed. Look at that.
“See?” Rictor proves his point to Logan.
Logan looks surprised but relieved at the same time then asks, “Where's Laura?”
“She's sleeping over there. Do you want me to wake her up?” One of the kids ask.
Logan watches her then slowly shakes his head. “No.” He breathes then lays back down, a pained expression on his face.
Noticing this, I force myself up and go to his side. I look at the kids and offer a brief smile. “I got it from here, kids. Thank you.” I say sincerely, dismissing them.
They take the hint and go outside for a few minutes. I get up and get some fresh water and first aid stuff. It really is meaningless but it gives me something to do. I was desperate for something to do. Anything to distract me. I was feeling jarred and disappointed. Just flat out depressed, to be honest. That was the cruelest dream I'd had in a long time. Worse than the killing and experiment dreams. It was way worse and still extremely raw. I wish I'd been able to just forget about it but it seems to be on replay in my head and feels salt in a bad wound.
After I gather my supplies and sort it out...twice...I sit on the side of Logan's bed then lift his shirt up, examining his wounds. They still looked ugly but the medicine was working. I avoid eye contact with Logan as I speak. “You're not fully healed up but Rictor was right. It is helping.” I mumble then take the rag and gently clean his wounds. Logan flinches, which makes me jump a bit and give him a worried look.
“Cold hands.” He says sarcastically, earning a faint smirk from me.
I sigh in relief, casting my eyes down again. “Sorry.” I whisper then continue.
Suddenly, Logan roughly grabs my hand, making me freeze. I look up, making reluctant eye contact with him. Wordlessly, he grabs the hem of my dirty t shirt and lifts it up, revealing the almost healed battle wounds from the other night that start at my stomach and side and trail up to my chest. The scars are deep, fresh, and angry looking but they barely hurt anymore. “Hell of a scar there, kid.” He says softly, tracing the lines with his thumb.
I scoff a bit. “How about that, huh? Years of fighting and am just now showing proof of it.” I say bitterly.
Logan sighs then coughs roughly, making me tense up. “Hopefully after all this is over you won't gain anymore.”
“Since when have I ever been able to stay out of trouble?” I reply as I wring out a wash cloth.
“Mmm. True.” He agrees and I go back to cleaning his wounds. He closes his eyes, relaxing a bit. I remain silent as I finish up. I had a lot on my mind and this doesn't go unnoticed by Logan. “Whatcha thinkin' about?”
I raise my eyebrows a bit then shrug. “Nothing.” I reply a bit shortly.
“No.” He disagrees, trying to prop himself up. “If you're not busy thinking, you're talking.” I give him a look but he doesn't budge. “What's on your mind?”
“What's going on, Anne?” I flinch from the memory and shake my head, willing it away.
“Hey-” He reaches out but I snatch my hand away as if I'd been burned.
“I'm just tired, Logan.” I snap more than I intend too but he's not phased by it. I roll my eyes at the look he gives me and finally give in, trying to come up with something convincing. “There's a lot on my mind. We've spent the past few days risking our lives for what we were convinced was a fantasy and now...we're here and it's real. I'm not sure how I feel about that.” Logan gives me a curious look but waits for me to keep going. “We did what we came to do. What Charles wanted us to. But everything was such a blur I didn't have time to think the aftermath. That's what I'm thinking about now and it's not fun.” I sigh, feeling more weary than I have in days.
Logan has a serious and tired look on his face as he holds my gaze. “You think too much.” He finally says.
I scoff. “And you don't think enough.” I retort, shaking my head.
He shifts then scoots over, leaving a gap between the wall. “I think it's time for sleep.” He says, moving the covers.
I move away from him. “I don't wanna sleep.” I say, sounding a bit like a child though my eyes were droopy.
He gently tugs at my arm. “You need to sleep. You're exhausted.” He insists.
“I don't want to sleep!” I snap, snatching my arm away again. Logan tilts his head to the side, giving me a a concerned look but I just roll my eyes and rub my temples.
“What's going on, Anne?” He asks softly.
I flinch again. “Don't ask me that, please.” I plead, standing up.
“Where you going?” He asks in a concerned voice.
“Outside. Just need a minute to breathe.” I say briefly then begin my way to the door.
“Hey.” Logan calls after me. I stop and look at him. “Was it a nightmare?”
I pause briefly before answering. “Yes.” I answer quietly.
Logan face softens a bit as he sighs and lays back down. “It's nothing new, kid. We'll always have them. Nothing we can do. Just something we have to live with.” He says tiredly.
“Yeah.” I scoff while opening the door. “Well, now you know why I don't want to sleep.” I say then quickly leave.
Outside, it's dark, with nothing but the moon and stars in the distance to light up the night. In the distance, I see kids chatting around a campfire, Laura among them. I watch her closely and it almost looks like she's a different kid. She's smiling, laughing even with the other kids as they ate. She looked so happy and I smiled while watching them. At least they're safe right now.
Laura eventually notices me looking at her and she pauses, her face turning serious. She waves slightly and I wave back with a faint smile. She says something to her friends then gets up and runs over to me. “Come. Join us.” She says.
Taken a back a bit, I shake my head 'no'. “Nah, it's okay. You guys enjoy your time together. I'm just getting some fresh air.”
Laura looks somewhat disappointed as she looks back at her friends then back at me.
“Go on. It's okay. I promise.” I offer a fake smile then nod towards her friends.
Laura hesitantly goes back to her friends, occasionally looking back at me. They welcome her back then pause briefly when they look back at me. Feeling a bit self conscious, I walk around until I come to the edge of the cliff and sit down. The sky is clear and littered with stars. It seemed so big and I felt very small and frail. Yet the cool night offered peace and I was more than willing to enjoy some peace any chance that I got. I kept my focus on the moon as I cleared my mind and warded away tormenting thoughts.
Suddenly, I heard small footsteps behind me and looked back to see Laura. She made eye contact with me briefly before sitting down beside me. In her hands, she held a coffee mug with some sort of soup in it. She handed me the mug along with a spoon, a bottle of water, and an apple. She nodded towards it. “Eat.” She says softly.
I smile briefly as I taking the food from her. The mugs warms my hands which I am very grateful for. “Thank you.” I thank her and she nods then looks out over the hills.
“Estrellas.” She points to the sky.
“Stars?” I ask, following her hand.
“Si.” She answers then points to the moon. “Luna.”
“The moon?” I ask.
She smiles a little. “Si.” She confirms happily while looking at it in wonder.
I smile. “It's beautiful. You can see them clearly out here.” I say softly then look at Laura, suddenly curious. “Have you ever seen the moon and stars like this?”
Laura shakes her head as she takes a sip of water. “No. Only in story books.” She answers casually.
I feel a twinge in my heart at her answer. I forget too often that Laura is a not a normal mutant, much less a normal child. She was designed for destruction. I remember Gabriela's video she left for Logan and I. What they did to those kids wasn't fair and I felt anger, sadness, and...compassion for all of them. The nurses that risked their lives for those kids...I can see why they did it. And I can also see why Charles wanted to save her too. He always saw the bigger picture. I only wish that it didn't cost so much.
I clear my throat and adjust myself. “Well, if you wanna see something really amazing, get up early and watch the sunrise.” She looks at me with curiosity. “It's my favorite time of day and I bet from this spot, you'll have the best view in the world.”
Laura holds my gaze a for little while longer then smiles and looks back to moon. I too turn my attention to the moon and we sit in a comfortable silence for a long time. Time passes by so quickly that when I look back, I see that all of the other kids have gone inside and the fire is only embers now. I look down at Laura, who's head is rested against mine. I realize that she's fast asleep and the moon is high in the sky before I deem it fit to back inside.
“Laura. Laura.” I say as I gently shake her. She quickly becomes alarmed and stands up, claws out.
“Hey, hey, it's okay.” I quickly assure her. “You're safe. You fell asleep but you're safe, okay?”
Laura calms down quickly, looking around a bit nervously but she slowly retracts her claws and looks at me.
“It's okay.” I say again gently then offer my hand. “Let's get you to bed.”
Instead, Laura wipes the sleep from her eyes then quickly gathers up all of her stuff before going inside. Not saying a word to me. I don't take it personally though. I know how she feels.
I make it back to the cabin but don't hurry in just yet. I savor the night and the peace it offers. Much more because I'm sure the rest of my dreams will be hell tonight. I'd be surprised if I slept at all.
