Blinking open his eyes, slowly, as he was being rolled down the dimly lit concrete hallway, Logan wondered what they were doing with him today. This couldn't be a normal torture session; they didn't send fourteen heavily armed guards for those.
Idly he wondered if he was being moved again. Despite the commander telling him that first base would be his home he had been moved, suddenly and hurriedly, several times since. He knew what that meant, he knew someone was looking for him, his family didn't believe he was dead. He just hoped whoever it was who was looking, would get to him soon, he was starting to lose it, his memory was going, he thought that might be intentional on his captors part. His own attempts at escape over the last, who knew how long, had all ended badly, he was too far underground, or too heavily guarded when being transferred.
The only thing that kept him going was Marie and Lucy, he thought about them as often as he could, the one memory he wasn't willing to risk losing. He wondered if they were still waiting for him, hoping he would return, he hated to think of them both alone and suffering through his absence but it was better than thinking they had moved on, of Lucy having a new dad, of Marie with another man. No, they were waiting, Marie loved him enough to keep that hope alive... he hoped.
The gurney he was chained to turned left sharply - that was odd, the lab was a right turn. A moment later, doors opened and he was pushed into a room, humid and damp, with the acrid scent of superheated metal hanging heavily in the air. He started to get a very bad feeling, whatever they were up to in here he couldn't help the feeling that it was going to be worse than anything he had been through to date.
The gurney was rolled to a stop beside a large tank, filled with thick, green tinted liquid. A mechanical rumble preceded the emergence of a heavy-duty steel mesh platform, complete with manacles. Before they even began trying to jostle him, from the gurney to the platform, he realised he was going in that tank. Were they trying to drown him again? Why? They had done it before but it wasn't permanent. As he was secured to the platform, he felt his apprehension increase.
The manacles were secured at wrists and ankles, then a thick chain was crisscrossed over his body, his arms, legs, and finally two thick leather straps secured his head. His mouth was forced open and a mouthpiece, similar to that a scuba diver wore, was forced into his mouth, before his nose was clamped shut. As he tried to calm his breathing, and his racing heart, he strained to hear what the doctors were saying - their voices were suddenly muffled further, as he was unceremoniously dumped into the tank.
He lay still, trying to figure out what was happening, still disoriented from his removal from the cell - the guards were a little trigger happy with their high voltage tasers, not to mention the tranquilizers. Watching the room through the distortion of the water, he watched in curious horror as, what looked like dozens of automatic bone drills, suddenly appeared and began to hum like a swarm of giant mosquitoes. As if in slow motion the drills moved toward him, each one simultaneously piercing flesh, and continuing deep into his body. He growled menacingly, as well as he could, against the pain, unsurprisingly it felt like he was being carved open by dozens upon dozens of knives.
And then it got worse.
His jaw clamped shut, his teeth biting clean through the breathing apparatus they had fitted him with, as he screamed into his watery grave. If he had been able to open his eyes all he would have seen was a sea of bubbles as his lungs evacuated all the air out of his body, but he was too busy being turned inside out, and simultaneously burned alive, by whatever the drills were now pumping into his body.
Desperate to end the pain, he sucked in a full lungful of liquid, hoping to drown and pass out, quickly. As his body began to spasm from the lack of oxygen, he felt the pain numb as he drifted into darkness, a vision of Marie's smiling face, and Lucy begging for a hug, greeted him as he lost himself in his subconscious, before that too went dark.
He didn't know how much later it was that he woke up, his body was completely dry, and he was laid out in a bare concrete cell, barely eight feet on each axis. One wall had a door, the heavy metal door had a small viewing window, though the glass had been smashed out of it, the dried blood that had run down the inside of the door telling him he had likely smashed it out, though he didn't recall. The entire cell was decorated with triplicate gouges, cut into the concrete, they looked like the gouges left by his claws but his claws couldn't cut into concrete. The door too bore matching marks, though they barely scratched the surface.
Slowly he sat up, his head was pounding, his body ached everywhere, and he was starving. Moments later he heard boots approaching, and a tray of food was kicked under the door. It was the disgusting grey stew, again, but right now he was so hungry it could have been raw, rotting, meat and he would have eaten it without complaint. Lifting the bowl to his lips he swallowed hungrily, licking the bowl clean minutes later in an effort to reach all the contents.
Now that the edge had been taken off his hunger, where was he, how did he get here, most importantly, how did he get out?
