"Mommy there's a obstacle course!" Kaden shouted, almost bouncing in his car seat as he stared out the window in growing excitement.
"So there is," Marie replied, with a tired smile, amused by his infectious joy. Oh to be the child that got to sleep most of the five day, cross country road trip and didn't arrive absolutely exhausted. She couldn't wait to see this accommodation the school was providing, she had a date with whatever passed for a bed, even a couch would do at this point.
"Can I go play on the obstacle course mommy?" Kaden asked, as he jumped out of the car, after Marie had parked in the small guest carpark and he had unclipped his own harness; waiting until the car engine had been turned off to do so, like Marie had taught him.
"Not yet little man, we have to go and introduce ourselves to Professor Xavier first, remember," Marie reminded the little boy, "It's rude to go wander around someone else's home without greeting them first."
"Okay," the child sighed grudgingly, before perking up. "Do you need help with the bags mommy?" he offered politely.
"We'll come back for them later," Marie replied, ruffling his hair with a smile before she took his hand and led him inside.
The inside of the building was almost more intimidating than the outside. On entering there was nothing to direct them to any specific location, the building looked big enough from the outside to justify you of those directory signs like the big malls had! Marie called out to a group of students standing nearby, gawking at the new arrivals, and asked where Professor Xavier's office was.
"I can show you!" an eager young Asian American woman called, skipping out of a noisy nearby room. "My name is Jubilee, you're Marie, right? The Professor said you would be arriving at some point and to show you straight in," the girl chattered a mile a minute, not letting Marie get a word in edgewise. She was, what Marie would consider, unusually excited over her simple task of showing them to the office and Marie wondered for a moment if she may be a little simple, as her momma used to say.
The girl named Jubilee knocked briefly on a large, solid oak door a moment later, before pushing the door open without waiting for prompting and excitedly announcing, "They're here!"
"Thank you Jubilee, if you would be so kind as to put your bountiful energy to use, could you please wrangle some of the boys together and supervise them taking Miss D'ancanto's belongings to suite three on the third floor," the cultured gentleman, seated behind a large desk on the far side of the room, requested.
"Sure thing Prof!" Jubilee exclaimed, before darting out the door. She was back a split second later when Marie called out that she would need keys, as she held them out for her, then she was gone again just as quick.
"Hello Marie, and hello Kaden," the bald gentleman greeted, turning his attention to the new arrivals. "I thought it would be better to introduce everyone all at once, so the staff are all familiar with the new teacher, and the new student is familiar with all the resident teachers. This is Scott Summers, Ororo Munroe, Remy LeBeau, and Kurt Wagner, they are fellow teachers, and Jean Grey, is both teacher and our resident doctor, as I advised at last week’s staff meeting, Marie D'ancanto will be running the day-care through first grade class. Aside from Kaden, we will introduce you to the rest of your students at a later date, Marie," Charles smiled at her, before directing everyone to take seats.
Charles apologized that the tutor who would be working primarily with Kaden on his mutation had not yet arrived back in the country but was expected imminently and he would introduce them as soon as he was arrived and rested. He carefully went over the rules of the school with Kaden, making sure he understood each, before asking if the little boy had any questions.
"Can I go play on the obstacle course now?" Kaden asked immediately, earning a chuckle out of all the adults in the room.
"I thought you might want to try that out, until you're settled in, you are to stay with either your mother, or Jubilee, so you don't get lost, Jubilee is waiting right outside the door to take you to play," Charles replied, acquiescing to the boys request.
"Behave yourself little man, and have fun," Marie instructed, giving her son a kiss before he darted out the door. He could be heard happily chatting to Jubilee about the fastest way to the obstacle course, until the door shut behind him.
"Now, to the heart of the issue," Charles declared, turning his attention to Marie. "You said you didn't believe Kaden's mutation took after your own, what may I ask is your mutation?"
Marie explained her mutation, as best she could, truth be told, she really didn't know what exactly her mutation did, and it didn't seem to be useful for all that much, but Charles and Jean seemed fascinated by what she described. When she was finished explaining her own mutation, she asked about the others, each person in turn explained their own mutation to her.
