FIC: Ghosts (Wolverine, 1/1, Rated PG-13)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fan Fiction
Rated PG 13 (a little bit of foul language here)
By Scarlett Burns
Summary: It's not every day that Logan meets a man from his past; especially one who helped turn him into Weapon X.
Author's Notes: This story takes place after X3, and takes into account the backstory revealed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Feedback is greatly appreciated! A big thank you to Iolanthe for beta reading this for me.
Archived at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5141104/1/Ghosts (just in case this doesn't come through right, you can read it here.)
“You know, there’s no point to this,” the older man said. His voice shook as he spoke, belying the nonchalant attitude he was trying to convey.
Sticking a cigar firmly between his lips, he sat down on the barstool next to the old man, not needing an invitation. He took his time answering – he had a lot more time left in this world than the man seated next to him – and took a slow puff off his cigar.
“Sure there is, Bub. Revenge is always a good enough reason for me,” Logan said gruffly. There was no amusement on his face; it was a simple fact. It seemed at times that revenge was the fuel that moved his life forward, yet ironically left him hopelessly caught in the past.
The man gulped; his hand shaking as he lifted his beer and took a long pull. The shaking could have been caused by fear, old age, or a combination of the two. “I bet it seems like a good idea,” he muttered after a moment.
Logan looked at the man, his eyes hard. “What’s that?”
“Killing me,” he stated. His voice had lost some of its initial unease, but Logan knew the man was still scared shitless; he positively stunk of fear.
“Eh,” Logan shrugged. “Thought had crossed my mind.”
The man laughed dryly. “Of course it did. That’s what you do.”
Logan’s frown deepened into a scowl.
I’m the best at what I do, and what I do isn’t very nice.
Simple words; ones he’d said many times. They were true, too. Couldn’t deny that.
Yet, for this man to sit there like he’d done nothing wrong – to have lived his whole life normally after what they’d done to him – made a hot rage burn from deep inside him.
They’d taken what life he’d made for himself – they’d taken his wife, his hope, and his mind away. They’d lived their lives while he searched for answers; searched for who he was, what he was, and what he’d done.
At least he’d gotten one thing back; his memories.
It made all the difference in the world… yet, none at all.
He flexed his fingers out and took a deep, calming breath in an effort to contain his rage… and lethal adamantium claws. He summoned the bartender with a gesture, and ordered a full-bodied Canadian beer.
They both sat there silently as the bartender went to fetch his beer, returning only a few seconds later. Logan nodded in thanks and took a long swig. Setting the bottle down heavily, he finally returned his gaze to the man beside him.
The son of a bitch sat there like he hadn’t been a part of turning him into the most successful human weapon the military had ever seen.
He’d certainly outlived the others, thanks to his damn healing factor. A curse. A blessing. It depended on the day.
“You wanted a weapon, General,” he finally said, and the anger in his voice colored his words a bit more than he would have wished. “You got one.”
At his words, the General turned to look at him – truly look at him – for the first time since he’d arrived. He frowned, then turned back to his beer and looked deep into the dregs. “I’m not so sure.”
“You were there.” How could he not be sure?
“I watched you die.”
Logan, who had been reaching for his beer, nearly tipped it over in his surprise. He saved it before the bottle tipped completely, righting it again. “Huh?”
The man didn’t seem to hear him, and continued as if Logan hadn’t said anything. “… then I watched everyone else die.”
Logan knew what the man was referring to now. He’d killed many, and spared few, in his rage.
In his fear. He could admit that. At least to himself.
Yet even after everything they’d done to him, he still felt something resembling guilt when he thought of those soldier’s faces as he tore through them in a mindless rage.
He picked up his beer as if looking at it, but really he was thinking back to a single day twenty years ago. “Shit, least you could’ve done was do me a favor and do the job right.”
The man beside him was silent.
Logan downed more of his beer.
The General did the same, before setting down his empty beer glass and turning towards him.
No, not towards him; he was preparing to come face to face with the Wolverine.
The General’s expression was that of acceptance, and nothing more.
This man was a soldier, through and through.
Logan of all people should have understood. He’d fought more wars than any one person had a right to fight, and had been a soldier almost his entire life; even before Weapon X.
