FIC: Haunted (1/1, Rated T, Wolverine and Storm)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Fan Fiction
Rated PG 13 (a little bit of foul language here)
By Scarlett Burns
Summary: When the past haunts you sometimes you can't ever truly go home... unless, of course, there is a change in the weather. Sequel to previous one-shot, Ghosts.
Author's Notes: First, another thanks to Iolanthe for beta reading this for me! This is a companion to my previous one-shot, Ghosts. If you haven't read that, this will leave you feeling a bit lost. Movie-wise, this story takes place after X3, and takes into account some of the backstory revealed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I don't own any recognizable characters. Oh, and feedback is always appreciated too. ;) Enjoy!
Ghosts is archived at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5141104/1/Ghosts
Haunted is also archived at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5452587/1/Haunted
"Leave me alone," Logan grumbled, closing his eyes and refusing to look at her as he forced himself to focus on the quiet surrounding him; a strong breeze rushed past him, dry leaves rustled on the trees, water trickled down a nearby fountain and not one single sound of violence or mayhem for as far as his ears could hear.
Hell, it was almost a perfect moment, save for the lack of activity and the ghost that seemed determined to disrupt what semblance of peace he could find.
Can't get everything ya wish for.
A hand gently touched his shoulder, and then slid across his back in an all too familiar touch.
It felt fuckin' real smelled fuckin' real.
But he knew better.
Opening his eyes to the cold reality of the solid stone monument in front of him he felt the touch fade away as he squinted into the brightness of the afternoon sun.
Shit. He couldn't stay here long with that runt around; he had to be nearby, even now. His close proximity wouldn't be such a nuisance if it weren't for the fact that he had more ghosts chasing him than trees in the forest.
He'd earned every one of `em, too; ghosts and enemies tended to accumulate, especially when life was abnormally long and your job was to kill.
Death, torture, pain, betrayal, war, love, hate it all left its mark. Nearing two centuries worth of it was certainly enough to drive anyone to solitude. Wasn't exactly like he'd lived the cushy life.
You will suffer more pain than any man can endure.
Yeah, the life of the privileged.
"Leave me alone," Logan said again, this time to a very alive and real woman who'd just - unfortunately - saw fit to grace him with her presence.
He silently reminded himself that he didn't need anyone. He'd been alone for much of his long life. He'd just returned from being alone for several months. He knew better than anyone that being alone didn't guarantee safety, or happiness, or peace of mind.
But it sure as hell could prevent collateral damage.
Way he saw it, you couldn't stop nuclear fallout after an atomic bomb, but you could choose the location that you dropped it. You either drop it on some remote island, or down a chimney like old Father Christmas in a city teeming with people.
`Yo fuckin' Ho Ho Ho.'
Logan preferred the former. It was a bitch to regenerate after a nuclear blast.
"So why did you come back if you want to be alone?"
He sighed. Ororo. Did she have to butt in on him today? Normally they kept their distance from each other; allowed one another their space, their moods, their secrets, and their silence.
Why did she have to choose now to break their unspoken agreement? Why today, this moment, when he felt the cage around the beast inside him weaken and groan under the strain of his thoughts?
"To drop the little runt off," Logan said gruffly, not bothering to face her.
"That doesn't explain why you're here," she stated, settling down into the grass beside him.
Shit. She's hunkerin' down.
Shooting her a thoroughly pissed off glare, Logan stuffed his cigar back into his mouth and chomped down on it irritably.
She was right, of course. He could very well have dropped the kid off and jumped right back into his truck or even jacked Cyclops' bike to lift his spirits and high-tailed it out of there.
Instead here he was, on the Institute grounds, sitting in front of the Professor's grave and desperately trying to shoo away his relentless and ever-present ghosts.
If the Government could just see their precious Weapon X now they'd shit themselves, then demand their millions back for the failure. Too bad for them he didn't come with a money back guarantee.
Taking another hit off his cigar and staring straight ahead, his eyes fell from the Professor's stone bust to his epitaph. He said nothing to `Ro; he had nothing to say.
He hoped she would just leave him be. Leave him alone and isolated like the animal he was.
A minute had passed, or maybe fifteen. Who the fuck knew, really? He'd lost himself in his newly discovered self while staring at the stone bust of the very man who'd helped and no doubt, helped hinder his efforts to discover who he truly was. Logan couldn't fault him for that; Xavier had shown him more kindness in the short time they'd known each other than he'd seen for a good chunk of his life.
Xavier had given him a home.
A home and even a family; something he hadn't experienced in fifteen years no, more like twenty now. Damn, maybe longer than that.
Fuck if he knew what to do with a home or family; not since he was a kid and his claws erupted from his knuckles for the first time. He'd immediately put his new-found claws to lethal use as they plunged deep into a murderer's chest and instantly becoming one himself.
He rubbed a tired hand across his face. His joints ached all over; stiff, weighted, unnatural. He never told anyone how much the adamantium made its presence known every moment in his life. He hadn't wanted to admit that when he wasn't fighting he ached like an old geezer or explain how he tolerated the constant, dull pain of living with such unnatural additions, tolerated the pain every time he popped his deadly claws, and barely survived the agony when his body pulled him back from death and repaired itself one cell and nerve ending at a time.
