Professor Xavier gave each of us in his advanced literature class an extra credit assignment: keep a journal of your life for the next month. Write at least once every two days, a minimum of one page, both sides, and make sure it's legible. The journals are due at the end of the semester and are worth at least twenty extra credit points. The Professor said that, in addition to raising some of our borderline grades, he believes that these journals will really give him the opportunity to get inside our heads, to see what we really think. Honestly though, if the Prof really wanted to get inside our heads, we all know that there would be no stopping the world's strongest telepath. But, my grade is only two points away from an A, and I figure doing this assignment will give me some cushion points for the final come Christmastime, so here goes nothing…
Where to start? I mean, what does the Professor not know about me? After all the shit that's happened over these past years, I'm amazed that the man hasn't died of heart failure on my account. But I don't want to write pages on past events that everyone knows about already. I've been asked to tell the story of Liberty Island more times than I can count by various members of the student body; after all, to them it's just a fantastical adventure story. I mean, picture it: the misfit girl runs away from home, meets up with a reluctant hero, is kidnapped by the bad guy, and is saved by said reluctant hero after he willingly sacrifices his own life for her. The thing is, no one seems to understand that there are some painful memories scrambled into that saga…actually, the entire thing was one huge nightmare. It felt like some terrible dream that I couldn't wake up from, some horrific, awful dream that turned out to be real. Even two years later, sometimes late at night, when the rest of the mansion is sleeping, I still get chills running up and down my spine and a childish sense of paranoia when I'm lying in my bed.
It's times like that when I miss Logan the most. See, when I first touched Logan, a part of him stayed with me in my mind. It wasn't like he was talking to me in my head or anything, it was just this presence, this faint glimmer of him in the back of my brain. Sometimes at night, I would have the same horrible nightmares that he had, the ones about his experience at Alkali Lake. I would wake up screaming, and Kitty and Jubilee told me later that I was kicking and thrashing in my sleep, trying to slice things apart with invisible claws. They never asked what the dreams were about, never pressed the matter, for which I was grateful. I didn't want anyone to know that I still had a bit of Logan locked away in my mind, though they probably guessed as much. Still, there are some things that even mutants will think is weird, and that is one of them.
Somehow though, Logan knew. I'm not sure how, but he knew what I screamed about late at night, whether it was the Liberty Island nightmare, the memories of my family kicking me out of the house when they learned what I was, or his own terrifying snippets of what when on in the depths of the Alkali Lake base. Maybe a little piece of me was in his mind as well, or maybe he just knew me like no one else. I don't know, and I don't really care to be honest.
It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I found him on the porch one summer night, a day or so before he left for Alkali Lake. I had just woken up from another nightmare, one of his this time, and was too scared that it would return if I fell back asleep. So, being as quiet as I could, I slipped out of my dorm and crept downstairs to the veranda, hoping that a breath of fresh air and a look at the myriad of tiny stars would calm my nerves.
When I saw Logan, he was staring out over the lawn, not really looking at anything. He was sitting on one of the benches, leaning against the wall and smoking one of his cigars. He had a look of deep contemplation, and at first I thought he hadn't seen me. I should've known better. "Can't sleep, kid?" he asked me. His voice was quiet in the night, but he wasn't angry with me for walking in on him.
I shook my head. "No," I said softly. Hearing his voice sent my heart into my throat. God, I had such a crush on him when I was a kid. It's kind of comical thinking about it now, the way my stomach used to do an Olympic gymnast's routine when I saw him.
"Me neither," he said as he took another puff of his cigar. He looked at me for the first time and motioned to the seat next to him. I shuffled over in my bare feet, careful to watch out for any of his exposed skin. My old sweater and blue pajama pants covered me well enough, but I suddenly realized that I didn't bring any gloves.
I didn't know what to do. I couldn't very well sit down next to him and risk touching his bare flesh. I stood there stupidly, scuffing my purple painted toes on the rough wood of the floor, trying to think of what to say.
Logan saw my bare hands as well. "You're not gonna hurt me, kid," he said, but I wasn't stupid. The last time he touched me he had nearly died there on top of the Statue of Liberty. He had just gotten out of the med lab a few days ago, and anyone with eyes could see that it still hurt him to move a lot. Wounds take a lot longer to mend when you're stripped of your healing abilities.
I shook my head again. "I don't wanna risk it," I mumbled, suddenly developing a newfound interest in the grain of the wood planks under my bare feet.
Logan sighed. Without a word, he produced a pair of leather gloves and handed them to me. A wave of relief washed over me as I took them and slid them on. They were his motorcycle gloves, black and well worn, and way too big for my hands.
