Disclaimer: All characters belong to Marvel, to the exception of Abigail.
Note: This story is based off the events and characters presented in Wolverine: Origin. However, I've expanded the background stories for three of the book's main characters, namely John Howlett, Elizabeth Howlett and Thomas Logan.
If you have not read the mini-series detailing the true origins of Wolverine, I suggest you do so before reading this story. The wonderful site has got the summaries. Just check the menu for 'Issue Information', then 'Issue Summaries'. Scroll down the alphabetical list until you find 'Origin #1 - 6' and enjoy the reading.
When Two Worlds Collide
Tree leaves fall quietly through the darkness. I can't see them, but sometimes a dark shadow trickles slowly in the wind just next to the window. And I know they're there. It's that time of the year.
The house is quiet. Even if Elizabeth sings her old folk songs in false cheerfulness. It's strange how I've come to ponder, lately, on the wisdom of having built such a grand estate. Father chided me often over the folly… waste of money, he claimed earnestly until my very ears and mind were raw. But he could not comprehend that my wishes, youthful as they might have been, were not foolish. I intended to have the house full of people at all times, full of friends… full of family.
Poor Elizabeth was unable to give me the numerous offspring my heart yearned for, and even my first born – only son for so long – even he was taken away from me. And here it stands… the magnificent Howlett Estate! Home to-be to the glories and happiness of the Howlett family. And yet, it has seen nought but tragedies and sadness.
I remember that sweet day, when my good friend Peter invited me to walk with him as he accompanied his sister, whose name I've been unable to recall for the longest time. I remember it so clearly, the day. The sun shone brightly but coldly, and the leaves were trickling slowly to the ground. My friend's sister chatted with us and, as usual, ushered herself into the Oliver Estate, where a dear friend of hers lived. Also as usual, Peter followed his sister; and I followed both, worried should we linger for too long.
Elizabeth was a dark haired beauty, just as Peter's sister was a blonde haired beauty, and I'm ashamed to admit the darkness did linger behind in beauty. We were introduced. Her eyes awarded me only a kind flutter and she herself did not move my interest. A lone wretch standing in her shadow, however, caught my eye. My friend's sister had overlooked to mention him and there he stood, as invisible and ignored as if he had been an uninteresting statue.
Elizabeth bid us all sit under the shade of a large elm, whose leaves gracefully coated the green grass. Elizabeth and her lady friend sat gleefully, and both laughed as the leaves fell around them, waving their hands at any daring leaf that threatened to touch their dandy selves. And it displeased me, that the young man should be more ignored than the very tree under whose shadow we planned to rest. I hesitated. I knew well that those beyond my station are invisible to us; my father had taught me so since the tenderest age.
I shall always recall my dear nanny, who raised me more tenderly than if I were her own child after my poor mother had passed away. Papa would either ignore her or yell at her faults. Sometimes he'd manage both. A few times he raised his hand to strike her. "It is as it should be, my lil' Master," she would lullaby me afterwards, "it is as it should be." For Papa was her Master, and her station forbid her to as much as feel unfairness for his harsh words and deeds. But she did… and cried sourly when she thought I was sleeping.
And on that fateful day, I lingered behind and gazed at the young man. He looked me steadily in the eye and I smiled. He seemed mildly perplexed and somewhat irritated. She did not miss my predicament, though.
"Thomas Logan," her bright voice rang magnanimously, "come here, please, and bid this young lady and the gentlemen good day."
He obeyed stiffly, and then fell to collecting the fallen leaves with a gardening tool. But the lady on whose behalf Peter and I had come took offence at the wretch's occupation, and Elizabeth once more lifted her voice in a soft "Won't you attend to some other part of the garden, Thomas?"
He departed and Elizabeth whispered us the secret of his presence: he had saved her life, when she was a child, and her mother had entreated the boy to be her guardian angel. "And to this day," she ended even more brightly, "Thomas has guarded me flawlessly."
