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I Never Wanted - Chapter 53

Chapter 53 - Home
Rating - PG
'Is it over?
Are we home?
Yes my love we are home,
But there are still battles to fight....'

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Fort Nelson soon receeded into the evening light as they made their way north. Jubilee read the map Logan had given her by the dashboard light, Marie was still hugging Logans shoulder. When night fell Logan stopped the truck, there was no point in going any further in the darkness, the trees were still with them and would be for a few more miles yet.

Pulling off road Logan put the truck under a large pine, it's branches rubbing on the roof and covering the back of the truck. Jubilee popped her door open and soon everyone was outside, Marie got to work with Jubilee and Kitty. Hank, Pieter and Logan covered their tracks, brushing out any sign of their stopping. The truck was hidden from sight soon enough and the small need fire Marie had made was enough to cook with and keep the autumn chill out of their bones.

The air of their final camp seemed relaxed as if they'd done the worst part already, Hank was relaxed with Jubilee on his lap. Peiter was sat with Kitty resting on his shoulder, Marie was stirring something in the pot while Logan lounged as if he'd made his home here. It was Hank who broke the easy silence, his bass rumbling through their thoughts as he put the practicalities in front of them all.

"Do we know exactly what is up there at the end of this tarmac rainbow?" Jubilee smiled and shook her head at Hank who turned his gaze toward her as she chewed a piece of dried apple.
"The road runs out about ten miles ahead of us, then it's all trial from there, looks pretty inaccessable an we'll have to carry supplies." Hank fished the keys from his pocket and let the small amount of firelight hit their surfaces.
"Well we have keys, so that means a door of some kind attached to a building. So we might have a place to stay while we figure out exactly what else we're going to need up here." Hank looked over at Logan who's gaze was locked on the flames, his hand stroking Marie's back as she doled out what was left of the stew from yesterday.

Marie answered that query herself as she passed the bowls around, her voice steady but filled with humour. "Well Ah know one thing, you're gonna have to get used to an out door toilet for one." Kitty didn't seem phased at all, Jubes was the one who looked upset at the thought of it. Seeing their faces Marie carried on as she tucked into her own food.
"That's not all, girls have any of you brought sanitary wear?" The look that passed between the two of them was priceless and even Hank smirked a little as it finally dawned on them both.
"I..I'm not going to need any but Jubes, you will surely?" Suddenly the prospect of being out here in the wilderness wasn't an attractive option anymore. Jubes was silent as she spooned the stew into her growling stomach.

Peiter spoke up next, "What about the supplies we have? What's in the packs?" Logan answered the large man who would soon become a father.
"Tools, survival gear, warm clothing, rations to get us through the winter, medical kit. No room for girly crap in the truck."
Jubes responded with a withering glare and put her eyes on Marie, "'Girly Crap', so you think female *essentials* are 'Crap!'." Logan turned a dark eye toward her and Jubilee shrank back into Hanks warm grip on her body.
The look he gave her he spread around the camp fire to the rest of their small group, his words quiet but weighty.
"Look, it's not gonna be easy, we'll be surviving only this winter. Marie an me have done this before but here we're further north an we need shelter first, then fire, then food. So like it or not the rest of the summer and autumn your gonna be collectin and hunting, preservin food for winter. We're gonna hope for woodland because if we're on tundra I don't rate our chances of survival more than a few weeks. The map looks like the place is in a decent valley system, got it's own water, deep pools and a river. We're all gonna be learnin from each other and Hank ya gonna need to train all of us in basic first aid and whatever else ya can just in case."

Hank nodded and agreed with the plans he heard, that they'd be working on shelter as soon as they reached it and that they'd be on short rations for a while until the food sources had been scouted out properly. Kitty looked a little pale but her strength was returning, the ginger seemed to do her good and she wasn't as sick as she had been. Marie herself looked calmer, stronger, more alive out here just as Logan looked more comfortable too. Peiter for his sins looked like he'd be helping Logan and him to do most of the donkey work for a while, but it didn't look as if it troubled the young father. Hank let the warm food fill him as he let the night pass overhead, a clear night filled the air with a deep chill he barely felt with his thick fur. And as Jubilee snuggled down into his body his eye took in Logan's own pleased gaze as Marie wrapped herself around him. Her head resting on his chest, Logan's back to the forest as if he feared them more than what was behind him. Sleep came easily out here, after a huge run across the country they seemed to finally be getting somewhere. Feeling Jubilee slide into sleep Hank's final view of the camp was Logan stroking Marie's cheek before kissing her forehead and showing a gentle smile.

