Born with extraordinary powers, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-men fight for peace in a world that hates and fears them. Recently, their fight endured a major challenge. Magneto and an army of mutants stormed the island nation of Genosha where a ruthless dictator, Cameron Hodge, was preparing an elaborate power grab using his anti-mutant super-weapon, the sentinels. The battle played out before a global audience, but the X-men were able to avert total war by subduing Magneto and uncovering Hodge’s plot.
But the battle between Hodge and Magneto has triggered a major shift in human/mutant relations. In order to further peace, the X-men have been working hard with all sides. That includes the remnants of Magneto’s army, who agreed to stop their uprising at the behest of Magneto’s daughter, Wanda Maximoff. The situation remains tenuous. While the X-men deal with these complicated affairs, other personal issues have arisen.
Among them include Bobby Drake and his girlfriend, Lorna, who was recently revealed to be Magneto’s estranged daughter. She only became a part of the uprising when her father revealed her mother was dying of cancer and offered to help. Now she is in a precarious position and Bobby is doing all he can to help her.
In addition, Logan and Jean Grey have endured their own struggles. Things had become distant between the couple, especially after Jean’s best friend, Scott Summers, began dating Rogue. They were prepared to work it out, but in the heat of passion an old memory surfaced deep within Logan’s mind. It is a memory of a woman named Rose.
Eastern Canada – 40 Years Ago
It was just after four in the morning as Logan stood on the porch of a secluded log cabin deep in the heart of the Canadian wilderness. It was still dark out and the stars were shining brilliantly under the light of a full moon. Wearing just an old pair of jeans, Logan casually gazed up at the stars while drinking a beer. Normally when he was up at this hour it was because he was restless, grumpy, or hung over. But this time was different. In fact he was in a pretty good mood, at least as good a mood as a man like him could have. It had been a long time since he felt this kind of peace. There were no looming battles or dark vendettas. He was just a guy enjoying his solitude in the wilderness.
As he sipped his beer and gazed up at the stars, he sensed a warm presence come up behind him. He grinned as he felt two loving arms slip around his waist. Knowing who it was he didn’t even have to turn around. He would know that touch anywhere. It belonged to a very special woman with the uncanny talent to make the many complicated issues of his life just melt away.
“Heya gorgeous. You’re up early,” he greeted.
“The bed was cold without you,” she replied in a loving tone as she embraced him warmly, “Amazing, isn’t it? It’s gotten to a point where I can’t sleep without your warmth.”
“Guess I owe you an apology then. You know better than anybody I ain’t one for healthy sleep habits.”
“You don’t need to apologize. I’m used to it. But one of these days I’m going to get you to sleep a full eight hours,” she said wryly.
“I don’t know darlin’. After last night how would you have the strength?”
“I may not be as strong as you. But make no mistake, Logan, I’m every bit as resilient.”
There was a sensual undertone to her words. It always made Logan smile. How a guy like him could wind up with a girl like her was beyond him. Someone with a reputation like him didn’t deserve an angel like her. Yet here she was, holding him in his arms and embracing him and the many burdens that came with him.
“Are you okay?” she asked with a concerned tone, “You seem more distant than usual.”
“Can’t sneak anything past you, can I? You been slippin’ something in my beer?”
“You may be a man of many mysteries, but you’re no match for woman’s intuition,” she said coyly, “Now are you going to tell me or am I going to have to use more ‘persuasive’ methods.”
“I’ll save ya the trouble,” he said as he placed his hand over hers, “I just been thinkin’ a lot about us lately. You know I ain’t good with words so I haven’t been able to say what I’ve been meaning to say since we got here.”
“Oh? And what’s that?” she asked curiously.
Logan set his beer down and turned to face the beautiful woman. Standing in the soft moonlight, she was breathtaking. Everything about her captivated him from her long red hair to her alluring green eyes. She had all the right curves in all the right areas. It really showed in the blue bathrobe she was wearing. He wasn’t fazed by much. He could take bullets, knifes, and bombs. But it was only in her embrace he felt truly vulnerable.
“You’ve done a lot for me, darlin’. Hell, I hate to think where I might have ended up if I hadn’t met you. I could still be rotting in the trenches of some hell hole overseas fighting a war I don’t even care about. You made a hell of a sacrifice leavin’ your old life for me. Because of you, I have a chance to get away from the shit that’s made my life one bloody fight after another.”
“I don’t deserve all the credit,” she said as she leaned in closer to his warmth, “You saved me as well, remember? I owe you my life several times over.”
“That still ain’t enough for what you’ve given me,” he told her, “I ain’t smart, but I know who I am. I ain’t exactly a nice guy. With some of the shit I’ve done, there’s probably a special place in Hell waiting for me. But you see through that, darlin’.”
“That’s because beyond that ill-mannered outer shell I see a good man in you…a man that’s wroth loving,” she said strongly as she tenderly caressed his face.
“And that’s what I can never seem to get out,” he said distantly, “You’re more than just some pretty face who looks hot in that robe even at four in the morning. You’re someone who makes me wanna be more than just a killer.”
Logan than slipped his arms around her waist and took her in his powerful arms.
“You bring out the best in me. You saved more than just my life. You saved my soul. As corny as that sounds, it’s the truth.”
His tone was gruff and sincere. It brought tears to the beautiful woman’s eyes as she soaked up his warm embrace. He held her with the same loving grace as she held him. It felt right, so warm and secure. It was an embrace they both cherished. And with all the tender love her angelic form could offer, she pulled him into a soft kiss.
For Logan, it was the best feeling in the world. It was a feeling so good a man like him didn’t deserve it. But for whatever crazy game fate may be playing, he savored this moment. He was a complicated man with a complicated history, but none of that mattered so long as he was in the arms of the love of his life.
“I love you, Logan,” she said tenderly.
“I love you too, Rose.”
Logan’s Room – Present Time
Jean and Logan snapped back to reality as Jean pulled out of his mind. For a moment they sat in utter silence. Logan didn’t know how to react while Jean bore a solemn expression as she held the bed sheets up to her half-naked body. It was a lot to take in. As soon as Logan uttered that name, Rose, a surge of memories emerged. They were incoherent at first, but they clearly meant something. After allowing Jean to probe his mind with her telepathy, the meaning became all too clear.
“That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the reason why you were so attracted to me,” said Jean, breaking the silence, “It was because I look just like that woman, Rose.”
Logan wasn’t sure what to say. It was as if he forgot how to talk. But she said what they both already knew. He found himself unable to look this woman in the eye.
“Jeannie…” was all he got out.
“She loved you,” she went on, “Before Weapon X and before you lost your memories, she connected with you. And you…you loved her back.”
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Jean got off the bed and put her shirt back on. She looked like she was ready to cry. Logan tried to calm her down, placing a hand on her shoulder even as she looked away from him.
“Don’t do this, Jeannie. They’re just memories,” he told her.
“No Logan. They’re more than that,” she said solemnly, “I’m psychic, remember? I can tell when memories are just memories and when they’re something more. I know what I saw. And it makes too much sense to deny.”
“That what? Our whole relationship is a sham because you look like another girl I didn’t even remember?”
“Maybe you didn’t remember, but your subconscious sure did. Why else would you have called me Rose?”
Logan muttered a curse. He knew he was messed up, but this was a new low for him. He was drawn to this girl for reasons he didn’t understand, but deep down it was because she looked like another woman he loved. Even he could see the problem with that.
“Okay, maybe it did play a part,” he conceded, “But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. It’s in the past anyways. Ain’t it something we can get around?”
