Okay, so it's been two months since I updated, but that's quick for me! And this chapter is over 8000 words, which is long! So I think I did good.
I'm also starting college tomorrow. I was meant to start yesterday but that's a fairly long and boring story, so I wont bother sharing it. Anyway, that kinda means updates may take a tad bit longer than this one did, but I will try, I will, to make the updates relatively frequent and flowing. (No promises.)
Oh, and does anyone feel up to chatting to me about what House of M's all about? I haven't caught anything of it, so I'd love to know what all the fuss is over about this, and just what it's all about basically….
Anyway, enjoy the chapter
-Chapter Five – The Longer You Wait-Three Months Later
It was the height of summer, a month late in the middle of August, and almost a whole year since the attack on Ororo. Now she was sitting at the mansion's much loved poolside on a fluorescent orange beach towel with Rogue at her side and her three-month-old daughter carefully balanced between her bare feet in front of her. Asher had managed to find great amusement in splashing her tiny hands into the puddles Remy kept making as he executed a steady stream of ungraceful dive-bombs into the pool, every so often being chased by Scott as he did so.
The new arrival had grown considerably in the three short months since her abrupt entrance into the world, now donning an ever-thickening head of pure white hair and blinking a pair of astonishing blue eyes, brighter even than her mother's. She boasted a wardrobe brimming with the most adorable of little baby girl outfits that money could buy and her collection of baby booties, sun hats, bibs and toys made even the men gush.
Little Asher was simply and undeniably quite adorable, and spoilt.
She watched with fascination as Remy ran around the stony edge of the poolside and with one swift and devious move lifted Jean clean off her bathing spot on a deck chair and threw her into the pool. Jean filled the summer air with shriek cries of protest, until the water abruptly silenced her.
Remy stood victoriously above her, hands sitting on his hips as he whipped out a wide Cajun grin onto his gloating face. His moment of glory was spoiled however as he was ruthlessly pushed in after Jean by Scott seconds later. In consequence, Summers ended up last man standing from the caper, and was no less proud of it than the old thief had been. Asher splashed noisily amidst the watery mess Remy had made, giggling at the adults as they mucked about like children.
Rogue continued to watch from the sidelines with them, laughing and letting Remy know that he deserved everything he got for that one. Now six months gone into her own pregnancy, her bump was growing as quickly as Asher had and excused her from all poolside horseplay. This in turn meant she was also free to call out whatever insults she liked at her beloved husband and revenge was out of the question. She loved it.
After watching for a while she blew a quiet, content sigh and turned back to Ororo, just as Remy dragged his lanky body back out the pool on the hunt for Summers.
"Ah think ah finally got Remy over the idea of givin' the baby a name beginning with 'R'. That and Remy Junior if it's a boy."
Ororo laughed, shaking her head at the memories of countless nights with the couple arguing in the living room about the now touchy subject long into the early morning. Rogue's sleep patterns had become the very nightmare Remy had dreaded, in that a pattern no longer existed for them. She could very well go from dusk till dawn defending the notion that they were not going to become 'The Three Rs', without batting an eyelid of fatigue. As a result it seemed she had won her fight. Ororo was in favour of her victory.
"He's goin' through a 'French name' stage now."
Ororo raised an eyebrow, not sure if that was a good thing or not, then turned her sights to Asher who had grabbed a corner of the towel and was now waving it about triumphantly.
"So what names do you have from that?"
"Well Remy likes Marc, with a 'c', for a boy and Sasha for a girl. Now Sasha ah suppose ah like, but Marc ah'm not so sure about. See ah was kinda wantin' something a little… different, y' know?"
Ororo nodded in understanding, aware of the fact that Asher was not exactly on the top ten list of favourite girls' names in America.
"Well I had Asya and Zebadic in line for boy's names, but I don't know if they're very French. In fact I think Asya might be Russian. And I only ever liked the name Asher for a girl so actually I don't think I'm much help here. Sorry."
Rogue waved her hand dismissively. "Nah, it's okay. We'll figure out something… eventually."
With a soft thud Asher fell onto her back, bewildered as to where the corner of the towel had gone after it slipped out her tiny hand. She peered carefully into the sky, but it wasn't there. Ororo picked her up gently, turner her round to face her and placed her between her knees.
"Not quite mastered sitting up yet, have we."
Asher blinked up at her mum, confused as to how she had gotten here.
Rogue smiled widely at the adorable display. "She's just too damn cute. Here, let me see her over."
Ororo lifted her again and handed her over to Rogue who herself lifted her up in the air above her belly.
Asher giggled furiously, kicking out gleefully and scrunching up her face in a wide smile as Rogue made faces back at her. Then she sat the baby carefully on her bump, holding her there securely and tickling her under the chin.
Ororo watched with a wonderful feeling of pride for her one and only daughter, and the best any mother could ever ask for.
