Part 5- 'Fool…'

Fool, such a fool to think that the world would stop turning just for her. To think that everything would stand still and wait while she found herself again, that hope would allow everything to be as it once was four years ago, that nothing had really changed and her parents would be waiting on the other side of the door arms wide open ready to welcome her back.

It was with this blind hope that Marie stood in front of the house. She took a deep breath and knocked, strange, of all the things she could have left behind when she had left all those years ago it would be her only set of keys. She had been so afraid, climbing down the stairs in the middle of the night her parents had not been asleep, and she could hear her mother crying still in the den. Every quiet sob that racked the woman's body had torn at Marie's heart and in the end as she had sneaked through the kitchen, placed the keys on the cabinet and walked out the back door she was blinded by tears herself.

She waited what seemed to her an age for an answer, and as she stood on the porch shifting nervously from one foot to the other, her fingers automatically went to the chain around her neck and clasped at the dog tags she still wore. It was a habit she had developed, any time she had felt nervous or even remotely afraid she would take to holding the tags between her fingers and dwelling on the man who had given them to her. And it was Logan's strength that calmed her, his resolute invincibility that staid her.

She sighed deeply and knocked again. She frowned in thought, until she realised that it was likely her parents weren't going to be home, certainly not at two o'clock in the afternoon. Her father would no doubt be at the motorcade where he worked and her mother at the homeless shelter where she volunteered on Wednesday afternoons.

The thought made her smile, the sheer normality of it all, this was sprawling suburbia, Caldecott Mississippi, this was home, this was right. Still she could not stand on the steps all day without drawing attention, so picking up her bag again she made for the back of the house. Reaching out she brushed her hands along the clots of lavender planted along the side of the house and closed her eyes gladly inhaling the heavenly scent.

She dropped her bag at her feet and just stood outside the back door, a normal door in every sense in the word, but today after four years it was extra special. She stood on tiptoe and reaching up ran her fingers along the outside frame. Eventually she came to a stop as her fingers clasped something at the top ; she brought it down and looked at it closely. It was a key, the key.

Time to come home.

'Ah'm sorry Marie, but ah don't quite know how to say…' His quiet voice, the one she had allowed to resonate in her head throughout her journey here shook. The strong familiar voice she had missed in oh so long was breaking. She stared at him across the kitchen table, her hands wringing nervously and her eyes glazed over, blank.

They had not always been her parents, she knew that. They had sat her down one day when she had been about seven years old to tell her that she had not always been there's.

She had broached the subject with them after a child at school had cruelly told her that at least her parents were real, to which Marie had retorted that her parents were no telegrams either. Meaning of course hologram but getting the words mixed up in her confused childhood English.

What the girl had meant stuck with her though and Marie had sat patiently as the man and woman she had long come to think of as her heroes had told her that she had not always been a D'Ancanto. It was not a painful revelation; she had been only five months old and newly abandoned at the children's home when they had adopted her. Then and even years later Marie had borne no inclination to seek out her birth parents, as far as she was concerned she was a D'Ancanto and she always would be.

But if anything could change things it was developing a mutation, a mutation as cruel as hers. As Marie had turned the key in the lock with a halted breath and as she waited in the open doorway to catch familiar sights and familiar smells of the D'Ancanto family kitchen, she was to realise how far things had changed.

She swept her gaze across the room, over every kitchen cabinet, every drawer, they were all empty. Instead the floor area was covered in boxes that were packed or waiting to be packed, and in the same heartbeat Marie knew what it meant, they were leaving.

She made her way tentatively through the now empty and coldly clinical kitchen and towards the living room, it was in similar state, boxes packed and ready to go. She didn't have to go through every room she knew, but through some morbid need to suffer as much as possible she had made her way to what had once been her bedroom. It was the barest of them all, nothing remained, nothing of what she had been, nothing of the daughter they had once had.

Fool, such a fool to think the world stands still. She had ran out of the house then, blindly down the stairs, through the living room and the empty kitchen and out of the door, a sickening feeling overwhelming everyone of her senses, she had only stopped at the gate, the cute little white picket fence that she leaned on for everything she was worth.

It was only then that she had noted the envelope jutting out of the mailbox. Looking back she could not understand even then why she had taken the letter, but she had and as she walked slowly back to the house she had torn it open with trembling fingers. The were adoption papers, documents to prepare for the child they would receive once they had moved to their new home.

A new child, a new home and in another state, and not a word for Marie. As she slumped numbly into the seat at the kitchen table, the papers fell from her hands and scattered across the smooth mahogany surface. She leaned forward, buried her face in her hands and for only the second time in her life cried herself to sleep.

They found her hours later, her brown and now white streaked hair billowing around her hair, quietly asleep, with those papers surrounding her.

She looked up at Owen D'Ancanto now, the man she had so long thought of as the best of fathers with bitter accusation in her eyes. 'Were ya goin' to tell me?' she whispered, feeling tired, all the life drained out of her.