Healin' ain't easy. Even for a man like him. Besides, he had no choice in the matter. He was stuck with the shit in his life more than most, cursed with a more permanent fate.
Another hit off his cigar; a small breeze became present, shifting directions, the smoke now drifting heavily to his right.
Xavier's tombstone stood before him, seeming bigger than it was only a minute ago, the view unobstructed from cigar smoke or casted shadows.
So many questions had plagued him once he'd finished reeling from the shock of his own memories. Only one question bothered him, though. His whole lifetime now known and just one solitary question sat on the edge of his tongue, waiting to be asked.
"Did you know?" Logan whispered; afraid of what the answer would have been, desperate to hear the reassurance that would never come from his dead friend. He closed his eyes and ran a hand through his untamed hair. Sadness tinged the sigh that escaped his lips while gruesome images replayed in his mind; things he'd done without thought or control things he'd done with both thought and control.
Worst of it was he wasn't sure he was sorry for any of it. Not the fightin' and killin'. The fightin' needed to be done and those dead begged for the killin'.
But a good man a good man doesn't feel a thrill as he kills. A good man would only kill when necessary and feel regret for the doin' of it.
Even as a part of the X-Men now he was on the good team, but that didn't make him one of the good guys.
"Did you know what you took into your home, your school, that day?" he asked quietly, voice gravelly from pent up emotions struggling to break free.
A gust of wind brought her scent to him, and he realized that he'd gotten lost inside his own head; an occurrence happening with disturbing regularity these days. Ororo was to his left, still sitting a few feet away. She'd never left.
She'd been sitting there silent as the air around him, listening and watching.
Despite himself, he shivered almost imperceptibly from the sensation. Years of being a lab rat and test subject and wanted man couldn't be erased overnight and when someone studied him so thoroughly he couldn't help the chill that danced down his spine, reminding him of past horrors, and the dangers that could lie behind such intense scrutiny.
As the edginess began to set in he mentally told himself that this was no government man, nor mutant hater or enemy out for revenge; it was Ororo Munroe. He forced himself to let the air out of his lungs, and then sucked in a new batch of air for good measure and steadier nerves.
"Logan," she started hesitantly, realizing he'd finally remembered her presence, and no doubt sensing his unease.
He cut her off without a single glance in her direction. "Don't," he said firmly. "You don't know. Neither did he."
A long silence stretched between them, and it was suddenly a little more windy then it had been when he'd first come outside.
"Neither did you," Ororo said with renewed interest. There was a clear question in her tone, and Logan finally met her gaze for the first time since she'd approached.
"Things change," he said, grinding the cigar between his teeth, now more out of nervous habit than anger. He really wasn't ready to talk about this... about himself.
Nothin' to say, really, when it came down to it. Nothin' good anyway.
Her sharp intake of breath told her that she got what he was saying, as well as the look in her eyes; they were filled with curiosity, excitement and fear.
He was glad to see fear there. He deserved it. He earned it. But the fact of the matter was, he shouldn't see it on his teammate's face; so the well earned fear gave him no real satisfaction just a growing heaviness in the pit of his stomach.
Ya don't belong here, old man.
He wasn't happy to see her curiosity either. How could he explain the fuck-up the curse that had been his life without her seeing him as a monster? He may deserve it, but he sure as hell didn't want it. Even worse, he didn't know if he could take it, at least right now.
Not when everything was so fresh in his mind and his normally buried emotions were so raw and close to the surface.
Again, they'd lapsed into silence. One thing he respected about Ororo; she could appreciate silence as much as he. Silence was soothing to his mind and so her comfort in it was also soothing.
But all good things come to an end and sooner for him than most so when she asked, "Who are you really, Logan?" a great thing had certainly died a pitiful death.
"What? You want me to go David Copperfield on you? Darlin', I'm a little bit too old and impatient to make it fit in a book that size and what I got to write ain't fit for the little kiddies."
She smiled; rare to see in these days after all the death and fighting. "I thought maybe your name your real, full name would be a good place to start."
Logan's tense muscles relaxed slightly. His name. It sounded like such an easy thing to say.
Perhaps that request he could fulfill.
Yet to introduce himself to someone he'd known and worked with for years brought home the fact that they'd all gone through a lot together without knowing much if anything about each other at all.
Especially when it came to him; they didn't even know his name.
Of course, neither had he.
It took a lot of trust, and a lot of guts on their part, to ask him to be a part of the team. Especially with someone like him.
Dangerous loners with mysterious pasts and violent tendencies didn't tend to make good bedfellows, generally speakin'.
He smiled a little. "You all brought me into the X-Men, yet never even knew my real name." He shook his head, disbelievingly. "Don't know why ya did. Best I can tell you were needin' the muscle. Scott's not exactly the intimidatin' type."
Ororo laughed, and he made his decision.
His teammates deserved to know his name, at least. After all, they had entrusted him with their lives and reputations.
Logan stubbed out his cigar and met her eyes.
"James Howlett," he said with a quick nod.
