When yet another teenager joins the mutant school not much thought is given to his past, until odd facts started to paint a disturbing picture.
Is there a connection between this boy, and Wolverine and Rogue? And how can they find out, when he barely remembers, and no one has seen or heard from the pair in almost two decades...
, AU Characters:
Action, Angst, Dark, DramaTags:
1. Chapter 1 by erro
2. Chapter 2 by erro
3. Chapter 3 by erro
4. Chapter 4 by erro
5. Chapter 5 by erro
6. Chapter 6 - Epilogue by erro
Matthew kicked at the leg of the bolted down metal table. He was bored. He had been stuck in this room almost two hours ago and told to stay, someone would be with him 'shortly'. This 'shortly' was going to miss him out on lunch if whatever shrink they had decided to throw at him this time didn't hurry the fuck up.
He kicked the table leg hard again. Finding bored amusement in the fact the movement caused his chair to scrape backward, while the table, unsurprisingly, remained unmoved.
This group home was a hellhole, worse than any foster home he had ever been in; even that one with the drunk mother who got him to buy drugs for her. It wasn't even his fault he was in here either, the last home had been nice. He had been there nearly three years, he finally fit in. He thought the family liked him, the parents had even made noises about maybe making the placement 'permanent'. When you were fifteen, and had been in the system almost your whole life, that was a big deal.
Then it had happened.
He had been walking his 'little sister' home from school, she had been about ten feet behind him, when a van pulled up beside her with a squeal of tires, the backdoor sliding open as a masked man jumped out and grabbed her. He hadn't thought, he hadn't yelled, he just jumped straight into action diving into the van behind the would-be kidnapper. He managed to get Missy out of the guys grip, before he had laid into him, not stopping pounding on his face until it was a bloody pulp.
Then the other guy had pulled a gun on him, shooting him in the left shoulder. The pain had momentarily blocked out everything, and when he had come back to himself, he had been standing over the screaming form of the man, who was clutching at the bleeding stump of his arm. His severed hand, still holding the gun, was lying on the floor, and three sharp bone claws were protruding from each of Matt's own clenched fists.
The kidnapper's driver saw everything that was happening and slammed on the brakes. Matt's claws had disappeared as he moved to grab hold of Missy, and attempted to shield her from injury as the van came to an abrupt halt, sending them both tumbling across the vehicle. The driver had run, leaving Matt and Missy, and his two cohorts behind.
Matt had to kick out a window to be able to open the sliding door, before helping Missy out of the van. The cops were hurriedly called by bystanders, who were nothing but concerned for the two innocent children. Then Missy had spilled the story of how her 'brother' had saved her, and everything had suddenly gotten very quiet.
He had seen Mr Thompson, his foster dad, as he was being released from the holding cell at the police station. Despite the damage he had done to the kidnappers, the cops had decided there was no way to deny it was self-defence, surprisingly declining to pursue charges. Despite that, Mr Thompson had been dropping off Matt's suitcase, with his life haphazardly shoved into it, before he murmured to the social worker that it 'wasn't safe to have Missy around... it'.
From there, Matt had been driven directly to the group home, and dumped in a dorm.
In the following few weeks he had had one visitor after another, mostly psychologists, trying to get inside his head and ‘figure him out’. He had overheard one talking to the social worker about him not being safe to have in society, like a dog that had bitten, he had 'gotten a taste for blood and surely more would follow'. He had started fucking with them after that, he had everyone on their toes. Eventually the other boys had tried to 'deal with the problem' of the freak in their midst, that had started a massive fight, which he hadn't walked away too bad from, all things considered.
He turned to stare at the wall mounted clock again, as his stomach rumbled. Fuck this, if they weren't going to turn up on time he wasn't waiting around. He had just stood up to leave when the door finally opened, and a tall red haired woman walked in, dressed in a finely tailored black pantsuit. She was followed in by an equally as tall man, dressed in black slacks, and a dark red dress shirt, no jacket, and despite the fact they were indoors, wearing unusual looking sunglasses.
"We're sorry to have kept you waiting," the woman said apologetically, walking to a seat, gesturing for him to retake his. Once he was warily seated the woman sat too, a pleasant smile pasted on her face. The man however remained standing, observing the room at large. "Now, I'm not sure what you have been told about what's happening?" the woman spoke, clearly expecting a response.
"As per fucking usual, not a goddamn thing," Matt replied, "Not even why the fuck I'm missing the shit they call lunch around here," he added with a scowl.
"Well, the lunch part was our fault unfortunately, traffic delay, don't worry, we'll make it up to you once we're done here," the woman answered, still smiling, seeming unaffected by his liberal use of profanity. "I'll start by introducing us, my name is Jean Grey, this is Scott Summers, we’re from Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, it's a specialty school for mutants--"
"Let me guess, you want me to sign up for freak school," Matt interrupted to scoff.
"Not exactly, the foster system has transferred you to the wardship of the school, you're being transferred out of the group home," Jean informed him softly.
"So, I'm being sent from one group home, to another group home, just this time it's a segregated, mutant only, group home?" Matt set out, with a tired sigh. "Yeah, what the fuck ever, when do we leave," he tried to sound like he was actually interested. He really didn't care anymore, in fact, he was seriously considering just lighting out and disappearing into the world, screw the system. He could give this place a shot first he supposed, what's the worst that could happen.
"We can leave right now if you want, as soon as you're packed, I'm sure you'll like it there, anything we can do to help you settle in just let us know," the woman, Jean, replied, a hint of sadness behind her smile, almost like she knew what he was thinking.
"Yeah, how about some lunch?" Matt asked, his stomach grumbling again. Of all the days to have skipped breakfast it had to be the day he missed lunch too.
"We can grab something on the way, do you have a preference?" Jean asked him cheerily, as she stood up and motioned for him to follow.
"Big, fat, juicy burger, swimming in enough oil to grease you from end to the other," Matt replied, almost drooling at the thought of a real meat burger, not the processed sludge they got fed at the home.
Jean just laughed and said they would do their best. She was about to send him on his way to his room to pack, when a social worker walked up, and dumped a suitcase at his feet. The social worker nodded curtly, then turned around and walked away, without so much as a backward glance.
"Um, do you want to go and double check they didn't miss any of your stuff?" Jean asked, as he collected the case and began to head for the exit.
Matt chuckled half-heartedly. "Any good stuff will have already been stolen the second my roommates found out I was being sent out, can't get it back without proving it's yours, can't prove it's yours though, so anything they missed belongs to someone else now," Matt explained. The smartly dressed woman obviously didn't know how this worked.
"Oh, well, if there's anything you need once we get to the school, you let me know," Jean replied uncertainly, before she followed him toward the exit.
The pair directed him to a car, a sleek, expensive looking sedan. Scott loaded his bag into the trunk, while Jean showed him around to a seat. As they pulled out of the parking lot a few minutes later, Jean told him to let them know when he saw something he wanted to eat. It wasn't until they were leaving town that he suddenly spotted a place that looked like it was serving what he was after.
"There, that little diner, at the truck stop," he announced, momentarily having forgotten the drivers name. Maybe if the guy ever spoke, he might have a reason to remember his name but he just sat mutely, with those weird shades on. He had wondered if the guy was blind but he was driving so, clearly not.
"Interesting choice," Jean murmured, as she looked around, shooting a look of distaste around her. Obviously this wasn't her kind of place.
Not much more was said until their food arrived, and Matt hungrily tore into the first of his two double cheeseburgers. Thick, juicy, and rare, he didn't pay any attention to the meat juice that leaked out and ran down his wrist as he all but inhaled that first burger.
"So, you like diner food?" Jean started, trying to start a conversation.
"It's better than that fast-food shit, at least you know this has real meat in it," Matt replied, turning his burger over so Jean could see the pink fleshy, barely cooked meat in his burger.
"Is that the only reason you picked it?" Jean pressed, trying to kept the squicked look off her face.
Matt went quiet for a moment. "Back before... my dad used to bring me to places like this... he always knew the best places, said him and my mom tried them all out as they travelled, before I was born, settled in the town that had my mom's favourite burgers."
"You remember your parents?" Jean asked gently.
"Sort of, I really only remember mom from pictures, something happened to her, when I was really young, dad used to talk about her a lot though, usually only when he was drinking," Matt said sadly.
"Your dad was a drunk?" Scott finally spoke for the first time. He appeared to be scowling, though at what Matt couldn't be sure.
"I don't know," Matt answered, as he started his second burger. "He drank a lot, like, he had a bottle a lot but looking back now, with a better understanding, he never seemed to actually *be* drunk."
"Did he abuse you? When he was drinking?" Jean asked gently, giving off an air of compassion.
"No," Matt replied quickly, "Never, he... he was the perfect dad, I mean he could be distant at times, he-- from my experience, people drink for one of two reasons, they either drink to forget, those are the ones who usually drink until they pass out and can't remember anything, or they drink to remember... dad drank to remember, like, he needed the alcohol to numb his emotions enough that he could talk about my mom without hurting so much, I guess, I think, I don't really remember all that much anymore."
"Is that why your dad lost custody of you? The drinking?" Jean asked.
"My dad didn't lose custody, he abandoned me, took me to a fire station one night, told me he loved me but it was 'safer this way', said when it was safe again he would find me, told me to go inside... he was gone before I even got to the door," Matt explained, he still, to this day, didn't know what to think about that. His memories of his dad told him he really was perfect, until that day, the day he had betrayed him, abandoned him, pushed him off on a system that didn't care about him. For a long time, he had been angry with his dad, resented him. He had also gone through periods of thinking he was the problem, he must have done something bad that made his dad not want him anymore. Now though, he didn't really know what to feel, he wasn't even sure if he knew *how* to feel anymore.
"How old were you?" Jean asked in surprise.
"... Five," Matt answered.
