The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...
Chapter 64: Hope
Up and Logan's room, this momentous night which had brought him and Ororo together was certainly not done just yet. After having had their little moment on the danger room observation deck, there was still one little matter that Logan wanted to address while the moment was still fresh. It had actually been a matter that he had been contemplating for some time now, but until that fateful kiss with Ororo, he didn't have the nerve to bring it up. But now that things were different, he wanted to take care of this...If for anything, just to get it out in the open.
"Here it is, Ro," said Logan as he reached into one of his drawers and pulled out a framed document.
"Laura's adoption papers," Ororo said, feeling somewhat surprised that this was what he had brought her upstairs to show her, "I see you've done something to it."
"Yeah, well getting it framed wasn't all that hard," he shrugged, "Besides, it felt right...Keeping something like this safe since it's this little slip of paper that officially gave me a family."
"I take it that it means a lot to you," said the former weather goddess, who couldn't help but smile at her friend's sentimental actions.
"It does...More than I can put into words."
Ororo watched as a conflicted look fell upon the feral man's face. Looking at this document brought something out in him that really struck him down to his very core. A lot had changed. There was no doubt about it. And it was certainly a lot for him to take in.
"You've come a long way, Logan...More so than anyone I know," she said tenderly, taking his hand in hers.
"Glad ya think so, darlin'. But just so ya know, I still don't know what the hell I'm doin'. Hell, I'm a parent to a teenage girl now. I'm legally and biologically Laura's father. I wasn't prepared for this. It's all just happening so fast."
"Nobody is ever truly prepared for something like this, Logan," said Ororo softly, pulling him into an embrace, "Being a parent to any child, even one who has been through as much as Laura has, is very trying. But from what you've shown me, I have all the confidence in the world that you'll be the family she needs. And moreover, I think she'll be the family you need as well."
Looking back at the former weather goddess, Logan couldn't help but smile. As conflicted and confused as he was, this woman still believed in him. That meant a lot to a guy like him who had to rebuild pretty much everything in his life, including his humanity. And now that he had a family with Laura, he had something to truly make him feel whole again.
"Ya always seem to know exactly what to say to make a guy as messed as me feel better," said Logan, shaking his head in amazement.
"Well somebody's got to be there to remind you of your worth. And I guess that's a job best left to me."
"Darlin'...I wouldn't have it any other way."
With a husky grin, Logan captured her lips again. This time it was much deeper and more passionate than the first time. It wasn't awkward, strange, or sudden. It was simply a show of deep affection and after holding it back for so long, it sure felt good to let something like this out.
Yet as they parted, Ororo could sense that there was something else on Logan's mind...Something he was still struggling to get out.
"What is it, Logan?" asked Ororo, growing increasingly curious.
"Nothin', it's just..." he said awkwardly, not knowing how to get out exactly what he wanted to say.
"What Logan? Come on, you can tell me."
Looking back into those beautiful blue eyes that so majestically symbolized that which made her divine, he took a deep breath to prepare himself for this. As a man who was never good with words, he wasn't quite sure how to do this. Hell, he never thought he'd feel like this about anybody. Then again, he never thought he'd end up the father of a teenage girl either, so that shouldn't have surprised him.
Nevertheless, he wanted this to be the beginning of something so much more. He had a family now with Laura. But there was still one last thing he wanted to lay to rest if he was to truly mend that rift in his feral being.
"It's just that...It still feels kind of weird knowin' that I've got a family now. There's a lot I want to do for Laura. There's a lot I want to give her. But at the same time, it makes me think about other parts of my life. It's all so different now. It feels like I can do things that I never thought I could do before and have things that I thought I couldn't have."
"What do you mean? What kind of things?" asked Ororo, watching as Logan struggled with his words.
Logan just smiled at her, pulling her into a closer embrace, wanting to savor this feeling. After all the anger, frustration, and desolation of his existence, a feeling like this was definitely welcome. And with a new outlook on life, he wanted to make it complete.
"Things like...Us," he told her, cupping her face with his hands as if to emphasize the point.
"Oh...I see," she said, smiling at the feeling of his touch.
There was a brief silence between them, but Logan didn't hesitate. He had waited long enough for a moment like this and he was going to see it through.
"I know it's crazy in some ways, but if coming together with Laura has taught me anything it's that everything can change in the blink of an eye. You can gain so much or lose everything. And we both lost enough to know when to take something and hold onto it when it counts. And that's why I want to know...Do ya want there to be something more between us? Do ya want have a relationship with a guy who's got as many problems as me?"
Logan's words were very serious, but Ororo's expression did not change. She still smiled warmly at the man who she had grown so close to. And now he was a family man and he had a whole new outlook on life. And if he could move forward like this, then why couldn't she?
Slipping her arms around his neck, Ororo allowed herself to sink into his strong burly body. It had taken a long time for them to get to this point, but for this moment right here...It was definitely worth it.
"Logan...You really do mean a lot to me. Don't ever think for a second that you don't. And problems or no problems, you're still a man I feel very deeply towards. And I have faith that if we give this a chance...It could be something so much more."
"You...Ya really mean that?" said Logan as he gazed back into those tender eyes.
"You know it...Bub."
Not needing any more assurance than that, Logan simply smiled his trademark grin as they met in another deep kiss. It was official now. They were heading into a new world together. Logan had just found a family. Now he was finding something more. And after all the hardship that had defined his life, he felt as though he could truly find happiness for once.
The new couple went on to celebrate their newfound connection as their lips wrestled fervently in a sea of passion. It was a gesture that they both quickly sank into as they sauntered over towards Logan's bed, abruptly collapsing upon it. Ororo was now on top of Logan's hard, muscular body...Her hands beginning to roam as she heard a few animal-like grunts from within, indicating to her just how aroused he was becoming. It seemed to send her into a fury as well...One that seemed to make all the worries and inhibitions that had long since held them back fade away. And naturally, it didn't take long for things to get quite heated.
This immense show of passion would have probably continued onward, for they both clearly wanted this. But before they could get too far, the slightly adjacent door to Logan's room swung open and they were both startled out of their daze as they were suddenly faced with the sight of a grinning Laura.
