Disclaimer: See First Chapter.
Author's Note: Thank You for all the reviews.
"How old are you?" Summerlee asked, quietly admiring the young girl.
"Twelve, and Will's fourteen."
Roxton chuckled, "And you're my kids with Marguerite," wonder still filling his voice.
"Not you're only kids though…" Izzie said, smiling.
His eyes widened, "We… we have more kids!" He asked.
Izzie nodded calmly, "Two more kids."
"Two! What am I goddamned rabbit!" Marguerite cried, her expression one of horror.
"Marguerite!" John chastised, thinking that maybe she'd gone too far. There were just certain things that children did not need to know about their mother – her reluctance to even have children being one of them.
"Don't worry Dad, nothing she says can shock us. We've had much more experience with Mum than you have," Will told him smiling.
"And they're twins, Mum, so technically speaking you got two for the price of one…" Izzie comforted.
"Well aren't I just… lucky." Marguerite whispered, her tone unreadable.
"Arthur Malone Roxton and George Thomas Roxton, born June 1936; they're six years old and verifiable con-artists – you're very proud." Will informed her, his grin still in place.
"They were a surprise," Izzie said, than tossed her hair, "Of course they would have to have been… you pretty much peaked when I was born."
"Brat." Will hissed, but his eyes were smiling.
"I have four children and I've been married for fifteen years…" Marguerite said, a touch of awe in her voice, her gaze a bit hazy. It sharpened suddenly, "Are you sure I'm your mother?"
Will laughed, Izzie giggled, and Roxton made a huffing noise.
"I think we've established that my dear," he drawled, a trace of anger. Being married to him wasn't such a bad thing… he'd be a good husband… damn better than her others…
She let her gaze wander to him, "I'm just making sure," she said, her voice a bit tight. Didn't John understand, couldn't he see… how unlike her this sounded…
Roxton eyed her, trying to read her read her thoughts, to share his own. Everyone was silent as the dark-haired couple started at each other, neither one willing to break the gaze first.
The kids were used to their parents staring at each other, communicating without words, they'd grown up watching it; they knew to wait, to let it pass.
The other explorers were just baffled by all of this. The last time they'd had people from the future around they'd been – well, slightly menacing. They hadn't leaned nearly so much about the future, and what they had, hadn't been so… personal. These kids were talking about the future, yes, but it was a future they were going to live.
"So I guess… we're pretty happy, huh?" Roxton asked his children after a moment, his eyes however, were focused on his future wife.
Will looked from his father to his mother and back again, "Yeah, you're pretty happy," he said softly.
"Where do we move to?" John asked, still looking at Marguerite.
"England,most of our time was spent at Aveburry. You keep saying I have to learn how to manage the estate and Izzie has to learn to not swing from trees."
Izzie glared at him, "You're real happy I swing from trees when I save your butt…"
"In case it hasn't become obvious yet, I'm the more civilized of the two." Will told his audience, his face perfectly serious.
"I'm going to tell Aunt Ronnie you said that." Izzie said.
"Was spent?" Roxton asked, his gaze darting to his son for an explanation before movingback to Marguerite.
Will nodded slowly, his eyes thoughtful, "Dad is considering moving us to Avalon for awhile, …" he paused, his gaze going to his mother, than back to Roxton, "… the situation in Europe is becoming…" he trailed off, obviously at a loss for what to say or rather what not to say.
"Dangerous," Izzie said, having no such qualms, "It's getting dangerous for Mum --that is, 'cause of what she did the Grea-"
William elbowed his sister in the ribs -- hard -- causing her not only to shut-up but to yelp in pain.
"That topic is so off limits," he said to her as she rubbed her side, "… and you know it." Than he looked at the curios faces of the explorers, "We're not talking about that, so you might as well erase it from your memories." He added, than slowly let his gaze wander to his mother.
It struck Marguerite suddenly, with something akin to panic… that this boy, these children… they knew her. They knew her secrets, and judging by the knowing look in the boys' eyes – too many of them.
"Four kids," She said a trifle too brightly, as she stood and turned away from the group. She didn't say anything, and neither did anyone else. Will's voice had been much too adamant, and the fact that Izzie had accepted his declaration with absolutely no argument told them it was an issue not to be taken lightly.
Margue-" John began, but she whirled around before he could finish, a brittle smile on her face they knew was meant to be teasing.
"I have four kids and Veronica… the maternal one… has just one…?" She questioned.
The question served it's purpose, as everyone once again focused their attention on the vistor's.
It was, in fact, a question the blonde jungle girl had been wondering herself. "How do things like that happen?" Marguerite continued, semi-sweetly.
The siblings exchanged looks, before Izzie smiled teasingly, "We never said that."
Will laughed at the way Ned and Veronica sat up a little straighter, "You're right Izzie, this is kinda fun… for once we're the ones who know everything."
"So do I have more children…?" Veronica asked, as the children snickered at each other.