"And he never came back?" Scott asked, a frown still marring his brow.
"Not as far as I know, maybe I got moved around so much he couldn't find me, literally the only information the system's ever had on me was what I told them, which was my first name, my birthday, that my mommy was gone away, and my dad's name was 'daddy'," Matt huffed a resigned laugh.
They all fell silent again, digesting the information that had been shared, as well as their food. Matt did his best to give off his attempt at 'don't talk to me' vibes, it seemed the pair got the message.
Once they were back in the car Matt reclined his seat, staring out the rear windscreen, watching the clouds roll by as they rushed down the road. They pulled into an airport about an hour later, and Matt was surprised when he was ushered onto a private jet.
"Where did you say we were going?" he asked, suddenly curious.
"New York," Jean answered, "We're going to be flying direct but from Washington state, it's going to be about an eight hour flight, once we're in the air you can have this room, probably a good idea to get some sleep, we should be landing around three am New York time."
"Thanks," Matt grunted, once he had been shown where the bathroom was, the inflight snacks, and finally been told to strap in for take-off. Once the pilot gave them the go ahead to remove their seat belts Matt headed for his assigned room; he got the distinct impression the two adults wanted some privacy.
Jean was watching Scott closely, he had been unusually subdued all afternoon. He was currently pouring over the limited information they had been given on the boy, Matthew Smith, he was listed as - a pseudonym apparently, his surname was unknown, they initially assumed it had been lost in the system but it seemed not. The scowl on Scott's face was just getting deeper as he read, and re-read, the twelve-page spread, which really only listed each placement the boy had ever been in and the police report from his manifestation incident.
"What is it Scott?" Jean asked, as she sank down onto the seat beside him as he sighed deeply and dropped the report onto the table in front of him. "What are you seeing?" she clarified.
"Honestly, I'm seeing Logan," Scott murmured, barely above a whisper. "I mean, the healing, the claws, the appetite, the attitude... it's like an un-modified mini-me of Logan," he sighed.
"I- I was thinking the same thing," Jean replied softly, tears in her eyes. "But Logan... he never would have given up his own child... would he?" she asked, more because she didn't want to dwell on the other 'fact' of Matt's testimony, what had happened to his mother...?
"We did tell Rogue that Logan would leave her, I thought maybe we were wrong when he took her with him instead... though if something happened to Rogue... maybe it was enough to push him over the edge," Scott suggested grudgingly.
"...Or maybe it's just a coincidence and it's not them, and they're still out there, living happily ever after somewhere," Jean replied, sounding hopeful. She still felt guilty for her part in driving the pair away sixteen long years ago, she had thought at the time she was doing what was best for Rogue, in warning the girl off the older feral man. No one had expected the pair to simply disappear into the night and never come back like they had. Even the Professor hadn't been able to locate them, despite extensive searching for almost a full year. It wasn't until Jean had found one of Rogue's left behind journals that they had realised just how deep the pairs bond had run. It didn't surprise her, after reading it, that they had chosen to leave rather than continue to live with the constant scrutiny on their relationship.
Scott grunted noncommittally. "Do we still have those photos of them?" he asked a moment later.
"There should be photos on their files, Jubilee has some too I'm pretty sure," Jean answered, her curiosity had been piqued by the query.
"Maybe we should show them to him, see if he recognizes them," Scott suggested.
"We'd have to be careful not to seed a false memory," Jean warned, they couldn't just hand the kid photos and say 'are these your parents'.
"What about giving him one of Jubilee's photo albums and see if he recognizes pictures with them in there?" Scott suggested, that way they wouldn't be suggesting a connection - if they were his parents, he would surely recognize them.
"That sounds like a plan, I'll ask Jubilee when we get back," Jean said with a yawn, "In the meantime, I'm going to bed, care to join me?" With a soft smile, Scott stood and followed her into the other small cabin, it had been a long day after all.
"Hey, is- is this seat taken?" A soft voice asked from right beside him. Matt was tucked in the darkest corner of the Rec Room, trying more than anything to hide from all the new people.
He had been put into another dorm, when they arrived at the school in the wee hours of the morning, and it turned out his new roommates were as inconsiderate as the old ones. Despite the fact that when he got in at about three thirty am he had snuck into the room as quietly as inhumanely possible, so he didn't disturb their sleep, the five teenage boys he was sharing with, opted to make a hell of a lot of noise when they woke at seven, until the last of them left the room at eight for breakfast and classes. So, he had started his day in a bad mood, which he so far hadn't been able to knock himself out of.
It was better to avoid people, than make a bad first impression by being rude, he had learned.
"Nope, chair's still there," he replied, clarifying when the girl looked confused, "It hasn't been taken."
She giggled. "I meant, can I sit here?" she replied teasingly.
"I don't know, can you?" Matt responded, his lip quirking just enough for the intruder to know he wouldn't be mad if she did.
"Yes, yes I can," she replied defiantly, as she took a seat. "My name’s Candice, what's your name?" she asked, as soon as she was seated.
"Matt," he replied. He didn't have a problem with her sitting down but he still wasn't sure if he was ready for a conversation.
"Are you new here?" Candice continued.
"Yep," he replied bluntly.
"How are you liking it so far?" she asked, with a friendly smile.
"It's too noisy, too many people, my roommates are rude, I don't know what the 'school' side is like because I haven't been assigned classes yet... the food isn't half bad though," Matt replied honestly.
"Oh, well, that's good I guess, and maybe your roommates won't be so rude once they get to know you a bit... you're a mutant, right?" Candace continued to grill him.
"Yeah, isn't that what this place is for?" he asked, maybe she was a human wanting to satisfy her curiosity about freaks.
"Uh huh, though sometimes we get the odd human here, mostly because they don't have anywhere else to go... some of the boys at lunch were saying you got sent here from juvie, i-is that true?" she plucked up her courage enough to finally ask.
Ah ha, she was the pretty girl sent to gather gossip, figures. He glared at her before replying, "No."
"Oh, well I suppose that's good, so, how did you end up here then?" she asked, clearly confused.
"The system didn't know what else to do with a freak," Matt muttered, still glaring, though he couldn't help feeling like he was being just a little uncharitable. At least the girl had come to him to get answers, rather than just fuelling the gossip mill.
"Were you in foster care too?" she asked softly, understandingly.
"... Yeah," Matt murmured, taking a closer look at the girl, what did she mean 'too'.
"That sucks, did your parents dump you when they found out about your mutation?" she queried curiously.
"Did yours?" Matt asked in return, suddenly curious to gather some information of his own.
The girl nodded sadly. "I got hit by a car, when I got to the hospital, they took me into surgery, I died on the table, and when they used those shocky things to try and jump start my heart, my body absorbed the energy and then the second time my body discharged it all, I fried all the electronics in the operating theatre. At first everyone thought it was just a weird freak power surge and everyone was saying how I was so lucky to be alive, but then it turned out it was me, sucking up energy and then releasing it by touch, that's why I have to wear the gloves, until I figure out how to control it, so I don’t accidentally take energy from people... Anyway, my parents dumped me in foster care but the Professor had already heard about me, he managed to get custody of me, and then I came here. What about you?"
Matt listened to her story, man she had shitty parents, at least his dad hadn't abandoned him for some quirk of his DNA. Though, given he didn't know why his dad abandoned him, he didn't know of that was better or worse.
"I've been in foster care since I was little, don't know why, my dad just disappeared one day... My mutation became evident and the system didn't know what to do with me, somehow they contacted these guys, or something, and now I'm here," Matt explained.
"How did your mutation 'become evident'?" Candice asked curiously.
"Some sick fucks tried to kidnap my sis- the foster family's kid... I jumped in the van after the kidnappers, fought them off until the driver stopped and ran... Apparently saving Missy's life meant I was too dangerous to be around her, so they kicked me out, everyone else was afraid of me," he shrugged glumly.
"So, what is your mutation then?" Candice continued to press.
"Um, I've got, like, these sort of... claw things, they come out my hands, and I must heal really fast or something because one of the kidnappers shot me but by the time the cops arrived the wound was gone, they said they wouldn't have believed me, that I'd been shot, if not for the holes in my clothes and the blood from where the wound had been, so..." Matt trailed off, he still wasn’t sure what he thought about his own mutation, so he was a little nervous what others would think, especially if anyone found out he has maimed people.
"Wow, that sounds cool, and it's great you used them for saving people, you're like an unofficial X-Man," Candice replied approvingly, and with a hint of awe.
"What's an X-Man?" It was Matt’s turn to ask in confusion.
"Oh, the Professor has this team of mutant superheroes, they go around rescuing mutants and stuff, they're called the X-Men, pretty much everyone here wants to be one 'when they grow up', some of the seniors are already training to join once they graduate," Candice explained. At Matt's additional questions she continued telling him about the X-Men, she was telling him about the members of the teams, and what their powers were, when their conversation was interrupted.
"There you are Candice," came the loud voice of a short Asian woman, dressed in clashing neon brights.
"Hi Miss Lee, were you looking for me?" Candice asked, smiling at her eclectic art teacher.
"I sure was sweetie, we're going to have a unit on photography later this semester, I'm trying to collate my old photos from my studying days to use in class but I'm running out of time, I was wondering if you would be interested in earning some extra credit by helping me out?" the woman asked, as she cracked gum like a bored teenage.
"Sure thing Miss Lee, what can I do for you?" Candice asked, jumping up and joining her teacher at a nearby table.
"Just pop these photos into this album, they're all in order, one's at the front of the pile go at the front of the album, think your friend might like to join you?" 'Miss Lee' asked, pointedly glancing at Matt and nodding for him to come over too.
"Uh, sure," Matt replied with a shrug, it wasn’t like he had anything better to do after all.
"Great, I'll leave you two to it then," Miss Lee said, before she turned and disappeared out of the room.
