‘In the end, it’s the fallout that gets you. Into every life, a few bombs must fall… failure… misery, heartbreak… but even an ordinary Joe can survive an explosion or two. The thing that kills you is what comes next. Fallout. It’s the slow descent of all the unstable crap left behind by your mistakes. Hard to see while it’s raining down around you, and by the time you finally notice the poison piling up, you’re already drowning in it.’
Wolverine and his mysterious assailant are still embroiled in a vicious battle. Wolverine is thrown high over the trees; landing in the soft snow as his opponent follows. As he approaches, Wolverine picks himself up and unleashes his claws. He slashes at the fiery figure, which produces a fleeting moment of distress. Wolverine looks at the tattered remnants picked up by his claws and pauses.
“…? It’s really you, ain’t it?” he asks. He turns to the creature and asks him how long he’s been forced to haunt this patch of dirt. Lt. Warren doesn’t reply. Wolverine orders him to stand down. He figures this is almost all the suffering he deserves for what he did to the girl back in 1945. He doesn’t want to have to kill him.
Warren stretches out his flaming right hand to steady Wolverine, before thrusting his left hand towards his chest. “And that… is why you’ll lose... this war,” gloats Warren, as his fingers reach inside Wolverine’s rib cage.
(flashback, Hiroshima, 1945)
Logan is taking a bath, and a naked Atsuko joins him. He tells her she is beautiful and she thanks him. He admits that he’s never been kind to nobody, but that changes tonight. He wants her to come with him. She smiles, but thinks he’s kidding. She pours a jug of warm water over his head, but he replies that he ain’t joking. When he leaves next nightfall, he’s taking her with him. Atsuko asks where a woman like her would go with a man like him. Logan places his face next to hers. “I don’t know,” he replies. “Somewhere peaceful.”
Atsuko reminds him that the entire world is at war… again. Logan assures her that it won’t be like that forever. Things are coming to a head. He can smell it. Atsuko thanks him, but she was happy to be born in Hiroshima. She’ll be just as happy to die there. Logan takes her head in his muscular hands and reiterates that he wants her to live with him. Atsuko says that she always will. She places the palm of her hand against his chest. “Right here.” Logan tells her that she keeps saying that, but they are just words. Atsuko replies that if that’s what he thinks, then he doesn’t understand her tongue as well as he claimed. Logan tries to respond, but she places her finger to his lips. “Enough talking.” Logan moves his head to one side and, ever the persistent one, tells her again that he wants her to come live with him.
Atsuko is walking through a field, with the sun shining and the crops waist high. She looks beautiful and serene. He remembers what she tastes like. He remembers how her mouth felt against his. He remembers the sound of her eyelids fluttering open. He also remembers what a mushroom cloud looks like from the inside. Her nose begins to bleed. He remembers raindrops turning to steam as they hit what was left of his body. He remembers everything, and before Warren dies, so will he.
Wolverine’s eyes pop open as he feels his heart being ripped from its cavity. “Boom,” cries Warren as he holds his heart in the palm of his hand. Wolverine slumps against a tree and drops to his knees. He figures that he was right. A ripped-out heart still stinks of hot iron and dead blossoms. Warren opens his mouth wide and drops Logan’s heart into it. A metamorphosis begins to occur as Warren spasms. In moments, his fiery body is replaced by his naked human form. He smiles at the pathetic-looking Wolverine. “Tastes better than K-rations at least.”
Warren picks up a coat and thanks Wolverine, and not just for the threads. Their boys dropping the big one may have turned him to ash, but whatever makes them so damn special kept him living just long enough to roam this dump like half a spook, waiting for him. He can’t say that he understand how offing Wolverine made him whole again, but it did. All this time, he could feel it in his bones.
His speech is cut short when he turns to see Wolverine stagger to his feet. As he walks towards Warren, the former soldier unleashes a napalm-like burst of scolding plasma from the palm of his hand. Wolverine takes the hit and growls at him, before grabbing Warren by his coat lapels. He can’t believe Wolverine survived having his heart removed.
Wolverine hurls him several yards and Warren crashes to the ground hard. He looks up and pleads with Logan. He asks him to listen. That broad of his once told him that he was the only man on the island with an ounce of mercy. Whatever happened to that guy? Wolverine fixes him with a look that offers no mercy. He snikts his claws and slashes at Warren. His head hits the snow a few seconds before the rest of his body. The last thing Wolverine hears is what’s left of his own blood rushing to a hole it can never fill. Then, everything goes white.
Underneath a cherry blossom tree, with petals being carried gently by the wind, Atsuko stands there. Her eyes are open but there are no pupils. Logan is there wearing a kimono. “Atsuko... Am I…?” he says. Atsuko replies, “Dead? No.” She explains that, as ever, what was taken from him grows anew. Logan replies that he just wants this to be over. He wants to be with her. As he tries to stroke her cheek his fingers pass right through Atsuko’s body and she tells him that’s not possible. Still, he avenged her spirit. The least she owes him is some small taste of tranquility. Logan doesn’t follow.
Atsuko informs him that, if he chooses, she can see that Hiroshima doesn’t return with the rest of his heart. Lt. Warren, the bomb, his pain… she can take away all of those memories forever. “What about you?” asks Logan. “Would you disappear too?” Atsuko bows her head. “Hai,” she replies, “But so would the anguish of losing me.” She says the decision is his. What will it be? The scene turns to white once more.
Wolverine lies under a tree. Snow dripping from one of its branches awakens him, and he stands up, looking at the morning sunshine making its way through the branches.