Title: Baby Mine
Rating: R, adult themes
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them but Jules, and I'm keeping the little guy ;)
Archive: WRFA, Peep Hut, Dolphin Haven - anyone else, please ask and I'll
say yes ;)
Feedback: Please? Pretty please? Good, bad, and ugly welcome..............
Summary: Marie's in trouble, and Logan comes home to help her.
Comments: This one is the start of a series. A new series. Another series. I am loathe to do this, but I promised myself that this will not be a demanding series. It'll be easy. It'll be like the With Maries, to be worked on only when the writer's block hits and when inspiration hits at the same time. Yep, no new regular series for me, oh no........
The words he'd heard over the phone - "Rogue asked us to contact you. She wants you to come to Westchester right away." - had made his blood run cold. It wasn't just that she'd asked them to find him, though that in itself was alarming. He knew she'd never ask him to come back unless it was a very serious situation. No, it wasn't just that, it was also the coldness in Scott's tone when he called, the lack of an argument the man made when Logan said he'd drive all night to get there, the way he'd just dully hung up the phone when Logan had finished speaking. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. And worse than that, something was very wrong with Rogue.
He raced to get there, driving all night at dangerous speeds. Yet, as he pulled up his camper and hitch to the mansion entrance, he found himself almost not wanting to go inside. Part of him wanted to keep on living in this moment, the space in time when he was here, able to help her, but before he had to face whatever had gone wrong. He allowed himself to linger in the truck a few moments before cutting the engine and heading for the door.
Jean opened it before he could knock, something else that seemed to him a bad omen. On top of that, Jean looked tired, haggard, almost. "Welcome back. I'll take you to her."
"What happened?" He'd tried to get it out of Scott on the phone, of course, but he would only say that Rogue was asking for him and she would tell him herself when he got there.
"Logan, just - just remember that she's upset, very upset, and emotional. We did everything we could to help her. We did what was best."
"What the hell're you talkin' about?" Jean frowned. "Look, just spit it out, Jeannie."
"She was taken, a few weeks after you left. She and two of the other girls - Kitty and Jubilee - were abducted by some - some covert government agents. They were taken to a medical facility and - and things were done. We did what was best, Logan." There was fear in her voice, and a lie too. Logan definitely didn't like that.
"Where is she?" Jean nodded to the stairs. "Which room?"
"Your old one. Just - just take it easy, Logan." With a final half-worried, half-pissed look at her, he went to find Marie. Again, he allowed himself a few moments before knocking on the closed door. He was trying to stifle his fear at what Jean had revealed, at what might have happened to Marie, but also at what her reaction to him would be. She'd been taken, gone for - all this time? It suddenly occurred to Logan that Jean had said Marie was taken a few weeks after he'd left. He'd been gone almost a year. Why hadn't they called him before? Why hadn't they called him right away? Why the hell hadn't they called him when they couldn't find her after a few days? He steamed over that for a few moments, then tried to calm himself again. He had to focus on now, focus on Marie. He could tear Chuck and Scooter a new asshole later.
He knocked. "Who is it?" Her voice was tentative, a little frightened as it came through the door.
"It's me, kid."
"Logan!" He thought he heard relief in her voice, but he didn't hear her moving to get the door. "It's open. Come in."
He would never have imagined the sight that greeted him. Marie was sitting up in the bed, blankets strewn across one shoulder and breast, leaving the other bare. Not quite bare, he corrected - her exposed breast was nestled beneath some kind of blue fuzzy pillow. As it squirmed and Marie stroked it's back, it dawned on him that the pillow was in fact a baby. That would explain why it's wearing a diaper, he thought distantly.
"Come in," she repeated. "It's OK. He's almost done."
"Logan, come in," she said again, with a slight smile. "And close the door behind you, OK? The whole world doesn't nee to see me breast feeding."
Logan numbly followed her instructions, shutting the door and startling the child a bit. Marie soothed him and Logan sat down at the foot of the bed, staring at her slack jawed. "Are you OK?" he finally managed.
