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"Excuse me please."
She smothered her grin, smiling politely instead as the men before her did a double take and hurriedly moved out of her way, leaving a clear path for her to get to the bar. Taking a seat, she set down her only piece of luggage – the envelope that had brought her here – on the bar in front of her.
"You shouldn't be in here sweetheart," the bartender commented uncertainly, as he eyed her closely.
"Thank you for your concern but I’m good, can I get a coffee by any chance?" she asked with another smile, "Hold the alcohol thanks."
"Sure thing, I'll see what we've got," was the reply.
She watched in amusement as the bartender gathered up the nearby ashtrays on the bar top, shifting them to the other end of the bar – going so far as to tell a few smokers to move further down away from her – before flipping a switch to get several big extractor fans running. The added noise still wasn't enough to drown out the crowd as they roared, some in delight, some in anger, depending on how much money they were set to win or lose when her husband finished beating the crap out of the men pitted against him in the cage he was currently standing in.
"Thank you," she offered gratefully, as the bartender set down a hot mug of coffee in front of her a few moments later.
Not long after, the crowd gave a final roar as the fight in the cage came to an end. She didn't need to turn around to know who won, he never lost after all. The look on the bartenders face in front of her a moment later told her the champion had left the cage, and was heading for the bar. He must have caught her scent... well, at least he remembered that.
"What the fuck are you doing he--" he started to growl menacingly, as he stepped up to the bar next to her. His words cutting off abruptly as his eyes saw her bulging stomach and his mouth dropped open in stunned silence.
She gave him a minute to recover from his shock, eventually taking pity on him. "Don't look so surprised, sugar, it's not like we weren't 'active' enough for it to happen," she supplied with a grin. "I'd have told you sooner if you'd bothered to call home in the last seven months-” she paused to give him a chance to respond but he remained silent- "I found out two weeks after you left, I had assumed you'd be back in a couple of months like usual... but nothing, not even phone calls... then this-" she gestured to the envelope in front of her- "I'll sign it, if that's what you want, but I at least deserve to know why," she stated firmly, with more confidence and determination than she had felt in the last week since the divorce papers had been delivered to her.
Still in silence, Logan turned mutely to the bartender, who, without prompting, put a bottle on the counter in front of him. Forgoing the offered glass, Logan picked the bottle up and chugged down a substantial amount of bourbon, before setting the bottle back down. He gave Marie one last look, still clearly in shock, before he turned and walked back to the cage he was being called back to for the next fight.
"Well, that went better than it could have," she murmured, to no one in particular. "Leave it, he'll be back for more," she said to the bartender, when he reached to retrieve the bottle. With an acquiescing nod, he left it.
Eventually, she found her attention being finally drawn to the cage. The tone of the crowd had changed. The remaining snatches of Wolverine she had in her head telling her worriedly of the apprehension, and just a touch of fear, now coursing through the crowd. A dangerous combination, that often lead to people doing stupid things, and he didn't like her being in the middle of it. She saw the cause as soon as she turned around; Logan was in the cage, standing over two fallen challengers, as he pounded on a third... he was mad. He was beyond angry and into pure fury, as every line of his body screamed he was out for violence.
"Shit," Marie muttered, she had seen Logan in this mood before, occasionally on missions, and very rarely in the danger room. The only two people who stood a chance against him when he was in this frame of mind were Sabretooth, and her. He wouldn't hurt her. "He's going to kill someone if I don't stop this," she growled at the bartender, when he suddenly reached over the bar to catch her arm as she stood to make her way to the cage.
"What exactly do you think you can do to stop him?" the bartender asked incredulously.
"He won't hurt me," Marie stated firmly, removing his hand from her arm. At least that had always been the case before, she hoped it still was.
She pushed aside the bouncers, who were nervously second guessing their direction to get in the cage and break up the current fight. Not that it was a fight anymore, Logan was the only one still standing, pacing and raging in the cage, clearly looking for another challenger. As she stepped into the cage his eyes immediately fell on her, and he began to stalk her, a dark calculating look in his suddenly feral eyes. He was angry, and he clenched and unclenched his fists in anticipation, at least he still had the presence of mind not to release the claws. When he stopped in front of her and roared, she knew he was trying to intimidate her. 'Nice try Wolverine, try harder,' she thought, even as she gave no outward reaction. He was starting to calm down now, he always did when she was near.
