It had been three long and torturous years since she had last seen her husband. She had searched the world over countless times, but no matter how many top secret government laboratories she infiltrated or hidden military bases she searched, he was never there. She knew that his absence was a big deal when even their enemy showed an interest in his disappearance. For the first time in nearly half a century, Charles and Erik found themselves on the same side as they used their combined forces to determine Logan’s location before a new and improved Weapon X was unleashed on an unsuspecting populace.
Still, even with all their resources, they were no closer to finding Logan than when he had offered himself to the Black Ops forces in place of Scott who had been their original target.
And every day since then, Marie had cursed Logan for leaving her alone. Rationally, she knew that he had expected to either escape or be rescued in a matter of days, but the men who had taken him had hidden him well. Which left Marie alone with only the vague sense of Logan screaming deep in her mind when the rest of the world was silent.
“C’ I haf a stowy?”
As well as Braeden. Physical proof that her three years with Logan hadn’t been a wonderful dream. Barely more than two and a half years old, Braeden was a miniature version of Logan right down to his little arching eyebrow.
Holding out her arms, Marie waited for her little boy to bound onto her lap before closing her arms around him and hugging him close. “An’ just what kind o’ story would ya like, baby?”
Braeden furrowed his brows, his small nose scrunching up as he wracked his memory of all the different stories his momma had told him. “Hear ‘bout you meetin’ Dadda.”
“That one again?” Marie teased, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “Ya know, one day Ah’m gonna make ya tell me the story instead. Ya probably know it just as well as me.”
“You tell!” Braeden insisted, his small hands slapping down on Marie’s which were linked over his stomach.
So once again Marie began to tell Braeden of that fateful night in Laughlin City more than six years before. Her mind, though, wasn’t on the story she was repeating from memory. Instead it was on the conversation that she’d had with Scott earlier in the day.
“We may have found Logan,” the X-Men’s fearless leader told her.
“That’s what ya say every time,” Marie joked mirthlessly as she put together Braeden’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “What makes this time any different?”
Two words told Marie everything she needed to know.
“Video confirmation. I’ve seen him, Marie,” Scott insisted, his voice leaving no room for argument. “Bobby and St. John were doing recon in the mountains near where you are and they stumbled across some hidden structure that we can’t even pick up on our satellite sources. We did some more digging, tapped into their security footage and saw Logan. He’s alive, Marie.”
Marie took a deep breath, to calm herself so that she wouldn’t break down in front of Braeden who was sitting in his booster chair having a conversation with a rumpled teddy bear. “Ah’ve been tellin’ ya that all along. Ah’d know right away if Logan was dead. So why don’t ya have him yet? If ya know where Logan is why don’t ya have him?”
“Because this place is very heavily fortified, Marie. We have to do this right if we’re going to stand a chance of getting Logan out of there,” Scott explained to her over the phone.
“So when are ya goin’ ta get him?” Marie asked, smiling fondly at her son as she set the sandwich down in front of him. “It had better be damn soon, Scooter.”
“Tomorrow,” Scott confirmed without hesitation. “Kitty will swing by on the chopper to get you and Braeden and bring you back to the mansion while we go get Logan.”
“The fuck ya will!” Marie shouted instantly, startling Braeden who looked up at her with wide hazel eyes. His father’s eyes. “Sorry, sweety. Momma said a bad word.” Her attention then went immediately back to Scott. “What yer gonna do is send Kitty here fer Braeden then you guys are gonna swing by on that fancy jet of yers and come get me. Ah’m goin’ with ya ta get Logan. Ah want him back with me soon as possible.”
“No, Scott,” Marie said emphatically. “Ah’m goin’. Whatever’s happened ta Logan is bad, we both know that. So he’s gonna be freaked and he probably won’t take too kindly to a bunch o’ people showing up in leather and draggin’ him t’ another prison. Ya need me there ta keep Logan calm. He’ll know it’s me. He needs me. Ya know that, Scott.”
