Dreaming of Day by – Darlin
Epilogue – Victor's Legacy
A/N – Just a final chapter to finish the mess I started.
Sometimes love is so confusing, you want to do the right thing honest you do but your minds at odds with your heart and your body betrays you despite all your determined decisions and best efforts. One look, one smile, one kind word, one show of concern, a stray touch and you're lost without even knowing it. It doesn't matter if you've been faithful for months or years.
But all of these things could have been prevented if your lover was faithful and loving and there for you. If loved could you slip so far as to betray the one you love? Do you slip so far, betraying him as he betrayed you? And in all the drama you have to wonder is this worth it? Do I want to be hurt again? And always in the back of your mind you ask these same questions of your new lover for aren't all men the same, the end result the same?
So where does that leave you? Where does it leave us? I won't deny my first reaction after the shock of what you did was to seek revenge. I wanted to hurt you just like you'd hurt me. I'm not proud of that but I'm only human, as are you, but you you're a tangle of confusion to me – lies and truths so mixed up I can't tell one from the other. Common sense says go, leave him, it isn't your responsibility he's infected with a life threatening disease – you didn't give it to him, he gave it to himself because he didn't respect me or himself, because he didn't really love me, I've suffered enough – he got what he deserved. And yet I could have, should have been better. I should have told you to send him away but I didn't. I did so many things wrong.
My heart tells me what my common sense knows but my sense of right and wrong keep tugging at me luring me back to paths I don't feel I can evade. I don't want to forsake you but I'm not strong enough. I'm sorry, please forgive me and know that I forgive you.
Life was full of mistakes and regrets but marrying Logan was neither for Ororo now in her old age. Despite the years that had passed Ororo would always remember the day Logan had come for her like a knight in white armor or at least in a snug white T-shirt. Yukio was involved she was sure of that and truthfully they never would have become engaged if it hadn't been for her friend.
Yukio had insisted Ororo meet her one day after she got off work several months after Ororo had arrived in Tokyo. When they'd met up Yukio had immediately started talking about a disgruntled passenger though Ororo, who was still despondent over Victor and Logan, was only half listening.
"You're not listening are you?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry. What did you say?"
"I said there was this really creepy dude that kept hassling me and there he is now!" Yukio said, pointing to a short man walking toward them.
A cowboy hat shaded the upper part of his face but there was no mistaking the jaunty steady walk. It was Logan, clutching a beat up backpack and wearing a scowl on his ruggedly handsome face. Ororo stared in shock. He dropped the backpack at her feet and then followed suit dropping down on one knee where he took her hand in his.
"Marry me," he said.
"What . . . ?"
"No sex till our honeymoon," he said.
"Say yes," Yukio chided.
"Marry me, Ororo."
"I don't think . . ."
"See, that's the problem with you two," Yukio said, "You think too much. Do you know how hard it was for me to get him here so I could see this?"
"I love you," Logan said. "Marry me."
"Logan . . ."
"I don't want to live without you in my life, 'Roro. Whatever it is we have I think it's gonna work."
"Say yes and have a long engagement. You can think then," Yukio laughed.
It sounded so easy. He looked so sincere and so sweet. She fell to her knees and threw her arms around him, joyful and terrified but above all else thankful that he was there. She cried a little, he kissed her face, told her everything was going to be okay and though it wasn't always, the good times far outweighed the bad and he'd been right.
Life is bittersweet. Sometimes it's good, sometimes worse than awful. Most take the obstacles thrown at them and run expecting to win or rather to win in the short term. Life isn't a game and to each soul there's an end whether you tried your best or not and no matter your beliefs. Death takes us all – a child lost in the womb, AIDS, violence, old age.
Victor hoped to die of old age but he knew he wouldn't. Like most people he wanted to live forever but he didn't want to be old and feeble and helpless either. He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory but he knew that would never be possible now. He wanted succor, some hope, something to sustain him through his battle with the virus that was claiming his life slowly but absolutely. He didn't want to face the end without knowing there was something more, another journey if you will, something that made his current time on this earth worthwhile.
