Title: The Greatest Joy

By: Liz

Rating: PG

Disclaimers: I own no one Lost World (I invented one character, but I think you'll be able to tell who)

Spoilers: Everything that has happened so far has happened, but in my reality Summerlee and Ned are still around and Ned and Veronica are not just friends.

Author's Notes: This fic was sparked by a line from a recent episode (if I say which, it'll give it away!). My thanks to Kate for brainstorming, betaing, and just being there to listen!

****

The Greatest Joy

"I thought you said you knew a shortcut back to the treehouse," Marguerite Krux grumbled, glaring at the back of the man in front of her.

"I do, Marguerite," John Roxton replied calmly. "If we were to go back the way we came, we would have had a lot more uphill climbing to do and much rockier terrain to cross."

"And this way we just have to walk through a favorite gathering spot of dinosaurs," Marguerite shot back. "Pretty lousy tradeoff if you ask me."

"It will save us time and get us back to the treehouse before dark, which is what's important," Roxton replied. "Right now, we'll just have to stay alert."

Marguerite made a face at Roxton's back but said nothing, choosing to continue hiking silently after him. A few moments later Roxton stopped so suddenly that Marguerite ran solidly into his back. "Is there a particular reason you did that?" she demanded. "Or-"

"Shh!" Roxton commanded, putting a finger to his lips. He listened a moment and then, without looking at her, muttered, "Raptors. Three of them, I believe."

"Oh good," Marguerite said sarcastically as she pulled the pistol from her holster. "I was just starting to get bored."

Roxton gestured to the left with his pistol, meaning that they should spread out so that the Raptors would not be able to easily surround them when they attacked. The two explorers had only taken a few steps away from each other when the Raptors jumped from the bushes. There were three, as Roxton had guessed, and they screeched before lunging forward to attack.

Two made their way towards Marguerite while the remaining one turned to Roxton. Marguerite quickly dispatched of one of the Raptors with two bullets to its head from her pistol. She turned her gun to the other one and swore loudly when she heard it click emptily. "You have got to be kidding me," she muttered. "Nice day to forget to reload!"

"Marguerite!" Roxton had taken care of the Raptor that had come after him and turned to see the third Raptor closing in on Marguerite and her useless gun. He shot the Raptor once in the back as he charged toward it. The Raptor screamed in pain and whipped around, its tail catching Roxton in the side and sending him flying into a nearby tree. He hit the ground and lay there motionless as the Raptor advanced towards him.

"No!" Marguerite screamed. She fumbled with her boot and finally pulled out the knife she had begun carrying with her on their treks in the jungle. Sending up a silent prayer to whoever was listening, she reached back and threw the knife with all of her might straight into the Raptor's back. The Raptor screeched again and took a few staggering steps before falling to the ground, dead.

"Remind me to thank Veronica when we get home," Marguerite murmured to herself, running over to Roxton's still form. She dropped down onto her knees beside him, gently lifting his head to rest in her lap. "John, John can you hear me?" she asked, gently brushing hair away from his forehead.

Roxton groaned and opened his eyes. "What happened?" he asked groggily.

"A Raptor decided you looked like a pretty good chew toy," she said lightly as she tried to keep from sounding too worried.

Roxton smiled slightly, seeing the concern in her eyes, and looked over at the Raptor. "And the knife in its back?"

Marguerite shrugged. "Let's just say Veronica's a good teacher," she said. "Now, come on, let's get you up and clean up this charming gash that tree left on your forehead. She eased him up to a sitting position, letting him rest his back against the tree behind him for support. She yanked off a piece from the bottom of her shirt and wet it with the water in her canteen. "Honestly," she muttered, "I'm beginning to think you won't be happy until you've managed to injure absolutely every part of your body on this damn plateau."

"As long as I have you here to take care of me," Roxton told her with a smile as she tenderly began to clean his wound.

"Or maybe you're just trying to make me tear up every piece of clothing I have until I end up dressed like Veronica," she added.

"Why Marguerite, whatever are you implying?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

Marguerite tried to make her expression stern, but she couldn't help smiling at the teasing light in his eye. "Oh that's right, perfect gentleman, aren't you?" she teased back.

"That's right," he said mock seriously.