Since he did know that, just as well as Marie did, Scott had finally consented to bringing Marie on the rescue mission even though she hadn’t suited up in the leather since she had found out she was pregnant three months before Logan disappeared. Logan wouldn’t let her. He had refused to let anything happen to his family. The first nine months of their search for Logan, Marie had been sidelined, first by her pregnancy then later until Braeden was three months old. The labour had been difficult, both Marie and Braeden nearly losing their lives in the process. Only Hank’s brilliant medical expertise had saved them. Marie had been in a coma for two days due to the amount of blood she had lost during the delivery and Braeden hadn’t been allowed out of the medlab for the first month and a half of his life. It had been another six weeks before Hank gave the okay for Marie to take the infant with her on her search for Logan, though he hadn’t been allowed on a plane until he was seven months old.
But by then Scott and the rest of the X-Men had exhausted most of the overseas bases so there wasn’t much left for Marie to do. Still, every time they went out, Marie insisted on being with them even if all she did was sift through hours of transcripts and computer files for any mention of Logan. At two and a half years, Braeden was probably the most well travelled toddler on the planet.
By the time Marie finished telling Braeden about the night she and Logan had met, naturally leaving out the part about him nearly leaving her out in the middle of nowhere, her little boy was sound asleep. With an ease she had developed in her twenty-nine months as a mother, Marie rose from the overstuffed chair without disturbing Braeden’s slumber. She padded across the hardwood floor towards Braeden’s small bedroom. When they had bought the house a month into her pregnancy, Logan had had full intentions of adding onto the wood cabin located just to the south of Jasper National Park. The two of them had wanted to have a large family, something that would be difficult to manage in the two bedroom home they had bought.
Just as carefully as she had rose from the chair, Marie laid Braeden down in his crib. The boy automatically rolled onto his stomach, curling his hands one on either side of his head. It was the exact same way that Logan himself slept, though Marie normally ended up tucked under his right arm in place of the teddy bear Braeden clutched to him.
“Yer daddy’s gonna be home real soon,” Marie murmured, lightly running her fingers through her son’s dark hair. “This time tomorrow, he’ll be back home with us. Where he belongs.”
Braeden only slept on, oblivious to the world around him.
“Night, night, baby. Yer Dadda an’ Ah love ya,” Marie whispered before heading out of the room, pausing only long enough to turn on the night light.
As was her custom, Marie left the door half opened as she went back out into the main area of the small cabin that she had Braeden called home. They had only been living there full time for about eight months, but it was definitely home more of a home to Marie than the mansion had ever been. Marie felt closer to Logan now that she and Braeden were living at the cabin.
“Come on, Scooter, time fer ya ta go out,” Marie said as she passed the fireplace, Logan’s giant Tibetan mastiff lounging in front of the flames.
Scooter had been adopted from a nearby animal shelter not long after they had purchased their home. Logan had wanted Marie to be protected even if he wasn’t there and Scooter had been chosen as that protector. Marie had no doubt in her mind that the loyal animal would die for her son if the need be. Right from the start, Scooter had taken to Braeden, protecting the infant from all threats.
With a consenting yelp, Scooter bolted up on all fours, reaching the door before Marie did.
“Ya’ve got ten minutes, Scooter,” Marie informed the dog as she opened the door. “Ah’ve got ta get ta bed early tonight so no chasin’ any squirrels.”
Scooter gave her an annoyed look before charging out of the house and into their extensive yard. Once Scooter disappeared into the darkness, Marie shut the door and made her way back into the living room to clean up before going to bed. It would be an early start in the morning, but by nightfall she would have Logan with her once again. That was all that mattered to Marie.
“Just hold on a little longer, sugah,” Marie murmured as she picked up a picture of her and Logan from the mantle. It had been taken at their wedding more than four years before. Kitty had snuck up on them when they were taking a moment for themselves and snapped the picture as they shared a few stolen kisses. That picture had turned out better than any of the professional ones that Marie had conned Logan into getting taken just after the ceremony and had been the only one worthy of a frame.
As she moved about the cabin, tidying up Braeden’s toys which were scattered on every available flat surface, Marie felt a tingling in the pit of her stomach. She paused immediately and placed a hand over the sensation. It was the same feeling she would always get when Logan was near, but it was impossible. There was no way that the vibrations could mean that Logan was there. He was still trapped in that vile facility. It was only wishful thinking on her part. Marie was imagining the sensation since she knew that soon it would be a regular part of her life once again. Once they rescued Logan the following morning.
