Prologue

 

Rogue groaned painfully as consciousness slowly returned. Her eyelashes fluttered slowly at first but as realization dawned they snapped open.  She was strapped down to a cold metal laboratory table, completely naked.  Her head moved frantically from side to side as she struggled to see the room around her.  Gleaming white walls and aluminium counter tops surrounded her.

 

She remembered the fight. She remembered Scott yelling a warning.  She remembered the searing pain as someone struck her from behind, and then… That part she didn’t remember.

 

She clenched and unclenched her hands slowly, trying to concentrate. On the bright side, she wasn’t in any pain, she felt groggy and slightly nauseous but that was the extent of her discomfort. Her desperate evaluation of the situation was cut short suddenly as a loud explosion rocked the empty room.

 

“Rogue!”  She smiled as Scott’s voice echoed in the tiny lab, sounding wonderfully nearby. “Rogue we’re coming!” He shouted.  A few minutes later, the smile was still on her face as they found her.

 

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Chapter One

 

It was the site of Jean running towards her in the library that clued her into the fact that something was seriously wrong. Jean never ran. If Jean wanted your attention she just mind zapped you and shouted orders inside your brain. She never ran. Rogue scrambled up quickly and brushed the dust off her skirt just as Jean reached her side.

 

“What’s wrong?”  She asked calmly, mentally preparing herself for the worst.

 

But Jean just shook her head and reached out to grab her gloved hand. “You’ll never believe who we found!” She exclaimed excitedly, hugging Rogue impulsively.

 

“Logan?”  Rogue asked, starting to catch some of Jean’s enthusiasm.

 

Jean pulled back and looked down at Rogue almost apologetically. “No- it’s… it’s not Logan.”  She said, calming herself down a bit. “Perhaps you won’t be as excited as I am but I do remember you once telling me that you-.”  Jean halted mid-sentence and seemed to be pondering something. “I think it’s best we let the Professor explain.” 

 

Rogue looked at Jean in concern. The older woman never acted this way. She was usually so confident, poised, cool, efficient, calm and a million other adjectives Rogue could never have used to describe herself. “Alright.”  She agreed as Jean pulled her towards the exit.

 

When they reached the Professors office Jean didn’t even bother knocking, just breezed in and stopped in front of him with a smile. It looked like he was expecting them.

 

“Would you like to have a seat Rogue?”  He asked politely, motioning towards one of the black leather couches. 

 

“Uh… No thank you Professor. I’m sorry but- if you wouldn’t mind… can you please tell me what’s going on here sir?”

 

“Yes of course my dear.”  He began slowly, looking momentarily uncertain. “Rogue, do you remember last year during that rather unfortunate incident when you…”  He trailed off painfully and Rogue nodded.

 

The rather unfortunate incident had to be a reference to the time she was knocked unconscious during a battle, kidnapped and then later found naked and strapped to an operating table. Unless of course he was referring to that rather unfortunate incident involving Jubilee and the rice cooker…

 

“You’ll recall those tests we ran on you? When we were trying to determine what had been done to you while you were unconscious?”

 

Rogue nodded again.  She’d been in Jean’s lab for almost two weeks straight, taking every test imaginable as they struggled to figure out what, if anything had happened to her. Jean had assured her she was fine. But what if…?

 

“You’re still going to be fine, but Jean and I now believe we’ve discovered the nature of the procedure they performed on you.”

 

“Scott and Ororo were doing some reconnaissance work and they brought us back a few computer disks. These disks appear to contain a series of observations regarding an almost new born child who seems to be a test subject of some sort for this organization-.”

 

“That’s horrible!”  Rogue exclaimed unhappily, cutting Jean off.

 

She nodded slightly and continued. “Yes… well you see this particular child was given birth to by a surrogate mother who is now deceased. Their files seem to indicate who the biological parents of the child are- The mother’s recorded as being a mutant whose skin can absorb the life force of others, they have her name listed as ‘Marie’.”

 

Rogue suddenly stopped breathing.

 

“While the DNA of the child’s father was donated to them by a branch of the Canadian government, a mutant with amazing regenerative capabilities, who they have listed as ‘Logan’.”

 

“Oh my god…”  Rogue whispered brokenly. “Are you trying to tell me- I have a baby out there somewhere?”

 

“Yes we-.”

 

“We have to find them! If those bastards are using my child as a guinea pig for-.”

 

“It’s alright Rogue- calm down… they don’t seem to have any plans to harm the child and we know where they’re located.”  Jean assured her, squeezing her hand and trying to comfort her.

 

“A baby…”  She whispered reverently. “My baby.” Never in her wildest dreams had she ever imagined she’d be able to say those words. She glanced at Jean and the Professor and smiled happily before bursting into tears.

