Disclaimers, etc. in part one.
Together, they finally wrangled Logan into the wheelchair.
"There," Helen said. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"
Logan just glared up at her, still trying to catch his breath. He
hadn't tried to move that much on his own in two weeks, and the
effort required was much more than he'd expected. His body just
wasn't obeying his commands like it used to, and he was already
"Ok, ready to move out? Let's go."
Logan stuck his good foot out to stop their progression. "Nnno."
"What now?" Helen asked. Most people would be annoyed by now at
Logan's stubbornness. Helen was used to this sort of thing, and just
calmly waited for the answer.
"Shhhit," Logan said.
"Yes, Logan, I'm very impressed with the dramatic progress in your
cursing ability. Now can we go?"
"Nnnoo," Logan said, then screwing up his face in concentration, he
"Ah, don't want to go out there bare-chested, huh? I'll have you
know the senior girls are offering quite a bit of dough if I parade
you around shirtless. Oh, well, I guess my trip to Vegas will have
Marie made it back to their suite just in time. Helen'd said she'd be
bringing Logan home at around this time, and Marie wanted to speak
with Anna before she did. She wanted to prepare her for Logan's
After washing her tear-streaked face, the last reminder of her break-
down in the gym, she went back into the main room, where Anna was
sitting on the floor.
"Anna, you know how we said that Daddy has a lot of owwies?"
"Yes," Anna answered, looking up from her Sesame Street puzzle.
"Well, the bandages came off today, and Daddy's going to look a
little different from what you're used to."
"Well, you can see the owwies now. I just don't want you to be
surprised. They look like they hurt, but they don't much anymore, and
Daddy's going to be just fine."
"Ok," Anna said, shrugging and going back to her puzzle.
A few minutes later, the door opened and Logan was wheeled in. He
looked exhausted, the effort of sitting up on the trip from the Med
Lab to their room taking its toll. Anna looked up and froze,
shocked. She stared at Logan, speechless, as he was wheeled past her
into their bedroom and helped onto the bed.
This was exactly what Marie had been dreading. She knew Logan looked
terrible, but she'd hoped that Anna wouldn't comment on it and make
him uncomfortable. She watched in dread as Anna opened her mouth and
said, "Daddy. You're not fuzzy anymore."
Ok. That wasn't what she'd been expecting at all. Indeed Logan's
scalp and muttonchops had been shaved for the surgery, and even
though there was whisker-length growth, he was still a lot less hairy
than he used to be. Marie hadn't even thought to mention it.
"No, sugah," Marie said, through giggles. "They had to shave Daddy
to make him better."
Anna walked into their bedroom, and after looking Logan up and down,
proclaimed. "I like you better fuzzy, Daddy."
"So do I," Marie agreed, sitting down on the bed beside her
husband. "You're just going to have to grow it back."
For his part, Logan gave them both a weary, lop-sided grin.
Helen spent the next few hours showing Marie how to use the harness
to help Logan into a sitting position on the bed or into the
wheelchair. Safety bars had been added to the bathroom walls during
the time Logan was gone. Helen instructed them on their use,
encouraging Marie to ensure Logan kept a grip on a bar with his good
hand at all times.
By the time they'd finally finished with him, Logan was more
exhausted than he'd ever been in his remembered life. There'd been
times when he'd had to stay awake 48 hours on the road, times when
he'd hiked all day through the forest, and he'd never felt so
completely worn out. It was only five at night and he was ready for
"Now remember," Helen told Marie at the door, "my beeper's always on,
so call if you need any help, even at three in the morning. I know
this'll be a tough transition, but you can do it. Logan's probably
so tired he'll just sleep the rest of the night, anyway."
He couldn't argue with that.
"Logan." Helen called. "Get some rest while you can. Tomorrow, we
start in the gym."
