Chapter 1: I'm Scared Too
Grey. Everything was tinted grey. The skies. The landscape. The people. The smoke. Everything.
As I stepped off the train, I was joined with a mass crowd. Fear was normal by now. It was marked on every face around me. It gripped me as well, choking the life out of me, and sending my mind in a whirl wind. No time to think though as I was pushed to move forward with the crowd. There were shouts, orders that I did not understand. I looked at a woman next to me who was very thin and sickly looking. The weariness and fear in her cold eyes matched mine. They burned into me and I had to look away, only to be met by a younger girl who was shaking. No doubt an orphan who, like the rest of us, were terrified and sick. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I felt a small, cold hand grab my own and entwine her fingers in my own. I looked at her small face, tinted with the same grey expression everyone else had.
“No fear.” The woman beside me said with a sunken expression. She nodded towards a dark building. “Shower.” She pointed to her hair. “Louse.”
I looked at the eerie building. I had heard the same rumor as well. That we would all be getting showers to help relieve the lice. But something in me knew better...I couldn't shake the dark feeling I had. I didn't know what was in there but something it was not in anyway supposed to comfort us.
A man in uniform yelled at us to keep moving and I shuffled forward. The little girl still holding on to me with all her strength her little hand could muster. In the distance, smoke rose, dark and ominous. It spelled death and it only worsened my fears. At the entrance of the building, I stopped in my tracks, my breathing picking up. The little girl looked at me with a fearful expression. The woman that spoke to me earlier stopped as well and tried to urge me forward.
I shook my head. “No...no...no.” I breathed out.
The woman's eyes widened and looked towards the guards worriedly. “Come.” She whispers in a hushed tone.
The little girl pulls on my hand and I mechanically follow her. Inside, we are instructed to undress and separate into shower rooms.
As I undress, the woman beside me offers a weak smile. “See. Shower.” She says quietly.
Tears prick my eyes as I stand vulnerable with all the rest of the women. Soon, we're all ushered into a room that resembles a shower but it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel right at all. But there's nothing that I nor anyone else can do. All we can do is wait.
The little girl from earlier clings to my side, trembling. I swallow hard and kneel down to her level. She was no more than nine years old. My heart hurt for her. “What is your name?” I ask her softly.
“Sophia.” She whispers.
“Sophia.” I repeat with a small smile. “Pretty. Mine is Anna.” I introduce myself.
Sophia's blue eyes bore into my own. “Are we going to die, Anna?” She asks fearfully.
The question caught me off guard and I stumbled over my words. “I...I don't know.” I whispered truthfully.
Sophia closed her eyes and nodded. I quickly pull her into my arms and hold her close. We cry together and time stands still for a moment. How did we get here? It should've never been this way. Sophia should be making mud pies. I should be enjoying school and prepping for exams. Instead, we've turned out to be lambs ready for slaughter. The noise around us is deafening. A sea of people wondering what was happening.
All the sudden, we hear a noise that sounds like vents opening. But it's not the comforting, cleansing water we hoped for. Rather, it is a thick fog that fills the room, making it hard to breathe. Cries of panic fill the room, terrifying, booming off the concrete walls. The poison fills my lungs and I cough terribly, finding no relief. I catch sight of the woman I saw earlier and she is coughing frantically when she catches my eye. With tears in her eyes, she whispers, “Sorry.” Just barely enough for me to hear.
I collapse to my knees with Sophia in my arms. Soon, the noise lessens and that was the thing I remembered before darkness completely took over.
I wake up in a jolt and look around. Bodies littered everywhere and the silence is deafening. My breathing picks up and I find that my lungs are clear. I look down and notice that I'm still holding Sophia in my arms. “Sophia?” I shake her. “Sophia!” I scream but she doesn't budge. I tremble violently, looking around but there seemed to be no signs of life. Just surrounded by dark, grey, death.
A terrible, violent scream erupted from me, bouncing off the concrete walls. Men busted through the room, staring at me in disbelief, and ran over to me. They snatched me up and began to shake me as I continued to scream....
“Anna? Anna!” A voice called out to me, shaking me by the shoulders. I wake up, violently swinging at the voice only for my hands to be caught roughly.
“Let go of me!” I scream as I struggle against the grip.
“Anna! Look at me!” A man's gruff voice says, his grip still firm. “Focus on me. Focus on my voice.” He instructs, looking into my eyes.
My breathing is still erratic but I begin to recognize the man in front of me. “Logan.” I breathe out, feeling relieved. His grip softens and he lets out a relieved sigh. I look around and see that I'm laying on a mattress in the warehouse. Once I realize where I am and what happened, I sigh heavily and wipe my eyes. “Sorry.” I whisper.
Logan nods in understanding and releases me then sits on the edge of my bed. “Hell of nightmare, kid.” He says in a slightly concerned voice.
I nod, still trying to steady my breathing. “Auschwitz.” I whisper simply, knowing he'll understand. This wasn't the first time and it most likely wouldn't be the last.
Logan winces. “Same thing happen?” He asks, knowing there's multiple nightmares from that place.
