Rating for language and violent images.

A/N 7/14/09: This started out with me writing completely off the movies, seeing as I had never even looked at an X-Men comic and didn't even know where to get my hands on one. Despite this, I found Wolverine to be an interesting character who just wouldn't get his claws out of my head. As a result, this story is now massive, I own hundreds of comics that I nabbed off e-bay, and I have probably read almost every single Wolverine appearance to this point (yes, that is a lot). The lesson? Obsession is a great hobby, and makes writing a hundred times more fun and interesting.

Either way, it starts with movie-verse completely right after X3, and while I do my best to stay true to that universe the story evolves into what I hope is more true characters to the ones I have learned to really love in the comics.

With that, I hope you enjoy. Either way, please take a couple minutes to drop a review or two (or three!). Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: Nothin's mine except . . . well, you figure it out. Wolverine's certainly not mine, nor is the universe (well, not Marvel's universe, anyway :D). I am not getting any money from this.

Chapter 1: Dear Journal, Signed Wolverine

May 22, 20—

I swore I'd never do this.

I talked to Chuck some months ago, just after getting back from Alkali Lake after that dead-end lead. I wanted answers, but he said some crap about "the mind having to figure things out for itself." Doesn't matter that he already said he'd do everything he could to help me. Instead of giving me anything useful, he gave me this.

A damn journal.

Even another one of his lectures would have been more useful.

Like writing things down might help me figure things out. Right.

I've lived enough of life, and I ain't one to think too much. I just get things done. Besides, I ain't a writing man, either, and never have been. I can just see it. "Dear Diary, Signed, Wolverine." HA! Wheels must have been crazy.

And he really was crazy. Thought I was more human than I am. Thought Jean was more human than she was, too.

For a man who could read minds, he really didn't know people that well.

I'm just an animal, and I know better. I've known better. That's why I could do it. That's why I had to do it.

But he's dead now, just like all the others. At least I didn't kill him. I didn't have to stick these damned metal claws into his chest and rip his heart out. I had to do that, with her, and it was like ripping my own heart out, too. I think I've died a thousand times these past couple months, and thousands more before that. Died every time they died. But whatever keeps bringing me back . . .

Who'd have thought that a mutation of healing could be so friggin' painful?

Can't get away from it, though.

Can't get away from who I am, from the death that stalks me. It's always stalked me, but I've never cared—not before. I didn't have anything to lose, not really. It couldn't get me.

I'm a survivor.

But Jean wasn't. The professor wasn't. Hell, even pretty-boy One-Eye wasn't.

It was so much easier, before all of them. Before it all.

Damn Xavier—giving me this piece of crap. Why the hell am I doing this anyway? I already know what I know, and writing things down won't help me remember the past that's gone for good, and heaven help any kid who thinks to puts his grubby paws on it.

A journal. Stupid. I'd ask One-Eye to burn it, smash it, or whatever he does—but he's dead along with everyone else.

August 14, 20—

Damn journal.

Stabbed the thing clean through a couple months ago and tossed it in the corner. The devil must have brought it up again. Would have been just fine never to see it again.

It's 2 am in the morning—just had another nightmare. Wish they'd just stop. They don't do a thing, now. Stryker's dead. I as good as killed him months ago. His body's probably rotted and eaten down to nothing but a bleached skeleton by now.

I guess that's right, though, even if everything else in the world has gone to the dogs. It's right that he'd be eaten by wild beasts, lost in the wilderness of Canada. That's right. Shows there must be a chance of hope for some justice in this world after all.

But justice aside-he's dead, and with him died with any hope for me to ever find out who I used to be.

Buried in Alkali Lake.

Maybe Stryker was right. Maybe he wasn't lying. Maybe whoever I was before was as much of an animal as I was after. That I am now. Maybe before he ripped me open I was animal enough that this damned pain would heal up and harden just like my bones that won't break, no matter how much it hurts. Wish Magneto had ripped the stuff from me when he had the chance. Wish Jean had had the power enough to tear right through me and finally finish me off into dust and numbness. Wish it would mean something when I slice those metal claws into my own chest, trying to end it all. But it doesn't mean a thing. Doesn't mean a thing but more pain.

Damn the cost of survival a hundred times over.

Cause that's what I am. I'm Wolverine. I'm a survivor, just like Stryker said.

That's what everyone sees. All the kids here are scared to death, and the world's not staying too happy either. All hell's going to be set loose—if not now, then it'll come soon enough. Wolverine's gotta stay tough. Unmovable. And that's why Storm shouldn't worry, 'cause it doesn't matter anymore-maybe it never has.

I know that death happens. Seen it too many to count, just in my fifteen years of memory. Never really thought too much of it, before. Pain was always what I hated—never death.

But Death was a good thing. Death was The End. The end of pain.

But it'll never come for me. All I get in its wake is that pain, damned pain. And damn me if I ever let pain stop me.

I gotta move on. I've left the past. I just gotta make it leave me.

August 16, 20—

Memories just won't leave me alone, and the professor's dead voice just won't leave me alone, and damn Storm for her 'You need an outlet' lectures.

So I left a hole in the wall of the kitchen. At least I didn't hit Mr.-I-am-a-Diplomat, though I probably would've felt better if I had.

They shouldn't be complaining, considering, especially Blue Boy. Got enough money to fix another hole in the wall, but Storm was speechless anyway, and not in a good way either. Couldn't speak for a full minute. People don't act like that, she said. Damn people. She doesn't understand.

You wanna hear, then? You wanna hear what kinda life I've had?

Summers used to say I was dangerous. If only he knew.

I can't tell them. They just wouldn't understand. Even those who aren't afraid of me now would freak, because they can't understand how much of an animal I really am. I don't think anyone knows—Chuck didn't even know, really. Just Stryker, and me.

The kids, Storm, even Beast . . . they were born human. There's something there, I think, that just starts you off looking at the world like a human, no matter what they do to you. No matter that you're a mutant.

I wasn't born a human. I wasn't even born a mutant. Not in this life, that is, because everything before is Nothing.

I'm different, even here, at Xavier's place where different means normal.

For the kids here at the school one of the greatest shocks of their lives was finding out that they were different—that they weren't as human as they thought. That they were mutants. That they were different, and the world would hate them for it.

The greatest shock of my life wasn't finding out how different I was from all of them—but realizing, after all, that I was human. That I was one of Them.

It was the damnedest shock of my life.

TBC . . .

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