"So, that was...?" Matt asked curiously.
"That's Miss Lee, she's my art teacher, and also the X-Man codenamed 'Jubilee', she makes fireworks come out of her hands, similar to my mutation, transferring energy, except mine's just destructive, whereas hers can be pretty too," Candice told him, almost sounding sad as she talked down her own mutation.
"Does your teacher always pawn off her class prep on her students?" Matt queried, not sure if that was a common occurrence in private schools or something specific to this teacher.
Candice laughed. "Only on special occasions, and only to the students she likes, Mr Summers says it's because she's unorganized, Miss Lee says he only says that because he has a stick up his butt, Mr Summers never argues when she says that so I guess she's right," Candice shrugged, as she flipped open the album to the first empty page and carefully set up the pictures, in the correct order, to be ready to enter into the book. "You hand me the photos, and I'll enter them," Candice suggested, with a smile.
They worked together in a combination of pleasant chatter and companionable silence for a time, Matt glancing at the photos as he passed them over. There were a lot of still life's, and nature shots, before they got to photos from what looked like some sort of fancy party.
"Who are all these people?" Matt asked curiously, as he handed over the photos, one by one.
"Oh, some of them are just guests, the Professor holds fundraisers pretty regularly, there's also some former students, and some X-Men and stuff, these are really old pictures though," Candice replied, as she began to point out the people who were still relevant. Matt recognized the guy with glasses and the red-haired woman who had picked him up in Washington and brought him to New York.
After several more minutes, as Candice chatted happily as she worked, Matt froze, eyes locked on a photo. Candice reached for the next photo, to add it to the book in front of her, only to grasp onto empty air.
"What's wrong?" Candice asked, when she saw the look of shocked surprise on Matt's face.
"Who- who is that?" Matt demanded hoarsely, as he pointed at a man in the background of the photograph he was holding.
"Um, that... I'm not sure, let's see if he's in any more of these pictures..." Candice said, leafing through the pile. "Here, is this the same guy?" she asked, comparing the close-up photograph to the more distant shot Matt had. Once she was convinced it was the same guy she added, "According to this photo, that is... Wolverine, oh that's Wolverine! He's like a legend, he used to be an X-Man but he left years and years ago, Miss Lee tells us stories about him sometimes, she makes him sound really cool, it's a shame he's not here anymore," Candice told him disappointedly.
She noted Matt take the close-up photo and set it aside, she didn't say anything, just left its space in the album empty so it could be added back in later. She wasn't sure what exactly Matt wanted it for but the scowl on his face made her loathe to ask.
They went back to collating the photos until Matt suddenly froze again, this time catching her attention immediately when he gasped.
"What?" she asked, getting even more confused, it was a different person this time.
"Rogue?" Matt murmured, uncertainly, after having read the inscription on the back of the photo. He turned the picture back around, staring into the laughing eyes of the woman photographed. He knew this woman, he just couldn't place her, it was the same as the man, though he felt like, with the man, he knew who it was, his brain just didn't want to admit it.
Flicking ahead through the photos, he found a spread of photos that were focused solely on Wolverine and Rogue, most of them together, as they held each other, danced, smiled in each other’s directions, and even one shot of them almost kissing, completely unnoticed by those surrounding them.
As he ran his finger over one of the photos, a sudden wave of recognition washed over him as a picture flashed through his mind, a memory. "Mama," he murmured softly. This was the exact same look she had been holding in the photo that used to sit on his bedside table when he was little. It was the picture his father would hold, and smile at tenderly, as he told him stories about his mother to lull him to sleep.
Grabbing the photos, Matt jumped to his feet, pausing at the door he turned back to Candice. "What's the fastest way to the Professor's office from here?" he demanded. She was leading him out the door, and through the maze that was the mansion the school was housed in, a split second later.
He was surprised to find, on bursting in uninvited to the Professor's office, that several people were already there. Mr Summers, Dr Grey, Miss Lee, and the bald, wheelchair bound, Professor Xavier. It wasn't enough of a surprise to distract him from why he was there, though now he had a new person to direct his queries at.
"Why do you have pictures of my parents?" he demanded, thrusting the photographs at Miss Lee. The sudden tense silence in the room was highlighted by Candice's surprised gasp.
"May I?" the Professor asked politely, holding out his hand for the photographs Matt was still holding. Miss Lee, with tears in her eyes, clearly didn't want to take them, so he handed them over to the old man.
"Well, sir?" Matt pressed, after the old man had glanced through the stack of photos, that focused, on one or both, Wolverine and Rogue.
"Thank you, Candice, for showing Matthew to my office, you can return to your task now," the Professor said, gesturing for Matt to take a seat as Candice was ushered out of the room, and the door closed behind her.
"We were not certain, when we first brought you here, we didn't want to give you false hope by suggesting we may know who your parents are, so Miss Lee dug through her collection of photographs in an effort to expose you to them more organically and see if there was any recollection on your part," the Professor began to explain. "Wolverine and Rogue left us a little over sixteen years ago, she was nineteen, Wolverine's exact age is unknown. If our hunch was correct, that you are indeed their son, based on your birth date, and the date the pair left, we can only conclude they left because they discovered Rogue was pregnant-"
"Why would they leave if they knew that? Isn't this supposed to be a safe place for mutants?" Matt demanded to know.
"It is supposed to be, let's just say certain people took exception to their relationship and made it too hard for them to stay," Miss Lee replied, sounding bitter as she tried not to glare at the pair sitting across the room from her.
"Why?" Matt queried.
"We thought we were doing the right thing, we were trying to protect her from getting her heart broken by a much older man, Logan was a drifter, a brawler, he was rough and uncouth, literally the opposite of the sweet, quiet, girl your mother was, we thought it was just a crush, a spot of hero worship after he saved your mother’s life when she was younger... we were wrong but we were never able to find them to apologize and ask them to come back, if there's one thing your father can do, and do well, it's disappear, and he took Rogue with him and did just that," Jean explained, looking suddenly older, and sadder, than she had since he met her.
"You tried to separate them and they ran?" Matt confirmed, taking in the nods of agreement from around the room. "So, none of you know what happened either then... I'm just as clueless as before," he murmured, feeling the weight of disappointment crushing down on him.
"We will do everything we can to help you find out what happened to your parents," the Professor assured him, "After everything they went through to be together, I cannot imagine Logan abandoning your mother, or you, not without serious extenuating circumstances."
"... My dad's name is Logan?" Matt asked after a few minutes, "What about my mom, what was her name?"
"She only ever went by Rogue when she was here-" Dr Grey began to say.
"Her name was Marie," Miss Lee interrupted, "But the only person who was allowed to call her that was Logan, only a handful of her closest friends even knew it."
"You were close friends?" Matt asked hopefully, even if he couldn't find his parents maybe he could at least find out about them.
"Sure was, even then they still didn't tell me anything about where they were going, or even that they were going, but that was them, everything done spur of the moment, flying by the seat of their pants, they liked life like that, your mom used to say what was the point of living if your life was all mapped out in advance, you had nothing to explore, and nothing to discover," Miss Lee replied, a smile on her face as she remembered her friend. If anything, Rogue had been more of a rule breaking free spirit than she had ever been, those that picked up on it though brushed it off as being a result of Logan's influence over her life but she had never believed that.
"Do- do you have any more photos?" Matt eventually asked, if that was all he could have right now it would have to do.
"I sure do," Miss Lee replied, "You stay and chat with the Prof, I'll leave them up in your room for you." With that the other adults began to file out of the room, leaving Matthew alone with the Professor.
"Tell me Matthew, what do you remember of your early childhood...?"
'~~' denotes memory/flashback scene.
Several hours later an exhausted Matt finally left the Professor's office. After regular questions and trying to remember had yielded little, the Professor had suggested a telepathic link, so he could dig deeper into Matthew's memory and hopefully find things he may have forgotten he remembered.
The Professor didn't tell him what he had found but his simultaneously confident and worried look told Matt, there may yet be a chance of some progress. The old man had promised to let Matt know as soon as he had been able to piece together some clues for him.
The bigger breakthrough didn't come until two weeks later.
Matt was ushered down to the 'secret' lower levels immediately after class one day. Upon entering what looked like a conference room, he was enthralled to find a detailed 3D map illuminated on the table in the centre of the room. As the Professor and Mr Summers began to go over the map, zooming in on certain areas as they explained they believed this area to be where Matt had lived his younger life, he spotted something that looked familiar.
"Wait! Go back... the lake but from this side... and zoom in... there was a tire swing, in that tree, and the house... ..." Matt paused, as he wracked his memory trying to remember.
~~Squealing noisily, as the fat fish flopped around on the shore. Trying to grab hold, falling back into the water but he had the fish! Daddy hauling him out of the water, laughing hard, before showing him how to hold the fish easier.
"Go show mama what you caught!" Daddy said, nudging him in the direction of home.
Mama was on the porch, watching him toddle closer with the still struggling fish, darn thing just refused to accept it was caught but he wasn't letting go. Daddy said if he let it go, he wouldn't have any dinner, and he was hungry.
Mama kissed him and hugged him, and told him what a big, brave boy he was. A big, brave, stinky boy, who smelled like lake water and fish. While daddy chopped the fish up, mama took him inside to have a bath...~~
"... The house is through there," Matt said, pointing to a grove of trees.
"You're sure?" Mr Summers asked, clearly seeking assurance his own assumption was correct.
"Positive," Matt murmured softly, as more memories began to filter through of home. A few cherished memories of his mother, but most of his father.
"We're going to fly up tonight and check it out, see if we can find any leads, do you want to come?" Mr Summers queried, as he began to collect the necessary coordinate data, and the computer calculated a suitable landing area for some aircraft - judging by the vertical landing projections Matt assumed it was a helicopter.
