The Virtuous Pilgrim
by Elizabeth Christine Counts
"Once, no two souls could have been in more perfect harmony." She paused to reflect about the past. "The agony is unbearable. All these years, I have watched and loved. My betrayal is unforgivable. How would he ever be able to forgive me if I cannot forgive myself? I would be unworthy of his devotion. I am cursed by his pain. At least, he has a second chance. I am not even a memory to him now. I am a fact of his past which exist only in the minds of others. To him I was dead in body and, now, in spirit. My grief will never be lessened though. I can never be with him. I can never touch him. Mine is a forbidden love." The beautiful woman sat stooped in the scarlet velveteen chair.
"We met under the worst possible conditions. It was such a long time ago. It seems like a dream--no, a nightmare. He and I were allowed to survive for some unfathomable reason. The things he was forced to do for our survival were horrible. Even after our escape, he was plagued with nightmares. We had both lost our entire families. We only had each other, but it was enough to start a new life." The pain was visible on her youthful face.
"This is Auschwitz you speak of?"
"Yes. We met there in 1942. Eventually, we escaped during a time of confusion; liberation was poised. It was January 1945." Her reply was dry and hollow.
"The winter was harsh and we almost starved. We were forced to move around in order to survive. We ended up in a little village in the Carpathian Mountains. He worked very hard when he could find work, and soon we were married. We made friends and settled down. Our daughter was born. We were so very happy." A slight smile passed across her face.
"She was born in 1948?"
"He wasn't an ordinary man. His intellectual capacity was endless. He desired to learn--everything. We verbally spared every often. It was a great game of ours. In a time when women were not suppose to express opinions, he often told me how lucky he was that I was outspoken and witty. We decided to move to a place of learning." There was a distance look on her face. She was deep in thought.
"Yes." She stood up and gracefully moved toward the computer in front of her.
"You must understand about Erik. He was a very strong willed man. He lived with such passion. No one more than he took seriously his responsibilities. He despised those who did not. I've seen the fire blaze in his beautiful blue-gray eyes. He used to tell me I inspired him. He was in constant motion. A man of action. There wasn't a lazy bone in his entire body--nor an imperfect one." The last of the sentence she said under her breath. Her eyes closed in remembrance.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch the last of what you said."
"Never mind." A smile passed across her face.
An elderly lady appeared in the doorway of the room. "My Lady, supper is served."
The woman standing before the computer console turned with no enthusiasm.
"Thank you, Illeda. I'll be there in a few minutes."
Illeda turned to leave and added. "My Lady, you must eat." Illeda knew her
mistress often didn't eat her meals. So did C.A.L. and so he spoke in Illeda's defense.
"Madame, I may be a Cybergenetic Artificial Lifeform, but I am well aware of your human need to....."
"Stop! I know my needs, too. I am quiet old enough to know ..."
"Madame, I know you know, but you are a stubborn women."
"C.A.L. let me finish this, and I'll go eat."
She became solemn. "Her death was my fault, and so was the deaths of the village people."
"I thought she was killed in an arson fire, and Magneto killed the villagers."
She became very agitated. "Don't ever say that, and don't call him Magneto. Is that understood?"
"Yes, my lady. Continue."
"If I hadn't left her alone, I could have gotten her out. I only left her for a few moments to purchase what I needed for our supper. Her death is my fault, and because of her death Erik went into the rage which triggered the destruction of the village and the villagers' deaths. Given more time he could have learned about his powers and controlled them. He would never have hurt anyone on purpose. It was an accident, but one they wouldn't forgive him for. It is because of me that she is dead, and he will forever be cursed because of it." She bowed her head.
"Why did you leave him?"
"It was not my intention. I was scared; all the chaos and destruction. The dead. Memories came flooding back. I was in the camps again and I had to run." The words tumbled from her lips.
"You were scared you would die, too?"
She sighed. "I was scared for the unborn child I was carrying. Children. I didn't know at the time but I was carrying his twins. I had to protect them. I couldn't let anything happen to them like I did my Anya!" There was a long pause in her narration. C.A.L. became concerned when her gentle crying became violent sobbing. He had not experienced this amount of concern since his awakening. He was confused and didn't know the proper response. He had learned a lot since his "birth" eight months ago, but emotions were most puzzling. He said nothing. He waited and finally she composed herself.
"I'm sorry, C.A.L."
"Mother, I didn't know how to help you." Only at times did he feel the need to call her mother. He was afraid and needed reassurance.
In a soft, gentle voice she responded. "It's okay. Everything is all right. (She paused.) No matter how many times I go over it in my mind, it never gets easier." She continued with a quivering voice. "I called him a monster, but I didn't mean it. I just wanted it all to stop. I hurt him. I could see it on his face. I couldn't bare it. How could I say such a thing? I didn't mean it. I wasn't running away from him. I wasn't worthy of him. How could he ever look at me again without disgust? I let his child die, and betrayed his trust."
She returned to her seat. Tears ran down her face and gathered on her chin to fall onto the trembling hands folded in her lap. "I immediately wanted to go back, but I didn't. I would only bring him grief. I thought if I stayed away he would be better off. I couldn't betray him or let him down ever again. After several years, I decided I had made the wrong decision. I was making preparations to go to him, but a horrible fear came over
me. What if he hated me? What if he hadn't forgiven me? What if he didn't love me
anymore? What if he chose not to even acknowledge me? Finally, I decided it was better if I stayed away."
"What about the twins?"
The tears continued. "Wundagore Mountain was the most beautiful place. I went there to have my babies. It was a safe place. It was a homey place. This was during the winter though, and winters there are harsh. Travel was difficult. At the babies' birth, I was very sick and depressed. A kindly midwife helped me. She was some sort of creation by the High Evolutionary. Her name was Bova. It was she who suggested that I give the babies to her. I thought I was dying so I gave her the twins, and I left to die."
"But you didn't die."