"With Kaden," Jean asked, once the previous topic was covered in depth, "Would you know what triggered his mutation to manifest?"
"Honestly, I don't really know, I couldn't put my finger on any one thing, around that time he moved to first grade, he started getting picked on by the little brat who just moved to town, um, his best friend moved away, we had to move house... I was kind of distracted around that time too I hate to say-" at the curious looks from those around her Marie ducked her head as she explained- "I was raped, years ago, the guy was convicted and jailed, and he was up for parole around then, so I was a little stressed, worried he would get out and come after me, that was part of why we moved."
"Hmm, I wonder," Charles commented, looking thoughtful. "You said Kaden told you, the 'wolf' mentioned having to protect his mother... I wonder if perhaps your stress, over that event, is what began the manifestation..."
"I suppose it is possible," Jean hypothesized, "Ferals are generally very empathic, and highly protective, it would make sense."
"Great, so it's my fault," Marie replied glumly, she could have done without knowing that.
"Not at all," Charles replied, offering her a reassuring smile. "A trigger is not the cause of a mutation manifesting, it is simply a stepping stone, a diving board if you will, for the body to take the leap into its next stage of development, as you said also, a lot of things happened all at once, stressors like those can often cause new mutations to go haywire, Kaden's focus on you, and your wellbeing, may well be what stopped his mutation from getting out of control, as yours did when you first manifested," he pointed out.
"What about the father, what can you tell us about him?" Jean queried.
"Not much," Marie admitted with an embarrassed flush, "I guess you could say Kaden is the product of a one-night stand..."
"At seventeen?" Jean asked, clearly sceptical.
"Sixteen," Marie replied, blushing even brighter before she explained, "When my parents kicked me out, I decided to fulfil my childhood dream and travel to Alaska, not least of all because, with a mutation that meant I had to cover my skin, somewhere cold would make that less obvious to the non-freaks around me, I had no way to travel though, except hitchhiking. As odd as it sounds, Kaden's father was the first person I got a ride with who *didn't* proposition me, I was sixteen, a virgin, terrified that the next ride was going to be the one I lost whatever else I had left to my name, so to speak, we travelled together for four days, and he was a really nice guy, didn't pressure me for any kind of 'payment', fed me, put me up in motels - in my own bed - when we stopped, I decided that it was going to be my choice whoever my first was and he was the kind of guy I would like that to be." She explained, still incredibly embarrassed but at the same time hoping someone, anyone, would understand why she had done what she did. She didn't regret her decision, not for a second.
"And he didn't use protection?" Jean asked worriedly.
"We did actually, but I guess ours fell into the two percent of ineffective condoms," Marie chuckled. "Six weeks later I found out I was pregnant, two weeks after that I was raped, the hospital staff took real good care of me, when I refused the abortion drugs, telling them I was already pregnant, they even collected donations for the baby, and the officers at the local station helped me too, it was one of the officers who, he and his wife helped me finish high school and get my qualifications. There was enough evidence to have the guy who raped me locked up, he was sentenced to twelve years, they also chucked charges at him for attempted murder of Kaden, which I think ended up getting reduced to assault or something against an unborn child, minimum non parole was six years, he didn't get parole his first attempt, he apparently can't try again for two years unless his behaviour improves... sorry, you probably don't care about all that," Marie added with another blush and a shrug.
"Not at all, it helps us understand, both your situation and Kaden's, besides, we're all like family around here, you can tell us anything," Ororo said, offering Marie a hug, which she gladly accepted.
"So, you weren't aware of Kaden's father being a mutant?" Charles asked, directing the conversation back to the original topic.
"No, I doubt he would have known I was either, I didn't exactly go around advertising the fact and I can't imagine anyone else doing so, it's possible I suppose, when we got to the end of the point our paths intercepted he found me another ride, with someone he trusted, gave me a ton of cash, and that was the last we ever saw or heard from each other, he doesn't even know Kaden exists, and I have no way of contacting him to let him know," Marie responded sadly.
"Does Kaden know this?" Jean asked contemplatively.