By a stroke of luck or fate, Victor found what he was looking for. He befriended the man he had long seen outside strip clubs parading around in a Monk's habit spouting warnings about the wages of sins and death. Kurt, attacked the same night Victor had attempted to kill Logan but had changed his mind at the last moment, ended up in the same room as Victor when he'd been admitted. And though Kurt was hurt badly his spirits were high and his goodwill enough to include Victor in his thoughts and prayers. I will not say they became fast friends for Victor secretly ridiculed Kurt at first but Kurt was, if nothing else, as sweet natured as a saint. He assured Victor there was indeed a God who loved him, a God who would forgive him of his sins if only he would confess them and when Victor left the next day Kurt gave him his phone number insisting that he call him if he needed anything.
Because there were so many sins he'd committed Victor could hardly believe that he would be forgiven. He lied when he'd told Logan he was a believer and that he and Ororo went to church every Sunday faithfully. He lied to Kurt when he said he understood all his mumble jumble. In truth, he really had no grasp of. It wasn't until he received a letter from Ororo nearly a year later that he truly saw the truth; that he wasn't the big bad wolf who deserved to be strung up, skinned alive and tortured for an eternity; that he could truly be forgiven. In her letter she'd said she forgave him but what affected him so deeply was that she asked him to forgive her. Ororo Munroe, who was perfect in his eyes and whom he couldn't have blame for their broken relationship if he'd wanted to had asked him to forgive her! That's when he knew there was a God and that's when he gave his life to the Lord and under Kurt's tutelage he strove to become a better man – a better human being.
Oh, it would be easy to lie and say he became perfect and never had a cruel thought or acted viciously again but he tried and that was all God asked for or so Kurt told him and Victor, seeing how easy that was, believed him and was thankful. He was also thankful for a fascinating side effect. His nightmares, which had stopped when he'd been with Ororo, had come back tenfold after she left him but when he turned to God they disappeared entirely – another sign that God was real. Knowing, believing that God was real he had so many questions about life and death and the hereafter not even Kurt could answer them all. Like Logan though he had the gift of rapid healing, being retro they called it, and he often wondered could he actually die? When he'd gotten infected he knew, yes he could die and would die someday. Having faith gave him the reassurance he'd needed faced with HIV, he knew where he was going in the end, he knew there was something more, something better and that alone gave him the strength to go on.
He lost a little weight at first not taking his medicine as he should, not caring whether he died now or later. He let himself go but he eventually met a nurse who was able to talk some sense into him and she wasn't half bad in the sack either. Natural lust was always his greatest vice next to violence and he hoped to be forgiven his few indiscretions. Because of Kurt and Ororo's influence on him he eventually became a Big Brother, a mentor to many young boys through the Big Brother's organization and though the few friends he had laughed when they found out he tried his best to be there for the boys unlike his own father who'd never been there for him.
Ororo would have been proud of him had she known. He never told her though Kurt would many years later. Victor just wanted to leave something good behind when he left this world. He didn't care what anyone thought about him before or after his conversion. He didn't need plaudits and acknowledgement he only wanted conviction and reassurance that he was a decent man, a decent human being who had made a difference, who had given his best and isn't that what most of us want?
All this happened without Logan and Ororo being aware of it. Logan had legally left his construction company to Victor as if that would wash his hands clean though in his heart he knew it wasn't so. Though things did change for the better when they moved into the perfect little white house complete with the perfect little white picket fence, along with the security of a better neighborhood, wedded bliss is a hard thing to achieve every day of every year but they always strived hard. Ororo had begun to feel the conflict that had warred inside her heart ebb when Logan told her he didn't mind her keeping in touch with Victor. That one small concession actually allowed them both to finally give up the guilt and anger that had haunted them, casting a dark shadow over their marriage in those early months. She readily saw now that her love affair with Victor had been confused with lust enhanced by loneliness and need. His betrayal and the HIV scare had been a traumatic wake up call forcing her to do some deep soul searching but she'd survived and felt she'd made out very well. She was happy.