Jean sighed, another tear falling down her face. Logan was not keen on relationships to say the least. They weren’t like battles where he could get around certain obstacles. She turned around and faced him. He still wouldn’t look her in the eye, but he knew her critical gaze was on him.
“It’s not that simple. I know you care about me. But relationships can’t work if they’re based on these kinds of feeling. Knowing what you now know, can you look me in the eye and tell me you don’t think of Rose and what you felt with her?”
Logan tried to do what she asked. But when he looked into those beautiful green eyes of hers, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t stop himself from thinking about Rose. He wanted to reassure her, but that would mean lying to her face and he couldn’t do that. Jean deserved better.
His silence confirmed what Jean feared. There was no escaping the truth. Logan couldn’t separate his feelings for her with the ones he had for Rose. To ignore it would only hurt them both. With that in mind she swallowed hard, holding back another round of tears, and turned away.
“I’m sorry, Logan,” she said sadly, “But if you can’t separate your feelings for me with your feelings for Rose, then we can’t be together without a certain level of uncertainty. And no relationship can survive uncertainty.”
“Jeannie please…” said Logan desperately, trying to salvage something from this mess.
But before he could catch up with her she started walking away. This time, Logan didn’t go after her. He just stood there in the middle of his room and watched her leave.
“I…I need some space,” she said with a sob, “We’ll…talk about this later. Goodnight, Logan.”
Logan watched as Jean Grey walked out of his room, taking the fate of their relationship with them. For a moment he stood in daze. Then his face contorted in anger and he slammed his fist against a wall.
“Damn…” was all he said.
He couldn’t believe it. All this time he had obsessed over why he was attracted to Jean. That caused enough strain on their relationship, but this revelation delivered a death knell. It was official. The truth sucked. Now he had an entirely new set of issues to deal with. Not only did he have settle things with Jean, he had to make sense of these new memories of Rose. Like every missing piece of his past, there had to be more to it. And he wouldn’t be able to make sense of it until he investigated.
Brimming with a new set of intent, Logan threw on some clothes and grabbed the keys to his motorcycle. He may not be able to salvage his relationship with Jean, but he could still salvage the truth. With these new memories in hand, he knew just where to start.
Capitol – The Next Morning
Professor Charles Xavier had a busy morning ahead of him. While much of the team returned to the mansion, he flew to Washington DC to meet with the president and other influential policy makers. They met in a close-door meeting at the Capitol under heavy security. The president could not be there in person. His handlers would only allow him to talk via video-link. They claimed it was because of a scheduling conflict, but Xavier knew the truth. They were weary of the world’s most powerful telepath being close to the leader of the free world.
The discussion was still productive. They touched on everything from policy concerning Genosha, how to handle the sentinels, and the fate of Magneto and Cameron Hodge. Both were in UN custody and set to be tried for war crimes. There was significant controversy over what their punishment would entail. Many wanted them hung from the highest tree, but Xavier urged caution. Magneto and Hodge still carried considerable weight on the human/mutant issue. They had to be careful not to insight further war.
They were just about finished. Xavier was sitting at a conference table with Hank and Ororo by his side. With them were a number congressmen, advisors, and diplomats. The TV screen with the president’s image was at the head of the table from which he spoke through a video link.
“So we’re agreed. The trial for both Magneto and Cameron Hodge will commence after the UN finishes the report on Genosha. In the meantime we’ll hold them in special prisons in GuantanamoBay.”
“I can help with that, Mr. President,” assured Xavier, “I’ll also make sure to deliver weekly reports on the activities with the Brotherhood.”
“Be sure that you do. They’ve already proven to be quite a nuisance,” said Senator Robert Kelly, who was one of the influential senators involved in this affair, “They’re probably part of the reason why the island’s human population is opting to leave.”
“Please refrain from coming to such conclusions until the report is complete, Senator,” said one of the major diplomats, “We’re just lucky they’re cooperating.”
“Indeed,” he replied, “But how long will it stay that way?”
“That’s an issue for another day, Senator. For now, let’s just try and get through this mess without staring World War III.”
The video link went down, officially signaling the end of the meeting. Everyone seemed to have enough of this matter for one day. Only Senator Kelly was reluctant. He seemed to think they hadn’t done enough. Even as everyone started to leave, he stayed in his seat and stared down Charles Xavier. The Professor didn’t respond with any malicious looks, but he could sense the senator’s distrust. He made it clear he didn’t trust him or his kind.
“Senator, we have to go,” said one of his concerned aides.
Without another word he got up and left with the other members. Xavier sighed to himself as he gathered his things with Hank. It seemed he was going to have his share of skeptics as he guided this process. It was sure to be a challenge, but one they were going to have to overcome if they were to make any headway.
“Looks like you made a friend, Charles,” commented Hank as he closed his laptop.
“Indeed,” said Xavier, “I suppose that’s the nature of politics. The conflict on Genosha has emboldened each side. Senator Kelly may be the most vocal for his, but I have a feeling he won’t be the only one.”
“Let us hope that won’t impede our efforts too much,” said Hank.
“He’s a politician, Hank. Being an obstruction is part of his job,” muttered Ororo, who scorned the shrewd man as he walked out.
It was a somewhat clichéd assessment. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t some truth to it. Senator Kelly was pretty opinionated on these issues. Being reasonable may not be enough. They would have to wait and see.
“I suppose we’ll have to learn to deal with him and others like him,” said Xavier, “We can only take comfort in the timing of this ordeal. The president’s popularity ratings are not very high and he’s on the last leg of his term. His lame duck status will keep him from making any brash decisions, especially concerning Magneto and Hodge.”
“Yes, I sense he wants to leave that mess for another administration to clean up,” said Hank, “It’s very likely mutants will be a key election issue.”
“So what do we do in the meantime?” asked Ororo.
“Whatever we have to,” said Xavier strongly, “These are delicate times. Genosha is taking the world down a new and treacherous path. We’ll have to learn to manage our role as best we can.”
As Xavier wheeled himself out of the conference room with his colleagues close behind, he took a moment to digest what had transpired. He was no longer just teaching and lecturing a new generation of mutants. He was sitting down with senators and presidents, trying to work out these volatile issues in a peaceful manner. It was a major shift and one nobody was fully prepared for.
The Genosha conflict taught him many things, but the most important lesson had to do with perspective. If Cameron Hodge really had been an anti-mutant zealot, it would have been much harder to contain mutant uproar. And if Magneto had succeeded in his ploy, human resentment would be uncontrollable. His best weapon against these incidents was knowing the full story. He and his X-men had to be careful. Great hope was often accompanied by great danger. Caution was not only vital, it was necessary.
As he Hank and Ororo followed him down the halls of the Capitol they found themselves holding hands. They had faith in the Professor’s vision, but seeing the complexities of this issue first hand gave them a new appreciation for the challenge they faced.
“I think I’ve had my fill of politics for the day,” sighed Ororo.
“As have I,” said Hank, “When we get back to the mansion, would you like to go for a swim in the pool? It may help wash away the odious ambience of Washington politics.”
“Sounds wonderful, Hank,” she said as she affectionately locked her arm with his, “It’ll also give us some time to catch up on a few things.”
“I’m already looking forward to it,” he said with a smile.
Ororo smiled back, staying close as they made their leavee. But just as they were about to step out, Hank’s cell phone went off. It signaled he just received an incoming text message. He casually took his phone out and checked it. To his surprise it was from Tessa, the mysterious woman he had been conversing with recently. The message was simple.
“Well done. Glad to see my program worked. You’re a bold man, Hank. I look forward to working with you again. Love Tessa.”
“Who’s that from?” asked Ororo curiously.