"Hmm," Marguerite said, leaning closer to him. "Seems to me there should be some kind of reward involved for saving the life of a lord."

Roxton placed his hand behind her head and gently pulled her head closer to his. "Something like this?" he whispered huskily right before claiming her lips with his own. Roxton slipped his other arm around Marguerite's waist and pulled her closer to him until she was sitting in his lap. He leaned further back against the tree, intensifying the kiss until a sharp pain in his side caused him to groan aloud.

Marguerite pulled back immediately, looking at him in concern. "Are you all right?" she asked, her eyes searching his face anxiously.

"Fine," he muttered. "That damn Raptor caught me a little harder than I thought in my side."

"Do you think you can walk?" Marguerite asked.

Roxton nodded. "I'll be fine. Someone just got a little overzealous in collecting her reward," he added with a grin.

"Huh, you call that a reward?" Marguerite shot back, but she was smiling as well.

"Oh, were you looking for more?" Roxton asked, pulling her back into his lap once more. "Greedy greedy," he whispered against her lips before placing a tender kiss against her lips. His lips left hers then, softly trailing down her jaw to her throat.

"Mmm, a girl could get used to this," Marguerite murmured, her eyes closed, hands tangled in John's dark hair as he trailed feather light kisses down to the top of her camisole.

"Could she now?" John asked.

"Mm-hmm," Marguerite said dreamily, giving into the sense of security she felt in his arms.

"Then why don't you?" he asked softly.

"John?"

He pulled back and looked up into her eyes. "Then why don't you?" he repeated. "Why shouldn't we get used to this? Why let anything come between us anymore?"

Marguerite's eyes looked uncertain. "John, what are you saying?" she asked slowly.

"I'm not saying anything," he began. "But there is something that I would like to ask you." Roxton took a deep breath and reached forward to take Marguerite's hands in his own. "Marguerite, I love you and I want you in my life, by my side, everyday. All that matters to me is you."

Marguerite tried to pull away but Roxton held her hands fast in his own. "John, there's so much you don't know about me," she began. "About my past, things I've done."

"Marguerite, I don't care what you've done in your past," Roxton said earnestly. "I know the person you are now, and that's all that matters. I'll never hurt you, I'll never leave you. There is nothing we can encounter or experience that will take me away from you. Just say the word, and I'll be at your side forever." Roxton shifted so that he was now kneeling in front of Marguerite, still holding her hands before him. "Marguerite Krux, would you make me the happiest man alive and do me the honor of being my wife?" he asked.

Marguerite stared down at him, tears welling up in her eyes as he looked at her with such love and utter devotion on his face, and said the only thing she could.

"Yes."

Roxton stared at Marguerite uncomprehendingly for a moment before the largest smile Marguerite had ever seen split his face. "Yes?" he repeated. She nodded. "Yes?"

She nodded again. "Yes," she said, tears running down her face now. "Yes, I'll marry you, John Roxton."

Roxton whooped and wrapped his arms around Marguerite's waist, pulling her back down to him again. "Yes," he repeated. "Yes," he murmured against her lips before kissing her passionately.

When they separated he pulled her close to him, convinced he would never let her out of his arms again. "I love you, John," Marguerite whispered against his shoulder.

"I love you, too, sweetheart," he said, kissing her temple as he tightened his arms around her.

Roxton was reluctant to release her, but finally Marguerite pulled far enough away to look him in the eye. "John, as much as I hate to say it, we really should get back to the treehouse. It's going to get dark soon and it's not really safe for us to stay here. I'd hate to lose you to headhunters now that I've agreed to be your wife," she teased gently, leaning forward to press a kiss against his lips.

His wife. Roxton's heart swelled at the words. Marguerite was going to be his wife! Roxton stood and helped Marguerite to her feet, unable to keep a smile of pure joy from his face. Hand in hand, the two made their way back to the treehouse to share the news with their friends.

***

A few weeks later Roxton stood beside Ned and Challenger, waiting for Marguerite to make her appearance. Ned was serving as Roxton's best man and Marguerite had asked Veronica to be her maid of honor. Since there was no priest available for the wedding, Challenger had offered to perform the ceremony. Summerlee had become something of a father figure to Marguerite, so it was only fitting that he would be giving her away to begin the ceremony.