With the slapping of wet feet against the concrete around the poolside Remy came bounding over with his endless energy onto the grass, skidding to a halt in front of Rogue and then dropping down beside her. His face was draped with long wet hair and his alluring red eyes poked out between a fringe in dire need of a trim. He pointed to Asher then looked at Ororo.
"Y' know she stolen yo' fille 'Ro?"
The two women then jumped to shield themselves as Remy shook his dripping wet hair all over them. Rogue slapped him on the shoulder with her free hand.
"Remy ya big fool! You'll soak the baby!"
Asher just giggled. It wasn't any secrete that the baby adored Remy. With another leap of energy Remy got up again, taking Asher with him this time.
"Ashy don' mind, do ya? Non, 'course you don', Aunty Rogue's just bein' a big fuss pot."
Asher pushed herself away from Remy to get a better look at who had her this time. He pulled his own head back as she did, blinking down at her as she did up at him. Then she giggled again.
"She ever stop laughin' Stormy?"
Ororo shook her head. "No. Well yes, at night. That's when she decides to cry."
Remy blew raspberries at Asher who in turn pawed at his chest.
"Come on petite, how 'bout we go say bonjour to Missouri Grumpy Logan. Can you say bonjour yet? Or Missouri Grumpy Logan?"
Rogue shook her head, sighing with wonderment as Remy left with Asher. "Ah'd go get her back if ah were you, ah seriously would."
Ororo thought about it for a second then shrugged.
"As long as he doesn't dive bomb into the pool with her then she should be okay."
"'Should' bein' the operative word an' all that."
For the next ten minutes Rogue put on an impressive display of concern across her face as she winced every time Remy took that extra step closer to the pool with Asher, or tensed every time he taunted Scott to the point where he might become tempted to severely splash the man, regardless of his precious package.
But the more Rogue saw Remy with Asher, playing with her, making her smile and laugh and look upon him with unbeknown love, the more she felt herself smiling inside and imagining what he would be like with their own child, as a father.
"You know there is one name ah really like, for a boy anyway."
Ororo looked away from Remy and Asher and back to Rogue.
"Well… ah always liked the name Lupin."
Ororo paused for a moment, turning it over in her head, before declaring, "Lupin. Yes, I like that, it's a very unusual name."
Rogue nodded. "Wonder if Remy'll like it?"
Ororo sighed. "In a way, I guess I was lucky, not having a man to debate all these things with."
Rogue looked upon her with sympathy, noting the subtle tone of longing in her friend's gentle voice.
"Yeah you were lucky, very lucky."
Ororo just agreed. Rogue then went off in thought, lost and happy in her own world of parenthood-to-come.
Dinner rolled around early evening time, hectic and competitive as always with the heavy scent of Scott's outstanding cooking drifting through the mansion along with the sharp smell of spices that Remy and Logan so dearly loved on almost anything put in front of them on a plate. Asher sat on her mother's lap, desperate to grab something off the large wooden table to play with, or more precisely to make a mess with.
"I just fed you, you rascal. Come on, sit nice now."
With a gentle swing Ororo lifted her baby off her lap and placed her into her highchair, eventually letting her play about with a nice clean leaf of lettuce.
At the other end of the table sat Jean and Scott, huddled together like two hushed teenagers in the midst of sweet young love, whispering rather obviously between themselves as if everything they did and said had to be a well known, closely guarded secrete to everyone else. Ororo looked at them with an amused glint in her eye.
They had been like this almost all day, and all of yesterday, and she was sure also the day before that. She knew they were desperate to share something, even Asher probably knew that, but at the same time painfully reluctant, as if perhaps worried they would jink their big news.
Finally from the middle of the table Logan growled slightly just as he put down the salt.
"Okay Red, Slim, out with it."
Both looked up abruptly at him, as if they had just been accused of something entirely not their fault, but they were met by a table full of expectant faces. Jean blushed slightly and Scott became the one to speak for them.
"Well I suppose they should be told by now. Jean, are you ready?"
There was a moment of hesitation from the red head before she finally nodded, and they could all see as plainly as they could smell the tobacco sauce from Remy's plate the restrained overflow of excitement in their eyes at whatever it was they had to say.
"Well you know how the doctors said a few weeks ago that together Jean and myself couldn't have a baby, not naturally anyway," Scott started. He could hardly contain his frighteningly wide smile anymore, and by now the other four had all obtained a pretty good idea of what the news was about to be. Still they remained in suspense as they held back their awaiting congratulations.
"Well we just made medical history, I think; we're having a baby!"
There was a sudden burst of mayhem across the table as Scott stood up to receive a downpour of hearty hugs and thorough hand shakes of well done at the news of the third baby to now be making its way into the retired X-Men family.
Logan grunted the old chant, "It's like waitin' for a bus…" while Remy jumped about looking for the nearest bottle of Champaign, pestered by Rogue behind him to find their very finest set of glasses.
Jean remained sat at the table, staring across at Ororo as they engaged in mental conversation.
Can you believe it?
Of course I can. You two both deserve it.
Jean smiled, expecting nothing less than that kind of answer from her dearest friend.
