Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to X-Men or Marvel. This is the last chapter in the story, and the last story in my series, so I hope ya'll enjoy it. Let me know what you think. And thank ya'll for supporting me these last two years. I've really appreciated it. Take care.
I was in a room and it was dark.
I had been in the room before, but there was something different about it. I wasn't sure what it was, but I could feel it.
Something was about to happen.
I watch the dark closely, waiting for any sign of movement. Finally, to my right, I heard a noise. A door opened, broken shards of light splayed across the floor as I listen to the sounds of heavy footsteps making their way into the room. Moments later, there was a 'click' and the room began to fill with a dull green-yellow light. Another click and a large board filling most of one wall was illuminated, showing dozens of X-rays tacked to it.
There were three men total in the room and I watched as they set about working. They were doing something to the tank that was in the middle of the room, but I couldn't see what it was. After a few minutes passed, I saw the water begin to bubble.
They were boiling it.
Stryker and his two assistants then left the room. And when they came back, they weren't alone.
Stryker escorted eight men and one woman into the room. Most were wearing normal clothes, but one of the men was dressed in a Canadian Armed Forces uniform, and judging from the pins on his lapel, he was well decorated and obviously highly respected. There was no speaking between any of them as Stryker explained that they were about to see what their money had helped fun and that they were about to witness history as they saw the first successfully trained human weapon. The ultimate killing machine. A super solider like none the world had ever seen.
And then they brought in Logan.
He was naked and lying on a metal table. He wasn't strapped down like usual, he was instead lying there willfully. But when I looked in his eyes, I saw that they were blank. He was heavily sedated and looked nearly dead.
The two men wheeled him in and, with the help of three other assistants, lifted Logan from the table and placed him on the metal rack just above the tank. Once they had secured his wrists, ankles and chest, and Stryker assured his guests that the restraints were purely for the protection of Weapon X, not them, his men stepped back and they lowered Logan into the tank of boiling water.
He didn't react at first. Even as the water began burning his kin, he remained unaffected. But I watched as his eyes began to lose their blankness and as life was brought back to him. When the sedatives wore off, he began to react. He thrashed around in the tank, screaming into the scalding hot water as the heat got to him, racking his body with unbelievable pain.
I watched as the twelve people in the room didn't flinch at the sight of the man in pain. They only stood quietly, watching, observing. After several minutes of torture, they remained as straight faced as before. Only one grew curious and asked about the other experiments that they had tested on him. When Stryker explained what all that they had done, they still seemed confused. How was it possible?
"He can't die," Stryker explained. "He's the perfect assassin; you never have to replace him."
Then he nodded to his assistants and they disappeared from my sight. A few moments later, I noticed that the water was no longer boiling. Stryker told them that they would let the water cool before starting it all over again. Then another man entered the room and told Stryker that he had an urgent phone call. Before excusing himself, he told the spectators to take a glass of champagne; their experiment was successful, they should celebrate.
I watched as he left and his two assistants wheeled in a table full of champagne glasses. I watched as the men and one woman toasted to the success of Project X. As Logan continued to scream, and buck, and thrash.
And then he stopped.
He lay perfectly still at the bottom of the tank. His eyes open, not blinking. His chest didn't move. There were no air bubbles come from his nose or mouth.
He looked dead.
He stayed in this position for only a few seconds before he drew the attention of Stryker's assistants. Together they leaned over the tank, examining him as close as they dared with the water still near boiling.
And in a split second, everything broke into chaos.
Logan pulled himself free of his wrist and chest restraints and sat up straight in the tank, popping his claws as he did and sinking both sets into the assistants, killing them immediately. He removed his claws from them, sending them both to the floor in a bloody mess, their entrails spilling out of the deep cavities in their chests.
He stood, pulling out of his ankle straps, and jumped from the tank. Without a second's hesitation, he slashed his claws through the nearest person, the man in the military uniform, slicing his body completely in half. His top half slid from his torso, both falling to the ground as his legs continued to twitch.
He turned to face the others as they attempted to flee the room. He sunk his claws into the nearest person, burying them deep into the soft flesh of his stomach. His claws ripped through his back with a loud 'POP' as he severed his spine. Dead, Logan tossed him across the room like a rag doll and continued on with his massacre.
He slashed his claws through heads, slicing easily through their skulls and brains. The neatly cut slices landed on the floor, adding to the bloody heap. He moved quickly, efficiently, killing until there was no one left in the room alive.
Except for the woman. She lay amidst the ravaged bodies, covered in their blood and gore. She begged for her life. And then he killed her.