As he moved, the sound of clinking metal around his neck drew his attention to a small slip of metal, turning the tag over in his hand he read the inscription. 'Wolverine'. Was that his name? It didn't sound right but for the life of him he couldn't remember his own name. Pushing himself back to rest against the nearest wall he began to wrack his brain for details. Who was he? Who were these people? Who was Marie?
A sudden noise in the hallway startled him, and his fists reflexively clenched, three razor-sharp, shiny, metal claws shot from each fist. Starting in awe and confusion at the blades he knew, just knew, that that wasn't right, the claws yes, he recognized that, but something was wrong with these, they weren't right, weren't normal...
Voices came from the doorway, faces peered, from a distance, through the window at him. Unconsciously he growled, a little voice in the back of his head telling him these people weren't to be trusted, only Marie. Marie was the only one he could trust, he had to find her, but how was he supposed to find her when he couldn't remember what she looked like?
Soon enough the faces disappeared, a few hours later more food was kicked under the door, and not long after, the light shut off. Despite the lack of light, he found he could see perfectly well, under the cover of darkness he went to work, searching for a way out of this little concrete tomb. He was digging the metal blades into the hinge of the door when a spotlight suddenly flooded on, shining directly on him. A split-second later electricity coursed through his body, clamping his teeth shut which caused him to bite a chunk out of his tongue, as his body bowed taught. The metal claws slid out of the door as he was knocked across the room, leaving him a steaming pile of meat on the other side of the cell, as his body slowly worked to repair itself. He wasn't aware of the light shutting off again but when he woke next, he could hear the steady hum of electricity through the metal door. He wouldn't be able to touch that again.
Two days later he was disturbed out of a light doze but a rumbling and shuddering. At first, he thought it was an earthquake but it didn't last long enough, and repeated far too frequently. Moments later alarms began to sound, and the stench of smoke and blood began to filter through the air, until noisy extractor fans began to run, pumping fresh air into his cell, forcing out all the contaminated air. Unfortunately, they pumped something else in too, and he quickly began to feel lightheaded before he dropped into unconsciousness. His last clear thought was, 'That's a lot better than the dart guns and tasers.'
He was floating back to awareness, touch coming back first telling him he was lying on something soft, in a pleasantly warm, air-conditioned room. His sense of smell came back next, telling him he was still in a lab but this one didn't smell like terror, blood, and death, aside from the strong smell of antiseptic it was almost pleasant, and familiar. Sight was available to him too but the bright glow filtering through his closed lids told him, the lights were far brighter than he was used to, he would need to adjust slowly to that. Sounds began to filter through, this lab itself was quiet but the sound of soft footsteps, and an odd whirring sound, were approaching.
"How is he?" a man’s voice asked.
"I can't say for sure until he wakes but what they've done to him... I can only hypothesize that the metal was injected hot, in which case, his brain in particular could have been damaged, cooked I suppose would be the most appropriate description, there could be significant memory loss, the condition of the cell would lead me to believe he was, at some point, fully feral, he may still be, and I don't know what they used to knock him out, it seems to be something unique to his physiology as it didn't effect anyone else," a woman replied.
"I see, thank you Jean, let me know when he is awake," the man replied, before the sounds of people again disappeared.
For now, he was too tired to do anything other than lie there and think, at least one of those voices was familiar but he couldn't connect a face or name to the voice. Eventually he fell asleep again.
The next time he woke he felt a large hand, a large furry hand, on his arm. Again, reflexively, his claws released, though he opened his eyes he couldn't force his body up, he appeared to be strapped down again. The face that met his eyes, when he looked for the owner of the hand, was one he knew... but... didn't. Who was this man, he was blue, and covered in fur, and he knew him...?
"Ah, you're awake, I apologize if I startled you, those claws are very impressive but I am going to have to ask you to please put them away," the blue man said cheerfully, though with an undercurrent of... sadness. Stunned, Logan slid the claws away, lying still regarding the man in confusion, still trying to place how he knew him, even as he left the room.
Before long more people entered, a young red-haired woman, and a bald man in a wheelchair, accompanied the blue man.
The people spoke to him, he understood their words but he refused to answer their questions, he was used to being as obstructive to those holding him as possible, and he simply didn't have some of the answers they wanted. The bald man was the owner of the voice he had recognized when he woke the first time, he recognized the face too but couldn't put a name to it. The man eventually told him his name was Charles, which did 'fit', his mind told him. The blue man's name was Hank, which his mind also found familiar, he knew Hank at some point. Did Hank know Marie? Should he risk mentioning the one name he could remember, or might that put her, whoever she was, in danger?