"No, I wandered until unconscienceness overcame me. A kindly couple found me and took me in. Their daughter, who was my age, had just died. They felt God had sent me to them. They took care of me, and by spring I had started to strengthen. I wanted to look for my babies, but times were hard. What could I give them? Besides, I had doubts about my ability to take care of them since Anya's death had been due to my bad judgment. I reasoned they were better off where they were. I stayed with the couple almost two years. They became my family. Then, they both fell ill. I nursed and cared for them, but I could not save them. I was totally alone. I felt I must make a new start and bury my past. I placed a tombstone with my name on it on the grave of the couple's daughter. It represented the death of that Magda. You know the rest."
"Yes, you devoted yourself to learning all these years. Did you ever tell Bova about Erik or that the babies were to be hidden from him?'
"C.A.L., what an odd question. No, of course not.! I secretly wished that he would find the babies and me. But, he never came." A look of puzzlement was on her face. "Why do you ask?"
C.A.L. noticed suspicion in her voice. "I was running hypothetical situations and needed the information." He had lied. Immediately there was a new emotion to deal with--guilt. While accessing information in the computers of mutant groups around the world, he had discovered an entry which had caused an alertness in his circuitry. In a file of data which recorded information on Mag..Erik, there was an account of a meeting between Erik and the adult twins in which he had re-counted a story to them. It was the story in which he had traced Magda's steps to the midwife of Wundagore Mountain. A painful story in which a young, beautiful woman named Magda had came to her for help in the birth of her twins. According to the file, Magda had expressed an estrangement between herself and her husband, and feared for the children's well-being if he should find them. He knew Magda was not lying. Why did Bova lie? He would tell her the truth later.
She wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled. "Coming here was the new start I needed."
"You arrived in Washington, D.C. in1954?"
"Yes. I worked hard and rented a small place in the low rent district. Not long after I had moved there, I helped a stranger who was being pursued by the authorities. He told me I was very kind and in return he hoped the years would be kind to me."
"Who was he?"
A puzzled look forms. "I don't know. I didn't want to know who he was in case the authorities should question me. And with the problems and anger facing the mutants, I didn't want to get involved."
"He was a mutant?"
"Yes, that's why he was being pursued. He was hungry and had used his ability to obtain food at a street vendor."
"What was he able to do?"
She draws in a deep breath. "He was able to manipulate time for a short period. He had simply stopped time for the vendor and helped himself. Unfortunately for him, bystanders witnessed the act."
"If that is the worst thing he ever did..."
"Perhaps it wasn't." She had a mysterious tone.
"What do you mean, Mistress?"
"How old do you calculate me to be?"
"I do not wish to insult you, but you must be much older than you look!"
"How old do I look?"
"Comparing you to the women I have observed, I would calculate in the mid- twenties."
"To be precise, 27."
"The mutant did this to you?"
There was a long sigh. "Not exactly. You remember my secret?"
"Yes. You have a mutant ability which even I cannot detect."
"Actually, the ability is null and void unless in the presence of another mutant."
"Mistress, I don't need..."
"Listen. Just listen. When the mutant wished that time would be kind to me, he inadvertently stopped my aging process on his own for the maximum of five minutes, but with my help it was permanent, since I am able to amplify another mutant's ability. And so, I'll forever be young." She laughed and rose signaling the discussion is over. She turned to leave. "Goodnight, C.A.L."
"Goodnight and Madame?"
"Go eat your supper."
She felt like a different woman the next morning. She felt young and energized even though she had spent most of the night reflecting over the discussion she had with C.A.L. Talking about Erik was so intimate and stimulating. No one had ever affected her like he did. No one ever would. He was all she thought about. And dreamed about. She wondered if he ever thought about her? After all these years, did he still long to be with her? But then she remembered, his memory was a clean slate. He was Joseph now. He didn't think about her. He didn't even remember her existence. Her enthusiasm was lost. She forced herself from bed and got dressed.
A few minutes later, she entered the room which she occupied most of her days and several sleepless nights. She no longer needed to venture into the workforce. Her hard earned money was carefully invested over the many years, and now the investments provided her a meager, but comfortable, life. For the past ten years, she had sunk her life into the project now before her.
"Good morning, C.A.L."
"Good morning. Can I ask you something of which I am curious?"
"Okay." She said slowly. "What is wrong?"
"I have a lot of time to think at night when you require rest."
She grinned. "Just spit it out, C.A.L."
"Do you know how many adult websites are on the web?"
She laughed. She knew this question would not be long in the asking. "Not exactly. What is the real question?"
"Madam, are humans obsessed with procreation?"
She became thoughtful. "C.A.L., humans, like all species except yourself, have what is called instinct. Instinct is..."
""A largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason," according to one definition."
She pursed her lips. This was not going to be easy. "Yes, but it's more complicated than that." She licked her lips. "There are different levels to it. People can perform a sexual act without the intention or result of reproduction. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but if sex is to procreate, why perform a sexual act if there is no reproduction?"
This was difficult to explain so she put it simply. "With the act of sex there is the accompanying feeling of physical and emotional pleasure. It is the desire for this pleasure which perpetuates the acts of sex for other than reproductive reasons, most of the time."
"There are other reasons?"
He would not understand this until he learned more about humans. "Yes, people have sex sometimes to get revenge, for money, for jobs, for favors, just to say they did, some are unwillingly forced..." Her voice trailed off. "That sounds pathetic doesn't it?"
"Why did you and Erik have sex? To procreate? Did you do it for other reasons, too?"
She did not think about him asking personal questions. She was slightly embarrassed. She knew she must answer all his questions truthfully so she swallowed hard and bit the bullet. "We fell in love in a time when it was unacceptable to have sex before marriage and growing up in a concentration camp only complicated things for us.
There were no thoughts of sex there, only thoughts of survival. We were very much in love, and after our escape we married as soon as we could. I remember our first night together. It was awkward, but he was so kind and gentle." She paused with a gentle sigh. "He told me he would never just have sex with me. He would only make love to me. It wasn't just an act of sex, it was an act of bonding, sharing, responsibility, and commitment to each other. Two souls entwined accompanied with an equally intense physical act. Does any of this make sense?"