After a few minutes of posturing and raging, he eventually collapsed to his knees in front of her, eyes closed, head bowed. Gently she lowered herself down, until she was kneeling in front of him. Ordinarily she would have crouched, so her feet were still under her if she needed to bolt suddenly – like he had taught her – but she couldn't do that holding up her full belly. She tenderly placed her hand on his head, running her gloved fingers through his hair in the way he had told her before that he liked, just trying to ground him. A moment later he shifted, leaning forward to rest his head on her shoulder, as his arms came up around her, and tenderly gathered her to him.
"I've missed you," he whispered, as his mouth began to place tender kisses along her shoulder and neck.
"Really? You have a funny way of showing it," she replied, more confused now than ever about the package that lead her to go looking for him.
He pulled away from her, still holding her. She could see a depth of love, confusion, hurt, all swirling in his eyes as his hand came up to cup her cheek. Then his nose twitched, in that adorable way it did when he was scenting something.
“You smell like him," he growled suddenly.
"Like who?" Marie asked, in confusion.
"Scott," Logan stated.
"Well, we did just spend four hours in the cockpit of the jet together, he flew me up here," Marie confirmed, Logan just grunted in acknowledgment, before he suddenly pulled her toward him and he was kissing her. She let herself get pulled into the kiss for long minutes, she had missed this, then his mouth left hers and began to trail her jaw and down her neck.
"Logan, stop... Logan I mean it, stop... not here," she added, when he finally allowed her to pull his head back, gesturing to the crowd around them, watching intently, clearly hoping to get another kind of show now that the fighting was over.
With a growl at the crowd, Logan stood to his feet, then gently helped her up, and down the few steps out of the cage. He threw on his clothes, as he waited for his money from the fights, grabbed his bottle of booze, then dragged Marie out of the bar after him. Barely giving her enough time to grab the envelope she had left sitting on the bar, next to Logan's bottle.
Without a word, he lifted her into his truck, it had been a gift to him from the Professor, when they got married three years earlier. After a short drive, Logan pulled into the driveway of a small house on the edge of town. Cutting the engine he got out, again helping Marie out of the truck, before he led her carefully up the icy walk. Once they were inside he turned away from her, he was tense again; angry, worried. Giving him a minute to collect himself Marie took a seat on the sofa, thankful for the coffee she had had at the bar, because she was exhausted.
"You have to start talking some time sugar, we can't just sit around ignoring each other," Marie eventually said, more to break the uncomfortable silence than anything else.
"I don't know what to say," Logan replied, still with his back to her.
"Alright, let's start with why you left this time... I thought it was just another regular 'following up leads' trip, was I wrong?" Marie asked. Had she missed something when he left? She had thought everything was fine between them, could she have prevented this whole turn of events if she had just paid more attention? God if she had... she felt like a terrible wife–
"That's all it was, the Professor gave me a location, I was going to check it out, that was it, there were some leads from there, I wanted to follow them up, so... I called home, to tell you I would be away for a few more weeks, only... you weren't there,” Logan replied.
"When was that?" Marie asked curiously. She had barely left the mansion in months, and those few times she had hadn't been at the times Logan usually called when he was away.
"... May, about two months after I left," Logan replied coolly.
"Hm, that's weird, I was having really bad morning sickness through May, didn't really get out much--" Marie began to explain. Maybe she had been in the med lab, or the kitchen, or puking her guts out in the bathroom, and missed his call.
"That's not what Jean said," Logan scoffed indignantly.
"Jean?" Marie queried in confusion.
