Title: Veritas
Author: StellaMaru
Email: stellamaru at hotmail dot com
Rating: PG-13--Why can't I make them not swear?!
Summary: Breaking up is hard to do--especially when there's a baby involved.
Pairing: L/M
Archive: Anyone nuts enough to want it may certainly have it--let me know where it goes!
Disclaimer: Oh, great googly-moogly, do I not own them. I just like to make them do silly things at my whimsical behest, like some kind of puppet, er, master. Pull ze strings! Pull ze strings! (note, I do not own "Ed Wood," the movie I just referenced, either. Or Johhny Depp, Martin Landau, or Bela Lugosi, for that matter. Just so you know.)

Notes: Something for 'Baby Fever' week at DDFH--but it's not a mommy fic... I think it *is* the first thing I've ever written that features a baby, however, so that counts, right? heh.

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On a sunny June afternoon the inhabitants of Xavier's School for the Gifted were relaxing. Magneto and all his flunkies were safely ensconced in various prisons. The day was clear, and the air was sweet; everything was peaceful and quiet.

Almost everything.

"I don't give a rat's ass!" Jubilee rose from her sunbathing perch on the roof, listening to the fight. Rogue and Logan were at it again. No one would have a minute of peace until they worked out their 'issues.' Of course, then, they'd keep the mansion up with their incredibly loud make-up sex. She figured the mansion would get about thirty minutes of quiet between the end of the fight and the beginning of the sex. "Go fuck Jean, if you can manage to stop worshipping her for half a second!" Rogue's voice carried up to the roof. Damn, Jubilee thought. She must really be mad at him.

"Maybe I will!" Logan yelled. Jubilee wondered if Scott could hear them.

"Good!" Uh-oh, chica. Not a smart tactic. "See if I care!" Definitely not a good move.

"Damn it, Marie..." Jubilee started to worry; Logan never used Rogue's real name so loudly, and in such a public place. "I'm just tryin' to--"

"To what? Control every aspect of my life? To treat me like a kid everywhere except the bedroom?" Shit. Jubilee knew those were fightin' words. Rogue caught her breath and continued. "I happen to be a fully capable adult, Logan," she said. "Did you forget my college graduation? What about all the kids who call me 'Miss Rogue'?"

"Marie... Goddamn it-- you want to be treated like an adult, you fuckin' start acting like one. That means don't run off on your own little missions--acting like they're fieldtrips--and it means treating Jean with some respect when she deserves it!"

"Logan. Get this through your thick skull: I am not breakable. Did you forget that I'm the one with the killer skin? Maybe you think all that latex and silk are some kind of weird fetish?" Ah-ha! Jubilee had been wondering for the entire year they'd been together just exactly how they did it. "You don't want me to act like an adult," Rogue continued. "You want me to stay home and never get into any kind of danger. Well, that just isn't going to happen, sugar. I chose this life, and it means danger."

"It don't mean stupid," Logan said. Jubilee contained a gasp. Rogue wasn't going to like that.

She didn't reply for several moments. Finally she sighed. "Logan. Wh- what's happening with us?" Damn, girl. Those are breakup words.

"Baby... I-- I don't know," Logan said. Noooooo! Jubilee wanted to yell. Tell her you love her and want her forever!



Marie swallowed the lump in her throat. This was going to be the hardest thing she'd ever said. "Do-- do you think we should--" she cut her sentence short. Logan wasn't even looking at her! "Are you paying atten--"

"Shh!" he said, holding a finger in front of her face. "Do you hear that?"

"What?" There was something... A kind of rustling and--whining?

"Some kind of animal? Can't smell it too good," Logan said.

They walked towards the noise, to the front steps of the mansion. A small bundle was lying on the top step. It wiggled when they approached.

"What is it?" Marie asked, wary.

"I-- I think it's a baby," Logan said. "Human."

"Gah!" said the bundle.

Marie knelt beside it and pulled the wrapping apart with her gloved hands. Inside, a chubby baby approximately eight months old was smiling up at her. "Awww," she said, her eyes melting and her face making that scrunchy 'isn't it so cuuute!' look.

Logan just looked happy she had something else to focus on. "What's it doin' here?" he asked, looking around for any sign of its parents.

