August 2, 1974
"Are you sure that you're alright?"
Carly laughed as Hank helped her into a chair. Her former blind-seeing eye dog Penny wagged her tail before she settled her chin on Carly's knee. Carly smiled and petted her. She looked a little nauseous and Moira could see that she was slightly off-balance. Her swollen stomach was making it difficult for her to move as she always had.
Moira could remember when she was nine months pregnant with David. She'd started having headaches nearly every day. There was one day where she had just stayed in bed all day, feeling far too ill to get up. Charles had sat by her for most of it, his thumb drawing circles on the back of her hand and his soft murmurings comforting her.
She shook her head and looked back at Carly and Hank. It appeared that Carly's pregnancy had progressed along more normal lines. She could see the concern etched in Hank's face though. Moira had the feeling that he was worried, but she didn't know just why he was worried. As far as she could see Carly had gotten through her pregnancy with minimal morning sickness. She seemed to be coping pretty well, but it was rare to see her without Hank by her side.
Carly had come to Westchester when Hank had gone to assist the X-men. Hank had returned safely and within a matter of days. They all had, and Moira couldn't help but relieved. She felt relieved every time they came back, just as she felt a sense of foreboding each time that they went out. It hadn't lessened since they had gone to Cuba when they were fifteen, and that was over ten years ago.
Moira had expected Carly to leave after Hank had returned, but she hadn't. Instead she had become a resident of the school. Hank had stayed as well, declining to return to Rhode Island to continue to work on his blossoming political career. He chose instead to conduct business from one of the extra offices at the school.
His actions had puzzled Moira, but she hadn't objected. They were family, and it was t an automatic response to help them. She knew that they intended to stay over the summer, and that was an added bonus. The more people in the school over the summer, the more things going on, the better. It was easier not to think when there were things going on.
"I'm fine Hank," Carly said.
She put her hands on her stomach.
"Our little girl is just excited to see everyone," she said.
Hank smiled, but Moira could see how worried he was. She frowned.
She looked down. David was tugging on her pant leg. It was almost time for bed, so he was in his pajamas, but she knew that he would remember their nightly ritual. Moira smiled and crouched by him. He held a book of fairytales in his hands, his eyes hopeful. It was a winning look, and he knew it.
"Story mama?" he asked.
She smiled and picked him up. He laughed as Moira balanced him on her lap.
"Daddy?" he asked.
Moira felt her heart clench painfully. She stroked the auburn hair that had started to grow in locks around his face.
"He's…busy," she said.
The words felt like poison on her tongue. David's face fell and Moira forced a smile on her face. She opened the book and balanced it on her lap.
"What story do you want?"
He yanked through several pages, his eyes looking for the brightest illustration. Moira looked up and saw that Carly was looking at her with excitement, no doubt anticipating reading to her daughter. Hank was still looking worried, and she figured that she would have to talk to him later.
She looked down. David was pointing enthusiastically to a picture of a beanstalk stretching into the sky.
"Jack and the Beanstalk," Moira said.
David nodded. She laughed and hugged him closer.
"Okay," she said, "Let's see here."
Her eyes scanned the text.
"Once upon a time-" she began.
She was cut off by a crash from the side door. Terry ran into the room, covered in flour and laughing. Sean followed her, a grin stretched across his face.
"Get back here!" he called.
"Nope!" Terry said.
She climbed onto one of the sofas. Moira winced as she saw that the little girl's feet were covered with flour too, leaving white footprints. Sean ran up and picked her up, slinging her over his shoulder. He twirled her around once before looking around the room. His expression was slightly dazed. Moira wondered if he'd just noticed all the different people in the room.
"Oh, hi," he said.
Terry laughed from her position over his shoulder. She kicked once, but Moira could tell that it was all in play. As the months had passed Terry's bruises had healed and she had begun to cling to her newfound father. For his part Sean had hardly let her out of his sight. When Interpol had called him and asked him when he'd be ready for a mission he'd handed them his resignation.
He'd come back to work at the school, finally filling in the position that had been created for him when he was eighteen. As such he and Terry had spent their first months as father and daughter in Westchester. She thought that, one day, Sean would move on, just as he had moved on before. For now though, he was back at Westchester.
"Story," David said, clearly upset.
Sean peered over at the book, Terry still over his shoulder. Moira wondered just how much pain it was putting his newly-healed ribs through to do so, but she knew that no one would be able to convince him to take it easy. Not when it came to the daughter who had come into his life by some miracle.
"Whatcha reading?" he asked.
"Jack and the Beanstalk," Moira said.
"Oooh! I love that one," Terry said.
Sean hauled her off his shoulder and put her on the ground.
"Now there's still a mess in the kitchen," he said.
Terry folded her hands behind her back and looked down.
"But we can clean it up later," he said, "Don't do it again though, got it?"
"Got it," Terry said.