"She answered the phone, in our room, said she heard it from the hall and figured it was me, so she came to answer it, so I wouldn't worry about it not being answered... she said there was a new guy... that you and him had... gone to see a movie... I called the next night, you were out somewhere else, I called a week later, you were out again... I called six times over three weeks, you were always out somewhere, with that asshole... at the end of the three weeks, Jean said she suspected you might be cheating on me..." Logan admitted in barely a whisper.
"No! No Logan, never, I would never do that, I--" he cut her off again.
"I didn't know what to do, so I figured, I'd follow up on those leads, then call again, see what was going on... I called at the beginning of August... no answer in our bedroom, I eventually managed to get Jean to answer, she was acting really cagey, when I asked where you were she said you were in the med lab, at first I was worried, thought you might be hurt, then she said there was a new doctor, and you'd been going to see him, a lot, alone... and the red eyed freak was still spending a lot of time with you too... I tried to call you, every day for two weeks, most of the calls went unanswered, the few that were answered, weren't answered by you... you were always out somewhere, or in the med lab... By the beginning of October, I figured that was it, I thought about going back and talking to you face to face but... I couldn't do it... so I saw a lawyer and got them to send the papers.
“I knew I wasn't good enough for you, I knew you'd realise eventually that you deserved better than me, that you'd leave me... I didn't... I couldn't face that, I wanted to remember you the way I saw you last time, smiling and happy, and telling me you'd miss me... I didn't want a memory of you telling me to leave, or seeing you happy with someone else, or even worse- smelling like lies and another man..." Logan broke off, head bowed miserably, even as he still refused to look at her.
He could probably scent her tears, and she really didn't care, she was too busy thinking over the story he had told her. It didn't make sense, none of it. She hadn't even left the mansion in months, much to Jubilee's horror; shopping wasn't done right if it was online apparently. As for Remy, one of the X-Men's new recruits and the only person she knew with 'red eyes', they barely talked, they were 'friends' by virtue of having the same mutual friends. The only time they had been to a movie 'together' was when a whole group of the junior X-Men had taken a group of students to see some movie the kids wanted to watch. And the new doctor, Hank... why had Jean made it sound like she was having an affair!? First off, with Hank? The guy was awesome but definitely not her type, and Jean damn well knew the whole reason he had been brought in was specifically to handle her pregnancy because Jean herself had been difficult...
"Logan did... did you only talk to Jean?" Marie asked suddenly, a thought worming it's way into her head.
Logan paused for a moment, clearly thinking. "Yeah, except one time, I got one of the students, they said 'Miss Rogue was in the med lab', I- I kind of hung up then," he admitted.
"... Look, Logan, I don't know why Jean told you those things, or why the hell she made it sound like- I would never do that to you Logan, you are more than enough for me sugar, I love you too much to ever hurt you like that, or risk losing you, I'm miserable without you Logan, just like you are without me, I only let you go when I do because I know you need that time to yourself, to recharge, and I know you'll always come back to me... The 'red eyed freak', as you termed him, is Remy, the only time I've ever been out with him has been when we've been out with a group of mutual friends, the only time we went to the movies together, was as supervisors of a student bloc. The new doctor is Hank, he's seven foot tall and covered in blue fur, the Professor brought him in specifically to help me with my pregnancy after Jean got weird about dealing with the baby, and it started making me uncomfortable."
As Marie explained, she watched Logan slowly relax. Eventually turning toward her, studying her face as she spoke, clearly trying to get a read on how truthful she was being.
"Why would Jean say that shit then?" Logan demanded gruffly, all his senses telling him Marie was telling the truth.
"I don't know Logan, I don't even know when she would have been in our room to answer our phone... I haven't even left the mansion since the end of August, getting in the cars was too uncomfortable, and through May my morning sickness was so bad I could barely get out of our room, I guess Jean was in our room some then, bringing me anti-nausea meds, and stuff to help me sleep... maybe...
“Her and Scott broke up at the end of May, he wanted to set a wedding date, she didn't, in the ensuing argument she admitted to cheating, said she didn't want to get married until she had decided it was actually him she wanted to be with, he pointed out she 'decided that' when they got engaged, she disagreed, he asked for his ring back... she's been acting strangely since then, at first I thought she was just trying to figure stuff out in her head but then... the weird comments started, especially at the prenatal checks.
