"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.