Veronica started the gramophone and "the wedding march" began playing as she made her way down the makeshift aisle toward the men. Beside Roxton, Ned could not take his eyes off of Veronica as she walked toward him in a pale blue dress, a small bouquet of wildflowers in her hands. She smiled shyly at him as she joined him at the "altar."

"You look beautiful, Veronica," Ned whispered in her ear. A slight blush colored Veronica's cheeks as she smiled her thanks at him. Before she could say anything, however, Marguerite appeared at the end of the aisle.

Roxton sucked in his breath sharply at the sight before him. Marguerite walked toward them on Summerlee's arm, a serene smile on her face and a joyful light in her eyes as she looked at Roxton. Though she had been married before, Marguerite and Roxton had agreed that their life together would be a new beginning for both of them and so she was dressed in a simple white gown. Veronica had given her a dress that had belonged to her mother, and together the two women had fashioned it into a simple wedding dress for Marguerite. A gauzy white scarf was perched on the back of her head, serving as a veil, and Veronica had woven wildflowers through Marguerite's hair. The overall picture was quite breathtaking and Roxton couldn't keep a warm smile from spreading across his face as he watched her walk towards him.

When they reached the end of the aisle Summerlee kissed Marguerite gently on the cheek and then placed her hand in Roxton's before going to stand beside Ned and Veronica. Roxton held Marguerite's hands in his own. "You're absolutely stunning," he told her softly and was rewarded with a smile from her. "Are you ready?"

"I've never been readier for anything in my life," Marguerite replied honestly, her eyes absolutely shining as she met his gaze.

"Neither have I," Roxton replied with a smile. "Nor have I ever been happier." Marguerite squeezed his hand gently before the two turned to Challenger, signaling for him to begin.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of Marguerite Krux and John Roxton." Roxton looked over at his bride, thinking about how perfect things were. He couldn't imagine ever being happier.

****

Several weeks later, he received news that made him re-evaluate that thought. One afternoon, just after lunch, Marguerite stopped Roxton as he was about to leave the treehouse to chop wood for the fire and pulled him into their bedroom. "John, I have, um, something to tell you," Marguerite said, pacing nervously in front of him as he sat on the bed watching her.

Roxton nodded, waiting for her to continue. "I, well, um, I guess there's no easy way to say this." She stopped pacing and turned to face him. "I'm pregnant," she burst out.

Roxton didn't move for a moment. "Say something," she pleaded. "Anything."

"Are you sure?" he finally asked, his voice sounding a little funny.

"Summerlee and Challenger developed a way for testing - something about some plant's chemical reaction. And yesterday, when Veronica and I went to the Zanga village, we visited the medicine woman and she confirmed it. So, yes, I'm pretty sure," she finished. She bit her bottom lip as she waited nervously for Roxton's reaction.

She didn't have long to wait. He fairly leapt from the bed, scooping her up in his arms and swinging her around as he laughed happily. "A baby. We're going to have a baby," he said, beaming at her.

"John, I just ate!" Marguerite cried, but she could not help laughing as well.

Roxton immediately stopped and set her down on her feet in front of him. "Are you all right?" He anxiously looked her over and Marguerite narrowed her eyes at him.

"Don't you dare start doing that, John Roxton," she warned him. "I'm pregnant, not an invalid. I am perfectly all right, so don't you dare start treating me like glass."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Roxton said, pulling her back into his arms. "We're going to have a baby," he murmured before kissing her gently. "This is wonderful news," he said as he hugged her close to him. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too," she whispered, wrapping her arms more tightly around him.

"Marguerite?" Veronica's voice calling from the next room broke the spell. "Marguerite, are you here? You promised to help Summerlee and me with the herb collection."

Marguerite and Roxton broke apart and looked at each other. "Have you told anyone yet?" Roxton asked her.

Marguerite shook her head. "Only Veronica knows because she was at the village with me yesterday. Let's tell them all tonight at dinner. If you think you can actually keep it a secret that long with that big smile on your face," she teased.

Roxton smiled at her joyfully. "I can't help it," he responded. "We're married and now we're going to have a baby. How could life possibly be more perfect?"