I sat down next to him, and for a while we were just there together in a comfortable silence. His free hand was on his right thigh, and when I looked down, I could just faintly see the raised skin on the back of his hand where the adamantium blades pressed up under his flesh. Suddenly, it was as if I was back in the dream again. I could feel the horrible sensation of those cold blades slicing through the skin between my knuckles in order to get free, the pain it caused each time they were forced out of my body. My stomach heaved involuntarily, and I barely held back the bile that burned into my throat. I could feel the tears cascading down my cheeks. Logan looked at me with compassion and understanding in those brown, usually fierce eyes. He let me sob on the shoulder of his t-shirt, and he gently stroked my hair with his large, calloused hands.
"It's gonna be okay, kid," he whispered to me, his voice low and soothing. "I promise, it's gonna be okay. They're only dreams. They can't hurt you, not while I'm here."
And that's when I realized that he knew. I didn't ask how, I was just so relieved that he knew the torment that I was going through, the overwhelming sense of despair and loneliness that seemed to grip my heart each time I tried to relax. We sat there for an hour at least, maybe more. I never told him about the dreams, he never told me why he couldn't sleep. Something told me that it was for the same reason that I was awake, but I didn't ask. We didn't need to. When we finally went back to our rooms, I fell into my bed, and I realized that I still had his gloves. I slept with them on that night, breathing in scent of cigar smoke, leather, sleepless nights on the road, lonely hours in bars—the indefinable scent of Logan.
God, I miss him so much sometimes. I know he doesn't like to stay, but I wish he'd take me with him to Mexico. Logan relates to me like no one else. Maybe it's because a part of him is still in my head, I don't know, but I just feel safe when I'm with him. I used to feel secure here, but after the attack on the school I've learned that not even the walls of Xavier's Institute for the Gifted are impenetrable. But I know that the Wolverine would never let anything bad happen to me.
If only he'd write, or even call every once in a while, just to say hi. I'd be the happiest girl in the world if he'd just acknowledge the fact that I exist when he's not around. But it'd be the best if he'd come back to the mansion, come back to me, because I sure do miss him.
Jesus Christ, I feel like such an idiot right now. How in the hell'd Xavier get me to do this? I guess it's the same way a person could get me to jump off a cliff without a second thought—the promise of information about my past. That's what Charles said when he gave me this little book, a small, brown leather thing with a loop to hold a pen. It was right after Jean had…after she had died, a month or so later.
I was getting ready to leave again. I never could stay in once place for long, and after Jean's death, the mansion was so depressing I thought I was gonna kill myself if I stayed much longer. (Don't ask me how I planned on killing myself. I mean, I took a bullet to the head for God's sake and was up in five minutes.) I just needed to get out of there, I needed to be the Wolverine again, to go to the farthest reaches of the earth—or at least Mexico. Yeah, Mexico…it'd be a nice change from the freezing temperatures of the iceberg some people call Canada. I'd get some sun, maybe a couple of beautiful Mexican senoritas, and some Jose Cuervo real cheap, just to try and numb the emptiness.
I was packing my bag when I heard a knock on my door. "Yeah?" I called, not really caring who it was, or more importantly, what they wanted.
The door swung open, and there was Professor X in another one of his immaculate business suits (God, does that man own anything but suits?), a small box in his lap. "Good morning, Logan," he said politely, rolling himself in. "I see you're getting ready to leave again. Where do you plan on going this time?" he asked me.
"Mexico," I said as I stuffed another shirt into my bag. "As great as you people are, I gotta get outta here for awhile. I just need a breather."
"You don't have to explain yourself to me, Logan," he said calmly, a small smile on his face. "You're a grown man, you certainly don't need my permission."
Damn right, I thought, but I wasn't mad at the man. You can't really be angry with Charles; he's always so damn composed and peaceful—an exact opposite of me—that everything seems to bounce off of him like water off a rock. Whereas with me, you say one wrong thing and you're liable to have a claw embedded in your gut.
"I have a small gift for you Logan," he told me as he handed me the box. I took it and looked at him, confused. "We'll call it a going away present."
I shrugged and took the lid off the box. Inside was this little brown leather book, with a small silver pen slipped into the loop. I flipped through it, looking at all the blank pages and wondering what in the hell Charles was getting at.
"I have a theory, if you will, Logan," he explained, noting the question in my eyes. "I know that you still have the nightmares, the memories of Alkali Lake that come to you in your subconscious. I believe that if you were to write down these dreams, these suppressed memories, it is possible that seeing them in printed form may draw on an untapped vein of remembrance."
I listened, then looked from Charles' cool features to the little book. "You want me to keep a diary?" I said, with a bit of indignation creeping into my voice.
"Not a diary, Logan," he responded, "but a record of exactly what you can remember about your past, in hopes that seeing those words will bring other memories to light."
Record, diary, journal…it was all the same, Nancy-boy crap to me. I shrugged and tossed the little book on top of my bag. Seemingly satisfied, Xavier smiled and said, "Have a wonderful time in Mexico, Logan. We'll be waiting for you when you return."
After he left, I continued throwing clothes into my bag, burring the "record" under a mountain of wrinkled shirts and socks. Frankly, I had no intention of writing anything whatsoever in this thing, although that idea is pretty much dead, buried, and gone to hell by now.