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The road had petered out just where it was supposed to, the track wasn't a trail, it was barely visable through the forest. Hank and Logan went ahead of the truck with Peiter driving, clearing the young saplings that had taken to the path. Soon they were obscured from everything, the entire world of humans had stopped and they were somewhere entirely different now. It took them most of the afternoon to get down the track to where the map ended.

The place that was marked on the map should be just over the next ridge, next to a stand of granite. Logan loaded everyone up, taking a couple of saplings he quickly made a travois with Marie and they both loaded what was left onto the springy sled. They'd done this in the middle of winter so doing it now was easy, Marie showed Kitty how to tighten the straps and she helped Peiter into the harness of the travois. Everyone ready they set out across the forest, the air filled with the sounds of nature. Undisturbed land and creatures who hadn't seen a human never mind a mutant.

It wasn't much to look at, the small cabin, a good thirty feet long, twelve feet high, and twenty wide. The lock on the cabin was rusted shut and a slice from the new owners had the keys now an ornament. Pushing the door open the stink of dust and rot filled the air, Logan sneezed and shook his head angry at the state of the place. Kitty was about to walk in when he just stopped her dead, "No, mould. Ya don't wanna go in there little mama, that stuff'll kill ya." He turned to Hank and Peiter who'd just taken off the travios, "We gotta start from scratch, help me clear some of the wood around it, we're gonna have to burn it down and use the foundations." Marie nodded and she organised the rest of their group into sorting the supplies into cover.

That night the sky was lit by fire, a beacon rising high on the mountain side, there was a light in the darkness, a hope of new life where there'd been none before. Water was all around the place just in case the fire decided to spread. Spruce and hemlocks were already waiting to be pushed into the ground tomorrow morning, life would begin again, a new start, a new hope. One they would build together, a world that included what they wanted in it, not what they were told they 'needed'.

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Two Months Later
*****************

The cabin was ready, the old structure had revealed a secret cellar when it had burned down, a natural hollow in the granite. A perfect storage place for food, Kitty was showing at last, her fingers quick to learn the skills that would keep them alive over winter. She went out with woven baskets and came back with fruit that needed drying. Hank hunted, brought back small game which was skinned and tanned with the effiecency of an old hand. Jubilee had squicked at first but when she'd snuggled under a skin for the first time she'd been hooked as long as they ate what they killed. And of that there was no arguement.

Logan had worked steadily, doing as much as he possibly could each day, the foundations they'd built were strong, solid and deep. Nothing but the mountain falling on them would shift the thing, as the first leaves began to turn the roof was put on. When it topped out Marie and Kitty handed a wreath to Logan to put on the top, it's deep green colour constrasting with the dark wood.

Things were moved inside, jobs that were once outdoor, were now inner. The fireplace got it's first fire, the slabs of rock were held in place by clay and dung, strapped with twisted wood and tied into place to the walls. Furniture was next, low beds, soft sofa's filled with boughs of pine and fern. The seats from the truck were used as well, everything that could be used was stripped from it. They wouldn't be coming down again, not for a couple of years anyway. Soon the empty space had become a home, one that had water coming in by wooden pipe, a loo that provided compost and warmth that came from knowing that they'd survived.

Marie saw the birds as they went south, the winter was coming and they had enough stored to get them through. There was even electricity too, Kitty went through the files on her computer, looked for the information she'd copied and took a little silver dish from her pack. Pointing it outside she waited for the satellite to go over and she was online, the solar battery filled their needs and she kept them all informed with the news about the world.

It seemed so far away, so distant but the tales they heard were ones of suffering and torment. The US wasn't a place of hope anymore but there were tales of daring escapes and rescues. They even heard of a woman who'd ended a thrity year drought in Central Africa, bringing life to the lifeless and Marie sent a silent prayer to Ororo. Life had been broken apart but they'd survived, continued to live and fought for every piece of what they had.