Suddenly, I hear noises and I realize that it's Logan. I quickly go inside when he yells out violently and wakes himself up, breathing heavily. He makes eye contact with Laura, who is watching him curiously.
“Pesadilla. You had a nightmare.” She explains calmly to him.
“Do you have nightmares?” He asks quietly.
“Si.” She answers. “People hurt me.”
“Mine are different.” Logan says.
“Por que.” She asks curiously.
Logan hesitates but answers honestly. “I hurt people.”
I bite my lip, looking away.
Laura isn't phased though as she gets up and pulls out a bullet from her pocket. “Que es esto?” She asks.
Logan slowly props himself up and takes the bullet from her. “You know what it is. It's made out of Adamantium. It's what they put insie of us. That's why it can kill us.” He explains then adds. “Probably what is killing me now.” I look back at Logan who is examining the bullet in his hand. “Anyway...I got this a long time ago and I kept it as a reminder of what I am. Now I keep it to, uh...” He pauses, thinking a moment about his words. “Actually, uh...I was thinking of shooting myself with it. Like Charles said.”
Tears of anger and hurt prick my eyes. It only confirmed the suspicions Caliban and I had. I throw my cup down and snatch open the door. No way in hell I was sleeping now.
Laura and Logan jump slightly as they turn their attention to me. “Anna.” He breathes out. He hadn't known that I was watching them before.
“I'm glad you could finally be truthful with somebody, Logan. Takes real courage.” I say bitterly then slam the door behind me.
“Anna-” He calls my name but is cut off by a coughing attack. Normally I'd turn around but I was hurt and angry beyond words. Anything I said now would be a mistake.
I stomp off into the night, not sure of where I'm going. I finally stop, pacing back and forth. “Anna. Anna!” I hear Logan call me and I look over my shoulder to see him stumbling towards me, still coughing. I shake my head then stomp off again, no direction in mind. “Where...where are you going?”
“Anywhere but here.” I snap.
“Hey-” He catches up to me and grabs my arm roughly.
“Let go!” I nearly yell at him.
“The hell are you going? You can't stomp off like that. Not right now. Not when they could show up at any time.” He says roughly.
“I don't give a shit.” I try pulling my arm away but he holds on tighter.
“Anna, if they catch you, they will kill you!” He says angrily.
“Let them!” I snatch my arm away and try to run but Logan grabs me forcefully and I try to push him away but I can't. “Let go, damn it!”
He shakes me, his grip tightening on me. “Anna, damn it, stop it!” He yells. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“What the hell is wrong with me? You just confessed that you were gonna blow your brains out in front of a little girl and I'm supposed to walk away like that's okay?” I snap as I push him away. Logan looks a bit stunned but he doesn't say anything. “How, huh? Wait til' I was gone somewhere then pull the trigger? Answer me this, Logan. Why?” Logan doesn't say anything and I feel angrier by the second. “Answer me, dammit! You owe me!”
“Because I'm done!” He replies angrily then starts to go back inside.
“Nope, you owe me more that.” I say stubbornly, stopping in front of him.
“Enough.” He says in a warning tone.
“Nah, you wanted me to talk. You wanted to know what the hell is wrong with me well here's your answer! I am absolutely pissed off that you would even consider taking your life. Why would you do that to me?” My voice cracks but I'm still trembling from being angry.
“You don't understand.” He says breathing heavily, his eyes looking worn and tired.
“I want to understand, Logan. I care about you. Charles cared about you. You can't just-”
“You don't understand shit, Anna!” He says angrily. “I am tired and I am dying. If you had the choice, you'd do the same thing.”
“Well things are different now, Logan. I do have that choice. I could've been dead and done with everything right now but you took that from me.Why?” Logan winces then looks away. He doesn't say anything for a long time. “You're terrified, aren't you? To die. To be alone.”
Logan huffs then glares at me. “Enough.” He says then turns around to go back to the house.
I don't stop him. I don't say anything. I lean up against the cabin and pull my knees up to my chest. I fight back tears, feeling the strength drain from me. I stay out there for a long time before finally deciding to go back inside. Logan is now asleep, his breathing rough and ragged. Laura, however, is still awake.
“I'm sorry you had to see that.” I whisper to her as I sit down on my bed and put my head in my hands. Tears finally came and I quietly release them.
Laura comes over to me and holds something out for me to take. “ Aquí.” She says, holding out the bullet to me.
I sniffle, wiping my tears away then take the bullet from her. “Thank you.” I whisper hoarsely. She nods then goes back to her bunk and goes to sleep.
I lay down myself and fall asleep rather quickly but again, I am awoken by another round of nightmares. I jolt up out of bed, trembling all over. “Anna?” Logan says hoarsely.
“Shit! Sorry.” I gasp. “Just a nightmare. Go back to sleep.” I say shakily.
He sits up and grabs my hand, making jump slightly. “Ann-”
“I'm fine! Just...please...go back to sleep.” I say brokenly.
Logan continues to stare at me. “You need to sleep.”
“I don't want to sleep! Please, don't make me sleep.” I cry, finally breaking down, feeling scared.
“Hey, it's okay.” Logan whispers then pulls me down to sit on his bed. I tremble under his grip.
“No. It's not okay. I'm...I'm done.” My breathing is heavy and I feel more exhausted than I have in years. “I'm sorry...for yelling at you earlier. It scared the shit out of me. But I understand exactly where you're coming from.” I close my eyes. “I don't wanna be here either. We could...we could do it together.”
Logan stiffens beside me. “You don't mean that.”
I glare at him slightly. “Like hell, I don't. The curse is lifted. I can go whenever-”
“Anna, stop.” He interrupts firmly, looking at me with pained eyes. “Just stop.” It's the intensity of his eyes that make me regret my words.
My own eyes soften and I grab his hand. “I'm sorry.” I whisper sincerely then prop my chin in my free hand, letting my thoughts wonder.
After a few moments, Logan finally breaks the silence. “I've had that bullet for years. I always thought about it every now and then but not so much while I was at the mansion. Things were good then.” He sighs, coughing a bit. “Then the accident happened. Started getting sick. Just went downhill from there. Everything caught up. Felt like I had nothing left. Seemed like I was only living when I was fighting.” He looks at me with a look that I would remember for a long time. “I'm tired of fighting, Anne.”
“I understand.” I say quietly, not knowing else what to say. My eyes watered furiously. It took a lot for him to be this honest. “Why'd you stick around?” I wondered out loud.
His eyes softened a bit. “Still had a reason too.”
Damn tears. I was so sick of crying but I couldn't help it. I couldn't say anything so I just nodded and held his hand tighter. “Please don't leave.” I whisper brokenly.
Logan stares at me long and hard before wiping the hair and tears from my face. He lets his hand rest on my cheek for a few moments before he wraps his arms around me. I cry into his chest, releasing every emotion. I feel his tears too, falling softly onto my shirt. After a while, we both lay down and he keeps a firm hold on me. The tears steadily dry and we fall into silence. I clung onto every second that I could and willed myself to stay awake but eventually, the exhaustion from the days won and sleep once again stole precious time.
Chapter 16: Chapter 16: Stories
The night passed quickly and when I woke up, the sun was well into the sky. I assumed it must have been mid afternoon. There was no one inside but I heard the kids outside chatting in the distance. Relieved, I relaxed and closed my eyes again, allowing myself time to fully wake up. I realized then that I was still wrapped securely in Logan's arms, my face buried into his chest. His breathing was a bit ragged but steady, telling me that he was still in a deep sleep. That brought me comfort. He needed to rest and get his strength back. After I fell asleep, I didn't dream much, not that I could remember much anyway which was nice considering that I was in constant torment before. I felt better, my mind a bit clearer and more at peace for the moment.
Everything that happened last night came back to memory and I sighed, feeling embarrassed. I was way too emotional and acted so out of line. It's crazy, the things you can do when you're tired and in pain. It scared me. If that's how I acted at just the thought of losing Logan, I couldn't fathom how I would be when...I buried my face deeper into his chest. I couldn't even finish the thought. It hurt too much. I was in deep. Way too deep.
Memories of him flood my mind. Old memories from better times. I remembered when I first met him. I was terrified, a slave to mutant experiments for years, and about to be turned into a weapon. I still remember cowering in the corner, naked, humiliated with no more fight left within me. I was convinced that I was going to die that day. But then here comes this big, intimidating, animal like man with claws in his hands to save me. I was so scared but there was an underlying...peace and understanding about him, if you will, that I convinced myself to allow him to save me.