“She did a scan of our baby, in July, and the first words out of her mouth were 'it's not too late to abort, being a single mother's hard', and I just... I mean, we're married, I'm not a single mother, sure you weren't there but I knew- you were coming back and... I went to the Professor that same day and said I would be finding a doctor offsite to handle the pregnancy, when I told him what happened he agreed Jean's comments were inappropriate, said he would talk to her, he suggested Hank..." Marie was sobbing by the time she was finished, this whole situation was too much for her to deal with in her current state.
"... Jean and Scott broke up... in May?... D- do you think she's trying to break us up too?" Logan asked, brow furrowed in confused thought, it didn't make sense but...
"I don't know... she always complained you stopped flirting with her when me and you got together, maybe she wasn't joking like I thought she was," Marie replied, sniffling miserably. Logan seemed to realise her fragile emotional state then, and knelt down in front of her, wrapping his arms around her so she could sob onto his shoulder.
"There's only one way to find out," he eventually responded, once Marie's sobs had stopped, as he gently wiped away her tears. "You swear to me nothing's happened, you still love me, you still want me?" he asked, his tone almost begging, as his own insecurities shone through the cracks in his facade.
"I swear Logan, nothing's happened except that I've missed you every second of every day, I love you more than life itself, and I want you forever and always," Marie declared, her fingers finding the wedding band still on his finger as her eyes shone brightly and she smiled at him.
Pressing a kiss to her forehead Logan murmured, "I've missed you too darlin, I love you, and I want you for as long as you'll have me, I'll never stop loving you darlin." With a final kiss he moved away from her, as she settled herself more comfortably onto the sofa, he began to hunt around for his phone. Pulling it out, he immediately dialled the Professor's emergency after hours number.
"Chuck," Logan said, as soon as the phone was answered, "Where's Jean?" he demanded.
"I believe she is in her room, she is asleep, do you want me to call her down?" the Professor asked, sounding confused and not fully awake.
"No, but I want you to listen, I'm going to call mine and Rogue's extension, I have a feeling shit's about to get hairy," Logan said, as he hit the relevant button on his phone to add another line to the call, and keyed in his contact shortcut to ring 'home' - his and Marie's direct dial. After a few rings, the line was answered.
"Logan? Is that you?" Jean's voice came across the line.
"Where's Marie?" Logan replied gruffly.
"I- I don't know Logan, she's not here, she went out earlier today, she isn't back yet," Jean replied, in a sympathetic tone.
"Where did she go? Who was she with?" Logan asked bluntly.
"I don't know where she went, and I'm not sure who she was with, it was a guy, six foot, dark hair, glasses," Jean replied nonchalantly.
"How much of that was the truth Chuck?" Logan demanded of the calls other, though currently silent, participant.
"Jean knew it was Scott that flew Rogue out, it is true she didn't know where Rogue was going, we opted to keep that information private," Charles replied, concern evident in his voice, he was starting to catch on to what Logan had begun to suspect.
"And Chuck, what would you say Marie's relationship is with this new guy, 'Remy'?" Logan asked, noting Jean's sudden silence.
"I wouldn't have thought it was more than professional, passing acquaintance, Rogue has been rather distracted by other factors in the time leading up to his arrival and since he arrived," Charles responded, alluding to the pregnancy Logan was now aware of.
"What would you say Marie's personal life's been like while I've been gone, Chuck? She been getting out and about, going to the movies, clubbing, out for dinner with her friends?" Logan asked pointedly.
"Quite the opposite in fact, in the last several months in particular I don't believe she has been off the mansion grounds at all, until she flew out with Scott this afternoon that is," Charles added.
"And why did Jeannie get dumped as Marie's doctor?" Logan asked, catching the sudden quick intake of breath from Jean.
"Comments were made by Jean, about the baby, that made Rogue uncomfortable, she came to see me about engaging a new doctor for her pregnancy, Dr Henry McCoy was brought in to oversee the rest of the pregnancy," Charles replied.
