The Nightmare's End
by Rowena Zahnrei
He called himself Logan, but he didn't know if that was his real name or one he'd picked up somewhere over the course of his long life.
At least, he assumed it had been long.
Thanks to the experiments of the recently deceased Colonel Stryker—the man responsible for plating his skeleton with the practically indestructible metal known as adamantium—Logan couldn't remember anything prior to fifteen years ago. And, even with the healing factor that kept his true age a mystery, he was quite clearly far older than fifteen.
Logan was tired of the mystery. He was tired of the gaping void in his head, teasing him with random images that could be memories or nothing more than dreams. Try as he might, he could never remember the things he wanted to remember—where and when he was born, what his true name was, had he ever been married...
But it seemed the irony of his life was that the things he wanted to forget stuck with him.
It had been a week. An entire week since Jeannie's sacrifice. Seven days since the dauntless, brilliant red-head who had caught his eye and burrowed into his heart had done the impossible.
Jean Grey had called upon the astonishing powers within her to hold back the raging tide of water that had burst through the dam—flooding the underground Alkali Base, the dark lair of Colonel Stryker and his twisted scientists. At the same time, she had imbued the X-Jet with enough juice to fly away to safety. Jeannie had saved them all, but the cost had been her own life.
He'd had the nightmare before. It came in flashes, in bright bursts of fragmented memory...
Rippling water. A goldfish pond. Tentative laughter, the salty taste of a crispy cracker rolled in flavored seaweed lingering in his mouth. A deceptively delicate flavor.
A woman...dark, crescent eyes sparkling with love, the rich colors of her silk kimono putting all the flowers of the restful garden to shame. He leaned in for a tender kiss, knocking over the small bottle of saki, the two of them laughing as the contents spilled into the fishpond...did goldfish get drunk?
Sunlight and shadows, the wild surf crashing against the rocky shore. Mount Fuji silhouetted in the distance. And there she was again, reaching out to take his hand, resplendent in her traditional wedding clothing...he had never seen anything so beautiful...
She was in his arms. But, something was wrong. Her eyes were cold, glassy, staring at nothing. Her dark hair brushed against the woven mat as he knelt, rocking her lifeless body in his arms, a pain, a rage unlike any other he had ever known searing his soul...
But, he wasn't in Japan. He was in Canada, kneeling in the deep snow. Only, now it was Jean he held in his arms, her russet hair wild and unkempt, tousled by the biting wind, her bright, sorrowful eyes memorizing all the details of his rugged face as she brushed a gentle hand against his bristly cheek...
Logan sat up in bed, panting and sweating, the details of the recurring nightmare already fading from his memory. He reached up to bring a hand to his forehead, and nearly poked his eye out with a deadly adamantium claw. With a colorful swear, Logan retracted his claws, got to his feet, and headed for the door, not caring where he was going or where he'd end up.
He needed to fight something. He needed to scream. He needed to punch a hole through the wall.
As he turned a corner, Logan's sharp eyes noted a dim light shining under the new guy's door. His sensitive ears picked up the faint SCRITCH SCRATCH of a pen on paper.
So, the Nightcrawler was awake too...
Turning on his heel, Logan marched back to his room. He had a katana in the closet, somewhere. He didn't know where it had come from or how he had obtained it, but he did know it was a darn good sword.
Maybe it was time he took the Elf up on his offer.
Christian,# my dear friend,
How can I possibly begin? No doubt right now you are thinking your father was right about me all those years ago when he said I was a devil. It seems you can't walk down a single street or even turn on a television these days without seeing a sketch of "The White House Assassin." Yes, yes, I know it is not a very good likeness, but you cannot deny a certain resemblance to yours truly. How many other blue men with golden eyes and pointed ears can you point out in a crowd? Well, perhaps there are a few. But the scars have to be a dead give away.
Christian, please believe me when I tell you all this is not as it seems! I can explain...##
Kurt Wagner shook his head with a frustrated sigh, throwing the pen down and rocking back in his chair with his knees pressed against the underside of his desk.