Over the next several weeks he was moved from the main lab he had first woken in, to a 'quarantine room’. The accommodations were a lot nicer than he was used to, comfortable even, but it was still a cage, a cage with a comfortable bed, and warm blankets, a couch, table, bookshelf complete with books. He spent most of his time reading or sleeping between meals, and they were good meals, one time he even asked for more, and without question it was provided.
Still, he had no answers, he couldn't remember his own name, how old he was, where he came from. He could remember how to talk, read, write, eat with cutlery. He could remember what things were called, and he became more comfortable around the people holding him. Marie still bugged him, he couldn't remember who she was, just that she was important, and he needed to find her.
He dreamed at night, sometimes nightmares of the lab, things came back to him in the nightmares that he hadn't remembered before. He now knew when he had made the gouges in the concrete, the nightmares also told him that the blood running down the inside of the door had not been his but rather from the person he had grabbed and dragged, partway, through the jagged hole. And the 'experiments', he remembered the pain from the tank experiment, part of his brain had still been conscious, even after he drowned, and remembered in vivid detail what had happened. Those nightmares always left him trembling and aching, sometimes he threw up as his body rebelled against its former treatment.
Some of his dreams were better, nice, light, a little dark-haired girl who called him daddy and begged for ice cream, who cuddled him, and read him bedtime stories, haltingly, as she learned to read. A dark-haired woman, who kissed him tenderly, teased him as they worked together, and gasped and moaned as he drove his flesh into her sweet body... those dreams always had him waking, trembling and aching, for a whole different reason. It was after a night of those dreams that he finally got the courage to ask the blue doctor, Hank, one morning.
"Who is Marie?" he asked softly, as Hank was leaving after bringing him his breakfast.
Hank froze, turning toward him, shock written plainly across his face. "Who- who do you think she is?" he asked in return.
He scowled thoughtfully. "She... she's special, she's important to me, she... mate," the word came to him suddenly, "She's my mate," he replied frowning, a new fear beginning to gnaw at him, what if she had been in the lab, what if she was lost. Hank made an odd sound, a calculating look was cast his way, before he nodded and continued out of the room.
Later that morning he heard voices, it wasn't unusual to hear the doctors chatting among themselves but this was different, someone sounded angry; Hank sounded angry.
"You have to tell them, he's still out there looking for him, and she is up there worrying nonstop over him, while we have had him hidden down here for almost two months ... if you don't tell them ... I will not need to tell him Charles, he is going to remember all on his own ... when he does, he will be furious, so will she, and what do you think Victor will do-" that name sparked something in him, that was another important person- "... I cannot believe this! ... It's going to be more dangerous to keep hiding them from each other!" Hank roared, "Mark my words, you do this, you will lose them all." With an enraged growl, and the sound of shattering plastic, the conversation came to an end.
He began to pace his cell, suddenly it wasn't so comfortable after all. Hank walked by a few minutes later, a dark brooding look in his eye. "I've done all I can, Marie is waiting for you, you just need to find her," he said, cryptically, before he walked away.
He began plotting, he needed to get out, now, when lunch was delivered, he put his plan into action. He met Jean, the red-haired woman doctor, at the door, accepting the lunch tray from her with his usual grunt of acknowledgement. She smiled at him as she hit the button to close and lock the door, while turning to head back down the hallway. Quickly and smoothly he slid the thinnest book he had, through the shrinking gap between the door and frame before the door could lock.
Depositing the food down the toilet, he left the empty lunch tray on his table, before tugging blankets over the pile of pillows he dumped on the bed. Turning the lights right down he returned to the door, which, though mostly closed, had not locked. Careful not to make too much noise, he pried the door open enough for him to slide through, letting it finally close and lock, with him now on the outside. Hopefully it would be hours before anyone realised he was out.
He made his way through the lab, managing to avoid Jean who was working in an office off to the side. He was wandering through the metal lined hallways when he stepped through a door into a huge cavernous room, an odd-looking plane parked in the centre of the room. He knew this room, wracking his brain a memory was recalled, a memory of showing a young Marie the room -- "No one can know I showed you this," he grinned at her, as they stepped out of an emergency exit, after slipping down a narrow spiral staircase.
