Victor trudged wearily up the driveway toward the front door. He had been returning to check on Marie and Lucy regularly in the two weeks he had been out searching for Logan.
The Police had been hopeless, except to confirm what he had already figured out. They agreed Logan had been abducted, the roadworks were a ruse, the vehicles used either stolen or leased under fake company names. All the vehicles had been found spread out over the countryside, burnt out, over the next few days. The motorcycle wreckage was determined to be staged, the fire investigator confirming an accelerant had been used to compensate for the low fuel volume, and that there were no human remains in the debris. The barn was forensically analysed, the blood a match for Logan but also a second DNA profile, though no match could be found for that one.
Charles's own search had come up just as empty, he theorized that, whoever was holding Logan, had moved him underground - it was unlikely they could keep him unconscious for so long. So, the search had whittled down to just Victor, on the ground, starting where he lost the trail, and crossing everything that looked promising. He fed every possible lead back to the X-Men. So far, they had found two abandoned military complexes, though the second appeared to have been abandoned only very recently. Scents were still detectable to Victor, and he confirmed Logan had been there, possibly as recently as only a few days before. It was devastating, to be so close but so far away, obviously they knew he was looking for them and had gotten spooked.
Now he had to tell Marie.
Opening the front door, he smiled when he spotted Lucy colouring at the coffee table. "Hey Lucy-lu," he called softly, watching lovingly as the little girl leapt to her feet and ran to him for a hug.
"Not Lucy Lou, grandpa, Lucy Alice," the little girl reminded him.
"Well Miss Lucy Alice, I hope you have been behaving yourself?" he asked. With a giggle she confirmed she had been, before proceeding to tell him all about her day at kindy as he sat her back down in front of her colouring. He admired her picture before he asked if she wanted cookies - her answer of course was a resounding yes.
Fixing himself a coffee and grabbing Lucy's cookies he headed back to the living room. "Where's your mommy, sweetie?" he asked, as he set down the cookies beside the little girl and settled onto the couch.
"In the bathroom," Lucy replied without pause, as she continued colouring.
Fifteen minutes later, when Marie still hadn't emerged, Victor slipped silently out of the room and headed off to find her, silently praying he wouldn't need to call an ambulance when he found her... or worse.
"Marie?" he called softly, tapping on the bathroom door, when he got no reply, he spoke again a little louder, "I'm coming in Marie." The sight that met his eyes was not what he had been expecting, and for that he was glad, though it was just as heart breaking.
Marie was sitting on the floor, back to the vanity and knees tucked up to her chest, her tear streaked face lifted to regard him just as he spied the little strip of plastic in her hand. Kneeling in front of her he took the pregnancy test, turning it over to see the positive result, he closed his eyes as he felt her pain. Logan should be here for this; Logan should have been the first to know. She was sobbing again when he opened his eyes, and he dropped the test on the counter before pulling her into his lap, hugging her tightly.
"It's going to be okay Marie," Victor murmured, as he rocked her gently.
"No, it's not, how can this be alright!" she shouted, "They took my husband, and now a baby, and I've got college, and Lucy, what do I tell Lucy, what if we never find him! How do I tell Lucy her daddy isn't coming home, how do I raise this baby without his daddy... Oh god, I don't know what to do, I can't do this, I can't... I need Logan," she finished in a whisper, "I need him so badly it hurts just to breath without him, I can't do this, I can't..."
"You can Marie, you have to, Logan is counting on you, Lucy is counting on you, this baby is counting on you," Victor said, pushing her back so she could see the seriousness in his eyes. "I know how hard this is for you Marie, believe me I do, I've been where you are now, I've been this lost, I've been this devastated... I sat in that hospital room, holding that tiny baby in my hands, knowing my wife was dead, and my son was upstairs not knowing what was happening... I've said exactly the same things, I've thought exactly the same things, I know how hard this is, and it will be even harder if you lose that baby, you know that, I've felt that."
Marie broke down again, crying into his chest until it seemed she had no tears left to cry, and still they sat there on the floor holding each other.
"Thank you," Marie croaked eventually, "Thank you so much, for being here, for looking for him, it means so much to me," she said.
"I know, I’m here for you always, and for Lucy, and for the new baby, and when we find Logan, and we get him back to you all, you're going to be whole again, you just have to stay strong, your family isn't a chain Marie, you haven't lost a link and will be broken forever, you're a rope, all weaved in together, you've lost a thread, but when you get it back your rope will be even stronger than ever," Victor explained.