"Yeah, I'm coming," Matt insisted. "What do I need to bring with me?" he queried, as he jumped to his feet.
"Just an overnight bag, we may stay up there the whole weekend, depends how long it takes for us to find anyo- anything," Mr Summers replied.
Matt shot out of the room as fast as he could. Grabbing the small emergency bag under his bed - every student had one apparently - he shoved a couple of changes of clothes into it, and zipped it shut. As he pulled on his jacket he kicked off his sneakers, swapping them for the hiking boots he had bought a few days ago, before racing out of the room just as one of his roommates came in.
"Hey! Where are you going?" Justin, the oldest of his roommates, called out to him, as Matt ran down the hall.
"With the X-Men, don't know when I'll be back," Matt called back. All the kids around here seemed to be obsessed with the X-Men, so he wasn't above rubbing in the special trip just a little. As he swung around the last banister of the stairs, to jog down the last stretch of hallway back to the not so secret elevator, Matt screeched to a halt, catching hold of the person he had collided with before she could go flying.
"Sorry, are you okay?" Matt asked, as held Candice up while she got her balance back.
"Yeah, I am," she giggled. "Thanks for catching me, hero," she added, as she blushed, and stepped back from him, smoothing out her rumpled clothes.
"Sorry for slamming into you like that, they found my home!" Matt informed her excitedly. Candice had cornered him the morning after his meeting with the Professor, questioning him on the overheard statement that Wolverine and Rogue were his parents. He had gladly spilled the entire story to her, thankful to have someone to share his thoughts and feelings with. She had been so happy for him, sharing his excitement that he might find one or both of his parents, and at the very least get some answers as to why they had abandoned him. She had also spent a good deal of time calming his fears as to what he might find, what if his parents really didn't want him, what if they hated him.
"That's so fantastic!" Candice cried, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. "I forgive you for your hurrying, you should go, go on, get out of here, go find your parents," she said, nudging him to continue to the elevator, a beaming grin on her face.
With a matching smile Matt resumed his course, but quickly slowed, eventually stopped completely.
"Umm, hey, uh..." he stuttered, turning back to where Candice still stood, watching him oddly. "Um, would- would you come with me...? I just... I'd appreciate- the company," he murmured, shrugging uncomfortably. He wanted someone who would understand how much this meant to him, and so far, she was the only one who really seemed to get it.
“Really? Sure, do I need a bag too?" Candice asked, gesturing to the pack still clutched in his hands.
"Yeah, just an overnight bag Mr Summers said, but we might be up there for the weekend," Matt explained.
"Alright, give me five minutes," Candice said, and promptly fled up the stairs. He was standing, tapping his foot impatiently at the elevator doors several minutes later when Candice came racing down the stairs, out of breath, and clutching her own bag. "Come on, let's go!" she said, grabbing his hand, and pulling him into the elevator as the doors opened.
Mr Summers looked surprised when he spotted Candice following Matt out of the elevator, glancing around her wide eyed and in awe - she had never seen the underground levels before. Mr Summers didn't say anything however when Dr Grey shook her head at him, and Miss Lee, who it appeared was coming too whether they wanted her to or not, cleared her throat pointedly, before disappearing down the corridor, and into a hollow sounding room at the end of the corridor.
"Wow!" Matt and Candice exclaimed simultaneously, as they entered what turned out to be a massive underground hanger. A sleek, gleaming, black jet sat in the middle of the space, lights on and beginning to power up, as the roof above their heads began to roll back, revealing the dark blue late evening sky, very sparsely decorated with starlight.
They were ushered to seats and strapped in; these seats weren't particularly uncomfortable but the idea of being stuck in this seat for any length of time was not a pleasant thought.
"So, where exactly are we going?" Matt asked, he may have recognized the terrain but he didn't know where it was geographically.
"The location you identified is just outside of a town called Cougar Valley, in Yakima County, Washington," Mr Summers replied, as the planes large engines fired to full life and the craft began to lift into the air.
"Is this going to be another eight-hour flight?" Matt asked glumly.
"No," Dr Grey replied with a chuckle, "This plane goes a lot faster than the other one... Your dad never liked flying either," she added with a soft, sad smile.
For the next few hours the cabin of the plane was largely silent. Matt was comforted, as his thoughts began to stray down a dark path of what might be found on arrival, when Candice reached across the aisle and squeezed his hand, offering him a companionable smile. She fell asleep after a while but he kept hold of her hand, which unconsciously gripped his in return as they flew. He liked Candice, he wasn't usually one for getting close to people, from his experience there was no point, they always left eventually, but she had somehow burrowed her way through his defences and grabbed hold of him. Strangely he found he really didn't mind all that much, he was even starting to think it might be worth holding on to her in return. Maybe...
The plane settled down on the ground as they landed, it was on a slight lean due to the ground being gently sloped, but not enough to cause problems. As they disembarked, Matt couldn't help the feeling of recognition, an eerie, prickly feeling, as he looked around him. It was now dark but the full moon allowed everyone a decent look at the surrounding area.
It very quickly became obvious that no one was here. The cabin was pitch black, no lights, not even a fire dying on the hearth.
As they approached the cabin Matt smiled when he spotted his old treehouse. He remembered building it with his dad, smacking his thumb with the hammer on more than one occasion. Dad wouldn't let him give up though, he had to learn, and he had better learn quick or he would have sore thumbs forever, his dad had told him.
The large glass french doors of the cabin were locked, from the inside, the adults were contemplating smashing a window when Matt drew their attention and led the way around the house. Past a huge wood stack, and into a small lean-to, there was another door, the back door, opening into the kitchen. Still in its place, under an old boot, was a key. It took a bit of jiggling, and a fair amount of force but eventually the old lock groaned and clunked, and with a spooky squeal of stiff hinges, the door swung open.
Clicking on a torch, Matt looked around for a light switch, he found it fast enough but no light came on when he flicked it. They would need to find the fuse box, at the very least, before they could get the power going.
Turning back to scan the interior Matt took in the home he barely remembered. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust, as if no one had been in there for years, upon years. It wasn't until he spotted the dishes, that had been left to dry on the dish rack that he realised the truth of that thought.
"He never came back," Matt murmured, as he stepped further into the kitchen, eyes fixed on the dishes, dinner for two it had been. "We had rabbit, I caught it, set snares, he made me skin and gut it myself, 'big boys need to know how to feed themselves'... mashed sweet potato, and peas, 'mama will be mad if you don't eat your greens', and baby carrots, 'so the rabbit has a snack on it's way down'..." he smiled sadly as the memory came back. His dad had always had a reason for everything, some lessons, some just meant to entertain.
"...Well," Dr Grey spoke from the gloomy silence, "Let's sleep in the jet tonight, come back when it's daylight and we can see better."
"That's a good idea," Miss Lee agreed, Jubilee she had told him to call her, his mama would have told him to call her Aunty Jubes she insisted but Jubilee would do just fine.
The next morning, they were back, the cabin still very obviously deserted, but Matt needed answers, he just hoped some of them would be found here. The first place he went was his own room.
It looked the same as when he had left it, right down to his tiny preschool size pyjamas still screwed into a ball and stuffed under his pillow. The thick sheets messily pulled over the bed, a huge pile of blankets thrown haphazard over them, one very special one pulled beneath his sheets.
"Mama made this one, before I was born, dad said she spent almost her whole pregnancy making it, so it would be ready for me when I was born," Matt shared, to no one in particular.
On the little nightstand beside the bed was a nightlight, shaped like the moon, and several framed photographs. There was a large photo of Marie, a second of Marie cradling a new-born baby, her tired eyes telling him the photo had been taken when he was very new. The third photo was of the whole family, taken selfie style, Marie in the middle, eyes scrunched shut as she laughed, Logan grinning broadly as he kissed her from one side, while little Matt mimicked his father's actions and kissed her from the other side. He turned the frame over, and opened it, hoping there would be some indication of when the photo was taken. Scrawled on the back was an inscription that simply stated, 'The day before my world ended'.
Matt couldn't help the tears that began to fall. "She's dead, isn't she?" he asked no one in particular.
"We don't know that for sure," Mr Summers replied tightly, "Let's keep looking."
Matt set the photographs back on the nightstand, he would come back for them. He noticed suddenly, on exiting the room just how many photos there were around the small cabin. Almost every surface held at least one photo, and every single one contained his mother, some alone, some with his father, some with Matt, a few of the whole family.
The next room was his parents’ room. It looked as you would expect, though everywhere you looked there were signs of a woman, it looked like everything of his mothers had literally been left where it had been. Almost everything of his father's though was gone, almost... Draped over the bed was a thick flannel shirt, gingerly picking it up Matt realised his dad must have been a pretty big guy; the shirt was huge. There were more photos in this room but the one that caught his attention was the frame that slipped out of the flannel shirt onto the bed as he picked it up. Turning it over he glanced at the photo, it took him a minute to realise what he was seeing, as he spotted his mother, sitting on this very bed, wearing this shirt, smiling coyly at whoever was holding the camera as buttons down to around her navel were being... undone?
"Could have done without seeing that one," he chuckled nervously, as he blushed and set the shirt back down on the bed, laying the picture back, face down, on top of it.
A call came from the main room then, pulling his attention back toward the living room. Jubilee had opened a cupboard, and was staring in shock at what it contained.
There inside the large, double door cupboard was a wall of information. Newspaper clippings, photographs. A makeshift desk had been set up in the closet, a computer sitting off to one side, pages and pages of handwritten notes, and a small leather-bound journal.