"Hey, you left this downstairs," said Laura, casually tossing the X-communicator he had left on the belt of his uniform back in the danger room, which had probably slipped his mind in his anticipation to talk to Ororo about this.
"Oh uh...Thanks Laura," said Logan, mentally yelling at himself for having put himself in such an awkward position.
"Is she going to be my new mommy?" grinned Laura playfully, thinking this was just too funny.
"Uh I..." stammered Ororo, much of the blood in her body now swarming around her face.
"Hey, it's okay...Just kidding," she said, holding her hands up in defense, "Just remember to lock the door from now on."
"Thanks darlin'...I'll remember that," said Logan with a grin, knowing things were definitely going to be different now.
"Sorry for interrupting. Carry on."
And with that, Laura shut the door and made sure it was locked this time. And as she made her way back down the hall, she couldn't help but smile to herself. She was truly happy to see that they had finally come together. After all, she wanted her father to be happy and she did like Ororo. And who knows what else this could lead to? Perhaps Logan wouldn't be her only family in the long run. And that in and of itself was plenty of reason for the former living weapon to have hope for herself and her future as Laura Logan.
Back in Logan's bedroom, it took a moment for the embarrassment to wear off. Ororo was still on top of Logan, still very much at a loss for words at this point. Nearly being 'caught in the act' was certainly not her way of starting anew and chances were, neither she nor Logan would EVER hear the end of this.
"Still with me, Ro?" said Logan, noticing that she was still trying to recover from what had just happened.
"Yeah, I'm fine it's just...Not the way I would have wanted her to find out about us," she responded, managing to laugh somewhat about it.
"Hey, she didn't seem to mind," he shrugged, although now he was a bit worried that he would have to have an awkward little 'talk' with her about this.
"No...She most certainly didn't," said Ororo, finding plenty of reasons to be happy about that.
"That mean ya still want to do this?" he asked, his tone once again growing serious.
Ororo simply smiled at her feral lover, for as crazy as this night had been...It was definitely a night she would surely treasure now and for many years to come.
"Logan...I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't know what the future holds for either of us, but I can tell you this though...I have plenty of hope."
As if to prove her point she captured his lips once again, drawing them both into another moment of passion. It didn't take long for them to pick up where they left off, for they wanted to make this night complete...To commemorate this new beginning with a simple act of passion...To make love in a way that embodied how far they had come and where they had yet to go.
On through the night, they continued to make love...Full of the kind of vigor and passion that so deeply defined them. It was an amazing experience for the both of them...One that signaled the beginning of something truly profound. For once again, they had turned a corner and there was no going back.
"I love you, Logan," said the beautiful weather goddess as she collapsed upon her lover upon reaching their final peak together.
"I love you too, Ro..." said Logan in a deep tone as he held her warmly in her arms, knowing that even with a fractured memory, this was one moment that the both of them would remember forever.
Jean Grey didn't know how long she had been holed up in the bathroom, but she was beyond caring at this point. If ever she had an excuse to freak out over anything, now was the time. Regardless of all the missions she had been on and all the challenges she had overcome as a mutant and a soldier, this was just beyond anything else she had ever faced.
She was pregnant. Her, Jean Grey, a soldier, a warrior, and a killer...Was pregnant. She thought this couldn't happen. She thought they had taken all the necessary measures. Back at Shadow Cell, her specially formulated diet had always included birth control pills in order to help regulate her cycle so that it was so balanced that she could practically set her watch to it.
But after arriving at the institute, things had changed considerably. She no longer had that strict diet of healthy food that kept her body so regulated. After her checkup with Hank, he warned her that her cycle could need some readjusting and because of that, she wasn't surprised when she missed her last period. But then when a week passed by, then another, and another...She began to get worried. She also found herself eating more and getting tired more easily. But she never thought that was because of pregnancy. Hank had prescribed for her some standard birth control pills and she had taken them dutifully. But for some reason, they hadn't worked.
She ended up buying a home pregnancy test on a whim when she went out with the girls again to do some extra shopping for Laura. She originally planned to just buy aspirin, but when she saw those tests on the shelves, something told her that she should just try it to rule it out. But apparently, it had done the exact opposite.
Now it all made sense to her. Birth control pills may have been able to regulate her cycle, but it wouldn't exactly have the same effects on her chemistry. Dr. Essex probably knew that. And if regular birth control pills didn't work for her because of her chemistry, that could only mean that Dr. Essex had slipped something else into her supplements to keep her from getting pregnant since he knew about what she and Scott did. And since he hadn't said anything, she had no idea that they wouldn't work on her unique body chemistry. And as a result, she was now pregnant with a baby she wasn't ready for.
"Oh God...Oh God what am I going to do?" sobbed Jean, still sitting on the cold, bathroom floor hugging her knees, "What the hell am I going to do?"
She was only 18 years old and she was going to have a baby. She and Scott were going to be parents. They weren't ready for this. There was no way they were prepared to handle something like this. Terrorists, armies, and monsters they could handle...But this? Could they truly handle a child? Did they even deserve to have a child after the things they had done?
This whole room was suffocating her. She had to get out. But as she stammered out of the door, she bumped right into X23, who was still smiling after having seen Ororo and her father come together. But that expression quickly turned to one of grave concern as she saw Jean's distraught look.
"Jean?" she said as she caught her from almost keeling over, "Jean, what's wrong?"
"X..." she gasped, holding her head distress, on the very of breaking down into a fit of sobs.
"Oh boy...What's going on? Come on, Jean. Hold it together like I know you can," said Laura, speaking from the tone of a concerned comrade.
However, Jean still didn't respond. She just stood there in the middle of the hall, gasping for air, keeping her eyes closed as if she was going to wake up from some bad dream at any moment.
Laura tried to help support her, but something was seriously wrong here. And she wasn't the only one who noticed it.
"Jean? Hey, what in the bloody hell is going on here?" said Betsy as she stepped out of her room with Warren close behind.
Warren was struggling to get his shirt back on. From the looks of it, Jean's sudden stumble into the hallway had interrupted them during another make out session. He looked a little frustrated, but when he saw Jean he quickly grew curious.