"Is this what people are searching for?"
"This is what everyone searches for and very few find. There have been wars fought for love. Love has greatly influenced history and literature. More than anything else, our lives revolve around it whether we realize it or not. And I had it and lost it." Her hands were clinched and hot tears streamed down her face.
"It makes perfect sense the way you explain it." C.A.L. could see her extreme discomfort. He didn't know what else to say. She sent him a smile of gratitude.
There was a long silence. "C.A.L. give me a update." She said with unexpected urgency.
"According to my sources, he has not returned to 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, New York."
"Did Cerebro have anything of interest that I should know about?" she asked with a sly grin.
"Nothing from there or any of my other sources."
"C.A.L., does it bother you to snoop on the mutants for me?"
"We mean them no harm, we are undetected in their systems, and you only do it to find out about him."
She tilted her head and flipped her long, thick hair over her shoulder. "You didn't answer my question."
"I haven't fully grasped emotions yet. However, what I do, I do willing--for you."
Illeda entered with the breakfast tray and left without uttering a word. Magda picked up the silver coffee pot, and poured the contents into a fragile looking cup and saucer. She didn't bother looking at breakfast. She sipped her coffee while pacing around the room. "C.A.L., you are a living entity. You don't have to do what I ask!"
"Why do you want to?" She did not want him to do it because she asked; she wanted him to make his own decisions. She feared a fight between his logic and emotions. If this should occur, she was unsure of the outcome.
"You are my creator, my mother, and my friend. I care for you! I want to help you."
"Is that logical?"
"Is it logical that you have denied yourself the one person that will make you happy?"
Her eyes flashed with anger. "What do you mean by that?"
"You know exactly what I mean!"
The cup and saucer hit the coffee table with a sharp ting. Her breaths were rapid. "I told you why I couldn't be with him. I told you the truth."
"Tell me all of it."
She threw herself into the scarlet velveteen chair. "Do you realize what would happen if others knew of my ability? I would be hunted down. Do you realize what would happen if I fell into the hands of someone bent on world domination?" Tears glistened in her eyes. "I came to America with the full intention of revealing myself to Erik. After the incident with the mutant I knew I couldn't. I knew something had happened that day. I felt it bloom inside my body and radiate to the man. A few days after my discovery, I sought out a mutant. It was easy. I developed the same heightened senses. He was playing baseball with others in a vacant lot. He was young and his ability had not fully matured. I could feel him straining his gift to the maximum. His ability made him stronger than the others, and he showed off by consistently hitting the ball out of the lot. I watched for a while, then when the young man came up to the plate to bat again, I allowed the release to the young man. He hit the ball."
" To say the least, I would guess the ball ended up somewhere in Virginia or North Carolina."
They both were silent. She picked up the cup and saucer and finished the coffee. "I decided I couldn't seek him out. At least not yet. It was a battle that lasted within me for years. Suddenly his picture was in all the papers. All reports about Erik were not good. They called him Magneto. The papers said he was evil and bent on world domination. I could never believe he was evil, but if he believed he could save the world, I knew it was possible the other part might be true. I also knew he was a very powerful mutant; if I helped him there would be NO stopping him. I also knew that if I was ever with him again, I could never let him down. I would do anything he asked of me. Do you understand now?"
"Yes, and because you have been truthful with me, I must be with you."
"What do you mean?" Her voice betrayed the fear she felt.
"Three nights ago I retrieved this information. Erik found Bova in 1983. He did search for you." Shock was on her face. "From all the information I can obtain, she told him that you were "terrified of something she refused to talk about" and that he was "alien to her affections." There was something else. She told him that you said, "Please keep my children from their father.""
"Nooooo, nooooooooo." She slipped from the chair onto the floor. C.A.L. alerted Illeda. The woman flew into the room and grabbed the quivering lady on the floor. Illeda helped her back into the chair where she sat as if petrified. Time elapsed. Two hours had passed. Finally, in a voice of defeat she spoke. "It's not true. She lied."
"Yes, I know." C.A.L. was fearful to continue. "He found the tombstone you placed on the girl's grave, and had been visiting it frequently to pay homage to you up until his memory was erased by Xavier."
That was what it took to break her will. She became frantic and violent. The screams were that of a mad woman. She threw the coffee pot, the lamps, and her research which had been resting on the table beside her. She ripped down the curtains and broke the picture window before Illeda could stop her. Illeda spoke in a firm voice, "Magda, Magda calm down. Someone will notice all the commotion. Do you want the authorities here?" Illeda shook her hard. "Do you?" They stared into each other's eyes. Magda struggled to compose herself. She managed to shake her head no. Illeda helped her to her bedroom. There bandages were placed on the cuts on her hands and arms. Her clothes were replaced by the long lace nightgown. Magda didn't refuse the sedative when offered. She wished for death to claim her. She wallowed between pity and guilt. He had loved her all along. He had forgiven her. "I am a fool," she whispered under her breath.
A week had passed, but still Magda refused to leave her bedroom. Illeda knew she couldn't sleep and wouldn't eat. She spoke to neither Illeda or C.A.L. They didn't leave her alone for they feared she might try to take her own life. When Illeda needed to leave the room, C.A.L. observed her through the laptop and a portable camera.
C.A.L. finally broke the ice surrounding her heart. "I'm sorry, mother. Your pain is my fault. I should not have told you the truth." There was a flicker in her eyes. "I didn't know it would devastate you. I felt guilt because I hadn't told you. Now, I feel guilt because I did."
Her throat was dry making her voice raspy. "You shouldn't feel guilty, C.A.L. I am not upset with you. I am not upset at Erik I am upset at Bova, but, most of all, I am upset with myself."
"You didn't know the circumstances."