“Knock it off, kiddo,” Marie mumbled to herself as she hugged Braeden’s toy bulldozer to her chest. “Yer overreactin’. Logan’s not here. Not yet. Ya’ve just gotta stick it out a little longer then he’ll be back home where he belongs.”
The vibrating sensation in her stomach soon travelled to the base of her spine, sending chills up and down her back. Flopping down on her favourite chair, Marie breathed deeply, willing the feeling to go away. There was no way Logan could be there. He was too far away. Nearly fifty miles, straight into the heart of the Rockies.
Still, what she was feeling was far too real. It was something she had waited over three years to experience.
Scooter’s frantic barking had Marie on her feet in an instant. Mentally cursing herself for being so jumpy, she made her way to the front door. The dog had discovered some other creature out there in the night and wanted to play with it. Scooter was the only dog Marie knew of that would rather play with rabbits than hunt them. Braeden thought it was immensely hilarious and could spend hours on the porch watching the dog’s antics.
With a scowl on her face, Marie yanked open the front door. “Scooter, Ah thought Ah told ya--”
And felt as though she had been punched in the stomach.
Before she could even fully comprehend what was happening, Logan’s eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped forward into Marie’s waiting arms. Even with the powerful strength she had inherited from Carol Danvers, Marie still found herself dropping to her knees as Logan’s weight pulled her down. She was too shocked to remain standing.
Her arms wrapped tightly around Logan’s lean torso, she pressed her face into the crook of his shoulder and sobbed quietly. He was home. After three long years he was finally home. And he was in her arms.
Scooter butted his head against her hip, bringing Marie back to reality. Still keeping a firm grip on Logan, she sat back on heels in order to get a better leverage to lift him from the ground. Marie needed to get him into bed so that she could examine him for any type of injury even though the rational part of her mind-- which was currently being overrun by her emotions --reminded her that he would heal from any wound. Had she not been so relieved to have Logan back safe with her, Marie was sure that she would have found the image of her carrying Logan’s large frame towards her bedroom an odd one. Her enhanced musculature may have given her the ability to carry him, but she was still a great deal smaller than him and the knuckles of his right hand nearly dragged on the ground.
“Momma, what’s goin’ on?” Braeden mumbled, poking his head out of the door just as Marie was about to disappear into her and Logan’s room.
“Sweety, Ah need ya ta go shut the front door. Lock it too if ya can,” Marie called over her shoulder as she gently set Logan down on the edge of the bed.
Marie was vaguely aware of Braeden’s footsteps scurrying across the hardwood flooring as she gazed down at Logan’s face. Aside from the shorter hair and the lack of the muttonchop, he looked no different than the day she had watched him and Scott climb aboard the Blackbird all those years ago.
“How on earth did ya find me, sugah?” Marie murmured as she lightly ran her fingers through his disheveled hair.
As she reached over to turn on the bedside lamp, Marie heard Braeden’s footsteps nearing the bedroom door. She knew that she should probably tell him to go back to bed, but she couldn’t find her voice. Her gaze was locked on Logan’s face, marveling at the fact that he was really there and solid beneath her touch.
“Who’s on da bed, Momma?” Braeden asked nervously and Marie realized that she blocking her son’s view of his father’s face.
Marie turned to Braeden with a teary smile and held out and arm towards him, her other one lightly resting on Logan’s chest. “Come here, baby. Ah have a very big surprise fer ya.”
Obviously still a little nervous, Braeden nonetheless crossed the distance that separated them and grabbed hold of Marie’s hand, allowing her to pull him forward. She could tell the exact instant that he recognized Logan’s face because his eyes grew to the size of saucers.
“Dat’s Dadda,” he whispered breathlessly, looking up at Marie for confirmation.
“Yer right, sweety. That’s Dadda,” Marie told him, pulling Braeden’s unresisting body onto her lap. “Dadda found his way home t’ us. Now Ah need ya ta do somethin’ very important, Braeden. Ah need ya ta go an’ get the phone from wherever ya hid it this afternoon. Momma needs ta call Grampa Chuckie and tell him what’s happened.”
His eyes trained on Logan’s face, Braeden nodded his head. “‘Kay.” Then he slid off her lap and disappeared out into the living room.