Turning to see everyone resting on the soft fur covered sofa's she walked over to her husband, settling herself with him. Hearing his contented purr rumble through the room as Kitty laughed as Peiter felt his child move under his hand. Even Jubilee looked happy, talking in whispers with her lover, peace didn't come easy and it never lasted. Sensing her thoughts Logan nudged her head making her look at him, "Happy?" She thought about it for a second and snuggled up before answering him.
"Here?"
"Yeah here."
"It's not as cosy as our first place," her eyes telling him that she remembered her first winter with him and how much she loved to remember it. "But it'll do." A huge smile on her lips as she let herself drift into his grip. A rumbling laugh going through him as she let the night pass by.

There were battles ahead, they both knew that but for now they had respite, a place to live, a place to *be*. Soon there'd be a child and maybe another not long after if Logan's nose was anything to go by. Holding Marie close Logan looked at the walls he'd built, they'd keep the world at bay for a while and while they might not age the others would. One day they'd be leaving here, still young while the graves of those who helped to build this place ran the edges of this world. Lost in his thoughts Logan turned his gaze to the fire.

**************************************************

EPILOGUE
********

The going had been hard but it had been worthwhile, the long trek across the hinterland had taken him most of the summer. Yet here he was at last, radio contact had been broken twice and he hoped they still expected him. Wiping a hand down his face he looked behind him at the group he was leading. They were in a bad way, they needed food, shelter, a home.

"Come on we're nearly there!" A chorus of 'You said that miles ago' and 'You sure?' echoed in his ears. Laughing to himself he turned to see the small village below, the houses were solid, small and compact. They didn't need much to live here, the land was fertile and it had enough for everyone. The deeds that kept this safe had been added to over time, more land, more resources, but always quiet.

Gary moved the group forward ahead of him, his skin showing his mutation, black and white zebra striping that moved when he concentrated on it. He looked for the head man and found him next to the small meeting house, his body relaxed under the large hemlock that served as the meeting place. Now that his group had seen civilsation they were happy to get a move on, he went straight to the head man leading them all. When he got there the snoring was enough to cut the tree behind him, grey had touched his temples from the last time he'd been here. Scanning around he tried to get someone's eye and found a familiar face. Smiling he waved at the auburn haired beauty that was weaving her way toward them.
"Marie!"

She walked over, several younger adults with her and she whispered to them and they went off to their various duties. The family resemblances were easy to see in their young faces, she turned her embrace to the man in front of her noticing that he'd aged more and his own body was beginning to look like his fathers. "Gary, how's Mason? Still gun running?" Laughing Gary hugged the woman to him, she'd been an inspiration to his father and family.
"No, he leaves the difficult stuff to me now. Talking of which I've brought some more refugees." He turned to show the people who were looking around as if the world was about to drop on their head at any moment. Marie just smiled at them and told them to go to the large house across the way. They could get fed, get a wash and rest, everything else would be sorted out later.

When they'd left Gary turned to look at the man under the tree, his gaze softening as he looked him over. "How longs he been taking naps in the afternoon?" Marie smiled as they walked over toward him, the afternoon sun warming the soles of his feet.
"Ever since he took charge, says it recharges his batteries. Mind you he has enough to cope with, his wife is driving him nuts about the grandkids." Gary looked over the large man who was resting under the tree, his face one of solidity. Peiter had made a great leader, always easy going, capable, strong, even handed and patient to a fault.

A whistle had Gary turning round to see someone coming down the other approach to the village. Logan. He was carrying a deer over his shoulders and the wolf at his heels was bouncing like a puppy trying to trip him every step. Handing the meat off to someone at the large hall, Logan came and kissed his wife before acknowledging the visitor.
"Logan! Gary's here!" Logan's eyes twinkled and he saw Marie's laughing eyes and Gary's warmth directed at them both. He was his fathers son and if it weren't for his skin he'd be his double.
"I can see that, how's life Gary?" Smiling he took Logan's hand and shook it hard.
"Fine, fine. Do you mind if I stay the winter? I doubt I'll get back before the snows come down anyway."
"No, no problem with me but you'll have to clear it with the headman there," he nodded toward a dozing Peiter. Smiling Gary nodded as well, but they both knew that Logan had the last word on who stayed and who didn't.
Marie hugged them both and pulled them back toward her own home.
"Come on there's news to spread and a decent coffee to make." Gary let himself be taken into the warmth of the world around him, there would always be a home for him here. Thanks to his father, a trucker who had the truth of love pointed out to him on a journey from death to hope.
 
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