Starting with the newspaper clippings Matt read, through the crushing weight of grief, how a woman, his mother, had been killed in a devastating car accident. It was labelled a hit and run, her car had been pushed off a bridge, and the person who hit her fled, never to be found. Her car ended up at the bottom of a ravine, where it wasn't found until the thick plumes of black smoke had been spotted and fire crews had rushed to the scene to stop the fire spreading to the surrounding forest. The remains in the vehicle were charred beyond recognition, even DNA couldn't identify them, according to the hand written notes. It was determined to be Marie only because it was her car, Logan had seen her leaving home in it, and she had been seen leaving a store in town not long before the accident.
The notes and the photographs however quickly changed tone. At first his father had been trying to figure out who hit her, to track the bastard down and make him pay for what he took away from him, from Matt. Then new clues came to light, new questions were posed, photographs of people, casually dressed to the average observer, but all with the same note. 'MILITARY'. The boots, the glasses, a covert earpiece, all belying their status as something more than casual civilian.
Dr Grey was leafing through the journal. "He didn't believe she was dead... he was convinced it was a cover up and someone had taken her," her tone told Matt she thought his father had lost it, though in a sympathetic way of course. "He went looking for her, trying to find where 'they' were holding her," she finished sadly, gently closing the journal and handing it Matt, "You should read this, I think he would want you to, at the very least it would give you some understanding."
He took the book, turning it over in his hands as he regarded it contemplatively. "So, if he went looking for her, where is he now?" Matt asked simply. Maybe his father was right, maybe someone did have his mother, maybe they had gotten him too when he tried to rescue her. When no one answered him, he silently set about gathering all the clippings and notes, he wanted to read everything, he wanted to find out what happened, he wanted to see what his father had seen. Silently Candice helped him, it didn't take long, then he moved around the house, collecting photographs he wanted to take with him, he wouldn't take them all, just a few, to remember them by, the rest belonged here, with their memories.
Mr Summers found the deed to the property, and other 'official' documentation, including Matthew's birth certificate with his full legal name. He was no longer Matthew Smith, unknown abandoned child, his name was Matthew Logan Howlett, son of James Logan Howlett, whose occupation was listed as forestry, and Anna Marie Howlett nee. D'Ancanto, homemaker. Looking around the cabin he couldn't help the smile that crossed his face, his mother sure had made this house a home, that fact was written into every surface.
Matt wandered around for a while longer, everyone leaving him in peace to say a proper goodbye this time. He let memories wash over him as he moved around the house; baking cookies with his mama, just to lick the spoon; watching his daddy clean fish; dusting with mama and accidentally knocking over a lit candle when he climbed on a chair she told him not to, it wasn't enough mama told him off but then daddy came and growled at him too; daddy showing him what happened when you weren't careful with candles; roasting marshmallows in the fireplace wrapped in thick woollen blankets; his daddy chasing a squirrel around the house after it fell down the chimney; watching from the window as deer wandered through the yard grazing.
He was glad he had found this, at least he had some answers now.
Over the next two weeks, around homework and classes, Matt and Candice pieced together all of Logan's notes on what had happened to Marie, and who he had deduced had taken her. The biggest clue was in the journal, one page contained names and locations of people Logan believed had been involved, including two police officers, the first two on the scene of the accident, who abruptly disappeared from the town two months after Marie's 'death'. Logan was sure they were actually Marines, and were based several states over, even having a home address for one.
Everything was shared with Scott and the Professor, who made a lot of noise about following up leads but after several months Matthew wasn't convinced they were. Life continued to plod along in monotony, and Matthew slowly began to accept that maybe there really wasn't anything to find.
One evening he was sitting on the roof, the journal in his lap. The final entry in the journal was a three-page entry from his father, Matt read it at least once a week, he didn't need the actual journal to do that anymore, he could remember the entry word for word. It was written largely to Marie, assuring her he hadn't forgotten her, he was coming for her, he had to wait, until he could be sure Matthew could take care of himself and he could figure out what to do with him; it was too dangerous for him to tag along. He had gushed to Marie about Matt, how proud she would be of him, how much he had grown, how mature he was. He explained that it was too dangerous to send Matt to the X-Men, he thought he had attracted attention in his search for her, he needed to make Matt disappear so no one would find him because they wouldn't know where to look.
The entry ended addressed to Matt, an apology, and a wish that Matt never got to read it. He hoped it wouldn't take long, to find mama and get them all back together again. It finished with; 'I love you, more than you could ever know, and it's tearing me apart the constant doubt over what I'm going to do. I hope it's the right choice. I hope you don't hate me. I hope I get to see you again very soon. I love you Matty, you're the second-best thing that ever happened to me; your mama's the first.'
"Hey, you okay?" A soft feminine voice sounded from behind him.
"Yeah, just thinking," Matt answered, shuffling over so Candice could sit beside him. He had been doing a lot of thinking today, after classes had been cancelled midmorning, leaving the students to their own devices all day. No one seemed to know where all the teachers, the X-Men, had disappeared to.
They were chatting companionably when a gentle rumbling began to sound. "Please tell me that's not an earthquake!" Candice exclaimed, clutching his arm with wide scared eyes. She had grown up in San Francisco and hated earthquakes, after her big brother had told her horror stories as a small child, of people getting swallowed up by earthquakes.
"No, I've heard that before- it's the jet hangar," Matt commented, suddenly remembering where he had heard that noise. Sure enough, moments later the big black jet lifted into the air, engines glowing blue as it turned and shot away into the night. "I guess now we know why classes were cancelled," Matt said, with a grin.
"You're sure they're there?" Scott asked, as he reviewed the satellite imagery.
"There is definitely someone there, I believe it is Logan's mental signature but it is... confused, scrambled almost, and another but even more unstable, distant. Even if it isn't Wolverine and Rogue, should we leave them there?" the Professor asked pointedly.
"Of course not," Scott answered immediately, "This is going to be a big one though, how many others have you been able to contact?"
"You'll have a team of twelve; yourself, Phoenix, Storm, Jubilee, Iceman, Colossus, Shadowcat, Beast, Pyro, Gambit, Nightcrawler, and Forge, that will leave you three spaces for passengers, we best hope this base doesn't hold more prisoners, unless you want to risk taking the second jet?" the Professor asked.
Scott chuckled grimly. "With this security we're going to be lucky to even get one jet in, two will be too obvious," Scott confirmed. The team was beginning to arrive in the briefing room next door. They would run over the plan first, then run a few simulations through the Danger Room before they left later tonight.
As the jet lifted into the darkness of the early night, and flew toward its destination, Scott tamped down on his nerves. He hadn't been this wound up before a mission in a long time. He tried to shove away thoughts of how much, for so many people, was riding on this mission. They hadn't told Matthew they thought they had found his parents, no one wanting to get his hopes up in case it was a dead end, or worse. What would they do if they found them but they weren't... them anymore?... That was a worry for later though, first they had to get through the security of this compound, whatever it was holding was very valuable to those holding it.
The base was in carnage. They had come in with the plan of leaving no survivors, so the dead and dying soldiers were not surprising but the savagery with which many had been literally torn apart was stomach churning. It hadn't been any of the X-Men, thank god, not directly at least. Shadowcat and Forge had taken over the control room, and, in locking reinforcements into barracks and labs, to deal with as they came to them, they had accidentally released one of only two prisoners held in the base.
The Wolverine, in all his feral berserker rage.
The blood curdling howl that had echoed through the base as he had begun his hunt had chilled them all to the bone. Scott had considered calling the team back to the jet, to keep them well out of Logan's way, but they had all been surprised when his pitch-black eyes had regarded their black leather uniforms with recognition. He had left them alone, focusing all his energy on eviscerating the enemy in army green, with special consideration to the white coats.
It had been several minutes though since the base fell deathly silent, and no one seemed to be able to locate Wolverine, they also hadn't been able to locate the second prisoner. Half the cameras had been taken out, between Wolverine and stray bullets from his quarry. They had a visual of Rogue, lying unconscious, strapped to a table in a lab, but they were unsure how to get to her.
Stepping around a corner, Scott froze. Wolverine, still stark naked but now saturated in blood, was stalking down the hall toward him. He seemed to recognize him, and turned, grunting unintelligibly, nodding back down the hall he had come from, as if to tell Scott to follow him. As Scott trailed after him, Wolverine visibly relaxed with each step, until he murmured something softly.
"What was that?" Scott asked.
"Je'n... need Jean... M'rie needs doctor," Wolverine said, louder and more coherently, as he continued to lead the way.
Scott radioed to Jean, giving her directions as they went so she could catch up with them. Moments later they were in the lab, Scott watched in silence as Logan gently removed the restraints holding Rogue to the bed, he didn't touch any of the equipment she was connected to though.
"Oh God, what have they done to her!?" Jean exclaimed, as she rushed into the room. Logan had already been watching the door, obviously able to hear her coming.
"Don't know," Logan replied, clearly taking more effort to enunciate his words better. "They sedated her but then couldn't wake her, she's been like this for six months," he advised, gently taking hold of her bare hand. The look on his face pleading silently with her to open her eyes, as he brushed stringy, greasy hair back from her face.
Jean was hurriedly reading through the doctors’ notes, the doctor was lying in about five pieces on the other side of the room so this was now her only source of information. "Alright, she's stable, everything can be disconnected, she should be fine for moving," Jean advised, as she moved to the table, noting Logan step back to allow her room to work.
"Any others, two girls?" Logan asked suddenly, turning to Scott, a hopeful look on his face.
"No," Scott answered, watching in confusion, as sorrow passed over Logan's face. The wild man pulled himself together a moment later, as he moved back to the bed, gently wrapping Rogue's nude form in a sheet before he picked her up, cradling her to his chest and following the rest of the team as they headed out of the base.
Back on the jet Logan set Rogue down on a gurney, helping Jean secure her for transport, though his coordination wasn't at its peak, before he finally allowed himself to be nudged toward the nearest seat, close enough he could still reach Rogue. He spent the entire flight back, clutching her hand, his eyes never leaving her face.