Hank quickly closed his phone and put it away, his expression shifting as he turned back to his girlfriend. Things were already tenuous between them. He hadn’t told Ororo about Tessa and how she helped him hack the sentinels. He reasoned it would be best to wait until the moment was right. Until then, he was content to maintain what they had.
“Nobody,” he told her, “Just…some random message.”
St. Michael’s Hospital
These past few days had been difficult for Lorna. She found out she was Magneto’s biological daughter, learned her mother may be dying of cancer, and got roped into being part of a mutant uprising that could have destroyed the world as she knew it. To say she was stressed would have been an understatement of astronomical proportions. But relatively speaking, things were working themselves out. At least as well as anyone could have hoped in a situation like this.
Sitting in the waiting room of St. Michael’s Hospital, she paced restlessly as her mother underwent a new round of tests. Bobby was with her, lending whatever support he could. She owed a lot of this to him. He and the X-men were the ones that stopped Magneto. Professor Charles Xavier was also paying for these expensive procedures. She and her mother were already in a lot of debt and if what the doctors were telling her were any indication, the treatment was going to be even more costly.
“Lorna?” said Bobby as he watched her pace, “I was going to go to the snack machine. Want me to get you something?”
“I’m not hungry,” she said in a low tone.
“Okay, want me to get you a drink? They have sodas,” he offered.
“I’m not thirsty,” she said in the same tone.
Bobby’s expression fell and he tried to approach her.
“Is there anything at all I can get you? I hate seeing you like this.”
“If you can magically concoct a cure for cancer, that would make my day,” she said bitterly.
Bobby was silenced. When Lorna saw the look of hurt on her face she shifted uncomfortably.
“I’m sorry. That was just mean,” she said.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve heard worse,” said Bobby with a reassuring smile, “I just…wish there was something I could do.”
Lorna turned towards her boyfriend and smiled warmly.
“You’ve already done more than I could ever ask of you, Bobby. Thanks to you and the Professor, my mother’s finally getting the care she needs. He was even nice enough to pay for us to move closer to the hospital so my mom can undergo treatment. I won’t even have to drop out of school.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. You’re still stuck with the oh so great responsibility of attending high school,” he said jokingly, “Even the X-men have their limits.”
“I’ll manage,” she said, laughing somewhat at his attempt to lighten the mood.
“You know, you could still be close to the hospital if you just joined the institute,” said Bobby in a more serious tone, “I know we’ve talked about it before, but now that everything is settling down I think you could do well with the X-men. Hell, you already got a head start fighting giant robots!”
Lorna blushed at Bobby’s words. He always had been vocal about her joining the X-men. It was something she seriously considered. But as she looked at the doctors going over her mother’s charts and then back at Bobby, her decision was still clear.
“I appreciate the sentiment, Bobby. Don’t get me wrong, I want to do something with my powers. After seeing the X-men in action on Genosha, I know I want to make a difference. But right now, I can’t leave my mother’s side.”
Bobby’s expression sank somewhat, but he couldn’t blame her. She was under enough pressure as it was. She didn’t need to add to it with the responsibilities of the X-men. Despite his disappointment, he took her in her arms and embraced her.
“I understand,” he told her, “Just know I’ll be here for you every step of the way. And the X-men will be there for you as well whenever you decide to join.”
“Thanks Bobby,” she said warmly, “You really are my hero.”
“You’re still stronger than me,” he said as he caressed her cheek, “You’re dealing with a sick mother and you just found out you’re Magneto’s daughter. I don’t know how you keep it together, Lorna, but I know that if you become an X-man one day men like Hodge will be in for it.”
“Oh you’re sweet,” said Lorna with a smile.
“Plus, you’d look great in spandex,” he added.
Lorna blushed again and gave him a playful swat. That was one of the things about Bobby Drake she loved. Even in such difficult times, he knew how to make her smile. The couple shared a tender kiss. The circumstances of their relationship had always been complicated. What started out as an online romance had turned into a much more serious. Bobby felt a genuine love for this woman and she felt a love for him. Even now, as they dealt with a whole new set of challenges, they were taking a step forward. They were ready to see just how far they could take this romance that had blossomed so much.
For Bobby, it was somewhat daunting. He had never been in a relationship this serious before. But he knew what he felt for this woman. And he wasn’t going to let her down. If Jean or Scott were here, they would probably tell him he would have to start being more mature. But if that’s what he had to do for this woman, so be it. Lorna was right. They needed each other. It was almost like a new mission of sorts. Dangers and uncertainty aside, he was an X-man. He was up for it.
No matter how chaotic the world became, it always looked more peaceful on the road. Everything moved by so fast there was no time to get caught up in the complicated affairs of others. It was a sensation Logan had come to know well from years of living on the road. Even after he joined the X-men, he had a special appreciation for it. But even the serenity of the open road couldn’t ease his mind at the moment.
He was still going over the whole ordeal from the moment he first uttered Rose’s name to the moment Jean walked out. Every time he thought about that hurt look on Jean’s face and those happy memories of Rose, his face contorted with a mix of anger and confusion. This wasn’t the first time his past had come back to bite him, but it hurt a lot more than he expected. All he could focus on now was getting answers. His memories of Rose were just pieces of the puzzle. He had to know the full story if he was to lay this to rest.
Using his new memories as a guide, he rode his motorcycle into Canada through the many desolate back roads. His destination was the tiny cabin where he shared those special moments with Rose. It was in a remote area far from any major cities, but near a couple of small towns. The landscape changed and so had the towns, but he remembered the distinct landmarks as if he had just passed by yesterday. The memories Jeannie uncovered were brief, but the closer he got the more vivid they became. As he sped down the winding roads, he could hear the faint echoes of the past in his mind.
“Please Logan…don’t listen to them. You’re not just some killer. You’re more than that! You don’t have to keep doing this. You can get away! I can help you!”
Logan gripped the bars of his motorcycle harder. His eyes narrowed with anger as he tried to recall what it was she was referring to. He remembered being in a bad situation with some very bad people and it was Rose who got him out.
“You saved my life, Logan. Even when everyone told you not to, you still came back for me. That proves to me you don’t belong with these people. You’re better than them! But the longer you stay, the more you’ll lose your humanity. And I don’t want that. You don’t want that either. Just trust me, Logan. I’ll get us both out of this.”
Much of his memories after that conversation were lost. He remembered only vaguely a major fight, one that involved Sabretooth. It was a fight he recalled after his last encounter with Weapon X. Sabretooth said he sold him out. At the time he wasn’t sure what he was referring to. But he knew now it had something to do with Rose. That’s what led them to those peaceful nights in that cabin.
“Thank you, Logan. You…you sacrificed a lot for me. It’s only fitting that I sacrifice for you as well. I can’t promise I can make all your problems go away. But I can promise I’ll be strong for you.”
They were bold words from a woman he barely remembered. But the more memories he recovered, the more he realized how serious his feelings were for her. Rose loved him with all her heart and he loved her back. He found a kind of peace with her he didn’t think was possible. But something happened. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he knew it was bad. The memory he recalled after those happy times was one of loss and sorrow. He didn’t know what led to it. He only remembered seeing Rose with a pained look in her eyes, choking on her last gasp of life.
Growling in anger, Logan kicked his bike into high gear as he tore through some poorly paved roads into a secluded area of the forest. It led him to the top of a hilly area that looked as though it hadn’t been inhabited in decades. But he knew this was it. He could smell it in the air. Then as he passed over the final ridge, he saw it. Or more accurately, he saw what was left of it.
“Damn,” he cursed, “So much for nostalgia.”