'Ya knew where ah was, ah contacted ya, told ya ah was at the Academy, ya should have told me.' She had phoned them, on Xavier's insistence; he had cited it was unfair to let them worry. She had kept the phone call deliberately short because as she had told them then, she didn't want to be the cause of any more pain. And in the four years they had been apart, there had been no letters; no more calls and not even a postcard. They had both agreed on that.

But she had always thought it was a given that parents waited, even adoptive ones for their children to come home. Even if they were mutants, cured or otherwise, mum and dad waited, right?

'Marie, it was ya who decided, no more contact ya said, because it would hurt too much…' he murmured gently. She didn't give him a chance to say anything more.

'Ah know what ah said, but this' she snapped angrily and gestured towards the boxes, 'this, was important. Were ya ever goin' to tell me? How did ya expect me to find out, like this, coming back to see y'all packed up and ready to go?'

It suddenly dawned on Marie that was exactly it. They had never intended on telling her, because they had never expected her to come back.

And the way her adoptive mother, Priscilla D'Ancanto stood at the sink with her back to her, seemingly staring at the same backyard for the past half hour since they had come back to find her here confirmed it all.

She reached for the dog tags as she bit her lip, 'Is it what ya wanted, what ya hoped for, that ya wouldn't have to see me again?'

Owen stayed resolutely silent, staring at the table but his wife spoke, 'Yes…'

Marie looked up at her suddenly, fresh tears stinging her eyes, her one soft spoken word cut through the deepest.

She stood up shakily and took a step towards the older woman, 'But ah'm your daughter…' strangely the words sounded hollow to Marie's ears and even Priscilla was shaking her head.

'No, no you're not my daughter. Ya see my Marie had long brown hair, not these white streaks, and she had this beautiful smile and ah could hug her and hold her…' she raised a hand reaching out to touch Marie's cheek but she dropped it at the last minute.

'You can, ya still can,' Marie called out desperately pressing closer to her mother, but she pulled back instinctively, 'ah took the cure mama, ya must have heard of it. It was all over the news,' she spoke to both her parents now, 'and ah took it, for you, for us so we could go back to the way it used to be.'

Priscilla rounded on her angrily, 'we can't go back, don't ya see we can't go back! That boy ya touched, Cody Robbins, Marie it was four years ago and he's still in a coma. The doctors don't think he'll ever wake up…'

Marie shook her head, the tears flowing freely now, 'But ah'm your daughter, ah need ya, please…' It seemed to be the only words she could find, it was the only truth she had ever known.

'You are NOT my daughter; stop saying that, you're a freak, a mutant, my daughter is-is dead…!' Priscilla turned and ran out of the room, her body convulsing with heart rending sobs.

Owen sighed sadly and went to look closely at the girl he by all means loved still, as long as he held onto that image of the happy carefree 16 year old Marie. Those memories had sustained him those four years, they would have sufficed a lifetime and for the slightest moment he felt resentful towards the young woman who now stood before him, no longer a girl but 20 years old now, and for all the world looking as tired and as jaded as the oldest of souls. Resentful because she had returned, older and pained and tarnishing his perfect little image, an ideal that had allowed him to live with the guilt.

All the guilt he felt and had long felt at how easily they had abandoned her. Yes it had been Marie's choice to leave, but they had not fought for her, they hadn't even put up much of an argument when she'd told them that she would be staying at the Academy.

It was easier for the D'Ancanto's to pretend their daughter had died, through some strange reasoning it hurt less than having to face the fact that she was a mutant.

'Marie,' he began tentatively, 'ya don't know what it was like for us, this town; these people have pretty much shunned us. After…after,' he struggled with the memory, 'that night people blamed us and we've been outcasts ever since, this ain't home anymore Marie, for any of us.'

'But ah'm fixed now…' Marie's eyes seemed to drown in tears, big brown eyes that seemed to scream suffering. Wanting to prove her point she reached up to touch his face, but he pulled back with such haste that he almost fell backwards. They were afraid of her, the cure seemed too elusive, too much of a quick fix to have truly worked, and it seemed they did not love her enough to take the risk.

Her hand dropped and she took a deep breath, 'Ah guess you're right dad, this really ain't home anymore.' Her resignation seemed to hang heavy and depressing in the air. Turning she went and picked up her bag, she hesitated a moment looking at the papers on the table, she picked one up and held it up for him to see, 'Ah hope the next kid is somethin' close to perfect, 'cos ah have a feeling anything less just won't do.' Her words were bitter and resentful and she hoped they hurt him to hear them as much as it hurt her to say.

Forget what they tell you about home being where the heart is, all the platitudes about it being the place that will never change, and the people there being the ones that will never abandon you, it's a lie.

For Marie it had been a lie, as she made her way down the lengthy driveway looking back only once and catching a glimpse of her mother in the upstairs bedroom window, it had been the bitterest of lies. She had taken the cure but apparently it was not enough. So much for the ideals, there was nothing of an elixir, nothing of the promised drug that could cure her skin but still saw her walking alone under the Southern sun, and realising that perhaps she was broken and bruised in too many places to be fixed.