Her head felt like it was about to explode. "I knew how we felt about each other. I knew he would search. I hurt him worse by staying away. He is not a monster. I am. I did all the wrong things because I was ashamed and couldn't face his disappointment. I have ruined his life and the lives of all his victims. I have caused the pain in him which warped his thinking."
"Do you still love him?"
"Love? Love is such a modest word to describe how I feel about him." She spoke as one in a trance.
"He needs you now more than ever."
"No, he has the X-Men. Besides, he doesn't remember me."
"Does he not deserve that which all humans seek?"
She remembered their conversation. "Yes, for all he's been through, he deserves it more than anyone."
"Do you think when Xavier wiped his mind clean that his soul was affected?"
"No, of course not."
"If that is so, then only you can fill his needs!"
Her head jerked upward and her eyes narrowed. "C.A.L., how do you think he could accept me.."
"He would forgive you anything and he is ..(pause) rehabilitated now so you wouldn't have to worry about him misusing your ability."
She shook her head making the long, scarlet ringlets of hair dance. "I don't know about that. What if my arrival somehow revives his memory...for the worse?"
"How could it be for the worse if he has what he desires most? He would not use you."
"We don't that for sure," she spluttered.
"No, but you do."
She shakily rose from the bed and walked to the window. She stared at the flowers in the garden not really seeing them. "What would you have me do?"
"First, eat and bath. Second, get a restful night's sleep. Third, gain some weight and go to a tanning booth. You look like an anorexic ghost. Fourth, get a modern wardrobe. I've made out a list for you. Fifth, go to the X-Men and ask for their help and protection. You will be near him and...."
"C.A.L., that's okay, I get your drift. I don't know about five."
"Madga, you are not safe here."
"As long as I..."
"No, staying away from other mutants may not work. What if mutants are recruited to locate others? If one comes to the door with a locator device, it's going to scream you're a mutant. And another thing, your power is dangerous. You need to know it's limits and how to control it. You don't want to accidentally cause a cataclysm of some type. You really need their help. It's not just an excuse to be near him."
His advice was sound. She had the same worries. He continued. "If they are open minded enough to take in Joseph, then surely they won't turn you away."
"I won't lie to them and they'll ask questions." She showed signs of giving in C.A.L. noticed by the tone of her voice.
"I suggest you have an initial meeting with Scott and Jean Summers. You tell them your entire story. They're not going to believe you. You then insist that Jean scan your memory for verification. She verifies. You insist that your identity be withheld from the others, for obvious reasons, and you're in!"
With a lilt to her voice she exclaimed, "C.A.L., have you been spending your nights thinking all this up?"
"Actually, I spent only..."
"Never mind. Well, I guess on the step one." She grinned. "C.A.L., thank you for being an advocate for my cause."
"One of us has got to do it."
She realized he's right.
A Plan in Motion
C.A.L. loved having a mission. It felt so exciting. He loved excitement. Most of all, he loved seeing Magda excited. She had never been this way before. He estimated it would take her eight weeks to finish the subcontracted computer programming project. She finished in seven even with the tanning sessions and taking care of some personal business. She voiced the concern that she had no idea how long she would be gone. She even mentioned the possibility that some unforeseen event might prevent her return permanently, and that she wanted Illeda to live comfortably if something should happen. C.A.L. was also pleased with her weight gain. She was back to her healthy-looking self.
It was late in the evening when Magda came into the room laden with several parcels followed by Illeda, also carrying as much as she could of Magda's purchases. Illeda then made three more trips.
"C.A.L., I did this to please you, but, honestly, do you expect me to wear some of this stuff?"
"I carefully picked everything on the list."
"From what? Frederick's of Hollywood?" She was just kidding.
"Actually, yes. Some of it anyway. The lingerie."
"Thanks, I'm going to have a ongoing battle with wedgies." She laughed and shook her head. "Some of the skirts are way to short. If I drop something, I'll have to be a contortionist to pick it back up without exposing myself." She grimaced as she held up one of her purchases to survey how much material it apparently didn't have.
"Magda, Joseph is a young man with a young man's interests. You are a beautiful woman so allow him to notice you. You have always dressed the part of the professional. Your part has changed; you must dress accordingly." She grudgingly admitted it might be a good idea, but she still would be uncomfortable and self-conscience.
"We should leave tomorrow around noon because the traffic through New York won't be as bad on a Sunday afternoon. I've made reservations for you at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains. Monday morning there is a mandatory meeting for everyone at the mansion at 10:00 a.m. We should be there by 9:00. I calculate you will have plenty of time to take care of your needs if I awaken you by 6:30."
"That won't be necessary."
"Do you really expect me to sleep?"
"Knowing you the way I do, I doubt you'll sleep much tonight."
She took each purchase and held it up for C.A.L.'s approval. When she had finished, he signaled Illeda to come. Illeda would freshen her clothing and do all her packing. Illeda was more than her confidant; she was her surrogate mother. Magda saddened at the thought of leaving her alone. C.A.L. saw the look on her face.
"What is wrong?"
"Do you think Illeda will be all right?"
"I don't know. With all the extra time on her hands she might take up a hobby or get another friend."
"That was a pitiful attempt at sarcasm, but your point is well taken," she replied with a wistfullness.
C.A.L. alerted to the fact that Joseph was active within Cerebro's circuitry. "He has just initiated a program in the Danger Room."
"So, he's back at the mansion. Is he alone?"
"Yes. It is a single application."
Her mouth drew tight as she considered the notion which has just popped into her head. "Speaking of danger, is it right of me to place him and the X-Men in more danger?"
"We have discussed this already."
Her lips now in a pout, she replied, "No, we didn't discuss the effects my presence would have on the X-Men. Until I know how to control myself, I will put them in danger. If my ability is ever discovered, protecting me will be a constant danger. Not to mention that the mere knowledge of this may cause dissension among them."
"You will not be the first or last mutant that they will risk their lives for."
She walked to her favorite chair, the crimson velveteen one. She sat down and pulled her knees up to her as she swiveled around to sit at a angle enabling her to prop her legs against the high sides of the chair. "There is one more possibility we haven't discussed." Her's was a "matter of fact" tone.