"Oh man, what happened to her?" he said.
"I don't know!" shouted X23 in response, quickly growing concerned over the well being of her friend and comrade.
"Hey, take it easy, luv!" said Betsy, holding her hands up in defense, "Don't go berserker on us for asking!"
Laura was about to respond to that with another outburst when thankfully, two more figures entered the area. This time, it was Rogue and Remy, looking all dressed up and ready for another date.
"What in the hell? Jean, sugah, are ya okay?" said Rogue as she ran to Laura and Jean's side.
Jean still didn't respond. She could hear all their thoughts projecting at her like a boom box and it was near impossible to filter them out in her current state. But she didn't even bother to try. She was beyond giving a damn at this point.
"Shit, she don't look to good," said Remy.
"Oh really? You think?!" spat Laura in response.
"Wow, easy there Laura," coaxed Warren, trying to calm the volatile soldier down, "Let's just stay calm here. I think we should take her down to the infirmary and let Hank..."
But Jean didn't let her finish.
"NO!" she spat, shaking off both Rogue and Laura, "No infirmary!"
"Jean..." said Betsy, shocked by her sudden outburst.
The noise was drawing more attention. From down the hall, Tabitha and Amara were peaking their heads out of the door to see what was going on. And soon they joined in this escalating madness as well.
"Wow, hey there Red. What's up?" said Tabby, coming up from behind her and almost startling Jean into a full combat stance.
"Hey...Are you okay?" asked Amara.
Jean was breathing hard and on the verge of breaking down. She had just found out she was pregnant and here she was being bombarded with questions. She didn't want this. She couldn't handle this. All her training wasn't doing her much good here. This wasn't something she could fight. This was her life and it was changing right before her eyes.
"Jean, just tell us what's wrong," said Laura, walking up to her and looking back at her with that look that she would give anybody she considered to be a sister.
Finally, Jean just spat it out.
"I'M PREGNANT OKAY?!" she shouted with tears forming in her eyes, "I...I'm pregnant. I'm going to have a baby."
Dead silence quickly descended over the group. Looks of pure, unabated shock came over the faces of the flabbergasted onlookers. And nobody seemed more shocked from this than Laura, who had fought alongside Jean through the worst combat zones imaginable.
She just couldn't believe it. Her friend and comrade was going to be a mother. Everybody else couldn't believe it as well. Some like Tabitha, Amara, and Betsy thought it should have been a happy moment. Other like Warren and Rogue thought it should be difficult, for she was clearly not ready for this. But everybody was shocked.
Nobody knew what to say. Jean was on the verge of just collapsing. It was all happening so fast and nobody knew how to react.
"Uh...Congratulations?" said Remy, finally breaking the silence.
Everybody looked at Remy strangely as Jean just shot the Cajun a look that she would usually shoot at enemy soldiers and if she had her guns with her, she probably would have been pointing them at him already. But she neither had the strength nor the desire to carry such actions out. She needed to get away.
"Jean..." said Laura, trying to support her friend.
"No...Please I...I need to be alone!" she said, running off down the hall, pushing Tabby and Amara out of the way as she ran into the room she shared with Scott.
Once she was gone, everybody just stood there in silence. Laura definitely looked the most concerned. Jean was like a sister to her. She was more than just a comrade. She wanted to help her in the way they had always helped each other, but that just didn't seem possible for something like this.
"Smooth Remy...Real smooth!" said Betsy with a harsh scorn.
"Hey, what do ya want Remy to say?" he said in his defense.
"Oh come on, Remy! Did she look like she wanted to hear something that STUPID?!" yelled Betsy.
"Hey! Watch it Bets!" said Rogue, sticking up for her boyfriend, "Ah didn't see you sayin' anything!"
"Wow ladies, take it easy," said Tabitha, stepping in between them, "Save this sort of thing for the litter box."
"Not now Tabitha! This is serious!" exclaimed Betsy.
"No kidding," said Warren, running his hand through his long blonde hair in an exasperated manner, "We had better tell the Professor. I don't think we've ever had to deal with a pregnant student before."
"Yeah, I always thought you and Miss Ninja would be the first anyhow," muttered Rogue, earning her yet another scorn from Betsy.
"Either way, we have to do something!" said Warren, trying to sound serious, "I mean come on guys...Jean is pregnant. She's an X-man. We have to help her."
"But...What about Scott?" inquired Amara, "Does he know?"
Everybody fell silent at the mention of Scott. Nobody knew if he was aware of this yet, but from the looks of it, Jean had just found out. And if Jean had reacted this strongly from the news, then how would he take it?
"I can't believe it...I just can't believe it," sighed Laura.
Suddenly, a new presence appeared in the hall and everybody froze once more.
"Guys! What's going on?" said Scott in an urgent tone, "I thought I felt something through my link with Jean. Is something wrong?"
Nobody knew what to say to him. Should they tell him? Should they let him know before he confronted Jean? Nobody dared to speak. Even Warren was at a loss. However, Laura was not about to ignore this. These were her comrades. These were her friends and family. And she knew them well enough to know what would be best.
"Scott...I think you need to talk to her," she told him.
"Why? What's wrong?!" he exclaimed upon seeing the rather distant look in Laura's eyes.
"Just...Talk to her," she told him.
Not arguing with the words of his comrade, Scott ran down the hall, leaving his bewildered friends behind. All they could do now was watch and hope. Because from this day forward, nothing was going to be the same.
"Scott and Jean are going to have a baby," said Rogue as they all stood in amazement.
"Yeah...I mean seriously...Wow," said Tabitha.
"So what do we do?" asked Remy, knowing this was going to be a hell of a turning point.
"Simple..." said Warren with a sigh as he watched Scott disappear into the hallway in search of his lover, "We wait...We plan...And above all, we hope."
Vincent Freeman was in a place he never thought he'd find himself ever again. He was standing before something that he had long since dreamed about, but had never followed through with despite all the chances he had since the destruction of Shadow Cell. It was quiet, cold, and oddly peaceful despite all the emotions this place brought out in him. But he had to do this. For the good of his soul and the honor of those who he had lost, he had to do this.
