Every once in a while, she goes home. "Home," to her, is a small, quaint little three-bedroom house in Meridian, Mississippi. Her mother bakes cookies on her stays, her father takes her to the mall and restaurants and baseball games. They're a happy family for a week or so.

But one visit was slightly different.

"Marie?"

"Yes?"

"What are you doing?"

The teenager smiled her beautiful smile, and replied, "Playing chess."

"With yourself?"

"No."

"But . . . Marie. There's no one there."

"I'm playing chess with Erik."

Her mother noted with morbid fascination that her daughter was losing. The caliber of thought process that went into her movement of the black, opposing pieces was far higher than that which she used on her own, white pieces.

"Who is Erik, honey?"

"Erik Lensherr. A Jew born in the early nineteen-thirties. Survivor of a Polish death camp in the Holocaust. Mutant terrorist faction leader. Powers: controlling magnetic fields and an advanced understanding of telepathy, due to close correspondence with Professor Charles Xavier."

"The Professor at your school, Marie?" Her seventeen-year-old daughter talking like an emotionless dictionary unnerved even the phlegmatic southern belle.

"Yes, mother. He's really nice when you get to know it, but he says he wants you to stand farther away, or he might kill you."

Mrs. D'Ancanto's eyes widened.

"Mama, please?" The older woman backed up a few steps. "He says thank you," Marie beamed. Then she touched the black queen. "Erik! That's not a legal move, and you know it!" The queen was moved to another square. "Oh! You . . ."

She moved her king.

She moved the black bishop.

"Dammit, not again. Checkmate," she acknowledged resignedly.

Mrs. D'Ancanto backed further out of the room.

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A/N: I just had to get that out of my system.

--Chroni