That night Steph stayed in a guest room, which Hank showed her. He also brought some of her clothes in and left them for her to change into, then excused himself quickly. Steph could sense he was still struggling with the loss of her memory almost as much as she was.
Slowly she settled into the bed, turning out the light and staring at the ceiling for a long time, thinking about how she had reached this point, her long discussion with Hank about her life before this, about the MA, then her thoughts turned to Hank himself. She definitely liked the guy, he was sweet and careful of her feelings as well as his own, it was easy to see how someone could fall in love with him.
Without her fully realizing it, Steph drifted off into a deep slumber.
"No! Steph, watch it!" a black-haired man shoved Steph away just as a truck plowed into him, sending him through the air. Grunting he hit the ground and rolled over before getting up slowly and woozily.
Steph hurried to his side and had him lean on her while he blinked and shook his head.
"Good goin' dad," she said, rolling her eyes. "Ya'd get taken outta the fight f'r a bit if you pulled that stunt in a real situation."
Logan growled. "Me? Yer the one in the middle o' the road darlin'."
"Well…yer the one who got hit," Steph replied, sticking her tongue out at him as suddenly a bunch of enemies jumped up around them and started hacking at them with swords and clubs and other weapons.
Logan snorted at Steph. "And yer the one who's hung over," he said. "Ya get into my beer again, kid?"
Steph's head ached and she rubbed it. "I had a reason…. Kurt, turn off the holograms, they're really annoyin'…besides, I can't get drunk once inna while?"
Logan shook his head. "Not on my beer, or my watch."
"Well one day I'll be off both," Steph said defiantly as the holograms turned off. She walked towards the door. "I've gotta get goin'."
"Seein' Blue?" Logan smirked.
"I'm helpin' him with n' experiment!" Steph said defensively.
"One day kid…. Yer gonna find him on his knee in front o' ya, with a little ring box held out in his hand." Logan laughed.
"Yeah right." Steph snorted. "N' ya couldn't be happier could ya old man?"
Suddenly in front of Steph there was Hank; in the very position Logan had described, and then she found herself in a beautiful dress, a wedding in progress with happy faces everywhere, sounds of people laughing and eating and drinking and talking mingled as one with the slow music.
The silence was the loudest noise Steph had ever had to endure, the emotions of her surviving teammates filling the War Room with a heavy feeling of loss and disbelief.
She couldn't take it any more, hitting the man who tried to get in her way she turned and fled the room. Almost her whole family was gone, what else was she supposed to do?
A few flashes of black clothes and a memorial service, of Hank getting closer to her than ever before.
Steph watched as the plane took off, the small child she had seen in her previous dream sitting next to her, still holding the doll.
"How long until we get there?" she asked . Steph shook her head, then tucked the girl in under a blanket.
"Don't worry, we'll get there soon," she assured her charge. The girl nodded and slowly drifted off to sleep.
As an explosion went off right behind them, echoed by larger and more powerful explosions from all over the place. Steph was thrown backwards, a brief glimpse of her bidding Hank, Jubilee, Bobby, and Scott farewell as she got into a car flashing before her eyes.
Steph woke suddenly as she hit the floor, having tumbled out of bed while thrashing in her sleep, her body drenched in a cold sweat and the sheets tangled around her. Stunned, she began to cry, her body shaking as she grabbed a pillow and hugged it to her chest.
"Stephanie?" Hank asked softly, knocking on the door. "Is everything alright? I heard you gasping in your sleep…." He stopped in surprise as Steph flung open the door and grabbed his arms.
"Hank…. I remembered," she sobbed, the tears increasing in their flow.
"Remembered what?" Hank asked gently, still taken aback by her appearance.
"When…when everyone left," Steph whispered. "N' our weddin', a lil' bit o' dad..."
Hank nodded and pulled her close.
"Don't worry, sweet Stephanie," he said, as she snuggled into the crook of his neck. "Do not fear, I'm yet here for you."
"I can still feel the ache," Steph said quietly. "For them..."
Hank hugged her tighter, his own eyes closing. "I know," he said softly. Then he looked at his watch. "Oh my stars and garters…you'd better get back to sleep…you'll be exhausted tomorrow morning."
"No!" Steph cried as he began to move away.
Hank stopped immediately and she hung onto him. "I don't wanna be alone t'night…can I, can I stay with ya?"
"Of course," he said, leading her back to their old room. As Steph crawled into the bed beside him and lay down with her head and arm on his chest, his arms still protectively wrapped around her, she suddenly felt safer than she had since she woke up without a memory or clue of who she was.
Here, in Hank's arms, was where she found her refuge.
(A Month Later)
Steph watched Remy's training with amusement, Sam on her knee babbling about the Cajun's fighting tactics against Hank as the two battled it out in the Danger Room below them.
"Wha!' Remy cried as Hank grabbed his Bo staff and swung him around, a large grin on his face.
"Don't let go, young Remy!" he advised as Remy clung to the end of the staff for dear life.
"Hank," Steph said, laughing as she spoke into the intercom. "Maybe you should let him down…carefully!" She started to laugh harder as Hank suddenly tripped, trying to listen to her, and loosened his grip on the staff.
"Whoa!" Remy shouted as he sailed through the air and hit the trunk of a tree at the edge of the conjured meadow's boundaries. Toppling to the ground he stayed still for a split second before sitting up and rubbing his head. "Oof. Dat hurt."
"Are you alright?" Hank asked.
Remy nodded slowly. "Yeah, I t'ink so."
"Good, then we can continue," he said, charging forward on all fours.