The Professor was waiting for them as the larger than usual team disembarked, exhausted but happy, their mission had been a success. The sight of Logan carrying Rogue's still body momentarily struck fear into the old man but Jean quickly informed him, telepathically, she appeared to simply be sedated.
It was several minutes later, once Rogue was hooked up again to all the monitoring machines, before anyone spoke. The first voice to break the tense silence was, unexpectedly, Logan's.
"Need your help, went looking for Marie, hid our son, Matthew, in foster care in Washington, need to find him, need to know they didn't get him," Logan explained, obvious concern in his tone.
"We already found him, he manifested, and social services contacted the school, when he told us what he remembered happened with his parents... he is the reason we were looking for you," the Professor advised him gently, picking up the immediate emotion that rolled off Logan.
"He's safe?" Logan murmured, resting his palms on the bed beside Rogue, sagging in obvious relief. "He's safe," Logan repeated, a smile making its way onto his face as a tear slipped down his cheek.
"He is, would you like to see him?" the Professor asked. "I'm sure he would be eager to see you," he added, as Logan turned hopeful eyes toward him, before nodding mutely.
"Matt, are you out here?" Jubilee called out the open window, the Professor had told her Matt was out on the roof so she didn't want to spook him. She grinned when she spied the two figures, fast asleep on the roof, curled around each other. Candice and Matt were becoming almost inseparable, she swore it was the gloves, nothing like an untouchable girl in gloves to attract a feral male apparently. "Matt, wake up," she called a little louder.
"I'm up, 'm up... what t'me is it?" he mumbled, as he stretched and sat up, jostling Candice awake in the process.
"It's well past curfew, you're lucky all the sticklers are busy or you'd have been in big trouble," Jubilee said with a grin.
"Okay, okay, I can take a hint, we're going to bed," Matt grumbled, as he carefully helped Candice to her feet and inside.
"Candice can go to bed but you're needed underground," Jubilee informed him, once they were inside.
"What? Why?" Matt asked, sharing a look with Candice.
"The mission tonight, we didn't want to get your hopes up but we found your parents, both of them, they're alive, your dad wants to see you," Jubilee said, trying to break the news gently.
"Dad wants to see me...?" Matt repeated dumbly. "What about mom?"
"Your mom's still unconscious, something to do with whatever the lab was doing to her, Jean said she should wake up soon but she won't know how soon until she can get her bloodwork done," she filled him in, as they began to walk down the hall.
"Can Candice come too?" Matt asked, not letting go his grip on her hand, he was pale, and clearly needed something, someone, to lean on right now.
"Sure, why not, she's already up after all," Jubilee replied, smothering her grin as she led the pair back downstairs. Yep, the boy was just as whipped as his dad for the untouchable girl, it must be genetic. Maybe she should start wearing gloves and see if she could attract a feral, they seemed to make good partners, she chuckled to herself.
The door slid open with a near silent hiss, Logan missing the sound and motion as he closely watched Jean, drawing blood from Marie's thin, pale arm. It wasn't until a throat was cleared behind him that his attention was drawn to the newcomers in the room. The sight that met his eyes was not what he expected, though at the same time he knew it had been a long time, seeing his son fully grown, almost a man, was heart-breaking. They had missed so much.
"Matty," he murmured, joy clutching at his throat, choking off any further comment as they stared each other down. A sudden flurry of movement saw them both step forward together and reach out for the other. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I had to hide you, I had to find mama, it wasn't supposed to end up like this, I'm so sorry," Logan repeated, as he hugged his son, for the first time in far too long.
"I know, I know dad... I read your journal, I know..." Matt replied, eventually moving back to look up at his father, though they were now almost the same height. Almost, Matt had about six more inches to go to catch up to his dad's six foot plus height. "You did the right thing dad," Matt told him, at the look of instant acceptance on his father's face Matt knew that had been the right thing to say.
Logan nodded, grimacing as he did so. "You didn't deserve any of this, I wish there had been some other way," Logan added before changing the topic. "So, how'd you end up at freak school?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood.
"Uh, well, popped claws, did a bit of rudimentary plastic surgery, you know the drill," Matt replied with a shrug.
"So, you took after me then? Your mom will be happy about that," Logan said, with just a touch of relief, "But really, tell me what happened, tell me everything, everything I missed..." For the next hour the pair conversed quietly, at Marie's bedside, as she lay still and unmoving.
"Well, what's the diagnosis doc?" Logan asked, as Jean approached, scowling at the print out she now held in her hand.
"I don't know Logan, the lab records said they'd been dosing her with various sedatives but there's nothing, absolutely nothing, in her system, she should be awake, there's nothing keeping her under, nothing chemical at least... What- what did they do to her Logan?" Jean asked gently, she could tell by the immediate darkening in his eyes that the answer wasn't going to be nice.
He huffed darkly, almost a growl, before he spoke, "Fuckin hell Jean, what didn't they do to her... imagine the worst possible things you can think of, mash them all together, then make it even worse... they did it all Jean, any and every way they could hurt her."
"Let's start with her mutation, what have they done to her mutation, how can you touch her?" Jean started, glancing down at his bare hand still clutching the young woman’s bare hand.
"She did that... she was trying to stop them experimenting with her skin any more, she figured out how to force it off, then buried it under everything so it would never come back on. They made her absorb people, a lot of people, some highly trained military, trying to programme skills into her, some mutants, trying to code mutations into her DNA... it worked, she heals, she can fly, she's got super strength, she can shapeshift to a small degree, nowhere near like Mystique, the mutant they used wasn't that powerful, she can reroute electrical energy, dampen kinetic energy fields... She has heightened senses, and claws, and... they bonded adamantium to her skeleton too... She knows everything about every weapon you can imagine, explosives, survival, black ops techniques, martial arts, anything that makes a killer, it's all in there... She managed to push the personalities out, she had to learn to or she would have gone crazy..." Logan detailed in a voice barely above a whisper.
"How did they contain her?" Jean asked in shock. A mutant with that much power was surely a force to be reckoned with.
"Adamantium reinforced cells, water encased electrical fields so if she tried to tamper with them they electrocuted her, good old fashioned beat downs, torture, psychological manipulation... they used us, threats of harm to one or other of us, to keep the other in line, they used..." Logan paused, releasing a shaky breath before he spoke, this time to Matt. "You have two sisters, I- I don't know how old they are now, we lost so much time in there - could never really be sure how much time had passed between one situation to the next... I was only expecting you to be about ten, maybe your sisters are older than we think now... We haven't seen them since Maisie was five, and Myla was three, it didn't stop them threatening the girls to try and control us..."
Scott spoke up softly from where he was still standing, on the other side of the room, watching over the small group. "That's why you asked if there was anyone else?" he asked, as the realization dawned on him.
"Yeah," Logan confirmed. "They decided, once they 'burned out' Marie's original mutation, and couldn't get any further with using drugs and coercion to control me, that maybe starting younger would work, they decided to 'breed' us, to see how stable the mutations were, whether the full cache of Marie's mutations could be passed down, and to get conditioned mutants that would follow their orders unquestioningly. It took a while for Marie to get pregnant the first time, she- she'd been used as a 'toy' by the soldiers, it took time for her to get over that enough for her to be comfortable even with me touching her that way... in the end they took the choice out of our hands with IVF. When Maisie was born, they left her with us initially, Marie breastfed her for as long as she could, and we took precautions, what few we could, to try and avoid her getting pregnant again but when Maisie was about eighteen months old they said if we stopped breeding they'd have to take her away, it was a threat, plain and simple but we couldn't lose her. Myla was born about ten months later.
"We came so close to escaping so many times, especially after the girls, we needed to get them out... when Maisie started 'displaying defiance'... they took the girls, started trying to get Marie pregnant again, IVF again, she got pregnant three times but... she couldn't do it, wouldn't give them another child to torment, wouldn't let them take another piece of her, she self-terminated all three pregnancies. That's when she really started to crack, she didn't want to, that- they were her babies, she was drowning in guilt for 'killing them', there was nothing I could say to make her change her mind and then... she started withdrawing from me too. Their bright idea was to lock her up separately, tied down so she couldn't endanger herself or the next foetus... She lost it, completely lost it, killed fourteen guards, three doctors, fried half the base. They pumped her full of enough sedatives to knock me out a dozen times over... then, once she was secure, and they tried to wake her up... nothing. She hasn't opened her eyes in six months, it's like she locked herself away inside her mind so tightly she can't feel the outside world... if it's not drugs it must be, right?" Logan asked, clearly worried.
"We'll do everything we can to try and reach her," the Professor assured him. "In the meantime, why don't you go upstairs, your old room has been prepared, sleep, you need it," he offered.
"No, if she wakes and I'm not here, she's going to freak out, I don't want anyone to get hurt," Logan reasoned. Eventually he accepted a hospital bed on the other side of the room, close to Marie but not in the way of the doctors or telepaths.
"Can I stay too?" Matt asked softly, from where he still stood, just listening.
"Don't you have classes tomorrow?" Logan asked with a grin. He couldn't help remembering when Marie was younger, every chance she got trying to get out of having to study, figures their son should feel the same way.
"Technically, tomorrow is Saturday," Matt replied, glancing at the clock that read one forty-two am; 'today' was now Friday.
"Nice try kid," Logan chuckled, ruffling his hair like he had done when he was a toddler. "Go get some sleep, study hard, I'll send someone for you as soon as she's awake, or you can come visit after classes," Logan said, pride warring with sorrow when Matt gave in without more of a fight and he knew, even though it was for his best, it now meant Logan wouldn't see him again for more than twelve hours.
Eventually, Logan fell asleep himself, curled up almost in a foetal position on the spare hospital bed, eyes glued to Marie, waiting for the slightest sign to show she was finally coming back to him.