He left the room, cutting his way through the three-inch steel door in under a minute. Once in the hallway, the killing continued. He killed everyone in his path. Every guard, scientist, his 'handlers', the assistants, the psychiatric specialists who were hired to make sure he wasn't being pushed too far. He cut his way throughout the underground compound in a murderous rage that lasted the whole night, following his training of being nothing more than the perfect killing machine. As morning neared, his butchery ended as every person lay dead or dying.
Then he made his way to the exit of the underground facility, leaving a trail of thick blood and gore in his wake. He moved through the dim halls and climbed the thousands of stairs that led to his only way out. When he saw the door, he ran towards it. Light from the outside world spilled in through the cracks. As the light covered him, he looked down at his hands as if they were new. For the first time, he saw the six adamantium claws extended from his knuckles. They were covered in blood. As were his hands, arms, face and the rest of his body.
I saw the saw the confusion and agony in his eyes. He didn't know what had happened. He didn't know where he was. He didn't know who or what he was.
And he screamed.
I woke with a small gasp and sat up. I remembered my leg was broken as pain shot through my whole body and I gritted my teeth hard, biting back a growl of pain.
"Hey, you all right?" Logan asked, turning to look at me from where he was standing at the entrance of the cave.
"Yeah," I said, taking a few deep breaths to calm myself from my vision and the pain.
"Did you see something?" he asked. I nodded. "What did you see?"
I looked up at him. "Escaping."
And that was it. That was the end of that conversation. He knew what I was talking about and there was no reason for me to elaborate. But after that day, I never had another vision of Logan again.
We spent the next hour waiting out the rain. We talked, but not about the vision, about things that didn't matter. Like which was better; Chinese food or Japanese. About our favorite Three Stooges bit. About why Wyle. E. Coyote never caught Roadrunner and why he never just gave up, and why, exactly, he kept buying all of his stuff from Acme if is just backfired. We talked about anything and everything, and slowly the images of him naked, covered in blood and screaming out of agony begin to leave my mind. And once again, he became Logan. Not an experiment, but a man. A great man. A great father. My hero.
Once the rain stopped, Logan put out the fire and the two of us started down the mountain once again. In order for me to climb down, I needed his help. So I slung my arm over his shoulder and used a stick in the other hand to help steady myself. It wasn't fast, and my leg hurt like all get out, but it worked and slowly we made our way down. About half way, Hank called in over the com-link that Storm was on her way to get us and that he was sending a shot with pain medicine in it for me to take as soon as we boarded. That news gave me a little kick in my step, and by the time the sun had set, we had made it to the bottom of the mountain. When I saw the jet, I felt like weeping out of joy. On the Blackbird was enough pain medication to knock me out for hours.
When Storm lowered the ramp, Logan made me ditch my walking stick before scooping me up in his arms and carrying me to my seat.
"What happened to her?" Storm asked, handing Logan the case with the shot in it.
"She broke her leg," Logan said, pulling my glove off and unzipping my sleeve, exposing my arm.
"I slipped," I said.
Logan tapped the side of the shot to get all of the air bubbles to float to the top, the pressed the shot down until liquid came out of the top of the needle. Once all of the air bubbles were out, he found a vein in my arm and sunk the needle in my skin, emptying its contents into the vein in my arm.
"Hank said that should start working in five or ten minutes," Storm said. "But I need you to buckle up now. I'm taking off before it going into effect."
I nodded. "Okay."
I did as she said and buckled myself into my seat and prepared for takeoff. I was already tired so the medicine began to take effect almost immediately. As it sank into my bloodstream, I felt drowsy. My eyelids were heavy and difficult for me to keep open as I tried to watch Storm and Logan buckling up in the cockpit. They were talking and I wanted to stay awake long enough to hear their conversation, but I was struggling and it was a losing battle.
"What the heck's goin' on at the school, 'Ro? Me and Jayden have been stuck up there all day and no one's cared to tell us what's happenin'," I heard Logan say, his voice seeming distant.
"It's not good, Logan," Storm replied, her voice seemed further away. "It's not good at all."
Then the darkness came.
My eyes blinked open and I stared up at the dim lights above my head. It took me a few moments to realize I was in the infirmary. I pushed myself up slightly in the hospital bed I was lying in, but couldn't move too far. My left leg was in a cast and hanging in a sling that was attached to my bed and keeping it raised about my heart to keep the swelling down.
"I see that the patient has finally woken," Hank said, walking into the infirmary, hobbling along with his cane. "How do you feel?"