We all laughed, thankful for the young man's past bravery. But surely, her lady friend scolded, she needn't treat the lad as delicately as she had. To ask maids and working men 'please' when directing them to their duties was quite scandalous. She blushed coyly, embarrassed; and my heart was hers from then on. Likewise, I fancy she learned to favour me that same moment, since her eyes awarded me often with blushed glances.
My dear Elizabeth! She was so young and carefree, so cheerful. She never feared associating with her maids, despite their low station. It lifted my very soul to see her come in with that blonde lass, giggling at the sight of me, her Missis' betrothed. But she did have the annoying habit of keeping the lad, Thomas, at her side when we went strolling outdoors. I held no hard feelings towards him, despite Elizabeth's preference for his continued protection, and even humoured her in chatting freely with him, on account of some unimportant matters. His was a rough, unsavoury character, though, who welcomed my attempts at associating with him with few words. Yet, he too often humoured Elizabeth and fought his level best to entertain me with whatever matter he managed to find.
Then, as the wedding day approached, Elizabeth finally came to her senses. She promised me that, from the moment she was mine, Thomas would no longer stand by her side, as a new arm was there to protect her. But I would not act like a miser: the lad would still follow us in one last journey. As we moved West, to my father's house in the growing Edmond town, Thomas would go with us. I had mentioned the young man to Father and had unceremoniously praised his skill as a gardener and groundskeeper. Father accepted him; and even admitted he was indeed a good hard worker, who obeyed his every order without a comment.
Ah, that first year when John was born. What joy and happiness crowned our days! Even Father's stiff manners were softened some when Abigail, Elizabeth's maid, brought John for his blessing. And then, taking advantage of both my happiness and Father's softened spirit, I convinced him to trust me with part of his fortune, that I too might enlarge it for the family's benefit. Although suspicious, he agreed. I was young and vigorous, and happiness granted me ambitious optimism. I chose some good fertile lands to the west of Edmond, near a small town of a few tens of souls, and had them partitioned. I had decided I would try my hand at the two most proficuous activities that land allowed for: the breeding of horses and the growing of cereals.
Much to Father's joy, I was cautious: I remained his guest until my lands had proved themselves worthy of my choice. But once the profits had become stable, I called forth the architects and the builders. The construction of my family's home would be delayed no more, for as much as Father might cry "bloody folly".
My little John had grown tall and lively in those years at his grandfather's Edmond home, and demanded to accompany me to the site of the building, to do his childish best at directing the men in their entrepreneur. Thomas Logan… Once more did I show my kindness to that fool, by allowing him to remain near his mistress. But even as I sent him ahead, to coordinate the gardening, I regretted my kindness. Only weeks before had I come to know the extent of his coward character.
Elizabeth's maid was some years younger than her mistress, but was both taller and larger. She had not the grace of the feminine condition but rather the brute health and strength of a field worker, with her large hands and broad shoulders. Gentleness lay only in her words, softness only in her natural shyness, beauty only in her golden hair. Yet, one evening, I heard her crying desperately in the garden and inquired about her predicament. Without much ado, she revealed how she had pinned over Thomas Logan for long years before he had finally accepted her affections. But though he had welcomed her attention, he had refused to protect her honour by marrying her afterwards. And there she lay thoroughly shamed, carrying his child and too fearful of Elizabeth's reproach, since she had always warned the girl away from the rough gardener.
I solved the matter in the only way it could be solved – Logan could not refuse to make amends. It amazed me that Elizabeth did not approve of it. She was enraged at the girl, whom she had long since treated like a sister, and refused to have her close by her again; she was enraged at Logan and publicly reprimanded him. She was enraged at me and punished me with blind silence.
Then, I sent the man away to the new home, certain that soon Elizabeth would calm down, and had the girl assigned to a new function, helping the cook. Elizabeth did not relent in her rage, though. I knew her to be a proud lady, and tried earnestly to ease her sense of betrayal, to no avail.
Only when we finally moved to our new home, did she end her days of terse silences and reproaching, hurt glares; and my patience was rewarded with cheerful smiles and approving, loving gazes.