 

 

                                      # # # # #

 

It was the sound of singing that drew him to the veranda.  He’d been about to pound on the front door and give’em the old “Honey I’m home, did ya miss me?” routine when the soft sound of Marie singing slightly off key distracted him. He walked quietly around the side of the house and stopped abruptly at the site that greeted him. Marie was sitting in an old rocking chair, moving slowly back and forth while singing to a baby that lay cradled in her arms.

 

“They’re writing songs of love, but not for me… a lucky star’s above but not for me… and although I can't dismiss the mem'ry of his kiss, I guess he's not for me…”  She laughed softly and stopped singing. “Sorry Angel.”  She murmured to the baby. “Momma can’t remember any more of the words- it’s not a very good lullaby I guess.”

 

Logan felt as though he’d been kicked in the stomach. His beautiful, sweet Marie was now somebody’s mother. The realization tore at his heart. It was almost painful for him to watch as she bent her head and kissed the baby’s hair lightly.  She looked so radiant, and while part of him rejoiced that she’d finally found happiness, the less human part of him was racked with a searing jealousy.

 

He watched as the baby cooed softly, reached out its tiny hand and pressed it against Marie’s lips. She smiled and made little kissing motions, capturing the baby’s soft fingers between her lips.  “Feeling better precious?” She asked, shifting the baby in her arms slightly. “Ready to go back to sleep?” 

 

Marie could touch. Marie could touch and kiss and make love and she’d had a baby- with someone else. It hurt.

 

“Daddy’ll be home soon.”  She promised softly. “I got a funny feeling… Maybe the Professor-.”  Whatever she’d been about to say was erased instantly from her mind as she noticed the figure standing quietly in the darkness. “Logan?”  She whispered in disbelief.

 

“Hey kid.”  He mumbled walking out of the shadows to stand in front of her.

 

Rogue stared up at him in shock. Tears pooled in her eyes and she blinked them away rapidly. “Logan- ya came back.”

 

He nodded silently. He didn’t feel like making small talk. What he wanted to do was rip her out of the rocking chair and demand to know why she hadn’t waited for him. He’d made her a promise, hadn’t she believed he’d keep it? It hadn’t even been that long- two years. All he’d ever thought about was coming home- to her. She obviously hadn’t been as devoted.

 

“So the Professor finally gave in and called ya huh?”  She asked with a small smile. Despite her pleading and cajoling the Professor had remained firm in his refusal to contact Logan and force him to return home. He had his reasons of course, good ones but they’d all paled in comparison to her desire to be with Logan again. She was glad to see the Professor had finally caved in and told Logan about the baby.

 

“Marie…” He began and hearing her name on his lips made her smile, it almost sounded like an endearment. He reached out a hand to touch her cheek and she instinctively flinched away.

 

“Logan what’re you doing!?”

 

He stared at her curiously. “But the baby…”    

 

“Oh.”  She mumbled, shaking her head. “No. The baby is a part of me, I can touch her but that doesn’t change anything.”

 

“What’s her name?”

 

“Angel.”  She replied with a smile, starting to get a little confused. Hadn’t the Professor explained everything to him? Just yesterday she’d been pestering him to help her get in touch with Logan but he’d just smiled and shaken his head. In retrospect it must have been because he’d already contacted Logan. The old devil, she thought happily. “Didn’t the Professor tell you?”

 

Logan shook his head, wondering what the hell she was talking about. He hadn’t spoken to Chuck in years. “You look good Marie.”  He complimented her almost reluctantly. “Motherhood agrees with you.”

 

“Thanks sugar.”  It had been a long time since anyone had complimented her and she blushed softly. “Do you want to hold her?”

 

Logan backed away suddenly as though stung. The thought was definitely not appealing.

 

“Alright.”  She assured him, noting his obvious reluctance. “Help me up though?”

 

Logan moved towards her quickly and placed his hands underneath her elbows, pulling her slowly to her feet. “I’m sorry- about the baby I mean. I’m sure-.”

 

Rogue shook her head, denying any apologies. “I gotta put the baby to bed, then we can talk. Oh… I mean, if you’re sticking around.”  She mumbled uncertainly, the look in her eyes begging him to assure her that he was going to stay.  He nodded and she beamed a bright smile at him. “OK then! The Professor’ll bring you up date.”  She promised as they headed towards the front door.

 

                                                # # # # #

 

Logan hadn’t let the Professor get very far in his explanation of the situation before he’d slammed out of the office angrily.

 

It was almost eerie how easily he found her. Some part of him knew Marie would want to stay in his old room and he headed towards it without conscious thought. He threw the door open so violently it rattled on its hinges.

 

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”  He growled out with barely controlled anger.