“Ah’ll be right back, sugah,” Marie whispered in Logan’s ear. She pressed a kiss to his temple then gracefully rose from the bed.
Marie gaze never wavered from Logan’s face as she made her way to the door. A part of her was terrified that he would disappear as soon as she looked away. She waited by the doorway for Braeden to arrive with the phone then knelt down in front of him.
“Here’s da phone, Momma,” Braeden said as he dropped the cordless into Marie’s open palm.
Closing her fingers around the phone, Marie lightly cupped her son’s cheek. “Braeden, can ya go sit with Dadda right now while Ah call Grampa Chuckie an’ get the medicine box?”
Marie watched as Braeden practically vaulted towards the bed without even answering her. He clambered on and sat down cross-legged next to Logan’s hip, his eyes trained on Logan’s large hand. This was the first time Braeden had ever seen his father outside of a photograph, a moment that Marie knew would stay with her little boy for the rest of his life.
Dialing from memory, Marie raised the phone to her ear as she made her way towards the bathroom. She had gotten a brief look at Logan and from what she could see it was mostly dirt that covered his naked body. However, she was unsure of whether there were injuries hidden under the dirt so she thought it best to retrieve the fully stocked first aid kit she had as well as a wet towel to clean away at least some of the dirt.
“Hello....?” came the sleepy voice on the other end, startling Marie.
“Marie?” Charles asked, sounding much more alert than he had a moment before. “What is happening?”
Holding the phone between her cheek and her shoulder, Marie dropped a towel into the sink and turned on the faucet. “Yer never gonna believe me, Professor. Hell, Ah’m not even fully sure if Ah’m dreaming or not. It just doesn’t seem real. But it is. It really is.”
“Marie, what has happened?” the aging mutant questioned amidst the sound of rustling sheets.
“Logan’s here,” Marie chirped, grinning broadly as the words crossed her lips. “Ah went ta let Scooter in a few minutes ago an’ there he was.”
“Are you certain it is Logan?”
Marie scowled slightly as she wrung out the soaked towel. “Of course it’s Logan. Ah’d know if it wasn’t him.”
“Forgive me, Marie. It is only that this is quite a shock,” Charles confessed.
“Yer tellin’ me,” Marie chuckled, padding back towards her bedroom. She paused momentarily when she caught sight of Scooter pacing back and forth before the front door, guarding over her family. “It is him, though, which means that there’s no need fer the rescue mission tomorrow. But could ya send someone up here anyway just ta make sure that no one’s lookin’ fer Logan?”
“Yes, of course, Marie. I will send Scott and Kitty to get you, Logan and Braeden and bring you back to the mansion,” Charles offered.
To which Marie immediately shook her head. “No. Ah’d rather just stay here till Ah know what frame o’ mind Logan’s in. Ah don’t want t’ overwhelm his senses right now. Once he’s feelin’ up t’ it we’ll come ta the mansion so that Hank can check him out.”
“Are you certain, Marie?”
Smiling fondly at Braeden who was busy telling Logan about his and Scooter’s adventure in the forest the day before even though his daddy was still unconscious. “Ah’m sure, Professor.”
Winding up her conversation with Charles, Marie dropped the phone onto the dresser as she made her way towards the bed. Marie knelt down next to Braeden and set the first aid kit down on the nightstand, keeping hold of the wet towel.
“I’s telling Dadda ‘bout the bunny from yesterday,” Braeden explained as Marie smoothed the hair away from his forehead.
Marie pressed a kiss to his cheek. “That’s good, sweetheart. Now how ‘bout ya go back ta bed. Ah’m gonna clean Dadda up then Ah’m gonna go ta bed too.”
Braeden shook his head furiously, launching himself at Logan and wrapping his tiny arms about his chest. “No! I say wif you an’ Dadda!”
“No! Not weavin’ Dadda,” the tyke insisted, shaking his head.
Pursing her lips, Marie nodded her head. She knew how stubborn Braeden was, he took after his father, after all. There was no way she was going to get him to leave the room as long as Logan was in there. It would be impossible. Braeden had been waiting his whole life for his Dadda to come home and now that Logan was really there, there was no way he was going to go anywhere.