"Yes," Will said calmly.
"Well…?" Veronica asked.
"Don't you want to know, Ned? After all, Veronica's children are yours as well…" Marguerite said, she couldn't help it. If she had to be uncomfortable with the knowledge of her future spouse, why not spread the joy.
He glared at her, than let his gaze rest on Veronica, "Could you tell us about them?" he asked Will.
Will smiled, "I think you should know that it's a constant joke in the family that the first couple of kids were delivered to the wrong couples."
Izzie laughed at there confused looks, "I'm the jungle princess… like Aunt Ronnie. And Will here, is the writer like Uncle Ned. Layton is a hunter like Daddy… and Em is just…" Izzie sighed, but there was a very tender look on her face, "Em is just Mum." She finished softly.
There was silence after this. Veronica cleared her throat, "Just to be sure, I mean I am, but just in case… Aunt Ronnie… that's me right."
The kids nodded, Izzie smiled, "Your Aunt Ronnie, and Mum is Auntie Rita."
"I am not." Marguerite argued, her voice firm from where she stood,"I don't use nicknames."
Will smiled, "The way the story goes, Layton couldn't say Marguerite, only 'rite and it stuck."
Izzie shrugged at her mother, "I guess you use them when they're said by your only nephew…"
"But you said we had more children," Ned said, his eyes going to Veronica than to Izzie again.
"Em?" Veronica asked, her brow furrowing.
"Emilia Marguerite Malone." Will stated with a smile "Just like Mum requested." He added, smugly after a moment.
"Like what?" Veronica asked.
"When everyone first got the Plateau, after Mum sold you to-"
"Mum what?" Izzie cried, her gaze shooting to Marguerite and then back to Will.
Will rolled his eyes, "I told you, you never listen." He complained, before adding, "Mum sold Aunt Ronnie to Jacoba when they first got here, remember, we were camping when Mum told the story."
"But… I thought…"
"Remember, she told us she felt really bad about it afterwards, 'cause Aunt Ronnie was hurt when they came for her and that's why she went with them…"
"Yeah, I remember… sort-of… it's just, I always thought it was kind of a joke or something…"
Will snorted, "You were probably doing something un-lady-like."
She glowered at him, "Forgive me for wanting to know the practical, useful knowledge of surviving in the jungle while we camp instead of listening to stories and living in a dream world like a child."
Will gave a very steady look that spoke volumes as to who the child was, than transferred his gaze back to Veronica, "When you were all in the caves, the cave almost collapsed and Mum pulled you up and when you were going to thank her, Mum told you to name yours and Ned's first child after her…. But the first child was a boy, so you named the second child."
"Wait… you said that?" Ned asked Marguerite, incredulous, "That was months ago…"
Marguerite shrugged, smiling a little and taking her seat again, "I told you, I had a feeling about you two."
Ned blushed, and looked at Veronica again.
"It's a beautiful name," Challenger said suddenly, his voice very pleased and Summerlee nodded his agreement.
"She's a beautiful girl," Will said, smiling, "She looks like a fairy – wild blonde hair and big blue eyes like her mother, but imitates her beloved Auntie Rita in everything. And Mum loves it, calls it payback, 'cause her own daughter would rather hunt dinosaurs than take a bubble bath."
Izzie snorted, "I have my priorities straight."
"That's my girl," Roxton said cheekily and received a dazzling smile in return.
"Thank You Daddy."
"So when exactly do we make it off the Plateau?" Challenger asked.
That very effectively ended the grins on both children's faces. They looked at each other, before Izzie shrugged – handing control over to Will.
"I don't think it would be a good idea to tell you that. If you know when you find the way off then you'll stop looking or you won't look as hard until that time comes near and we… we need to look. I will tell you though," Will added after a moment seeing there disappointed expressions, "… that you don't leave the Plateau until years after you've found the way off."
"It kinda grows on you," Izzie said smiling.
The explorers let that piece of information sink in, before Challenger shook his head and said firmly, his voice a trifle angry as he thought of his missed glory, "That can't be possible. I wouldn't do that. I have a duty to my peers to return as soon as I am able."
Will frowned a little. Although he and his siblings along with his cousins knew many stories of the early years and his mother's sharp tongue and seemingly callous attitude, the man before him had never been anything but a kind, loving, slightly absent-minded, loyal Grandpa.
"You have a duty to family first."
"My family is not here, young man." The words were out before he could stop them. He did not intend to be purposefully cruel, but he knew the moment the words were out that he had been. He saw it, as did the others, in the flash of hurt that crossed the children's faces.
These children did not understand, though, the urgency he felt to share his discoveries with the world, the responsibility he had to educate…
… just as he did not understand what would compel him to remain here, if he knew the way off…
"It has been a dreadfully long day for all of us, perhaps we should retire." Summerlee said standing, doing his best to disperse the suddenly grim atmosphere.