The woman was a sadist, pure and simple. There was no other
explanation for why she loved to torture him so. Still, he had a
good sixteen hours or so before she'd be back, and he planned to use
every minute of it. Settling back in his familiar bed that smelled
of Marie, he tried to forget about his impending doom and relax.
Marie surprised him by coming back in and lying down beside him,
snuggling up close with her head on his chest.
"I've missed you so much, sugah."
"Luuuvv... yoooou... darrrllnn."
The next few weeks passed in a blur. Practicing his speech for hours
in the mirror, slowly shaping his mouth until the sounds were right.
Helen introducing him to one new torture device after another down in
the gym, all in the name of physical therapy.
On the good side, the scars were almost completely gone, and his
hair, although still a little short, had grown back in nicely. Jean
had theorized that his healing factor was coming back.
That morning, they'd done new CT scans, and Jean and Hank were busy
analyzing the results. The initial findings weren't encouraging.
There was more activity in his right hemisphere, but no apparent
regeneration in the left. Jean had said to wait until they could
analyze all the data and that if they came back negative not to
worry. She'd said it would take a while before they could be
absolutely sure that he wouldn't heal, and that the brain injury
might take longer for his healing factor to deal with. Despite
Jean's reassurances, he could see his disappointment mirrored in
Marie's face. He couldn't bear to see her hope fading like that. He
had to get away and think.
Before all of this, he'd go out to the woods, but he couldn't get the
chair that far, so he'd settled for his second favorite thinking
spot: the roof. He'd taken the elevator to the top floor and then,
sitting on the steps and using his good leg, he'd scooted his way up
the stairs. Now, looking out over the green, manicured lawns towards
the forest, hearing the kids play far below him, he wondered what the
rest of his life would be like.
He'd always wondered what he'd done to deserve Marie, but now, it was
worse. He was a burden to her. He tried hard in therapy, Helen
pushing him all the way, but he wasn't making enough progress. Sure,
she always acted impressed, said he was recovering faster than anyone
she'd ever seen, but it was probably a line she used on all her
What if this was as good as it gets? What if he'd never be able to
get out a sentence without stuttering or slurring his words? What if
he was never able to walk again without a walker or crutches? What
possible good could he do here? He wasn't on the team anymore, and
he wasn't a teacher. When it came down to it, he was living off the
professor's charity, and that grated at him more than anything else.
He was so consumed by his thoughts that he didn't notice her until
she'd walked right up next to him. Sitting down as he was on the
sloped roof, Anna's face was just a little above eye level.
He'd never considered the roof to be the slightest bit dangerous, but
now, with Anna standing beside him, balanced on the loose, sloping
tiles, he was suddenly terrified.
"Ann-na... Gget baak."
"Annn-na... Go nnsside."
He must've been too harsh in trying to spit that out because Anna's
face fell and the tears glistened at the corners of her eyes.
"I did bad, didn't I? I saw your chair and wanted ta see whatcha
were doing. I didn't want to do bad."
Dammit. There wasn't time to explain to her that he wasn't mad,
especially with how slow he was speaking. He just wanted her off
that roof and now.
"Juss... go," he forced out.
She turned and started to walk back to the stairs. He'd never be
sure why it happened. Maybe her tears made it hard to see, or maybe
those shingles were loose from the wind storm they'd had last week.
Whatever it was, something caused Anna to lose her footing.
He heard her startled squeak as her small body slammed into the roof,
then he saw her, skidding past him towards the edge. He reached out
for her, but his reflexes were a half-second too slow.
He wouldn't give up that easily. Pushing off, he slid down the roof
towards her, kicking and grabbing at the shingles to gain on her. He
finally grabbed her hand with his good, left hand as they reached the
edge. Of course, he'd been trying so hard to catch up that even
after he'd reached her, he just kept sliding. He felt the roof's
surface fall away from him, and he reached back with his free hand to
grab for the gutter, but he was too slow. He realized even before it
happened that he would miss by inches.
See part eight.