"I can explain," he muttered in German. "Yeah. Right. Oh, hello Christian, I'm just writing to tell you that last week I attacked the President of the United States with a knife! But it wasn't really my fault, you know. This twisted military man called William Stryker made me do it with mind control!"
Kurt let his chair drop back to the hardwood floor with a THUD and ran a three-fingered hand through his short, indigo curls.
"Oh, yes, that sounds really good," he said, his voice laced with sarcasm. "He's sure to believe that."
Pushing himself to his feet, Kurt slumped his shoulders and dragged his tail over to his bedroom window.
"Ach, maybe if someone could explain to me what happened this would be easier? I still keep thinking I'll wake up to find myself back home with the Munich Circus."
He chuckled slightly, but his eyes remained haunted.
"I really should stop talking to myself now, shouldn't I. Most of the people here already think I'm strange. I'm the freaky blue man with the foreign accent and all those creepy scars. Ooh, and did you see his tail? And what about those feet?"
Kurt leaned his palms against the broad windowpane, casting his yellow gaze over the grounds of the Xavier Institute for the Gifted. Peaceful, nighttime shadows cloaked the vast, tree-dotted lawn, but Kurt Wagner's luminescent eyes could cut through the darkness, allowing him to pick out every detail of the lovely garden far below.
"Perhaps the students think I'm deaf, even with these pointed ears," he said. "But, I don't want them to think I'm crazy as well!"
"Talkin' to yourself, bub?"
Kurt gasped and turned, a hand pressed to his chest. The man who had spoken leaned against the door frame, an unlit cigar lodged in the corner of his mouth.
"'Cause if you were talkin' to me, I gotta tell ya I don't know a word of German."
"Ach, Herr Logan!" Kurt managed to smile. "I did not hear you knock."
Logan stepped into the room.
"That's 'cause I didn't," he said, striding over to the desk and peering down at Kurt's unfinished note.
"Hmm," he grunted. "I didn't think people actually wrote letters anymore. Not with all this e-mail and instant text messaging crap they've got now."
Kurt smiled a little self-consciously and hurriedly tucked his letter into a nearby folder, out of view.
"Well, I have always had...trouble...when it comes to computers," he confessed, his tail twitching uncomfortably. He waved a three-fingered hand at Logan. "Those tiny little keys don't seem to have been designed with me in mind. I have similar problems with most telephones." He shrugged. "Besides, I like letters. To me, they seem more personal somehow."
Logan nodded his understanding.
"So who's this one to?" he asked, gesturing to the folder.
Kurt lowered his eyes.
"It is to one of my oldest friends," he told him, his voice soft. "Christian Gunther. We have known each other since we were children."
He looked up, his expression brightening.
"Christian is an aeronautical engineer, you know, as is his wife," he said. "They have a nine year old son, Amil." Kurt smiled fondly. "Every time the circus passed their way, they would always come to visit me."
He tilted his head, regarding Logan curiously.
"Why have you come, mein Freund? It is well past midnight."
Logan gave a careless shrug.
"Everyone else in this place is asleep," he grunted. "Well, except for that Jones kid. And he's not much for conversation."
"You wish to talk, then?" Kurt asked him.
Logan shook his head.
How did he— Firmly repressing a sharp glare, Logan sighed. The Elf was perceptive, he had to give him that.
The burly Canadian shook his scruffy head again.
"I wasn't actually gonna bug you about this until tomorrow mornin', but seein' as you're already awake..."
He pulled his katana from behind his back.
Kurt's eyes widened slightly as he took in his friend's meaning.
"If you've nothin' better to do. I'm feelin' some of that tension and aggression you were talkin' about the other day buildin' up, if you know what I mean."
A slow grin spread across Kurt's narrow features.
"Ja, actually," he said. "I have been feeling rather frustrated of late myself. So, Herr Logan, do you want to walk to the Danger Room, or shall we take a more direct route?"
"No way, Elf," Logan stated. "I'm not fallin' for that one. You know those jaunts of yours make me sick to my stomach, an' I'm not about to give you any advantage."
"I will see you there, then, mein Freund. Don't take too long, OK?"
And with that, Kurt Wagner vanished in a theatrical BAMF of sulfurous smoke.
To Be Continued...