Where would I be today if he hadn't come? Would I even still be alive? Probably not. If I was, I wouldn't have any remains of myself left. A shell of the person I was long ago. Would I have claws like him? Used as an assassin, a weapon? Would I be anything like him? Would it have been easier than all of this current pain that I am facing?
I pull back a bit, taking in the face of my friend. But looking again very closely, I am heavily reminded than he isn't just a friend but a soldier. A reluctant soldier, forced into battle. Logan may have the ability to physically heal but I could always see deeper. His scars were etched in the creases of his brow and in the weariness of his eyes. They showed themselves when he was angry and lashed out. They showed in his distrust towards people and his reluctance to help any more. And they showed in the way he wrestled with himself daily, the inner battle that never stops.
“My, what a war you've fought.” I whisper softly as I gently stroke his face, careful not to wake him.
Where would he be if Charles hadn't saved him? Not much thought has to go into that. He would've become the animal they designed him to be. Life would've been awfully lonely. And I would've never known that a man with such a painful past was capable of loving the way he did. He loved with actions more than words which meant more to me than anything else. Words fall short but his actions would stay with me forever.
What would we be like if things hadn't happened the way they did? If the accident hadn't happened and sickness wasn't overtaking him? Would we be together? Would we be more than two lonely souls looking out for each other? If only...
I closed my eyes and sighed, letting my hand rest on his cheek. Such reflections always hurt and the only way to stop it was to clear my mind and push them down further. These were thoughts and feelings I rarely shared with Logan and I doubted that I would get the chance to or even want too. He was right, of course. I think too much.
Not being able to sleep anymore, I decide that it's finally time to get up and check on the kids. I slowly get up and nearly jump out of my skin when Logan suddenly grabs my arm, jolting himself out of what seems to be a nightmare.
“Anna!” He says my name frantically. He sits up too quick, alarm and pain written all over his face.
“Logan, it's okay.” I try to reassure him as he looks around, breathing raggedly. He looks at me, his eyes blood shot then starts coughing roughly. I help him sit up properly. He's out of breath, sweat dripping down his face.
“Shit.” He swears quietly under his breath.
“Hell of a nightmare, old man.” I say concerned.
“Yeah.” He grumbles.
I grab a cloth from the nightstand then wipe his face. He looked exhausted and though it was probably late in the afternoon, I could tell he was barely rested. “You need to rest more, Logan. You're exhausted.” I insist.
He doesn't object as he lays down, groaning a bit as he does. I run the rag under some water then come back, gently wiping his forehead down. I take a look at his deeper wounds and to my relief, they've healed better than I expected though they still needed some work. He locks eyes with me, saying nothing as I continue to wipe his face down with the cool wash cloth.
“How long have we been here?” He asks hoarsely.
“About a day. Kids are still here.” I answer.
“They have to go.” He says.
“They're waiting here to cross the boarder. Shouldn't be too long before-”
“We have to go. We can't stay here.” He says worriedly.
“You're not going anywhere. You're exhausted and you need more time to heal. We'll figure it out later-”
“No.” He says firmly and I stop what I'm doing.
“What's going on, Logan?” I ask. He doesn't answer me though, looking away. “Hey,” I get his attention by sitting down beside him. “What's wrong?” A thought comes to mind. “What did you dream about?”
He hesitates before finally answering. “I killed you.” He answers quietly.
I tense up a bit then swallow hard, taking in his words. “You killed me or that clone did?” I counter.
He looks away. “All the same.”
“It's not the same.” I object but he doesn't say anything. I grab his arm. “Hey, that's not who you are.”
“They made that thing after me for a reason, Anna.” He says with intense eyes.
There wasn't much that I could say to reassure him. I couldn't imagine the guilt he must carry. All I could do was be there for him. “It's a shell, Logan. It has nothing to do with you. What happened at the farm. What happens in your dreams...I know it's hard to accept but it wasn't your fault.” Logan gives me a long, weary look and I could tell by his blood shot eyes that he was fighting sleep.
“Can't lose you again.” He whispers so softly that I barely hear it.
I soften a bit at his vulnerability, though it was most likely because he was tired and barely knew what he was saying. I place my hand on his cheek in a comforting manner. “I'm not going anywhere.” I promise as his eyes begin to close. I kiss his forehead gently then help him lay down. “Rest. We'll figure things out later.” I assure him as I hold on to one hand and stroke his forehead with the other. Eventually, he relaxes and his breathing goes back to normal as he falls back asleep.
I stayed by his side for a long time, making sure that he didn't wake up again. It sent chills up my spine to think of the dream that he had of me. Truth be told, I've had them too but I never told him about those because I knew it would just add more weight to his conscious and he just didn't need that right now. I dismissed them whenever I woke up because I knew the difference. They didn't shake me like others did.
Looking out the window, I notice that the sun is finally starting to get a lower and my own basic needs start to speak up such as needing a bathroom, food, water, and to touch base and see what's going on. I carefully get up, glancing once more at Logan to make sure he's asleep then step outside. I see kids in various places doing different things. A couple of them are at the lookout tower while some at the fire pit and a few others practicing their powers. I spy Laura at the fire pit with two kids and feeling relieved that she's here and safe, I start taking care of myself.
I took a bucket down to the water well and start washing up, running my hair under neath the cool water and washing the dirt of my face, neck and arms with a wash cloth. It didn't seem like much but I already felt like a real clean person again. I feel somebody behind me and turn around to see Delilah holding some clothes.
She looks slightly scared and nervous so I offer a small smile. “Hello.” I greet. Delilah relaxes a bit and smiles a little and waves. “Are those for me?”
“Si.” She answers then hands them out to me.
I take them gratefully, checking the sizes to make sure they'll fit. Almost perfect, I look up and smile again. “These are perfect. But just curious, how did you know you'd need these?”
She hesitates before answering. “They were supposed to be for our nurses but...”
I bite my lip, looking down and feeling uncomfortable. “I see.” I whisper then try to change the subject. “Well, thank you. I needed these. I stink.” I wrinkle my nose up dramatically.
Delilah laughs then runs off to the guard tower. I shake my head then go inside to the change. The clothes were a little on the baggy side but I didn't mind at all. I felt ten times better than I did earlier. I think about what to do next and think of Logan's words. He was right. They weren't completely safe there and it needed to be addressed.
I go outside and find Laura who is washing some clothes in a wash tub. She smiles briefly when she sees me. “Need a hand?” I ask her.
She nods then points to the pile of clothes and then shows me how she's been washing and drying them. It takes me a moment to get the hang of it but eventually it becomes easy and I fall into a comfortable rhythm. It was peaceful, neither of us speaking until I remember something.
“Hey, uh, I'm sorry again for last night. I made a big scene. Bigger than I should have. And what Logan said to you...”I sigh, not sure of what to say as she watches me while wringing out a shirt. “Just don't take it to heart.”
She gives me a long hard look then looks down. “He wants to die.” It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
I swallow hard and decide the best thing to do is to be honest with her. “Yes. But Laura...please understand that it's not without reason. Logan's been around for a long time. And time...it wears on you. He's been around longer than I have and has fought many battles and faced a lot of pain. Those stories that you've read about him...about the X-Men...they only show happy endings. They never show what the hero goes through after. It's a lot of weight to carry, Laura. A weight that you can't put down.”
Laura thinks for a few moments before speaking. “Charles told me to not let him. Why?” She asks curiously.
I wince a bit at the mention of his name. “Logan could live a thousand more years and Charles still wouldn't want him to die.” I smile briefly. “He loved Logan like a son. He always saw the good in him, the potential and always wanted him to be happy. The way things have been...he just wanted him to see that there's more to life. He wanted him to have hope...purpose.” I wring out a shirt with a little more force than needed. “It's just the way Charles was.”
“It was my fault that he died.” I paused at her words and look up to see her face hard but somber too. “Gabriela, too.”
I set the shirt I was washing to the side and lock eyes with her. “I'm not gonna say 'it's not your fault, don't worry about it, don't feel bad' because I know that doesn't do a thing to ease that pain. But I will say this. They knew exactly what they were getting into. They knew the cost and did it because they had hope for you.” I look towards the other kids. “For all of you.”
“We were a mistake.” She mumbles and I look back to her.