Looking around, he spied the door from the memory, pulling it open, sure enough, there were the spiral stairs. Slipping in, he ran up the stairs as quietly as he could, at the top he could go two ways. A door to the left, the heavy smell of chemicals behind it, when he opened it he was in a janitors closet. The door opposite led to an internal hallway, the scents of dozens of people telling him he should perhaps go a different way if he wanted to avoid detection. The second option was a long corridor to the right, barely lit, it eventually opened to the outdoors.
Slipping into the surrounding forest he lost himself for a while in the sights, sounds, and scents of nature, contentment and awe coursing through him as he wandered aimlessly through the trees. After a time, he heard voices, and cautiously approached.
"Lucy, you've won, you can come out now!" a young Asian woman called into the trees.
"No, you have to find me!" a girls voiced filtered back through the trees.
"Lucy we're never going to be able to find you," the Asian woman replied.
"I can find her Aunty Juju," a little boy answered, running up to the woman, he looked to be around four years old.
"Alright then," the Asian woman said with a laugh, taking his hand, "Let's go find your crazy sister." The pair set off into the trees, toward the voice, he trailed along behind them at a distance but none of them got far.
"I changed my mind!" a dark-haired little girl cried, running out of the forest. Not just any little dark-haired girl, this was the girl from his dreams, the one that called him daddy. He watched in silence as the little boy pouted, complaining about how it 'wasn't fair' that he couldn't play too, as the group made their way back toward the large building, now somewhat off in the distance.
"Lucy," he murmured, leaning against a tree as memories of the little girl flooded his mind. He remembered, everything, right from the very first time he saw her, goopy and scrunched up, screaming her lungs out at the world. She was a lot older than he remembered, how many years had he been gone, did she remember him? He followed them as far as the edge of the woods, watching with a smile as, about halfway across the open field, the children spotted a dark-haired woman he immediately recognized.
"Mommy!" they both yelled excitedly, as they ran to her and threw their arms around her. Once hugs were out of the way they continued. “Mommy, can we have a movie night, and pizza?" The little boy asked.
"Hmm, did you have your nap this afternoon?" Marie asked suspiciously. The little boy nodded frantically, as his mommy carried him back toward the building. "Well, in that case, that sounds like a great idea, I have to go see Uncle Charlie for a minute but why don't you two go upstairs with Aunty Juju and pick a movie while you wait..."
The rest of the conversation was cut off as the group walked inside, the door closing firmly behind them. Watching their shadows through the windows he tracked their movements until he saw Marie, through another window, this time in an office. Quickly and silently he ran across the open field, hoping he was quick enough to avoid detection. He got to the office he was aiming for, standing close outside one of the windows, straining to hear what was being said inside.
"...for the children, so I feel I must raise it. It has been four and a half years Marie, since Logan disappeared..."
He zoned out for a moment as the name triggered a flood of new memories, that was his name he recognized. Charles knew his name? He knew who he was? Why did he keep asking if he remembered? Why not just tell him!? And he had been in that lab for four and a half years! That fact hit him hard, he had no idea he had lost so much time in that hellhole, there were obviously much bigger holes in his recollections than he realised.
"... feel you would be better able to properly grieve and come to terms with the past elsewhere, somewhere you weren't surrounded by his memory."
Logan immediately fumed, this man knew who he was, where he was, recognized Marie was missing him, and was plotting to send her away, separate them further, rather than tell her he was here, what the hell was he thinking!? After Hank had told him to reunite them, he was furious - as was Marie, he noted as he listened in to the rest of the conversation.
"... opening a second school in Arizona, I was wondering if you would consider transferring to the teaching staff of the new school..."
Marie was a teacher? He felt pride swell in his chest, she had done it, she finished college, she didn't give up, he was so proud of her, it can't have been easy, with him gone, and Lucy...
He noted the conversation pause, and risked a look into the room. Marie was gazing sadly out the other window as she considered the offer that had been made to her. He could tell from the look on her face she wanted to decline but she was tired, he felt his heart break just a little as he felt her sorrow when she replied - not accepting but not declining. He watched as she left the room and headed off, presumably to find Lucy, and the little boy.
He returned to the woods as he considered what to do next, he wasn't confident Charles had either his, or Marie's, best interests at heart. He needed to get to Marie, without detection, and get her and Lucy away from here, somewhere they would be safe, somewhere they could reconnect. He would need to wait for dark and sneak back inside.