"Mostly." She gave him a tight smile. "I'm still hurting a little from the delivery. This is - this is Jules."
"Jules," Logan repeated.
"Yeah. He's three days old. He's my son." Logan shook his head a little and tried to say something but no words came out. "It's a long story. The short version is - well, the short version is that I got kidnaped by some people and taken to this hospital where they had a lot of mutants. They - they were cross breeding us, trying to build the perfect mutant. I know it's kind of a shock. It's a pretty big shock to me too." She gave him a small smile and when her face moved to make the expression, he noticed that she bore some small scars along her cheek and forehead. When he looked closer, he saw more on her neck and exposed shoulder. "They didn't treat me too bad, except when I tried to escape. They didn't want me to miscarry. I finally managed to escape about a week ago, but - but I was really close to delivering. I had Jules about three days ago. Wait - I said that didn't I? Sorry. It's just - so much has happened and there's so much to tell you and I'm so glad you came back. I'm so glad." She looked at him with a warmth he couldn't fathom. He didn't deserve that warmth. He'd left her, left her to be taken, hurt, violated, forced to bear a child that was an experiment. She should be looking at him with hatred, contempt for his broken promises and failure to protect her, not warmth. Definitely not warmth. "Logan, say something."
"Sorry. Sorry. I'm just - I'm so sorry, Marie."
"It's not your fault. You didn't know. Which is more than I can say for everybody else," she commented bitterly.
"Whaddya mean?" Marie took a deep breath and glanced down at Jules. "I'm going to try to just stay really calm when I tell you, OK? I have this theory that if I'm upset when I'm feeding Jules, those emotions will somehow seep over to him and I don't - I don't want that. So I'm going to just be really calm. OK." She took a deep, steadying breath. "The Professor knew where I was for about six weeks before I escaped. They didn't try to rescue us - Kitty and Jubes and I escaped and then they came and picked us up, helped us out. They were gathering evidence, the Professor says, to present to Congress. They needed to let the doctors carry on their plans for a while and get evidence first, so that they could save everyone, all of us, not just me and not just the mutants in that hospital."
"Dammit!" Jules started at that and at Logan's sudden departure from the bed. "Those goddamn fuckers! He gave me his word he'd take care of you, Marie, he - "
"Waaaahhh!" Jules had disengaged himself from Marie's breast and was protesting the sudden noise and bed movement. Marie shushed him and tried to guide him back to her breast. After a few tries, she succeeded.
"Sorry," Logan apologized in a softer tone. His stance had lost none of its tension and his eyes had lost none of their fury, though.
"It's OK. He's kind of a sensitive kid. I really wish I knew who the father was. Someone blue, I guess." She gave Logan a small smile and gestured for him to sit back down on the bed. "Look, Logan, I know you're mad. I'm mad too, but - but that's not why I asked you to come back. I - I needed to ask a favor."
Anything, he wanted to say, anything at all for you, kid. He didn't quite get the words out, though. His attention was suddenly captured by Marie's sad, shy expression.