After a quick flight in the X-jet, they were now in the heart of Toronto, Canada in a place that Vincent remembered so clearly, he standing in a house of God...A holy church that he had been in many times before in his earlier days. While the orphanage was gone, thanks to a little discrete arson on the part of Dr. Essex and Magnum, the church where Father Michaels used to give regular sermons was still standing. The area where the orphanage once stood was but a mere apartment building now and this lone structure was pretty much the only tangible piece of his past left standing.
It was a very trying moment for the young soldier and warrior. He had brought with him the sword Mr. Kansuke once bore that Magnum had stolen and he had taken back. Only before they came, he made the choice to leave it in an unmarked package at the doorstep of Mr. Kansuke's children, whom the Professor had kindly tracked down for him. In his mind, they deserved the relic more than he did. And while he was tempted to confront them about their lost father, he knew it would be better in the long run if they didn't know who he was.
Then finally, in a state of rare vulnerability, he forced himself to confront something even greater. He forced himself to come to terms with his past so that he could move on. While it was sad to learn that the orphanage had been paved over, he was somewhat comforted to know that there was a small alter of candles in the church commemorating all those who had died in that fateful tragedy that Vincent knew all too well.
He knew there were many things he would never get a chance to resolve with the people who had been like family to him. He'd never get a chance to say goodbye, he'd never get a chance to say he was sorry, and he'd never get a chance let them know how much they meant to him. His years as a hardened soldier had forced him to set such feelings aside, but now that they were back with such a vengeance, he wanted to lay them to rest in whatever way he could. He knew they would always haunt him in some ways, but that didn't mean that he couldn't move forward.
And for this fateful moment, he wasn't alone. Standing closely by his side, Wanda Maximoff, the girl who had come to hold such a special place in his heart, was right there with him, gently holding his hand and lending him what comfort she could.
"I should have done this sooner," Vincent found himself saying in a low tone as he stood before the altar of candles where a stone inscription read, 'dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the tragic fire of St. Peter's Orphanage. Rest in peace wayward souls. May God comfort you in spirit.'
"You're here now, aren't you?" said Wanda, giving his hand a gentle squeeze, letting him know that he wasn't alone and never would be ever again.
"I know, but...It's just so hard being in a place like this again. I guess part of me still blames myself for what happened. If it hadn't been for me, then they wouldn't have..."
However, Vincent couldn't finish. He was just too choked up by his words. He may have run fearlessly into the melee of combat time and time again, but that paled in comparison to this. These people had been his friends...His family. And they died simply because some sick bastard wanted to use him for their own means.
It was bad enough that he had been the reason for the orphanage's destruction, but it had been even worse that he actually went along with those who were responsible and helped them. And not only did he believe in their lies...He had killed for them.
"I don't have a right to be in a place like this, you know," he said, finally managing to collect himself despite his choked up emotions, "I'm a killer. I took human lives. I went against some of the most basic and essential creeds that they taught me...All for some psycho who used me in so many sick ways that..."
Wanda had heard enough. She didn't let him continue after that. She could tell he was in a lot of pain, but she wasn't about to let him put himself in any more. She may not have been able to ascertain what it was like for him, but she knew better than anybody else the kind of man that Vincent Freeman was. And she was not about to let him forget that.
"Vincent please..." she said to him in a tone that demanded his attention, "Now you listen to me and you listen good...You are more than just a killer. You are a man who's had so much taken away from him, yet you still fight for what you believe in. You fought with me and the rest of our friends against so many heinous evils that I know without a doubt that if your family was here right now...They would be so proud. The lives we take cannot get in the way of the lives we saved."
"I know..." said Vincent with an exasperated tone, "But regardless of all the people I saved, it still affects me. I know it shouldn't...But it does."
"I know, and believe me...It affects me too. It's like Mystique once said...This is not a fair world. Nothing is ever truly absolute. We do what we do not because it's right or wrong. We do what we do because we believe in ourselves and that which we stand for. It's all a matter of faith...And just how much you're willing to put into something that means so much to you. And no matter how hard our lives are, we must never forget our faith. And you, Vincent Freeman...Have more faith than anybody I've ever met before. You are not just a killer. You're a warrior. Don't ever forget that. Don't ever even doubt it. Otherwise I'll keep hexing you until you get it through your head."
Knowing she was probably being serious on some level, Vincent Freeman managed a slight smile as he turned to face the woman that meant so much to him. After everything he had been through and after everything he had suffered, it all just seemed to make sense when he looked into those eyes that had astonished him so much that first day he saw her.
In feeling her gentle warmth and hearing the gentle urging of her voice, he found himself thinking back not on how he failed Father Michaels, Mr. Kansuke, and all his friends...He actually thought about how he had succeeded. Father Michaels had always taught him the power of faith and how it could be used to save those who couldn't save themselves. Mr. Kansuke had always taught him the value of honor and compassion, going down the very code of a warrior. And when he thought back to how he and his comrades triumphed time and time again in the face of such overwhelming odds, he took comfort in the fact that he did what he had to do in order to make a true difference in the world.
From there, a peaceful feeling came over the tormented young man, feeling as though this trip had done him some good after all. With Wanda still by his side, he was confident that there was nothing he couldn't face now. Whatever the future threw at them, he was ready for it. But before he could move forward into the future, he felt it was only proper that he commemorate his past and the people that had meant so much to him.
"I guess all that's left now is to finally say goodbye," he said as he stepped forward and took out a rare white flower that he had spent the last couple of months growing in Ororo's garden and placed it gently before the alter, "I know I'm almost a decade late, but...If you guys can hear me, just remember that I never forgot about you for a second. I'm sorry I wasn't there. I'm sorry I wasn't able to do anything. But as long as I'm still alive, I promise you that I'll do what I can to make you proud. I still love you all. And I'll always miss you."
Saying such words brought tears to his eyes, but Wanda stayed close so he could stay strong. He wanted to finish this. He owed them all so much. And as a man and a warrior, it was his duty to honor them in the way they had honored him.