The cabin from the memory was in ruin. The whole area surrounding it was barren, indicating it was a result of more than just erosion. Something decimated this area. There were shards of blackened wood still sticking out of the ground. The foundation of the cabin was still visible, but had thick weeds growing out of it. And in every direction at least fifty feet from it, there were traces of charred earth. It had all the signs of a devastating attack, most likely bombs or napalm. Time and weather had erased many clues as to what happened, but Logan was determined to find answers.
After parking his bike near a tree, he approached the desolate area. It was quiet, but not in the peaceful way he remembered. The sun shone through hazy cloud cover, creating a dense layer of fog throughout the area. The water vapor muddled whatever scents may have lingered. After all this time there probably wasn’t much left to smell, but if there were any lingering clues to what happened here he was going to find them.
Clenching his fists, Logan was now standing in the center of where the cabin once stood. Every sense sharpened as the memories played over in his mind again. This time they were more vivid. He looked over to the area where the bed had been. Graphic memories of him and Rose making love came rushing back to him. Closing his eyes, Logan probed deeper. He recalled them eating meals together from animals he hunted. There were other memories of them just sitting out on the porch drinking beer and looking at the stars. They were good memories and yet they filled him with anger and sorrow.
He had been happy here. He had the woman he loved in his arms and a new life away from whatever chaos preceded it. But something happened that took it all away from him. The memories were there, but they weren’t coming back to him.
“What happened to you, Rose?” he found himself saying aloud, “How did it all go to hell? Was it because of who I was? Was it because of who you were? How?!”
Logan growled in frustration, clenching his fists as he struggled to regain his memories. Suddenly, he picked up an all too familiar scent. His eyes instinctively narrowed and he drew his claws. Then he heard a deep, sadistic voice.
“I knew you’d show up here sooner or later,” said the smug voice of Victor Creed.
“Sabretooth! I should’ve known you were part of this!” growled Logan, seething with anger, “You’re part of everything that’s ever ruined my life and pissed me off!”
“Just returning the favor, old buddy,” grinned the feral mutant as he emerged from the fog, “And as part of that favor, this dump holds a special place in my heart. My memories may be a mess, but I’ll always remember what went down here!”
Logan seethed with anger as he took an attack stance. His words triggered a new wave of memories. Images of fire, gunshots, and Rose screaming flashed through his mind. But at the center of it all was Sabretooth, who emerged through the fire with an enraged look in his eye. It was a look he could still see even as he stared him down.
“You thought you could run away from it all,” taunted Sabretooth, “You got soft on us, Logan! You and me, we were unstoppable! After the war, we were a part of something that struck fear into all our enemies! Hell, even our allies were afraid of us! We could have been so much more if that redheaded bitch hadn’t come along!”
“Why? What the hell were we apart of anyways? What was so big that it made me team up with your ugly ass?!”
Sabretooth laughed sadistically. At least one of them had a better memory.
“Still don’t remember, do you? Too bad. It would make this a lot more satisfying. But I’ll save it for when you’re on your last breath! All you need to know is that one woman led you to betray us all, your brothers in arms! She had to pay and so did you!”
Now Logan was on the verge of going into a berserker rage. More memories played over in his mind. Through the fire and destruction, he remembered Sabretooth choking the life out of him while Rose lay helpless on the floor next to him under a pile of rubble.
“You fucking traitor! You think you can just run away with your squeeze? You know damn well everybody’s gotta pay the price for betrayal! And I’ll make sure she pays first!”
“You son-of-a-bitch!” yelled Logan, “It was you! You killed her! You killed Rose!”
Sabretooth burst out laughing. This just kept getting better and better.
“I wish!” he growled as he readied his claws, “That’s why I love this place so much! Because in the end I didn’t have to kill her to make you pay! You did it for me!”
Logan’s eyes widened with shock. He was never inclined to believe a single word for Sabretooth. But as he recalled that grizzly image of Rose dying in his arms, a new detail emerged. He remembered clearly now it wasn’t a gunshot, a burn, or some other wound that killed her. It was because of three distinct claw marks that had fatally impaled her through her stomach. And those claw marks came from him.
“No…” said Logan, clenching his fists with anger and sorrow.
“Oh yes!” said Sabretooth as he laughed harder, “How fucking hilarious is that? I come after the woman you love and you end up killing her for me? It’s a riot! And here we are once again! Only this time, I’m gonna finish the job!”
Xavier Institute – Backyard
The cliff overlooking the lake had always been one of Jean’s favorite spots. It was here she would come to get away from the rigors of being a student and an X-man. After last night, it seemed fitting she would come here to collect herself. Word had already spread throughout the mansion that she and Logan broke up and many clamored for details. But she wasn’t ready to talk about it. She was still making sense of it all.
Her relationship with Logan was anything but typical. She connected with him at first because she saw in him a troubled man worth reaching out to. As she got to know him she found just how troubled he truly was, and yet he still had a heart. That spoke volumes to her and she couldn’t help but be attracted to that. Before she even realized just how deep it ran, Logan made a move and she went with it.
But in the same way their relationship abruptly began, it abruptly ended. The more Jean thought about it the more she realized she should have seen it coming. There were so many mysteries to their relationship. That’s part of what made it exciting. But there was only so far a relationship like that could go. When part of the mystery was revealed, it all came crashing down.
As she sat on a bench, gazing out over the peaceful waters, Jean found herself reflecting on all the feelings surrounding her relationship with Logan. Now that he knew why he had been so attracted to her, she thought about why she had been attracted to him. As complicated as things were between them, she had genuine feelings for him. Now that they were over, they were finally coming into perspective. But as she was lost in her thoughts, she sensed a familiar presence come up behind her.
“I had a feeling you’d be out here,” said Scott as he walked up to her.
“Hey Scott,” she said flatly, “Come to get the juicy details of my breakup for the others?”
“Since when have I wanted details on your relationships?” he quipped, “I just…thought you’d like some company.”
Jean sighed and patted the area next to her on the bench. Scott accepted the invitation and sat down next to her. As much as she wanted to be alone, she still took comfort in her best friend’s presence. For a moment he didn’t even say anything. He just sat next to her, looking out over the lake with her.
“So…how are you holding up?” he finally asked.
“Okay I guess,” she said distantly, “I think there’s a limit to how good you can feel after a breakup. Especially when it’s so complicated.”
“How complicated?” asked Scott.
“Complicated enough to make me sit out here for hours thinking about it,” she answered, “But I…I still don’t know what to make of it.”
Scott was silent again. He never was a fan of her being with Logan. But despite his disapproval, he didn’t deny there were real feelings between them. He didn’t understand them any better than she did, but it left her at a loss.
“The thing is…I know Logan and I didn’t have long-term potential,” she mused, “What we had was real, but let’s face it. We weren’t going to grow old together. Hell, with him that’s kind of a moot point.”
“So why did you stay with him for as long as you did?” asked Scott.
“I’m…not entirely sure. That’s what I’ve been thinking about all day,” she sighed, “We never focused too much on the future. It was always about enjoying the present. That sort of hid the fact that there were a lot of unknowns between us. I never could open up to him on a really intimate level and I really never figured out what makes him tick.”
“To be fair, I don’t think even he knows. That’s what makes him Logan.”
“Point taken, but I was content to work within those limits. Guess it was naïve of me to think they wouldn’t catch up with us eventually,” she said distantly, “I think that was one of the reasons why things got distant between us. Finding out about Rose just sped everything up.”
“Rose? Who’s Rose?” asked Scott curiously.
“That’s another very complicated story,” muttered Jean, “But the one thing it all comes back to is me getting caught up in these crazy affairs I can’t control. Whether it’s my relationships or my powers, I just keep getting swept away even when I know deep down it can only go so far.”