"I know I should by rights probably never, ever ask you for another thing, ever. I appreciate so much everything you've done for me so far. But - but I'm a mom now, and I have to think of Jules. Logan, there's a hearing before congress in three days. They're trying to pass the Mutant Registration Act again. Jean and the Professor - they're going to Washington to fight it. They wanted me to come along, to show off Jules and tell my story, but I - I said no. Logan, things are going to get bad, very bad, and that would just make me and Jules even bigger targets, public targets for the men who run that hospital and people like them. I don't want that. Maybe it is selfish, maybe I'm not thinking of the big picture like the Professor says, but I just want my son to have a chance and to be safe." She paused, letting her eyes hold Logan's for a moment. "I asked you to come back because I was hoping you might help me. Again. I was hoping that you'd help Jules and me get to Canada, get out of the U.S. before that hearing. I know it's a lot to ask and I don't have any - any money or anything at all, really, and I know you've already done so much for me, but I had to ask. I had to ask, for Jules. I hope you understand." Tears formed in her eyes now, and Jules was squirming in her arms. She permitted herself a sniffle before trying to even out her breathing and raising Jules to her shoulder for a burp. Logan was still fixated on her, seemingly spellbound. "Logan, please? I just - we can be on our own once we're across, but I don't have a - a car or even a license and we couldn't use public transportation because Jules is so obvious. I don't know if there'd be trouble and if I could protect him. The x-men, the Professor, they won't help me do it, I know. They think it's running away, they think we should all stick together and face whatever comes and I want to be brave, I do, but - but I just don't want to lose Jules. He's the one good thing out of all those months of - I just don't want to take a chance on losing Jules. Logan, the Act will pass, no matter what Jean and the Professor say or show them. The hospitals are already built for us. Logan, please."
Tears were rolling down her cheeks now, and Jules' soft burp finally shook Logan from his reverie. "I"ll take care of you, Marie. I'll take care of everythin'." He scooted closer to her on the bed, seemingly unmindful of all of her exposed, deadly skin. He gently nestled a hand in her hair, lifting her head to meet his gaze, and repeated. "I'll take care of you."
"You'll help us get to Canada?"
"Now." Logan swallowed, and gave her a final gentle caress before standing. "Where's your stuff?"
"All I have is some old clothes. I think they're still in the next room. I want to take - we'll need the diapers and blankets for Jules. Do you have a car?"
"Truck. With a camper. Alberta plates. No one'll ask any questions. Marie, do you have any papers?"
"Yeah, birth certificate, somethin' like that." He was already planning, already figuring out how to keep her safe, not just at the border crossing, but two or three steps after that too.
"Yes. I took mine from home when I first left. It should still be in my top dresser drawer."
"I'll get it and your things. Get the baby ready." Marie eagerly nodded, and watched Logan head out the door.
"Hang on baby, everything's going to be OK now." She gave Jules a kiss on his fuzzy forehead, then climbed out of bed to get dressed.
No one really noticed that they were leaving until Marie and a well bundled Jules began descending the stairs to meet a pacing Logan. Scott and Jean had been talking, and watching Logan, in the adjoining room.
"Rogue?" Scott ventured. "What's going on?"
She was descending the stairs slowly and gingerly - her words about still healing from the delivery came back to Logan, and he jumped in to spare her the effort of an answer. "We're headin' out." It was said in the kind of warning tone that should've prevented any further query, but Scott was not deterred.
"Out? You - you can't go out, you just had a baby." He looked to Jean for support - she was standing behind her husband, with a worried look on her face. "You just had a baby," he repeated. No one answered him, not even Jean, who instead laid a hand on his arm. Rogue finished coming down the stairs and paused to gather her strength. Logan crossed the foyer to put an arm around her to help support her.
"Rogue," Scott tried again. "You can't go anywhere - you're - you're - "
"Scott," she said softly, finally answering him. "I'm going. There's not a lot of time. I'm sorry. I hope - I hope everything turns out OK, I really do. I'm just - I can't stay here in case it doesn't. I can't do that to Jules. I've got to go. Goodbye." She frowned, but let Logan begin steering her toward the door.
"Rogue - "
"Let her go," Jean gently instructed her husband. "Let her go. It has to be her decision."
"But - but - "
"Let her go." Scott hung his head at his wife's words, but made no further protests.
"You OK?" Marie had been very quiet and very fidgety in the truck. She sat in the middle of the bench seat, with Jules and his car seat taking up the whole of the passenger side. Pressed up against him as she was, Logan could feel a little shudder go through her every now and then. They'd been driving for nearly two hours and he'd counted five shudders.
"I guess I'm just a little nervous about crossing the border."