"A little groggy, but all right, I guess. I don't really feel any pain."
"Good. I gave you an Ibuprofen a few hours ago, that means it's still working."
"How long have I been out?"
"Almost a whole day."
I looked around me. "Where's the baby?" I asked.
"Ororo has her."
I laughed. "That figures. Jean goes through what? Ten hours of labor? Then someone comes alone and takes the kid." I shook my head. "Where is Jean, anyway? I thought you would keep her down here longer than a day."
"Jean's no longer here."
"Well, I guess if I had spent that much time in labor I'd probably want to sleep in my own bed, too."
"No what?" I asked, suddenly feeling the emotions that had been with him since he walked into the room. I had been too groggy to notice them at first, but now they were obvious.
"Jayden, I'm afraid that Jean…she…she passed away yesterday," Hank said, trying to be as professional as possible. But he was talking about one of his friends and I knew the words hurt.
"What? No. No, that's not right. She's alive, she's fine, she has to be."
He shook his head. "No Jayden."
"But you said she could live for two years," I argued, feeling my emotions beginning to well up inside of me.
"Yes, but that was the maximum. I told you that I couldn't say for certain. The stress of being in labor and giving birth was just too much for Jean's body to handle," he said. "There was nothing we could do."
My mind reeled. I tried finding words, but the only ones that would come out were, "But what about Scott?"
"He was with her. He held her hand the whole time. She went very peacefully. That's all we could ask for."
I shook my head. "No, this isn't right," I said again. "She can't just leave like that. She can't leave Scott like that. Not him and the baby."
"Jayden, I told you; there was nothing we could do. She knew she was dying."
I felt sick to my stomach as everything ran through my mind. I shook my head to try to clear my thoughts, but it didn't work. "I need out of here," I said finally, my voice quiet and hoarse. "I have to get out of here." I tried to pull my leg from the sling, but I couldn't bend my knee and I couldn't reach far enough to slip off the sling. I tried for a couple of minutes, but still couldn't do it. I looked up at Hank. "Help me," I said. "Please."
"You shouldn't be exerting yourself, you're injured," he said, but I could tell he saw the pain I was in, and it had nothing to do with my leg.
"I don't care!" I yelled, holding back tears. "I promised I would be there for Scott when he needed me Hank, and I wasn't. I need to see him. Please."
He was quiet for a few moments, then nodded. He walked over to the bottom of my bed, walking slowly with his cane, and then slipped my leg from the sling before carefully placing it on the bed. I pushed myself up and than swung both of my legs off the side and planted my feet on the floor. Then, using the nightstand as leverage, pulled myself up and stood.
"Stay here. I'm going to get you a set of crutches," Hank said.
He left the infirmary and went to the room connected to it. I did as he said and waited for him to bring me the set of crutches. Once he did, he told me that he thought Scott was in his room and I went to find him.
I took the elevator straight to the second floor and as fast as I could, made my way to the teacher's wing. The house was eerily quiet. Had Hank not told me what had happened, I could have known. I could feel it. Grief, sadness, mourning, it filled the school and seeped from the walls. And it broke my heart.
I walked through the quiet, empty halls until I was at Scott's room. I reached up my hand to knock and paused when I heard him crying and I felt my heart begin to ache a little more. Finally, I brought my hand back and knocked, then waited as I heard footsteps falling behind the door. Then it opened.
"Hey," Scott said, his voice hoarse, and I knew it was from his crying. "Logan said you broke your leg. How does it feel?"
"It's okay," I said. I took a deep breath. "Hank told me about…he told me about Jean."
He ran his hand over his mouth and nodded. "Yeah, she died yesterday."
"Scott I am so sorry."
"Yeah, me too," he said. He looked exhausted. "Do you mind coming in? I need your help with something."
"Yeah, what do you need?" I asked, following him into his room.
He walked over to his bed and held up two ties. "I'm trying to pick out a tie to wear to the funeral tomorrow, but I've been staring at these for nearly an hour and I can't tell which one's black."
I walked over to him and looked at the ties. "Neither one's black. One's dark blue and the other is brown."
He let out a frustrated sigh and threw the ties across the room. "I just wasted an hour staring at those stupid things," he said angrily. "What kind of an idiot can't tell the difference between black and brown and blue?"
"Why don't you let me pick one out for you?"
"Whatever, I don't care."
"Where do you keep them?"
"My top drawer," he said, pointing to his dresser that was against the wall across from me.