****

Eight months later Marguerite was cleaning up the breakfast dishes while Malone wrote in his journals at the table. Challenger and Summerlee were down in the lab and Veronica and Roxton were doing maintenance work on the electric fence. Suddenly, Marguerite's voice broke the silence of the treehouse. "Ned?" Her voice was so quiet and controlled Ned barely heard her.

"Mmm?" he asked without looking up.

"Can you get the others?" she asked, leaning heavily against the kitchen counter, one hand pressed against her stomach. "I think my water just broke."

"That's nice," he said absently, continuing to write in his journal. Seconds later his head popped up and he looked at Marguerite wide-eyed. "Your what!? Are you sure?"

"Oh, either that or Challenger took a page out of my cookbook when he made breakfast this morning," Marguerite quipped. She groaned slightly and put a hand on her stomach as she felt a contraction pass through her. "No, I'd say this isn't indigestion."

Ned leapt to his feet and hurried to her side. "Here, you should sit down," he said, wrapping his arm around her waist. "No, wait, you should lie down in your room, wait, let me call the others."

"Ned, please just help me to my bedroom," Marguerite broke in. "Then you can get the others, okay?"

Ned nodded. "Okay, right, that's a good plan. That's what we'll do," he said nervously. He helped Marguerite to her room and then rushed down to the lab to inform Challenger and Summerlee. Without waiting for a response for the two older men, Ned ran to the elevator and headed down to tell Veronica and the expectant father that Marguerite was in labor.

Ned ran up to Roxton and Veronica, out of breath. "Get upstairs," he panted. "Marguerite's in labor." Roxton dropped the tools in his hand and raced to the elevator without a word. The other two hurried after him and barely made it to the elevator before he sent it up to the treehouse.

The second the elevator reached the top, Roxton jumped out and ran into the treehouse calling his wife's name. "She's in your bedroom," Ned told him.

Roxton hurried into their bedroom and found Marguerite, dressed in her nightgown, lying on their bed while around her Summerlee and Challenger were making preparations for the delivery. Roxton dropped to his knees beside their bed and took Marguerite's hand. "How are you?" he asked anxiously. "Are you in any pain?"

"What do you think?" Marguerite groaned, squeezing his hand tightly as another contraction started. When it was done she opened her eyes and looked at Roxton. "I'm fine, John," she reassured him. "It's not exactly comfortable, but I'm pretty sure it's normal."

Roxton looked up to the others for confirmation and both Summerlee and Veronica nodded at him. "She's perfectly fine," Summerlee assured him.

"And she's in good hands," Veronica added. "I've assisted with enough births in the Zanga village, I know what I'm doing. Why don't you and Ned wait outside?"

Roxton looked ready to protest, but Marguerite squeezed his hand gently. "Veronica's right, John," she told him. "Go outside with Ned. Everything will be fine."

"Are you sure?" Roxton asked uncertainly.

Marguerite nodded. "Positive. Don't worry, just wait outside."

"All right." Roxton leaned over and kissed her cheek gently. "I'll be right out there if you need me."

Marguerite nodded and then closed her eyes, grimacing as another contraction started. Roxton looked torn, but Ned took him by the arm and guided him out of the bedroom and into the main room of the treehouse.

The two men waited in the main room of the treehouse for what felt like hours to Roxton. The hunter paced restlessly back and forth, wincing every time he heard Marguerite groan. He was just about ready to re-enter the bedroom and the consequences be damned when he heard Marguerite's scream quickly followed by another, shriller cry. He turned and raced to the bedroom with Ned close behind him, stopping just inside of the doorway.

Veronica, Challenger, and Summerlee all turned to face him as he entered and then stepped away from the bed to reveal Marguerite sitting up against her pillows, holding a small bundle in her arms. "John, there's someone here I'd like you to meet," Marguerite said, smiling radiantly at him.

Roxton walked across the room to the bed as if in a trance, never taking his eyes off of Marguerite's face. When he reached her side he perched next to her on the edge of the bed and peered down at the tiny body in her arms. "Congratulations, Dad," she whispered as Roxton stared down at the baby in silent awe. "You have a son."