“You're gonna spend a long time battling that thought. Wish I could convince you otherwise. But I want you try to understand this. It doesn't matter how you got here. Your life still matters.” I pause for a moment then turn over my arm, revealing my tattoo from the concentration camps. “This is my reminder. Of who I am. Who I could've been. I got this shortly before I realized that I was a mutant. It was during a terrible war where people were persecuted for their beliefs. I was sentenced to death, along with many others, but because of my powers, I survived. I shouldn't have. You were led to a room, believing it was a shower and instead it was poisonous gas. Nobody survived and when they found out that I did....” I look down, biting my lip. “It wasn't good. I was experimented on for a while. They tried to kill me a lot of different ways but I kept coming back. Eventually, someone set me free and I was on the run for a long time before being captured again. It was worse that time. They planned on turning me into a weapon. I was going to be exactly like Logan. If it hadn't been for Charles and Logan saving me...there's no telling what I'd become.” I stop for a few moments, fighting back fresh tears.
“What happened after?” Laura finally whispers.
I swallow hard. “I went back with them but even after I was safe, I battled with myself for a long time. I was violent. Dangerous. If it hadn't been for Charles and his crazy idea to one on one fight lessons with Logan...I could've been a lot worse. They gave me a family, hope...purpose. Changed everything. Showed me that I was more than a crazy, broken, and bitter mistake.” My expression softens as I look at Laura. “All that to say...Charles, Gabriela, they laid their life down for you for a reason. And after this all over, you're still gonna fight with yourself and wonder why you're alive and others aren't. You're gonna fight with your conscious, think about the people you killed and wrestle with nightmares but you have to be stubborn and fight back. Find your reason to hold on. I promise you will.” Laura looks away, swiping at stray tears, trying to be strong.
I stand up then walk over to sit down beside her. She looks away again, wrapping her arms around herself protectively. I saw myself again. Young, broken, scared, lost, trying make sense of it all. So I did what I would've wanted that long ago. I wrapped my arms around her. She tensed up at first but then suddenly wrapped her own arms around my waist. I brought her closer and she buried her face into my side. I felt every tear and emotion that she released. I had never so protective and yet so conflicted in my entire life.
As the sun was beginning to set, I thought to myself. “Oh Charles...what have you gotten me into.”
Sorry for the short chapter but I wanted to get something up before I left town for a few days! I also wanted to share time with Anna and Laura as I haven't done that a lot this story. It'll make sense eventually! :) Thanks for reading! Please review :)
Chapter 17: Chapter 17: Choices
I'm back! Sorry it's been so long but due to lack of motivation and feedback, I took a long break. However, I do want to finish this story. I wrote this chapter at work which it's shorter than other chapters but, I hope you like it! Let me know what you think!
We stayed there for a long time. I had never felt so conflicted and lost as I did in that moment. I wanted to do everything I could for Laura and the other children. Be there. Protect them. Made sure they made it to their destination. But then there was a deeper side of me that was still loyal to Logan. He was the very last person even close to family that I had and I didn't want to lose him. I promised him that I wouldn't leave and no matter what, I didn't intend on breaking that promise. So why did I still feel so guilty? Like no matter what I chose, I was going to end up betraying somebody.
I wished Charles was still here. Like really here. Not the broken down Charles that we had been taking care of. I'd do anything to go back in time and change everything about that night. But deep down I knew there was nothing I could have done. Part of me thinks that Charles knew exactly what was going to happen that night but didn't want to tell us. Maybe, like Logan, he was done too. I just wish it hadn't been so brutal and I wish I could've said goodbye.
Laura eventually got wordlessly and went to doing miscellaneous chores with the other children. I watched her every move, observing how she seemed to relax a little bit around the other children. She reminded me of better times and I too relaxed a little bit, feeling a little sad but content as I watched them work together and joke around. After a while, I felt a familiar presence behind me. I waited for him to say something but, of course, he didn't.
"You know, I never got completely comfortable with you watching me from afar." I look at up Logan. "Stalker." I smirk.
He snorts and shakes his head. "Come on." He offers his hand. I give him a questioning look but his eyes don't answer me so I take his hand anyway, wincing a bit as I stand up.
As we start walking, he nods towards my stomach. "You okay?" He asks.
"Yeah. Sometimes it's tender if I over do it but not too bad." I answer but quickly change the subject. "Where are we going?"
"On a romantic date." He says sarcastically.
I scoff. "There's nothing a beautiful sunset while potentially being attacked at moment. You outdid yourself."
"I knew it was your thing." He smirks, earning a laugh from me.
We walk a little further before I break the silence. "So why are we really out here?" I ask quietly.
"We need to talk." He says.
My lips tighten a bit. "About what?"
"About what we're going to do." He answers, looking at me.
I shrug him off. "We already know what we're going to do."
"We can't stay here."
"Logan, I know that. But they're not going to leave today. I've tried. Rictor is set in his ways and he won't leave. I hate it and I have a bad feeling too but I can't change it." I say frustrated. "We can leave though if you want."
He shakes his head. "You wouldn't do that."
"Why not? We came what we came to do. We got Laura here now we're free." I say firmly.
"You wouldn't be able to live with yourself."
I stop abruptly. "How do you know what I would and wouldn't do?"
"Because I know you, Anna. Leaving them right now would tear you apart."
"Logan, I don't get to choose anymore. I lost that privilege a long time ago." I say bitterly.
"You always have a choice, Anna." He says evenly.
"Logan, quit playing around with me." I say a bit angrily. "What are you getting at?"
He sighs and gives me a pained look. "I'm saying maybe you should go with them."
I look at him in shock. "What? What do you mean? Go with them...alone?"
He answers me with a look and I shake my head angrily. "Hell no!"
"Why are you even suggesting that? First, you're begging me not to leave now you're saying I should go with them? What the hell, Logan?" I'm shaking now and angry with all the emotions I'm feeling. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Anna, they need you."
"They have each other. They'll manage. You don't have anyone else." I pause, biting my lip. "I don't have anyone else."
His face softens as he steps forward. "Things are changing, Anna. We have to accept that. You have to accept that."
I shake my head furiously. "I can't and I won't. It's too much...losing our family, Caliban, Charles...I won't lose you too."
"Anne, you know what's-"
"DON'T." I hold my hands up and say angrily. "Stop bringing it up."
I turn on my heel and stomp away. I hear him huff and easily catch up with me. He grabs my arm and turns me around. "You need to face this, Anna, and stop pretending that everything is going to be fine after this. Now I am not going to let you waste away like I have."
"What made you think that I am wasting away by staying with you? I never felt that way."
"Because you couldn't see it." He says quietly.
"The weight you carried around constantly. The sad, tired, and worried look you wear constantly. Caliban and Charles saw it. Hell, they even tried talking to you about it." He pauses and gives me a guilty look. "I saw it. I was too busy wallowing in my own self pity that I didn't bother trying to look after you. I can't change that but I'm thinking about you now and I don't want you to go through that again."
"And how do you think I would be if I went with them? Wondering what happened to you. Knowing you're dying alone." I pause and sigh. "We've already gone through this. You're not changing my mind."
"Anna, you need to think about this."
"Don't make me choose, Logan. It's hard enough as it is." I say brokenly.
Logan starts to say something but is interrupted by Rebecca and Delilah running up to us. "Come! Come join us by the fire." They say excitedly, pulling on the hem of my shirt. Logan gives them bit of a hard look then looks at me. I, however, am thankful for the distraction.
"I'll be there soon." I smile at them which is enough for them as they run back to their friends.
I wordlessly start to follow them, thankful for the distraction. "Anna..." I hear Logan call after me and I look back. "This isn't over."
"It is for now." I say softly then leave him behind.
I follow them back to the fire where the other children as goofing off and having a good time. I laugh as I watch them prank each other with their powers and chase each other. Laura sits across from me, a soft smile on her face. Eventually, they ask a question I dread most. It was Rictor who spoke up.
"Anna, we've all been talking and we've been wondering..." He looks nervously at the others then back to me. "We were wondering if you and Logan would come with us. To Eden."
The question shocks me and I tremble as I look at all their faces, especially Laura's and what I say next is the hardest thing I've ever. "I...I don't think so, kids."
Everyone looks so disappointed. Especially Laura. "Why not?" Rictor asks.
I sigh shakily and force myself to be hard. "Because we did what we came to do." I answer firmly then quickly get up.