Nearly four years we've been trying for a baby, and just when the doctors said it was impossible, we got our miracle.
Ororo put her chin in her right hand, stroking Asher's delicate head of hair with the other and shrugged, smiling with Jean.
It's your reward for a lifetime of struggle.
Just then Logan's hand came down on Jean's shoulder and she broke the mental link.
"Congratulations Jeannie. You're finally gonna be a mum, an' 'bout time too."
She turned round and took Logan's hand in her own, smiling gently, eyes dampened ever so slightly with tears.
He nodded then moved to confront Scott, talking quietly and gruffly as he did.
"Kinda makes me feel bad for all the hassle ah ever caused you two."
Scott quickly dismissed his guilt with a beaming smile.
"Don't worry about it. Just don't go taking her away anymore, eh?" Scott smiled some more, then caught a fleeting glance of Logan's towards Ororo's direction.
"Yeah Cyk, she's all yours."
It was late. Ororo was painfully aware of it as she paced the attic floor with Asher in hand as the little baby screamed relentless tears throughout the night, for the countless night in a row.
"Please Asher, go back to sleep. Come on honey, go back to sleep."
She rocked her gently as she patted her back, trying in all ways desperately to settle her into a lull, but Asher simply went on crying, as if determined not to give in to her mother's whims.
Ororo had surpassed exhaustion. This was one of a long line of nights where she had suffered from very little to no sleep. She could hide the results of this torture during the day; clear her eyes up with fresh rainwater and keep herself wrapped in a constant cooling breeze, which kept her somewhat refreshed. She could even go for walks around the grounds, letting Remy watch the baby much to his delight, and nap in the woods or in one of her greenhouses, somewhere out of the way where she wouldn't be discovered.
But at night it became a very different story. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face ashen, covered with limp, greasy hair that hung lifelessly over heavy slouched shoulders. Her bare feet dragged as she paced the wooden floor and her voice was rough and strained. Her very words sounded like they were bleeding, and she could barely swallow for how dry her whole mouth was. She had become the epiphany of the single mother, and not because she was alone, but because she was too proud and too scared to ask anyone for help.
She admitted to a smidgen of self-pity as she loathed over how there was no father to help her here, no one to let her sleep whilst he went off and soothed their tear strung daughter; no one. She was alone and wouldn't admit to anything less.
As Asher carried on screaming, the heart wrenching sound muffled to the rest of the house by the soundproofing in the doors, she remembered feeling like this once before, a long time ago now. The time when Forge had left her. She frowned, the thought leaving a bitter streak of confused anger in her frayed emotions.
"Where are you now maker?" she exclaimed suddenly, frightening Asher as she challenged thin air. "Off to lead a life as far away from the 'tied down' woman you once called your lover? Gone away because you weren't' priorities over everything else in my life?"
Asher cried harder, Ororo with her.
"Where are you!"
The attic door behind her swung open slowly and for a brief, shocked second she fancied Forge walking in, apologetic and meek, eyes as bloodshot as hers and pained with eternal guilt. But instead it was Logan.
Ororo looked down at her daughter's weeping face shamefully as he entered.
"Havin' a rough night darlin'?"
She gave him a small nod.
For a silent moment Logan looked from the desperate mother to her tear strung daughter. He saw before him a needlessly common sight – a new mother too afraid to ask for help lest she let others believe she was anything but capable of her new full time job. A new mother's face lined with meek shame because she felt she had failed her maternal instincts, and was some monstrous freak of the female race who could not even fulfil the simplest task of soothing her child's tears at night.
With the greatest respect for his old friend he extended his arms out. "Here, ah'll take her, you get some rest tonight. You need it."
For a second she looked confused, then gravely hesitant, as if doing this – handing over her child to someone else's care – would be to admit to all the fears Logan saw within her reddened eyes of being a terrible mother. But then in coming to her senses (somewhat) she handed over her daughter and thanked him repeatedly.
"Just get some sleep 'Ro, I'll take good care of your little girl."
As Ororo began to feel the full effect of weeks of built up fatigue, she vaguely registered the touch of a gently laid hand on her shoulder. It steered her towards her unmade bed, where she automatically sat down. Slowly her heavy eyes looked up at Logan who sat a whimpering Asher on his hip. He nodded once and then smiled slightly.
Moving over to the doorway he only had to turn back once to see Ororo had fallen asleep almost instantly.
Logan hurried slightly down the attic stairs as he sensed Asher ready for another bawling match. Sweeping through the mansion's silent ground floor they found themselves in the utility room as Logan hunted around for warmer clothes for Asher to wear.
"Okay Ash, ah'm gonna take you out to meet someone an' we're gonna give your mum a break for the night. If that's alright with you of course."
She had begun to cry again, but not so loudly as she watched Logan with teary curiosity taking out some clothes from a washing basket and carefully sitting her on top of the tumble drier, dressing her for the cool night air.
