Laura and Logan emerged into the sunlight outside the Harada family estate, and made their way to the gate that led out into the wider world. By now Logan was trying to stand upright without Laura's support, although she remained there to catch him when he wavered. Fighting was easy when compared to the quiet moments afterwards, when father and daughter were expected to display some kind of tenderness. Laura went first.
"Are you… okay?"
"I'll be fine," he assured her. "Just gotta sleep it off."
There was another pause as she helped him down the steps to the road.
"You, uh… you did good in there, kid. Kept your cool." She smiled awkwardly and shrugged it off.
"Sometimes you need to know when to control your temper."
"How did you find me, anyway?"
"Good afternoon, Logan-san."
"Sensei? What are you doing here?" It was indeed the friendly, bald monk, sitting in the shade by the side of the road.
"Just waiting. Laura-san was most anxious to get to you as soon as possible, so I drove here in Tomi-san's car." He indicated the beaten-up vehicle hidden in the bushes behind him.
"You drive, Sensei?"
"It is a little skill I picked up over the years, although I have had little practice before now." Laura, having shared the journey with him, rolled her eyes but said nothing. "But I felt it was important to do so today, when I saw your daughter's concern for you. It was very touching." Logan gazed at his daughter with new appreciation, and she squirmed with embarrassment. Sensei went on, "I think I will start the car so that we can drive back to the temple. It is quite old, so it will take time." He shut the door behind him as he clambered into the driver's seat, leaving the two essentially alone on the roadside.
"Thank you," said Logan, "for coming after me."
"That's what families do, isn't it?"
"Yeah. I guess it is." He took a deep breath. "You know, nothing would make me happier than for you to come back with me to the Institute… but I understand if you choose not to." Again she looked sheepish.
"I just… I don't think I'm ready for that yet. I'm sorry. Maybe someday I will." Logan nodded. That was the way it was.
Suddenly the engine choked and spluttered into life, and Sensei put his head out of the door. "It is time."
Just before buckling himself into the passenger seat, Logan turned to Sensei and said,
"There's something I need to do before going back to America. Can you help me?"
"I expect I can."
Mariko's fingers touched the tender flesh between his knuckles and traced the metal claws that lay beneath the skin.
"I wish you had felt confident enough to tell me about these," she said. "I would not have thought any less of you."
"I know," Logan replied, "but I was still…"
"Yeah. Mariko, I…"
"You have to leave. I know. I was afraid of it." It was a hard choice he had made. But the beast within was not properly tamed, and though it upset him, he believed that Japan had done all it could for him.
"You could come with me."
"No, I cannot go. My father's ambition has caused a lot of pain. I must stay and try to fix what I can here. Where will you go?"
"I don't know exactly. I'll quit SHIELD. I don't think I need them any more. There was a man who approached me a while ago, who said he could help me. I think I'll look for him again."
"Who is it?"
"A teacher, I think, called Charles Xavier."
"Will I see you again?"
"Maybe, someday, when I've got this" - he indicated his concealed claws - "under control."
"Until that day, you will always be in my heart."
"And you in mine."
This is Tokyo, the most populous city in the world, where millions of people go about their lives. Nobody noticed the lone Canadian man enter the quiet sushi bar, except for one person. This was where Sensei had told him she would be waiting, after arranging the meeting, and there she was: Mariko, looking as radiant and divine as ever. She was older now, of course, a proper woman, mature. She looked, at a glance, as though she'd led a happy life in the intervening years, and Logan was glad of it. She dressed differently now, as well, forsaking her old kimonos for a more casual but no less stunning trouser suit, and she'd cut her hair short so that it was no longer intricately knotted atop her head, but instead hung straight about her face. Logan was surprised at how nervous he was at meeting her again, and wondered if she felt the same.
"It's really good to see you, Mariko."
"And you, Logan-san. Would you like to sit?"
"I like your new hairstyle. It suits you."
"Thank you. And you have trimmed your sideburns, I see."
He chuckled, and doffed his hat. He'd missed this, in all these years gone by. It was good to be back.
From across the street, two pairs of eyes watched the meeting.
"So she's really been alive the whole time?"
"She's quite pretty."
"Sensei, what happens now? Are they going to get back together?"
"I do not know, Laura-san. A lot of time has passed since they last met. They have a lot to talk about, and it may be that they have simply changed too much. But who can predict these things?" In her seat across the road, Mariko laughed.
"I'd like it if they did," Laura confessed. "He deserves to be happy."
"Yes, but I think he is. He has you, after all."
"I'm ready to go now. I just needed to see her, that's all."
"I understand. I am not so unfamiliar with curiosity. Come, there is a dojo near here where we can practice kata."
"Do we have to?" The old monk smiled.
Perhaps, after everything, it was time for a little peace.
The end of the story and I sincerely hope everyone who's got this far has enjoyed it. I want to thank everybody that's taken the time to read it, and especially those that felt strongly enough about it to leave a review. If you haven't, but you've got something to say, I'd love hearing from you.
I did somewhat change the Mariko/Harada backstory, but I believe no more than the 'Evolution' series changed the backgrounds of other characters. I feel that it's justified for the sake of the story, which is an 'X-Men: Evolution' story ahead of an 'X-Men' story, and which is primarily about Wolverine and X23. For them, I think it's worth it.