I feel their disappointment and sadness as I leave and I don't dare look at Laura in the eyes. To my surprise, Logan was not too far away, watching us with an unreadable expression. I stop when I get to him, I was trembling all over. "It's settled now." I say quietly. "That was the hardest thing I ever had to do." I admit then brush past him, not wanting him to see me cry.
Hard decisions and conversations! That's it for now :) Review your thoughts!
Chapter 18: Chapter 18: Confessions
I hurry to the hide out and fall onto my bed. My breathing is frantic and I do my best to calm myself down but I can't. What I wouldn't do for a bottle of anything right now. I wanted nothing more than to drown my sorrows out, to shut everything out and pretend everything was going to be okay. I was done. Past done. I was tired of losing people and having to make impossible decisions. Choosing Logan over Laura was the hardest thing I ever had to do. To have to let them go and hope for the best...it was an eerie feeling and I felt sick just thinking about it. If only Logan weren't so stubborn and would come with us. But I knew better than to ask. It would a firm hell no. But then there's the other problem of what do after all this done. Where do we go? What happens next?
What did it matter anyways? I thought bitterly as I packed my stuff away, trying to find something to do.
I hear heavy footsteps come into the room and wood creak as he leans against the doorframe. "You okay?"
I clench my fists. "I'm great." I say quietly.
"Bullshit." He says as he pulls out a cigar and lights it.
"Don't mess with me, Logan, I'm not in the mood." I say bitterly.
He holds his hands in the air in surrender then sits down on the corner of his bed. He blows out smoke then looks at me. "You having second thoughts?" He asks.
My blood boils a bit. "No, Logan, I'm just hurting!" I snap at him. "I've lost my whole family, my friends, and now I'm losing you and on top of that I just had to look a group of lost kids in the face and tell them off." I throw a shoe across the room. "Does that answer your question? Can I grieve in peace now?"
He gives me a hard look. "You're going through this because you chose too. Nobody is making you do anything."
"Don't start, Logan." I warn. "I'm not an overly emotional damsel in distress. You feel it too."
"I don't feel anything." He grumbles, putting his cigar out.
"Bullshit." I scoff. "If you didn't care, you wouldn't be here."
"I'm here because of Charles and if I hadn't been soft and listened to him in the first place, he'd still be here." He says.
"Doing what, Logan? Pacing back and forth, rambling on and on for how long, huh? Does that sound like the good life to you?" I ask bitterly.
"A lot better than being impaled by someone he trusted." He retorts.
I softened a bit at that. "It wasn't you and it wasn't your fault."
"He didn't know the difference, Anna. Hell, I barely did." He says bitterly.
I lift up my shirt, revealing the puncture wounds. "I was there, too. I knew the difference." He looks at me. "I didn't stop it." I come to sit down next to him. "I knew it wasn't you. I tried to stop it but I didn't have time and it went right through me. There was nothing I could do and I have to live with that." I close my eyes and sigh then look at Logan. "But I knew it wasn't you because that thing was pure rage and without a soul. That's not you."
"It may not be all of me but it is part of me." He whispers.
"It's apart of us all." I reply softly. "It's not who we are though. It's not who you are. Charles knew that. He had very good judge of character. He knew what he was getting into when he took us in." I look outside. "Just as he knew what he was getting into with them."
"And look where it got him." He says painfully. "It's not worth it, Anne. Not for me anyway." I nod, which is all I can do. I knew he wouldn't change his mind. So instead, I got up and started packing our stuff. "What are you doing?"
I give him a look. "Packing our stuff. If you're up to it, I'd like to get out of here soon as possible. Maybe even before they leave."
"Anna, you don't have to go with me-"
I cut him off. "Don't, Logan. Just don't. Please. It's hard enough. Please don't make it harder." I throw a shirt into a bag. "I get where you're coming from. Really, I do. And I agree, I don't want to go through it again either."
"I told you, you'd regret it if you don't go." He says.
"And I'll regret it if I do." I throw back. "I have to pick my battles, Logan. I won't lie, everything in me wants to protect those kids. I want to go with them. But the reality is that there is nothing that I can do for them. I can't protect them. They have a better chance on their own." I look him in the eye. "And I'll be better with you. No matter what happens."
Logan holds my gaze for a long time, his expression full of concern and tiredness."You don't know that, Anna. It could be worse. A lot worse."
I throw my hands in the air. "What do I have to lose, Logan?"
"A lot more than you think." He says evenly. "Your time isn't up yet."
"My time was up a long, long time ago. It should've ended in the gas chambers." Logan winces and I shrug. "Everything since then is...I don't know. Borrowed or cursed or crazy mutation. Whatever the reason, I'm still here and so are you." I smile sadly. "Guess there's more for us to do. Until then, you're stuck with me."
Logan turns his attention to the other side of the room. "Stubborn woman." He mumbles after a while.
"Grouchy old man." I throw with a small smile. I sit down next to him and follow his gaze which is on the kids that are smiling and joking outside. "I really hope they make it." I whisper.
"Me too, kid." He replies softly.
A few moments later, I get up and finish packing. I try to drown out my thoughts but they just keep coming. I could tell it was going to be a long night even though I was exhausted.
Suddenly, I hear the door open and I turn around to see Laura. Her face is hard as she briefly looks at me then Logan. Logan, noticing her entry, tries to make small talk.
"Hey, your friends, they seem nice. Kind of reminds me of uh..." He trails off as she brushes past him with an attitude. He reaches out to grab her arm. "Hey, hey, what's going on, huh?" He asks confused but she snatches her arm away. This makes him defensive. "You're with your pals, you made it!"
"Where will you go?" She asks.
Logan shrugs then looks briefly to me then back to her. "Nearest bar for starters." He replies casually. I scoff and glare at him, calling him an ass with my eyes.
Laura, not amused, turns her back on him.
"Hey, we got you here, that's all we signed up for." He says as she walks away. "I even gave back the money."
Laura twist around on her heel to face him. "Such a nice man." She replies bitterly.
I open my mouth to speak but Logan beats me to it. "Hey, we didn't ask for this, alright? Charles didn't ask for this. Caliban didn't ask for this. And they are six feet under the ground!" He says angrily.
"Logan-" I start but he keeps going.
"Now I don't know what Charles put in your head but I am not whatever it is you think I am. I only met you like a week ago." He snaps and I can see the effect it's having on Laura. "Now you got your Rebecca, your Delilah, your blah, blah, blah. Everything you've asked for, you got it!"
"Logan." I say sternly, trying to tell him that was enough but he ignores me.
"And it is better this way because I suck at this." He pauses and I can see the pain and emotion in his face and eyes. "Bad shit happens to people I care about. You understand me?" His voice cracks.
Laura looks him straight in the eye, her expression calm. "Then I'll be fine." She says evenly then quietly goes outside.
"Laura-" I call after her but am cut off by the slam of the screen door.
I sigh and give Logan a look. "That went well." I say sarcastically as I get up and start to follow Laura outside.
"Let her go." Logan warns.
"Not everyone understands why you're an asshole sometimes, Logan." I say over my shoulder.
"Not everyone needs to, Anne." He retorts.
I turn around. "You know, I know you've been stuck in this jaded mood for the past year and I understand why but you know what? You're still a man and I know, even if it hurts like hell, you care about them and you care about Laura and there's nothing wrong with that." I open the door to go outside. "That's who you are." And without giving him a chance to say anything else, I leave and close the door behind me.
I look around and see Laura walking away from the others. "Laura!" I call after her.
She briefly glances over her shoulder then picks up her pace. I run after her, catching up easily. I gently grab her arm but she quickly snatches it back. "Leave me alone." She says angrily but I can hear the pain.
"Would you just listen to me for a moment?" I say loudly to where she finally stops and crosses her arms. Anger and pain written on her face. I sigh. "Logan shouldn't have said those things the way he did but maybe he is right. It probably is better this way."
"Why?" She asks quietly.
"Because it just is. We did what we came to do and the rest...the rest you're going to have to do on your own." I kneel down to her level. "There are some things you won't understand right now but you have to keep going."
"Why doesn't he care about me?" She asks timidly.
"If he didn't care, you'd be stuck in some experiment room or worse, Laura." I reply seriously. "You have to understand, neither of us have what it takes to protect you or your friends. And Logan...he's lost so much that he doesn't have it in him any more to lose anyone else. Please try to understand that."
She glances briefly at the cabin where Logan is then back to me. "What about you?"
I shrug. "Still have a lot to figure out. I promised myself and Logan that I wouldn't leave him. So I plan to keep that promise." I answer honestly.