Remy rolled out of the way a split second before Hank hit him and stuck out his foot, sending Hank crashing into the same tree he had hit, then quickly jumped up and grabbed Hank in a headlock.
"Give up," he said, grinning through gritted teeth as Hank gasped.
Then the blue man also grinned.
"Perhaps some day in the future," he replied, standing up and then throwing himself at the ground, crushing Remy beneath him as he rolled. Leaping to his feet, he grabbed Remy's bo staff, and thumped it against its owner's head. Remy swayed for a moment, then toppled over in a heap.
Hank sighed and stood with his hands on his hips, listening to Sam who had gasped and then started giggling again.
"Uh, Hank? I think he's down this time," Steph said, and Hank smiled at her.
"Sweet Stephanie, last time we near ended our match young Lebeau leapt to life miraculously and gave me a sound beating before I inevitably won," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I have no wish to revisit the status he left me in any time soon."
"Fine then," Steph laughed. "Hey Rem, ya don't get up in three seconds the match is over and Hank wins."
Hank smiled as Steph counted down, then turned off the simulation. "Alright Hank, now go make sure you didn't 'visit lasting damage to his person'."
Hank laughed again and bent over Remy, rolling him over just in time to hear the Cajun murmur, "Please stop beatin' me wit my own staff," as his head rolled backwards.
"He will recover," Hank announced.
- Hank, please finish taking care of Remy, and Steph, Sabertooth's here; he needs to talk to you, - Xavier said in the X Men's head.
"Creed?" Steph said, looking at Hank, who shrugged.
"I don't know, but perhaps I'd better go check Remy, just to be sure..." he said.
"Yeah," Steph said. "Alright, Hank, please be careful with the Cajun…he's sensitive."
"Ha," Remy gasped.
"And definitely not completely passed out," Steph laughed, holding Sam and going down to give Hank a kiss on the cheek before flying out of the door as Hank picked Remy up.
Up in the kitchen Steph walked in and found Bobby sitting at the island with Creed parked in the back doorway and looking as surly as ever. He grunted when Steph came in.
"Hey, skirt, how's the rememberin' comin'?" he asked.
"Alright," Steph said. "Still have big ol' gapes in a few spots, but it's getting' better. Harder to tell what I can't recall too, but all the major stuff's back."
Creed nodded and grunted again, and Steph looked down at Sam, who was staring at Creed.
"What's up?" she asked.
"He won't tell me," Bobby grumbled.
"I told ya, I was waitin' for Steph," Creed replied.
"Well?" Steph asked.
"I never told ya why I was in England," Creed said. "Truth is, I don't really know, an' I don't know why I'm leavin' now, but I've heard rumors."
"You're leaving? To where?" Steph asked.
"What rumors?" Bobby asked.
"Australia, maybe," Creed said. "An' I ain't talkin' 'bout the rumors, they may be nuthin' but I've gotta be sure."
"Why?" both X Men asked.
"I heard there's someone powerful down there," Creed said, shaking his head. "Some mutie that a few o' the undergrounds have been murmuring about, but I ain't sayin' no more, it's not for you to hear. I just wanted ya to know I won't be around for awhile."
Steph gave him an odd look, then sighed. "Have it your way, if ya need any help we're here, not that you want to hear that. You want a beer?" she asked out of habit.
Sabertooth nodded and she set Sam down, grinning absently as the little girl crawled over and pulled on Bobby's pant legs until he picked her up.
She grabbed a beer and turned back, holding it out to him. For a moment they both held on to the bottle. Steph looked up at him and then flung her arms around his neck.
Creed was so surprised he nearly dropped the beer, but then he awkwardly looked down. "What are ya doin?" he said as Steph backed up, grinning at him.
"I'm sorry," she said. "But really... you've been such a great friend through all this, helping me an' Rem out, and watchin' out for the kids and the rest o' us."
"It…I…." Creed looked uncharacteristically discomfited, obviously not used to thanks.
"I'm sorry," Steph said again, blushing now. "But really, you are a good friend, n' if ya ever need anything (not that you'd ever admit it) buildings don't get up an' run away. Don't disappear either."
Creed nodded and turned and walked out of the door hurriedly.
Steph shook her head as she felt Bobby wrap his arm around her shoulders.
"Oh Bobby, I just made a complete fool outta myself," she sighed. "Thanking Creed…whatever."
"Hey," he said. "Looks like you need your teddy bear to bring back your common sense, huh?" "I really am stupid sometimes," she said, nodding.
"Yeah, but we love ya anyway," Bobby replied.
Steph snorted and hit his chest with a backhand. "You're such an…."
"Careful now, we have young ears around," Bobby said, nodding at the little girl he held in his other arm.
"Mam?" said Sam, eyes wide.
Steph nodded and reached out her hands, taking her daughter and hugging her close. Though obviously confused by what was going on Sam shrugged and patted her mother's cheeks.
"Bah righ dada," she said.
"Ah, your mama's lost it, gaining slowly," she said. "But your right, I think we should go see yer papa, he's nice and snuggly, huh?"
Sam smiled and nodded, wrapping her small arms around Steph's neck and Bobby's arm.
Bobby looked at it. "Apparently I'm to escort you," he said.
"Thanks," Steph said.
"Not really a choice, I'm afraid," Bobby replied. "Your kid's holding me so tight I'm losing circulation to my hand."
Steph laughed and kissed her daughter's forehead. "She's making sure someone's looking after me, wait till ya see what she does when Hank's around and I'm upset."
"I've seen, the kid really can drag the guy across the room, huh?" Bobby laughed.
Steph did too. "Oh yeah."