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           Disclaimer – I do not own X-Men: Evolution.

           Alone. A little girl sat alone in the bare basement room that was hers. The only thing on the floor was a small, grime-covered green blanket. She hugged it to her and wiped her tears away with a corner of it. She heard her stomach rumble. She had barely anything to eat. Her foster father got all the good food, but the most she got was maybe a chip, a stale piece of bread, and if she was lucky, something else. She looked around the room. Nothing. There was no bed, no toys. She had always dreamed of a room with papered walls and lots of toys to play with. That wasn't what she had now. She had an empty basement as her room. The only thing that adorned the walls were posters that looked half-decayed.

           "Can Ah have somethin' ta eat?" She called out to the emptiness. Her southern accent was strong. There was banging on the ceiling above her and some plaster sprinkled down.

           "Keep quiet!" She bit her lip. It was hard for her to ask anything. She pushed a strand of white hair behind her ear. She frowned. She was a bitter little girl sometimes, they had warned him of that. Keeping her locked up in a basement only made her all the more bitter. She looked up at the window. It was still daytime.

           "Ah need somethin' ta eat!" She persisted. Nothing. Glaring bitterly at the wall, she clutched the ratty old blanket. She wished there was even a rock to hurl at the man upstairs. She waited until he went out. Then she could sneak up and get something. He kept her locked down there but she found a way to unlock the door. He was careless and neglected the fact that there was a hole in the door next to the knob. She heard the door slam and stood up. She went to the stairs and walked up quietly. She put her small hand through the hole and unlocked the door. She opened the door and peeked out. She sighed in relief and went into the kitchen. She found some soda. Something she hadn't had in a while. She opened the can and chugged. She heard a sound she didn't like. She turned around, fright in her emerald green eyes. She would get caught. There was no denying that. The man walked into the kitchen. She stared up at him and the soda can dropped from her hands, onto the floor.

           "What are you doing up here?" He asked angrily, narrowing his eyes at her.

           "Ah.." She looked down and found that she didn't have any excuse. She felt a stinging sensation on her cheek. Crying out in pain, she put her hand to the spot. Hot tears ran down her face. "Get back down there. NOW!" She ran to the door and slammed it shut, sliding down it. She hugged her knees and cried. Why couldn't she just have a better life? Why? She heard the door slam again, but she was too afraid to exit the cellar.

           -

           "Marie, get up here!" Marie opened her eyes. She hated that name. It reminded her too much of her situation. She got up and meekly climbed the stairs. She opened the door and stood there. She stared at her feet awkwardly. "They'll be here in an hour. One o' the neighbors heard ya crying." She looked up, her mouth opened. Her 'father' stared down at her with an angry look on his face. "They can't even mind their own business. How did you get this?" He gestured to her bruised cheek.

           "Ah.. Ah got it when Ah fell down the stairs.." He nodded. She watched as he left the room to go and sit on the couch. She wondered if she should ask if she could have something to eat. "Can.. Can Ah eat somethin'?" She felt bold for trying. He waved a hand at her, not seeming to care.

           "Take somethin' with ya." She smiled and opened the refrigerator. She took out a soda and a bowl of cold leftover chicken noodle soup. She sat down and sipped at it. Then she took another soda down to basement so that she could have it later. She went back up, knowing that he was going to make her wash herself so that she seemed presentable. He nodded to her when she asked if that was what she had to do. She went upstairs and drew some water into the bathtub. She closed the door and locked it. Then she stripped out of her dirty clothes and climbed in. When she was all done and had washed her hair and everything, the water was really dirty. She dried off and let the water out. She didn't want to get dressed back into dirty clothes so she washed them and wrung them out. She let the dry out while she brushed her hair. She climbed up onto the sink and looked at her reflection.

           "Ouch.." She tenderly touched the bruise and winced. She looked at her arms, which were covered with bruises and the rest of her body, as well. She couldn't stand to look at the abrasions, scabs and bruises anymore. She had gotten one on her forehead and some on her legs from when he pushed her into the basement and she had fallen down the stairs. She sighed and got dressed, unable to continue without crying. She opened the door and went down the stairs to hear a knock at the front door.

           "Hold on. Marie!" She walked into the room, looking at everyone with wide-eyed innocence. She blinked and tilted her head to the side.

           "Yes, daddy?" She tried her hardest to smile, instead of glaring holes into his head. He gestured to Marie's caseworker. "Hello, ma'am."

           "How are you doing, Marie?" The woman smiled at the child. "Remember me? Raven?" She looked around the room. Marie faltered and frowned. She replaced it immediately when she caught her 'daddy' glaring at her.

           "Ah'm fahne, Raven." She said, swallowing the sudden urge to hug the woman to death and plead with her to take her away. How she wished she didn't need to lie to such a nice lady. She fought the urge to cry. Feeling a light touch on her head, she jumped and started shaking.

           "Child, I am not going to hurt you." The woman's brown eyes stared into Marie's green ones. "Oh, what happened here?" She pointed to the bruise on the girl's cheek.

           "Ah.. Ah fell down the stairs." She saw Raven glance at her 'daddy' with a stern look on her face.