"Where is Jean right now Charles?" Logan suddenly asked again.
"Her room still," Charles answered, an obvious question in his tone.
"Jean, how are you answering the extension for Marie's room in your room?" Logan queried.
Jean stuttered for a moment, until Charles spoke up, reminding her it wouldn't be difficult to have the mansions technicians work out. "I redirected that extension... to my cell phone," she eventually admitted, in little more than a whisper.
"You bitch!" Marie exclaimed, for the first time making her presence in the conversation known. "You lying, backstabbing, home wrecking, two-faced, whore of a bitch!" Marie fumed, drawing an amused grin out of Logan as he held the phone closer to Marie so Jean could get the full brunt of Marie's reaction. "It wasn't enough that you fucked up your own relationship huh, you're going to try and take mine down too? Or did you want Logan, is that it? Pissed you off that Logan was happy with me, did it? I swear to god Jean if I ever see you again I'm going to punch your fucking face through the back of your skull, you absolute piece of shit, and even that will be too good for you, you cunty witch, you-"
"Marie, it's okay Marie, calm down," Logan interrupted, realizing she had worked herself up to almost panic attack levels of distress. He immediately set the phone down, and wrapped his arms around her again as she began to sob again.
When he turned his attention back to the conversation still going on in the conference call coming through his cells speaker he scowled, listening to Jean's pathetic excuses for why she did what she did. He had had enough.
"She's gone by the time we get back there Charles, I'll kill her if I see her, and can you send Scott back with the jet to bring us home, I don't want Marie driving all that way," Logan spoke, Marie still wrapped in his arms.
"Scott is still there, we felt it was better for him to remain in the area, I'll text you the coordinates and let him know you will be there shortly," Charles assured Logan, before they ended their conversation.
Six hours later, the jet touched down back at the mansion. Logan could still scent Jean in the area but Charles assured him she wasn't there. He had had her move into his apartment in the city until they could 'sort' the situation; right now their opinions on the best way to 'sort' the situation were miles, deadly miles, apart.
After finally getting an explanation out of Logan and Marie as to what had been happening, Scott too was furious. Even though he had accepted months ago that he and Jean were over, the fact she had done something so horrible, to the girl he had come to view as his 'little sister' over the last five years of their association, was unforgivable as far as he was concerned. He found himself empathizing with Logan, as strange as that felt, even agreeing with him that Jean really shouldn't come back.
When they finally got up to their room, some time around midday, Logan drew Marie to him, kissing her again deeply. He had taken the envelope, containing the divorce papers, and burned it before they had left the house he had been renting in Canada. He felt like such an idiot for having fallen for Jean's bullshit, and he would be eternally grateful Marie had bigger balls than he did and had opted to face him, instead of running and hiding like he had. His hold on Marie was impeded some by her full round belly, and he let his hands sneak up under her shirt and roam the soft, smooth surface.
"So," Marie eventually murmured through the kiss, prompting him to move his lips away from hers so she could speak. "You haven't said anything about this yet," she reminded him, pressing his hand against her belly, in a spot he could feel something gently moving under the surface.
"Hm, no I haven't," he agreed, feeling the grin breaking out, leading him to give up kissing her all together. "I'm ecstatic darlin, you made me the happiest man alive, and you look sexy as hell with my baby inside of you," he murmured. "But you really need to get some sleep, so come on, time for bed," he added, scooping her up and carrying her to the already rumpled bed. She never made the bed, jokingly citing childhood trauma of the 'have you cleaned you room' variety, he had learned to live with it.
Five weeks, and seven hours of labour later, he and Marie welcomed their first baby; A little boy, with his daddy's hair, and his mommy's eyes.
He was perfect, and as Logan watched his son sleep - his nose still squashed and his eyes tight shut against the bright lights around him – he thanked who, or what ever was watching over him that day only a few short weeks ago when he came so close to losing his entire world, and vowed, from now on, he would be more like Marie, his kickass little lady who never let anything stop her from getting exactly what she wanted.
And he had finally accepted, that was him.