Roxton looked up at Marguerite with tears in his eyes. "We have a son?" he choked out. She nodded, tears in her eyes as well. Roxton smiled as he leaned forward to kiss Marguerite. "We have a son," he repeated.

Marguerite nodded again. "Yes, we do." Roxton laughed and put his arm around her shoulder, hugging her carefully around their son's body.

"Hi," he said softly to the baby. His son opened his eyes then and Roxton felt his heart swell at the big grayish blue eyes so like his mother's that looked back at him.

"What are you going to name him?" Ned asked.

Roxton started. He had honestly forgotten that there was anyone else in the room. He looked at Marguerite and she nodded slightly. They had discussed possible names for both a boy and a girl and already knew what their son's name would be. "His name is William Arthur Edward Roxton," Marguerite told the others.

"Big name for such a little guy," Veronica said with a smile, reaching out to gently brush William's cheek with her finger.

"It will give him something to grow into," Roxton said. "And I figure he'll have some wonderful role models to help him do just that." The three other men just beamed, each happily surprised by the honor of William being named after all of them.

"Well, I think Mom and Dad need some time alone to get acquainted with their son," Veronica said, turning to the others.

"Yes, quite right," Summerlee agreed. "We'll be in the kitchen if you need us."

Marguerite smiled. "Thank you, all of you," she said.

"Yes," Roxton said. "Thank you." The others smiled in acknowledgement and then quickly left the room, giving the small family some time alone.

Roxton kept one arm around Marguerite's shoulders as he reached down to touch his son's hand. William cooed happily and wrapped his little fingers around one of Roxton's. "He's perfect, Marguerite," Roxton said in a hushed voice. "Just like you." He brushed a kiss against William's forehead and then leaned up to kiss Marguerite again. "I love you," he murmured against her temple.

"I love you, too, John. And I love you, William," she whispered, gently stroking the wispy dark hairs on his head.

Roxton tightened his arm around Marguerite's shoulders. "I wish we could freeze this moment," he murmured. "I wish we could stay like this forever."

"So do I," Marguerite agreed quietly, resting her head against Roxton's shoulder.

A moment later, Roxton felt Marguerite's body tense as she moaned softly. "Marguerite?" Roxton pulled back and looked at her worriedly, noting that her porcelain skin was paler than usual. "Marguerite, what's wrong?"

"It, it hurts," she gasped, pressing her free hand against her abdomen.

Roxton looked down towards her stomach, his eyes widening in horror when he saw the blood staining her top sheet. As he watched, it began to spread quickly, soaking the sheet. Marguerite cried out again and Roxton snapped into action. "Challenger! Summerlee! Veronica! Malone!" he screamed.

The four hurried back into the room, alarmed by the terror they could hear in the normally controlled hunter's voice. "John, what is- good Lord!" Challenger gasped when he saw the blood on the sheet.

"She's hemorrhaging," Summerlee said quietly. "Veronica, Ned, take William out of here, now!"

Veronica stepped forward, taking William gently from Marguerite's arms. Almost as if he could sense that something was wrong, he began wailing the moment he was out of Marguerite's embrace. Veronica and Ned hurried out of the room, attempting to soothe William while trying to keep themselves from panicking over Marguerite's condition.

Roxton gripped Marguerite's hand tightly as Challenger and Summerlee pulled the sheets from the bed and attempted to stop the bleeding. "Just hold on, darling," Roxton murmured. "It'll be okay, just hold on for me and William, okay?"

Marguerite smiled weakly at him. "I'm sorry, John," she said softly.

"About what? You're going to be fine," he told her. "Just hang on, Challenger and Summerlee will have you fixed up in no time."

Marguerite shook her head. "I'm sorry," she repeated. "Please take care of William. Let him know how much I love him. And never forget how much I love you, John. You made my life worth living again. I love you."

"Marguerite." Tears gathered in Roxton's eyes as Marguerite fell silent. "Marguerite?" Her beautiful blue gray eyes, normally so expressive, now stared dully up at him.

"John." He felt Challenger's hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry," Challenger said softly. Summerlee brushed a hand gently across Marguerite's eyes, closing her eyelids over her staring, lifeless eyes. He took Challenger by the elbow and gestured to the door, motioning that they should give Roxton some time alone to say goodbye to Marguerite.

