The gentle evening snowfall was a cruel deception. Those not local to the freezing north would think the large snowflakes drifting slowly towards the ground were beautiful, enchanting, and an open invitation to go out into the big white world while there was still those last remaining rays of sunlight and play to one's hearts content. But when it began snowing here at night, the temperature would quickly drop and the snowfall would grow heavier and heavier and beneath the soft white blanket, cold, hard ice would form and while deaths were incredibly rare, the cold was a constant lurking killer, eagerly awaiting someone misfortunate enough to leave the warmth of their home when the sun began to set and wander out into the big white playground of the north.
Logan had sat and watched the last of the day's light fade and yet he remained outside on the porch, sucking in lungful's of the freezing evening air and then slowly exhaling it, watching the small cloud of his warm breath rise up before it was swiftly cooled and vanished into nothing.
He didn't know when he would venture back inside. Soon. But not now. He wasn't ready to deal with it all yet. He needed some more time to think.
Charles was getting difficult to deal with again and their supply of pills was quickly drying up leading to unpleasant thoughts on Logan's part. Thoughts that would determine all of their futures in a very short amount of time. The first of these thoughts was that he use what little of the money they had left and buy out whatever the local pharmacy had that could help supress Charles's headaches, headaches that if not treated correctly could accidently wipe out any and all living things in a eight mile radius.
The second in response to the first idea's faults was that he steal the pills and whatever else was lying around. If Logan did this he would save them their money which they would need oh so soon to for fill one of many needs but it would also force the trio of mutants to pack their bags and get back on the road, in such a small communal area such as this the locals would be quick to point fingers at the outsiders. And the thought of returning to the never ending highways was an exhausting one.
To top it off, the last thing any of them needed now was to be hunted down by the local cops on suspicion of being a bunch of pill poppers stealing their latest fix. Such attention would only bring worse things upon them.
The third and most unpleasant of these thoughts was the one Logan kept pretending wasn't on the table even though both he and Charles were aware of its existence since the moment they settled down, back in Mexico.
His fingers curled up into his hand, forming a fist on reflex and an ancient impulse as familiar as breathing stirred in the aging mutants mind. It could be finished in an instant.
There would be no more pain, no more lies. No more guilt.
Charles could be at peace. And then Logan could quickly follow along after him.
It wasn't how things were supposed to end.
But the story of Charles Xavier's life, a story filled with love, understanding, compassion, sacrifice and courage had been seized by an author with a sick sense of karma and had rewarded the man who had devoted his entire life fighting for the undesirable, the misunderstood and the monsters by turning him into a living extinction event. One that could wind up killing millions of innocents, possibly billions and there was no one left to help him.
No one except an aging living weapon.
It wasn't fair, it wasn't right and if there was a God orchestrating all of this Logan had some choice words to share with him.
But it was the way things were and right now there was nothing he could do but get through one day at a time.
Letting out another pent up breath Logan once more watched it rise up into the air before it too was swallowed up by the night's cold embrace. He wasn't ready to go back inside but the pills should have worked their magic by now putting Charles into a peaceful, dreamless sleep and that at least meant he would have some quiet while he continued to think over their next move.
Standing up, ignoring how the porches steps groaned in protest under his weight, Logan turned, and stopped. His nose had caught a faint scent. There was someone else out here. He sniffed rapidly, trying to locate the origin of the smell. The frozen air had disguised it from him but now that he was aware of the other being all of his heightened senses became alert. Logan descended the steps and moved a few feet away from the cabin, staring out into the dark white world.
There was only one of them, which ruled out the Reavers, they wouldn't come for the kid without serious numbers.
A scout? Possibly.
Logan crouched low, sniffed again and began to follow the scent. It was growing stronger with every step he took but the startling thing was how close the source had been. He stopped, reaching a tree line only a strong man's throw from where he had been sitting. Guilt coursed through him. He was getting old.
He sniffed the air once more and new scents began mixing with the old, familiar ones, like the rose wine smell that belonged to the carpet that lay in the cabin's main corridor, the dust ridden couch in the living room that the kid had claimed as her own upon entering the cabin on that first day, and the sugar coated scent of, cereal loops?
