SPOILERS: through Graduation Day

NOTES: "A Diana, Marco, Maia family fic. Diana and Marco are afraid to really get a serious relationship started because of Maia, but Maia really wants a normal family with a Daddy after being teased for not having one around Father's Day. Romance/humor, No Angst." This was one of my 4400 ficathon choices. As a big DM fan, I thought it would be a cakewalk, but it's actually been pretty difficult because of my strong compulsion to try to remain as true to the show as possible. Father's Day in 2005 would have coincided roughly with the episode Rebirth, not exactly a period of noticeable Diana/Marco closeness. Also, at that time, as well as Father's Day 2004, Maia had little to no contact with other kids, and the kids she has met at The Center in season three are probably all in similar boats when it comes to families. So I decided to reinterpret that element of the story and focus on the meat--Maia wanting a father and being aware of the unfulfilled relationship between Diana and Marco. I hope Cypria doesn't mind my tweaking of her request and that all of you enjoy the results. Thank you for the beta, PurpleYin!

DISCLAIMER: The 4400 and all things associated with it belong to other people.


MORE THAN A DOG

Part 1

I'm not the only one. Of all the things I've learned since Mommy let me choose to go to school at The Center, I think that is the most important.

When we were first returned and put in Quarantine, there weren't many kids who spoke English in my wing. Also, most people didn't know for sure what was going on. They were too busy worrying about why we were all locked up together and didn't really know how their lives outside of Quarantine had changed. In some ways, I think it's good we were in there for a long time. Otherwise, they might not have been able to contact the family members of so many people. Of course, for me, there was no one to contact, but that was all right. Although it was lonely at first, when everyone else left, I knew I would have a new Mommy, and that gave me comfort.

It was really nice when Mommy first took me home. Mrs. Griffin had gone shopping with me and bought me some clothes, but Mommy and I got to shop for furniture and everything else. It was like starting from scratch. I even got to pick the wall paint. All that color was wonderful after so long in Quarantine. Everything was new, but it was pretty close to normal. Mommy and I would have breakfast together. Then she'd drop me off at school. In the afternoon, she'd pick me up, and we'd go home and have dinner. So, for a little while, before those people started trying to blow up 4400s, I went to a regular school. It was hard at first, because I was new and didn't know the sorts of things the other kids knew. My class had sixteen students. Three of us lived with just our Moms, and one lived with just her Dad. One girl in class, Maria, would tease us about it. The teacher tried to get her to stop, but she'd always find a way to do it when the teacher wasn't looking.

The other kids didn't remember a time when they had both a Mommy and a Daddy. One had never had a Daddy at all. But I remember mine. Even though I was happy to have a new Mommy, it hurt to be teased for not having a Daddy when I'd had one just a few months earlier. None of the other single-parent kids knew what it was like to lose a parent to age, to see their grave. When the time came for me to leave that school, Mommy was mad, but I didn't mind. Although getting taught from home was dull at times, I'd known I wouldn't have to worry about fitting in or being teased by Maria again.

The day I met Carrie was like a present because I'd known I'd meet someone special but hadn't known who it would be or what would make them special. She's the one who introduced me to all the things that kids think are cool these days, and she has never acted like I was stupid for not knowing. Even though her birthday slumber party wasn't much fun for me, we still do things together. We're both happy to have someone our age to play with. She has a Mommy and a Daddy, but her Dad is almost never there. So she has never though it strange that I have no Daddy. Actually, she thinks it's pretty neat and tells me about how grumpy her Dad usually is and some of the things she has to do because of him that she thinks are lame, like fishing and camping and soccer. I've never gone fishing or camping or played soccer, so I don't know if she's right about them being lame. I think they'd be fun, but I'll never say that to her. Spending time with Carrie and her Mom, I don't much think about having a Dad.

When Aunt April came, I'd had no visions about her at all, so she had been a complete surprise. It was ten times better than meeting Carrie because April is family. Plus, she was more like a big sister than an aunt. She took me to all sorts of places and introduced me to lots of new foods and people and experiences. In the beginning, I was having the best time since my return. I love my Mom, but she can be really strict, sometimes. Being with a grownup who wasn't strict at all was wonderful. But there were times I thought following the rules would have been a better choice. As much as I liked all the stuff I ate that one day, throwing up later wasn't any fun. Then there was the way she made Mommy act funny, kind of like she was when I first asked Mommy to take me home, only worse. While nothing compares to the day when April lost the bet and Mommy's ring, there was another really bad day before that. It was Father's Day.

Just as I'd been surprised to find out I have an Aunt, I was surprised to find out I have a Grandfather. April wanted to visit him on Father's Day, but Mommy didn't. They said some really mean things to each other, but there was no convincing Mommy to go. She said she wasn't going to put me through the disappointment of having him as a relative and that he didn't deserve to get to know me. I'd never seen Mommy so mad, it makes me wonder what he did to make her that way. April went by herself and didn't come home that night. Maybe if Maria's Dad was like Mommy's, she wouldn't tease other people about not having one.