I nod, rubbing my forehead. “Yeah. Gas chamber.” I sigh tiredly. “It felt so real. Hasn't been that bad in a while.”
Logan grunts quietly then gets up. “They always do.” He clears his throat and I notice the condition that he's in and frown.
“You look like shit.” I say as I look him over. He looked like he'd just got into a bad fight.
“Thanks.” He snorts.
I get up and pull off his coat and notice his bloodstained shirt. “Jeez, Logan, what happened to you?” I ask concerned.
He waves me off. “Just some assholes looking for a fight. Nothing new.”
I raise my eyebrows at him. “Well, looks like they found one.” I turn to face him. “Come on. Let's get you cleaned up.” I nod towards the bathroom.
“Nah, I'm fine.” He mutters then starts to walk away while coughing deeply.
“Hey!” I catch up with him and tug on his arm. “You are not fine. Look at you! You've been shot-”
“I said, I'm fine.” He says roughly. He pulls back his collar revealing an almost healed up bullet hole. “See? Bullet's out. Nothing to worry about.”
“There's plenty to worry about.” I say frustrated, crossing my arms. We've had this conversation a time or two.
He glares at me. “Don't start.” He warns, pointing a finger at me.
I sigh exasperated. “Will you at least let me look?” I practically plead. He gives me a weary look. My facial expressions soften. “Please.”
Logan continues to stare at me with tired eyes before letting out a raspy sigh. “Fine. Yeah. Whatever.” He throws his hands up then walks to the bathroom.
I follow him into the bathroom and begin taking out first aid supplies and alcohol. I glance and notice him looking into the mirror, his face unreadable. He breaks away and starts unbuttoning his shirt. Once he gets it off, I see the extent of the damage. A few bullet holes that were still healing. Bruises littering his body. What got me though was the scars. So many angry, brutal scars telling story after story. I stare for a moment, finding it hard to believe this was my same friend that just a few years ago was unstoppable and any bullet would've bounced off much less left any mark.
He catches me staring and I quickly push back my thoughts and get to cleaning his wounds. I clean the blood off and disinfect the wounds, not seeing a reason for the bandage as it was healing quickly after being cleaned. I move to his face, cleaning a few cuts when his eyes catch mine. Tired, old, weary, sick. Much like the woman from my dream. The thing is, we share the same look. We're both tired of life. Logan's just finally showing the physical side of it. A fact that terrifies me and makes me envious all the same.
I take out a stethoscope and bring it to his chest. “Breath deeply for me.” I instruct quietly. He obeys which makes him cough violently while exhaling. I frown, noticing the way he closes his eyes in pain.
“What's the verdict, doc?” He mumbles in a raspy voice.
I shake my head. “Not good. You're sick.” I reply simply, not meeting his eyes. “Let me see your hands.”
“We've already known that.” He says quietly.
I grab the alcohol and swabs, ignoring his comment. I examine his hands in my own. Bloody and slightly infected where his claws normally come out at the knuckles. I clean them as gently as I can then wrap them up. When I finish up, he grabs my hands in his own. I stare at them for a moment. Mine are small and untouched against his large, calloused, and worn hands. I glance up at my old friend and he offers a faint smile. “Thanks.”
I offer a failing smile before wiping my eyes and standing up wordlessly. “There's a clean shirt hanging up in the laundry room.” I inform him, desperately trying to change the subject. But he doesn't fall for it so easy.
“Also, Caliban is going to need those meds today. Old man didn't have a good night.” I say ignoring him.
“He's probably gonna give ya hard time today so head's up-'
“Anna.” He says firmly, bringing me to face him. “What's going on with you?”
“Nothing.” I lie then turn back to putting the supplies away.
“It's not nothing. If you've got something to say then say it.”
“Why? You won't listen anyway.” I reply bitterly.
“What's that supposed to mean?” He asks defensively.
“You know exactly what it means, Logan.” I slam the cabinet door then turn around with a glare. His breathing is picking up a bit and I know he's getting frustrated with me but he doesn't say much.
“Look, don't start this today, Ann. Caliban's already been on my ass enough.”
That's when I start to lose my tempter. Not out of just anger but fear. “And he has every right too, Logan! Look at you! You're not healing like you used too. You're exhausted all the time. That cough is getting worse. You're not sleeping. You barely eat.” I close my eyes and huff.
“Don't you think I know that?” He says bitterly. “It's no new news to me. What do want me to say, huh?” His voice cracks just a tad.
I stare at him sadly. “I want you to deal with it. You're not getting any better, Logan. You need to face that.”
He glares at me. “I already have, Ann. There's not much to face. And I'm sick of you and Caliban trying to counsel and nag me. I don't need your damn therapy.” He bites angrily.
I narrow my eyes at him. “That's what you think we're trying to do?”
“That's what I fuckin' know.” He says. “You don't like what's happenin' then leave! Cause whether you like it or not, things ain't changin' and when it all comes down to it, you know what's gonna happen.”
“I ain't leavin'.” I say stubbornly.
“Why the fuck not?” He mumbles then leaves the bathroom.
