(AN: Takes place shortly after issue 12)
Every man had his weaknesses. Now matter how tough he may be in words or deeds, there were things in this world that made him vulnerable. For Logan, a man who could hear from pretty much anything, that list was small in some respects and overwhelming in others. One weakness he made no secret of was beer. When he wasn’t training, teaching combat classes, or going on missions with the X-men he usually had a beer in his hand. His alcohol consumption was already the butt of many jokes throughout the team. Were he a man of lesser healing, he probably would have been labeled a raging alcoholic a long time ago. Lucky for him, his liver was as resilient as the rest of his body. He needed it to be that way. For the kind of problems he dealt with, alcohol wasn’t just an escape. It was a way to tame the raging animal that lay within him.
It was late in the afternoon and Logan was working on his fifth beer of the day. He was sitting in the backyard on the deck gazing out into the distance while casually swirling his drink. Class had finished for the day and so had training. Some of the team was unwinding with a little pool volleyball. The teams were Jeannie and Warren versus Rogue and Bobby. It looked to be pretty competitive. Jean and Rogue still weren’t getting along so naturally they were playing a little harder than Warren and Bobby, but it looked like they were having fun. They were still nowhere near the kind of rivalry he had going on with Summers. Had they been in the middle of a game there would have been a lot more yelling and a lot more swearing. That wasn’t to say that Jean and Rogue didn’t have their share of dirty looks, but they didn’t let it ruin the fun.
As they played, Logan watched and admired the view. Jeannie in a bikini was always a sight to behold. She wasn’t afraid to flaunt what she had, sporting a nice two-piece swimsuit that showed off her curves in all the right ways. He had seen her wearing a lot less, but that didn’t stop her from admiring her. From time to time she would turn and smile at him, showing that she noticed his admiring glares. She would even shoot him a few affectionate thoughts with her telepathy. Combined with the beer, it was the best buzz a man him could ask for.
Hard to believe I’ve come this far. Hard to believe how not so long ago I was the kind of nameless thug who only showed his face in the darkest hell holes with the worst assholes this planet can shit out. It’s a fucking miracle I ain’t ended up face down in a ditch with every part of my body except the adamantium burned off. A guy like me shouldn’t be alive. A guy like me doesn’t deserve the kind of breaks I’ve got. For whatever reason, be it divine intervention or some other karma shit I ain’t smart enough to understand, I got another chance at making my life worth a damn. So far, I ain’t screwed it up and I actually made a few friends who don’t want to kill me for once.
It may seem pretty damn petty. Hell, everybody who ain’t a former meat puppet takes it for granted. But having a life that’s worth waking up for is a hell of a luxury. Some in the X-men (mostly Cyke) think I take it for granted. Ain’t nothing further from the truth. How could I when I still have nightmares about what those pricks at Weapon X did to me? It’s impossible to understand without going through it first hand. Being bound and gagged in some bio tank…all these wires going into you…feeling as though every fiber on every level is being ripped to shreds and reshaped into a freakin’ monster ain’t just grounds for a good horror flick. It fucks you up in a way no words can ever describe.
Call it melodramatic. Call it bitterness or anger or whatever else sounds halfway appropriate. It doesn’t do it justice. Even Jeannie and the Prof can’t understand what it’s like to have only shadows for memories. My whole life, however good or bad it may have been, is gone. I didn’t just lose it either. It was taken from me. Those same assholes who turned me into a monster took from me any sense of who I am and who I was. Maybe I was a monster before I lost my memories. Maybe I was a saint. Whatever the case, I don’t know anymore and that’s torture worse than a 1000 rounds of adamantium bonding.
It’s hard to put into perspective for anyone who ain’t already half-crazy. The best way I could ever describe it to Chuck or Jeannie was relating it blacking out on booze. At one point you drink so much shit your mind stops forming memories and you wake up without any clue as to how you got there, what you did, or why you did it. Add the hangover to the mix and it’s a damn good hint at what it’s like. Except stretch it out over a lifetime and replace that hangover with a raging monster. Even the worst alcohol binge can’t come close to the kind of mind fuck Weapon X pulled on me. At least with booze you can still have some vague memories of what went down. For me, those memories ain’t exactly memories. They’re more like shadows cloaked in nightmares, all of which have one thing in common…rage.
It’s probably my most defining trait. I’m an angry son-of-a-bitch. Who wouldn’t be after having their mind thrown into a blender and reshaped into something entirely fucked up? In all the nightmares and bad memories I have, rage is always at the center of it. Chuck says it’s because memories are tied to strong emotions and anger sure seems to be my emotion of choice. I felt it in the memories before Weapon X. I felt it in the memories after Weapon X. I felt it in the memories after Weapon X erased my memories. I still feel it every time I think back on the life I don’t even know I’ve lived. Jeannie thinks that’s’ part of what drives my berserker rage. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was right. I ain’t known her long, but she already knows me better than I know myself.