As soon as he was finished he gently picked her up again and walked out of the mansion, saying not another word, with his small bundle held protectively close in his arms.
The walk to Frank's Bar took a little longer than it usually would for Logan as he shuffled through the main streets, but it was a considerably safer route than his normal trek through back streets and restaurant alleyways.
The cooling air of the night seemed to sooth the little baby and her cries fell to quiet gurgles and hiccups as she took in her surroundings with as much curiosity as she had Logan when watching him dressed her back at the mansion. She chewed on her fingers almost thoughtfully and drooled over Logan as he carried her and talked to her on the way.
"Better now? See, nothin' to go cryin' about. Ah think ah can introduce you to Frank now. Good man Frank, you'll like him as much as he'll like you."
After another ten minutes of deserted streets and silent roads Logan came to a stop on the sidewalk and Asher found herself looking up with him at a small building that now stood before them. It was a long and narrow diner establishment with faded chequered eating booths and a dull, beer-stained bar. It was barely lit inside and seemed reluctantly opened, as only two shadows lurked within the otherwise deserted building, and no one else was stepping in or out of the door (although in all fairness there seemed no one else around in this dead hour of the early morning to do so).
Logan went ahead and opened the door to the place dubbed 'Frank's Bar' and the light twinkling noise of wind chimes alerted the very owner of the place to his new late night customers. Almost immediately the man's face creased into a smile of delight.
"Ah Mr Logan! How good to see you again." His wizened grey eyes quickly fell upon Asher. "And I see you've brought a friend with you this time."
The barman beamed wider still as he surveyed the little one.
"Well sit her up here and let us see that pretty little face of yours princess."
Frank quickly wiped a spot of the worn and stained bar counter with an old cloth slung over his wide shoulder and Logan gently set Asher down, still holding onto her back so she could sit up and carry on looking around in what seemed like amazed curiosity.
Suddenly, from a far corner booth there was a squeal of delight and in the bounding form of a lanky blonde strapped up in a tight green boob tube, orange mini skirt and killer blue stiletto heels, the second shadow that Logan had seen lurking inside as he had stood out on the street came into view. He turned around as best he could while still supporting Asher and nodded as he recognised the presence.
"Michelle, how're you?"
She smiled as widely as Frank and kissed Logan squarely on the cheek.
"Absolutely fine doll. An' who's this here? She's not yours is she?"
A stern look fell upon the woman's face and she pouted her cherry red lips as if she were ready to wag her finger at him in a motherly fashion, but Logan just shook his head.
"No she's the daughter of the friend I told you about."
Michelle's face turned slightly grave at this. For a year now she had been listening in to the conversations of Frank and Logan, the ones almost always dominated by just the one subject and Logan's desire to find information out about only the one man. Michelle herself was the only other known current survivor of that man's random and brutal attacks.
"Oh yeah, Aurora, was it?"
There was no one around tonight, so Logan didn't need to keep his head down and his voice hushed as he discussed the matter with the couple.
Michelle then dove straight into pouring all her affection and attention over Asher, who seemed to have taken a mutual liking to the woman.
"Y' know, lookin' at her kinda makes me wish I'd kept my own. She's an absolute doll."
Logan picked up a now giggling Asher and handed her over to Michelle, whose face lit up as she keenly took hold of her.
"No shame in what ye did 'Chelle."
She cried out again in delight as she held Asher high over her head, much to the baby's joy. "Aw you are just a complete sweetheart, aren't you darlin'?"
Asher blew a bubble and Michelle laughed with delight some more.
Logan took a seat at the bar and accepted a complimentary beer from Frank. Frank then leant over the long wooden bench to talk. "So where is the mum?"
"Asleep back at the mansion, finally. That little 'sweetheart's' had her mum up for the past few weeks now screaming her head off for no good reason. Seemed there was nothin' she could do to stop her so I offered to take her out for a while, give Ororo a break so she can get her head together and go back to doin' the best job as a mother that ah've ever seen done."
"And you decided to bring her out here at one in the morning, to this neighbourhood…"
"Ah won't let anything happen to her. You know that."
Michelle turned her mascara-clad blue eyes back to Logan.
"Hell you better not. Nothin' worse than a mother's wrath. That goes for almost any beast, you mutants included. Ah'd hate to see what one of your women could do if anything happened to their baby."
She smiled down at Asher again as she made a grab for one of Michelle's numerous gold necklaces. She dangled a golden eagle claw in front of her wide blue eyes, almost hypnotising her with it. Logan was left imagining what the wrath of Storm would do to him if anything were to go wrong tonight…
"She's got incredible eyes, and white hair too. It's amazing, never seen anything like it, well anything natural like it anyway."
Logan smiled fondly. "Takes them from her mother."
There was a moment of silence from Michelle as her gaze seemed to become unfocused and her brow furrowed in difficult thought. Logan tilted his head and watched her, Frank with him as he absent-mindedly cleaned another beer glass.
Then suddenly she jumped back to the moment and point at Logan. Logan raised an eyebrow, half curious, half amused.
