For disclaimer and notes see first chapter.
Marie, age 14, 3 months
My father had been gone for most of the evening. I didn't expect him home until the morning if not till the afternoon. Even though it was a Friday night I was sitting at home, alone. I had a large report due on Tuesday and I wanted to get it all done before school on Monday.
I finished up all I was going to get done in that evening around midnight and put all my schoolwork and supplies away before I climbed into bed. I woke up several hours later to the sound of someone stumbling around the trailer. I slowly crept out of bed and cracked my bedroom door to see what was going on. Through the crack I could see my father stumbling around the kitchen area. He was drunk. I didn't even need to smell it on him to be able to tell. After determining that he was alone I went to close my door, but he must have heard me. He turned around so quickly that he almost fell over, grabbing the counter to save himself.
"Marie. I see you Marie," he called out. I sighed, pissed at myself for getting caught. "Come out here and sit with me, Marie," he called to me. I tucked my hair behind my ears and pulled the door open enough for me to squeeze through.
"Come out here and sit with your Daddy," he slurred. I warily slunk down the trailer hallway and out to the main room.
"What do you want, Dad? It's kinda late," I questioned.
"What? You can't make the goddamn time to sit with your own father?" he yelled at me. I flinched at his tone and didn't continue any further.
"I can. I just wanted to ask. It isn't a problem. I'm awake. Here to sit with you," I quickly replied and forced a small smile and prayed it didn't look as pained or forced as it felt.
"Come sit with me," he told me as he fell down onto the couch. Once I was within reach he pulled me down next to him. I fell onto the couch awkwardly and a little too close to him for my own comfort. But before I could move he wrapped an arm around my shoulders, trapping me against his body. I struggled not to gag as he breathed on me. The smell of stale beer on his warm breath was nauseating.
"Have I told you lately just how beautiful you are? Because you are. You have grown up to be such a beautiful woman," he told me as he moved his face closer.
"Thanks," I muttered to him, trying to pull away from him.
"Very beautiful," he murmured and then before I could stop him he pushed me down on the couch. I tried to get away but he was stronger. His body pressed down on me, trapping me between him and the couch. "Such a beautiful woman. So reliable. So dependable," he told me as he trapped my wrists above my head. "So much better than every other bitch that has stepped into my life," he spoke in my ear.
And then the horrible part started. I couldn't stop him as his free hand started to roam all over my body. I kicked and I screamed, and I tried with everything I had in me to get free and away from him. But for the next several minutes, or possibly longer, he had the advantage. And I remembering wishing, wishing that there was something I could do to get him off of me. It was only moments later that I felt the pull for the very first time. The intense flood of emotions, energy, and another's life flowing into me. It overwhelmed me and I had absolutely no idea where it came from. I didn't get a chance to fully examine the situation because my father's body rolled off of me, off the couch, and landed with a solid thud on the floor. I ignored his twitching body and tried to deal with the information that had just invaded my body. Too many emotions were pinging around in my mind, but the one that made me throw up was lust. Lust for me. And I saw myself from his eyes. Saw the way he was looking at me and how he was feeling about me. And worse still was what exactly he had in mind to do to me. And he would have done it had he not been stopped. I didn't give any thought to exactly how I had been able to do what I had just done. I just tried to stop my rolling stomach from throwing up any more.
Once my stomach settled down enough I drug/dragged the back of my hand across my mouth, wiping away what was left. My mouth felt disgusting and dry. It would have to wait. Other matters, such as my father's body slightly covered in my vomit twitching on the floor below me, were more important. I watched as his eyes rolled around underneath his closed eyelids and his limbs were convulsing out of control. I didn't bother to even make sure that he was still breathing or even alive. Instead I crawled down the couch and rose to shaking legs just a few feet from his body. I forced myself forward through the kitchen/dining/lounging area of the trailer and down the tiny hall that led to my bedroom.
I never fully understood people when they said they were just going through the motions. But I packed, numbly, all my clothes and treasured belongings that I could into a single duffel bag. My possessions just barely filled the bag. On my way out I grabbed my stash of money. Not much, but I realized that my $300 was going to have to keep me going for awhile.
So it was with that $300 in my pocket, a duffel bag of possessions on my shoulder, and a set of memories and emotions that weren't mine that I walked out of my trailer park home.
Marie, age 16, 10 months
It was eleven months later when I pulled up in Laughlin City. The trucker got out and slammed his door shut. It startled me enough to wake me from my nap. I looked around, and noticed Bobby walking around the front of his truck. I opened the door and tossed my bag out. I climbed out of the rig a moment later and shut the door. He reached up and locked it behind me.