"May God be with you. And may you find peace wherever you may be. I'll take care of things down here. Just know that you'll always be on my mind and in my heart. And I promise you...On my honor...I will always remember. And I will always have faith."
A weight seemed to lift from the young man's soul as he bowed his head in one final gesture of love and compassion for the friends and family he had lost. It felt good to finally get this out of his system. He had finally managed to lay something to rest that he had been hoping to resolve a long time ago. And now that he had finally done it, he felt as though he could truly move on...As long as he remembered his promise and his faith.
"Thank you Wanda," said the eternally grateful man as he pulled his lover into a powerful embrace.
"For what?" she asked him, now feeling the full force of his rapture.
Under the watchful eyes of God and the spirits of the family he had lost, Vincent Freeman shared a deep kiss with Wanda Maximoff, the love of his life. They had both come so far and suffered so much, yet in the end they had helped each through it all and established a connection that few people could ever truly ascertain. And regardless of where they had come from, they had plenty of reason to have hope for where they were going.
"I love you, Wanda," said Vincent, wanting God and all the other holy spirits to hear it.
"I love you too, Vincent. Past, present, or future...I'll always love you."
It was a powerful moment for the both of them...One that was sure to hang strong in their memories now and forever. It was the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Where they went from here was anybody's guess, but no matter where life took them...They took comfort in the knowledge that the loneliness that had once so deeply consumed them was gone forever.
Then suddenly, while they were still in a passionate embrace, a slight rattling was heard amongst the organ pipes and numerous other metallic objects. The lights began to flicker and a sudden gust of cold wind swept through the vast area. As a result, Wanda found herself tensing up, but with Vincent by her side, she managed to keep her cool. She knew who this was...And she had a feeling that something like this was going to happen sooner or later.
But with everything she had been through and everything she had learned both with Shadow Cell and the X-men, she was not afraid this time and she would not cower before this all too familiar presence.
"Wanda..." came a deep voice from above, drawing the attention of both mutant soldiers up towards a hovering figure as he descended to the isle below.
"I had a feeling we'd meet again, father," said Wanda, her tone sounding indifferent as she approached the master of magnetism with Vincent close by her side, "How did you find me?"
"Easy, I followed you," he said, maintaining his low monotone voice as he now stood before the woman that he had hurt so much, "That jet of yours isn't easy to pick up, but it is possible if you have the right powers and tools."
Wanda didn't respond to that. She didn't care how he found her. All that mattered was that he was there now. Like Vincent, she had her own demons to lay to rest and Magneto was one of them. Only this time, she wasn't consumed by anger or hostility like before. This time, it was different. The old holocaust survivor actually looked less 'Magneto' and more human for a change. The look in his face hinted that he was here not as the destined overlord of all mutants, but simply as a man looking to have a word with his little girl.
"I see you got yourself some new kneecaps," commented Wanda, breaking the silence as she diverted her attention towards his knees, noticing a slight bulge where she had shot him, most likely from heavy bandages and braces.
"Yes, they took quite a while to heal," he muttered, still feeling the sting from those two shots he had taken from her in more ways than one, "I managed to replace them with an internal metallic prosthetic, but they're still plenty sore."
"Yeah, and they'll probably stay that way for a while. But enough with the kneecaps, just tell me what you're doing here so we can get out of here."
Eric Lensherr honestly wasn't ready for this. He had been going over this moment in his head more times than he cared to recall. But he was determined to see his daughter again...At least to lay to rest the horrible burden that had hung so strongly on his soul. While recovering from the injuries that she had inflicted upon him, he had a lot of time to think. And as a result, he had come to a few realizations that he wanted to share with her. And even though it seemed as though she didn't want to listen, he wanted to tell her none-the-less.
"Wanda..." he began, his voice actually showing some real emotion for once, "No words could ever express the depths of my sorrow for what I did to you. I...I know I've done plenty of things to hurt you. I abandoned you. I left you to die in that heinous place. And I've made you suffer in ways no father should ever inflict on their own daughter."
"And you're just realizing this now?" said Wanda, still very skeptical of this man's sincerity.
"I know...I know...It's a little late for apologies. But these past two months have given me a lot to think about."
"Yeah, I'm sure you had plenty of time to think planning your next big scheme of unholy terrorism," spat Wanda in response, making no qualms about her distaste for this man.
"Think what you will of my beliefs, Wanda. But that doesn't change what I've come to realize."
"Oh really? And what might that be?"
Magneto then went on to do something that seemed to help emphasize his point. He took off his helmet, giving her the full, unadulterated view of his face. It was strange for Wanda since it made him look so...So human. Part of her still scoffed at that idea of him having any redeeming side to him, but that didn't stop that nagging voice inside her head that just kept urging her to hear him out.
"That day when I threw you away...It struck me more than I ever could have imagined. I know it hurt you the most, but I felt it too. The sting, the loss, the sorrow...I honest to God felt it. It always hung over my head, tormenting me to no end! I thought it was the only way! I just...I couldn't manage you, Wanda. I couldn't be the man I had to be."
"And you think that justifies what you did?" she shot in response, her words still dripping with venom.
"I'm not saying it does. But when I heard that you had...Died. I thought...It just...It hit me in a way I couldn't even begin to process. It hurt me in a way I've never been hurt. At first I didn't want to believe it, but when I found myself standing over your grave...I actually cried...I actually shed tears."
As much as Wanda wanted to scoff at that, the look in his eyes was just too much for her to ignore. She still hated this man, but after hearing that, she wasn't quite sure what she was feeling at this point.
"A part of me died with you that day, Wanda. Because from then on, I was just...Numb. I didn't care about what I did or who stood in my way. I just carried on with no soul. I couldn't even think your name without remembering the scope of my failure. I refused to even contemplate it. I suppose its part of why I became so heartless and cruel...That much I've come to realize."
"And you think that gives you a reason to hate every human being on the face of the planet? Just because you fucked up and you don't like feeling so human at heart?" said Vincent, tired of remaining silent as he said the words that he knew Wanda was struggling with.