Logan too was happy. He no longer drank like a fish, had even started another successful business as a contractor. He finally gave up trying to be the macho sole provider and didn't fuss too much when Ororo decided she wanted to go back to work part time. They were doing well financially again and as everyone knows when there are no money worries there're less problems in a relationship. Logan felt he had the best wife any man could ask for and he was sure she felt the same about him as a husband. They'd overcome Victor which said a lot in his opinion. The occasional letter that Ororo received from Victor in reply to hers did little more than perk his curiosity.
Each year passed in relative contentment despite their ups and downs. Ororo's close friends Anna and Remy moved to New York after a few years passed and being able to talk to them like she used to, though she never did tell them about the AIDS scare she'd had, was a great comfort. Anna had managed to get transferred to New York with the airline and they were able to work together occasionally. They talked about everything, mostly why Remy was so reluctant to marry her, a continuing sore point with the southern belle and sometimes they discussed life and death and children too, some of the same things Victor often thought of during that time.
"If I were you I'd give him an ultimatum," Ororo told Anna as they prepared to greet the on boarding passengers one afternoon.
"Easy for you to say, sugah," Anna replied.
"It's either that or start looking around for someone else."
"Ah can't do that, Ororo. Remy's a part of me ah can't get rid kind of like a canker sore that keeps comin' back."
"I've told you before, Anna, Remy's not the marrying type," Ororo said with a smile, "you're better off joining a convent and becoming a nun."
"Oh boy! You have officially lost your mind, girl!" Rogue laughed and Ororo's laughter joined hers.
Passengers began to board and Anna started to check their boarding passes. After a dozen or so people had boarded she gave a little gasp and her jaw dropped as her eyes grew wide in disbelief. Ororo, who was answering a question one of the passengers had asked, glanced up and her mouth fell too. Her heart felt as if it had lodged in her throat as she peered at a tall slender man wearing a cowboy hat so low it covered most of his face. He was surrounded by two women, one who handed Anna their tickets and the other who was scolding him about something or another. As they moved on Ororo and Anna exchanged looks – surely that couldn't be who they thought it was – could it? And then the man turned around, lifted his hat slightly and stared hard at them grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat, a grin Ororo was very familiar with. It was Victor, changed but not. He winked at Ororo then calmly led his companions to their seats.
He was so different. Ororo's hand pressed against her heart. He was thinner now but still as craggily handsome, the leanness giving his face more pronounced cheekbones. She wondered what he was doing on the same flight. He hadn't said hello at all. What did that mean?
"Boy, he sure has lost a lot of weight," Anna mumbled before she turned to the next passenger.
He had lost a lot of weight, Ororo thought. She suddenly felt cold all over. There was no lingering attraction or guilt but she still felt funny. They had kept in touch though sporadically. He hadn't mentioned a trip or the women or that he was going to be on her flight. It made her nervous. What was he planning? She tried to laugh, wished she had on a bulletproof vest and then she did laugh genuinely. She was letting her conscious get the better of her. He wasn't there to kill her, in fact, he'd confessed in one of the few letters she'd had from him that he still loved her but he wasn't angry any more. Besides getting a gun through security would be more than difficult even for an ex felon, she mused.
"So, girl's this is the woman who broke my heart," Victor said when Ororo walked by.
"Victor!" she laughed as he pulled her down onto his lap.
"Don't suppose Logan would mind if I kissed you do you? For old times sake?"
But she had no time to answer as his lips landed on hers. Instead of the searing passionate kiss she expected it was a sweet gentle peck and then another one just as tender. That took her by surprise. When he saw the look on her face he roared with laughter. She was just as beautiful, hadn't changed a bit, was just as sexy but the burning desire he'd felt for her had faded. He remembered their wild times and his smile widen.
"You're looking good, babe," he said.
She couldn't truthfully say the same of him. With the weight loss she wondered if he was taking his medication. He saw the look and nodded.
"I'm taking my meds like a good boy, okay? An' you can ask my nurse here – go ahead, Birdy tell her," he said, indicating the woman sitting closest to him.
"He's being as good as Victor can get," Birdy said with a smirk.
Ororo looked at the woman and then remembered herself. She removed herself from Victor's lingering hands and smoothed down her uniform and tried to introduce herself.
"Hi, I'm . . ."