Jean’s voice began cracking under the strain. Tears formed in her eyes as she fought back a round of sobs. Scott instinctively slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. Jean found herself curling up to his embrace, leaning on him for support.
“I just…I don’t know why I do this to myself. I’m psychic for crying out loud! I should see this sort of thing coming!”
“Take it easy, Jean. You’re only human,” said Scott in a comforting tone, “You can have all the foresight in the world, but it’s not going to stop you from making mistakes.”
“It’s not about mistakes! I let things get messed up because I keep avoiding the truth! If I could just stop and think for more than two seconds…”
“It was an emotional situation. Emotions tend to trump critical thought,” said Scott, stopping her before she got too worked up, “And to your credit, you’ve made it work. Logan will probably never admit it, but you brought out the best in him…even if his best is still pretty pig-headed.”
That brought out a slight laugh, which helped with the sobs. But Scott maintained a serious tone as he wiped the tears from her eyes and held her closely.
“You’re am amazing woman, Jean. You have a talent for affecting people in all the right ways. You just…lose control of the situation sometimes.”
“That’s being generous,” she muttered.
“But that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong,” he said strongly, “Look, I admit I didn’t like seeing you with Logan. But I don’t think you were wrong to reach out to him. It’s part of who you are. It’s probably why men fall so hard for you.”
That brought another smile to her face as she finally stopped sobbing. Scott was silent for a moment, looking away towards the lake briefly before turning back towards her.
“Look, I wish there was something I could say that would have all of this make sense. But I understand what you’re going through. I know how messed up life can get when things come along that you can’t control.”
Scott shifted again, trying not to get too emotional himself. At one point he wasn’t sure if he was talking to Jean or just musing on his own issues. But he finished his point.
“But no matter how chaotic it gets, everything has a way of working itself out. You just have to remember to keep things in perspective. You’re going to lose track from time to time. I guess that would be double for you since you pick up on the perspectives of others.”
That earned him another laugh, which helped to further lighten the mood. He then hugged her closer, looking her in the eye with the kind of understanding she had come to expect from him over the years.
“But you’re strong, Jean. I know you better than anyone ever has or ever will. So you and Logan aren’t meant to be. That’s doesn’t mean you have to further complicate it.”
“I know. And I’m trying hard not to, but…”
“See? You’re still doing it,” he pointed out.
Jean blushed sheepishly, but Scott smiled reassuringly.
“Look, you just did what you felt was right. But there’s a difference between what you feel is right and what you know is right. It just takes a little trial and error to figure out sometimes.”
His words grew distant as finished his thought. Jean couldn’t help but sense a little uncertainty on his part as well. It was almost as if he was dealing with a similar issue. Maybe it had to do with him and Rogue, but she decided not to dwell on that issue right now. She had enough to deal with on her own.
But they rang true. What she felt with Logan felt right. But there came a point when she knew it couldn’t go any further. All she could do was cling to that initial feeling. Jean knew what she felt and those feelings were true. But it was the knowing part where the uncertainty resided. That put a lot of things into perspective. Maybe now it would be easier to confront Logan and lay these issues to rest. It wouldn’t make it any easier, but it was still the right thing to do.
Jean let out a deep sigh as she looked back out over the lake. She remained in Scott’s embrace, curling up to him for warmth and comfort.
“You have a way with words, Mr. Summers,” she said, “Even if you aren’t the most articulate guy in the world.”
“Guess we all can’t be as versed as, Beast,” he said, blushing somewhat at her gaze.
“Yet you know how to make a girl fresh off a breakup feel better,” she said in a more affectionate tone, “You really are a wonderful friend, Scott. Thank you.”
“Anytime Jean,” he said with a smile.
It was the first time things started to make sense for Jean. Sitting here with Scott looking out over the lake gave her a welcome sense of peace. She was lucky to have a man like this in her life. She was going to try and take his words to heart as she worked things out with Logan. But as she thought about Logan and looked back up at Scott, she couldn’t help but wonder. If she got caught up in another moment with someone, would she be able to do the right thing?
Xavier Institute – Hallway Window
While Scott and Jean were sharing a moment together, their every move was watched and scrutinized by a suspicious Rogue. She had been trying to catch up with Scott all morning. Now that the mess with Magneto was over, she was looking forward to catching up with him. It came as an unpleasant surprise to see him sitting outside on a bench with Jean having what looked to be an overly tender moment for a couple of friends. While it wasn’t unusual for the two of them to hang out together, this was too much.
Scott made it clear early on in their relationship that he and Jean were close. She accepted that and thought she could deal with it, but it was for her to ignore something like this. It didn’t help that she and Jean still clashed and if she was trying to pull something with Scott just because things with her and Logan weren’t working out, she had another thing coming. Rogue had a good mind to storm down there and demand answers from them. Luckily, Kitty and Warren caught up with her and noticed her disposition.
“There you are, Rogue. I see you’re finally up,” greeted Kitty in a friendly tone.
But Rogue didn’t even turn away from the window. She didn’t even return her greeting.
“What the hell are they doin’ down there?” she said aloud, “You two seein’ this?”
“Good morning to you too, Rogue,” muttered Warren, “What are you talking about.”
“See for yourself!”
Kitty and Warren took a look. It didn’t seem too outrageous. It wasn’t like Scott and jean were making out or anything. But they could see why Rogue would be a little worked up about this.
“Oh…I see,” said Warren as he pulled away, “I wouldn’t worry about that, Rogue. Scott’s just probably helping Jean get over the breakup.”
“Breakup? What breakup?” said Rogue in confusion.
“That’s what happens when you sleep past noon,” sighed Kitty, “Didn’t you hear? Logan and Jean broke up last night. I don’t know the details, but if Jean’s mood was any indication it must have been pretty rough.”
“Yeah, and Logan still hasn’t gotten back from wherever the hell it is he ran off to,” added Warren, “Guess that’s his way of dealing with it.”
Rogue’s expression shifted as she remained fixated on Scott and Jean. This revelation came as somewhat a relief. A breakup would explain why Scott was embracing Jean so closely. He couldn’t expect him to check with her every time a friend was in need. Scott just wasn’t that kind of person. But even as she forced herself to calm down, something about the sight of them didn’t sit right.
“Hey, don’t worry about it, Rogue. It’s not like Scott’s going to dump you now that Jean’s available,” assured Warren, “Trust me, I know Scott. That’s not his style.”
“Yeah, Scott’s practically an eagle scout. He’s just helping a friend,” said Kitty.
“Ah’m not worried,” she said distantly, “Ah’m just a little…uneasy.”
Warren and Kitty exchanged skeptical glances. Rogue was still glaring towards Scott and Jean with this suspicious look in her eye. If she was trying not to let this bother her, she was doing a bad job of it.
“She’s worried,” said Kitty under her breath.
“Very worried,” laughed Warren.
Rogue shot them a bemused glare, but they just walked away. They knew that belaboring any point with Rogue was a losing battle. Hopefully she didn’t make too much of this. Scott had better sit down and talk to her before things got too out of hand. There had been enough drama in the X-men this past week. They didn’t need to add to it.
Rogue remained near the window, watching over her boyfriend. Her gaze remained hallow, but she found herself more worried than angry. She believed what Kitty and Warren said about Scott. He was not the kind of person to just push her away and go after someone else. But she still couldn’t shake the feeling that this would still affect them. Scott said it himself. Jean was a big part of his life. But their closeness was easy to write off before since she was dating Logan. Now things were different. Now their relationship faced a new set of challenges. Hopefully they were ready for this. Only would tell.
