ring around the rosies

ring around the rosies

The day Marion Ravenwood realized she was pregnant she threw up six times, and only one of them was due to morning sickness. She kept looking at the pregnancy test and shaking it, hoping to shove the word Yes off the screen and replace it with a more acceptable answer.

"Oh, I am in such shit," she muttered to herself, "Indiana God-damned Jones!"

It had to have been the breakup sex, she realized, which made the whole situation worse. How was she supposed to go demand that he pay—support, or whatever, when the whole reason it had ended was because she alone had been too much?

Marion steadied herself on the counter. She was tired of running to Indy. For daring rescues and violent gunfights, she bowed to him as master.

But this, she could handle on her own.

--

She could no longer see her feet. Marion groaned, pressing her hands to her full belly. "Jeez, kid, could you get any bigger?"

Her son nudged at her belly, forcefully as if he were reaching for the plate of foot in front of her. Marion laughed fondly, rubbing her hand in slow circles in that way that always seemed to calm the baby down. "All right, all right already. What do we feel like today…?"

She would end up eating everything, of course, but talking to her belly always made her feel less… lonely, somehow. And she knew it was stupid, wanting someone to share this with. She was used to being alone when she needed a partner most—her father had died when she was nineteen, just as she stepped into womanhood and needed a guide; Indy both came and went when what she needed was for him to do the opposite; and now this, her baby coming without anyone in the world but her to care.

She'd toyed with getting a dog for a while, to ease the silence of the apartment, but she supposed that a child would do its part to take care of that particular problem.

"Well, you're certainly better than a puppy," she told the tiny thing still inside her, and laughed at her own joke. Her fingers drummed against the table, a nervous habit she'd picked up after she quit smoking. "My own little Indy-Marion mongrel."

She glanced down at her left hand, which still had Indy's ring on it. She couldn't make herself take it off, just yet; she'd tried at first, too angry at him to miss him, but her hand felt too light and the looks she got—pregnant, and no ring?—had irritated her hormonally unbalanced self so much she'd put it back on just to make things easier.

And now it was like a part of her, of her and the baby. That ring was as much of Indy as she'd ever had, maybe as much as any woman ever would.

Marion shook her head as another kick reminded her of the pressing matter of food. "All right, my hungry little mutt," she said with a quiet laugh. "Let's eat."

--

Her water broke all over Colin William's newly shined shoes.

They both stared down at the mess, horrified, and then Mutt (it had started in the diner and stuck, and now the only way that Marion could think of her unborn son) kicked excitedly at her stomach, ready to be out in the world.

"Oh, shit," Marion breathed, stumbling backwards. Colin caught her elbow and, with military control, led her towards his car. And despite the incredibly pain in her lower region, despite the lightheadedness that made her feel like she was a balloon weighted down by a ten-pound rock, she started laughing. "You came over to help me clean my gutters," she babbled. "Surprise!"

Colin humored her with a kind smile, gently helping her into the backseat. "I'm taking you to the hospital, Miss Ravenwood," he told her firmly. "Stay calm, everything will be fine."

"Oh, I believe you," she murmured, eyelids fluttering. Did all women in labor feel their heart constricting like this? "And Jesus fuck, Colin, call me Marion."

He didn't say anything, just cast a nervous glance at her. She was having trouble breathing. Was the air getting thinner? Mutt kicked again. "Stop it, baby," she tried to say, hand resting feebly on her stomach. "Just wait an hour or two, all right."

A gentler kick. Maybe an okay?

"Marion," Colin said, his voice unnaturally muffled, "Keep your eyes open for me. You have to stay awake. I think there's something wrong. We're almost to the hospital, just stay away."

Wrong? Marion thought dimly. How could anything be wrong? She was going to finally meet her baby boy, her little mongrel, her Mutt. She had waited patiently for almost a year for this moment.

It was a getting harder to breathe. The world looked fuzzy but she could still feel her baby clearly beneath her hand, poking at her belly, wanting to meet her as much as she wanted to meet him.

Marion was dimly aware of Colin pulling into the hospital parking lot and shouting for help, of someone putting her on a stretcher and wheeling her inside; all she could recognize was the baby pushing against her stomach, reaching for her as she was reaching for him.

--

She woke to unbearably bright lights and a baby crying.

She blinked herself awake and sat up, looking down at herself. Her stomach was flatter than before, but only marginally; she put her hand on it but it didn't mean anything anymore; there was nothing inside.

In a little glass crib beside her was a baby, wrapped in a blue blanket, and looking up at her with a demanding wail.

Ravenwood was written in confused letters on the glass, but Marion didn't need the label to recognize her son. "Oh," she breathed, reaching out and cradling the boy in her arms. "Hello, Mutt."

The baby smiled then, wide and toothless, and snuggled deep into her chest, garbling happily. Marion felt her heart fold around him, enveloping him in a safe cocoon.

The doctor came in then, smiling at her from behind his clipboard. "Ah, Miss Ravenwood, you're awake!"

"Isn't he beautiful?" She asked, instead of answering, beaming up at him. "Mutt. My little Mutt."