"Ororo," the woman by the window seat said. "He won't shut up about you." She didn't seem impressed or pleased to meet Ororo.
"Why didn't you tell me you were going to be on my flight?" Ororo asked Victor turning her attention back to him.
"Thought I'd surprise you, say hey, get a kiss, you know, from my sweetie."
The way he said that made her smile. She leaned down and kissed him lightly on the lips.
"I'm glad you're well, Victor," she said.
"Makes two of us."
They were silent for a few seconds as they looked at each other, his companions forgotten.
"Now when you an' the runt have kids you better name the boys after me."
"Yeah, he's got it in 'im; you'll have lots of boys. He used ta want a whole basketball team, he tell you that?"
"Well, he's not getting them from me!" Ororo laughed.
Victor's loud baritone laughter rang out and then he said,
"It's really good to see you, Ro."
"Not me," the woman at the window said under her breath.
"Aw, don't be like that, Mystie," Victor snorted. "If it weren't for Ro we wouldn't be back together."
"Don't remind me," Mystie said and she turned to looked out the window.
"Sometimes two's better 'n one," Victor whispered, "One acts up you got the other one to hang with, shoulda thought of this a long time ago."
Because he hadn't changed except for the weight loss Ororo shook her head and laughed. After the initial apprehension she'd felt it was good seeing Victor again. They talked a little off and on during the flight and he hugged her tight when they landed, said he'd write. She had the feeling he wouldn't but it was such a relief seeing him, knowing that he was all right that she didn't care. She was so lost in thoughts of Victor as she watched him walk away with his companions, one scolding him and the other ignoring him, that she didn't notice Remy had come up to her and Anna.
With a handful of roses of deep red and on bended knee Remy finally asked Anna to become his lawful wife. Only the shrill screech of joy from Anna brought Ororo back to the moment. She'd almost forgotten Remy's ploy and her part in it, to distract Anna because she'd been distracted so much by Victor. Fortunately Anna hadn't gotten away before Remy showed up. The happy couple were hugging and kissing and then pulling her into their hug. Briefly she caught sight of Victor over Anna's shoulder, he tipped his hat to her and winked before throwing his arms around Birdy and Mystie and going on his way. It was the last she ever saw of him.
"Hey, Vic get your butt over here!" Logan shouted. He still looked almost exactly as he had when he'd first met Ororo. He had the distinguished gray and white markings along his mutton chops signifying old age and a few wrinkles marring his brow but he was still in fantastic shape, still solidly built and just as handsome.
"Where's your grandmother little man?" he asked a little brown haired boy who was playing with a remote control car on the patio.
"She's in the garden, want to play cars with me, Grandpa?" the little boy said.
"We'll play later, okay? Help me find your grandmother."
The little boy sat the remote control down on a wicker chair and slipped a hand into one of Logan's.
Logan squeezed the child's hand and together they walked around to the side of the large red brick house that faced a wide open field. They found Ororo sitting on a bench watching the sun set over the meadow. She too looked youthful in her old age, her once attention garnering white hair became her even more so now, her eyes were still clear, bright blue and only the creases on either side of her mouth gave away her age for her face was wrinkle free and her body still slender.
"'Roro, darlin' . . ."
"Oh, Logan! I'm so glad you came home early, sweetheart." She rose and fell into his embrace, the little one clinging to one of her legs as toddlers do. "I was just thinking."
"Thinkin' or daydreamin'?"
"A little of both."
"I came home right after talking to Yukio. She said she was gonna call you."
"She did, so did Kurt."
Logan cleared his throat and thrust some papers into Ororo's hand as he let her go.
"Kurt faxed these over before I left the office," he said noting the sadness on her face.
She met his eyes and smiled forlornly and took the papers while their grandson ran around them in wide circles. She sighed deeply as she read:
I always hated you from the moment we met you know. Your little short stuff was always bailing me out of trouble. And the women you got dude! Man when I got Ro it was like hitting the jackpot in Vegas but you stole her from me. Aw I ain't mad I didn't treat her right like she deserved. But I did try to kill you. I couldn't though because Yukio was with you. Yukio's alright. Maybe being with Ro made me soft I don't know.