 

 Rogue stared at him in shock and then glanced behind her to where Angel was sleeping quietly in her crib. “Logan what are you.-?”

 

He reached out and clamped her shoulders tightly. “What- were you trying to punish me? Keeping my daughter from me because I walked out on you?!”

 

“Let go of me!” She hissed, trying to twist out of his hold.

 

He just held her tighter and yanked her towards him. “You know me- you of all people…”  He didn’t know what to say. Marie was the only person in the world who knew how empty he felt- how empty he’d been for the past seven-teen years. It had been within her power to give him a family and instead she’d denied him that chance.

 

“How dare you.”  She demanded. “Do you think this has been easy for me? I had to move out of my room- away from the only friends I have so I could be with Angel. I didn’t sleep for weeks, I sat here alone and even more isolated from everyone! You think I didn’t want you with me- I did! God how I wanted you…”  She sobbed.

 

Logan seemed completely unmoved. “Chuck could’ve contacted me anytime.”

 

Rogue shook her head repeatedly. “Don’t you think I asked him? I begged him- but he told me it wouldn’t be healthy to force you to come back here before you were ready. He told me it would be in Angel’s best interest to wait for you to return on your own.” She pressed her gloved hands against his chest, desperate to convince him. “I wanted you with me but Angel’s gotta be my number one priority… She’s the only family I’m ever gonna have. I didn’t know what else to do-.”

 

“Alright darlin.”  He didn’t know what the hell was the matter with him. He’d been enraged by the thought of her having another man’s child and now that he knew he was the baby’s father, he was still furious.

 

A shudder ran through Rogue’s body and she leaned her forehead against his chest in defeat. “I love Angel so much. I was just afraid to do anything that might hurt her.” Logan reached around her and ran his hand through her hair, trying to soothe her. “She’s my only miracle Logan, I can’t loose her.” Rogue pushed herself out of his arms and walked towards the crib quietly. “I was so not ready to be a mother.” She laughed softly, remembering a few of her stupider mistakes. “Did you know babies need to be fed every 4 hours?”

 

Logan shook his head, watching as she trailed her fingers across the baby’s cheek. Captivated by the adoring, loving way she treated her daughter. “Although in Angel’s case it was more like every 2 hours.”

 

“I wish I could’ve been there for ya.”

 

 Rogue shrugged. “I’m sorry you missed out on so much. But don’t worry- I’ve got pictures.” She smiled hugely at him. “Lots of pictures.”

 

“So- what does she do?” He asked, gesturing towards Angel who was still sleeping peacefully.

 

“Do?”  Rogue looked momentarily confused.

 

“Yeah- does she… walk or talk or anything?”

 

Rogue had to stop herself from laughing hysterically. “Uhm… no Logan. She’s only 6 months old. I’m afraid she doesn’t do anything except sleep, eat, giggle and cry.”

 

Logan stood beside her and watched the baby sleep for a few moments. “Guess it’s up to me to teach her to kick some ass.”

 

“Logan!” Rogue exclaimed, hitting him lightly across the shoulder. “Don’t swear in front of the baby!”

 

He rolled his eyes.

 

She opened her mouth to reprimand him again but yawned instead. “Oops. I’ve been up since 4 am with Angel. I gotta get some sleep.”  She said, sounding like she was apologising. She turned away from him and started rummaging through her pyjama drawers. “I’ve gotta sleep on the left side of the bed to be close to Angel, I hope that’s OK with you?”

 

“Uh… yeah…”  He agreed uncertainly.

 

“It’s gonna be so great having someone around to help me take care of Angel. She’s not sleeping through the night yet so I hope she doesn’t disturb you too much.”

 

“That’s… OK.” 

 

Rogue headed towards the bathroom, chatting away happily between brushing her teeth and changing into pyjamas. “So anywayz… there’s a free drawer for you in that bureau over there.” She offered, flicking off the light switch as she stepped into the room. “If you’re going out now try not to make too much noise when you come back- Angel’ll throw a fit if her beauty sleep is disturbed.”

 

Logan stared at her as she pulled down the bed sheets, transfixed by her pale pink night gown. The last time he’d seen her wearing it…

 

“Wha..?” Rogue mumbled, confused by the expression on his face. “Oh.” She whispered as realization dawned. “Sorry but- it’s the most practical thing I have to sleep in.”

 

Logan grunted noncommittally and turned his attention to unpacking his duffel bag. His hands clenched the top of the drawer tightly and he tried not to think about the past. It never ceased to amaze him how easily she could understand his thoughts, and yet still be so oblivious. She hadn’t even bothered asking him if he’d made arrangements to stay with her and Angel or if he’d even asked the Professor about it. She’d just assumed he’d want to be with them, and although he hadn’t given the idea any thought he realized it was true. He’d already missed far too much of his daughter’s life and he wasn’t about to miss out on any more of it. Marie seemed to know what he wanted even before he did.