The feral roars of the two former living weapons reverberated throughout the forest. Sabretooth’s taunting words about Rose triggered a wave of dark memories within Logan. They also triggered a burning rage. He knew now what happened to Rose. His memories were clear. She had died by his hands. But it was Sabretooth who started the battle. As much as he hated himself for failing her, he hated Sabretooth even more for robbing him of a chance to be at peace.
In the rubble of the cabin, Logan attacked his nemesis with a fury of lethal claw slashes. Sabretooth skillfully dodged them with his cat-like reflexes, but two major slashes landed on his arm and torso. They tore a good chunk of flesh off, but he barely winced. Just knowing he had gotten under Logan’s skin was enough to endure any blow. He was uncontrolled and wild in his attack, which made him careless and foolish. Sabretooth waited patiently as he slashed away, backing away towards a tree. Then when Logan tried to stab him he ducked so he plunged right into the thick bark. As a result he was stuck, leaving him vulnerable and open to his attack.
“Now it’s my turn, runt!” he growled.
Showing no mercy, Sabretooth lunged upward and plunged his jagged claws into Logan’s exposed torso. He struck him with such force he tore his claws out of the tree, sending shards of wood flying everywhere. Before he could even hit the ground Sabretooth relentlessly clawed at his flesh, going for the major arteries and organs. Blood spewed everywhere, leaving Logan lightheaded and in a world of pain. While Sabretooth’s claws were buried in his torso, he managed to stab him in the neck with his claws. But that only enraged him further.
With determined grunts, Victor Creed assaulted Logan until half his body was drenched in blood. He was still deep in his berserker rage, ignoring the searing pain and fighting back with whatever strength he could muster. He got in a few knees to the gut and a claw to the hip, but Sabretooth maintained the upper hand. With every slash his predatory grin widened. He soon had Logan pinned against the trunk of another tree, holding him by the neck with one hand while the other was buried in his bloodied torso.
“Augh!” choked Logan as blood seeped into his lungs.
“You feel that, Logan? That’s the pain of betrayal! Stings, doesn’t it?” grinned Creed.
But as he said those words, more memories flashed in Logan’s dazed mind. He found himself remembering back to the burning cabin where he and Sabretooth were fighting just like this, only with Rose caught in the crosshairs.
“You feel that, Logan? That’s the pain of betrayal! Stings, doesn’t it?”
Then he remembered hearing Rose’s voice from under a pile of burning rubble. She was weak and coughing, but still fighting with every ounce of her strength.
“Fight him, Logan! Don’t stop! We have to get out of here!”
With her voice reverberating in his head, Logan overcame his berserker rage and regained focused. Growling with determination, he gazed menacingly into the eyes of his nemesis.
“Ain’t this ironic, old buddy? We’re ending this right where it started!” he grinned, “This is where I swore I would hunt you down and make you pay! You got away the first time! But you won’t get away this time! There’s no Weapon X! No military! None of the old crew! There’s just the two of us!”
“Ack!” gasped Logan as more blood gushed out from every wound.
“You and me, we were brothers! And you threw that all away for some girl! And for what? Because she let you fuck her?! Because you kept saving each other?! Look what that got you! Look what that got all of us! Ask yourself, Logan…was it worth it?”
Logan looked to be on his last breath. Sabretooth was brimming with anticipation, ready to see his enemy draw his last breath. Then to his surprise Logan smiled at him.
“Hell yeah!” he answered.
The feral mutant’s eyes widened. In that split second Logan gathered the blood dripping from his mouth and spit it right into his face. This momentarily stunned Sabretooth, causing him to lose his grip. It gave Logan all the time he needed to break free and begin his counterattack. This time, he didn’t let up. Just as Sabretooth wiped the blood from his eyes, Logan plunged two claws into his eyes and nearly gouged them out. Now blinded, his nemesis howled in a world of pain.
“Bet ya didn’t see that coming!” taunted the Wolverine.
Now blinded, Sabretooth was at Logan’s mercy. His adamantium claws hacked away at his flesh, tearing off muscle and snapping tendons. Only his adamantium bones were immune from the assault. At one point Logan cut his jugular, causing blood to spew out from his neck. He also severed the tendons in the back of his leg, preventing him from using his agility to avoid his assault. Sabretooth’s only counter was to thrash wildly in his rage, but Logan easily avoided it.
After one major miss Logan went in for the finishing blow. He roughly dropkicked Sabretooth so he fell to the ground up against a tree. Then before he could get up, he grabbed a nearby shard of wood from the ruins of the cabin and impaled him with it through the torso. It effectively pinned Sabretooth against the tree, immobilizing him and effectively ending the fight. Logan was still bloodied and bruised, but his healing factor was starting to kick in. He knew Sabretooth would heal as well. If he was going to kill him, he was going to have to do something extreme.
“Ack!” choked Sabretooth, blood now dripping from his mouth, “You…you think you’ve won, Logan? Ha! You can’t beat me! You’re too weak!”
“Believe me, Creed, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to end your sorry ass life. The whole world will be a better place without you stinkin’ it up.”
“But you’re not gonna, are you?”
Logan snarled. Sabretooth may be an annoying brute. But he knew him will.
“No…not here. Not in the same place where I lost Rose. She deserves better.”
Despite his pain and the oozing blood, Sabretooth laughed hysterically.
“Hahaha! I knew it! You are soft! You always were soft! That redheaded slut just made you realize it! You may not remember, but I do! She was everything you weren’t. You were a killer. She was spy with a taste for adventure. I’m sure that messed up head of yours remembers. As soon as you started getting close, it all came crashing down!”
Panting and bleeding, Logan recalled more memories of the time leading up to the Rose’s death. He remembered a woman joining up with a ruthless military group. She was distant, but tough. She would run into the line of fire to save him and his comrades. And she always paid special attention to him.
“You tried to teach her how to defend herself. That just made it worse,” growled Sabretooth, “She started acting like part of the team, but she was too weak for our line of work. So she did the next best thing and convinced you to turn on us!”
Logan remembered that as well. The betrayal Sabretooth hated him for was indeed caused by Rose. She was the one that urged him to get away from this life.
“The longer we stay here, the worse it’ll get! Don’t you see what they’re doing to you? They’re turning you into a monster! And I know in my heart that’s not who you are! Please Logan…leave with me. Let’s get away from all of this.”
His expression sank as he remembered the moment they shared together. He agreed to leave with her. They left the team together. He still wasn’t sure what kind of team this was, but he knew it was full of bad people and even worse agendas. Leaving with Rose may have saved whatever humanity he retained from it all. But it couldn’t save Rose.
“Guess you didn’t run far enough,” sneered Sabretooth, “I helped hunt you two down. The rest…well, you figure it out!”
Logan didn’t have to. All the memories came together. His mind flashed back to that fateful night. Sabretooth and a team of commandos stormed their cabin, bombing it with napalm and scorching the entire area. Rose got caught in some rubble while he fought Sabretooth. It was a bitter fight, but he fought them off, surprisingly with Rose’s help. While he had him in a choke-hold, Rose fought out from the rubble and grabbed a gun. She then shot Sabretooth in the face and helped him up.
“Augh! You bitch!”
“That was long overdue, Victor!”
She then helped him up and guided him to a secret underground escape path they set up just in case. They were able to slip out from the burning structure and emerge through a hatch just outside the rear wall. But then they encountered dozens of masked, fully armed commandos. Their orders were shoot-to-kill.
“Stay close, Rosie! I’ll protect you!”