"Oh? Really? What would that be?"
"What if he's in a relationship with someone else?" For once C.A.L. had no immediate answer. "Well? What will I do? Stay and watch? Or come back home?" He alerted to the worry in her voice.
"You can't just come back home; you'll be in danger again."
"So I'll stay and watch." C.A.L. heard the strain to stay calm.
"True love will always find a way to survive."
"You've been reading too many romance novels."
"You have nothing to worry about." He determined she must have the last minute jitters.
Conversation paused. She pushed her thick hair back behind her ears. " What if he can't love me because of me?"
"What if that part of him which longs for me is still there, unknown to him, and is still a blockade to any other relationship?"
"I'm not sure. Perhaps you might have to reveal yourself before he's been properly prepared."
"And how do we determine if he can handle it or not?" She persisted but was answered with silence. "It's okay, I don't know either, C.A.L." It was getting late but she lingered. She eventually spent the night on the sofa. Illeda came in after she had fallen asleep and covered her. Illeda stood over her watching her sleep. C.A.L. spoke softly. "Don't worry, I'll take care of her."
Tears rolled down her weathered cheek. "Will she finally be happy? Will he love her?"
"Honestly, I don't have any idea. I do know her life is wasting away in loneliness. I know she loves us, but what she needs, we can't give her. I fear only one man can do that."
"If he rejects her after all attempts is made?"
"Her cause to live will be over. She has lived simply on the desire to someday be by his side again. If that hope is ripped from her, she will find a way to end the pain, permanently."
"May God help her," she said wiping the tears from her face.
Magda awoke very early feeling exhausted. Her sleep had been filled with confusing and troubling dreams. She started to rise from the couch and felt the blanket. What would she do without Illeda? She showered and dressed in some of her favorite
clothes. The ankle-length silk skirt flowed around her legs and the matching blouse accented the green in her blue-green eyes. Brushing her hair, she walked out of the bath and into her bedroom. She walked to the dresser, laid down the brush, and removed pieces of paper and a pen from a top drawer. She wrote two notes. One was brief and the other was quite lengthy. She then removed a small cedar chest from another drawer, and opened it. She gently placed the folded notes on top of the chest's contents. She closed the lid, and put the chest back in it's place in the drawer.
She picked up the brush as she turned to exit the bedroom. She noiselessly glided down the hall, and then down the stairs. At the bottom, she made the decision to roam the garden for perhaps the last time. She wanted to be alone. They wouldn't miss her just yet. Illeda was still sleeping. She had heard the deep breathing as she had passed Illeda's bedroom door. She was sure C.A.L. would still be "out" doing whatever he had chosen for the night's entertainment. Out the back door she went; breathing in deeply the moist morning air.
She made her way to the gazebo in the center of the garden. She sat down in the swing and finished brushing her hair. There were so many conflicting feelings inside her. The hope to see him, fear of rejection either by him or the X-Men, excitement at the prospects she dared hope for, sadness at leaving Illeda, and dread of the unknown. She set the swing into motion, lost in the thoughts. Two hours passed and, if not for the increasing pain in her calf muscles, she would have remained longer.
She stood up with a determined look on her face. The time for action had come. She marched into the house. Illeda had her breakfast fixed. She ate swiftly. Illeda helped her carry her luggage to the white '97 Subaru stationwagon which she had backed out of the garage. She went into the house and returned to the car carrying the electronic equipment bag she had prepared. She then went to see C.A.L. It was 9:30. "C.A.L.? Are you ready?"
"I am prepared for the transfer." It would take an hour and a half to complete C.A.L.'s transfer to the laptop since all his "being" would be transferred instead of a partial, temporary one. C.A.L. had been initially programmed to accomplish this feat, so Magda sat and waited. To her, it seemed to take forever. At 10:59:59, the task was completed. She closed the laptop and stuffed some papers from a drawer in the table beside her chair into her portfolio. She surveyed the room as she stroked the arms of her chair. For twenty-three years she had lived here; the longest she had lived anywhere. She picked up the portfolio and C.A.L. "C.A.L.?"
"Of course. A little cramped, but I'm fine. Actually, I think I'm just a tad claustrophobic."
A frown developed on her brow. "Maybe you better stay here."
"No way. I want to go. I'm fine, really."
She made the final decision. She left the room without looking back. Illeda was waiting for them by the car. Magda threw the portfolio in the back seat, and carefully placed C.A.L. in the front passenger seat. Magda went over a list of instructions with Illeda, again, for the third time. She stressed the part about Illeda's welfare. Throwing her arms around the elderly woman to hug and squeeze her; tears streamed down her face. Magda then tenderly placed her hands around Illeda's face and kissed her forehead. She released the woman, turned, and got into her car. No exchange of words were spoken. There was no need for as always they knew the others thoughts. Magda started the car and pulled out of the drive onto Massachusetts Ave. It was now 11:59. She drove along the planned route picking up first Wisconsin Ave, then Routes 355 and 495 which took her to Interstate 95. After she had been on the interstate for a few minutes, C.A.L. ventured to ask a question. "Are you okay?
There was an unemotional, "Yes."
He ventured again, "Do you want to talk?"
"C.A.L. I know you must be bored, but I don't feel like talking right now. Please forgive me."
"There is nothing to forgive."
Soon the silent minutes had turned into a hour, then two. Still they didn't talk. She continued on. She navigated New York City with a minimum of fuss. "Hutchinson River Bridge Parkway is just ahead," C.A.L. interjected into the silence.
"Thank you, C.A.L." He noticed the fatigue in her voice. She made the turn and said, "I'm sorry I haven't talked to you. I didn't want to think about what is ahead of me-- us. I tried to concentrate on the road and take in the scenery."