"It's not gonna be a problem. Why don't - why dontcha stay in back with Jules when we go over, huh? Lemme handle it. I'll just tell 'em there's another person back there sleepin'. I don't think it'll be a problem." He wanted to avoid whatever anxiety or unpleasantness for Marie that he could; it was a small way to begin making his absence up to her.
"OK. If - if you think that'll be OK." Still fidgety, Logan noted. That wasn't it.
"Anythin' else on your mind?" She looked over at him with serious eyes. It wasn't just the border crossing, he knew that for sure now. "Go 'head, tell me."
"Am I doing the right thing? Do you think I should've stayed?"
"No, you shouldnta stayed. You're doin' the right thing for you and your kid there. You don't have a single reason to stay. All that bullshit the Professor said - whatever it was 'bout stickin' together, bein' brave - it's just him talkin' outta his ass. It's easy to say be brave when you're gettin' whatcha wanted your whole life, the chance to force the issue, be some kinda martyr to the mutie cause. Fuck that. That ain't your fight, especially not after them leavin' ya in the hospital to rot like they did." Like I did, Logan's guilty conscience added, causing him to give up talking in favor of scowling.
"I'm not - it's not just because of Jules. To be honest, I'm scared, scared for myself, too. Even though - even though they didn't do anything *that* awful to me in there. It wasn't, you know, rape and torture, just - just keeping us there and making us pregnant."
"Yeah, but they really didn't hurt us, not unless we were fighting them on going to the examination rooms. Or when I - oh." Marie's sudden quiet took Logan's eyes off the road and drew them to her.
"I lost your tags."
Tears welled up in her eyes a bit, but she kept them at bay. "I lost your tags. They took all our clothes, jewelry, everything, and they took the tags from me. I fought them. I fought them really hard. I didn't just let them have them." Her finger went to her neck, tracing one of the light scars on either side. She wore an apologetic frown, and Logan realized all at once that the half-ring of scars on her neck had been produced by the chain he'd given her being violently ripped off. "But they kind of won and they took them from me. I'm so sorry I lost them. You gave them to me to hold onto and I just - I know how much they mean to you. I'm sorry."
"Kid, I don't care about the tags." He turned his full attention to her as they sat at a red light. "You shouldnta fought for 'em, Marie, they don't mean that much to me."
"Logan, I know they do, I know you - "
"Not enough that I'd wantcha hurt. Nothin's worth that much to me." They sat there just silently staring at one another for a few moments, each trying to absorb the other's words. Finally, a loud honk alerted Logan that the light had changed. He returned his eyes to the road and kept driving. "You did the right thing. I'm gonna take care of you and your kid. You did the right thing for both of ya."
"OK," Marie quietly agreed. She took a deep breath to center herself. Logan noticed that her fidgeting had calmed. "We should stop somewhere before we cross over. Jules - he'll be awake and hungry anytime now and the border guards probably shouldn't see him or hear him, right?"
"Right. We'll stop. Next town. Marie - " All of a sudden, Logan found himself to be the uneasy one. "Are you, ah, all right feedin' him that way? Do you need to get, uh, baby food or milk or somethin' for him?" She was weak, Logan could tell, and he didn't want her to think she had to supply food for Jules from her body if she was doing it because she was worried about money or something stupid like that. He had plenty of money; they could get whatever Marie needed.
"Breast feeding is probably best for him now. Plus it's - it's free food, you know. Formula is very expensive." In an unconscious motion, her hand settled atop her child's sleeping form. "And it doesn't have all the same nutrients and things that breast milk does. I want to give him the best start I can, so - so I think breast feeding will be good for a while."
OK, Logan thought, she's got a point there. "Then let's getcha somethin' to eat when we stop, huh? You need to keep your strength up."
"After we're across, OK? I'll just be too nervous to keep anything down until after we get across. I'm OK for now." There was a determined edge to her voice, one that Logan didn't care to argue with.
Their border crossing was thankfully uneventful. Logan had left his hitch, and Scott's bike, in Westchester and had instructed Marie and Jules to remain in the camper bunk while he talked to the border officials on both ends. He told them that he was traveling with his sleeping wife, returning from visiting her relatives in the U.S. His story was accepted without incident.