Together they ran, fighting through several commandos. Rose shot three of them while he attacked four others, taking six bullets in the process. But he ignored the pain and kept moving. They ventured out into the forest for cover. He remembered them running past this very area where he was standing. Bullets were flying and helicopters were hovering overhead. It was cold and snowy. Visibility was next to zero.
Then it happened. One of the helicopters fired a rocket at them. It exploded just to the side of them and the blast wave knocked them into a nearby ditch. His claws, which were just bone at the time, were still drawn. In trying to protect her, she was blown right into them. She was practically impaled, his claws going right through her abdomen. His memories got a little hazy after that moment, but he remembered a sickening sense of horror and remorse. But the one memory that lingered most prominently was that fateful moment when he was cradling her in her arms as she drew her last breath.
“Rose…NO! Hold on, darlin’! Stay with me! Don’t…”
He remembered that look in her eye. It haunted him even through the memory was so vague. She knew she wasn’t going to make it and yet she gazed at him with the love and care that saved his humanity.
“Logan…my love. I…I’m so sorry. Please…don’t ever forget. Don’t ever forget…us.”
Those were her last words. He remembered that empty feeling that came over him when she took her last breath. It was a lost, painful sensation that struck him on every level. It was a wound even he couldn’t heal from. Sabretooth was right. Rose had died by his hands. He tried to save her, but he failed in the worst imaginable way.
“I’ll never forget…I promise.”
Logan’s face contorted with anger as he remembered his last words to her. He didn’t know it at the time, but it was a promise that he would end up breaking. Everything after that moment got muddled again. But he remembered laying her lifeless body down on the soft snow, drawing his claws that were still dripping with her blood, and turning back towards the approaching commandos. A rage like no other consumed him. Driven by the pain of loss, he attacked head on the heavily armed mercenaries.
“YOU FUCKERS ARE GOING TO PAY! HRRRRAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
He wasn’t sure how the fight panned out. He only recalled the sight and scents of a bloody slaughter, guided by his claws and his desire for vengeance. It wasn’t the first time he would exact such a wrath on his enemies and it wouldn’t be the last.
Logan tried to remember more about Rose. He at least wanted to know what happened to the body. But nothing else came to him. His damaged memories had reached their limit. The former living weapon was left at a loss. His expression hardened as he withdrew his claws and turned back to the ruins of the cabin where he and Rose shared their happiest times. He heard Sabretooth choke out another round of taunting laughter, even as he remained pinned to tree with blood pouring out of his body.
“You’ll never escape it, Wolverine,” grunted Sabretooth, “Everyone you have ever cared about will suffer because of you. That’s the price you pay for betrayal.”
“I heard ya the first time!” growled Wolverine, “Next time I’ll cut out your vocal chords so I don’t have to listen to your bullshit!”
“You’re gonna wish you cut out more than that, old buddy!” seethed his feral nemesis, “If you had a working brain, you’d kill me like you did your bitch!”
“And give you the satisfaction of sharing a grave with her? Hell no,” quipped Logan, “That’s the difference between you and me, Creed. You’re a monster just like me. But I’m willing to fight it. That’s why I hit harder and fight better. You say I’m the weak one, but you’re the one who’s weak! You don’t even try to be better. You’re perfectly okay with being a mindless brute. Hell, that ain’t just weak. That’s pathetic!”
Sabretooth snarled angrily at Logan’s words and tried to lash out at him. But Logan kept him at bay with another punch to the face for good measure. It helped reinforce his point.
“Rose showed me I could be stronger. And I ain’t giving you the satisfaction of proving her wrong,” he said strongly, “But know this, Creed. One day I’ll remember everything. Sooner or later, I’ll hunt down every last son of a bitch who ever used me and make them pay. When I’m done with them, I’ll focus every last bit of anger on you. And I promise I’ll make sure you die like the pathetic piece of shit you are!”
They were menacing words from a man hardened by anger and loss. They triggered more rage from the wounded Sabretooth. But he was still unable to break free. He came here hoping to finish his beef with Logan once and for all. It looked as though he was going to be denied again.
“ERRRRRRR! DAMN YOU, LOGAN! GET BACK HERE YOU COWARD! YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST WALK AWAY?! YOU’RE JUST GIVING ME MORE REAONS TO MAKE YOU SUFFER! YOU HEAR ME?! I’LL MAKE SURE YOU SUFFER BEYOND YOUR LAST BREATH!”
Sabretooth’s angry roars echoed through the forest even as Logan walked off, never once looking back. Chances were he would regret not killing Sabretooth. But that was a price he was willing to pay. He owed it to Rose. She told him with her dying breath to never forget what she did for him and he wasn’t going to let her down. As for Sabretooth, he would take care of him in due time. That prick didn’t deserve his mercy. And he would see to it that he got much worse when all was said and done between them.
Taking one last look at the ruins of the cabin, Logan got on his bike and rode off. He came here for answers and he got a lot more than he bargained for. He learned more about his past and about a woman who helped save him. His world was made a little more sense now. That piece of humanity he rediscovered with the X-men was preserved by Rose. With her memory now secure, he was ready to move forward. But first, he had to lay to rest his issues with another special redhead.
Xavier Institute – Later That Evening
The ride back to the institute was uneventful yet surreal for Logan. He used the long ride as a chance to reflect on everything that happened today. Remembering Rose gave him a new perspective not just on his relationship with Jean, but who he was as a whole. There were still many mysteries to his life, but at least he could lay this one to rest.
He arrived late in the evening just as much of the team was getting ready to turn in. But before this day was out he had to talk to Jean. He had to resolve the lingering issues surrounding their relationship. Even if they weren’t meant to be, he still cared about her. And he still owed her a lot for taking a chance on him just as Rose once did.
Luckily, he didn’t have to look hard for Jean. She was standing there in the garage as soon as he pulled in. Based on her demeanor, she had been waiting for a while. And to Logan’s relief, she smiled upon seeing him.
“Hey,” she greeted in an awkward tone.
“Heya Red,” he replied in an equally awkward tone, “You been waiting here for me all day or something?”
“No, not all day,” she said, shifting somewhat, “But I knew if I hung around here long enough, you’d show up eventually.”
There was an awkward silence between them. Logan maintained his usual gruff poise while Jean walked up to him with a conflicted yet sincere look on her face. For a moment she just took in his appearance. He looked a little roughed up. His shirt was in tatters and there were blood stains on his jeans. Apparently, he had an eventful trip.
“So…where did you run off to? And what happened to your clothes?”
“It’s a long story. Let’s just say I hit a few potholes along the way,” he said dryly.
Jean chuckled somewhat. Logan had a talent for adding subtext to his words. She figured it was quite a story, but that was a discussion for another day.
“I take it you’ve spent all day thinking about this,” she said.
“Among other things, yeah,” muttered Logan.
“I…I’m still not sure what else I can say. I guess I should start by apologizing. I shouldn’t have run out on you last. I should’ve…”
Logan quickly cut her off by putting his finger on her lips. He spent the whole trip rehearsing what he was going to say to her. He might as well go through with it.
“Don’t apologize, Jeannie. I’m the guy with the broken memories here. If anything, I should be sorry. I got you caught up in my mess of a life. I never meant for you to get hurt. You sure as hell didn’t deserve it.”
Jean eased somewhat under his gaze. There was no bitterness or anger in his expression. There was only remorse and a sincere desire to get this out in the open.
“I ain’t gonna say what we had was wrong. But after sitting on this all day I’ve realized you were right, Jeannie.”
“About what?” she asked curiously.