The two men walked out, leaving Roxton with Marguerite's body. "Marguerite," Roxton choked out, tears streaming down his face. "No. Please, no." He gathered her body up in his arms and held her against his chest, rocking slowly back and forth. "Please don't go. Don't leave me, Marguerite. Please don't."

A cold breeze blew across the room then and Roxton heard a vaguely familiar voice speak to him. "The time has come, John Roxton." He looked up to see an imposing figure dressed in gray robes standing before him, a sickle in its grasp.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Roxton demanded, pulling Marguerite's body even more closely to his.

"Remember what I told you," Death replied. "I can separate man and woman at the moment of their greatest happiness. For you and Marguerite, that time has now come, and so has Marguerite's."

"No." Roxton shook his head. "No, it's not her time. I won, beat you at your own game. You get away from her now!"

Death raised a hand and Marguerite's body was pulled from Roxton's grasp to lie at Death's feet. "Marguerite's time has come," Death repeated. "And now I will take her."

"No! No, you let her go!" Roxton screamed. He struggled to get to Marguerite, but found he was unable to move. "Marguerite! Let her go! MARGUERITE!" He continued screaming her name as Death disappeared in a blaze of fire, Marguerite's body disappearing with it.

****

"Marguerite!"

"John! John, wake up! Wake up!"

Roxton shot straight up in bed panting for breath, sweat running down his bare chest and plastering his hair to his scalp. "John, are you all right?"

Roxton froze as he heard the beloved voice speaking by his ear and slowly turned to see Marguerite standing by his bed. "Marguerite?" he whispered, scarcely daring to believe his eyes. "Are, are you real?"

Marguerite blinked at him in surprise and then reached down to pinch his forearm. She expected a sharp retort from the hunter at the red mark that she had raised on his skin, but instead a smile of equal parts relief and joy spread across his face as he looked down at his arm. Then he reached up and wrapped his arms around her waist, burying his head against her stomach. "Oh thank God you're all right," he whispered, holding her like he'd never let go.

"John, what is going on? Are you all right?" Marguerite asked. Roxton pulled back to look up at her and Marguerite was surprised to see tears in his eyes. "John, what's the matter? What's happened?" she asked, cupping his face in her hands.

Roxton shook his head slowly. "A nightmare. It was only a nightmare," he replied, pulling her down to sit on the bed beside him. Slowly, he explained the entire dream turned nightmare to Marguerite. "I had everything and then Death came and she took you away and it was just, the pain was unbearable," he finished up, looking up at Marguerite. "It just brought it all back, what almost happened. She had all of you, I almost lost all of you forever, and it was my fault. I let you all down."

"John, no you didn't. You didn't fail any of us," Marguerite insisted softly. Roxton, however, did not look convinced. "John, listen to me," Marguerite said, turning his face towards her and looking him straight in the eye. "Death tried to cheat you, she tried to cheat all of us, but she didn't win. You won, John. You stayed strong, even with everything she threw at you, and in the end you defeated her. You beat her and you saved all of our lives and your own, and we're all back here safe and together again and that is what matters."

Roxton slipped his arm around her shoulder and hugged her to his side. "Thank you," he said softly.

Marguerite smiled up at him. "You're welcome," she whispered, pressing a tender kiss against his lips.

She moved to stand from the bed, but Roxton caught her elbow. "Marguerite, please stay with me," he whispered. "Please don't go."

A look of understanding passed between the two and Marguerite reached up to gently cup the side of Roxton's face with her hand. "Don't worry," she told him. "I'm not going anywhere."

They lay back on the bed together, Marguerite resting her head on Roxton's chest. He kept her pulled against his side with one arm draped loosely around her waist while he reached down with his other hand and pulled the covers up over them both. Marguerite sighed contentedly and snuggled up against Roxton's side, soon falling asleep in his arms. Roxton looked down at his love, sleeping serenely in his arms, and smiled. "A man could get used to this," he murmured, kissing her forehead softly, mirroring Marguerite's words to him in his dream. "Goodnight, love." And in moments he joined Marguerite in the sanctuary of sleep, Marguerite's presence causing his mind and soul to be at peace, his dreams once again filled with the beautiful woman in his arms.