They stopped for food and then for the night in a small-town Ontario campground, giving Logan his first real chance to talk with Marie. They'd both been nervous about crossing over, and Marie was still well- exhausted from the delivery and from the lack of sleep that Jules' feeding schedule demanded. When he parked them and went around to join them in the camper, he gave a few last minutes of thought to what he was about to propose before entering.
"Hey," he greeted her. She was up in the bunk, beneath the covers, cradling Jules in her arms as he slept.
"Little guy's sleepin', huh?" Marie nodded and watched as Logan shuffled off his boots and jacket. "Mind if I join ya up there? We'll needta stay under the blankets durin' the night."
"Oh. Sure. No problem. Let me just scoot over a little. Be - be careful of my skin."
"No worries." He was well-covered and had left his gloves on. "I was hopin' to talk to you a little bit. We need a plan."
"Do you think there will be trouble up here if the Act passes?"
"Nah. Prime Minister's been against it and public opinion supports him. Don't think that'll change anytime soon." Logan hefted his bulky frame into the small bunk. Once he got a closer look at Jules, he realized he wasn't quite fully asleep yet, just lying peacefully in Marie's arms, eyes blinking open and shut as sleep slowly came for him. Logan hadn't noticed before, but the child had Marie's deep brown eyes. "He's still awake a little."
Marie peered around to see Jules' face. His eyes blinked open and he stirred at the familiar sight of her face. She indulged him in a beaming smile before shifting him a little to make him more comfortable in her arms. "He's almost out. You were saying something about a plan?"
"Yeah." Logan reached out a gloved hand to rest lightly on her waist. "I know a guy in Ottawa, a priest. He'll marry us on short notice and he'll keep it quiet. That way, you'll get Canadian citizenship. Even if things do go bad somewhere down the line, or if somethin' ever happens to me, they can't deport ya."
"Are you saying you want to get married?"
"Mmm-hmm. I can give you citizenship that way, Marie - my papers make me a citizen here and you can apply for citizenship if we get married. All nice and legal, above-board."
"Oh." She was frowning now, and Logan rubbed her stomach a little. That got him a warmer look. "Thanks - thank you. I really appreciate that, I do. I guess I was just surprised and I - I guess I didn't think that's how I'd be getting married, that's all. I'm just being stupid. It's a good idea. I - um, thank you."
"I know it ain't probably how you thought 'bout your weddin', but the sooner we do it the better. We can get to Ottawa tomorrow. Maybe have it done that night if we hurry. I'm sorry I can't make it better for ya, kid, but we should do it now."
"I know. Just - just forget what I said, OK? I don't care about that, not really. You're doing a lot for me by marrying me and I don't care about anything else." She felt ashamed at giving such frivolous things as a dream wedding or marrying someone who loved her any consideration. She reminded herself that her life was about survival now, hers and Jules', and Logan was being very good to them.
Logan gruffly nodded at her words. "After that, we're gonna head for Alberta. I know a guy there, a judge, who'll lemme adopt Jules without doin' all the rigamarole. For a price, 'course. But he'll do it, it'll all be nice and legal, and that way Jules'll get citizenship too. You'll both be safe here that way, permanently safe. You'll be Canadians, just like anybody else." She didn't say anything in response, so he prompted, "Marie?"
"I - I don't know what to say."
"Look, I know it's a lotta commotion and a lotta money, but I think it's the best way to go. Maybe nothin'll ever happen here, maybe we can disappear in some small town or out in the country, but it's a fail-safe in case anythin' ever goes wrong. It's a little insurance, and if I'm gonna be takin' care of you and your little one, well, we'll be kinda like a family anyhow. I know it seems like a lot, and fast, but I think we should do it. I wouldn't ask you to marry me and give me rights to your son as his dad if I didn't think it was best for you and him, Marie. Trust me."