He had seen the hurt in the boy transform into understanding, and he had seen the hurt in the girl transform to anger. But her brother had placed a carefully restraining hand on her arm, and she had remained silent.
In his usual take-charge manner, John directed his children to his bedroom, telling them he'd take the couch. The rest of the occupants slowly left the room, all headed to their rooms to mull over all they'd heard.
"Tomorrow we'll head out, see what we find," Roxton told them as they left.
As Marguerite headed to her room, Izzie ran to her, wrapped her arms around her from behind and said happily, "Goodnight Mum."
Before running to Roxton and hugging him, "Goodnight Daddy."
Her actions bespoke of familiarity as did the way she simply headed towards his bedroom. When he saw her slip into the doorway, Roxton looked up to meet the eyes of his son.
"She's going to sprawl herself over the entire bed," Will said, ruefully.
John smirked a little, than said seriously, "What George said… he didn't mean it the way it came out…"
"He didn't?" the boy questioned and his need to reassure the boy, Roxton missed the teasing glint in his eye.
"No, no, of course he didn't… he meant to say…"
"That he has a duty to his science that takes precedence over all?"
"Yes, exactly…" John frowned suddenly, "No, no not over all… well yes, sometimes… but… what I'm trying to say is that he didn't mean to be…." He trailed off here, at a loss for words. What he could he say that wouldn't be disloyal to the man he'd promised to follow to hell and back?
"Didn't mean to be what?" Will asked, a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth.
"Well… George is a brilliant man, and sometimes he… well, it's really no reflection on his brilliance, he's very brilliant, but he can be a little… when it come to relationships, he isn't… he doesn't know how to-"
"You should be ashamed of yourself…" a cool voice said from behind them, "Tying him up in knots like that…" the cool voice was slightly amused and John turned to find Marguerite making her way to them.
Roxton looked between the two of them, they both looked highly amused. What was she talking about?
Will shrugged, a smile full bloom on his face, "I couldn't help it. It was just too easy…" he glanced at his father quickly, "He's so… earnest…"
Marguerite laughed a real, joyful sound that made Roxton's gaze swing to her in astonishment.
"I guess he is…" she said to her son.
He scowled at them suddenly, as he realized that they were making sport of him, "What are you talking about?"
"In case you couldn't tell John, this young man has a better understanding of George than either of us." She glanced at him quickly, "I think he has a pretty good understating of all of us."
Roxton looked at Will, who gave him an effortless shrug in return, "Grandpa George's family isn't here yet… but it will be," he said simply, "And then it will take precedence… over all."
John frowned a little, if the boy understood what he'd been trying to say so well, than why the hell had he been standing there with that clueless expression on his face?
Marguerite's words sunk in then, and he transferred his gaze to her, "I see," he said softly.
Will looked worried suddenly, "You're not mad are you?" He asked quickly, "I didn't mean to do it… it just happened."
"You're good…" Marguerite said, a touch of pride in her voice. She'd been watching and had seen the ease with which the boy purposefully flustered Roxton. It was obvious he knew what he was doing, and it gave her a secret pleasure to know that she'd passed along her skills… because that's what they were -- skills… even if her fellow explorers didn't wish to acknowledge them as such. "Not as good as me, though," She added after a moment.
Will flashed her a grin, his father's grin, "Don't worry. I will be." He said confidently.
Roxton couldn't help the smile that touched his lips, "No I'm not mad," he told his son, "You may look like me, but I can tell you're all hers." He said knowingly.
Immediately Marguerite's smile faded, "Well... I, um...I think… I'll go to bed… ummm…" she looked at Will uncomfortably.
Izzie had darted away without a backwards glance, something she was thankful for; simply because: What did one say to one's future child before bed? Nice to meet you? Hope I haven't ruined your life too much?
"I'll see you in the morning, Mum," he said to her, solving her dilemma. She smiled at him, shot one more quick glance at Roxton and quickly left the room.
Roxton watched her leave, his eyes trailing her small form until she disappeared from sight.
"It's hard for her to accept all this," he told his son, forgetting what Marguerite had said to him.
Will was silent a moment, studying his father's profile, "But not for you?" He asked.
John shifted his gaze, "No, not really… more like a verification of what I'd already planned."
Will smiled, "Your persistence is legendary, quite a hard act to follow…"
The two talked for a little while longer. John asking questions, Will answering as best he could. It was a comfortable talk, and John knew instinctively that he and his son got along well.
When Will finally said he was going to bed, John gave the boy a hug and told him he'd see him tomorrow, but did not seek his own rest.
He stood at the balcony for a long time, watching the moon and hearing the jungle sounds. His thoughts traveling to the life he'd lived. It was past now, for the rest of his days on earth, his life would be divided into two halves – the one before and the one after.
With a small smile on his lips he laid himself down on the sofa and thought of the life he was going to live, and drifted off to sleep with thoughts of the woman who would be the center of it.