I went over to it and opened the drawer. Rows of immaculately placed ties filled the space and it only took me a second to spot the black one. I pulled it out and then took it to him.
"Thanks," he said, sitting down on his bed. He put the tie on the pillow beside him and put his face in his hands.
I placed my crutches at the bottom of his bed and sat beside him. "Scott, I don't know what to say to you. I don't know what you're going through and nothing I say is going to make it better."
"Then don't say anything." He pulled his face out of his hands and looked at me. "You don't have to; being here is enough."
"I'm sorry I wasn't here for you yesterday."
He shook his head. "No, I'm glad you didn't see me yesterday. I was a complete mess," he said. "Not that I'm not now. But I didn't want you to see me like that."
"Why? Are you afraid it would have made you look human?"
He gave a small laugh as he wiped at a rogue tear running down his cheek. "Something like that, yeah."
"Scott, the reason I love you so much is because you are human. You're allowed to make mistakes, and you're allowed to fall. You don't have to always be strong. It's okay to be weak sometimes. You've earned every right to feel what you feel right now and no one is going to think any differently of you for showing it."
He shook his head as more tears rolled down his face. "I can't burry my wife, Jayden, I can't," he said, crying. "I thought the hardest thing I would ever have to do was fly away from Alkali Lake and leave Jean there. I thought…I thought that was it. And that nearly killed me. So what's this going to do to me?"
"It's not going to kill you," I said, placing my mouth close to his ear and whispering. "Do you understand me?"
"What am I going to do?"
"You're going to keep moving," I said. "You're going to get up every day and you're going to go on with your life."
"I'm scared," he said, his voice shaking as he cried.
"I know. And you're going to be and there's nothing I can say to keep you from being scared. But I love you, Scott, you have no idea how much I love you and I promise you that I'll always be here for you when you are scared. I'm going to be here when you're angry, or sad, or feel like you're going crazy, and I'll always do the best I can to help you. You're going to hurt, and grieve, and cry. But you are going to survive this."
He didn't say anything; he just pulled me to him and hugged me. His arms wrapped around me tightly. I could feel all of his pain. All of his fear. His anger. I felt it as I held him to me. And I cried. I cried for him, for his baby. I cried for the school. For the Professor, and Storm, and Hank. For all of those who had known Jean, who had loved her. I cried for me, because despite how I felt about her, she was still my family. I cried for us all.
Scott and I held each other for what seemed like forever until there was a knock on his door. He pulled himself away from me and wiped away the tears from his face. He cleared his throat, stood and composed himself before going to the door and opening it.
"I thought her daddy might like to see her for a little while," Storm said, holding a pink bundle in her arms.
I saw Scott's whole face light up as he carefully took the baby from her. "Thank you, Ororo. I appreciate you watching her while I arranged everything."
"It was no problem, Scott. She was a perfect little angel."
Scott smiled as he looked down at her, and it was genuine. The amount of love that radiated off him as he held his baby girl was powerful and overwhelming. I could feel it filling the room and soon the tears I had been crying in sorrow turned to happiness.
He looked over at me. "Do you want to meet her?" he asked.
I nodded as I wiped the tears away from my cheeks. "Yeah," I said, grabbing my crutches and standing. I walked over to him and looked down at her. She wriggled a bit and yawned, the settled back into his arms, content. "She's absolutely beautiful."
He beamed. "I know."
I gave him a smile. "You did good, Summers," I said.
"Do you ever name her?"
"Yeah," he said, rocking her slightly. "Lily Hope."
"Did Jean know -?"
"That it was your middle name?" he asked. I nodded. "Yeah, she knew. It was her idea. She knew you were changing it, but she thought you might pass it down to her."
I smiled at him, but didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say. His wife, the woman I had never gotten along with, had named her child after me. And I couldn't have been more flattered or honored.
I looked down at the baby and smiled at her. "Hey Lily, I'm Jayden. I've wanted to see you for a very long time and a lot of people are excited that you're finally here," I said "You have a daddy that loves you so much. And even though your momma's not here, she loved you very much, too. I hope when you get older you understand that she didn't want to leave you and that she always loved you. That's a very special thing and that makes you a very lucky little girl."
"She has a whole family that loves her," Storm said.
I looked up at her and for the first time, I didn't feel anything negative coming from her towards me. Instead, she gave me a weak smile. I couldn't tell what she was thinking for sure, but it seemed that Jean's death had put her feelings into perspective and right then, we both made a silent truce.
"Did she sleep at all while you had her?" Scott asked.