Now that I'm going to school at The Center, I'm around other kids like me. As nice as Carrie is, she just can't understand what it's like. Losing a child tends to tear people apart. Even the ones who were only gone a few years have had big changes to their families. Most of them are like Todd, whose parents got divorced, but there are some like me, kids who lost their parents. Beth lives with her niece's family and is younger than her grandniece. She says they try, but even after two years, she sometimes feels like a guest. When she's old enough, she wants to move to The Center. Tyler lives with his sister because his parents are in a retirement home. His Dad has problems with his memory and gets confused and upset when he sees Tyler, so he doesn't like visiting them. Amy's pretty much the only one who has the same parents as when she left. Unlike Maria, Amy never teases any of us about it. She's actually a little bit guilty that she's been luckier than the rest of us, but I tell her she should be happy. Even so, visiting her house makes me wonder what it might be like to have a Daddy again.

Although learning I'm not the only one who has lost parents is probably the most important thing going to school at The Center has taught me, controlling my visions is the most useful. Now, I don't know everything that's going to happen. I can even shut off my visions altogether. But I still have all the visions I wrote down from before. There were so many from that time that I don't remember some of them, but I can't forget there were a lot about Marco. He's important, though not as much as Tom and Isabelle and Shawn and Mommy.

I don't much like boys, but I like Marco. He's nice and is always happy to play games with me. He's helped me with a few school projects and never gets upset if I make a mistake or do something dumb. He listens and talks to me like a grown up, even more than Mommy does. And he's funny, or he tries to be, at least. I know he's the only one besides me who can really make Mommy smile. He visits us a lot, and he's always there to help Mommy when things get tough. Even when things aren't tough, he helps out, like with the dishes and cooking and even groceries, sometimes.

Seeing the way Marco and Mommy are together reminds me of how Amy's Mom and Dad are, except Marco almost never touches Mommy. Sometimes, Mommy will touch him. Then his cheeks turn pink, and he'll give her his special smile, the one I've only seen him give to her. At times like those, I try to leave quietly because I can feel something between them that I can't give Mommy, something that needs privacy. It doesn't happen often, and I've accidentally interrupted them a couple of times. I hate when that happens because it means I've spoiled a special moment. And they always seem awkward, stepping away from each other with Mommy stumbling over her words. Amy's Mom and Dad aren't embarrassed if we walk in on them hugging or something, so it's made me wonder if Mommy and Marco aren't supposed to. When I talk to other kids about it, they say it's normal, that Mommy and Marco just aren't comfortable dating each other, yet. I'm not completely sure they are dating, since they almost never go anywhere without me, but the others say they must be. So then why they aren't comfortable?

Billy says my Mom has issues and makes jokes about it. Amy calls him a big jerk, and Tyler drains all the energy from Billy's DS when he picks on me. But what if Billy's right? Between Mommy, Marco and school, I've learned about logic and deductive reasoning. In trying to use them for this problem, I've narrowed down the possibilities to four potential reasons: 1. Mommy isn't comfortable with Marco 2. Marco isn't comfortable with Mommy 3. Both of them aren't comfortable with each other 4. It's something else entirely.

In the two years I've known him, I've never really seen Marco uncomfortable about anything, not even the time I got stomach flu when he was babysitting and he held back my hair while I threw up in the toilet. He was so calm and nice about it that I didn't feel embarrassed. He's never really seemed bothered by any of the times I've interrupted him with Mommy, and he seems to be really good at reading her feelings and responding to them. I think that's why he doesn't touch her, not because he doesn't want to. I'm thinking it's not 2 or 3.

Mommy is uncomfortable about a lot of things, so maybe it is 1. But of all the people I've seen her interact with, the only one she's more at ease with than Marco is me. She tells him things she doesn't tell anyone else, and she seems comfortable with him when I'm not around. I know this because I've caught them kissing without them knowing I'm there. And it's not just kissing. She's relaxed with him in a way she doesn't show when she knows I can see her. Sometimes, when we're watching a movie and I'm on the floor while they're on the couch, I can see their reflection when there's a dark scene. They'll be leaning against each other, holding hands with happy smiles. At times like those, she seems perfectly comfortable with Marco, so I'm doubtful about 1.

This makes me think that it's 4 and that it's me that's the problem. I mean that it's because I'm around that Mommy can never be fully comfortable with Marco. I think this is the likeliest reason because of something Julia told me one day. She's one of the older girls. It made me feel kind of grownup when she pulled me aside, saying she'd heard about my questions. She told me about her Mom, who had gotten a divorce a year before we were returned. She said her Mom had gone on a few dates but didn't feel right dating someone when she had a daughter to take care of. After five years without Julia, her Mom seemed to think they should spend all of their free time together. Julia wants more time to herself and feels like she's coming between her Mom and the possibility of ever finding a Dad. Julia seemed sad about it and said she's trying to get her Mom to go back to counseling. Then she asked me how I felt about Marco and if I would want him as a Dad. While I like him, I'd always thought of Marco as Marco, not as a potential Dad. When I told Julia this, she said I should think about it really hard, and if I decide I'd like Marco as a Dad, I should talk to my Mom about it.

I've been thinking about it, and I can't decide if I'd want Marco as my Dad. It could be great, but a part of me doesn't want to share Mommy any more than I already do. I know that's selfish, but I can't help it.

I've decided what matters the most is Mommy's happiness. He helps us and cares about us, but I don't know if Marco makes Mommy happy. I'm going to ask her about it, but in the meantime, I have another plan to help me figure this out. Amy said she overheard one of the grownups talking about a 4400 who can smell if two people are meant to be together. I think that would be a great way of figuring out if Mommy and Marco should get married. Tyler and Michelle, who's really good with getting computers to do what she wants, said they'll help me find his name and address somehow. If I can send him something of Marco's and something of Mommy's, maybe he can tell me if they should be together.

I hope this works.