"Why?" She asks curiously.
I look down, feeling my cheeks blush a little then look back to Laura. "When you love someone, you find yourself doing the craziest stuff for them. Loving someone is more than just romance. It's the inbetween things you do. The promises you make and keep. The life you lay down for them. He proved that to me countless times. Now it's my turn." I clear my throat and stand up. "I don't know what's next for you and your friends, Laura but Charles seemed convinced that this Eden place was real. Though his brain wasn't what it used to be before he died, I have a feeling that he knew what he was talking about. So did Gabriella. So, take your friends and finish what you came to do. And once you get there..."I think for a moment then sigh with a small laugh. "Breathe. Take it all in and breathe. And then work on becoming anything but what you were created for. Cause you're not a monster and neither are your friends. Remember that for me, okay?"
Laura's eyes shine as she wipes them away furiously then nods.
I give a watery smile then open my arms. "Come here." I say then pull her into my arms. She hugs me tightly and I hold her for a long time. I feel my eyes watering and I look up to see Logan watching from the doorway. I wonder how much he heard.
Finally, Laura and I part. I give her a smile and then hear her friends calling to her. She gives me a questioning look and I nod. "Go ahead." She reluctantly leaves and walks towards her friends. "Hey, Laura." I call after her and she turns around. "Don't let go of them."
She holds my gaze for a moment then nods and goes to her friends, who welcome her and give her a mug. I watch them for a moment and for a split second, I see myself, Logan, Jean, Scott, Storm, Marie, Bobby, Hank, and others. I feel a dull ache and a longing as I remember all the good times we had. Soon, I realize a few tears have escaped and I quickly wipe them away, snapping myself out of it. As I turn to go inside, I see Logan still at the doorway. He holds the door for me as I go inside, not able to say anything because my throat is clogged.
"I don't want to ever hear you call yourself weak." I hear Logan say and I turn around to face him.
I wipe furiously at the tears threatening my eyes and all I can do is shake my head.
Logan walks over and lifts my chin up with his thumb. "There's not a weak bone in your body."
I force a laugh, tears rolling down my face and point to it. "Does this look strong to you?"
"More than you know." He says sincerely then pulls me to his chest. I lose it then and cry into his chest. He leans his forehead on my head and holds my head with his hand. Something was wrong though. I could feel it. Logan has always had a soft spot for me but lately, he has shown it more lately. This wasn't exactly like him. I would question it later but right now, I let him hold me.
He guides me over to the bed and instructs me to lay down. I obey him and twist around to look at him, still scared to sleep. He gently brushes my hair back. "Why are you acting so strange?" I ask.
"What do you mean?" He asks curiously.
"You went from being all tough to a big softy." I point out bluntly. "What's going on?"
He shrugs. "Being an asshole doesn't work with you. You see right through it." He smirks slightly and I can't help but laugh. He turns serious again. "I've watched you face everything battle and no matter how banged up you came out, you still made it. You've carried a lot on your shoulders. With little help from me." He pauses and I see the regret in his eyes. "I'm sorry. For not being there. For putting this all on you. It wasn't right."
I shake my head. "That's not true. You've always been there. From day one. You've sacrificed more than anyone else ever has for me and so many others." I touch his cheek gently. "You're here now." I clear my throat. "I know that hasn't been easy for you."
Logan holds my gaze for a long time then gently squeezes my shoulder. He starts to get up but I grab his arm, my eyes pleading with him. He finally relents then lays down beside me. I feel more peaceful now and feel my eyes grow heavy. He begins to stroke my forehead again and soon, my breathing evens out and I feel myself slip out of reality.
I find myself walking through the garden outside and feel the warm sunshine on my face. I sit down on a bench and close my eyes. "Nice day, isn't it?" I hear a familiar voice.
I turn around and see Charles smiling at me. "Charles." I breathe out happily and run to him. He laughs happily as I wrap my arms around his neck and he hugs me back tightly. I remember everything that happened and feel regret run through me. "I'm sorry, Charles. I'm so sorry."
He squeezes my arm then leans back and cuffs my cheek his hand. "There, there, child. There is nothing to apologize for. All is well now. Everything is at it should be. So far." He says gently.
I smile as he wipes my tears away then we walk around the garden, making small talk and catch up. After a while, Charles stops in front of me with a serious expression. "I don't have long, Anna, so please listen carefully. When you wake up, you and Logan need to talk."
"About what?" I ask curiously.
"Everything." He says gently. "Everything you've ever wanted to say, say it now."
"Why?" I ask fearfully.
"Trust me, Anna. You both have put this off for too long. It's time." He says in a fathering tone.
I step back. "Charles, what's going on-"
A clock far away rings loudly, striking noon. Charles looks back to me and touches my cheek. "Trust me."
It rings again and before I know it, everything fades.
I wake up and sit up abruptly in bed, my skin drenched in sweat. I look around wildly and find Logan standing by the window, staring at me. "Bad dream?" He asks me, unphased.
I shake my head. "I don't know." I whisper but then look at him. "But we need to talk."
"About what?" He asks, slightly confused.
"Everything." I say quietly.
He holds my gaze for a moment and I think that he's going to tell me to go back to bed and forget about it but he simple asks, "Why?"
I bite the side of my cheek and shrug. "Because we may never get another chance too."
Logan stares at me for a long time before finally coming over and sitting across from me. "Okay." He says tiredly.
So after a few awkward tries, we begin talking about everything that we can think of that we haven't talked about, everything that we've swept under the rug. Painful secrets come out. Stuff about our past that we'd never discussed. I finally confessed a painful secret that explained why I hated Pierce so much. Up til then, Logan just listened but that one upset him and he demanded to know why I never told him. I simply told him it was a pain that went to deep to talk to anyone about until then which he understood. We talked about Westchester in detail, what happened that day, how we felt about it. I confessed that I had told Charles everything that happened and though I thought Logan would be upset, he was very calm and accepting of it. In fact, he mentioned that he was relieved that he died knowing the truth. It was what he deserved.
And then we got to the hard part.
We had taken a break and then I felt that nudge. I took a deep breath. "There's one more thing for me and then I'm done." I say softly.
"Okay." He replies, giving me a curious look while looking very tired at the same time. I needed to tell him quickly. I sigh shakily and rub my arm nervously.
"It's alright, Anna." He says comfortingly.
I sniff and wipe my eyes then look at him. Here it goes. "I love you." I breathe.
His eyes widen a bit but then he shrugs it off. "I love you, too."
I bite my lip. "Not just as a friend, Logan. I mean, I really love you." I swallow the lump in my throat. "I have for a very long time. And I know we were going strong before the accident but even after that. I never stopped. I still love you." I let out a shaky breath. "I know, it's stupid-" he cuts me off by holding up his hand.
He doesn't say anything for a few moments and the silence nearly kills me. Finally, he looks me in the eye. "There were two things I held onto." He says as he takes something out of his pocket. "One was the bullet." I tighten up thinking about it, that thought still hurts. Logan notices but continues. "The other is what kept me from pulling the trigger." He takes my hand and puts something in it.
I open my hand and to my shock, it's a simple but beautiful wedding ring. "Logan," I choke out his name and have to clear my throat."Who's is this?" I whisper, thinking maybe it was from another long time lover.
His eyes are pained as he answers me. "It's yours." He replies softly.
My head snaps up and I look at him in shock. "What?" I ask brokenly.
He looks away and scoffs. "Crazy, I know. Used to be into all kinds of daredevil shit back then." He laughs briefly then meets my eyes. "I was going to to give this to you the day everything in Westchester happened. I didn't get the chance." He says quietly with pain and longing in his eyes.
The tears come quickly and a sob escapes my throat. My heart is clenching, my stomach in knots. A mixture of love and pain fill me. I hold the ring close to my chest and swallow hard. "Well, damn." I choke out with a humorless laugh then look him in the eye. "The answer was 'yes'." I cry and have to catch my breath. "It's always been 'yes'." I say with all my heart.
Logan's eyes tear up a lot as he takes my hand, squeezing it. "I know. You've proved it over and over. You didn't a shitty piece of metal to tell me otherwise." He sighs as he brushes my hair to the side then gently takes my face in his hand. His eyes are full of love and sadness. "My greatest regret is not having the chance to love you like you deserve." He says softly then lifts my chin up and kisses me on the lips.