Storm looked over at him. "No, she was wide awake," she answered.
"Well I'm going to feed her and see if I can't get her to take a nap. I think I might need one, too."
"If you can't get her to sleep you can bring her back to me and I'll watch her while you do."
He nodded and gave her a smile. "I will," he said. "And thank you Ororo, I really do appreciate it."
Storm leaned up and gave him a kiss on his cheek. "You're welcome, Scott," she said. "You two have a good nap. I'll see you later. Bye Jayden."
"Bye Storm," I said as she turned and walked away. "I guess I should to, too. But if you need me, you can come get me. Okay?"
"Actually, can you do me a favor?"
"Yeah, what do you need?"
"Can you…will you stay with me?"
"Until you get Lily to sleep?"
He shook his head. "No, I want you to stay with me while I sleep. If you don't mind. I just…I need someone with me tonight."
I didn't hesitate before nodding my head. "Yeah," I said. "I can stay."
And I did.
I stayed with him as he fed Lily and rocked her to sleep before putting her into her crib beside his bed. As he crawled under his covers, too exhausted to put on pajamas. I lay down beside him and stayed as he wrapped his arm around me, burying his face into the back of my hair. I stayed as I felt him fall asleep and soon I found myself falling asleep, too.
That night wasn't easy. Lily kept woke up every few hours hungry, wet, or just to cry. I would watch sleepily as Scott danced her around the room in his arms, holding her close to him, and would sing.
"Sleep my child and peace attend thee all through the night. Guardian angels God will send thee, all through the night. Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, hill and dale in slumber sleeping, I my loved ones' watch am keeping, all through the night Angels watching, e'er around thee, all through the night. Midnight slumber close surround thee, all through the night. Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, hill and dale in slumber sleeping I my loved ones' watch am keeping, all through the night."
When the morning sun broke over the horizon, I sat in bed with Scott as he rocked Lily softly, and together we watched it rise through his window.
"Let's see if I can make it through today," he whispered in my ear.
I looked at him. "You can," I said quietly. "I'll be right there with you."
He kissed my temple before slipping out of bed and gently placing the baby back in her crib. "Why don't you go get ready?" he said. "The service will start in a couple of hours." I nodded silently and stood from the bed, grabbing my crutches as I did, and tried to walk across the room as quietly as I could so not to disturb Lily. When I made it to the door, Scott met me there. He looked down at me and I could feel so much emotion coming from him. "Thank you, Jayden."
"You don't have to thank me Scott. I'm just sorry I can't help more."
He gave me a tired, weak smile. "You've helped more than you know."
He bent his head and pressed his lips lightly against mine, kissing me. It wasn't a romantic kiss. It was one full of heartache, and grief, and pain, and sorrow. He knew I couldn't stay and wait for him to get over Jean again this time; he was letting me go.
I left his room, but instead of going to mine to get ready for the funeral, I continued down the hall to Logan's. I knocked on the door lightly and only a few moments later he answered. He didn't say anything as I walked into his room. As I threw my crutches to the floor. As I buried my face into his chest and cried harder than I had cried in months. He just wrapped his arms around me and held me to him.
I realized then something that Logan had been trying to teach me; that life isn't always right, or fair. And part of growing up was being able to accept that. To know that no matter what you did, no matter how hard you tried, everybody has to hurt at some point. I didn't know who controlled everything in the universe; I was just as lost on that as I had ever been. I didn't know if things happened for a reason or if they just happened. But I did know that when they do, we have to make a choice to either learn from them and grow, or pretend it doesn't affect us and, eventually, fall apart. We have to decide if we're going to let it control us, destroy us.
When I had first started training with Logan, I had a hard time when I would fail. I couldn't stand messing up. But when I would fall, Logan would always tell me to get back up, shake it off, and keep going at it. At some of the worst moments in my life, I would hear him telling me to get back up, to keep on going.
And I realized that that was life. One decision to keep going, despite the odds, and knowing that you can survive.
That's what Socrates told us. But it's better to spend our time getting to know other people. Finding ourselves in others. Finding people that we love and who love us in return, just for who we are. Even if it means getting hurt. Pain is a part of life, it's what reminds us that we're all human, but it's what we decide to do with the pain that make us who we are. And I learned that I would rather love and lose someone than to have never have known that feeling and remained numb my whole life.
But over time I realized that when we love something, it doesn't go away, it's always with us, we just have to know where to look. I also learned that sometimes, things don't always end the way we think they will. Sometimes, it's not the ending at all; it's actually only just the beginning.