"There's a note," Marie said, pulling an envelope from the wrapping. She sat on the step beside the baby and read the note:

"Professor Xavier,
I know you are a famous mutant person. I saw you on TV. My baby had a mutant father who turned out to be a no-account bastard. Now my daddy says she might be a mutant, too. He says he might need to take 'preemptive measures' against my baby, which I know means he wants to kill her. I want her to have a good life, which she will surely not have if she stays with me and my parents. I believe you are a good man who will take care of my baby. Please do not try to find me, as I am sure my daddy would probably kill me, too, if he knew I had truck with such a famous mutant. Please take care of her, she is innocent.
" Marie's voice choked a little on the last line. "Oh, Logan," she said. "She's so little!"

He looked at the squirming baby. "Guess we should get the Professor," he said.

Marie picked the baby up, holding her low, away from her face. "Yeah," she said, her face sad. "I-- I suppose I won't ever get to have a baby... I want one, though. Sometimes I hate my skin so much."

Logan stared at her. She'd never admitted longing for a child. When he'd tentatively mentioned the possibility, she'd laughed and changed the subject. Of course, he'd been a little flip when he brought it up, but weren't women supposed to jump for joy if kids were even hinted at? Didn't Jean leap all over Scott after he'd mentioned in passing that he thought 'Ro's baby was cute? "Why haven't you ever told me that?" he asked.

"I was afraid to," she said. "I was af-- afraid if I couldn't have--because of my skin, on top of every other problem it causes... I just wanted to make what we have last a little longer..." She trailed off, looking stunned by her own candor.

"Marie," Logan started. "What we--"

"Do you think you can hold her," she interrupted. "She might touch my face accidentally."

"Uh," he said, but she was already handing the baby to him. The baby promptly grabbed his finger and held on tightly. "Pretty cute," he said gruffly.

"Gah!" said the baby.

They walked to the Professor's office, silent with thought. Marie couldn't believe what she'd said; she'd never been so revealing. He asked, and it just seemed like the right thing to say.



"Hm," Xavier pursed his lips as he perused the letter. "So the unfortunate mother believes the child is a potential mutant? How interesting."

Logan sat in one of the chairs, cradling the baby. Marie was next to him, cooing and waving. Jean stood next to the Professor.

"Jean, would you work with Hank to run some tests on the child?" Xavier asked, turning to her. "Where is he, by the way? I sent for him."

Jean smiled. "He's probably absorbed in devising a booby-trap for whoever is stealing his sweets."

"Oh, that'd be me," Logan said. "Sometimes I just get a craving and--" he cut off abruptly, a shocked look on his face--a look mirrored in each of the faces staring back at him.

"You didn't mean to say that, did you, sugar?" Marie frowned and addressed the Professor. "I said something, uh, before, when I was holding the baby. Something I really didn't mean to say."

Xavier's face lit up. "Is it possible the child already possesses some mutant ability? We must investigate immediately!" He smiled a broad, delighted smile. "We won't wait for Hank; we'll take the child to him!"



"I am going to ask you a series of simple questions; I want you to answer at least one of them falsely--do not tell me which one, do you understand?"

"Yes," Marie said, nodding at the large blue doctor. She held the baby gently on her lap. They had already performed a similar test with Bobby standing next to the child, with no extraordinary results. Marie had volunteered to undergo the tests holding the baby after the infant had cried and fussed in Scott, Jean, and Bobby's arms. Logan just circled the lab equipment suspiciously.

"Are you a member of the X-Men?"

"Yes." Hank made a note, checking the screen display on the polygraph machine.

"Do you live in this mansion?"

"Yes."

"Is your name Elizabeth?"

"Y-- um... no." Her face crinkled in frustration.

"Are you a mutant?"

"N-uh, yes."

"Is your mutation skin related?"

"Yes."

Logan continued to circle the equipment, eyeing Marie. He wanted to do something; something that he knew would piss her off to no end, but he had to know. He had to. Just as Hank was about to ask another question, he walked over and said, "Do you love me?"

Her eyes flicked to his, and he saw a flash of pain and a little anger. "Yes," she said, grinding it out between her teeth.

"How could you want to end it, then?" He didn't care if Hank heard, or anyone else.

She dropped her head. "I don't," she whispered. "I'm-- I want it to last as long as you-- want to be with me."

"Then why do you fight with me all the time? Why are you always pissed at me? Don't you know I feel that way, too?" Fuck Hank--why would he tell?

"No," she said, raising her eyes. She was starting to cry. "I don't know that. I-- I love you so much I think... I think sometimes I'd just die without you. I know-- I know what we have isn't going to last forever, and I-- it's easier to be mad than hurt. It's easier to screw it up myself than wait-- wait for you to 'let me down easy.' I don't think I could handle that. I--" She cut off, choking back a sob.