"Y' know Logan, I think I saw a woman like that before, a while ago now. It's just you don't often forget a woman like that. That why I'm remembering. Real tall, hair was quite long too. She was with a red head, a pretty girl, but a bit pale."
Logan's eyebrows dipped in a frown, his eyes darkening in thought. "A while ago? How longs 'a while'?" He was growing an instinctive feeling about this.
"Oh, a long while ago now. Must have been last year, I can hardly remember, only recall what she looked like really, and her pretty companion. I'm only remembering 'cause of your little friend here, and 'cause like I said, you don't often forget a woman like that. Yeah, last year some time. Why?"
Logan couldn't shake his instincts now; they'd stuck firm and true. He was almost never wrong about his hunches anyway.
"Was it late at night?"
Michelle shrugged. A look of suspicion was creeping onto her face as she began to grow absent minded of Asher and cautious of what Logan was getting at.
"Yeah, probably. Must have been working that night. Yeah in fact I was, so it was at night. I was on the corner at the Milo Club, across from the department store. That's where they came out from. The place was shutting up for the night." Michelle seemed quietly impressed with her memory, prompting her to go on. "I think they ended up with some sort of 'male companion', if you like, though it looking more like an ex-lover the way they were tryin' to walk away from him…"
And finally it clicked. Michelle's face fell then paled.
"Em, Natalie was with me that night. Maybe you could talk to her, she has a killer memory. Tells me she never forgets a face, which is unfortunate in our business."
Logan nodded, seeming pleased with this new bout of information, and his new lead. He took Asher from Michelle, who protested as the eagle claw was taken from her tiny hand, and Logan wished his late night companions a goodnight.
"It's been good seein' you again Michelle. Tell Natalie ah might be dropping by soon, and she's not to be scared of me this time. "
Michelle nodded. "Will do. And you bring that little baby back here one day. And tell the mum I actually know what she's been through, and I'm always up for a chat. See ya sweetheart."
Asher watched Michelle still with stunned eyes, and Logan nodded again in Frank's direction.
"See y' Frank."
He waved as Logan left the bar for the mansion. Asher fell asleep in his arms on the way home.
Logan came back home twenty minutes later to almost everyone in the mansion asleep. It was his immediate plan to join them, and to let Asher share a bed with him, just this once for the sake of Ororo's sanity.
Asher herself had remained asleep the whole way home in his arms. She looked like a gem really, hardy stirring or making a noise, and Logan couldn't help grinning at her.
"Yer a menace you are. Y' know that?"
She made a little hiccup, but did not wake
Then Logan spotted it, the door ajar to the living room and light spilling out from inside. He looked at Asher, then longingly up the stairs to where his bedroom was, and then moved forward into the living room.
He stepped in quietly, and saw not who had expected to see, but instead Jean sitting on the plush red couch with her eyes glazed over in a distant stare as if her mind was far away from her body. He uttered a small cough and she jumped, quickly coming to her senses.
"Logan! I didn't see you there. And Asher?"
He walked over and sat on the couch beside her.
"I'm giving 'Ro the night off."
Jean nodded, reaching a gentle hand out to stroke Asher's soft face. "She is quite loud when she wants to be."
He shifted his hold on the baby, settling himself into the couch.
"What you doin' down here so late?"
Jean shrugged half-heartedly. "Couldn't sleep I suppose."
"Yeah." Jean looked uncomfortable, and pale.
Logan looked over her carefully, "Well y' don't look too happy for a woman who just defied the laws of baby makin'."
There was a glint of a tear in her thoughtful green eyes as she looked down at Asher which Logan barely just caught sight of.
"I think that's the problem. I mean if the all reports and the tests are anything to go by then I simply should not be pregnant. Scott and I were even going to adopt as soon as we admitted defeat, because it was in the realms of impossible. But now here I am defying all that, and as happy as I should be I keep asking myself the same question, 'Will I stay this lucky?'"
Logan ran a hand through his thick dark hair, thinking.
"Well y' should, for nine months anyway, maybe even a little less if we carry on the trend of early babies."
Jean laughed, almost as if the idea was ridiculous, that she would indeed stay 'lucky' for that.
"Look Jean, ah'm no great believer in God or anything, but ah think if you weren't meant to have this baby then He wouldn't have given it to ya. You and Scott are gonna have it, whether you believe in it or not." Logan tilted his head. "What does Scott think anyway?"
Jean smiled fondly. "He's already thinking of names."
Asher kicked in her sleep and began to grow restless of being bundled up in someone's arms.
"I should probably get her t' bed. Just have a little faith Jean, okay? You and Scott of all the couples in the world deserve this baby more than anyone else, and you're gonna have it, so enjoy it."
He got up and Jean nodded to him slowly.
"G'dnight then, Jean."