She smiled softly at his analogy. "Right now I feel like a rope fraying to pieces, and you're the knot holding us all together."
Victor chuckled. "I'm honestly not as together as I'm obviously making out, you just haven't seen my breakdowns yet... I came to tell you, we almost had him, we found another place they were holding him, they moved him on not even a week ago... so close but so far." Marie hugged him again, she shifted slightly a moment later and they both accepted Lucy into their little group hug.
"Hey Lucy," Marie murmured softly, "Daddy left us a present, in mommy's tummy, he planted a baby seed, you're going to have a little brother, or maybe a sister, would you like that?" she asked softly, combing her fingers through the little girls wild dark hair.
"When did daddy leave the present?" Lucy asked, had daddy been home, was he here now.
"Weeks and weeks ago sweetie, it's a surprise present, you have to plant the seed, in secret, and wait for it to grow," Marie replied, a smile on her lips, it wasn't an entirely untrue statement.
"How do you know it's growing?" Lucy asked curiously.
"Mommy can feel it, inside, it's only little now but it will grow big over the next several months," Marie explained.
"Mommy, did I grow from a baby seed?" she asked, turning more fully towards Marie.
"You did," Marie replied.
"Why did daddy give you his baby seed?" Lucy asked curiously.
"Because- because he loved me, lots and lots, and he wanted to make you, so we could both share that love with you," Marie answered.
"Then why do you need another baby?" Lucy asked suspiciously.
Marie laughed at her response. "Well you see, when we had you, then there was more love to go around, so we decided to grow another baby seed, so we can all love that baby too, do you want to love this baby?" Marie asked, "Will you love this baby, as much as you love daddy, and mommy?"
Lucy was quiet as she thought for a moment. "Yes," she finally replied, "But how will daddy love the baby if he doesn't know about it?"
Marie smiled sadly. "Daddy knows, and daddy loves him too, but we'll have to remind the baby of that a lot, so he knows how much his daddy loves him until he gets to meet him, okay?"
Lucy smiled up at her mommy brightly before she wriggled down until she was lying with her head in Marie's lap. "Daddy loves you too, so, so much, to the moon and back, times infinity!" she declared, wrapping her arms around Marie's waist and kissing her belly.
Marie sighed as she settled down on the couch at the end of the day. It had been a big day, graduation day, the day the last four years of her life had been leading up to.
And Logan was still nowhere to be found.
Absentmindedly she rubbed her bulging belly, at six months pregnant she was glad to be done, she could relax for the next few months before their little baby boy made his grand entrance. After they had moved at least. Their plan had been to return to the mansion after she graduated, her job offer from the Professor was still valid, despite everything that had happened. She was hoping that, sticking to the plan, would mean that if Logan was found, or escaped where he was being held, he could find them. ... 'When', her brain added, she was not giving up on him.
Lucy's kindy didn't finish for the term for another week and a half so, Victor was taking time off his search for Logan, to help her pack the house and move everything back to the mansion. He was currently in the kitchen making dinner with Lucy, without her dad around day to day the little girl took all the contact she could get with grandpa, staying glued to his side until he eventually pried her off when he left again for another few weeks or months of hunting.
His search was, and was not, going well. In the last six months he had found a further three underground labs, all of which had been raided by the X-Men. Logan wasn't in any of them but they weren't giving up hope. Victor told her that until he either found Logan alive, or found his body, he would not stop searching, though he regularly took breaks to check up on her and Lucy, which she was immensely grateful for.
Victor returned from his search again in September, this time staying at the mansion with them, to be on hand for Lucy's sixth birthday - her first without her daddy - and baby number two's birth.
Levi Jackson Creed, was born, September thirteenth at eleven fifty-eight pm, they joked about whether the little boy had been desperate to be born on Friday the thirteenth, or had been trying to avoid it. Thankfully he wasn't a terror child, as Marie had been worried might be the case, though she was still glad Victor stayed the first couple of months, to help her cope both with the emotional toll and the lack of sleep, and Lucy to adjust to the new baby. Levi was her little angel, if possible, even easier than Lucy, and he was an absolute spitting image of his father - that hurt almost as much as it helped.
"I can't believe you turned him down girl!" Jubilee cried, "The guy is seriously hot, who cares how much of a jerk he was in high school," she added, watching a dejected looking Remy wander away inside the school.