Stomping through the tree line he stared at the dark forest floor. With no leaves and few branches on the trees to shield it, the ground was just as snow covered as the rest of the area and from a first glance appeared totally lifeless.
But it wasn't.
A small, almost indistinguishable lump of snow that broke up the forest floor's landscape was only a few short feet away. Realising that her hiding spot had been discovered the lump rose, breaking through the blanket of snow that shielded her from view. Meeting Logan's gaze, Laura silently glared at the aging mutant, refusing to dust herself off, leaving a layer of frost and snow clinging to her clothes and hair.
"What the fuck?" Logan muttered.
The kid, Laura, didn't answer.
"What the hell are you doing out here?" Logan demanded his anger breaking through his surprise. He had thought she was with Charles. He remembered the kid kneeling on the couch, staring at him with those dark empty eyes when he had entered Charles's room, the old man had refused to take his medicine, complaining about what it did to him and biting back at Logan with angry words and cruel truths. Having heard most of it before, the aging mutant had simply forced Charles to swallow the pills that would help sedate his ailing mind.
When it was over and he had put the still struggling man to bed, the kid had up and vanished but that wasn't that surprising. She loved Charles not him and it was an unspoken understanding that she would want nothing more than for Logan to vanish out of existence with the way she constantly glared at him.
"Jesus Christ what the hell is wrong with you?" Logan started marching towards her. Her legs slid open, putting her into a stance. She was actually thinking about attacking him. "How long have you been out here?"
She didn't answer.
"Fuck." Logan looked around. There was no sign of any tracks so either she had covered them up or the continued down fall of snow had filled them in. "Get inside now." He barked pointing towards the cabin.
She hesitated for a moment. Then with a final glare Laura turned and ran back towards their lodgings.
Logan could remember a lot of troubled kids coming through the doors of Charles's school, but none of them could give him a headache like this one.
Jogging after her, Logan found Laura shaking free the snow and frost she had accumulated onto the floor of the cabin.
"No." He snapped, causing her to stop and glare at him. He hated the way she looked at him. Charles acted as if he was having full and stimulating conversations with her, and that behind her dark expression there was a real person with thoughts and emotions. But Logan never saw it; all he ever received was angry looks. Putting her hand on her right jacket sleeve, Laura slid it along her arm and collected the last of the snow and ice and let it fall onto the floor. An act of defiance. "Fine." Logan said.
Shutting the cabin's door behind him, he grabbed her right arm and began to drag her towards the bathroom. For a moment Laura resisted him by digging her heels into the floorboards, Logan fought this by simply raising his arm and lifting the child clean off the ground for several steps.
Upon reaching the bathroom he released his hold on her, opened the door and stepped inside. The room was small, reminding Logan again of the luxurious interior he had enjoyed back at the mansion. Turning on both taps, he began to fill the avocado green coloured bathtub with water.
Dipping his hand in to check the water's temperature, Logan found Laura was still present standing in the doorway glaring at him. Not even on his worst day would Cyclops give him such a consistent and hate filled look.
"Take your clothes off before you freeze." Logan ordered. A healing factor could protect against the biting cold far better than any coat, but to bury oneself in the snow was just stupid. The kid wouldn't get sick, probably, but she sure just wasted a lot of energy that her body was now using in order to combat the cold.
The bathtub was now halfway full and Laura just continued to stare at him. She could understand him, he knew that from Charles, she just hated to look at him, let alone listen to him unless it benefited her.
"Take off your damn clothes." He barked at her. She didn't obey; removing his hand from the water, Logan stepped towards her. "You're going in that water kid; how you do it is up to you."
Slowly, the kid slipped one arm out of her denim jacket. Then the other.
"Good." Logan grunted. Laura just glared. "I'll be back in a minute." He moved past her and headed towards Charles's room. Carefully laying his hand on the doorknob the aging mutant slowly opened the door, trying his hardest not to create any noise. Once a sizeable gap had been made Logan poked his head around the door and looked inside.