Waiting for me… I snorted. You didn't have to be a telepath to know that half of the school was scared shitless of me and the other half probably didn't care one way or the other if I left. After all, I never spoke more than a few words to the majority of the students, and they weren't exactly "Hi, how are you?"
And if you look at the staff, I'm not much better in their book either. Charles cares, but then again, that man cares about everyone, which would just give me an immense headache. Why worry about everyone else? Life is complicated enough just trying to get through it, why add a million other people's problems to your mind? It's better to look out for me and me alone...maybe lonelier, but definitely better in the long run…
And Scott, well good ol' One Eye can't stand me anyway. Never did sit well with him that I had a thing for his wife, although she always stayed true to him. Lucky bastard had himself one of the finest women in the world, too good for me I suppose. As for the rest of the staff, Ororo and the New Blue Duo, Kurt and Dr. Hank McCoy, well they know me and they're civil enough, but I got a feeling that they wouldn't cry too hard if I wasn't coming back to the mansion anytime soon.
There is one person who wouldn't like it too much if I never showed up again, though. Marie, God love her, is probably the only person in this world who gives a damn about me. I can still remember back when I first saw her in that bar back in Canada, looking completely lost and forlorn in that ridiculous green cape. She was covered in so much fabric, all I could see was that innocent face and those big brown eyes taking in me about to gut a man with my claws. I could still hear that soft southern whisper asking me for help, for a ride to nowhere.
Jean told me that after the Liberty Island incident, the kid had gotten it into her pretty brown head that I was her savior, her personal Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the line, that hero worship turned into a teenage crush, and though I would never admit it to anyone, I thought it was cute. After all, it was nice to have someone care about what happens to you, even if that someone is a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl.
When I came back to the school this year, there she was, sweet little Marie, the one girl welcome wagon. Two years had passed, and the kid had changed drastically. I couldn't help but notice that she was taller, fuller, and more woman than girl. Even had herself a boyfriend, that little wuss Bobby. That kid wasn't much in my book, unworthy of Marie, to say the least. But it wasn't like they could do anything, no kissing or touching or anything like that. I didn't have anything to worry about; she was still my innocent Marie.
I remember thinking, She's gonna kill me when she finds out I'm leaving again. Of all the people in the world to look up to, she has to have chosen the worst one. But she of all people should know how much I needed to get away. She knows I can't stay in one place for long; I had to get out, I need freedom like most people need water. Wolverines don't do too well inside a cage…
It's been a month since I left Xavier's place, and sure enough, here I am in a cheap, dirty Mexican motel, beer in hand and no relief in sight. Waves of guilt wash over me every time I think about how I left that place, the look of hurt in Marie's brown eyes when I told her I was leaving again. I guess she thought that I was gonna stay now, that Alkali Lake had somehow sealed our little fucked up family together. In reality it had separated me further from the happy little X-men community. I had killed the only man who could've told me the truth about my past, I had turned my back on him and decided to go it alone. Well lemme tell you something: whatever jackass came up with the phrase "Ignorance is bliss" never had to go through life not knowing about his past. Never knowing if he had a family, a wife, kids, what kind of man he was before he was turned into a killing machine. Ignorance isn't bliss; ignorance is torture, hell.
Well Charles, I'm willing to try anything to get rid of this hell, no matter how much I hate the idea of keeping a diary like some little brownnosing schoolboy. So here it goes…
Last night, I saw Marie. It was Liberty Island all over again, and as I held her lifeless body in my arms, all the pain and agony of that moment hit me again like a sledgehammer to the gut. I took off my glove and touched her cheek, silently begging her to come back to me. But instead of absorbing my healing abilities like she was supposed to, I felt myself being sucked into her mind.
Suddenly we were in Alkali Lake, in one of my goddamned nightmares of those torturous experiments. Only instead of me in that tank of green fluids, it was Marie. She was naked, and those pen marks covered her body like some sort of cult tattoo. Her eyes were shut; she looked as if she were dead in that watery coffin. The only thing that told me otherwise was the steady beeping of the EKG behind her, monitoring her vitals. One of those bastards picked up an instrument, and suddenly Marie's eyes flew open. She saw him and began screaming my name, thrashing about in the water. I wanted to help her, but it was like a pane of glass separated us, and no matter how many times I tried to break it down, it remained impenetrable. She continued screaming my name, begging me to save her, but I couldn't.
The gruesome tool came closer and closer to my Marie's face, and just before it touched her cheek, she looked directly at me, her terrified eyes locked with mine and I could hear her say, "You promised they couldn't hurt me…you promised…" And then I woke up.
There you go, Professor. I don't know what astounding information you are gonna get out of that, but I know that all I got was a hell of a lot of pain. Screw this, I'm going out. There's gotta be some place in this decadent town where I can go drown myself in liquor and find me a woman who doesn't care that I don't know her name…just don't let it be Maria.