The doctor smiled noncommittally. "Yes he is, Miss Ravenwood. Now, do you have a name already picked out for him? I have the birth certificate here, but no one knew what to write for the name."

Marion hesitated. "What do boys usually get named?" She asked, embarrassed. "I've just been calling him Mutt."

The doctor coughed. "Well—um…I'm not sure if there is a… a 'usual' name for boys these days."

"Well, why are you named your name?"

"It was my father's name."

Marion thought about that. She could name him Abner, of course, but that seemed unnecessarily cruel. "Henry Jones," she said, testing the name on her tongue.

The doctor wrote her choice and left before she had time to change her mind. Marion sat in silence, wondering if it would be a curse, that name, following her everywhere in the guise of her favorite person on this earth.

Mutt nudged her breast hungrily and she smiled. "You aren't Indiana," she told him. "You're just Mutt."

--

The decision to marry Colin was as much an act of convenience as it was one of love. Mutt adored the man, and had since infancy; and Marion had a soft spot for the gentle, handsome RAF pilot who loved her unequivocally. And it was useful, having a man around to do things like fix the running toilet and play football in the backyard.

Mutt had been trying to convince her to play for years, but she still wouldn't do it. He was getting stronger every day and she valued her life, thank you very much.

They were married in the summer, because it was the only time they could get off long enough to have a honeymoon, and she let Margaret the waitress run the Raven's Nest while she was gone.

It wasn't the honeymoon she'd always imagined with Indy—the beach, alone, or the bedroom, alone—but more of a family vacation; her, Mutt, and Colin, all together making fun of old movies and learning to be an official family.

Still, there was a lot more of Indy in Mutt than Marion wanted to admit; he had that snide, sarcastic tone when he was angry, and when she saw him out of her peripheral vision they were so alike her heart quickened. And of course there was the sense of adventure that she'd never bothered to attempt stamping out of him; he couldn't resist climbing trees or fences or getting involved in one sort of trouble of another.

The older he got the more she wished he really had been Henry Williams and not Henry Jones III, as if a name would make any sort of difference.

She was his playmate; his friend; his fellow conspirator against the man he called Dad; and of course his greatest encourager. She was all these things, yes, but his mother too, and she knew without a shadow of doubt where his life would lead him.

Still, for now the boy was only ten, and she would accept the time she had with him as gratefully as she could. He would leave her, too, just like all the other men had—but for now, he was hers.

--

On his seventeenth birthday, Marion had Colin's old RAF leather jacket embroidered with the name Mutt. When the boy wore it he was his both of his fathers' spitting image, but—it made her smile. She thought maybe Indy deserved that, after being denied the right to know this amazing boy.

Sometimes she felt guilty, yes, but having shut that door. But her Mutt was hers, not Indy's, and she knew that any relationship with the man would do more harm than good. Indy wasn't good at staying still, and he wouldn't have been the father that Mutt deserved.

Colin had been that father for him.

She missed Colin with a friendly sort of ache, one that sat on her counter and swung its legs against the cabinets. It lay beside her in bed and fiddled with the radio in the car; always present but never too much. Sometimes she was sad, thinking of the man who had meant so much to her and her son, but Colin had received the best of all her years, and there was nothing more she could have given him.

But Mutt found it hard. Without Colin—the steadying influence in both their lives—the boy more and more often got himself into trouble, riding around on his stepfather's old bike and coming his hair the way the boys who meant trouble always did.

Marion tried to reign him in, but it did no good. He needed to be angry, for now—angry at Colin and for Colin, angry at her, angry at the father he'd never known. His name was Henry Williams, now, but the part of him that would always be Henry Jones III clung stubbornly to his skin.

Indy, Marion knew, always came and went at the worst times.

--

When the news came about Henry, Marion knew both what she had to do and what she couldn't.

Henry was, in many ways, a pre-Colin; it was Henry that helped her start the Raven's Nest, Henry that kept her company on the long nights when pregnancy was too much for just one person, Henry that sent Colin that fateful day to clean her rain-gutters.

Everything in Marion screamed at her to keep Indy out of this, to keep that door of her life firmly locked. She wasn't sure she'd survive another disappearing act from Indiana Jones.

But one look at Mutt, whose father had never known him, and whose stepfather was dead, and now, whose surrogate father was missing, and she knew she had to go back to the place she'd always sworn was off-limits.

Indiana Jones.

But it would be different this time, she decided; she wasn't going to be the young-and-awed love interest for the action hero. This wasn't about Marion and Indiana, it was about Mutt, her precious, all-grown-up Ravenwood-Jones mongrel.

She gave her son an address and a name and said nothing of their relation. That would come in time, but she didn't want to overload him.

He left on his motorcycle, the same way that every man has ever left her for the last time.

(Her father, too drunk to drive; Indy, the first time; Indy, the second time; and at last Colin, on his way to the plan that would destroy him.)

So Marion closed her eyes.

"I am in such shit," she muttered to herself. "Indiana God-damned Jones."