The crazy part is I don’t really understand what this whole berserker shit is anyways. It’s almost as bad as the mind fuck Weapon X did on me. Only with this, I’m aware of what’s happening. I can see, smell, feel, and taste the world around me. I just don’t realize what the hell I’m doing or why the hell I’m doing it. It’s like being thrown in the trunk of a car while a bunch of reckless drunks jump in the front seat and start driving 100 miles an hour in the wrong lane down a highway during rush hour. It could just be all the pent up frustration I’m carrying from not knowing who I am or where the hell I came from. Sometimes I have nightmares about Weapon X doing this ‘conditioning’ shit that’s supposed to put me in the perfect killing mindset. Whatever it is, it really messes with me.
It used to be I would go into a berserker rage for damn near anything. I wake up feeling lousy…berserker rage. Someone gives me a look I don’t like…berserker rage. My truck breaks down in the middle of the road…berserker rage times two. It’s why I preferred the quiet life in Canada. I cause less a scene and I don’t hurt anybody. Best I could do was make sure that if I did hurt someone, they sure as hell deserved it. I never thought in a million years I would get any kind of control over it. That all changed with the X-men.
Now here I am, a guy who ain’t nearly as fucked up as he used to be. I can actually function in the world again. I can talk to people, go out in public, and be my own man without the rage taking over. I can actually have a life again. And for once, it’s a life worth living.
Logan swirled his beer a bit more before chugging the rest in a final gulp. As he did he let out a deep sigh and leaned back against the rails on the porch. His gaze remained fixed on the pool where the volleyball game was escalating. Jean and Warren were on the defensive and Rogue was getting pretty aggressive at spiking the ball. Then at one point she hit one towards the back end of the pool, forcing Jean to leap back and knock it up in the air. She just barely got it going in the right direction, but it was enough for Warren to deliver a spike of his own. This time it was successful, earning a disappointed grunt from Rogue and a cheer from Jean.
“We did it! That’s game, set, and match!” said Jean as she high-fived Warren.
“Nice save back there,” commented Warren.
“Nice shot!” she grinned in return.
For Rogue, however, the reaction was more akin to Logan’s berserker rage. It was volatile if not comical to see unfold.
“Dang it, Bobby! You’re supposed to block those shots!” Rogue barked.
“Whoa, take it easy, Rogue! It’s just a game! It’s not like we failed to rescue the President or something!”
“Spoken like a real loser! And you call yourself an X-man?!”
Rogue was getting pretty worked up. Losing to Jean didn’t sit well. At least Jean didn’t gloat or anything. She was a good sport, offering Bobby a reassuring smile as she and Warren tried to calm Rogue down. She may get jealous at times with what had been going on with Rogue and Scott, but she was too sweet a girl to get vindictive. That was the kind of person she was. She had so much heart, even if she did let her passions get the better of her. Logan knew those passions all too well. As Jean’s lover, he had grown quite fond of them.
I still can’t get over it. When the X-men first saved my sorry ass, my way of showing gratitude was to spit in their face and storm out. By any measure, that’s being a real asshole. They should have been disgusted by me or at the very least annoyed that they went through all the trouble to save me and I didn’t so much as thank them. If I had any decent side, I sure didn’t show it. Yet somehow, someway, and against every freakin’ odd in the universe Jean Grey saw what even I couldn’t see. She saw a guy who was worth saving.
Think it goes without saying that a girl like that is special. Not just any guy can be her man. A guy has to set himself apart. He has to share that passion that makes her such a damn fine woman. I don’t know how worthy I am. Jeannie’s pretty selective about the guys she gets with. I still don’t understand how she could only have one boyfriend before me. A girl like her should have her pick of the litter. But that ain’t her style. She’s the kind of girl who likes to make it count. She’ll feel all those crazy passions, but she won’t act on them. Good thing I made the first move because she sure wasn’t gonna.
It’s a memory I sure hope I never lose. That first time I kissed Jeannie, I could feel something special. I don’t know what it was. To be perfectly honest I still don’t know. But whatever it may be, it’s worth embracing. Jeannie didn’t have to kiss back. I knew she had the hots for me. She ain’t very good when it comes to hiding that passion of hers even though she tries her best sometimes. I wanted to make something of it. I live in a world of what-the-hells and even if there are plenty of reasons why it shouldn’t happen, I’m willing to take that chance and try anyways. I didn’t know if she felt the same. She could have just pulled away, explained every reason why it was wrong for us to hook up, and I would have dropped it. But she didn’t. She kissed back and let me into her heart.