“Okay, kiddo, ya can stay with me an’ Dadda,” Marie consented, rubbing his back in a soothing manner. “But Ah need ya ta move a bit so Ah can clean Dadda up a bit. He looks worse than ya after ya an’ Scooter have been playin’ in that dirt pile out back.”
In one quick bound, Braeden was crouched down on the far side of Logan. He kept his eyes trained on Logan as Marie used the wet towel to scrub the dirt from Logan’s chest. It may have been three years since she had last set eyes on him, but Marie still knew every single line of his body and could tell where the changes were. She could see where he had lost weight and where his muscles had been enhanced. Marie could also tell that there was something else embedded deep within Logan’s forearms besides the original set of adamantium blades.
“What the hell did they do ta ya, sugah?” Marie murmured, feeling a slight protusion on the inside of Logan’s right palm which shouldn’t have been there. Reaching over to his body for his left hand, Marie felt the exact same protusion.
“No swearin’,” Braeden reprimanded her as he retook possession of Logan’s left hand from Marie. Placing the limb, palm up, on his lap, Braeden took his own hand and placed it overtop, his eyes widening when he saw the difference between the size of their hands. “Dadda smells wike home.”
Marie tore her eyes away from what looked like a small tattoo on Logan’s hip buried beneath layers of dirt and dried blood to smile over at her son. “Ah always thought that Dadda smelled like leather an’ the wind wi’ just a little bit o’ cigar smoke.”
“Nope. It’s home. Dadda smells wike home,” Braeden informed her. He paused for a moment then turned his large hazel eyes on Marie. “Dadda smells wike you.”
That announcement brought fresh tears to Marie’s eyes. It was the same thing that Logan had told her countless times as they lay wrapped in each others arms, Logan still often buried deep within her. Logan’s explanation was that they had marked each other and that the mark would last for as long as they were both alive. Without Logan’s heightened scenes to confirm his words, Marie could only go on what he told her. Now Braeden was telling her the exact same thing without any prompting from anyone. Braeden had inherited Logan’s acute senses so Marie knew that there was truth to his words even though his age prevented him from fully understanding the situation.
“... Ree....” Logan moaned, his neck arching as his head flopped in her direction. His eyes began to flutter and Marie could make out the briefest hint of the golden and green flecks that surrounded his pupils.
“Ya finally got it all out, sugah,” Marie murmured, leaning over to brush a kiss against his forehead.
“Home,” he rasped out, his voice barely more than a whisper.
Angling her head so that she could look into Logan’s barely open eyes, Marie nodded her head. “That’s right, Logan. Yer home now. Ya found us. Now Ah want ya ta get some rest. Just sleep. Braeden an’ Ah will be here when ya wake up.”
Marie felt the bed shake as Braeden scrambled off then he bolted from the room. While the little boy’s actions confused her, Marie couldn’t take the time to worry about it. Logan was her main concern. He had been through untold horrors over the past three years and needed her full attention. Her smile grew when she felt Logan’s hand fumble for her own which was resting on his chest. She turned her hand over, linking her fingers with his and brought their joined hands to her lips, pressing a kiss to Logan’s knuckles.
“Getted Freedwick fer Dadda,” Braeden announced as he scampered back into the room. “Freedwick will help him sweep.”
Wedging himself onto Marie’s lap and in Logan’s line of sight, Braeden settled the rumpled teddy bear next to his father on the bed. The bear was Braeden’s most cherished possession because it had been from Logan. They day that Jean had confirmed Marie’s pregnancy, Logan had gone out and purchased the teddy bear even though it meant braving a toy store filled with screaming children.
Marie could feel the shift in emotions in Logan has he beheld his son for the first time. His eyes, which were still opened only a fraction, glazed over with tears and he began to move his free hand towards the little boy. Taking the hint, Braeden climbed on to the bed and burrowed himself against his father’s chest. Logan squeezed his eyes shut, his had coming to rest on the back of Braeden’s head.
“I didn’t... I didn’t know it was so long,” Logan whimpered, his eyes opening to meet Marie’s.
“It doesn’t matter,” Marie told him, reaching over to catch his lips in the softest of kisses. “Yer home now, Logan. That’s the only important thing.”