That alone spoke all the things Logan couldn't put into words. It was gentle but passionate. Sad but loving. Everything he was. More tears fell from my eyes as he pulled back. I let out a shaky breath that I had been holding in as I bring my hand to his face, wiping away his own silent tears. "You've loved me deeper than anyone was ever capable of, Logan. Much deeper than any words could ever say. Don't ever have regrets about that." I kiss him this time then smile lightly. "I don't regret anything." I whisper meaningfully.
He holds my gaze for a long time then takes my finger and slide the ring on before taking me into his arms. We kiss and this time, it's us together. Both saying things we've always wanted to say but couldn't or didn't know how to. We let it all go. All the years of pain and bitterness and lost chances. This was much deeper and meaningful to me than any physical intimacy could ever offer. This was what I wanted for so long and feared that I would never have. These kind of moments were unheard of. We hadn't kissed since before the accident and I forgot how wonderful it was. This was different. It was real, raw. It was us. I feel Logan's hands explore my body and I explore his as we kiss. This is as far as we go but it's more than enough for me. This is what I had wanted for so long and feared that it would never happen. I was so afraid that I would never have this moment and would regret it. It was the greatest gift I'd ever been given.
After a while, exhaustion hits us both. I don't want it to end but tomorrow I knew would be a long day so reluctantly, I let Logan guide me down with me on the bed. We rest in each other's arms, just looking at each other and communicating with our eyes. Soon, my eyes become really droopy and I flinch awake, slightly startled. "It's okay." He says, brushing my hair out of my face. "Go to sleep." He kisses me one more time, letting it linger.
I sigh then rest my head on his chest and cling to him. He holds me close, lightly stroking my hair. "How do you ever expect me to let go now?" I whisper softly as I fade into sleep.
Chapter 19: Chapter 19: For Better or For Worse
I sat casually on the balcony, watching the stars shine brightly. It was a peaceful, cool night. Everyone in the mansion had gone to bed and was now sleeping soundly. I was fumbling around with a pie of metal in the shape of a circle with a rock on it. I'd been thinking about Anna all day and couldn't get her out of my head. Her smile, her laugh, her soft brown hair and blue green eyes. How easily I could read her and she read me by just one glance. I thought about her soft skin against mine and how perfect we fit together. Mostly, I thought about her character. How she mastered the art of being both gentle and strong. She was tough, strong, a warrior to say the least. She could take just about anyone down and put them in their place. She was also gentle, loving, and kind. She could take the toughest students and turn them into clay and then gently mold and put them back together. If the team members needed someone, she was there for us as we were for her. She loved to teach but she also loved to be taught. She had a short temper sometimes and man don't wake her up in the morning. She was stubborn, head strong and resilient, especially when it came to me. I pushed her away quite a few times but she wouldn't budge. She stayed strong and patient when I took things out on her. She was there for me in ways others couldn't be. Ways she knew I understood.
I blow out my cigar smoke and sigh. I promised myself I'd never love again and now look where I am.
"Evening, Logan." I hear a familiar voice and turn around to see Hank.
"Hey, Hank." I greet with a nod, earning a slight smile from him.
"Mind if I join you?" He asks.
I shrug and he leans against the railing. "Any word from the gang?" I ask.
Hank frowns a bit. "That's what I came here to talk about, Logan." He sighs.
I stiffen and stand up straight. "What happened?"
"The two kids they went to rescue didn't make it. Someone got to them first and they couldn't defend themselves. It was too late." Hank explains sadly.
"Shit." I curse, roughly putting out my cigar.
"Yeah." Hank whispers. "Wanted to give you a heads up. They're on their way home. You know how she can be. We've already put away the good China."
I smirk. "Smart move."
Hank chuckles a bit then nods at me. "Whats that in your hand?"
I think about trying to hide but I know it's no use. Hank was smart. Very smart. I hold it out for him to see and shrug. "I don't know yet." I say more to myself.
Hank raises his eye brows. "May I?" He asks motioning to see the ring. I hand it over. "Well I'm no expert but it seems to me that you have a wedding ring here, Logan." He smiles. "Old Wolvie finally settling down, huh?"
"Don't start, Furball." I warn, starting up another cigar.
Hank chuckles, holding his hands up. "It won't be much surprise to anyone. Think everyone has been waiting on their seats for it."
"Well, they can wait a little longer. I'm not sure it's gonna happen." I say, looking away.
"Now that is a bunch of bullshit." He says bluntly. "And if you miss that opportunity, then you'll regret it for the rest of your life.
"I blowout some smoke and look back at Hank. "That's a long time." I smirk.
"That's right." He points at me laughing then goes serious again. "Anna's a good woman, Logan. She loves you deeply and I know you love her. You both have been through a lot and you both deserve a chance to enjoy life instead of just surviving it."
I chew on the side of my cheek, his words ringing in my ears. Hank straightens up then pats my shoulder. "Think about it, Logan." He says. Our conversation is cut short by two cars pulling into the driveway. They were home. Hank sighs. "You better go to her. It's going to be a long night for her."I wince as I put out my cigar on the concrete railing.
"Yeah." I say softly then nod to Hank as I leave. "Thanks, Furball." I say over my shoulder.
As I head down the stairs, I hear the front door open and see the gang come in. I stop in my tracks as they all looked banged up and dirty. My eyes land on Anna and she is covered in dirt and what looks like blood. She walks with a slight limp and I can see a few wounds healing. She has a far away look in her eyes and a slight tremble. I can sense a deep sadness and anger bottled in her calm demeanor. She sits down the nearest chair and doesn't say a word, not even noting that I'm in the room.
Storm sends a few people to get checked out but Anna ignores and just sits quietly. "Jeez, Storm, What happened?" I ask, coming all the way down.
Storm sighs. "It was a trap. The kids...they were bait. Killed before we got there then we were ambushed. The fight was over pretty quickly but it was nasty." She winces.
"We lose anyone?" I ask fearfully.
Storm shakes her head. "No, thankfully not." She says then takes me by the arm and leads me to a corner. She glances briefly at Anna then to me. "She's been like that the whole way back. Hasn't said a word. It's not like her."
I look at Anna for a moments, observing her. Storm was wrong. This was her. "Just because she's not throwing and breaking stuff, doesn't mean she isn't okay."
"You're sure?" She asks nervously.
I glance back at Anna. "Yeah. Just a shitty day." I whisper. "She'll be fine."Storm still looks a bit worried. "She's hurt too but won't show us the wound. Says she's fine.""That's her stubborn side." I mumble. "I'll take care of it."
Storm, finally understanding, nods then smiles softly. "Okay. I'll leave you to it. If you need anything, let us know."
"Thanks, Storm." I say then smile quickly before leaving her.
I stop when I realize Anna isn't in the same spot then follow her scent to her room. A long the way I notice random spots of blood, leaving a trail. How was she still bleeding? I wondered. Her door is shut but I let myself in without knocking. I find her in the bathroom, leaned up against the sink, staring at her reflection in a weary way.
I come up behind her but she never takes her eyes off her reflection. "Hey." I greet quietly as I come up behind her.
"Hey." She whispers softly then looks at me nervously in the mirror. "I need your help."
I nod, sensing what she was saying. "Okay." I assuringly.
She points to her hoodie. "Can you help me take this off?" She asks.
"Sure." I answer then lift the hoodie over her head. She yelps and whimpers and I see why when she gets it off. Her back is covered in lashes that are almost healed but a small steel pole is embedded in her side. I sigh and curse under my breath. That had to hurt like hell. Without a word, I grab some alcohol and a few towels. I put some underneath her then grab some scissors to cut her t shirt off. I wet a wash cloth and clean around the infected area then look at her. "This is going to hurt." I warn and all she does is nod with a blank expression. I pour the alcohol on the wound then wrap a towel gently around the pole. I warn her before carefully pulling the rod out. Anna screams through her teeth and breaths heavily as she grips the sink with all her strength. Blood spills down her side, creating a small puddle on the floor. I pour more alcohol over the wound that is now healing quickly.
Anna lets out a long, shaky breath and I see her just in time to catch as her legs nearly buckle beneath her. "Hey, hey." I guide her to the toilet then very gently pat her face. "Come on, Anne, stay with me."
Her eyes flutter open and she rubs them. She feels the spot where the rod was and finds it fully healed. She looks at me and I smile softly. "All better." I say somewhat sarcastically. Anna nods but doesn't say anything.
I brush the hair from her face then lean in for a kiss but she pulls away. "I'm a mess." She whispers in disgust.