"You're right...It isn't a reason. I understand that now," he conceded, "But I believe what I believe for the same reasons you do. You see the world one way. I see it another. We may disagree on what is right and what is wrong, but what we both have in common is that we believe in what we fight for...Which brings me to why I'm here."
"Here it comes," muttered Wanda, "I think I know where this is going."
Magneto still didn't let up. Even if he knew full well that Wanda wasn't going to give him a chance, he at least wanted to let her know that he had grown. And whether or not that would do anything for their shattered relationship was still in question, but at the moment...He simply wanted to tie up whatever loose ends he could.
"I'm starting a new colony...A new society of mutants on an island in the Indian Ocean called Genosha. The Brotherhood is going to help me and I have already recruited a few other mutants from places ranging from Siberia to Australia. We're going to start anew for mutants. We're going to create a place where they are not doomed to obscurity."
"And I take it you're going to be the undisputed dictator of this so called, haven?" commented Vincent.
"No...Not a dictator...Just a leader," said Magneto, his tone remaining strong and steadfast, "Genosha will be a beacon of hope for mutants...A place where they don't have to fear living in a society that's rejected them. And I believe that together, mutants will show the human race that they are more than just freaks of nature. And I was hoping that you and your friends would be a part of it."
It wasn't genocide and it wasn't all out war, but it was still filled with many of the ideas that Magneto still held strong. He was still very much opposed to Xavier, but at the same time it was a step away from his previous madness. It wasn't much, but that didn't mean that it meant nothing. Wanda could see it...The faint humanity that was still in his eyes.
But still, she had her life. She had her friends and she had her values. She had a cause that she believed in and as a proud soldier and warrior it was her duty to uphold those principles.
"You know that's not going to happen, father," answered Wanda, not sounding all that enraged as Magneto had anticipated, "Regardless of any 'revelations' you may have had, that doesn't make up for all the sorrow you've caused me."
"I know it doesn't, Wanda," said the master of magnetism, trying to just pour his heart out to this girl that he had once lost, "But both myself and Pietro were hoping that we could start to mend the rift between us...If not in whole, at least in part. Because like it or not, I'm still your father and you're still my daughter. Neither of us can change that."
"Yeah...That much we can agree upon," said Wanda, her tone shifting somewhat, finding herself at an odd crossroads.
"I may not have the right, but I wish to have you in my life again. I wish to make amends and have you as a part of my plan to move mutant kind forward into the future. While you may disagree with some of my beliefs and methods, I still believe that we can work together and eventually triumph over the odds."
It was not the type of confrontation Wanda had expected from the man who once so heartlessly threw her away. Part of her still thought that he would spring a trap at any moment and try to force her to be a part of his plans. But her soldier instincts told her that this was nothing of the sort. If he wanted to do something like that, he wouldn't have made himself so vulnerable.
There was definitely some sincerity to this man's words...That much she couldn't deny. But he was still speaking from the point of view of the same man he had always been. He was still worlds away from the peaceful dreams the Xavier preached, but at least he wasn't so militant now.
It was a step in a new direction for the both of them. But regardless of how he had changed, it was clear to Wanda that he still had plenty left to learn. She had her beliefs and he had his. It was that simple. Nevertheless, she took some comfort in that knowledge that he truly was willing to learn. Only time would tell whether or not they would find themselves on the same plane in the future, but at least now there was some hope.
"I'm sorry, father. But you know I can't do that," she finally answered, gently leaning in closer to Vincent's warmth.
"I had a feeling," sighed Magneto, disappointed but not surprised by her decision, "I know your friends may think a certain way now, but just know that I plan to keep the door open in case you change your mind in the future."
"I'll remember that. But bear one thing in mind. I am a soldier. I am a warrior. I stand for something I don't think you could ever understand. You still think that the problem with this world is that there is too much injustice. You still see things as either being right or wrong. But I've learned that things like justice and morality are only relative. Nothing is ever truly in harmony. There are only so many things you can hold onto that are truly solid...Things like honor, loyalty, compassion, and self sacrifice. Those are the things that drive me and my friends. Those are the things we believe in. And until the day you accept that along with everything else you did to me, there will always be a rift between us."
Magneto bowed his head slightly at her words, knowing that he had truly blown his chance with his daughter. He had made such a horrible mistake all those years ago by throwing her away. And it was only now after over a decade that he had come to see that. But despite being slow to remember, part of him did take comfort in the fact that she had grown into such a strong, powerful, and noble woman. Looking back at her, it was almost like seeing his late wife Magda again. And if she were alive, he knew she would be so proud of her.
Things between them may always be strained because of the past, but at least with this fateful moment they could take the first step towards at least making some amends. And only time would tell whether or not things between them would ever truly improve.
"I understand," he said, sounding satisfied with her response as he put his helmet back on, "Thank you for at least hearing me out, Wanda."
"Don't let it go to your head though," she quipped in response, "I still hate you for what you did to me."
"I most certainly don't blame you for that," he said, hoping to make one final peace with his wayward daughter before he left, "But hate or no hate, don't ever forget that you are still my daughter. And regardless of how cold or cruel I am, you and your brother will always hold a special place in my heart."
Wanda was still tempted to scoff at such a notion, but after hearing her father's words, she couldn't ignore that which he was so desperately trying to say to her. And even though she would always have the pain of abandonment and hate hanging over her soul, she could not forget that this man was still her father. And regardless of the great rift between them, she found herself grasping onto those words and was sure to remember them now and for many years to come.
"I'll leave you now, Wanda," said Magneto to his estranged daughter as he levitated into the air, "But before I go, Pietro told me to tell you that he still misses you and will write you as often as he can and for the time being, you have my word that I will keep my distance. I know that we have a long way to go and for the time being, we are on opposite sides. But at least know that I still have hope that one day we'll find peace with one another."
"Yes, I hope so too," said Wanda in an honest tone, feeling glad that they had both laid this matter to rest, "Just remember father...If ever you become a threat to the innocent, my friends and I will be there to stop you."
"I would expect nothing less, my dear," he said, managing a rare smile, "Take care, Wanda. I'll miss you. Be strong, stand firm, be safe, and above all...Don't ever forget who you are."