Yet it bothered him that this man didn’t truly understand what he’d helped take from his life forever. He expected nothing from Stryker when he tied him up and left him for dead at Alkali Lake. So why was it so important that the General who’d approved of the Weapon X program understand? Why did he even expect him too?
“Somehow I knew I hadn’t seen the last of you, Weapon X,” he said at last, quietly, so no one around could hear.
Logan set down his beer.
So that was it. This man still thought of him as nothing more than their creation. But he’d escaped that fate. He’d fought that instinct and rage and against all odds he hadn’t turned out a cold-blooded killer… a fate that his brother had befallen.
Quicker than the General could comprehend, Logan grabbed him by his shirt collar and yanked him close, pulling him off the barstool he’d been sitting on so that they were practically nose to nose.
“Let’s get one thing straight, Bub. My name is James,” he growled. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t use Logan, other than Logan was just another lie, and he wanted this man to know the truth. No… he needed him to know the truth. “You call me Weapon X again, and I will gut you,” he added.
The statement held more truth than he cared to admit.
He shoved the man back into his barstool with so much force the old man almost went over the top of it and off the back. Logan turned away and stubbed out his cigar on the bar. Everything seemed louder now, his senses heightened from the rush of adrenaline. He flexed his hands again, then picked up his beer and finished it off.
Maybe they were right. Maybe he was a killer, because right now he wanted nothing more to tear this man’s throat out.
He could too, and it would take no more effort than breathing, and no more time than a single second. This man could be dead before he even knew he was being attacked.
His hands became fists, and his knuckles turned white. The old fool next to him tensed at the action, but Logan had no intension of killing the man right here and now, and no interest in proving the man right.
He closed his eyes, breathing through his nose and exhaling through his mouth, forcing himself to calm down. When he opened his eyes and looked at the General again, he saw a new expression there; surprise.
So the General wasn’t without feeling after all.
Rage was once again replaced by the incredible urge for this man to know what he’d done… and who – not what – he’d done it to.
Now of all times he was in a position to tell the General. He remembered it all now – courtesy of Jean Grey mere seconds before her death – or had his stolen memories been a gift from the Phoenix?
It certainly would be a gift worthy of the Phoenix’s rage. But ironically enough, it could have been worthy of Jean’s caring as well.
It just all depended on the way one looked at it. Even he had a different take on it, depending on the day; his memories were both a blessing and a burden. He had a lot of bad stuff locked up in his mind, but it was all a part of him just the same, and he felt more complete for knowing.
Life was the biggest bitch, and he didn’t know it any other way. Perhaps it was childish of him, or perhaps it was just borne of desperation, but he needed someone to see that he wasn’t just an animal. That he wasn’t something less than human.
Even if he wasn’t so sure of the fact himself.
The bartender interrupted his thoughts, asking if he would like another beer. Logan nodded, and was quickly rewarded with a fresh bottle.
He spoke quietly to the General, then, and let his emotion show through. “You tried to ruin my life – to take away my memories and turn me into nothin’ more than a weapon. Did you even know my name? Who I was?”
The General didn’t look up. “Stryker called you Logan. That’s all I knew.” After a moment, he added, “It was easier that way.”
“Easier to sleep at night, General?” Logan asked with a grim smile, taking a swig from his fresh beer.
The General looked at him, but there was something in his expression, a new fear. After a moment, Logan thought he understood.
He was afraid Logan would tell him.
If he wasn’t the revenge-driven type, he’d walk away right now. The General was right, after all. There was no point to this.
No point but to dig up past pain, and deal a new dose of it, if for the last time. If he wasn’t the revenge-driven type – if he could let go of the past – he’d just get up right now, and walk out of the bar.
But in over one hundred and seventy years he’d never known the meaning of just “letting it go”. At this point, he doubted that would ever change. It was an instinct ingrained into him since he was a young boy, driving his newly discovered claws into his drunken father’s chest.
His mind reverted back to the eighteen hundreds, when he was a young boy in a small manor set deep into the Canadian woods. “I was a sickly boy. Bedridden most of the time,” he muttered, almost to himself. “Odd.”
He shook his head, then turned his attention back to the General. “I had a wife, a house, a job… you not only took that away from me, you made sure I wouldn’t remember it.”