It’s a place any guy would kill to be. For an ugly mug like me, it’s like winning the lottery and striking oil in the span of sixteen minutes. The weird thing is she’s as unsure as me as to why she’s so attracted to me. And it ain’t just physical. Sure, it helps I have the rugged mountain main thing going. For some reason, that shit attracts women. And sure, it helps she has the perfect ass and a rack worthy of it’s own zip code. But what we got is serious. It ain’t some cheap fling. This girl means something to me and by whatever random higher power, I mean something to her too.
On paper we shouldn’t work. She’s a beautiful, young, outgoing woman with daddy issues and I’m a former meat puppet with huge gaps in my memory, a bad temper, and a drinking problem. Yet we make it work. We hang out, go on dates, support each other, and have great sex. Hell, I still remember that special ‘healing’ she did after the Weapon X debacle. How a woman with that kind of heart could be so great in bed is beyond me. She has her naughty side just like I have a softer side. I love her and she loves me back. I don’t get it and I probably never will. And it all started with that first kiss.
Logan found himself smiling at such memories. His eyes stayed on Jean as she got out of the pool and started drying herself off with a towel. In the late afternoon sun she was a sight to behold. The water gleaming off her body coupled with the revealing nature of her bikini made her look like a goddess. He stared so intently that Jean picked up on it.
‘Enjoying yourself on this fine afternoon, Logan?’
‘A beer in one hand and a beautiful woman in front of me…do I even need to say it, Jeannie?’
‘Keep undressing me with your eyes like that and I may have to do something about it.’
‘Aww don’t tell me you’re gonna start covering up more.’
‘Did I say I minded? By something I meant to add special. I’ll let that dirty mind of yours fill in the blanks.’
‘You’re too kind to be so damn naughty, Jeannie!’
Jean shot him a warm smile as she dried off. It was amazing how she could be so good yet so exciting. It was one of the many traits that Logan admired about her. He found himself thinking more on how this woman had affected his life and it all started with that fateful decision he made when he first woke up at the Xavier Institute.
It’s funny, I ain’t usually the kind of guy who second guesses myself. That first day here my usual boneheaded impulse was to walk away. It’s a good thing Jeannie got me to think for more than three seconds because there ain’t no telling what kind of bullshit I would have gotten into. I know I shocked everybody by my sudden change of heart. I also know that most everybody thinks I was just following a beautiful woman and could care less about Xavier’s message. I can’t say I blame them, but they’re still dead wrong.
What Jeannie said that day still sticks with me. For all the rotten things I’ve done (and boy has there been a lot), there’s still a guy inside the Wolverine with a halfway decent soul. Maybe I’ve never noticed it, but it’s always been there. Why else would I have saved her and Summers that day? Why else would I go out of my way to avoid hurting innocent people with my berserker rage? Truth is, I never even realized I had that side of me. The more time I spend with the X-men, the more I want to hold onto it.
I ain’t gonna bullshit myself. I know damn well I got a monster inside me. Whatever bullshit screwed me up in the past and whatever crazy experiment Weapon X did to me, that monster is here to stay. I can either piss and moan about it or I can fight it. Here, I don’t just fight it. I channel it to do some good in the world. Whatever sins I may or may not have committed in the past, I can make up for them by being part of something greater. Chuck really wants to save the world. He really believes that mutants and humans can live in peace. It’s a cause he’s willing to fight for. Even though pricks like Magneto and Weapon X make it damn hard on him, he sticks to his guns and keeps fighting. For a guy who can’t even walk, that’s really something. I got a freakin’ healing factor that could make me immortal for all I know so I got no excuse.
Fightin’ for the future ain’t the same as fighting for the past, but it has it’s benefits. At least with the future there ain’t no dark secrets that will come back to bite me. Sometimes I wonder if I even should be digging into my past. From time to time Chuck will use Cerebro to help me search for clues. We usually don’t find anything. From what he probed at Weapon X, Wraith and his goons did a damn good job of erasing my life. Maybe it was for the better. It seems every time I get a glimpse of the past it’s something so freakin’ awful it only makes me feel like an even bigger monster. Even if it does, I still got a long ways to go to catch up to Sabretooth.
Logan’s expression tensed as he thought back to his old rival. Every time he dwelled on Victor Creed he felt an unbridled rage. The anger was so intense at times, coming from both memories he had and memories he lost. Whatever darkness there was in his past, he was certain that Sabreooth was part of it. Every time they fought he had flashes of their many battles. Some were bloodier than others and they all had one thing in common…betrayal.