"Marie..." Logan said, now uncomfortable in Hank's presence.

"Gah!" said the baby.

Marie stood up, ripping off the wires from the machine. She held the baby close to her chest and ran out of the lab, weeping.

Hank turned his quiet gaze to Logan. "What?" Logan said defensively.

"I wonder if that was perhaps not the wisest course of action," Hank said with a small smile.

"No shit," Logan said. "I dunno. I-- how could she think all that when she's got me in her head? Maybe-- I just wanted to know a little about her like she knows about me..."

"It would appear that she does not know you as well as you had imagined," Hank said. "Perhaps-- er, sometimes the, uh, falsehoods we tell ourselves are, um, incredibly powerful. We can come to believe them more than the truth... If-- she may be-- she might think, if you--"

"You mean she might think some of the things I told myself when I first came here--when I touched her--she might think those things are really how I feel now?"

"It is possible..."

"Fuck."

"Indeed."



Marie stopped by 'Ro's rooms and borrowed the Moses basket little Rain had outgrown, as well as some baby clothes and diapering supplies. 'Ro noticed her red, puffy eyes and tried to talk to her, but she told her more talking was the last thing she wanted right now.

The baby was remarkably good with Marie; she didn't try to touch her face or grab her nose or any of those little things a baby might do to bring skin in contact with skin. It was almost like she knew not to do those things. She did, however, tangle her tiny fist in a large hunk of Marie's hair and yank sharply on it. "Ow," Marie said playfully. "You've got quite a grip."

"Gah!" said the baby.

"We're going to have to get you a name, I suppose..." Marie said, trailing off. She gingerly changed the baby's diaper and rocked her against her heart until the baby drifted off to sleep. Marie placed her in the basket on the bed and started to make a list. If she was going to keep this baby (she felt the need to do so deep in her heart) she was going to need a lot of supplies. With her back to the door, she didn't see Logan enter the room.

"Marie," he said. "We need to talk."

She lifted her head at his voice, but didn't turn to him.

"Marie, baby," Logan started. "You gotta know some things about me. Hank said you might be thinkin'-- that you just might have some wrong ideas. I'm gonna set you straight, okay?"

Her back still to him, she rubbed her forehead with her fingers and slumped her shoulders. "Say what you have to," she said.

"Darlin', the first thing is Jeannie don't mean anything like that to me. Nothin' like you mean. You're first with me, always. I'd take every word I ever said to her back if you'd just believe that. You-- you're the one that I love."

He caught the salty scent of her tears, but pressed on. "You're who I want, forever. I-- I know I'm pretty bad at showin' you that, but I-- well, I ain't ever done anything like this. Not in recent memory, anyway," he added, with a dry chuckle. "Truth is... The truth is I guess I'm a little afraid, too. Fuck that. I'm scared down to the marrow of my bones that you'll wake up one day and figure out that I'm no good for you-- that I--" he cut off with a choke. "I know I'm too, uh, possessive and stuff. I tell myself it's the animal part--the Wolverine in me--but... but I know it ain't." He took a deep breath. "It's the man in me. I know you can fight and take care of yourself. I-- I don't want you goin' off 'cause I, uh, I feel better when you're near me. It's selfish, but I do. God, Marie..."

Taking a step closer to her, he continued. "I'd be lost without you. It'd be worse than before, than wakin' up with nothin' but the tag. It'd be worse 'cause I'd know what I was missin'. I'd know I'd had love and goodness and you, and knowin' that... Knowin' what I'd had, if I didn't have it anymore, it'd-- it would be a wasteland. I'd be lost."

Marie heard his words and they cut to the quick. God, it was like he could see into her soul and give voice to her own fears. If only what he said was true.

"Gah!" said the baby. Marie turned to look and saw Logan holding the sleepy child close to his heart.

"Oh..." she whispered. She stood and walked to him, encircling them both in her warm arms.



Veritas (they had named her that on Hank's suggestion) settled down in her new-daddy's arms. New-mommy sat next to them, reading a story book; Veritas liked this one because it had big round pictures, and at the end new-mommy always sang a song about something called an 'alphabet.' Veritas liked the song.

New-mommy and new-daddy liked each other very much--not like before, at the old place. There, people were always yelling and forgetting to pick up the toys Veritas threw to help them learn how to pick up objects. New-mommy and new-daddy always touched and hugged and kissed, and those were good things. Veritas smiled; she had chosen her new parents well. She thought maybe she should tell them so.

"Gah!" is what she said.

---end---