Logan was silent as they walked back through the tunnel. Hank and Kurt were waiting for them. "The guards are still locked up, safe and sound," Kurt reported. "But I can't imagine a place as sophisticated as this operating in total isolation."
"I agree," Hank added. "We may be in the clear for now, but with all the destruction we've caused in these facilities, we can expect more soldiers to arrive sooner, rather than later. Scott, we need to get out of here."
"We're going to Boston," Scott replied. He called Rogue and Jubilee over from where they'd be attending to the mutants that had been freed. Quickly, he filled everyone in on what he'd learned about the investigation of the school. "We can't bring all these people there now, and as far as we know, Kitty, Jubilee, Rogue and Logan are still considered fugitives."
"How are we going to get all these people to Boston?" Rogue asked. There were a few vehicles around, but nowhere near enough room to fit 30 newly freed mutants.
"There's a cell phone in our car," Scott replied, referring to the one he'd driven up in with Hank and Kurt. "I'll call Storm and get her to bring the jet as soon as she's able."
"With the school under investigation, won't it be dangerous to bring the jet out?" Kurt queried.
"Yes, but I don't think we have any other choice," Scott replied. He looked around at the other mutants, finally finding the one he was looking for. "Logan," he called, "It isn't safe for you and the girls to stay here. Take the car that Bobby brought and head for Boston. We'll meet you there."
Logan had been standing apart from the rest of the group, his face shadowed in the dim light. He hadn't yet spoken and didn't speak now, merely nodding his head in acquiescence to Scott's command. With a pointed look at Kitty, Jubilee and Rogue, he turned on his heel and walked back toward the tunnel. The girls hurried to follow him.
Once they were out of sight, Kurt looked at Scott, troubled. "What is wrong with Logan?" he asked quietly.
Scott shook his head. "I don't know," he replied, at a loss. "He's been like that ever since..."
"Ever since he killed Sabretooth," Bobby cut in. He hadn't meant to be listening in on the adults' conversation, but the group was huddled together, so he couldn't help but overhear.
Scott turned to face the youth. "What happened?" he asked.
Bobby shrugged. "I don't know, exactly. We – we saw the base and we pulled up to it in your car. Kitty phased me through the walls and we almost got stuck. She kind of had to tug us through. The next thing I knew, we were all in a pile with Logan and Sabretooth. I don't know what they were doing before that, but once we fell in, Sabretooth grabbed me and Logan had to kill him."
"Logan hates Sabretooth," Hank sounded as puzzled as Scott felt. "Why on earth would he be upset about killing him?"
Once again Scott was at a loss to answer. He could only repeat what he'd said before: "I don't know."
Logan stalked down the tunnel, his body a picture of barely controlled fury. The girls stumbled over their own feet behind him, trying to keep up.
"Logan, slow down, please!" Rogue called, but it was no use. He wasn't listening. He turned round a bend in the tunnel and climbed up into the other building, leaving the girls no choice but to follow in his wake.
Eventually they caught up to him. He was leaning against the wall near one of the exits. "The doors sealed automatically," he said, his tone much gruffer than usual. "We can't get out that way. Kitty, you'll have to take us out, one at a time. Can you do it?"
"I – yes," she replied, resolving to do whatever she had to so that Logan wouldn't stay mad at her for whatever he was angry about. She knew it had been wrong of them to come, but it was hardly the first time a X-Man had made a reckless mistake, gone charging in where they ought not to have been. She couldn't quite understand what had Logan so angry, but she was determined not to give him any more reason for upset. "I'll take Jubilee first," she continued. Jubilee was the easiest; she could work her way up to Logan, whose considerable weight would make him difficult to transport.
Logan didn't move from the wall as she disappeared with Jubilee, reappearing less than a minute to take Rogue. There was a bit of careful organization between the two girls to ensure that Rogue's skin didn't accidentally touch Kitty's, and they were gone again. Rogue must have been harder to transport, or Kitty was getting tired, because it was a few minutes before she reappeared again, and she looked a little out of breath. "Take a minute," he told her. She nodded her thanks.
They stood in silence for a few minutes. Kitty mostly studied her feet while Logan seemed to stare right past her. Finally, she found the courage to open her mouth and speak. "Logan," she said hesitantly. "I'm so sorry."
He looked up at her and flashed a mirthless smile. Kitty was relieved to see some of the anger gone from his countenance. "It was a very stupid thing you did, coming here," he said. "I'm sure Bobby talked you into it. I would have done the same if I were in his shoes." He shook his head as though to clear it. "You couldn't have known what would happen, Kitty. Sabretooth – he said some things to me when we were held captive together, and I wanted to know what he meant. But it doesn't matter now."
For a moment, his face looked raw and vulnerable as he raked his hands through his dirty hair. Kitty saw how much it really did matter, despite Logan's attempt at reassurance. He looked lost and haunted. She opened her mouth to say something. She wasn't sure what, but she felt like something had to be said, but Logan cut her off by pushing off of the wall and approaching her.
"Ready?" he asked, nodding toward the concrete behind her back. She nodded and took his hand, steeling herself for the job of phasing the larger man into the world beyond.
The girls fell asleep almost instantly. Jubilee was out before he'd got the car in gear, and Kitty was soon to follow. Rogue stayed awake a bit longer, sitting in the passenger seat next to Logan and watching him with her big doe eyes. After a few minutes on the highway, however, the rhythm of the wheels on the road lulled her eyes shut and Rogue fell away as well. Logan spared a glance for her before returning his eyes to the road.