"I do," she stammered out. "I really, really do. I'm just in awe that you'd do all that for us. It's a lot, Logan. It's a lot of responsibility to take on. I mean, not that - not that I'm going to expect you to be a husband and father and - "
"Why not?" He wished he could take back the question as soon as it was out. It was obvious why not - he'd abandoned her. Why would she think he could stand by her as a husband and father now?
"Are you - are you thinking this will be a - a real marriage, that we'll, you know, live together like man and wife, like a family?" Her eyes were wide and her mouth had dropped open as well; she couldn't have looked more surprised.
"I know that might not be whatcha want and I don't blame ya if you're thinkin' I might bolt on ya like I did before. But I'm gonna stick with you two, I'm gonna protect ya, I'm gonna take care of ya, and I mean it." He knew it might take time for her to believe it. He could wait. He had a lot of time.
She laid her hand atop his, gently squeezing it as her eyes filled with tears. "I'd like that very much. I'd like for us to be a family very much." Tears began to roll down her cheeks, and Logan knew it would still take time and effort to repair the damage he'd done to his relationship with Marie by not being there when she'd needed him. He was very glad to hear her words, though. It was a start. He gathered her in his arms, and held her and Jules until they were both well asleep.
The next evening, true to his word, Logan, Marie, and Jules were nervously waiting in the vestibule of an empty church. The priest - actually a Unitarian minister - was preparing for the ceremony in his office. As Marie rocked a sleepy Jules in her arms and surveyed the church, she thought that it might not be her dream wedding, filled with friends and family and exquisite dresses and flowers, but it was undeniably beautiful. The church was softly lit by candles, was small and clean-looking, just like she'd pictured for her dream wedding, and the minister seemed nice. Plus, she had the two most important people in her life by her side - her son and her soon-to-be husband. She was still a little floored that Logan would want to have a real marriage with her, but she was grateful for it, very grateful. If her wedding gown consisted of a pale green hand-me-down skirt and a white sweater, so what? If she had a pink scarf flung over her head instead of a lace veil, who cared? She would be married to Logan soon, a man she loved, the man that wanted her and her child. That was the important thing.
"Ready?" The aged minister finally emerged from his office, shoving small spectacles a little further back up the bridge of his nose. Logan explained that he'd met the minister not long after waking up naked in the snow all those years ago. He'd drifted into the church's mission, and had come to know the man, come to trust him more than a little. Logan credited him for giving him something to start with, for giving him a foothold in this world. He'd told Marie the minister's name, but she'd already forgotten it. It would be on the marriage certificate, though, and she would take care to remember it when this was all over.
"Yeah, padre. Let's get this show on the road."
The minister rolled his eyes then winked at Marie. "I'm sure he means let's begin this beautiful new chapter in our lives, dear." That got him a wide smile from beneath her makeshift veil. "Let's go to the altar."
They stood on one side of the small, humble altar, and the minister took his place on the other. Marie glanced over at Logan. He was dressed like he would be for any other day - jeans, flannel shirts, boots. But he had shaved when they arrived in the church parking lot, and tried his best to tame his hair in preparation for the ceremony. Marie's lips curled upwards as she recalled him fussing with it in the rear view mirror.
"Logan and Marie, you come before God and these assembled witnesses - that would be you, young man - " Jules smiled at the minister's attention and squirmed a little in Marie's arms. " - to join together in holy matrimony as husband and wife. Logan has told me that you would prefer a brief, informal ceremony, is that right?" Both parties nodded. They were, after all, eager to get back on the road to Alberta and Jules' adoption. "Very well then, perhaps we should cut right to the chase. Logan, do you take this woman, Marie, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
"I do," Logan said solemnly. He'd been gazing intently into Marie's eyes as the minister spoke. He was relieved that she seemed to return the emotion and commitment in his gaze.
"Marie, do you take this man, Logan, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"
"I do." She said it softly, but with conviction. It pleased Logan to hear that, and it pleased him even more that she said it with a smile on her lips.