Three Months Later
Rogue was fed up far beyond belief. Lying sprawled out across the lounge's plush red sofa she held a cold soft drink in one hand and the television remote fiercely in the other. An unflattering pale lilac jumper covered her vast belly, and she watched it loathingly. Today was the eighteenth of November. She had been due on the seventeenth. However it seemed at this rate she would be delivering on Christmas.
The lounge door suddenly swung open and Rogue found she was all but ready to throw the glass of juice at whomever it was daring to enter her domain, until she caught sight of Asher crawling in at a tremendous speed across the floor. Her screwed up expression softened as she got up and with a heave seized the runaway in her arms.
"How'd you get in here y' little rogue?"
Ororo came running in seconds later, frantic looking to say the least.
"Ah believe this may be yours 'Ro."
She handed the baby back to her relieved mother.
"Last time I leave you alone with Remy, I promise this time."
Asher giggled at her mum's mock anger.
"I know you understand me. I shouldn't have named you Asher, I should have named you after your Aunty Rogue. Of whom I see is still pregnant."
Ororo let a teasing smile play across her face, despite the danger of doing so.
"Ah'm warning ya Storm, ah'm on the edge here."
Ororo sat down on a couch opposite the sofa Rogue dropped back down onto.
"Would have been kinda nice if the baby'd been born exactly six months after yours."
Ororo let her teasing smile fall to a sympathetic one. "So you don't think the baby's coming today?"
Rogue heaved a sigh and quite simply answered, "I know it aint comin' today."
And she was right.
Hank had taken the next few days off work and set himself up in one of the mansions many spare bedrooms, not daring to take any chances this time after what had happened with Ororo.
He now, with Remy, walked into the lounge smiling brightly as he always did.
The second Asher caught sight of him she began to squirm in her mother's arms, reaching out desperately for him. Ororo handed her over and she sat in his arms, pulling at the deep blue fur curiously, eyes transfixed.
"I always did say the women dug the fur."
Rogue sat back up again as Remy sat himself at her feet, her face that of desperation.
"Hank ah don't wanna to be pregnant anymore!"
He looked up from Asher, who he had been entertaining with funny noises, and laughed sympathetically.
"No I don't suppose you do, but at least you're prepared." He shot a sideways glance at Ororo who crossed her arms.
Remy smiled happily. "Well y' know what dey say can set off a woman's labour; dey say se—"
"Shut up! Ah'm not talking to you; you're the one that got me into this mess!"
Ignoring her he put an ear to his wife's belly as if maybe that would set off her labour.
"Hello, petite? You in der?"
Rogue slapped him on the back of the head.
"Of course he's in there, he just knows you're out here."
Remy made to look hurt but ended up with a twisted smile as he tried to control the corners of his mouth from going up.
"Oh well, you de one pregnant, not me."
He dodged niftily as Rogue went to slap him again, harder. Then she lay back down, closing her eyes over as if praying for mercy. No doubt she was.
"Suppose ah'll just have to play the waiting game then."
And she did.
The nineteenth rolled around and still nothing happened.
Rogue became the number one to avoid as her temper flared unpredictably and she grew a tendency to throw things. Heavy things. Mainly at her husband.
Remy now donned a beautiful purple bruise on the side of his head for instance from when she had chucked a well-aimed book of baby names down the stairs at him. The name for their child was still undecided and Remy had been leaning back towards Remy Junior again. Rogue however had made sure he leaned far away from it from now on.
It was nine o'clock in the morning on the twentieth of November that everything finally happened all at once and all hell suddenly broke loose, for Remy anyway.
Rogue awoke to find her bed sheets drenched, turned to Remy who was still sleeping, shook him until his bleary red eyes opened and said quite calmly—
"Remy, ma waters just broke."
In an instant he was up and out of bed, telling Rogue to stay calm in a frantic voice as he advanced on the door to run out and get Henry. He was pale and from out of nowhere covered in a sweat, his hands shaking as he grappled with the door handle.
"Em Remy, suga', you aint wearing any clothes."
Looking down at himself he blushed slightly, then grabbed a pair of shorts and thrusts them on hastily, eventually making it out the bedroom door. She could hear him bellowing all the way down the hallway, more than likely managing to wake the other five occupants up as he went. She couldn't help but smile. For the first time in almost a week she felt calm and settled, even if she knew it wouldn't last.
Remy was back with Henry in mere minutes, and the scientist of many fields looked considerably calmer than her dear husband as he slid quickly back beside her in bed.
"Ah Rogue, the day has finally come. How do you feel? Are you quite happy here or would you like to be moved down to the medical wing?"
Rogue thought briefly. "Well if it's okay ah'd prefer just to stay up here."
"That shouldn't be a problem. Now Remy, go get some towels like you did for Ororo and maybe a couple more pillows. And perhaps calm down; I assure you your wife and child-to-be are in very experienced and capable hands."
Hank smiled and Remy curled his lips up into the most disturbing sort of smile Rogue herself had ever seen. He did as he was told though and scooted off to the laundry room.
Hank then spent the next ten minutes checking over Rogue, her condition and her progress.