He was tired, too. God, he had never felt more tired. His hands ached from where the Adamantium had leaked out of him; for whatever reason, the wounds caused by that poison were slow to heal. He'd been chained up for god knows how long, and then forced to fight a deadly enemy, all the while worrying about the girls that were supposed to be safe in his protection. To top it all off, Sabretooth, his last source of information, was gone.
Logan took a deep breath. He couldn't allow himself to think of it. He'd break apart, he knew it. Instead, he focused his eyes back on the road, mentally calculating the miles between New York and Boston, and forming a plan around what he would do when he got there.
Scott had retrieved the other car after Logan and the girls had left, and placed a quick call to the mansion. Everyone shared a relieved sigh at finding everyone else all right, and then Storm hung up, promising to be there within the hour. She arrived in thirty-five minutes. The freed prisoners were loaded onto the jet; Kurt, Bobby and Hank went with them. Scott returned to his car and started the long drive.
He was the last to arrive at the old church. The parish priest had been expecting them; all the prisoners were safely ensconced in a dormitory originally meant for resident nuns. The younger X-Men were in the church basement playing card games, and Hank was hanging around the parish office waiting for him. "Kurt went back with Storm," he explained as Scott walked up the church steps.
Scott smiled; he hadn't said anything, but he had been watching the teleporter slowly but surely work his way into Storm's normally isolated life, becoming a good friend. He suspected Kurt would like to be something more, and the fact that both of them had left suggested to him that perhaps Storm would too. "Good for them," he replied. "Where's Logan?"
Hank shrugged. "He's outside. He's been sitting there, smoking, ever since they got in."
Scott followed Hank's gaze to the churchyard. Logan sat hunkered on a bench near the gates to the cemetery, staring off into space. "I should go talk to him," Scott said.
Just then, the priest appeared in the doorway. "Mr. Summers?" he asked. At Scott's nod, he continued, "Professor Xavier is on the telephone for you."
Scott sighed, casting another glance at Logan. Hank touched his arm gently.
"You go talk to the professor," he said. "I'll go talk to Logan."
Logan was the only person Hank knew with more sensitive hearing than he had, but he gave no sign that he'd noticed Hank's approach. Logan didn't appear startled when the blue man sat down beside him, though. He just continued to stare out at a space between two branches of a willow tree. They sat in silence for a long time.
Finally, Hank couldn't take it anymore. "Logan," he started. He never got a chance to finish, because the other man interrupted.
"He said there was a team," Logan said. Hank raised his eyebrows at the abrupt statement, but made no reply. Logan took a deep drag and exhaled slowly before continuing. "Sabretooth said we were on a team. Him and me and a woman named Silver Fox. And that name... the memories..."
"You remembered something?"
Logan laughed bitterly. "Nothing that simple, of course," he replied. "But... I hated Sabretooth with a passion that was personal, before I ever knew who he was. And I have no memory of Silver Fox, but I know that I love her with an equal passion. I have to find her. I have to find out what happened to me – to us."
For the first time, Hank noticed that Logan had a packed bag beside him. He'd obviously pilfered through the supplies they regularly carried on the jet; he had everything he needed.
"You're leaving tonight," Hank said. It wasn't a question.
Logan nodded. "I'm taking the car," he replied.
"Scott will be furious." Hank wasn't just talking about the car, and they knew it.
Logan sighed. "Please, explain it to him. Explain it to all of them. I just can't not know." His voice nearly shook with the force behind the words, and his eyes were filled with the desperation he expressed.
Hank nodded compassionately. He could understand why Logan felt the need to explore his past. He could hardly imagine what it must be like, not knowing who you were or where you came from, having only fragments of nightmarish memories and the word of killers to go on. Still, he felt he had an ethical responsibility to try to talk Logan out of this foolish course of action.
"You know you are wanted here. The children love you. They need you."
"Can't you – can't you search for this woman without leaving? Charles could help you. There has to be another way."
Logan stood and began pacing. He hadn't expected to get away easily, but his mind was made up. "I can't stay. I can't stay and be patient and kind and loving, sit around and wait while Charles goes rooting for information. I can't teach and interact with children when I feel like I'm being torn apart. I'm haunted by her, do you understand? I have to find her." He squared his shoulders and picked up his pack. "You'll explain to the others?"
"Of course. I haven't a choice, really, do I?" Hank couldn't keep a note of bitterness from creeping into his voice.
"I'm sorry. Thank you." Logan turned to leave. He'd nearly reached the parking lot where the car sat waiting when Hank's voice made him turn around.
"Logan!" the other man had followed him, calling to him across the grass. Logan met his eyes and waited patiently. Hank held the gaze. "Remember – you will always be welcomed. Whenever you want to, you can come back home."
Logan smiled a genuine, sad smile. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak, and then turned to the car once more. Stowing his bag, he climbed into the driver's seat and the car roared to life. A moment later, he was gone.
Hank watched him speed away, the engine disrupting the peace of an otherwise quiet evening. It faded, and suddenly everything was still – for a moment. Then he heard the overlapping voices behind him and Scott and the girls came hurrying to the doorway, spilling out into the crisp night air. He took a breath and turned back to his compatriots. He had a message to deliver.
The end ï