           "You should be a more responsible parent and watch your child." Raven didn't look too happy. Marie slowly backed away from the scene. "I will stay until the child goes to sleep. To make certain that she is properly nourished and has good hygiene."

           "She just had a bath.." He trailed off. Raven crossed her arms. "Okay, Ms. Darkholme." Raven nodded in satisfaction.

           "What time will supper be ready?" She stared at him expectantly. Marie stared at her 'dad' with wide eyes. She was going to get a meal. All because of Raven. She wanted to hug the woman profusely and thank her a million times. Joy rose in her and she felt a little light-headed. She had never before experienced such a feeling.

           "In a little while, Ms. Darkholme."

           -

           Marie had never felt so wonderful in all her life. She ate and ate. She did it politely, because her 'dad' was watching her every move. She smiled afterwards, as if it were the best meal she'd ever had. She got up and obediently put her plate and glass in the sink. When it was time for her to go to sleep, she laid in the bed. She yawned.

           "Goodnight, Raven.. and daddy." She watched as Raven pulled the covers up to her chin. She fell asleep right after they left the room. She felt better than she ever had. If only Raven had adopted her.

           -

           Marie was woken early and very roughly. She blinked when she felt herself pulled from comfort and warmness. She cried out when her head hit the hard wooden floor. She held her head in her hands as she tried not to cry. She stared up at the man she loathed.

           "Get up, you little brat." She winced at the painful words. He kicked her when she didn't move. "Get up and go do the housework. Now!" She got up quickly and ran out of the room, tears flowing freely down her pale face.

           "Why?" She asked herself as she did the dishes. Her head hurt and her side was sore from when he had kicked her. She felt like breaking a dish or two. If she did that, she would be punished and she knew it. She held a glass in her hand and stared at it. She imagined herself throwing it at him. She imagined getting adopted into a better family with brothers and sisters and a mom and a nice dad who loved her. She imagined eating dinner every night and taking baths daily. She imagined playing with toys given to her with love.

           "What are ya doin', standin' there. Get to work!" She winced and slammed the glass into the dish rack. She gazed at the knives and the plates, the pots and the pans. She finished then went to her room, the basement, and sat down in her normal spot. The basement smelled and was cold. She shivered. She wasn't used to getting to sleep in a nice warm bed. She secretly wished that she had washed her blanket when she washed her clothes. Suddenly, she remembered that she was only in a nightgown, one of her 'dad's' shirts. She scowled and marched upstairs. She slipped past the kitchen and into the room she was in. She threw off the shirt and put on her normal clothes, the ones she wore when she was first brought there.

           "Ah hate him." She whispered. She bit her lip so hard that she drew blood. That's when she got her idea. She narrowed her eyes at the floor. She would show him.

           -

           Marie heard the normal slam of the door and waited for a while. He wouldn't be back for a while. She got up and went up the stairs, into the kitchen. She took out some sodas then she closed the refrigerator. Then she went to the cupboards. She took a bag of chips, some bottled water, and a whole loaf of bread. She was so used to eating the stuff plain. She shrugged then put all of the stuff into her green blanket. She tied all of the corners and picked it up. It would have to do. She frowned. There was a backpack she had seen in the closet before, when he had locked her in there for stealing his dinner. She put the stuff in that and awkwardly set it on her shoulders. She gave one look around her 'home'. He had taken her in, but had done lots of stuff that made her miserable. He used her for the money they sent to the people that adopt. She scowled and left through the front door. It was night and she could only see by the few streetlights that were working.

           "Ah'm in fo' a long walk.." She realized. She trudged off the porch and went out to the sidewalk. She then started running, the backpack banging against her backside. She stopped when she saw a car go by and hid in the nearby bushes. She snuck along; worried that someone would catch her and make her go back. She stole away into the night. She didn't want to stop but a wave of tiredness hit her when she got a few blocks away. She didn't stop. She kept going. She walked through the streets. New Orleans wasn't far. Her 'dad' would never find her there. She had been transferred from Mississippi because the orphanage there didn't have room for her. They sent her to the one just outside of New Orleans. She smiled when she walked along the bottom of a hill near the highway. She saw a big green sign up ahead. 'Welcome to New Orleans' it read. She ran ahead, smiling. Something told her that she should find somewhere to hide for a while. It would be rough.

           -

           Marie had found an alleyway to stay in for a while. It was in the back of a pub and on the side of a store with stuff being sold outside. She heard her stomach rumble. It had been about a day and she had thrown the bread away, unable to look at it anymore. The bag of chips was gone. Shadows of people on the streets outside of her little alley were corrupting what sun shone in there. She snuck to the corner of the building and saw apples in a small stand outside. She licked her lips. Apples.. They looked red and ripe. She smiled and looked around for the man or woman who was selling them. No one. She picked an apple off the stand and gasped in horror when someone grabbed her wrist and took the apple from her hands.

           "Hope you weren't stealin', little girl." She swallowed the lump in her throat, her eyes growing wide. She looked up. "It looks to me like you were." She couldn't lie and say she wasn't stealing. She couldn't say anything. She closed her eyes and waited for the punishment she thought was coming.

           -

           No more for this chapter. Hope ya like it.

           11-23-03