Charles Xavier was out like a light, but the consistent rise and fall of his chest let Logan know that the aging man was still with him for one more night. "Sleep tight Chuck." He whispered before a splash of water caught his attention.
Closing the door as softly as he had opened it, Logan retuned to the bathroom to discover Laura's pile of clothing sitting outside the closed door.
Picking up the pile, the aging mutant carried them back into the living room where a large radiator unit sat and began to carefully lay the pieces of clothing out to dry.
He snorted to himself. What would the younger, angrier, cage fighting him of the past think if he could see his future?
The task done, Logan seamlessly moved onto the next and walked towards the airing cupboard. Opening the door he pulled out a warm towel sitting on a shelf and then carried it back towards the bathroom.
He rapped on the door with his knuckles. "Towel is outside." He received a splash of water as an answer.
Leaving the towel by the door, Logan returned back to the living room. Collapsing onto the old couch there, the aging mutant's mind reeled. What was he going to do?
It was impossible for him to get a job as taking care of Charles was a full time gig. And easy money was hard to come by up north. He closed his eyes. They had left everything behind on the day that Charles… back at the mansion… everyone was just gone and he…
Logan drifted into sleep.
* * *
Opening the bathroom door cautiously, Laura saw the towel and quickly snatched it up. Wrapping it around herself the child slipped out of the bathroom and silently made her way down the corridor.
Her feet made no sound as she walked and all of her senses were on high alert as she moved through the still house. Approaching Charles's door Laura pressed her head against it and listened. She could hear the elderly man breathing softly. Still asleep, safe. Good.
Sniffing the air, Laura could tell that He was not in his own room. She approached the living room warily. He was sitting on her bed. He didn't turn to look at her when she entered the room. He was asleep. On her bed.
Looking around the room for her clothes, Laura spotted them on the radiator. Keeping her eyes on Him, she moved slowly towards them. Reaching out her hand she touched them and found them still damp from the frost and the snow. This wouldn't normally bother her, but Charles might not want her to sleep in such a state. He might also enjoy the chance to yell at her again.
Retreating from the living room, Laura went to His room where a single suitcase lay, opening it, the child quickly dug through the few items of clothing Charles and He still possessed. Finding a large grey T-shirt belonging to Him, Laura stood up and let the towel fall, slipped the T-shirt over her head, it came down to her knees and while it stank of Him, she had few other options. Leaving the towel where it had fallen, Laura returned to the living room.
He hadn't moved.
Taking the rare opportunity to study the man that everyone had talked so much about, Laura could only think about how everything they had ever said all conflicted. Gabriela had told her that He was a good person, someone who could take care of her, this wasn't true. He didn't want her around. He hated her. The adults at the facility had called him a weapon, a killer, a monster, just like her. Laura saw some truth to that but Charles spoke very differently about Him.
Charles had shared with her his memories and so she had been able to see Him through the professor's eyes, when they had first met, when He was younger. He had been angry then too, but there had also been good times, happier times. Laura had seen memories of Him with the people from her stories, people who had been able to make Him smile. Charles had said that things had changed for them both but he couldn't remember why.
Laura had pressed him for answers but Charles hadn't been clear on the details. Then it had been time for his medicine.
Charles was worried about Him. He was worried about her too, he wanted Him to accept her but Laura didn't think that was going to happen. Turning away from His sleeping form, she crossed the room and turned off the lights.
Moving softly towards her couch, Laura sat down and waited for a reaction from Him, none came. Waiting for a still moment, she slowly lay down on her bed and closed her eyes, her every sense alert for even the slightest change from the man not three feet away from her.
It took some time for her to fall asleep. Laura could hear Him breathing loudly as if He was leaning right next to her ear. Occasionally He would cough violently in His sleep. This troubled her. She would speak to Charles about it in the morning.
Laura didn't remember when she finally drifted off, what she did remember was waking up and that He was gone. His jacket however was draped over her. She didn't know what to think about that.
He'd probably just forgotten it.