"Don't worry about that, Magneto. I promise you, Wanda is in good hands," said Vincent, pulling her into a gentle embrace.
Taking the young man's words to heart, Eric Magnus Lensherr, the man who had so heartlessly thrown his own daughter away to rot in an insane asylum made his leave, leaving his daughter in the very capable arms of Vincent Freeman.
Once he was gone, a heavy silence fell over the young couple. They remained in their close embrace, taking comfort in one another's warmth and presence. Tonight they had truly managed to leave part of the past behind and while it would always haunt them in some ways, they were certain that they had the strength to carry on their fight as warriors well into the future. Now, they truly felt as though they had everything they needed to move on. They had friends, family, love, fait, and above all...Hope.
"Come on Hotshot," said Wanda, feeling so warm and secure with the man she found so much comfort in, "Let's go home."
"Yes...Home," said Vincent, smiling warmly at the woman who had carried him through so much hardship.
There was no telling where the future would lead them now. The possibilities were endless. The potential was limitless. But through the love and guidance they had so strongly with one another and their friends, they both had plenty of faith that the road before them was full of plenty of happiness and excitement to come.
Curled up in he bed, Jean Grey couldn't stop crying as the reality of her current situation began to sink in. She was pregnant with a child she wasn't prepared for and pretty soon, the whole mansion knew it. Nobody had expected this, especially not her. And for the first time in a long time, she was actually scared.
"Oh God...Oh God what am I going to do?" sobbed Jean, "What the hell am I going to do?"
She was only 18 years old and she was going to have a baby. She and Scott were going to be parents. They weren't ready for this. There was no way they were prepared to handle something like this. Terrorists, armies, and monsters they could handle...But this? Could they truly handle a child? Did they even deserve to have a child after the things they had done?
Suddenly, Jean's thought process was abruptly cut off by a gentle knock on the door.
"Jean...Jean, are you okay?" came Scott's voice from the other side, his tone clearly wrought with worry.
Jean didn't have the heart to answer him. She didn't want to tell him that she was pregnant. She wasn't sure what he would think or how he would react, so she was in no hurry to find out. But still, Scott persisted.
"Jean...Come on baby, you're scaring me," he said, still not getting an answer, "Look, I'm coming in, okay? I'm going to open the door."
Jean didn't do anything to stop him. She neither had the heart nor the strength to do so. And when the door opened, Scott was confronted with a most difficult sight. He had sensed her inner turmoil through their link and from what he could feel, she was really in a lot of pain now. It hurt him almost as much as it hurt her. He hated seeing her like this. It was one of the few things he couldn't bear even after surviving torture endurance training.
Seeing his beautiful lover so wrought with tears, Scott slowly curled up next to her on the bed and took her into his arms. He didn't say anything at first. Instead, he merely sought to wipe away her tears. But they just kept coming. She was just too upset and it was really beginning to worry the young man before her.
"Jean...Come on babe, talk to me. What's wrong?" he asked.
Scott could still hear her sobs and sense her inner turmoil. He didn't know what was going on, but he just kept his arms around her...Holding her close and lending her whatever comfort he could.
"Jean...Please tell me...What's wrong?" he said, practically begging her at this point, "Don't do this to me. I love you. I'm here for you."
A hard lump in her throat kept Jean from answering. She just didn't want to believe that this was real. She didn't want to believe that she was going to be a mother. But it was happening right before her eyes. It still didn't quite sink in for her in many ways, but she was slowly beginning to accept it. She had a life growing inside her now. She and Scott were going to be parents. And as such, he had a right to know. It was just a matter of getting over the intense strain.
"I'm pregnant, Scott," she managed to get out, another round of tears filling her eyes.
Scott simply froze. His eyes widened with shock as he looked into the tear stained face of his lover. Did she just say what he thought she said? Did she just say that she was pregnant? It took a moment to register in Scott's mind. Jean was pregnant. The love of his life was carrying his child. He just couldn't believe it.
"I...Are you sure?" said Scott, struggling to process this startling revelation.
Jean simply nodded, no saying anything else in response.
"Oh...Oh my God. I...Wow," he said, his mind just reeling at this point, not knowing how to react to this.
For a while, he was just silent. How exactly does one react to news like this? Is there any right way to react at all? It was just beyond anything he had ever encountered before and he had been in war zones half his life.
He tried to pull himself together, but he wasn't sure how to do it.
"But...How?" said Scott in disbelief, "I thought we took all the necessary precautions. I thought that..."
"They didn't work," said Jean, cutting him off in mid sentence, "They were designed for normal humans and we're not exactly normal last time I checked."
They both gave themselves a mental kick for not remembering that. Sinister had reminded them at least once a day back at Shadow Cell just how unique they were, so how could they let something like that slip their minds when it came to something this important? But regardless of their oversight, they couldn't change what had happened now. What's done is done. They were going to be parents.
"Oh Scott...What are we going to do?" she sobbed, her anxiety and uncertainty once again overwhelming her, "I never expected this to happen. We're 18 years old for crying out loud! We're not ready for this!"
"I know, I know," said Scott in response, tightening her hold around his lover's body, "We aren't ready. We're young, inexperienced, and don't know the first thing about kids. But like it or not, it's happening Jean."
"So what are we going to do about it?" she said, trying to collect herself.
"Well first off, are you going to keep it?"
"Of course I am," she said, not even needing to give that a second thought, "There's no way I'm going to end my baby's life before it has a chance and I know that the vast majority of families don't want to adopt a mutant. Besides, this is our baby. We made this life and it's no one else's but ours."
"So we're really going to be parents," said Scott, finally beginning to accept it as he held his fellow soldier and lover gently in his arms, "I'm really going to be a daddy."
Scott seemed to sound less hysterical about this than Jean. If anything, there was a hint of excitement in his tone. At long last, he was going to have a family. And since they had both lost everything because of Sinister, there was definitely some appeal to getting a part of that missing piece of their souls back. But still, that didn't make it any less overwhelming.
