Allow me to preface this story just by saying that it's pretty grim.
Cross-posted to XMMFF and WolverineFanfiction.
Title: When I'm Gone
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Author's Email: librarie@...
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Rating/Warnings: G. Spoilers for X2--or at least, it'll make more sense if
you've seen it.
Characters: Logan, his antagonist, and a cameo appearance by X2's most
Setting: Roughly fifteen years before the films.
Summary: Every man has his reasons. (Possible alternate-universe)
Disclaimer: Marvel and Fox create the characters that sell. Not me.
Notes: Depending on your opinion of just how nasty Logan's past may have
been, you might consider this an alternate-universe story. It is based on a
single question: what would it take to drive a man to the depths that
William Stryker implied at the end of X2?
Thanks, as always, to Rhiannon.
When I'm Gone
The red folder on the desk sat mocking me.
It was the one spot of color in my small empty room. Everything else was
shades of gray: bare concrete walls, a dented metal desk, the creaking
metal-framed bunk on which I lay. My quarters looked like a prison cell,
and for the first time, they felt like it too.
A prison--or a tomb. A place to be buried alive, suffocating.
I didn't bother to ask when it had changed. The question was when *I* had
changed, and I knew the answer to that.
It was always easy, before. Hunt and kill, or stalk and capture alive. No
study, no surveillance, no concept of the prey as anything human. Just so
much flesh and blood
I stared at my hand for a long moment, then clenched
my fist until my fingernails bit into my palm. Opened my hand, watched
drops of blood well up; watched the scratches go away as if they'd never
I hated mutants because I was one of them.
Man is the only species that systematically kills its own kind. That fact
was important to me. Killing *my* own kind was the one thing that made me
feel something close to human.
Until Stryker decided to give me a challenge.
This one he wanted more than just taken alive. He wanted her to come
He didn't know her abilities; even I never found out just what her mutation
was. All Stryker knew or needed to know was that she was an assassin, like
me--except she only targeted normal humans. She hated people, and that was
enough. He had uses for all that hate.
So he sent me to Japan to work on her--and I worked on her better than
either of us expected.
Her friend, her lover, her soulmate; she learned too well to trust me. I
pretended at whatever she wanted me to be. It wasn't hard. She was
beautiful, she was strong
and she loved me. Or thought she did, and that
was all that mattered. When she reached the point of no return--when she
would do anything for me, follow me into hell--then I was supposed to bring
her into Stryker's fold, to find out if that hatred of hers could be turned
in new directions.
Failing that, my job was to kill her.
I should have done just that the moment I laid eyes on her. I should never
have let myself discover what it was to touch and hold and kiss her.
I was doomed from the moment I fell in love with Yuriko.
There was no question of letting Stryker have her, twist her, turn her into
his pet--the way I knew, deep down, I had let him do to me. So the last
night I saw her, I told her everything. I told her to run as far and as
fast as she could. To disappear, and never be known by anyone again.
When I told Stryker I'd killed Yuriko, I wasn't completely lying. I watched
her eyes when I told her what I was, what I did
and I saw a part of her
die. The part of her that could still feel love and trust; the part of her
that kept something alive inside *me*.
I think I died a little more than she did.
Slowly I got up from my bunk, paced the three steps to the desk and sat
down, staring at the red folder. It smelled of Stryker. I remembered the
day he brought it to me. I'd watched his face as he described his latest
fantasy of scientific sadism
and realized he was more of a monster than I
would ever be.
I turned the first few pages. Without Stryker's savagely gleeful narration,
it was just a lot of meaningless science jargon to me, but the
drawings--*those* I understood. Letting the folder flop open, I traced one
of the diagrams with my finger, following the lines of bone and muscle and
three long dagger shapes.
An armor-plated skeleton was a thought I didn't much care for. But the
Oh, yes. There were possibilities there. I closed my fist and flexed my
arm, trying to imagine it. Calculating the added weight of metal--and the
pain of blades through flesh.
Every animal should have claws.
That was all that was left now: an animal. Anything else had died with
Yuriko's love for me. Not even by my own perverse definition was I still
The will to murder was gone.