The man looked a little confused. “We never succeeded in taking away your memory. You escaped first.”
Logan cocked an eyebrow. “Stryker finished the job.”
The General switched the subject. “You volunteered,” he said, but didn’t sound completely convinced of the fact.
“I volunteered to have the strength to take down my brother, only to find out the whole thing had been a fucking setup. I didn’t volunteer to be an experiment – to become Weapon X – with no memory of who I was. I didn’t volunteer to become your killing machine.”
Logan smiled slowly, and it wasn’t a pleasant smile. “I fought to keep my mind. You remember that.” It wasn’t a question.
The General nodded. “Hard to forget something like that,” he whispered.
Logan drank more beer, but never knew what it was to feel its mind altering effects. He wished that someday he’d know, that someday his healing factor wouldn’t deny him the ability to dull his senses and slip into a blissfully unaware stupor.
“Even after Stryker an’ Weapon X, after one hundred and seventy years of fightin’ came and went, James Howlett couldn’t be destroyed.” He looked the General dead in the eye. “Guess I got the last laugh, eh?”
The old man looked up, clearly shocked by his true age. He’d told no one that he remembered, and consequently no one knew how old he really was. Even those at the Xavier Institute were kept in the dark about that. Those who would have known telepathically were dead and the ones left like Ororo and Beast knew not to pry when he was so clearly busy cutting himself off from the world.
They’d thought it was because of Jean.
Perhaps he’d be ready to tell them soon. Perhaps it was time to tell them who they’d been living with for the past few years. It was unfair to keep it from them, yet, he hadn’t been ready to tell; he had to come to terms with it first, before he could ask others too.
Oddly enough, sharing as little as he was with this man who’d worked hard to destroy him was bringing him a step closer to that.
“Yeah, I guess you do, James,” the man said with a sad chuckle that held no humor. “We spent half a billion dollars making you indestructible, tried to destroy you as soon as you escaped, and only succeeded in making it impossible for us to do so. How’s that for poetic justice?”
“Fuckin’ poetry at its finest, if you ask me.” It was ridiculous, and rather funny, when he thought of it.
The General stood up slowly. “My name’s Michael. I can’t say it was a pleasure meeting you, James… but it was enlightening.”
“Sounds like a good description if you ask me.”
Michael put some money down on the bar to cover both tabs. At Logan’s hitched up eyebrow, the man explained. “Figured a drink is about the most insignificant thing I can do for you.” Then, he walked straight out of the bar.
Logan had to admit that he was taken aback by the General’s abrupt departure. He sat there for a moment, before chugging the rest of the beer and following after him.
Michael was waiting for him outside, underneath a street lamp, not far from the entrance of the bar.
“How did you find me?” he asked as Logan walked up to him. The night was cold, and the bar was not very full on a Tuesday, so they were practically alone as they regarded one another.
“Didn’t,” Logan grudgingly admitted, having totally stumbled upon the General by chance. He took out another cheap cigar and lit up. He inhaled it deeply, and exhaled long and slow. The anger towards this man still stirred in him – he was no saint – but he felt somehow… relieved by their encounter.
“For what it’s worth – which is probably nothing – I tried to stop him,” Michael said, looking out into the parking lot. “Found out about his son; everything that had happened to his family. It had warped him. Compromised the operation. It was too personal, and he’d taken it too far. After he ordered the doctor to wipe your memory… I knew there was more to it than what he’d told us. Unfortunately, by that time he’d almost completed Weapon XI.”
“Wade,” Logan muttered, and Michael gave him a hard look.
“Not anymore.” Logan nodded almost imperceptibly, and Michael gave him a curious look. “I heard that Stryker’s dead.”
“Did you have anything to do with that?”
Logan exhaled a deep drag; smoke surrounded them both, reminding him of a battlefield. “What do you think?” he asked after a moment, choosing to keep his eyes trained on the battered Chevy in front of him rather than looking into the General’s questioning gaze.
They both lapsed into silence once more, neither one having anything else to say.
Logan turned to the General to say just that, only to discover the General was gone.
He blinked before completing a full three-sixty.
Gone. It was like he’d vanished into thin air.
Logan shook his head. No one got past his senses with such stealth. Could the General have been a mutant too? That wasn’t possible, was it?