"Hey Jubilee, where's dads room?" Matt asked, as he and Candice entered the elevator to head to bed.
"On the teacher’s floor... want me to show you?" Jubilee asked, she had a distinct impression that Matt, like his dad in times of high stress, would be desperately craving some privacy right now; she could either show him to a private room or he would likely disappear into the woods.
"Thanks." Was all Matt replied with, obviously accepting her offer.
As Jubilee let the pair into Logan, and secretly Rogue's too, old room, that had been sitting unused since they left, she couldn't help but cheekily add. "Stay as long as you like but I'm warning you, no hanky-panky, and not because it's against the rules, because I know you don't care about the rules, but because your dad is going to know whatever you get up to in here, take that as your warning, I still shudder at the memory of the time he caught me and a fling making out behind the greenhouse, and that was long before you were even born, don't let him catch you," she winked, chuckling at the bright pink flush that grew on Candice's face. Matt was a little more reserved in his reaction, seeming to realise she was teasing.
"We'll keep that in mind," Matt replied, shoving the door shut before she could day anything else.
"Hey Matt, we're not- I mean, I wouldn't mind but- um, why did you bring me here?" Candice asked, still flushed pink, equally as nervous as she was very definitely 'interested'.
"I just want your company, I don't want to be alone right now but I do want to be alone, it- it's hard to explain... I won't make you stay though; you can go if you would prefer," Matt tried to explain, it wasn't easy when he didn't really understand it himself.
“I understand, I'll stay," Candice assured him, she couldn't help the feeling that he looked like he really needed a hug right then. So, she hugged him, and it wasn't nearly as awkward as she had been worried it would be, in fact, it was really nice.
Before long Matt moved them both over to the bed. "I'm wiped, and I know you must be too, let's sleep," he suggested, sitting on the edge of the bed, bringing her down with him, before rolling them both over and tugging the beds comforter over them. They slept soundly, undisturbed, the rest of the night.
After classes the next day, Matt made his way back down to the underground med lab, he was alone this time. He felt a little guilty taking up so much of Candice's time, plus his dad was down here so that would be plenty of company.
"Hey Matty, how was school?" Logan asked, looking over at the boy with a welcoming smile, though it wasn't enough to dampen the shadows in his eyes.
"Same old, same old," Matt replied, setting himself down in a chair that was sitting at the ready beside Logan, and beside his mother. Gently taking his mother’s hand, Matt asked after her condition.
"Not much change, Chuck managed to talk to her, inside her head, he's been trying to coax her out but she's resisting, didn't believe him that we're not in a lab anymore, really though, can't blame her, twelve years is a long time to be a number in a system... for you too," Logan said softly, closing his larger hand over the joined hands of his wife and son. "I'm sorry I couldn't get us out of there, I'm sorry you were alone for so long, I know I can't change it but if I could... if I could have done anything differently to get us back together sooner, I would have," he reiterated.
"I know, I understand, you don't have to keep apologizing, dad," Matt reassured him with a grin, "Sure, foster care sucked but I accepted it, you need to too, you made the best decision you could."
"... So, tell me more about you, what happened with your mutation, Scott said you saved a little girls life?" Logan asked, proudly. Scott had explained the full situation, even shown him the Police report, but he wanted to hear it from his son, so he could tell him how proud he was of him; he was growing into a good man, despite the curve ball life had thrown at them.
They were talking quietly, there sat beside Marie, laughing, joking, with bouts of serious conversation thrown in. Just getting comfortable with each other, reconciling these new versions of each other with what each remembered of them 'before'. Suddenly an odd feeling washed over Matt, he could sense something had changed but he hadn't been adjusted to his senses long enough to be able to tell what the odd current in the air meant. Logan could though.
"Marie? Marie, baby, can you hear me?" Logan said softly, moving to stand closer to the bed, leaning over the unconscious woman. "Come on Marie, I'm here, I'm waiting for you, come back to me darlin," he coaxed, a frown marring his brow as he watched her eyes dart, back and forth, behind her eyelids.
"M-mom?" Matt added softly, uncertainly.
It seemed that was enough to shock Marie, who released a small gasp. "Matty, no, not Matty," she murmured, before Logan sensed her sudden spark of fear morph into a bolt of steaming hot anger. "Not my son, you can't have my son!" Marie erupted, suddenly launching herself off the bed, blankets flying in all directions as she gracefully flew into a mid-air fighting stance, six gleaming metal claws slicing through her fists.
Several people came running into the room as the space erupted into chaos.
"Scott, get everyone out," Logan directed, "She's not fully aware yet, she won't want anyone to get hurt."
"Oh, I'll make them hurt," Marie growled, "I'll make them all hurt, every single one who dared laid a hand on my husband and my children, you'll all pay!" she raged, launching herself at the nearest person, blinded by the rage and terror she had been festering in for over a decade.
Logan moved a split second faster though, slamming into her from the side, knocking her away from her target, as the others ran for the exit again. Marie was stronger than him, so he couldn't pin her, all he could do was hold onto her and try to talk her back to awareness. He murmured softly to her as he held her, arms wrapped like steel around her, holding her to him as he repeated his pleas like a mantra to her, begging her to hear him.
After a few minutes, that felt like an eternity, Marie suddenly froze.
"Matty?" she breathed, as her eyes locked onto familiar brown eyes. The face that held them had grown, matured, but it was definitely her son.
"Hey mama," he replied, tears in his eyes as he tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He watched as Logan released his hold on her, allowing her to step forward tentatively. "I've missed you mama," he croaked, as he struggled to hold in the sob that wanted to burst out.
"Oh, my baby, I've missed you too, so much," Marie declared, throwing her arms around him as they hugged each other, both sobbing openly now.
Logan saw them sway, as the deep emotion sapped their strength, and he gathered them both up in his arms. Lowering them slowly to the ground, he held onto his family tightly.
"We're out?" Marie asked tentatively, moments later, keeping her eyes clenched tightly shut, as if this all would vanish if she looked too long.
"We're out darlin," Logan assured her, hugging her tighter.
"Th- the girls?" Marie asked softly, her voice cracking as she did.
"They weren't there, we're still looking for them," Logan said softly, not releasing his hold on her, "We won't stop until we find them."
For some time, they just sat, holding each other, giving Marie time to grieve and come to terms with her new reality, before Logan eventually called the rest of the X-Men back in. Marie's closest friends, friends she hadn’t seen in seventeen years, were the first into the room, joining in hugs on the floor as tears were freely spilling.
After several hours, and many more tests, which Marie barely tolerated even with Logan's coaxing and encouragement, they were finally allowed to leave the med bay. Their first stop was food, Marie's stomach rumbled loudly at the smell but Logan made her pace herself, drip feeding her over an hour, so she wouldn't make herself sick eating too fast. By the time her stomach was full she was exhausted, her healing factor, having had very little to keep it going, hadn't been able to keep her muscles toned as Logan's did, so she was also weak. Matthew led them upstairs, as Logan carried Marie, she needed rest, then more food, and he couldn't help worrying, even though he knew she would soon be back to full health.
"You've been in here?" Logan asked curiously, as he stepped into the room, picking up his sons’ scent, and that of someone else; he knew that other scent, though he couldn't put a face to the name.
"Yeah, after last night, I needed some privacy, Jubilee let me in here so I didn't have to go back to the dorm," Matt explained.
"Who's the girl?" Logan asked, with an exaggerated inhale and a cocked brow, grinning when his son blushed a little.
"We- we didn't do anything, I swear," Matt started, getting interrupted by a giggle from Marie as she wriggled her way out of Logan's arms to stand beside him.
"Stop teasing Logan, we know Matty, just curious is all, you must like her a lot to have her around when you're feeling vulnerable," Marie explained.
"Her name's Candice, she's nice, she helped me a lot, when I first arrived, when we found out- found out you died, and then found dads notes about you not being dead, that someone had taken you, and he'd gone looking for you... I've been a little lost, Candice was just there, to listen, to... just there, I needed that. I do like her, a lot, and I feel comfortable around her, she doesn't judge... and she's pretty too," Matt added with a grin.
"There he is, his father's son," Marie responded, with a soft laugh and a bright smile. "I guess we'll be meeting her before too long," Marie added, as she moved to hug him again, before bidding him goodnight with a yawn; they would see him in the morning.
Chapter 6 - Epilogue by erro
"Morning Candice," Marie called, as she walked into the kitchen early one morning.
She and Logan had been back at the mansion for a couple of months now, and though everyone was open and welcoming - a far cry from how they had been treated before they had left - she still couldn't help feeling like something was missing.
Something other than Logan, who she had woken this morning to find gone from their bed.
"Morning Mrs Howlett," Candice replied, with a shy but bright smile.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Marie at the very least, if you please," she responded, taking the girls gloved hand in her own, offering her a comforting squeeze. She remembered when she had to wear gloves, how isolating it was, like a flashing neon sign warning people she was dangerous, even covered, so she always made an extra special effort to touch Candice. Even something as simple as holding her hand, or a hug, she knew could make the world of difference on bad days.
"Sorry, habit," Candice shrugged. She had told Marie about her sheltered upbringing, with controlling and abusive parents, before her mutation surfaced and she was dumped by her parents. It had been a big adjustment for her, learning to stand on her own two feet with no experience of the world to work off.
Marie moved away to start getting herself a morning coffee. Yhat was another oddity in Marie’s new life, she had never liked coffee before but she really had a taste for it now. Something to do with her taste buds changing, thanks to her acquisition of Logan's senses, and subconscious cravings from most of the people she had absorbed in the lab probably. She had managed to purge the personalities but many of the thought patterns were stuck.
"Have you seen Logan?" she asked absently, as she mixed up a drink. "Or Matt?"