“Because that'd be too easy.” I answer and he stops in his tracks then looks at me. I sigh then bite my lip and look down at my hands. “You know, Logan, you and I have been alive for a very long time. Seen a lot of shit happen and you know just as much as I do how painful it is to live. Hell, right now it sucks now more than ever.” Tears prick my eyes. “But I refuse to leave.”
“Why?” He asks softly, no trace of anger in his voice.
“Because I'm stubborn.” I say with a sad smile then go to step around him. The fight gone out of me. “I'm going to do some laundry. Clean up a bit. Make myself useful. Get some rest.” I touch his shoulder before I leave the room.
The rest of the day, I do what I always do. Clean up as much as I can and join Caliban in the laundry room. “Need a hand?” I ask.
“Always. You know I hate fitted sheets.” He says warmly and hands them to me. We make small talk while folding the clothes. I like Caliban. He was a good addition to the weird family we had going on and he helped a lot with the professor though Charles couldn't always stand him. We tried to leave that part to Logan more so anyway as they are very close. Plus, it gave Logan something to do besides drive that limo and drink his life away.
“I heard you and Logan go at it earlier.” He mentions. “Everything alright?”
I shrug. “Just a spat. Nothing more. You know how he can be.”
“Are you okay?” He asks.
“Yeah.” I hand him a folded sheet. “It's not the worst fight we've ever gotten into. Trust me, there's been worse.”
“I see.” He looks at me. “But that's not what I'm talking about.”
I glance at him and sigh tiredly. “No, I'm not okay.” I confess. “He gets worse everyday.”
Caliban nods. “And you're not ready for that, are you?” He whispers.
I shake my head. “No, I'm not.” I answer honestly. “I've known Logan for a long time, Cal. He and the X-Men saved my life. Saved me from becoming a monster. They were the only family I had. Yet Logan was the only one that understood me. He didn't have to say much. Friend, comrade, brother, you name it, he was. He just listened and was just...there. Always. I don't know how else to describe it. He's always been there.” I clench the shirt in my hands. “I don't know what I'm going to do when he's not.”
Caliban grabs my hand and squeezes it gently. “You still have time, Anna.”
I laugh a bit bitterly. “Yeah, time. Time is all I've got.” I sniff then wipe my eyes angrily. “I'll see you later, Cal.” I say then squeeze his hand briefly then walk out of the room.
I spend the rest of the day cleaning, working outside, or taking care of the professor. The old man smiles whenever I come in and grabs my hand warmly. “Anna. I know you.” He says cheerfully. “Sweet girl.”
I smile at him. “Hey, old man.” I greet tenderly.
He tilts his head to the side. “Your smile's not reaching your eyes today.” He says concerned.
His observation catches me a bit off guard. “I-I'm alright. No need to worry.” I assure him.
Charles lifts his hand to my cheek. “Dear girl, life can be awfully sad and but you must remember. There is always hope and there is always purpose.” He whispers.
Tears clog my throat as I squeeze his hand and nod. These moments were rare and I held onto them for dear life. For even though I am technically a bit older, the professor would always be a mentor and dear friend to me, just as Logan was. He always offered wisdom and hope when we needed it most. He was there for me in ways Logan couldn't or didn't know how to be, even in times like this. It'd be hard to say goodbye to him too.
Needing time to myself, I head up to the roof, the sun beginning to set. This was my thinking spot. The only place I found peace. To say today was rough was an understatement. Life had always been hard to an extent but this time it just seemed like night would never end and the pain wouldn't stop. I pull my knees up to my chest and allow myself to release the tears I'd been holding back all day. I felt frustrated, scared, stuck, and more lonely than I had in a long time.
When the tears began to quiet down a bit, I heard someone crawling up the ladder. I don't budge, knowing exactly who it was, I simply move over a bit. Logan quietly makes his way over by me and sits down with a heavy sigh. We fall into a comfortable silence as the stars begin to appear more brightly in the pink sky.
“I'm sorry.” Logan breaks the silence. I glance up at him and know his apology is genuine. “I didn't mean what I said earlier.” I shake my head and sigh, unable to speak in fear of breaking down. “Anna.” He says my name and I swallow hard.
“I'm scared.” I choke out, tears leaking despite trying to will them back.
I feel Logan beside me shift and he puts his arm around me and pulls me to his side. I cling to him like he'd slip away any moment and more tears come. We hold each other for a long time, neither of us saying anything. There's not much to say and neither of us were good with words anyway.
“I'm scared too.” He whispers so faintly that I hardly catch it. I squeeze my eyes shut. “What are you scared of?” He asks.
“Living. Dying. Losing you and Charles. Being alone. You name it.” I answer softly.
Logan remains silent, his hold on me still firm. “Me too.” He finally replies tiredly.
“What do we do?” I ask in a small voice.
Logan sighs tiredly. “Be scared together.”
I squeeze my eyes shut and tighten my hold on my old friend and he does the same. The unknown was a scary place to think about. Terrifying. Especially when you know death is inevitable. But I made a vow that no matter what I wouldn't run. I wouldn't hide. I've seen some of the things Logan went through and we've shared our own war stories. He's had to go through so much and a lot of it he faced alone.
Not this time though. No matter how much I hated seeing him this way, I would not leave him. He will not die alone.