She turned onto North St. then onto Hale Avenue. Within a few minutes, she found the accommodations of the Crowne Plaza. She pulled up to the valet parking. She grabbed up C.A.L. and her overnight bag. She got out of the car, and accepted the claim check. She then headed for the reservation desk. She checked in. The bellboy led her to her suite, turned on the light switch, and carried in her overnight bag. She tipped him and he left. "C.A.L., I'll hook you up to the phone lines right now. I know you must be terribly bored." She picked up the bag, crossed the sitting area, and entered the bedroom.
"That would be nice. Thank you."
She threw the bag on the bed and carried the laptop to the nightstand where she gently placed him. She made the connection. She went to the bathroom and was there several minutes. She returned. She pulled a little clutch from the overnight bag, and said "C.A.L., I'm going to the dining room to get a bite to eat."
He knew she must be starved because the trip had taken five hours and fifteen minutes. "I'll be fine."
"Activate the security system," she called as she left the room. She retraced her steps to the main area and entered the dining room. A waiter approached and seated her. He offered her the wine list and a menu. She accepted the menu and ordered coffee. She scanned the menu and upon making her decision placed the it upon the linen and lace tablecloth. She then looked around the room. There were two families, but the rest were couples. She was the only single in the room. The waiter returned and she placed her order. She tried not to be obvious, but she watched each couple in turn. Most were nonchalant. Two couples were interesting though. The first couple was in a heated debate. She expected to witness a scene at any time, but eventually the argument died down. The second couple was obviously enamored with each other. She continued to observe even after her order had arrived. They reminded her of how Erik and she had been. She wondered if it could be that way again. Just as she was finishing her meal another couple came in. That's when the sensation started. They drew closer and it intensified. She panicked. One or both must be mutants. She motioned to the waiter for the check. She had to get out of there. The check was brought and she shoved a fifty at the waiter. She jumped up and practically ran back to her suite.
"C.A.L. it's me," she said shaking and out of breath.
"Security deactivated," he replied. "What happened?"
She closed and locked the door. She walked through the sitting area, into the bedroom, and threw herself down on the bed beside the overnight bag. "There was a
mutant in the dining room."
"The sensation began and started building as this couple approached. It wasn't like the last times."
"Perhaps, it is because the mutant's ability wasn't actually being used."
She was thoughtful. "That must be it. It reminded me of a loaded gun with the safety off with the trigger awaiting the pull of the finger." She had meant to bath but the drive and the incident had taken their toll. She slowly drifted to sleep.
The clock on the nightstand read 3:30 when she awoke. She placed the clutch back into it's place in the bag. Then she picked up the bag and went to the bathroom. She started the bath. She opened the bag and took out various articles. Illeda hadn't forgot anything including the bath oil beads. She removed her clothing and stepped into the large oval tub. She eased down and reclined allowing herself to slide under the water. When the tub was full she turned the spigot off with her toe. She soaked for a while and then bathed. She then stood up and reached for a towel. She wrapped it around herself as she got out. She finished the bathroom rituals and dressed in the outfit that C.A.L. insisted that she wear. She brushed her hair, put some translucent power on her face, and stood back for a survey. She shook her head in dislike. The scarlet suite-styled blouse wasn't too bad, but the skirt was way too short. She couldn't drop anything.
She walked into the sitting room and turned on the television. She found a news channel. The time was displayed at the bottom of the screen. It was 5:30. She watched the news for an hour and a half, or rather that's how long the television was on. She paced the floor, packed her things, and prepared C.A.L. for the last leg of their journey. She was for the first time about to drive him crazy. "Magda, go get some breakfast."
"I'll pick up something at a convenience store. I don't want to chance another situation in the dining room," she said absentmindedly. Her mind was churning. She couldn't concentrate on anything specific.
"You're going to be a nervous wreck by the time we get to Salem Center."
"I'm already a nervous wreck." She felt a headache coming on. She paced the floor until the time had finally arrived to depart. She grabbed up C.A.L. and the bag, gave a quick look around to make sure she hadn't left anything, and opened the door. She stepped through. "C.A.L., I feel like I've stepped through the doorway to my future, good or bad. There's no turning back now." She swiftly walked to the desk, paid for the room, and called for her car. She waited momentarily. Her car arrived, she handed the claim check and the tip to the valet, and threw the bag in the back seat. She hopped in the car and placed C.A.L. in the passenger seat. She pulled on onto Hale Street and retraced her way to Hutchinson River Parkway. She stopped at a convenience store at the 684 junction and got gas, a cup of coffee and a doughnut. She wasn't on 684 long, about twenty-five minutes. She hit Route 22 down to Titicus Road. It took her to the center of the hamlet Salem Center. She pulled up at the shopping center at 8:50. The entire trip not a word had been said. She broke the silence. "C.A.L., make the call." Her's was a voice of steel.
The phone rang and a voice answered, "Yea."
Her confidence melted and she suddenly was at a loss for words.
"Hello?" the gruff voice insisted.
She knew the voice on the other end of the line was Logan's.
"I'm sorry. Hello." Her voice quivered. "Can I speak to Scott Summers?"
There was a pause. Fear sprang up in her heart. She feared that he was not going to let her speak to Scott.
"Justa minute." His voice had softened. She heard him lay the receiver down and
there was silence, a long silence. She wondered if they had been disconnected, but surely C.A.L. would have told her.
"Hello?" The voice was strong and confident. It was Scott Summers.
"Hello, Mr. Summers, please don't hang up." She rushed on. "I realize this is probably unusual but I must see you. I am a mutant and I need the help of the X-Men. I do not wish to discuss this in any more detail over phone lines. I am presently at the Salem Center Shopping Mall. I implore you to give me an audience."
There was a pause. He must be thinking it over. "I'll send someone over to get you..."
"Fine." She cut in. "I'll be in a white '97 Subaru stationwagon with D.C. license plates." C.A.L. cut the line. She sat petrified. In about fifteen minutes, a jeep approached. She could feel the sensation begin. As it drew closer, she could see that he had sent Logan. The sensation peaked. She opened the door and swung her legs out in an effort to stand up.