"End of the road, kid," he told me and started to walk away.
"Where are we? I thought you said you would take me as far as Laughlin City," I replied, looking around at the shit hole that he had dumped us in.
"This is Laughlin City," he called over his shoulder as he headed towards the bar. I wrinkled my nose as I surveyed the place. It definitely wasn't what I had anticipated it being. But it was as good a place as any. A cold gush of wind managed to get into my cloak and I shivered despite my layers. I reached down and grabbed my bag and started the trek towards the bar that Bobby had just entered.
The parking lot was crowded, not an empty spot to be seen. It was probably the only place in town that provided any sort of entertainment to the locals and the meandering truckers. I ignored the sign stating only those legally old enough were allowed to enter the establishment. I had been in my fair share of bars prior to leaving Billy and even more afterwards. Inside the bar was more crowded than the parking lot. I kept my hood up, hiding my face as much as possible from prying eyes. In the middle of the bar a metal cage had been erected. I walked around the bar, drawn towards the cage. I managed to come in right as one of the cage fighters was knocked out. Remaining on the inside was a shirtless man, standing off to the side, back to me, drinking out of a glass. He disregarded the crowd and the announcer as they both yelled around him.
"Gentlemen!" The announcer called out through the microphone, gathering everyone's attention. The crowd roared as they were addressed. I stopped a few feet from the cage, bewildered at the entire situation. Cage fighting seemed to be a thing that happened in every bar. Not just the ones in my original neck of the woods. "In all my years I've never seen anything like this," he pumped up the crowd. I could hear the booing start, probably directed at the man standing alone in the cage with the announcer. "Are you going to let this man walk away with your money?" He questioned the crowd. And the crowd responded with a loud chorus of "No!". And then like it happened when Billy fought some dumb trucker rose to his feet and opened his mouth.
"I'll fight him!" the huge guy called out, cracking his neck and his rolling his shoulders around. He was a huge guy. He looked to be several inches taller than the man in the cage, not to mention about fifty to seventy pounds heavier. The remaining "Billy" in me automatically sizing up the potential opponent, finding his flaws, his possible weaknesses, and determining that overall the challenger wasn't as much of a bad ass as he imagined himself to be.
"Ladies and gentlemen! Our savior!" the announcer greeted the challenger as he stepped into the ring. He announcer covered the microphone and whispered something to the new man before stepping out and closing the cage door behind him.
The challenger waited only a moment after the bells chimed to rush the man, who still stood back to him. A brutal kick to the champion's kidney region was delivered. And as the man was turning to get away from the cage and face his challenger the man landed a solid right hook. It was followed by another punch to the face that knocked the champion to the floor. The challenger wasted no time as he started to kick the man in the ribs, two times before backing off to regain his composure. It was enough time for the champion to get back on his knees and turn to face the man.
The challenger rushed him and started to throw a punch, which the champion met with a punch of his own. The two fists collided and the clear sound of bones breaking could be heard over the roar of the crowd. The challenger bent over, and clutched his broken hand, trying desperately to get away from the champion. But the champion didn't relent and didn't allow the man to flee. He took the steps necessary to close the gap between them and landed a solid left hook, knocking the man back into the cage. As the challenger bounced off the cage the champion took the time to crack his own neck before head butted in the challenger. The sound of their heads colliding was nauseating. The challenger fell to his knees a moment later and did not rise.
"Ladies and gentlemen. Tonight's winner and still King of the Cage… Wolverine!" The announcer told the crowd. They booed him, screaming out obscenities. The man didn't seem to mind, or even acknowledge the crowd. He just picked up his shirt off the floor and walked out of the cage, past the announcer, past the crowd, and disappeared somewhere in the distance.
The entire time I couldn't shake the fact that every single movement of his felt familiar.
I made my way to the only empty stool at the bar. I didn't bother to get up for the rest of the evening. The bartender was kind enough to give me a glass of water, which he kept full and cool for me throughout the rest of the short evening. I remained at that bar stool even as the rest of the customers filed out and the crew started to clean up. It was freezing cold outside and I planned on staying inside, out of the cold, until he kicked me out.
A figure appeared to my left, walking out from the back of the bar, and sliding onto a stool a few down from me.
