The Damned Have No Right To Weep
I sit in the center of my complex, surrounded by elaborate security systems, elaborate defenses, and stare into nothing. One of the readouts shows me the visitor I have been expecting, but I no longer look at it. I know what it will tell me, know it will warn me when my visitor draws near enough for my plan to be enacted. There is no need to look.
Instead I look behind my eyes, and I see death.
Broken bodies strewn everywhere under the wreckage of a destroyed home, a destroyed way of life. People who, against their better judgment, took me in and aided me in my time of need. People who, against all their experience, came finally to trust me, to seek to help me.
People whom I killed.
It was at my own request that Phoenix had been probing through my memories. I remember that now, remember now the growing camaraderie and almost-trust that had been growing between myself and the others. I asked her to seek out what remained of my memories, because I felt I needed to try to integrate my old life with my new, to achieve a balance. To retain the memories and skills of my old life, with the conscience of the new, so I could properly atone, in full awareness of what I'd done.
It was, on the face of it, not a bad plan. In the long run, it worked. I remember all of it, now.
In the short run, though--
Rogue was not in the mansion. That much gladdens me. One tiny scrap of comfort in a world turned far more cold and bleak than even I had known it to be before.
I remember the taste of her lips on mine, the feel of her body in my arms. The love I felt for her, the sense of possibilities ahead of us filling me with joy. The future I saw for the two of us, and in the rosy light of that happiness, a thread of optimism, finally, for the future of all our people.
How quickly it all became ash, burnt on the bonfire of my own madness.
There is no one left to blame but myself.
My visitor has disabled several of the internal defenses. I expected no less. There's little point even to having them, really, except that my visitor expects to find such defenses, and so I put them there. There's only one visitor, surprisingly, and even had there been several, none of those that I expected might come have the power to hurt me, should I not wish it. The only defense I truly need is my own power, and the will to defend myself.
When Jean entered my mind, searching for the memories I had somehow locked away, she found them-- and they overwhelmed me, drowning the present, drowning all I knew to be my life right then. For a moment it was two years past again, and I was on Avalon fighting for my life. The witch whose presence I felt in my mind was Xavier's student, joined with him to torture me, break me with my own worst memories. I gave her far more merciful and swift a death than the cruel mental destruction Xavier had tried to grant me.
The rage had me completely. I cast my powers outward, destroying everything in my path. They had invaded my home, torn my flesh and made me bleed, set my son and a woman I loved against me, made me relive my worst memories out of a lifetime of pain. And, finally, they'd killed me, Xavier blasting my mind to shreds. In that moment of rage, I didn't wonder how I'd survived, didn't consider that I should not be able to remember dying when I was in fact clearly not dead. All I knew was that they'd killed me, and I was avenging myself. Xavier's mansion fell, broken to bits as he had done to my mind, and his students' blood ran through the halls of their home as my own blood had run through mine.
It was not until the battle-- brief as it was, for they didn't expect attack from within-- was over, and I had flown away in triumph, that I remembered the years of my amnesia. Of the care that they had shown me, in my time with them. Of my love for Rogue, and my fear that I would remember, and do...
...exactly what I had just done...
I remember the broken bodies of my friends, the people who'd trusted me, fallen to my hand, but there are no tears. The damned have no right to weep.
My visitor is here.
I turn and catch him in a bubble of force before his leap toward me finishes, and pin him back against the wall. He snarls, and struggles, trying to free himself. I let him spend the fury, let him realize that berserker rage won't help him here, let rationality return. It takes only a moment. He's less of a wild man than he was the first time we clashed, or the first time he betrayed me-- he's an old, tired man who's seen too much death, done too much killing. As am I.
"I guess this suit ain't all it's cracked up to be," he says, deceptively calm. "I should take it back to the bozos who made it, demand a refund."
He's wearing the costume that was designed for assassins to come after me, the one the man who almost killed me at Wundagore was wearing. It uses a bath of electrolytes under a rubber skin to make him invisible to my perceptions, electromagnetically neutral. "It does what it was designed for," I tell him.
"So. How'd you know, then?"
"Mutant detectors, keyed to inform me of the presence of any of the X-Men. You did disable several of the internal sensors, but I've known of your presence since long before you reached any of them. I've been expecting you. One of you, at any rate... I'd rather thought it might be Rogue."
"She don't need to deal with this," he says. "This business is for killers, and she ain't that anymore."
"Nor would I want her to be. I'm glad it was you, Logan. It makes things easier. No hesitation, no regrets."
"Guess it's harder to kill a woman you've just been screwing, huh Mags?"
As if that were all it was. "I loved Rogue," I say.
"Funny way you've got of showing it. Killing off most of her friends, and all."
My eyes narrow. "You know nothing of it, little man. You have no idea--" I cut myself off, turn away. "What Jean awakened was my memories of the battle on Avalon. I thought I was fighting for my life. I thought I had just been killed, by Xavier, and what I was doing now was a last miraculous chance I had to avenge myself before I died. I didn't remember--" Again I stop, cutting off my own words.
"Convenient, what you do and don't remember."
"Not very," I whisper. "A convenient memory would have kept the secret of the friendship you all showed to Joseph until long, long after you were dead. A convenient memory would have hidden from me once again the friendship I shared with you, when I was headmaster of the New Mutants at Charles' behest. A convenient memory would not have replayed all your deaths behind my eyes every time I've tried to sleep for the past four months. There's nothing convenient about my memories, Wolverine. Nothing at all."
He says nothing. I wonder if perhaps he's beginning to understand. There was a time when I knew that he and I understood one another-- two old men, two old soldiers steeped in blood. A great deal of hate has passed between us since, but still, I would like him to understand. I want him to know why I am about to do as I will do.
I face him. "Did any of them live?" My voice is still a hoarse whisper; I do not trust it any louder.
"Who, besides you and Rogue? And the Cajun, I recall he wasn't at the mansion either."
"Think I'm really going to tell you that, Maggie?"
"It doesn't matter." I shake my head. "I'm tired, Logan. Tired of my cause, tired of fighting my own kind, tired of fighting-- and killing-- those I most wish to hold as friends. I thought, in the wake of Avalon, after the loss of my memory, I could have another chance at redemption. But there are no second chances, are there?"
"There are," he said. "But if you screw up every chance that life throws at you, sooner or later it's gotta tell ya something."
"Yes. Sooner or later." I turn away, no longer looking at him. The broken bodies of the dead lie before me, those that I killed accusing me, those that died because I could not save them beseeching me. I'm so very tired.
I sit down at the console, still facing away from Wolverine, my head in my hands, and release the force field that holds him.
Does he understand, I wonder, well enough to know why? Or is his hate so strong he thinks this is an accidental faltering? It doesn't matter. I have done what I must do, the only thing I can do with the blood of those that trusted me on my hands. And he--
--will do, what he must do.
Bone claws won't cut through my chain mail armor, but my head and neck are bare. My helmet is on the console in front of me. It's the last thing I see. There's the briefest flare of pain, at the side of my neck, and then nothing at all.