Her mouth formed an `O' of surprise, then a genuine smile graced her lips.
Well shit, maybe he was ready after all. Old as we was, he could still be surprised.
"So why Logan?" she asked.
He smiled ruefully and turned back to the Professor's grave. "I was done being James. Done being a soldier."
Ororo raised a disbelieving eyebrow and he chuckled, but the sound was tinged with a hint of sadness.
"Been one all my life. At the time I was tired of the killin', tired of war. Hard to believe comin' from me I'm not good for much else but even I need a little R&R, even if it means cuttin' down trees for a while instead of people. As for the name, Logan was a reminder of things I didn't want to forget." He paused, and then added with a smirk, "too bad I forgot that."
Ororo pulled up her knees and wrapped her arms around them as she studied him for a minute in silence. She seemed to know he didn't want to explain his name any more than that, so instead she asked, "So you became Logan to become a new person?"
"I became Logan `cause I wanted to be a different person than who I was."
There were other reasons as well, of course. He was far older than any man could naturally live and so he'd had to change his name several times in his life but he'd always held on to his first name, until he tried to become a different man; a better one.
Took him a hundred or so years to try, and even then it was a short ride on the normal man's bus. Couple years, and then he'd be thrown into it all over again, with far worse consequences than before.
Turns out, he could change his name as much as he want could have changed his name to Mary for all it mattered he was still the same old son-of-a-bitch through and through, packaged with a different label.
He blinked, looking at her again. "What?"
"Were you a different person?"
Shaking his head, Logan shrugged. "Nah, but it sure felt good pretendin' to be an average Joe."
Ororo, who'd been listening intently, began to crack a smile. When he finished it split wide open.
"What?" he asked, confused by her reaction.
She laughed out right. "Just the thought of you being an average Joe "
He found himself chuckling too. It did sound ridiculous yet, sometimes it was what he yearned for the most; the unattainable satisfaction of a need fulfilled.
Even before his mutation had activated, he'd been a frail kid unable to play and act as other kids; he hadn't been normal. Once his mutation had activated he was unable to die or age as normal people, or even as most mutants. Now there was the Cure an option Rogue had taken to end her isolation yet even that option was taken from him, thanks to Weapon X.
He could guess how long he'd live with all this adamantium coating his bones without his mutation. He knew what it was like when men died of lead or metal poisoning seen it a time or two in wars wasn't pretty, and not particularly quick and painless either.
To live a normal, average life was not an option for him. Hadn't been, never would be. He knew it better than anyone, but that didn't keep him from longing for it every day.
Already Xavier, Jean and Scott were gone. Eventually, everyone else would follow and he would be the one left standin'.
He was always the one left standin'.
Ororo's hand touched his own tentatively; she'd noticed his darkening mood. Damn it. He pulled his hand away.
"What is it?" she asked.
His eyes shifted from his fidgeting hands, to her, to Xavier's tombstone. "Xavier, Jean and Scott are the first. One day, it'll be you, another day Rogue, and another Beast. Me?" His voice dropped, barely above a whisper. "I keep goin', and I keep goin' alone." He looked at her. "Get what I'm saying, Darlin'?"
Judging by the sadness reflected in her eyes, she understood more than she did a minute ago, but didn't answer his question directly. "Do you feel alone, now?"
Logan bowed his head and closed his eyes, shaking his head in dismay. He couldn't answer how could he say that he felt like family and an outsider at the same time? She was probably thinking he couldn't get close because of what he was sayin' but the truth of it was, he only wished for that to be the case.
"You can have a home, James, if you let yourself."
His head snapped up to meet her gaze. There it was. James. Out loud. It had been a very long time since someone uttered his real, full first name; not Jimmy or Wolverine or Logan or any of the others.
"I'm not that man anymore," he said quietly.
She shook her head. "You've always been that man, and I don't believe that man was as horrible as you make him out to be."
"I don't know what you've done in the past, but a man doesn't change enough to become good in his heart like you are simply by losing his memory or changing his name."
She sounded so sure, but so had many others before he'd brought on their deaths.
"I'm far from a good guy."
Her comeback was quick. "I know that you aren't a bad one."
Again, she was so sure; almost made him feel better.
"You're damn annoying when you start talkin'."
"You're a little philosophical for a man who kicks ass for a living."
She smiled, and after a moment he found a smirk to give her in return. Shrugging, he replied, "Works for the furball."
"Perhaps, but it doesn't suit your bad boy image."
Logan raised an eye at that, and she laughed as she stood up and stretched stiff muscles. She turned away from him, and looked at Xavier's stone likeness. After short contemplation she gestured towards his tombstone with an elegant hand, turning and looking him in the eye.
"Just so you know he knew."
Then Ororo turned and walked away, not saying another word as she left him alone with his thoughts.
Funny, the thought of bein' alone didn't sound so great, anymore.
He bit down on his cigar and fished out his lighter. Lighting up his cigar he tipped his head towards Xavier's tombstone, knowing full well the Professor hated his cheap cigar habit.
"Well Bub, I hope ya knew, `cause I'm a pain in the ass to get rid of " he said ruefully, taking a puff from his cigar. " once I decide to stick around."