"An age appropriate version," Marie confirmed, "I told him his dad had to go away, before we knew he was going to be born and that I didn't know where he lived now to tell him about Kaden but that if he did know, he would love him a lot; he seemed satisfied with that, he hasn't asked anymore about him, I feel bad that I don't even have a picture for him but... that's just how life goes sometimes."
"Indeed, if we can assist in any way with tracking down his father do let us know, we are happy to help," Charles informed her. "In the meantime, you must be exhausted. Remy, would you be so kind as to show Marie to her rooms, I believe Jubilee and Kaden are on their way inside too, I imagine they will join you shortly." And with that, her induction was complete, and the meeting broke up.
The tall, dark haired, red eyed man, whose mutation was essentially blowing things up, opened the door for her gallantly before offering her his arm to lead her upstairs. She was flattered but kept her distance from his flattery and flirtatious behaviour, it was fun to be flirted with but at the same time she had no intention of leading him on, especially seeing as how she had to live and work in the same building as him. Truthfully, she wasn't ready for a relationship, she didn't think she ever would be. Despite her promise to herself she had eventually realised she had fallen in love with her one true lover, and she had no intention or desire to fall out of love with him; not yet at least.
"Mommy, it's so cool here, the obstacle course is huge, and I climbed right to the top and there's a swimming pool, and a horse stable, and we can go explore to the forest some times, and..." Kaden continued to ramble on about all the things he had seen, as Marie paused in her sorting of the pile of bags that were waiting for them in the living room of their new apartment.
"That sounds awesome buddy, did you thank Jubilee for showing you around?" she asked, reminding him of his manners.
"Oh, thanks Jubilee!" he called over his shoulder, to the young woman still standing in the doorway.
"No problem little guy," Jubilee replied. She stayed in the doorway, watching them, until Marie sent Kaden, with his suitcase of clothes, to his new room to unpack.
"Thanks for showing him around," Marie added, turning her attention back to Jubilee once the boy was out of sight.
"Really, it’s no problem, he sure does love the outdoors," she said, "Hey, um, thanks for coming, this is probably going to sound rude and self-serving of me but I'm glad something was finally able to get Logan back here; he's the guy who's coming to teach Kaden about his mutation," Jubilee hurriedly explained, clearly misinterpreting Marie's confused look.
"Logan... Coming back?" Marie asked, shrugging off the name. It was just a total coincidence that the guy coming to teach Kaden about his mutation had the same name as his father, pure coincidence.
"Yeah, something happened a couple years ago, a little girl died, not at the school, and Logan kind of... took it personally that he couldn't save her, he kinda fell apart and then left but now the Professor has convinced him to come back to help Kaden, so, I guess, thank you?" Jubilee haltingly explained.
"You and Logan were close?" Marie asked, that would certainly explain the girls earlier excitement.
"Yeah, yeah, Logan's like, my big brother, I guess. He found me, after my mutation manifested, my parents were killed in the car accident that caused me to manifest, and I was living in a mall after running away from foster care, just trying to hide, he found me and brought me here and, we were kinda stuck like glue until... it was hard watching him fall apart like that, and not be able to help him-" Jubilee quickly dashed away a tear- "But now he's coming back, it's gonna be good having him back, and you'll like him, Kaden definitely will too. Well, I should go, let you get some rest. Dinner starts at six pm in the cafeteria on the ground floor, or there's food in the kitchen at all hours, also on the ground floor." And with that Jubilee was gone again.
Marie took her own suitcase into her own room to begin unpacking but as soon as she sat down on the edge of the bed her body reminded her how exhausted she was.
"Kaden?" she called softly.
"Yes mommy?" the little boy replied, appearing in the doorway immediately.
"Mommy's really tired okay little man, so I'm going to go to sleep, can you keep real quiet in your room while I do that?" she asked.
"Sure I can," Kaden said with a smile, coming over to give her a hug and kiss. "Night night mommy, do you want me to wake you up for dinner?"
"That would be great, thank you little man for being so well behaved," Marie replied, kissing him on the top of his dark-haired head before he dashed out of the room.
She didn't even bother looking for her pyjamas just climbed straight into bed, and was asleep in minutes.