"I'll take a beer," he told the bartender. The bartender didn't even acknowledge his request but he silently went about getting the man his beer as he continued to clean up behind the bar. He puffed on his cigar, waiting for the beer to be placed before him. Him and the bartender seemed to have a comfortable rapport and I realized that the fighter must fight here often. As the bartender slid the beer to the man I realized exactly why I thought I knew him.
My heart stopped beating for more than a brief moment when I recognized him. Logan. This was probably one of his regular stops on his routes. I didn't mean to stare, but I couldn't help myself. He looked over at me, raising his beer to his lips while he checked me out. The beer never made it to his lips. He stopped, beer in midair, as his eyes landed on me. I saw recognition there, relief as well, and something else. Something so fleeting that I couldn't discern what it really was or if it was imagined.
The moment passed silently between us and Logan brought the beer up to his lips and took a healthy swig before sitting down at the bar, several stools down from me. I looked down, blushing slightly, embarrassed that I had thought seeing him again would mean something.
"Didn't think you would make it out on your own, kid," he finally broke the silence of the bar.
"I'm not a kid, and I've been making it on my own since I was born. A short stint between places isn't something I can't handle," I shot back and he looked amused, slightly at least.
I was about to reply when two men appeared behind him. One was the last guy that Logan had knocked out. His face was a mass of bruises and he looked like he was in pain.
"You owe me some money," he informed Logan.
"Come on man, don't do this," the guy's friend tried to warn him off. But the guy was determined to get his say in.
"No man takes a beating like that without a mark to show for it," the fighter kept pushing.
"Come on buddy, this isn't going to be worth it," again his friend tried to pull him off of Logan and away from the situation. But again the fighter ignored his friend and leaned down, next to Logan's ear.
"I know what you are," the guy whispered in Logan's ear. Logan didn't seem too fazed as he continued to puff on his cigar for a moment.
"Better leave before you lose something else," I heard Logan warn the guy. And it seemed like the fighter's friend was going to be able to pull him away. But at the last second the fighter pulled a knife from his pocket. I saw the metal glistening in the light and screamed to warn Logan, praying that I wasn't too late.
"Look out!" I yelled, and Logan spun to his left, coming up off the bar stool and spinning around to face the man. He moved so fast that the guy never stood a chance. Logan had him pinned up against a wall with two huge long metal claws against his neck and I watched in total fascination and amazement as a third, middle claw, slowly started to emerge from Logan's knuckles and head toward the guy's throat.
The loading of a shotgun brought my attention back to the bartender. He had moved right behind Logan and moved the gun towards him.
"Get out of my bar freak," the bartender told Logan as he put the barrel of the shotgun a few inches away from him head. I was silently praying that Logan would just back down, but quicker than the guy could pull the trigger he snapped his free left hand back. Three more blades appeared from his knuckles and sliced through the shotgun barrel, leaving the bartender weaponless.
Time froze at that point. I could feel my heart racing beneath my breast. The heavy, scared, breathing of the fighter, his friend, and the bartender all seemed overbearingly loud in the deadly silence of the bar. I waited, unsure of what to do or say or anything.
Just as suddenly as Logan had pulled them out his claws retracted back into his knuckles and he moved. He walked out of the bar without even so much as a glance back in my direction. Neither of the three guys moved even after seconds passed since Logan's departure. I looked around, everyone else that was left was frozen in their spot as well. I realized that should they suddenly discover that I was different as well then it would not be a happy outcome.
I slid off the bar stool, grabbing my bag from the floor, and headed out after him. I just hoped that I hadn't been too slow. Barreling through the front door and into the cold I started looking around but couldn't spot him. I ran, through the slippery snow, further into the parking lot. Spinning around, searching all angles for him. But it was useless. He had disappeared before I got outside. He had probably stormed off, flooring his vehicle, pissed off about the scene that had just occurred.
I was so caught up in my thinking about him leaving that I didn't even notice the truck, with the camper on the back, pull up along side of me. The side door was pushed open.
"Get in, kid," a male voice instructed me. I jumped slightly, the voice being the first thing that alerted me to the presence of the vehicle. I took a few steps backwards, wary of the unfamiliar truck. "Marie, get in," he called out and relief flooded over me. Logan. He hadn't left me. I hurried to the truck and tossed my bag inside on the floor, and climbed in. I hadn't even gotten the chance to shut the door when he was pulling off and out of the bar parking lot.
"I thought…" I started and then trailed off. He didn't say anything and I took a deep breath and started again. "I thought you had left me," I quietly stated.
"Not anytime soon," he replied just as quietly and I looked over at him in shock. The answer was enough for me to relax though. The connection made. Logan wasn't going to let me go.