Guess that’s one part of my ‘therapy’ I ain’t made much progress on. Every time Victor Creed comes up, I get so worked up I wanna run out into the street and kill the first person I see. It’s almost worse than my berserker rage. Every fight we’ve had is angrier and bloodier than the last. For every bad memory I have, Sabretooth is part of them nine times out of ten. I hate the man more than anything. I hate him so much I wanna rip off every inch of his flesh, let him heal, and rip it off again. I know that kind of hate ain’t healthy. That kind of hate doesn’t come from nowhere either. There’s always a source. That’s where I get frustrated most.
Sabretooth clearly remembers. He knows why he’s so pissed at me. He doesn’t even try to dance around it or understand it. He remembers and because of that he’s got more hatred than me. That makes me wonder sometimes. If I remember too, will I end up like him? Will I become so consumed by hatred and anger that the good man the X-men are trying to save will be gone for good? That’s the kind of mindfuck that keeps me up at night.
There are some days I wanna give up the chase. It would be a hell of a lot easier if I just stopped dwelling on the past and focused on the future. I got a lot going for me here. I got a new life, a new purpose, a job, a place at a mansion, and a beautiful girlfriend who’s gotta thing for black lingerie. There’s a chance that remembering my past could destroy all of it. There’s also a chance a meteor could come crashing to earth, hit me square in the nuts, and render me useless to girls like Jeannie forever. It’s one big raging battle and it ain’t gonna end so long as I’m breathing.
So that leaves me with one hell of a problem. The past and the present is always gonna be kicking my ass. I can’t escape it. I can’t up and quit. Best I can do is struggle with some twisted balancing act. I try and build my future with one hand while fighting off the past with the other. Sometimes I’m gonna get thrown off. This latest shit with Weapon X was a hell of a kicker. But I got through it. I made it because for once I have more than jaded memories to fight for. I have a life as Logan and not just Wolverine. I can take this power that was supposed to make me a monster and use it to put a stop to the death and bloodshed pricks like Weapon X and Magneto keep trying to cause. That’s probably the best way I can cope with the past and spit in the face of everybody who tried to make me a weapon…to fight for a cause that’ll put those assholes out of work.
A strange feeling of contentment fell over the former living weapon. Jeannie had since joined with the others and headed back inside. Logan lingered a bit longer, looking down at his beer bottle and then back out into the distance. The sun was starting to set and a cool breeze blew in off the lake. It was a peaceful setting for a man with a not-so-peaceful persona.
Everybody still says I’m a loner. They’re probably right. Being on the run for so long, pickin’ fights wherever they need to be picked, and going on my own missions will give a guy the kind of personality that gives the middle finger to the whole world. Even if I am a loner, there’s one thing I have now that I didn’t have before that makes all the difference. It ain’t just the cause I fight for, the friends I’ve made, the battles I’ve fought, and the hot redhead I’m currently sleeping with. It’s something as simple has having a place to call home.
Even though I don’t always belong, this dump really feels like home to me. I still butt heads with Summers every time Jeannie comes up. I still annoy the hell out of everybody when I run my personal Danger Room sessions. I get in Chuck’s nerves with my attitude and he gets on mine every time he gives me a morality lecture. I don’t do the team any favors either when I run off on my own looking for clues to a past I may not even wanna remember. What makes the difference is that I have a place to come back to. I have a new life I can be proud of. I ain’t just Wolverine, the ex meat-puppet who roams dark alleys, fights anything that moves, hates everybody who ever gave a damn, and kills without a second thought. I’m Wolverine, an X-man…a warrior for a cause.
It’s a cause that’s ridiculous on so many levels. It’s a cause that seems damn near impossible at times. It’s a cause most anybody with an attitude would scoff at. But that doesn’t matter. It could be impossible for all I care. I could spend a dozen lifetimes fighting it without a hint of progress. It’s a cause I believe in. It’s a cause that’s worth fighting for. It’s part of who I am now and I’m a better man for it. I don’t know what the past or the future may bring or how hard it’s gonna kick me in the ass. I just know I’d rather fight for something rather than let the past consume me.
With a wolfish grin, Logan turned away from the setting sun and headed back inside. It seemed for now that ongoing balancing act between the past and the present was stable. Battles against Magneto and Weapon X could not throw him off this new path. That was a good sign that he was doing something right and should keep at it. With this in mind he made his way towards the kitchen for the one other stable force in his life besides the X-men…a cold beer.
Next Issue: Ororo
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