You always had my back helping me out like you did so I can't blame you for zapping my woman when I done yours. I wanted you to know I never meant to do what I did to you bro. Ro said well it don't matter what she said. I loved that woman. You tell her for me. She wasn't like no other woman I ever knew but you know that. Take care of her. You know I love you bro. I got to thank you for everything you done helping me out all them times.
I got to tell you being saved was the best thing that ever happened to me cause it really did save me. I don't hate you any more. I need to ask you to forgive me for being a prick all those times. Talk to Kurt you and Mystie cause she still don't believe and I don't want her to burn. You know what if that's really how it is? I wouldn't wish that on my worse enemy. I'm pretty sure there's going to be a judgment day but I'm ready. I did the best I could. So come to my funeral man and dance on my grave. It'll be like old times in a way.
She glanced at Logan but he was chasing little Victor over the lawn now. She smiled at the sight of the elderly man she loved with all her heart and the young tyke whom she loved just as much. Seeing them at play eased the sadness somehow and she sat down on the bench to read the second letter.
Everything I touched I ruined till I met you Ro. You and Kurt were pretty much the only good people I ever met and Logan too I can't forget the runt. I asked Kurt to send you this as soon as he knows when I die because I wanted you to know right away. He's going to take care of everything. He was a good friend and not a bad priest either.
They been cutting me up like they did my grandpa way back when. Didn't want you to know. Let me tell you it ain't fun so I'm ready to go. You know Ro I would've married you and I ain't the marrying type but if it couldn't be me I'm glad it was Logan. Yukio says you two did alright for yourselves. I remember he told me he was going to always be in love with you and I guess he meant it. You make sure little Victor don't turn out to be no bad seed alright? And I'll see you on the other side.
"P.S. Read the letter I wrote to Logan."
When he saw Ororo had finished the letters and was again looking off into the distance Logan went over and sat down beside her. Little Victor climbed into his lap barely out of breath though Logan was breathing hard.
"What you lookin' at Gran'mama?" the little boy asked.
"Sunset, Vic, it's a beauty today," Logan said.
"It is beautiful don't you think, Victor?" Ororo remarked.
"Yes!" said the child in youthful exuberance.
"When the sun sets it's you can start dreaming of a day that's going be even better because it's brand new and you can make it into whatever you want. Every day's a new beginning . . . I think that's what he meant," Ororo said, remembering Victor in all his youthful glory sitting on the beach surprisingly waxing poetic so long ago.
"Huh?" asked the little one, confused. Ororo ruffled his curls and pressed a loving kiss to his forehead.
"They're beautiful just like you, Victor," she whispered and Logan didn't know if she was talking to their grandson or possibly to Victor Creed's spirit.
Victor had died early that morning. Yukio had phoned them both with the news for she had kept in touch with Victor over the years even visiting him sometimes when she was in California. At one point they'd thought the two might even get together but Yukio was a free spirit and though she dated him off and on when he was in between girlfriends, Mystie was the one constant in Victor's life. He'd never wanted to marry anyone not even Mystie especially Mystie but in the end Kurt had stressed the importance of fidelity and Victor had given in. Oddly enough Mystie was much older than he'd thought, and he found out that Kurt was actually her son, which made him Kurt's stepfather something that amused Victor to no end. They still fought like cats and dogs after they were married though that may have been the attraction, but they had an understanding and it worked for the most part. They even had a child whom they named Graydon. They were both there when he died – complications from diabetes. Kurt was there as well.
Ororo, who had deserted Victor in his hour of need instead of tending to him as a lover might have, felt a sadness she would never be able to express. She'd never forgotten him or that because of him she'd found the man she'd loved and made a good life with. She'd long ago made her peace with all that had happened and so had Logan. Old age brought that, peace and contentment, at least to those with good hearts. They could look back over their years together and be satisfied for they'd had more joy than sadness. Their twins, now grown, a girl who looked like a blend of Ororo and Logan and a boy who favored Logan, were both married and successful and their grandson was the apple of their eye. For them their dream had come true and they hoped somehow Victor's had too.