“About us,” he said, placing his hands on her shoulders, “Those feelings I had for Rose were a big reason why I was attracted to you. Now don’t start thinkin’ it was all a sham. I really did feel for you. But I can’t love you the way I loved Rose. No matter what I do, I can’t separate my feelings for her with my feelings for you.”
It was a difficult realization, but Jean could tell from his thoughts and the look in his eyes that he was telling the truth. Logan wasn’t one to get emotional and he wasn’t good with words so she had to take him on his sentiment.
“I still care about you, Jeannie. But we both know it would never work out between us. You deserve better. I just ain’t the guy for you.”
Logan removed his hands from her shoulders and backed off a bit. He would almost rather be fighting with Sabretooth than doing through something this awkward. But he pushed through it.
“I’ll spare ya the whole let’s-just-be-friends speech. When you’ve been through the kind of shit we have, that’s pretty much impossible. I guess we can still be close or something. I just figure it’s gonna be awkward as hell for a while.”
“We’ll get over it,” said Jean with a lighthearted laugh as she moved in closer to him, “I still care about you too, Logan. I don’t want to lose your friendship. You’re a good man who just happens to have more issues than most people.”
“Name one guy who has more and I’ll eat my motorcycle,” snickered Logan.
“But issues aside, I want us to move forward. I can’t promise it’ll be an easy transition, but I can promise I’ll do my best. Even if we can’t be lovers, you’re still special to me and you always will be. Don’t ever forget that.”
She smiled warmly, taking his hand in hers in a friendly gesture. It helped ease some of Logan’s concerns. Awkwardness aside, he didn’t want to lose Jean Grey’s friendship. He had too few friends and too many enemies. He cared for this girl and he wasn’t going to let their failed relationship stand between them.
“I won’t forget, Jeannie. I promise,” he told her.
“Good,” she said, “I won’t either.”
They shared a look of understanding and smiled. Then Jean pulled him into a friendly hug. It caught Logan a little off guard, but he still hugged her back. Even if they weren’t right for each other, that didn’t mean they still couldn’t be part of each others’ lives. There was going to be a difficult adjustment period. Eventually, they would find a way to work it out and establish a new sense of normalcy.
“So…” said Logan while they were still in an embrace, “Now that we got that out of the way, can we move onto the breakup sex?”
Jean laughed and playfully swatted his shoulder. Already, Logan was back to making dirty jokes. It was a colorful way to begin their new friendship, but it was still progress. Ex-boyfriend or not, he was still Logan and she wouldn’t have him any other way.
“Still a dirty old man,” she said laughed as they parted, “You really are a character, Logan. Don’t ever change.”
Guantanamo Bay – Later That Week
It is said that when a man of great powers falls from grace, he his humbled. It is also said that those who are strong become emboldened by defeat while those who are weak fall into despair. For Erik Lensherr, both seemed to apply. At one point, he had all the power he needed to topple the oppressive human order. His army of sentinels was set to strike, but then it all came crashing down thanks to Charles and his X-men.
Now he was no longer a leader for the mutant cause. He was a prisoner. Because of his power and influence, he was given special accommodations. With help from the X-men, the UN constructed a special prison cell made of plastic that had power dampening equipment that would keep him contained. It had a cold, sterile feel. Everything was carefully monitored. There were at least a dozen armed guards with special plastic weapons on standby at all times. His mobility was limited. His whole world was now a confined 20 by 25 foot cell.
But while the magnetism was humbled, he did not despair. He was stronger than that. His greatest mistake was underestimating Charles Xavier and his X-men. They proved tenacious even under the prospect of more oppression. There was much to admire about their resolve, but that didn’t make them any less misguided.
He found himself reflecting on this predicament as he sat at a table with the only one brave enough to visit him, Charles Xavier. Ironically, he was the same man who put him here. Traditional logic told him he should bear more resentment to this man, but given his fate would have been much worse without his involvement he pushed that aside as they enjoyed a peaceful game of chess.
“So I hear Genosha may become the first all-mutant nation in history,” he said as he made a move on the chess board, “Wanda is taking lead, opening the door for more mutants to come while the humans continue to leave.”
“Like father like daughter, I suppose,” said Xavier as he countered his move.
“You know the humans won’t stand for it,” said Erik strongly, “A country of mutants will only give them a bigger target. The lines will become more apparent. Mutants will naturally gravitate towards each other while humans find more reasons to exclude them. Sooner or later, they will clash.”
“Then I will make sure it happens later. These are fragile times, old friend. Humanity was plenty weary beforehand. Now you’ve given them many more reasons to be fearful.”
“I’m only speeding up what was already inevitable,” said Magneto stoically as he made another daring move on the chessboard, positioning himself to win, “Honestly, Charles, I still don’t understand why you insist on delaying such conflict.”
“And I don’t understand why you insist on inciting it, so I suppose we’re even,” said Xavier as he moved his bishop in a defensive move, “But regardless of current affairs, I will continue to do my part. Genosha remains a fragile issue, but I like to think there’s an opportunity within every challenge. Wanda and the mutants you gathered there have a chance to show the world that they can live peacefully alongside others.”
Magneto’s expression tensed with bitterness. The idea of his children working with the humans and not rising against them didn’t sit well. It went against everything he taught them. But then again he never expected either of them to carry the torch.
“You’re placing an awful lot of hope in my children, Charles. I must warn you they can be prone to disappointment.”
“Then we can only hope they’ve learned from their mistakes. And they’ll have the X-men to support them. I’ve made sure of that.”
“At least I know they’re in good hands,” said Magneto as he moved his king, “I suppose I should thank you, but considering I’m a prisoner about to go on trail for crimes against a corrupt order I’d say we’re even.”
“It could have been worse, old friend,” said Xavier solemnly, “There are many who wish to see you and Cameron Hodge get the death penalty.”
“But you won’t let that happen, will you?” surmised the old holocaust survivor.
“I’m going to try,” he sighed, “Regardless of your deeds, Erik, you’re still my friend. I still believe there is a part of you that hasn’t forgotten your humanity.”
“Have you ever considered that it isn’t my humanity that I’ve lost? What if I just realized what all men realize when they step back and see the world for what it truly is? We’re both dreamers, Charles. That we can agree on. But the question remains, which of us is seeing the bigger picture? Which of us will be proven right when all is said and done?”
It was a difficult question to contemplate, even for a mind like Charles Xavier. He was under no illusions. He knew his cause required a certain faith in idealism. That was the risk anyone took in fighting for a cause. There were many unpleasant aspects of this world he didn’t see just as there were noble aspects that Erik didn’t see. Time had yet to prove either one of their causes. The future was still unfolding before them. The best he could do was unfold with it.
Without answering the question, Xavier moved his rook across the board so it was two spaces away from his king.
“Checkmate,” he said.
Erik checked the move. He didn’t have to check long. Xavier was right. He had won again. But he didn’t respond with anger or bitterness. His gaze remained stoic as one of the guards stepped forth and helped Xavier wheel away from the table. Visiting hours were officially over. But Erik had given his old friend something to think about. Hopefully he would bear that in mind as he moved ahead with his cause. Before he left, he had one final message for him.
“You know this plastic prison can’t hold me, Charles. Eventually, I will get out. And I will finish what I started.”
They were menacing words. But before the door closed on them, Xavier responded with a message of his own.
“If and when that day comes, you can be certain that my X-men will be there to stop you,” he said.
Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr found themselves back where they started. They were equally intent on pursuing their dreams, ensuring that somewhere along the way they would clash. Even though they deeply respected one another, they would not hesitate to oppose one another. Many changes awaited them as the world adjusted to this monumental shift. With Charles Xavier and the X-men leading the way, one revolution ended while another was set to begin.
End of Volume 1
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