"Then by the power vested in me by the Province of Ontario, I hereby pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride." The minister beamed at them both as they turned to face each other. Logan took a step toward Marie, taking her face in his bare hands, protected by her scarf/veil. Very slowly, he leaned in to kiss her lips. She'd expected a perfunctory, chaste kiss, but instead his warm lips pressed to hers sensually. She parted her lips a bit and he repositioned his to take her bottom lip and gently suck on it. They lingered in the warm, sensual kiss until the minister cleared his throat.
"Ahem. I thought that you two wished to have a brief ceremony?" Logan reluctantly parted from his now-blushing bride, and gave Jules' fuzzy head a gentle caress before stepping away from her altogether.
"Thanks, padre. I owe ya one."
"Take care of this lovely young lady and her child and we shall call it even." The minister gathered his Bible and left them to their privacy at the altar.
Marie was still a little spellbound, and Logan took advantage of it to gaze at her in the candlelight a bit more. At length, he lightly touched her arm and broke the spell. "Ready to go, darlin'?" She nodded, but didn't move, reaching out a hand to tug at Logan's arm and stay his own departure.
"It was perfect."
"It was a perfect wedding, everything I could ever want. Thank you for making it perfect." Logan smiled, but knew her words were meant to make him feel better. He knew it still wasn't the wedding she'd dreamt of or deserved. But he let himself believe it a little as they headed out for Alberta as man and wife.
"It's OK." Marie always tried to be quiet and not to wake Logan when Jules' nighttime feeding needs kicked in. It never worked. Logan's sensitive ears usually picked up Jules' soft cries before they became loud ones. Since Marie slept between the two of them, he couldn't get Jules and quiet him without waking Marie. So, he simply let her sleep until Jules woke her, and sometimes pretended that he hadn't been woken by the child's cries to make Marie feel better. Tonight, though, was the night before they were to go before a judge, the night before they were to adopt Jules, and, truth be told, Logan was a little on edge.
Marie - she was one thing. Logan had always considered her his and his responsibility, from the moment he pulled over to pick her up on that snowy day so many months ago. Jules was something else; Logan just didn't feel that strong, overwhelming connection with the child. If he was going to be responsible for him, it would be out of choice, not instinct. Logan was committed to doing it - it solidified his bond with and marriage to Marie - but that didn't mean he was at ease doing it. It would mark a big change in his life, a landmark. He'd never before voluntarily made that kind of commitment. He didn't know if he could make it work; he hadn't done such a great job of that, even with Marie, even when he did have strong feelings for her. He'd still failed in his promise to take care of her. Could he really take care of Jules?
"You can go back to sleep if you want. He'll be pretty quiet now." Marie was well into feeding her child, having opened her nightgown and sat up as much as the bunk would allow.
"Nah, I'm good." Logan loved to watch her breast feed. It was an oddly beautiful sight - Jules' blue, furry, small, squirming body juxtaposed against her pale, pink smooth skin; the sometimes-exhausted, sometimes-beatific look on her face when she did it; the smell of her milk and Jules' soft sucking sounds all fascinated Logan. It was something he was incapable of doing, yet something that he found himself identifying with. It's giving life, he found himself thinking, it's her life flowing into Jules just like Logan's life had once flowed into her. He wondered if she felt emotions as profound as he had when he touched her, and whether having the child grow inside her body was even more intense. "Hey, Marie, what didya think when you first had him?"
That got a wry smile. "You mean besides - gosh, he's blue? Just the usual things, I guess. I thought - is he healthy, is he OK? Then I thought - am I OK? Jean was just holding him, you know, staring at him for what seemed like forever. I'm sure she was as surprised as I was. But finally, she said he was OK, and so was I. Then I thought - I'm not ready for this. I don't want to be a mother. I don't want a kid. I don't know how to take care of him."