From Logan's vantage point all he could see was legs. He watched as she stood up and smoothed her skirt. He whispered under his breath, "I might be old, but I ain't dead yet." He sized her up. She was tall, probably 5' 10", real nice figure, weight around 125lbs, and thick, scarlet hair. "Yea, she's a looker." He parked and got out to greet her. He extended his hand to her for the customary handshake. She obliged.
"I'm Logan. The boss sent me ta fetch ya." He smelled all the customary fragrances that accompanied ladies. A conglomeration of soap, shampoo, lotion, cosmetics, deodorant, and perfume. She smelled good. He smelled something else. He smelled fear. She was afraid. He had also noticed that her hand was perspiring. She was very nervous.
She responded with a nice smile on her face. "I'm Maggie. It's nice to meet you."
There was an awkward silence.
"Well, Maggie, you ready ta go?" He felt sorry for her and tried not to do anything to make her more nervous.
"Yes." She was a little light-headed. She told herself that she'd better hurry up and sit down. She turned around and got back into the car. Logan closed her door and looked through the window to see if she was all right. He had noticed the pallor in her color. She grinned at him. He returned to the jeep and hopped in. They both started their vehicles and he pulled out of the parking lot with her close behind. She felt dizzy and had tunnel vision.
"C.A.L., I think I'm going to pass out." She was fighting to stay alert.
"Magda, it's going to be all right. Listen to me. Calm down. Your blood pressure and pulse are way to high. They're not going to hurt you or turn you away."
"I'm not worried about that. I'm nervous about Erik." She was trembling dramatically.
"Your blood sugar is too low. Eat a piece of candy."
She obeyed and before she could get it chewed up, they turned onto Graymalkin Lane. She noticed that the estate they now were passing had low-key high-tech security along with iron fencing. He slowed down and she followed suit. She watched as iron gates swung open. Before they had fully opened, he had passed through them and she followed. They traveled along the tree-lined road and approached an opening. The sensation increased in intensity but it did not press for its release. There in the opening
stood the X-Mansion. It impressed her. Logan stopped in front of the mansion and she pulled up behind him and parked. He got out, walked back to her, and opened her door.
She grabbed C.A.L. and got out. She waited while he closed the door. Without saying a word he turned and lead her into the house. He closed the front door, and with the nod of his head he said merely, "This way."
She tried to smile, but now the sensation was the worst it had ever been. She followed him until he stopped in front of a door and knocked. He didn't wait for an answer. He opened the door and poked his head through. "Scott, I got her."
The voice she remembered from the phone said, "Show her in." Logan opened up the door revealing a study. Behind the desk sat Scott Summers. She closed her eyes and said to herself, "Here we go." She opened her eyes, took a large breath, and stepped through the door.
A Meeting with Destiny
As soon as she had cleared the door, it shut with a bang making her noticeably flinch. As she approached the desk, Scott stood up and came toward her with his hand outstretched as he introduced himself. She couldn't read his face very effectively. The visor prevented her from looking into his eyes. "I'm Scott Summers..." They shook hands and he directed her attention toward a divan. "...and this beautiful lady is my wife, Jean." Madga was relieved to see Jean already there. "Please, have a seat," he said as he indicated a place beside Jean. Magda sat down feeling the butterflies in her stomach rising to her throat. She patiently watched as Scott rolled the chair from behind the desk to place it directly in front of his wife and Magda. He sat down and directed his entire attention toward the young woman. "Now, how can the X-Men help you?"
She placed the laptop on it's side between her and the arms of the couch. She began. "First, I must request that neither of you use your mutant abilities until you hear my entire story. Second, you must promise to let Jean confirm my story by telepathic means. Do you agree to these conditions?" She waited for their answers.
Scott responded readily. "I see no problem with the first request, but my wife does not use her telepathy to invade people's privacy without just and urgent cause." With a kind, gentle look on her face, Jean shook her head in agreement.
"Well, let me compromise." Magda felt the urgency for their agreement. "If you are plagued with considerable disbelief, then Jean will confirm with my memories. Agreed?"
Scott bit his lips and said to his wife, "Jean, that sounds reasonable." Jean gave her husband a look of concern.
"Only if it's definitely necessary," she grudgingly agreed.
Magda began. "I'm going to work backwards on this to a point." She paused and picked up the laptop. She slowly opened it. "I would like you to meet C.A.L. C.A.L., would you introduce yourself?"
"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Summers. I am C.A.L. That's capital C, capital A, capital L. I am a Cybergenetic Artificial Lifeform. I have been visiting you since my birth ten months ago. I have given Magd..Maggie pertinent information about each of the X-Men. Please don't be upset with us. We mean you no harm or malice. We have also visited, among others, the computers of Excalibre, Generation X, so on and so forth." Magda watched as mistrust and disbelief spread across their faces.
"Thank you, C.A.L." She closed the laptop and returned it to it's former position. She stared intently at Scott. "I want you to know that I am going to tell you and Jean the entire truth, however, I must request that my identity be withheld from the others. I'm sure you'll agree after you've heard my story. Just introduce me as Maggie." She paused as she searched for the proper words. "Several years ago, a stranger came to my door seeking help, a mutant. He had committed a minor offense and the authorities were searching for him. I allowed him to hide in my house until he felt it was safe to leave. To pass the time, he revealed to me his ability. He was able to manipulate time for a short period. At the maximum, five minutes. As he talked, I noticed a pressure building inside me. I just thought it was my nerves. He soon determined that it was safe for him to leave and as he exited the house, he turned and said, ""I hope time will be as kind to you, as you have been to me."" He turned and left. I felt a huge release throughout my body."
"I was disturbed by the sensation and tried to forget about it, but there was a nagging fear that haunted me. The sensation was "unnatural." I decided to test my theory. My fears were confirmed. The sensation was brought on by the presence of a mutant. I discovered something else. With the sensation came the ability to amplify another mutant's power. I have not used it since the test. Apparently, it doesn't even exist when I'm not around other mutants which has provided me invisibility as being a mutant. I don't know how to control it, turn it on or off, or to what extent it may reach." She paused. Looking from one to another, she knew that they realized the significance of her revelation. They both clearly had shock written all over their faces. She said nothing so the full impact could be driven home.