"Uh, I haven't seen Logan, I think Matt went to see the Professor," Candice replied, thankful Marie wasn't looking at her, because she was terrible at keeping secrets. She hadn't seen Logan it was true, but she knew, sort of, where he was, and that she wasn't to tell Marie.
Marie obviously missed her brief hesitation and said no more, suggesting instead the two make themselves a special breakfast, seeing as it was too early for the cafeteria to be open. Neither of them noticed the passage of time until Matt found them in the kitchen several hours later.
"Matthew, do you know where your father is?" Marie asked, after catching sight of the clock. She had assumed he had gone for a walk in the woods but it was unusual for him to be gone so long without having told her in advance. "Matt...?" she added, when she noticed his silence in response.
Heaving a sigh Matt finally relented to give her an answer. "Yes, I know where he is but he swore me to secrecy about where he is and what he is doing, so I can't tell you," Matt replied resolutely.
"Oh," was all Marie could think of to reply. Knowing Logan as she did, he could either be working on some sweet, romantic surprise, or something highly illegal. Though if it was illegal he wouldn't have told Matthew, surely. "So... when's he going to be back?" she queried.
"That I don't know," Matt answered with a shrug, before changing the topic in a clear effort to distract her.
Walking into the cafeteria for a late dinner Marie was so lost in thought over where the heck Logan could possibly have disappeared to, that kept him away all day, that she didn't notice until she was at their usual table, the teachers table, that it was empty. Scowling suddenly, realizing she hadn't seen any of the senior teaching staff all day, she glanced over to where Matt was sitting, watching her closely. Setting her plate down, suddenly not hungry, she marched over to her son, fear creeping into her mind and coming out as anger. Logan had promised her, no X-Men missions, but where else could he be.
"Where are they?" she demanded, her voice barely above a growl.
Matt sighed. "Did my best dad," he murmured, before standing to his feet. "Come on, the Professor can explain."
"What did he tell you?" Marie pressed, as they left the room.
"He told me he was going on an important mission with the X-Men and that you wouldn't be happy about it, he asked me to distract you for as long as I could in the hope he would be back before you caught on and started asking questions," Matt admitted, opening the Professor's office door and ushering her in.
"He promised damnit, he promised he wouldn't go anywhere near those places, and he wouldn't break that promise without a damn good reason, what did you tell him?" Rogue demanded, as soon as she saw Charles who looked, unsurprisingly, completely composed and not the least caught off guard at her outburst.
"You are correct, he initially wanted nothing to do with the mission, he told me of his promise to you, and I accept full responsibility for that breach of agreement between you, he only agreed to go because of the sensitive nature of this mission," the Professor advised calmly. "You don't need to worry about him Rogue, he went in with a full team, he will not be captured again, in fact, the team are on their way back as we speak," he added gently, as he watched the play of emotions across her face. The poor young woman was terrified.
"Why him, why did he have to go?" Marie murmured softly, a creaky edge to her voice, indicating how close she was to tears, as worry began to morph into relief. He was safe, he was on his way home.
"There was a very sensitive aspect to this mission, which I will leave Logan to fill you in on when he returns, the mission also had a higher rate of timely success with his assistance, and time was a factor in this mission, we risked the captives being moved if we delayed," Charles responded, placatingly. He could tell from Rogue's reaction that she was settling the idea in her mind, and rationalizing her husband's involvement.
"All right, okay, you always know just which buttons to push don't you," Marie said, with a reluctant grin as she wiped her tears away.
"It does come with the mutation," the Professor confirmed with a chuckle.
"When will they be back?" Marie asked softly.
"A few hours," Charles confirmed.
After a few minutes, and more reassurance of safety, Marie finally, reluctantly, took her leave to wait for him to return. Dinner was forgotten, and she returned instead to their room, she didn't want company right now - until Matt followed her upstairs a short time later.
"Next time your dad tries to talk you into doing something like that, talk him out of it," Marie said, as her son entered the room at her prompting and took a seat on their couch.
"I'll do my best," Matt replied with a grin. Both knew there was no way to change Logan's mind once he had made it up.
Eventually they decided to watch a movie together, a way to distract Marie from her worries of Logan going back to a place no doubt so much like the one that had held them captive for over a decade.
Three hours later, they were just starting their second movie. They had been on a week’s long marathon of action and horror movies which both enjoyed. Mostly Matt's choices, his favourites, and a few older movies that Marie or Logan remembered from ‘before’, a way for them to bond a bit more and get to know each other after so much missed time together. Suddenly the door burst open, both of them jumping at the unexpected intrusion, it took them a moment to realise it was Logan who had burst into the room.
"I found them, I found them Marie!" he exclaimed, ignoring the television as he grabbed Marie's hand and tugged her out of her seat. She barely managed to get her feet under her, and moving, as he dragged her out of the room. Matt followed along curiously until Logan yanked Marie into the elevator.
“Get in or you're left behind," Logan directed shortly, as he smashed the level button and the door close button simultaneously.
Matt slipped in just before the doors closed, and watched in amusement as his mother tried to get information out of his father. Aside from a broad grin all Logan kept repeating was, 'I found them'.
As soon as the doors opened to the lower levels the small group was moving down the hallway, Logan leading the way at a steady jog. As they burst into the medical bay, Marie froze, Matt wasn't paying close enough attention and ran right into her, thankfully Logan managed to catch them.
There sitting on one of the medical beds, huddled together under a thick blanket, were two little girls.
"Maisie! Myla!" Marie murmured, barely audibly but at the same time thunderously loud in the dead silent room.
“Mama!" both girls replied, immediately reaching for her with big smiles.
"That's the first word they've spoken," Jean informed Logan.
"No," he replied, "Second." No one else had been there when he had found the girls, locked away in isolation cells - psychological manipulation by sensory deprivation. He had killed every single one of the fuckers who had been torturing his daughters, terrified that when he finally broke them out, they would have forgotten him. Their twin cries of 'daddy' when he had opened the cell door had almost broken him, as it simultaneously made him whole again.
He watched as Marie and the girls embraced, holding onto each other tightly as Marie sobbed, not only for her daughters but also for the children she had lost. The guilt she had felt since she caused the first 'miscarriage' was coming back to her now, now that all her living children were safe. Did she do the right thing... If she had carried those babies would they be saved now too...
Logan sensed the melancholy falling over his wife, and moved over to her, holding her, and their daughters, as he comforted them. It wasn’t long until Marie shifted, smiling up at him softly, as she rested her head against his shoulder.
The girls suddenly began to chatter, all the words they had been holding in during their internment flooding out of them, in more than one language everyone was surprised to note. None were more surprised than Logan and Marie when they realised, they could understand every word.
After several hours the girls had gone into great detail about their imprisonment, been introduced to their brother, hugged each of their parents seemingly nonstop. Jean had done a full physical on both girls; now that their parents were present both girls were a lot more obliging, they were also in full health. Jean estimated they were roughly six and four years old, indicating had been about a year since Logan and Marie had seen them last.
When Myla yawned for the third time, Logan requested Jean finally discharge them. Given they were in full health all they needed now was good food, and plenty of sleep. Getting the doctors nod of approval Logan scooped up Maisie, and Marie collected Myla, and they carried the girls upstairs to their bedroom. After so long apart neither wanted to let go of their little girls, and it was an unspoken understanding that tonight, at least, would be a family slumber party.
Even Matt stayed, though he opted to sleep on the couch. While Logan and Marie took the bed, with Maisie and Myla snuggled in between them.
It was almost two weeks later, when the Professor finally had a new room ready for them to move into. It was three rooms, joined together with internal connecting doors. Marie and Logan had their space in the left room, Maisie and Myla had their room in the middle, their own space but close enough that Logan and Marie could check on them regularly, and Matthew had the room on the right of the girls. Logan had made the special request as much so that Matthew could get his burgeoning senses away from the teenage hormone cesspit that was the dorms, as to have additional security for the girls.
As Marie stood in the doorway of the girl’s room, watching them sleep soundly in their beds, Logan slipped up behind her, wrapping his arms tenderly around her. They hadn't been intimate since the girls had taken up residence in their bed after being reunited, and he was, not so secretly, looking forward to taking advantage of their privacy tonight... as soon as Marie came to bed.
"What are you thinking?" he asked softly, as he took in Marie's soft, sad sigh.
"I was wondering... if they were girls, or boys..." she murmured, hugging Logan's arms around her tighter as a tear slipped down her cheek.
"I don't think angels have a gender," Logan offered gently, kissing away the tear as it fell. "A better question though is... what is this one going to be?" he posed, as his hands moved across her belly to cradle her still flat abdomen.
"What!?" Marie asked incredulously. "How- are you sure?" she asked, hope shining in her eyes.
"The same way I knew about Matty, you smell like babies and milk, I'm sure," Logan replied with a smile. He hoped Marie was as happy about this development as he was... so far, she wasn't giving away anything but surprise.
Marie turned back to watch the girls, adding a glance across the room to the closed door of Matthew's room. "Do you- do you think it's too much to ask for just one of our kids to have a safe and secure childhood," she murmured sadly, as her own hands ventured down to join his on her belly.
"To be honest darlin, given who we are and what we end up involved in, probably, but I can tell you one thing about our kids... they're going to be the strongest, smartest, most durable, and adaptable people ever, they've each seen their own personal version of hell, and every one of them has come out stronger for it... That's much more important as far as I'm concerned, and this baby is going to be no different, though hopefully with less first-hand experience, we'll do our best to make sure of it," Logan reassured her, placing a gentle kiss, on that spot that always made her melt, right behind her right ear.
"I love you Logan," Marie replied, turning her brilliant smile up to him.
"I love you too darlin," Logan replied, placing a soft kiss on her lips as he finally led her back to bed. Leaving their children to sleep peacefully, all of their children, including Candice, who he had heard sneaking into Matt’s room not even ten minutes earlier.
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