Sean sat down and Terry sat next to him. Moira looked over at David.
"We've got a bit of an audience now," she said.
"Story," he said.
"I got it, I got it," Moira laughed.
She cleared her throat and looked at the page.
"Once upon a time there lived a poor widow who had an only son named Jack," Moira read, "She was very poor, for times had been hard, and Jack was too young to work. Almost all the furniture of the little cottage had been sold to buy bread, until at last there was nothing left worth selling."
David snuggled into her and Moira continued reading. She remembered when her parents would read her fairytales when she was a little girl. She had hoped to have children when she was older and read to them in turn. Moira had imagined a big family, two children at least, but it turned out that life had other plans for her. David was a gift that had come out of nowhere and she knew she was blessed for having him.
Across from her she could see Hank's expression soften slightly as Carly leaned onto his shoulder. Some of the tension was leaving, and she was glad for that.
"The giant began to climb down too; but as soon as Jack saw him coming, he called out: 'Mother, bring me an axe!'" Moira said.
She saw that Alex had come into the room, no doubt to talk to Sean about something that had happened with the Danger Room. Several of the X-men had stayed behind to train over the summer. Saving the world didn't let out for terms. Only Warren had had to go back to allay any suspicions that his father had about the school.
He stopped in the doorway though. Moira could see him roll his eyes, but he didn't say anything.
"And the widow hurried out with a chopper. Jack had no sooner reached the ground than he cut the bean-stalk right in two," Moira read, "Down came the giant with a terrible crash, and that, you may be sure, was the end of him. What became of the giantess and the castle nobody knows. But Jack and his mother grew very rich, and lived happy ever after."
David sighed. Moira saw that he had fallen asleep. She picked him up, the book tucked beneath her arm. Sean helped Terry up too.
"Let's go clean up the kitchen," he said.
Terry nodded. Moira balanced David and walked towards the door that Alex was leaning in. He tilted his head.
"Sweet story," he said, "A boy invades another man's home, steals his things, kills him, widows his wife, and lives happily ever after."
"He wanted me to read it," she said.
David shuffled in her arms. Alex smiled.
"He's getting big fast," he said.
"I know," Moira said.
She smiled and stroked his hair.
"We're going to have to get him a real bed in a few years," she said.
"Guess so," Alex said.
"What brings you to this neck of the school though?" Moira asked.
"I needed to get out of the lower levels for a bit," he said, "Annie's getting on my nerves."
Moira winced. Annie, the new nurse that they had hired after Sean had been injured, had been in residence at the school for five months. It was difficult for them to get someone who was proficient in meta-human physiology, and Annie was the closest that they came to. She was nice enough, but Moira knew that Alex disliked her.
"Please play nice," Moira said.
"I wish she wasn't so obvious when she flirts," Alex said, "I just…in front of the team and everything."
"Oh, are you embarrassed?" Moira laughed.
"No," Alex said.
His voice was snappish. Moira grinned.
"You'll be fine," Moira said.
She shifted David.
"You just need to give her a chance," Moira said.
"I'm not interested," Alex said, "She's just not my type."
"Oh, and what is your type?" Moira asked.
She'd meant the question as a joke, but a troubled look crossed Alex's face.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
His eyes snapped to hers, almost looking panicked.
"No, nothing," he said.
He rubbed the back of his neck.
"I'm going to see if Sean needs any help with the mess in the kitchen," he said.
Moira frowned but nodded. She shifted David again and began walking towards the upper levels where the faculty members' rooms were. David woke for a moment, his eyes looking blearily at her as she entered his room. She laid him down on his bed and he grasped for his covers. He yawned and pulled a teddy bear towards him.
"Mama?" he asked.
"I'm here," Moira said.
David yawned again.
"Daddy read tomorrow?"
Moira felt like screaming. She glued a smile on her face as she kissed him on his forehead.
"We'll see," she said.
He snuggled into his teddy bear and fell asleep. Moira turned on his nightlight and closed his door. Gritting her teeth she marched down to Charles's office and flung open the door. He looked up from the papers that he was signing, his expression shocked. Moira swallowed hard, her eyes seeing red.
"One of these days you are going to read to your son," she spat.
Charles dropped his pen and closed his eyes.
"I forgot…I lost track of time," he said.
"I know," Moira said, "Just like you did all those other times."
He threw his hands up.
"Moira I'm trying, but I don't have time!"
"Yes, I understand. You have time for the school, but not for your family," she said.
"That's not what I mean and you know it!" Charles said.
Moira shook her head.
"That's the problem Charles," she said, "I don't. Not anymore."
Turning away she shut the door behind her, fighting tears.
A/N: Glad to be back! For those of you wondering when I'm going to to an Alex/Lorna fic in this universe, don't worry. It's coming, but for now we're getting back to my roots with a Charles/Moira story.