Dear Lord, how far have we come from those days of yore! The happiness I felt that year we moved, with the news that my beloved Elizabeth was once more pregnant, feels now like a scorching hand of anguish. For as Elizabeth forgo of her rage, she replaced it with a melancholy smile and has never again recovered. It was as if Heaven had sent a shadow to her heart to warn her of the pain that was to come. I recall the photographer I had called forward to record as much of my happiness as that new machine could. But Elizabeth did not abide the photographer's entreaties for a smile. So soon did I find myself learning his trade and taking the recording upon my own hands. Elizabeth then smiled, and she chided me too, but not once did she avoid those moments, standing very still for the machine to capture her.
And yet her pregnancy burdened her increasingly more. Her soft smiles became ever more elusive as sadness and melancholy overcame her daily, and I sent her East, to the city doctors. She stayed with a friend of the family and returned only after James was born. She doted over the little one, protecting him fiercely from both me and my son John, who longed to play with his little brother.
My son John… So strong, so smart, so full of strength and life. It was less than a year after Elizabeth's return that he… Lord, forgive me! Elizabeth was once more sent East, to recover from the shock of his… death, as we must call it. That a human being could ever undergo such a regression into a more primitive state is something that has burdened me ever since. Something I've struggled to avoid thinking of… As much as Father, who loved John dearly, might have promised all the best that modern medicine has to offer, well does my heart know I shall never see my first born again.
I've put up a happy face for my Elizabeth's sake, but God! God…
I've struggled daily to counter this growing weariness and bitterness, but my strength fails me… May the Lord help me! I keep resisting the urge to hit something for fear the sound might startle Elizabeth. It is for my benefit she sings merrily when I know her heart treads gloomily on.
Father's words scorch my mind and undermine my will… "I warned you not to associate with those people…" Every day since I was born, you did; every bloody day… "No good would come of it, I said." Should I then behave to all man, woman, and youth with the harshness of your whip, Father? Should I!? "We're beyond their station in life!" My God! My God… why did You prove my father right? With this man of every bloody soul in the world! Why?
But it is done. My kindness has dealt me nothing but blows and unhappiness when it comes to that man, and I've finally put an end to it. I'm relieved Elizabeth has too forgotten those old, golden days when she so carelessly proclaimed Thomas Logan to be her own Heaven allotted guardian angel. I'm relieved she has not been hurt by the news that I've cast him out. I'm relieved…
Then why does this gloom alight itself onto my heart and soul? God, give me strength! For my poor wife's sake. For my precious son's sake…
She sings, yet. What dark clouds must that cheerful melody hide? What demons? She stayed away at a resting house in the East for so many months, after John's painful demise, that I truly feared she would not return. I must purge this gloominess from my voice and gestures; I must be wary not to burden her ever melancholy delicate spirit with my own burdens.
The wind outside ceases abruptly as I sense a male voice. Elizabeth has stopped her song and speaks and yet I left her alone… Who could have entered?
"Elizabeth? What's going on in here!"
Coldness grips my heart when I see the shotguns. They're standing next to Elizabeth… Rose, too…
"By God… Logan, is that you?" Perplexity swoons over me and leaves, and I approach that godless man with my blood boiling in anger. "What the devil do you think you're doing, you bloody fool?"
The movement is quick and catches me off guard. The pain numbs my senses for a moment, and when I regain them I'm on the floor, blood on my face from the hit with the stock of the shotgun.
"You stupid, idiot… Now look what you've done!" His angry voice drags away my hurt perplexity. The hot blood running down my face clears my consciousness. Elizabeth. "You've gone an' messed everythin' up, jus' like always! I should bloody kill you…"
"And then what, Thomas?" Madness. Madness! Oh, Father; why were you right? May the Lord help me! I will see the man hanged, Father; I'll see him flogged and hanged. "Where do you think you'll go? Or were you planning on just swanning out the front door?"
"Don't you talk to me like that! You understand me, 'Soft John'? Don't you ever…!"
The black cannons are aiming at my face as understanding washes over me. God… Oh, God; what have I done? I have brought my own death into my house, my family's… The Lord have mercy! But no, no… surely he will not hurt Elizabeth. Surely he will not hurt my son. Surely…
"Papa? Is that you? I heard a noise…"