He took another hit off his cigar, dumbfounded, before he headed towards his truck parked along the side of the bar.
He only made it a few steps when he noticed a kid standing at the corner of the building. Approaching a bit slower than before, he saw it was a young boy – about ten years old – with odd eyes that seemed to catch the light like a wild animal; only these eyes were a strange electric blue.
“Sorry, Mister,” the boy all but whispered, his head looking down at the concrete.
Logan stopped in front of the kid, frowning. “What are you sorry for, kid?”
The boy rung his hands nervously, not daring to look up as he answered. “The man.”
Thoroughly confused, Logan looked back towards the spot where he’d been talking to the General a minute ago. No one was there.
“I can’t control it real well,” the kid said, as if trying to explain.
Furrowing his brow, he returned his gaze to the boy. “You make him disappear?”
He may have looked a bit more intimidating than he’d meant too, because the boy’s eyes widened. “I-I made him appear,” he stuttered, clearly scared of Logan’s less than friendly demeanor.
Logan chomped down on his cigar and kneeled in front of the boy. “Can you teleport people?” he asked, trying to be a little less intimidating.
The kid shook his head again. “No, Mister.”
“What then?” he asked, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder.
The kid finally looked up at him. “Did you like that man?”
“Not really,” Logan admitted. “We just had a score to settle.”
The boy’s lips trembled slightly, and he shivered in the cold. Grumbling about kids and their fragile nature he took off his leather jacket and hung it over the kid’s shoulders.
“That’s good. I mean, that you weren’t friends or anything,” the kid continued. “’Cause he isn’t around no more.”
Logan took the cigar out of his mouth, confusion written across his face. “Eh? What’s that, kid?”
The kid’s eyes shifted around nervously, as if looking for anyone who might be listening. “He’s dead, Mister,” he finally said, and Logan could smell the kid’s fear. He wasn’t sure if the boy was afraid of his power, or of what Logan might do now that he knew.
Logan rocked back on his heels, exhaling cigar smoke. The surprised look on his face seemed to make the kid’s eyes water up, and Logan quickly tried to reassure him.
“Isn’t you, kid. It’s just surprisin’ is all.”
The boy seemed to calm a little at that, and Logan thought it safe to ask, “Why?”
Shrugging, the boy shook his head. “I don’t have any control over who visits who.”
Logan sighed and shook his head. “A kid who can bring back dead people. Great,” he muttered, but despite his grumbling his decision was made. “I’m Logan. You got a name or what?”
Nearing two hundred years old and he still wasn’t any better at being social. Maybe it was a lost cause after all.
“Aaron,” he answered, sniffling a little from the cold.
“You got a place to go?”
Aaron studied him for a minute before shaking his head.
Logan stood up. “There’s a school… it ain’t far… it’s for people like us. I’m a teacher there.”
OK, so he’d been gone for months without word to them and only taught self defense and danger room courses part time when he was crashing at the Institute, but he didn’t know how else to get the boy to feel comfortable enough to come with him.
The kid didn’t miss his implication when he’d said people like us, and his eyes widened.
“It’s safe,” Logan reassured, and finally the kid nodded. Most likely, he had nowhere else to go.
Logan started towards his truck again, thinking about the school. The Institute just wasn’t the same now that Professor X was gone. Hell, Jean and One-Eye too.
He heard the kid’s quick footsteps run to catch up with him and they walked the rest of the way to his truck in silence.
The X-men had taken a lot of casualties lately, just like any band of soldiers. Just like any war.
The Institute remained a safe haven for mutants though, courtesy of Ororo. He respected her for that. This little boy certainly could use the sanctuary, as could hundreds – hell, thousands – of others.
He couldn’t help but wonder what his life would be like had he found a place like Xavier’s to run to when he was a kid.
Would he have still spent his whole life fighting?
Logan sighed. Thoughts like that would get him nowhere.
Like the General said, there was no point to it. None at all.
Logan started up the truck, the kid in the seat next to him, clutching a small duffle bag. At least he could help the runt, if only to take him to a place where he’d be accepted and leave it at that.
He wasn’t a nanny, after all.
When he dropped the kid off, perhaps the opportunity would be right, and he’d find the courage to tell them who he really was.