I smile slightly. "A beautiful mess." I whisper back as I gently pull her face back towards me and kiss her softly on the lips. This time she doesn't fight me and kisses me back. Silent tears roll down her cheek and I wipe them away with my thumb. I stand up and start the warm water.
Then I gently pull Anna to her feet and turn her around to where her back is facing me. I carefully unclasp her bra and let it fall to the ground. I run my hands down her back as I trace the lines and creases that I've memorized. Then I reach around and undo the zipper on her jeans and bring them down, making her now fully undressed.
I guide Anna to the shower and help her step in. Once she's settled, I go to her room and find her fresh clothes and a towel. I set it on the toilet for her and start to leave but then stop. Looking to the shower, I find myself taking my own clothes and step into the shower with her. She look at me in slight surprise at first but then relaxes. I take a wash cloth with soap and begin to bathe her. The water turns dark and murky as I take my time washing the days wear off of her, letting it disappear down the drain. As I run it over her stomach, she grabs my arm gently, making me stop. She grips it and squeezes my hand. I hear the pain in this silent action of hers and I hold her securely against mewithout turning her around. I kiss between her shoulder blades and lead up to her neck. I feel herbreathe shakily and I rub my hands up and down her arms.
I turn Anna around to face me and her broken eyes stare into my own. I see the tears stream and collide with the water running down her face. It hurts and I'd do anything to take it away. I cup her cheek in my hand and as soon as I do, she breaks down. I quickly wrap my arms around her protectively and bring her to my chest. Her broken cries are drowned out by the sound of the water but I can feel it in her trembling and the way she clings to me. She felt vulnerable, frail almost but there something so intimate about that moment that I would never forget. She let her guard down in a different way and she didn't have to say a word. I understood. The unsaid spoke more than anything full blown conversation ever would. In an odd way, it made me love her more. Because this is the way we were. The way we took care of each other. I had never experienced anything like it in former relationships. This was real. It felt right. All the others...they didn't come close to comparing.
Soon her sobs subsided and the water grew cold. We stayed there until I felt Anna begin to shake a little bit. I reluctantly pulled away, kissed her temple then turned the water off. I helped her out of the shower then dried her off and handed her clothes while I dried myself off and got dressed. I followed her as she exited the bathroom.
Anna sat on the bed and looked up at me. She looked more content than she had. "Logan, will you stay with me?" She asks in a soft voice.
I nod. "Of course." I answer with a slight smile. Then I hold out my hand for her to take. She looks at me slightly confused but takes it anyway. "I wasn't done holding you. Damn water got cold." I smirk.
Her face breaks into a smile as she laughs and wraps her arms around me. I do the same for a moment then begin to sway and dance with her slowly around the room. I hum deeply, attempting to make our own music but it didn't matter anyway. She moved with me in sync as she rested her head against my chest, one arm around me, the other in my hand. She was calm now. A little bit of sadness remained but it wasn't radiating off of her like it was.
We go on for a few more minutes before I stop, lift her chin up, and kiss her deeply. She returns it, soft, sweet, and passionate. I want more but don't demand it. I sense she is exhausted and the way she can barely keep her eyes open confirms my thoughts. So I kiss her once more then lead her to the bed and prompt her to get in. I get in next and settle down beside her.
Anna leans back into her pillow, closes her eyes, and sighs. "No offense but this bed has all my love tonight." She mumbles but smiles softly.
"The thanks I get." I say sarcastically, earning a small laugh from her. I notice the creases in her forehead though, which give away that something is bothering her. "Rough day, huh kid?"
She breathes heavily. "The worst." She says, staring at the ceiling. "Maybe not the worst but really crappy for sure. Professor had been talking to those kids for a while. It was supposed to be an easy in and out rescue." She closes her eyes. "It was never meant to be that though. They were just...bait. They wanted us. When they had done their job as bait...they were done away with." A stray tear escapes her eyes. "We were sloppy. We should've looked more into it instead of diving in."
I felt guilty. I knew I should've gone. I felt it but it seemed like such an easy mission that I thought they had it. I was wrong. "Who was behind it?" I ask curiously.
Anna rolls her eyes."Alkali. Damn people don't know when to give up." She says bitterly.
I grip the sheets of the bed, feeling my anger boil but I suppress it. "Damn." I curse under my breath. "I'm sorry I wasn't there. I should've gone."
She rolls over to face me, her hands tucked underneath her cheek. "You're here now. That's all that matters." She whispers.
I hold Anna's gaze for a long time while caressing her cheek. Though she had had a shitty day, I couldn't help but think of how amazing she was. She mastered the art of being both strong and vulnerable. Though she was broken, she was amazingly beautiful and I loved her even more for it. I lean forward and kiss her deeply and slowly. I pull away but still caress her cheek. "I'm not going anywhere." I say softly.
Her eyes shimmer but she doesn't say anything. Instead, she wraps her arms around me and leans her head against my chest. I hold her close, playing with her hair and kissing her temple. Soon, she falls asleep, her body relaxes as she takes small breathes. I lay awake for a while that night, savoring the moment and loving how she felt against me. Also, to keep the nightmares away because they sure enough came.
Later, I fell asleep and I woke up and the sun was high in the sky. I glance down and notice Anna's blue eyes staring at me. "Good afternoon." She greets softly with a small smile.
I look over the clock and sure enough it read 1pm. "Hmph," I smirk then look back at Anna. "Good afternoon." I greet back.
"Guess what." She smiles mischievously as she props up on her elbow. "We missed class today." I raise my eyebrows but she waves me off. "Professor cancelled our classes. Said to take the day off." She explains.
"So we got away with playing hookie, huh?" I say amused.
"Mmm hmm." She smiles then remembers something. "Hey, thanks for last night."
I give a look. "For what?" I ask confused.
"For being there. For taking care of me." She says sincerely, her eyes saying everything.
I smile and brush the stray hairs from her face. "It's what we do."
She smiles then grabs my hand. "Always." She says kissing my hand then sighs contently. "So what do you want to do today?"
I think for a moment then lock eyes with her again. "Think we can hang for a while longer."
She smiles again then settles next to me, her hand still holding mine. "I'm okay with that." She says softly.
A faint smile tugged on my lips as I kissed her. There was no other place I'd rather be.
"How did we get here, huh?" I whisper into the night as I stroke Anna's cheek softly.
Memories of that night hurt and filled me with longing. Not because they were bad but because so much had changed. I had changed. Who would've known a few short weeks later...everything would change. We went from being lovers to just being friends on the run, doing what we could to survive and protect Charles. In the first few months, we never stopped moving. We didn't have time to process anything.
Then I started to get sick and that...that changed everything.
Anna tried. She did. She was very stubborn and always tried to help me. But she paid for it. I made sure of it. There was no excuse for that either. Other than I was angry and bitter. I was mad at the situation and that I had allowed myself to believe that there could be a happy ending. For a long time, the pain was so severe that I had wished I had never met Charles or any of the X Men. Losing them...it was the worst pain I had ever felt. Far worse than any physical pain I had experienced. It only hurt worse when I thought I had lost Anna. That would've put me in the grave. Losing everyone else was enough. I had my limit which is why I refused to go any further with the children. I couldn't go through that. Or so I thought. Now, I'm wondering if things will change in the morning. If I'll find the strength to do what's right and what Charles wanted us to do or if I could just convince her to go without me. It'd be easier that way.
Now that her healing ability is seemingly gone, the steaks of losing her are higher and fate has a funny way of snatching the people I love most away at any given moment. I thought it'd be easier to let her go on my own and if I knew she was doing something worthwhile. But Anna is stubborn and she won't go unless I do. That hurt and made me feel scared and guilty.
It also reminded me why I loved her.
I sighed deeply. It was stupid of me to dive back in and confess how I felt about Anna. It raised the risk of me losing her. There were others that needed her more. Laura needed her. But at the same time, I owed her.
No matter if it cost me or not. I owed her the truth and the time to finally face things I had pushed back for as long as I could. I owed her the simple engagement ring I had meant to give her that fateful night. I owed her a love and life that I feared I'd never be able to give her. I owed her my life. I couldn't rest without at least attempting to settle those debts.
As I held her tonight, I felt better than she knew the truth and that the little piece of metal had finally found it's home. No matter what happened, that would always belong to her. I fell asleep thinking about the future. We had a lot to face in the coming days but we would get through it just as we always have. We'd be there for each other.
For better or for worse.