"Well it doesn't look like we'll be having a quick delivery like our resident goddess did. You'll just have to sit tight and wait through the contractions. Might I suggest you keep a good book with you, or perhaps bring up a couple of movies from the lounge to watch with Remy?"
Rogue sighed and rolled her eyes. "This baby knows how to take his time."
"His? Did you find out the sex?"
She shook her head. "For talking sake."
"Oh." He smiled again. "Well I'll come in and check on you every half hour or so, okay? But if you need me before then just holler. Now you sure you're fine?"
"Yes Hank, ah'm fine."
"Good, good. I'll let Remy do the fussing for now then. Remember, just holler if you need anything."
Remy came back as Henry left, arms piled up with more towels and pillows than was probably ever going to be necessary, unless her labour was to last until the end of the month.
"Where he be off to?"
Rogue smiled and stroked Remy's cheek. "You're cute when you worry."
He dropped the towels on his half of the bed and began propping Rogue up with the pillows.
"Anything happen yet?"
"No not—" suddenly she paused with a perplexing expression across her face. Then she looked up at Remy. "Oh, ah think ah just had a contraction."
Remy frowned. "Was that it? Ah thought they were suppos' t' be painful an' 'orrible and such."
Rogue sighed patiently.
"They grow longer an' more frequent an' more painful as the labour moves on. Y' know, Ororo was right; ya don't have a clue when it comes to this pregnancy business."
Remy looked hurt. "'Ro said that?"
Rogue couldn't help but laugh. "Well not as bluntly as that, but along those lines, yeah."
Remy decided to go back to fussing in silence.
Six long and tedious hours passed by and in that time the most progress that Rogue made was that her contractions lengthened and her discomfort and impatience grew.
She had frequent visitors and as the seventh hour rolled around Ororo could be found sitting on Remy's side of the bed with Asher at her knees contently throwing a towel over her head then pulling it back off again.
"So, seven hours and still no straining yet."
"Seven hours and ah'm gonna kill Remy next time he props ma pillows up. 'Till death do us part'; well that could be in the next few hours ah'm thinkin'."
Ororo smiled sympathetically, as everyone seemed to be doing of late around her. "At least he's gone out for a while."
"You wanna know what ah had t' threaten him with if he didn't go?"
Ororo shook her head. "No that's okay."
Then, abruptly Rogue's hand jerked, instinctively touching on her large bump as the next contraction began. Her other hand, without really thinking about it, grabbed Ororo's and squeezed as a way of channelling the slowly growing pain. Ororo gave a little yelp of pain with her.
The second the contraction past Rogue let go, looking ever so slightly guilty. Ororo smiled shakily.
"You forget your own strength Rogue."
She shook her hand as Rogue apologised sheepishly.
"It's okay. I know what it's like. Well… no I don't really but I know how the most painful part of it feels."
Asher giggled as if finding both women's pain amusing.
"You got a crude sense of humour suga'."
Asher just giggled some more.
"She stopped cryin' at nights then?"
Ororo stroked her daughter's soft white hair tenderly.
"Just about. Whatever it was before she seems to have settled down now over the past few months."
Asher began to crawl about the bed over Rogue's legs and Ororo quickly scooped her up, settling her in her arms.
"As soon as she learns to walk I don't think I'll be able to keep up."
Rogue smiled fondly at the six-month-old baby.
"It'll be nice for her t' have someone t' play with an' grow up with."
"Yes, let her play big sister even—"
Suddenly the baby began to squirm and kick and then promptly cry.
"Or not. I think she needs changing.
"Oh don't let me stop you."
"Be prepared, these pleasant jobs await you."
Ororo began to get up as Asher kicked harder in discomfort, crying louder.
"See you later Rogue, maybe next time with your baby."
As she left these words seemed to strike a chord in Rogue's mind and a reality she hadn't quite looked at before came to life. She was going to be a mother, in a matter of hours. She and Remy were finally going to have what they had dreamed of having for a long time now. They were going to have their very own family. They were going to have a baby, and give their child something they themselves growing up had never had, loving parents always at their side. And they were going to do it well.
Suddenly she felt herself filling up with a surge of emotions and a little bit of shock, and she only wished she hadn't threatened Remy with the baby book again if he hadn't gone out to get her ice-cream.
It was a further hideous eight long and uncomfortable hours before anything really began to happen.
Remy had just walked into the bedroom with fresh ice chips for his wife, poking his head round the door timidly in a bid not to have things thrown at him again, although Rogue had seemed to become more sympathetic with him, even more… loving, again. However, he barely had a foot in when she let out a sharp cry of pain and told him with a howl to go and get Hank.
The two were back minutes later and Hank quickly summarised the situation; quite simply Rogue was finally ready to give birth.
"Okay Rogue, time to start pushing."
"Well it's about bloody well time!"
Hank just smiled. "Okay Remy, just you sit with Rogue; you don't have to do too much except be good and supportive."
Rogue glared darkly at Remy. "Moral support Cajun, not more pillows y' hear?"