I slapped the folder shut, picked it up and walked out of my quarters. I
could've navigated those dank, low corridors with my eyes closed, but for
some reason, every little crack in the concrete held new interest. The
scents of dampness and rust and mildew were unusually sharp, even for me.
My senses were spiking, my body reacting in a dull panic to what my mind
had calmly planned.
I recognized the noncom outside Stryker's office. What was his name--Lynum?
No, *Lyman*. Not much more than a kid, but a lot too bright for his own
good. I'd gotten an idea Stryker was grooming him to be his chief toady
someday. He was more boy scout than black ops, and didn't seem like the
type for this work to me. I'd gotten him drunk a few times, trying to
figure him out, but he always passed out before he could give me any
revelations about himself.
Those nights spent with the bottle were the only times he wasn't terrified
"The Major in there?" I asked him, rolling my eyes toward the door.
Lyman was too much of a good little tin soldier to fidget, but his own eyes
shifted. "Yes sir."
I managed not to laugh at the "sir" business; funny calling an animal that.
He knew perfectly well that was what I was, too. He never hid his contempt
for me, even through all that fear. I liked him for that. One day he was
going to really grow up, and find out what it was to make people fear
*him*--and then he'd be a force to reckon with.
When I finally went berzerk on these people, I decided I'd kill him last.
For now, I had other business to take care of. Without bothering to answer
him or even to knock, I stepped past him and barged through the door into
The Major looked up from the report in his hands as the red folder hit the
desk, making a vaguely satisfying *thwack*.
He stared down at it for a moment, then up at me. His lips quirked in an
expression of surprised intrigue, but before he could make the snarky
comment that had to be coming, I held up my hand.
"One condition, Stryker."
His eyes narrowed and he sat back, but poker faces don't work too well when
the guy in front of you can just about *smell* what you're feeling. He was
suspicious of the catch.
I didn't feel like it, but I sat down, leaning across the desk to stare him
in the eye. "I've seen how you make Swiss cheese outta the brains of the
ones I bring back alive. I don't know how you do it, and I don't want to
know. But I want you to do the same for me.
"I want you to wipe my memory."
Stryker fell back in his chair, his eyebrows hiking up and lips twisting in
amusement. It was an expression I didn't like one little bit.
"*All* of your memories," he asked slowly, "or just the ones of *her*?"
That was the moment when our understanding of each other became perfect.
I'd betrayed him. He knew it, I knew it, and my fate was already sealed. I
just surprised him by choosing the means to the end.
"All," I answered tersely, still meeting his gaze.
His crooked smile hardened a little. He had no more use for my mind; it was
a liability now. I'd betrayed him once, and I could do it again. Maybe
more. Maybe kill him before he could find Yuriko--because I knew he would,
sooner or later. As a mutant hunter, he was second only to me.
He had no way to know that I wouldn't stop him. Yuriko had killed me, by
loving me and making me love in return. I wouldn't spare her
couldn't live without her. And I couldn't face her if they let her live--if
they brought her here, and changed her from the woman I had loved. Oblivion
would be better than that, for both of us.
So take this living corpse, Doctor Frankenstein, but kill whatever is left
of the soul within.
If he didn't, sooner or later, I would kill him. It was as simple as that,
and he knew it.
Stryker steepled his fingers, not quite smirking at me over their tips.
"There's no guarantee you'll survive the procedure." An empty warning,
because in his mind too, I was already dead.
"Just try and kill me." Less than a challenge, but spoken with just enough
defiance to let us both pretend it wasn't the desperate plea that it was.
At last he leaned forward, forcing me to pull back and give him space. He
reached out, placing his hands almost reverently on top of the red folder,
and gazed at me with clear, cold intent.
It was all the answer I needed.
Outside the door of his office, I stopped, staring down at my fist as I
trailed three fingers over the spaces between the knuckles. Once more, I
tried to imagine the claws--only this time, I imagined them at Stryker's
Whatever monster he created of me, I hoped it would have more guts than I did.
© 2003 Jordanna Morgan - http://www.jordanna.net