"You wanted to give him up?" Logan asked it with some surprise, because she seemed so natural with him and so attached to him now. Marie sighed, frowning. "Uh, not - not that you would or that you'd - "
"I thought about it," she whispered. "Jean said she would take him, take care of him, but - but he was *mine,* you know, and even if I was scared and not ready and didn't know what I was doing, I still couldn't leave him. I guess it just came down to that. He's my son, and I'm going to be the one taking care of him, even if I can't really do such a great job. I don't know if that's the right thing or not, but - but it's how I feel." Those words certainly resonated with Logan. "Sometimes I think that maybe this happened for a reason, maybe he was meant to come along now. I don't think - I wouldn't have called for you if it wasn't for Jules. I wouldn't have left the U.S., and sometimes I think that - oh, hey - have you heard anything? Did the Act pass?"
Logan shrugged. "Haven't been payin' attention to papers or the news."
"I bet it did," Marie whispered, shifting Jules slightly. "I hope they're all OK."
"Me too." Logan propped himself up a little so that she could see him when he said the next part. "But I'm gonna do more than hopin' for you and Jules. I'm gonna make sure you're OK, like I shoulda all along. I'm sorry I never called or wrote or - "
"Logan, don't. Just don't, OK? Don't beat yourself up about what happened. I don't blame you. It's not your fault and - and you're doing so much for us now. Don't feel bad about what happened, please."
One gloved hand reached out to stroke her cheek. He hadn't really touched her, hadn't kissed her, since the wedding. He knew that those things were far off - even if Marie were so inclined, it would be a long time before her still-healing body would permit them to consummate the marriage. Logan doubted that Marie was even thinking along those lines. She was still trying to heal, to process all that had happened, to cope. Despite her words, Logan thought that she would need quite some time to heal from the pain he'd inflicted by leaving her to her own devices for so long, for not being there, for not keeping his promise to her. She would never throw it up in his face, never berate him for it or complain, but he knew deep down, it must have hurt her. He didn't want to rush things, didn't want to do anything that would interfere with all of the kinds of healing Marie needed. "You're beautiful, you know that?"
Her look became suddenly playful. It took Logan's breath away. "Oh, you have to say that, you're my husband."
"That's right, I am." Before he quite knew what he was doing, he leaned over and planted a soft kiss on her head, protected by her hair. "And I'm gonna take good care of you, baby."
"You're doing really well so far. I'm glad - I don't know what Jules' biological father would be like, but I'm glad he's getting you for a dad to raise him. You'll be a great dad to him, I know you will."
"I'm gonna try," Logan answered honestly. "Whaddya wanna tell him 'bout all that - his real dad and stuff?"
"I think we have some time before we have to decide," Marie said, in a light, joking tone. "But, Logan, you will be his 'real' dad. You'll be the one raising him and it'll be legal too. I definitely want to tell him that - that his other dad is out there somewhere. Maybe he'll want to look for him one day. He's bound to notice he's a little different, that he doesn't look like a combination of you and me, and I don't want to lie to him. But I guess I don't want to tell him the whole story, either - how they took me, what they were trying to do, how they were hoping to learn to control us. I don't want him to have some kind of complex about it. I'll tell him that you're his father, that you saved his life, and that you chose him. You decided to make me your wife and him your son, and that means that you love us very much." Marie paused for a moment, flushing red. "Ah, you know, I, ah - "
Logan, for once, read her thoughts pretty accurately. "I do love you, Marie." She stopped chewing on her bottom lip and smiled. "We're gonna be OK. It's all gonna work out OK, you'll see."
Marie smiled warmly in return, and shifted Jules in her arms. "Thanks. I -I - you know I love you too, very much, right? I'm going to try to be a good mom and wife to you."
"You're doin' great on both counts so far." Jules squirmed, giving the signal that he was finished feeding for now. "Want me to grab you a clean diaper?"
"Yeah. Thanks." Marie watched as he shuffled out of the bunk and retrieved Jules' things. "You've got a good dad there," Marie whispered to Jules. "A very good dad."