Remy had gone into a state of ecstasy and he suddenly lost all fear for his wife for an overwhelming anticipation and joy over what was about to happen. He simply shrugged at her remark and threw her a lopsided smile, sitting at her side and gently taking her hand. For a moment Rogue's own heated expression slipped away as she gazed across at him, and shared his nervous excitement with a small smile of her own.
But then she threw her head back and howled again as she felt the strain of the labour prompting her to push with all her tearful might.
For one long painful hour Rogue pushed with all the energy and will she could bring forth, but just like everything else that had led up to this, nothing was happening fast.
In tears and as white as the sweat drained sheets around her, she let her head fall back onto the stack of pillows behind her, uttering a chocked cry of desperation for someone to bring it all to an end. Remy stroked her damp hair gently, looking down at Henry with his anxiety clear in his face.
"Hank, when's it comin'?"
"Nearly there, I promise. Come on Rogue, just keep pushing."
Achingly she obeyed, gritting her teeth this time as she tried again.
"Good girl, now keep it up. I think I see it, almost there, come on."
With only pure desperate determination left to keep her going she pushed with all that was left in her and suddenly Henry cried out:
"I have the head! Remy throw me over some towels."
Henry was handed about six in a frenzy and he took two, held out ready now.
Quickly grabbing her husband's hand as he sat down beside her again, Rogue gripped on with such force now that something cracked, just as the baby was finally delivered.
Remy screamed and Rogue screamed, and then finally, after a few seconds there were tiny, determined screams from their newborn child.
"It's a boy! Rogue, Remy, you've got a boy!"
Rogue let out a noise somewhere between a laugh and a cry as she finally relaxed her grip on Remy and fell back again into the pillows.
"I think it be broke."
Confused, both looked at Remy who, sure enough, held up two broken fingers.
But he easily forgot his pain as a beaming Henry handed over their newborn son to them, and Rogue was allowed to hold him for the first time.
With the rush of adrenalin gone and her own pain disappeared amidst a surge of overwhelmed emotion, she began to cry with her son, tears of ecstasy flooding her face with Remy's as he put a hand to his mouth, mind reeling as he looked down at his son.
"You did it chere, we got our baby."
All she could do was nod as she cuddled her son and Remy stroked his head with his good hand.
"You took you' time garson, but you be worth it all, ah c'n tell y'."
Then suddenly the pain shot back into his left hand and he winced, reluctantly grabbing it with the other.
"Come on oh newest of the brotherhood of fathers, let's go fix your wife-beaten hand."
With great reluctance he left, kissing both wife and son on the forehead and lingering as long as possible until Hank all but carried him out before he did so. Hank himself had full confidence that both mother and son would be fine on their own for a little while to bond for the first time (and that is would take not much longer than five minutes before the rest of the mansion joined them anyway.)
Not much longer than five minutes later four eager grinning mutants and one completely unaware baby girl came spilling into the large bedroom to crowd around Rogue and finally behold the newest residence to their New York city home.
Jean sat next to Rogue and looked down at her precious bundle, near to tears herself.
"Boy or a girl?"
She smiled again with the others, Scott's hand resting on her shoulder as he quietly sniffed, even Logan looking a little misty eyed at the back. Ororo bent down with Asher and let her have a look at what could be become her very first friend. Promptly she went to grab at anything she might be able to get her tiny hands on, but Ororo held her back just far enough so she couldn't reach, frustratingly for her.
"It's okay 'Ro, sit beside Jean, let her get a better look at her new brother… of sorts."
From behind the small crowd Logan smiled, shaking his head.
Ororo moved over and sat Asher beside Rogue's lap, letting her have a look at the tiny baby boy. Her eyes fixed on to him with devoted fascination.
Suddenly Scott looked around, confused. "Where's Remy?"
At this Rogue couldn't help but laugh. "Eh, ah might'a kinda… broke two of his fingers during the delivery."
The four exchanged glance and left it at that.
Rogue went back to pouring over her son.
"You're the most damn beautiful thing that ah've ev'a laid ma pretty green eyes on, an' that includes your father. Oh you really are." Then Rogue frowned thoughtfully. "Still haven't got a name for ya though."
She looked up at the others, the smallest hint of a furtive smile coming across her face as she looked at Ororo knowingly.
"How 'bout we see what your daddy thinks of Lupin then, eh?"
Ororo smiled, nodding her approval. Jean reached over and stroked the delicate head of the settled baby.
"Lupin huh? I like that."
"What about Lupin?"
They turned to see Remy standing in the doorway, cast literally in hand. All turned to Rogue.
"D' y' like the name Lupin, 'cause ah think that's what your son should be called."
It wasn't really a question, more of an informative statement.
He stood for a second in the doorway, the others watching expectantly, and then his face broke into a grin so wide it looked like it hurt before he sat on the edge of the bed beside Rogue.
"Lupin, Lupin LeBeau. Ah'd say it's perfect."