Marie took one look at him and knew it was a put on, the man wasn't above fishing for a sympathy fuck from the willing female population. "Jubilee... as much as I love you to bits, you just don't understand, Logan is out there, I'm not giving up on him, I didn't just turn him down because that's Remy LeBeau - the guy who tried to prank screw me in high school. It would be too much like cheating, I love Logan too much to do that, for his sake, for mine, for the kids."
"You're right, I don't understand," Jubilee replied, "I have never met a man who was that good a fuck it inspired that level of devotion, just don't blame me if one day far in the future, you get Logan back but your lady junk's all shrivelled up and died from lack of action!"
Shaking her head in amusement Marie replied, "You’re hilarious girl, don't worry, that area is totally fine, just please promise me you won't try and set me up again."
"Ever?" Jubilee asked exasperatedly.
"How about this," Marie replied, "As long as I'm wearing this ring-" she pointed to her wedding ring- "I'm not interested, not in dates, blind dates, hook ups, anything, the day I take this ring off is the day you can set me up with someone," Marie suggested.
"... That ring's never coming off is it?" Jubilee replied.
"Nope, I will go to my grave wearing this ring," Marie replied, deadly serious.
"Alright, I can take a hint, I just hope you get your man back before that day comes," Jubilee said sympathetically, leaning over to wrap her friend in a hug.
"Me too," Marie murmured softly.
"I'm just saying Marie, Levi is two, he doesn't need as much attention as you insist on giving him, and you have your own future to think about," Raven said, as Marie glared daggers at her mother.
God she was glad the kids were far enough away across the yard to not hear the conversation, no matter how many times she tried to shut her down she wouldn't stop. Unfortunately, Victor could hear loud and clear, and he was just as pissed as Marie was, though he was trying to cover it up for the sake of his grandchildren, who were currently begging him to play with them, not that they had to do much convincing there.
As Marie watched her children play happily, she couldn't help but consider her own childhood. She had been eight, the same age Lucy was now, when her parents had packed her off to boarding school, if her mother thought there was any chance in hell Marie was going to make the same mistake she could think again. And what kind of mother would she be to dump her two-year-old off on someone else? Not to mention abandon her husband!
Logan had only been gone three years, and she felt absolutely no desire to move on. She still wore the wedding ring he had slipped on her finger four years ago, and the engagement ring he had given her nine years before. She, and the children, still kissed goodnight the photo of daddy every night before bed, and she knew Lucy often sat in her window late at night and talked to the stars to share her news with her daddy.
"Mother, enough, I am not interested in either giving up my children, or marrying another man. Logan is my husband, and he will be until the day I die. I don't care how rich, good looking, or influential the Worthington family is, my answer is, and shall forever remain, no!" Marie declared forcefully, rising to leave the warmth of the heated patio to join her children playing in the snow.
"Hi Uncle Charlie, you wanted to see me?" Marie spoke softly, as she entered the cosy office.
"Marie my dear, come in, come in, would you like tea my dear?" Charles asked, as he set about pouring her a cup before she even answered, such was his nervousness at the topic he was about to raise.
Eyeing the cup curiously, Marie accepted before suggesting they skip the pleasantries, and he simply tell her what it was he was wanting to say.
"As astute as always Marie," Charles chuckled, "Sometimes it is hard to believe you aren't psychic yourself, you haven't been hiding a secondary mutations, have you?"
"You're stalling again Uncle," Marie replied with a grin, as she took a sip of her tea.
"Yes, my dear, I am, I don't think you will like my suggestion, but I think it is for the best, for you, and for the children, so I feel I must raise it. It has been four and a half years Marie, since Logan disappeared, while I enjoy having you here my dear, I can't help but feel you would be better able to properly grieve and come to terms with the past elsewhere, somewhere you weren't constantly surrounded by his memory," Charles began.
"Did my mother put you up to this!?" Marie demanded, "Is this another one of her attempts to get me to marry someone else?"
"Not at all Marie, in fact I'm not sure your mother would be terribly impressed with this idea herself. We are opening a second school, in Arizona, I was wondering if you would consider transferring to the teaching staff of the new school, I would prefer to keep the newer teachers under my supervision until they have some experience under their belts and, well, you aren't a 'new teacher' anymore, I am confident you can work well independently, and I feel you would be an asset to the new facility," Charles explained.
Marie was quiet for some time, staring out the office window thoughtfully as she sipped her tea. "I'll think about it," she finally murmured, "I wouldn't be making this decision unilaterally though, the children deserve a say in this too, but we will consider your proposal." With a soft, sad smile, Marie stood, hugging her Uncle at his prompting, before leaving the office in thought.
Both unaware of the dark eyes watching her leave.