Chapter 1: The Need to Belong

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His home had become a place of darkness and depression. She tried to hide it from him, keep it from him; he knew that she was trying to protect him. She was hardly ever home, always on the go, she'd come home when her body needed rest, when her sense of propriety would override her need to lose herself. Dr. Neal McGowan was slowly losing his daughter. If he allowed this to continue, he knew that eventually the darkness would swallow her up whole. He carefully weighed his options day by day. He could try to convince her to slow down, perhaps reestablish a relationship with her old therapist, or even go back to London where he knew there were others who could draw off the darkness. Others like her.

Neal McGowan was excellent psychiatrist, and could easily treat anyone in her current condition. However, Morgan McGowan was not like any on his patients. Emotions were not something that was dealt with lightly in her world. They were her world. His daughter was an empath. A powerful one, a level five empath, the highest classification of it's kind. He knew from past conversations with his friend, Charles Xavier, if his daughter possessed the 'X-gene', if her gifts were the product of mutation, her classification would be Alpha.

The ring of the telephone shook Neal out of his thoughts. Once he heard the calm British voice on the other side, he knew that there was once again hope for Morgan.

Charles Xavier saved Morgan's life a long time ago. As his student, he taught her how to control her gift, and to shield herself from the onslaught of emotions that constantly threatened to consume. Once she possessed the necessary tools, Morgan honed her empathic gift into a sharpened implement that could sooth, hurt, command, and even incapacitate. Neal knew that Morgan did not need Charles for any of these previous reasons. What she needed now from Charles was a purpose. A purpose to continue on with her life.

Neal walked slowly towards her bedroom; he could hear the low drone of music through her door. Constantly living with it, over the last few months, he had come to despise the sound. It was 'their song'. He knew from experience that Morgan would be lying on her bed, staring up sightlessly at the ceiling, thinking of Jonathon, their song would be set on repeat for hours. Morgan opened the door before he could raise his hand to knock. As always, she sensed his approach. The telltale tear tracks marred her face; her eyes were swollen and red. She sighed deeply as she stepped to one side of the door's opening.

"Come on in," her voice was flat and emotionless.

"Morgan, we need to talk," he said using what he hoped sounded more authoritative than he truly felt. She raised an eyebrow at him and shook her head. She probably thought that he was going to, once again, offer suggestions to 'help her get through this'.

Her lips thinned in irritation as she held up her hand, "Dad, I really don't think…"

"Morgan," he interrupted, "let me talk. Look, I just got off the phone with Charles Xavier."

Morgan's eyes widened at the mention of his name, "Charles, how is he?" She asked quietly. Neal smiled as he felt a faint flicker of happiness seep out of his daughter. He hadn't felt anything remotely positive or happy come out of her in a very long time.

"Well, as you can imagine, he is having a tough time of things. With the government constantly trying to pass the mutant registration act, the recent blackout that everyone knows to be mutant related, Jean's death, and throughout all of this, he is still trying to run his school. It's been pretty tough. So, the reason that he called was that he wanted to speak to you about a job. He needs a personal assistant. It has to be someone that he can trust, someone who understands his vision; it has to be someone just like you, Morgan."

"I don't know," she said turning to stare out the window, her arms were crossed and she was lightly tapping her fingers against the flesh of her upper arms. She knew that she was being manipulated by two of the three men in her life that could still accomplish it. She couldn't help but scowl.

"Honey, Charles and his staff are buried under the workload. The administrative part of the school has come to a screeching halt. There is just nobody who has any time for it. So what Charles is proposing is that you come, live on the school grounds, and assist him."

Morgan sighed as she glanced over and saw the hopefulness that colored his expression. He crossed the distance between them, and placed his hands on top of her shoulders.

"I want you to go. You need to start living again. It's like… it's like watching your mother die all over again," his voice cracked with emotion. "I really can't bear it. So please…please… go. You need to belong to something bigger than you."

"So… am I to assume that this," she gestured to herself and pointed out towards the window, "has already been arranged?" She asked, as the right corner of mouth turned up in a smirk. Son of a bitch… she had been played.

"Yeah," he smiled, "pretty much. You leave on Sunday. I guess that means that you had better start packing."