"But...Scott, how can we do this?" said Jean, her voice once again growing strained, "I mean look at us! We're soldiers! We're killers! We've shot, burned, blasted, and maimed our way through countless human beings! Our lives have always been wrought with conflict and war! We've taken so many lives that we should be the last people on the face of the planet to have a child! How can we be parents to a baby? How can we ever..."
She was growing increasingly hysterical and Scott couldn't take it any longer. This woman was the love of his life and now it seemed as though that love was going to be taken to another level once more. After everything they had been through...Everything they had suffered through and survived...Their love had proven to be stronger than any other force that drove them. And once again, their world was turned upside down...But this time, Scott felt as though it was for the better. After all, what better way to have hope for the future than through the eyes of a child?
"Jean...Please...Don't think that. Don't ever allow yourself to even contemplate it," he told her, sounding so much stronger now that he had come to accept the fact that they were going t be parents.
"But after everything we've done..." began Jean, still not believing that they were ready for this.
"Jean...I know we've taken a lot of lives," said Scott, gently cupping her face and wiping away her tears, "We're soldiers now and forever. We can't escape that. We've done so much to take life and to save life, but now we have a chance to do something we've never done before...We have a chance to make life."
"Yes...This baby of ours...This is our way of leaving a legacy here in this world that goes beyond simply war and combat. I know it's scary and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't afraid. But together, I know we can do this. I know we can bring this new life into the world and show it everything. We have a chance, Jean...A chance to make up for what we lost and what we were used for. Now we can make our own path...Find our own identity...And build our own future...Together."
As this startling development finally began to settle in for Jean Grey, she actually found herself smiling somewhat at his words. Even though she was so scared and uncertain, the knowledge that they could finally have a family again was just so remarkable that she almost broke down in tears.
They may have been soldiers and they may have taken and saved many lives, but they still had a duty to each other and their honor. And part of that duty was to pass on such beliefs and virtues to the next generation. And now, here was their chance.
"So then...What happens now?" said Jean as she gently placed her hand over her womb where her baby was growing inside her.
"Well first..." said Scott, placing her hand over hers, smiling at the feeling of a new life growing inside the woman he loved, "I'm going to make you my wife."
"Your wife...Yeah, I like the sound of that," said Jean with a warm smile, tears of joy now forming in her eyes.
"And second, we are going to take this new life we've created and treasure it. We're going to bring our baby into this world full of lies, secrets, and deceit and show it how to live, love, and prosper. We're going to teach it the values of honor, compassion, and heart. We have a duty, my love...A duty to this life and the many others of this and the coming generation. And as soldiers, we are going to see this through to the very end."
"To the very end," Jean repeated, smiling warmly at her lover and new fiancÃ©'s words.
Scott and Jean had been through a lot in their short lives. They had gone from traumatized orphans to some of the most deadly soldiers in the history. They took life and saved life...And now they were making it. And as such a thought settled in for them, they both found themselves smiling with joy and hope for what was to come. Once again, their lives had taken a great turn...Only this time, there was so much more to be hopeful for.
"You really think we can do this?" said Jean, her body still entwined with that of her lover, "You really think we can succeed in a world that's never been fair to us?"
"Jean...Fair or unfair...Lies or no lies...There is still one truth that you can always be certain of," said Scott softly, holding the future mother to his child so warmly and secure in his arm, "I love you, Jean Grey...I love you more than anything. Whether we're in times of war or peace...Victory or defeat...Triumph or loss...I love you and I will love our child just as much."
"I love you too, Scott," said Jean, now so full of joy and hope for both their future and that of their child, "I love you so much. We fight...We bleed...We die...And we love...Together."
And with those final words, Scott Summers and Jean Grey met in a deep, passionate kiss...So full of love, tenderness, and above all...Hope.
The world is a maze of lies and deceit. Nothing is ever as it seems. Everything is only as real as the human mind allows it to be. Yet through these seemingly ubiquitous lies, there are still some truths left to hold onto. Honor, compassion, patriotism, self sacrifice, faith, and heart...These are the things that resonate beyond any deception. And for some, like the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell and the students of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, these are the things worth fighting for. These are the things worth hanging onto. And through the lies and constructs of an ever imbalanced world, the future can be made and shaped by those who simply have faith.
AN: Wow...It's over. 64 chapters and at long last, it's finally over. So many lies and so few truths, yet in the end it all boiled down to faith. Another story has ended...Another tale has been told for the ages. It has been a long, hard road, but at long last it's over. One thing has ended...And another has begun. Man, what a story! This is by far one of my most proud accomplishments to date! A new universe...A new world...Built upon by my own dreams...What an accomplishment! It's taken me many months and many long hours to write this tale, but it was all worth it! And for all those who have loyally followed this story since the very beginning, I thank you all for giving me your kind support. This story is over now, but that doesn't mean that the reviews should stop! To everybody who has read this epic tale of mine, I URGE each and every one of you to tell me what you think! Please send me your comments via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine as long as you REVIEW!
"Sinister Soldiers" may be over now, but that certainly doesn't mean that I'm done telling my stories folks! Stay tuned because my next fic will take you all to the world of Ultimate X-men and will feature the return of Slayer! In addition, be ready for some serious Phoenix level action as I continue to tell my tales! It will be entitled "Eternal Flame" and you won't want to miss it!
Also, don't think I'm done with the "Sinister Soldiers" universe just yet! I do have a sequel planned as well as a crossover series down the line, so don't think you've seen the last of Shadow Cell yet!
And most importantly, I'd like to dedicate this proud accomplishment of mind to a very special friend of mine who helped me craft this tale from the beginning. Agent-G, my friend and fellow co-author of our masterpiece "Hellfire and Brimstone," YOU ROCK! Thank you SO much for letting me use Vincent and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support you've given me.
Well, another story is over and another tale has been told. It's been a long, hard road, but as with every story, there must be an ending. For all of those who have taken the time to read this story, I thank you from the depths of my heart and it has been a true honor having all of your support. Take care everybody and I wish you all the best! This is slickboy444 signing off...Peace out!
SINISTER SOLDIERS IS OVER! BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE REVIEWS SHOULD END! PLEASE PLEASE REVIEW!
Building a future and keeping the past alive...Are one in the same.