The day that someone knocked on the door at 5:30 a.m., Susan Richards knew that something was wrong.
She had been asleep, but she had woken up to the smell of smoke. Rolling over, Susan tried to call her husband Reed to open the door. When she opened her eyes, though, she saw that Reed was not next to her in bed.
Typical, she thought. Reed was always in the lab. Susan sighed. She would have to open the door.
Stumbling, Sue walked over to the front hall. She rubbed her eyes as she turned the knob with the other hand.
Standing in front of her was a young man with blond hair sticking up. He had on a black jacket with red flames and a desperate expression on his face. He was holding a small bundle.
"Johnny!" Susan screamed, startled. She hadn't seen her brother since he and Ben had moved out of the Baxter building after she and Reed had gotten married. Ben had gotten married to Alicia and was living happily, but she hadn't heard from Johnny in a few years.
She enveloped her Johnny in her arms, squeezing him so hard that the little bundle in his arms cried out.
Susan stepped backward and examined the bundle. What she had initially thought was a pile of blankets was something entirely different.
Johnny Storm was holding a baby.
Susan gasped. "Wha - ? Johnny, what is this?"
Johnny looked down, ashamed. "This is my baby girl. Her name is Victoria," he mumbled.
"Oh, but Johnny, she is so sweet!" Susan exclaimed. "She is just so precious! Who's the mother? Why wasn't I invited to the wedding?!" Susan was wide awake, now.
Then, she caught sight of Johnny's expression. It was not a proud one. "Oh, Johnny..." she murmured.
"I... Her mom's name is Bridget. We met... at a bar..." Johnny paused. "I'm sorry, sis," he whispered. "We never got married. Bridget showed up at my place when I was kind of short on rent money, and I was in trouble of eviction... then she came, and she thrust the baby into my arms. I'm not sure when her birthday is, or how old she is exactly, but Bridget said she didn't want her, and she told me to take responsibility for her. Said her name was Victoria, named after her... her husband, Victor..."
Susan stared at her little brother. "Why didn't you tell me? You could have asked Reed and I for money, you should know that! And why did you go out with this Bridget person if you knew she had a husband? How could you be so irresponsible, Johnny? You're a grown man! You have to start acting like one!"
Johnny looked sheepish. "That's why I didn't tell you, Sue. I knew that you'd rat me out and start talking about responsibility."
Susan opened her mouth to protest, but deep in her heart, she knew it was true. She couldn't help it. She cared about her little brother. To her, he would always be the little boy that she had taught how to yo-yo and that had tattled on her when she put on her mom's make-up.
Johnny glanced at Susan desperately. "Look, sis, I gotta go. I just came by to give you Victoria."
Susan was baffled. "Isn't she your daughter, Johnny?"
Johnny shook his head. "I can't keep her. I'm behind on the rent, and I can't really afford to have another mouth to feed right now. Please, Sue! I know that you and Reed can give her a good life! I trust you! Please do it!"
Susan's heart melted. "Alright," she nodded. "I'll take her and raise her like my own child. What will she think of you, though, Johnny?"
"What do you mean?" Johnny asked, confused.
"What will she think about you, a father who abandoned his daughter?"
Johnny shook his head. "You can't tell her, ever."
She gasped. "But - !"
Johnny interrupted her. "You can't tell her, Sue! Please! I love her already, but I can't keep her! Promise me you'll let her grow up happy and loved."
Susan nodded. "I promise."
Johnny eyed his sister for a second, and then he nodded. "Alright, then." He turned and walked away, leaving behind a little girl, a loving sister, and a promise.