 

When he turned around to face her she was already tucked up underneath the covers. Her tiny body curled into the fetal position, facing the baby in the crib. He watched her for a few moments, debating whether or not he should go back and find Chuck. He had slammed out of the poor guy’s office… but he didn’t want to leave Marie, even if it was the right thing to do. He’d spent enough time away from her as far as he was concerned.

 

Logan couldn’t help but frown as he pulled out a pair of sweat pants and long sleeved sweater form his pack. It was a hell of a lot more than he usually slept in.   

 

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Two things woke Logan up a few hours later. One was a funny little noise, like a kitten meowing and the other was that something heavy was across his legs that kept stopping him from moving. The leg situation he dealt with the minute he opened his eyes, glancing down to see both of Marie’s legs curled up on top of him. The funny little mewing noises were another matter however. He glanced around the room curiously and paused, realising his daughter was staring directly at him. Her blue eyes watching him curiously as she emitted loud gurgling sounds.

 

His first instinct was the wake Marie. But she looked so peaceful, with her head resting softly against his chest that he didn’t have the heart. After all, the baby wasn’t crying so there was no reason to disturb Marie… or was there? He continued to stare at the baby in concern as her teeny hands pawed at the air around her. She seemed happy enough but for all he knew gurgling could be the international baby sign for ‘Help Me’. He sighed and started moving out of bed, resigned to his fate when he felt a slight tugging at his chest. He glanced down to see Marie’s hand clenched tightly around the grey cotton of his sweater. As though she’d been trying to ensure he didn’t leave her while she slept. He pulled away slowly and her hand dropped silently to the spot on the mattress he’d just vacated.               

 

Logan walked unhappily towards the crib, his eyes never wavering from Angel. “Hey kid.”  He muttered, reaching out a hand to pat her stomach lightly. “Everything OK?” Angel shrieked happily and threw her hands together in an uncoordinated and feeble attempt at a clap. “Right. No talking. OK”

 

 

# # # # #

 

“BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!”

 

“What the the-!??!”  Rogue shrieked, jumping up frantically.  It had been so long since she’d woken up to the sound of the alarm blaring in her ear she almost didn’t know what to do about it. She reached over to the clock and smashed at the snooze button until silence reigned in her bedroom. She sat groggily in the centre of the bed, still dazed and sleepy. She rubbed her eyes wearily and turned instinctively towards the baby crib. The empty baby crib. Empty… Why was the crib, that held her baby- empty!?!?

 

“Where the hell is my baby?!”  Rogue hissed, jumping out of bed in a tangle of cotton sheets.

 

# # # # #

 

“…and that’s a Dodge Viper. They come in red and black- as you can see, we got both in here…”  Logan rambled on, pointing out one expensive car after another to his enraptured daughter.

 

“..gah…”  Angel interjected.

 

“Exactly.” Logan agreed. “My Harley is nicer… I wonder if they make baby seats for motorcycles…”

 

“Rogue’d personally beat your ass if ya like even tried it.” A mocking voice muttered dryly from behind. “So you came back huh?”

 

Logan glanced around to see the annoying kid with the yellow jacket walking towards him.

 

“Oh. How nice… You’re spending time with your kid.”  She smiled falsely. “About damn time.” She muttered, reaching out to stroke Angel’s cheek softly.

 

“What the hell did you just say…?” He growled quietly.

 

“Oh pu-lease. Like I’m supposed to make nice-nice with you? As though I haven’t been watching Rogue cry her eyes out over you for the last two years. Like I’m gonna just hop over here and make small talk or sumpin…”

 

Logan stared at her in disbelief. “I had stuff to do, Marie knew.-“

 

“Stuff? Oh, you had stuff... Well, that makes up for it then! Rogue sat around being a non-person for two years because you had stuff. Alrightie then…”

 

“Listen kid- I don’t gotta explain myself to you or-.”

 

Jubilee shrugged. “True, ya don’t. But Angel is the only good thing that’s ever happened to Rogue. You better not ruin this for her.”

 

“There you are!” Rogue exclaimed in relief, smiling hugely as she headed towards them. “Thanks for kidnapping my kid and scaring the crap out of me.” She admonished lightly, pulling Angel into her arms “Morning Jubes.”

 

“Hey Rogie. Seen my boyfriend?”

 

“He’s blaring DMX in the cafeteria- I suggest you save his butt before Angelo smothers him.”

 

“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Cya laterz Wolvie.”

 

Logan somehow managed to wait until she was out of the garage before saying anything. “I don’t like that kid.”

 

“Yeah- Jubes can be a bit obnoxious sometimes…”