Scott cleared his throat and muttered, "Please, continue."
She continued with stress in her voice. "It took several years, but I figured out what had happened that day with the stranger. He had given me the gift of stopping my aging process for a short time, but I released my power, and as far as I can tell I have not aged since. I was twenty-four. The year was 1954." Disbelief had become a permanent fixture on their faces. She struggled on.
"Now, comes the hardest part for me. Please, do not interrupt me or I may not be able to finish." She drew in a deep breath and tried to compose herself. Her voice softened and she became reflective. "I was born in Poland in 1930. The place is irrelevant, however, it is important to know my family was Jewish. When I was nine years old, my family and I were taken to the death camp called Auschwitz. My family was killed in the gas chamber, and I would have been too if not for a young man there. His family had also been killed. We had only each other. During the camp's liberation, we escaped. I won't go into the details. It suffices to say we were madly in love, and, as soon as we could, we married. We had a little girl. We were so very happy." (she pauses) "Tragedy struck. Our daughter was killed in a arson fire. I believe you know this story?" She eyed them carefully.
"What are you trying to say?" Scott's voice betrayed the fact he knew exactly what she was saying.
Tears welled up into her eyes and her face grimaced. Tears started running down her face. She snuffed. "My name is..... Magda !!!" Jean gasped and covered her face with her hands. Scott jumped to his feet with such a force that the chair flew backwards.
"What is the meaning of coming here and telling us such a horrid lie? Magda is dead. Everyone knows this. Her grave is on Wundegore Mountain." His tone was accusing and hurtful.
Magda bowed her head and the tears were falling faster now. She started rambling. "Bova lied to him. About the twins and about me. I placed the marker with my name on the grave. I had lost everything I loved. I truly felt dead. It was just a symbolic gesture. It was all my fault. Anya's death. I shouldn't have left her sleeping in the boarding room. I called him a monster, but I was the monster. My weakness caused me to leave him when he needed me most. My guilt would not allow me to seek out his presence." Scott recovered the chair. She spoke between sobs.
"I came to America though with the full intent of finding him. But there was the incident with the mutant. I stalled my decision. Then I started reading about him in the papers, but they called him....Magneto! My power was too dangerous to fall into the hands of the wrong people. If the papers were correct, he was one of these people. I have never stopped loving him. Only the hope to see him again has given me the strength to go on. C.A.L. suggested that Erik would now be safe to approach. However, this is the reason I must insist that my identity be withheld from the others. There is no safe assumption on what effect this type of disclosure might have on him. I do not wish to harm him. I would like to reawaken Erik at his own pace. He is still Erik. His soul, his essence, has not been changed." She pleaded now.
"I can help him. I can bring back the man and leave sleeping the monster I created." She had stopped crying and had composed herself once more. Scott and Jean sat stupefied. "He needs my help and I need yours. The decision to help me must be unanimous though. All the X-Men must be entirely aware of all the dangers I may bring. You do realize I am a ticking time bomb? What if I accidentally release my power and hurt someone? What if I am discovered? I will be the most sought after mutant in history. Protecting me could get very dangerous. You may refuse me right now if that is what you see fit to do. But first, please allow Jean to scan my memory. If I am prepared for the use of the powers, I should be able to contain myself. She is not at risk. If my powers should be released, the full effect will be directed to me." She bowed her head signaling she had finished.
"Jean, if you please." Scott said with a coldness as he stared at Magda.
"Do it Jean," he commanded.
Magda raised her head and nodded to Jean. Jean raised her hands to press her fingers to her forehead. She began.
Magda felt the intense pressure begging for release. She closed her eyes and concentrated deeply to keep it contained. She was lost in the battle when she felt the need for release subside. Jean had finished. She opened her eyes and turned to Jean. She already knew what Jean would say.
Jean had been deeply affected. She had seen it all. A tear of sorrow rolled down her cheek. "Scott, allow me to introduce you to Magda Lensherr."
He was totally dumbfounded. He pushed the chair back, rose, and walked to the window. He stood there for some time.
"I understand if you think helping me is a bad idea..."
He turned to face them and interrupted her. "There is no decision to be made, I feel we must help you. I'm just not sure how to go about it."
There was a loud knock at the door. The door opened. Magda could not see who it was, but she recognized the voice. It was Logan. "Everyone wants to know if we're still having the meeting. It's 10:15." Logan could smell exhaustion.
"Yes. I'll be right there." Then Scott directed his attention to Jean. "Why don't you show her to a room. I know she's exhausted. She might like to lay down. Then you can join me at the meeting." He left.
"I'm so sorry. If there is anything I can do, please let me know," Jean said with sincerity.
Magda smiled at her. Jean truly was a beautiful person.
"Let me take you to a room so you can relax," Jean suggested. Magda picked up C.A.L., then Jean took her through the mansion, up a set of stairs, and down a hall. She stopped in front of the last door and opened it. "Here you go. This will be your room."
"You mean if they decide to let me stay, it'll be my room." Magda was worried. She didn't want to leave. At least not until she had seen Erik.
Jean had a confident smile on her face. "You have nothing to worry about." She turned and left, closing the door behind her.
"I'm not so sure," she exclaimed where C.A.L. could here her.
"Don't worry. The tough part is over. Your in." C.A.L. was worried over her mental state. "Why don't you lay down and rest?"
She placed C.A.L. on the nightstand. Her head was throbbing so she took his advice. She lay down. Whether a gift from God or just exhaustion she fell asleep.
A New Beginning
"...and that about covers all I had planned to talk about." Scott looked around the room at his friends. He continued. "As you probably know by now..." Scott knew news traveled fast around here."...we have a visitor. She has come to ask for our help. She has suppressed her mutant ability since it's manifestation, but she realizes that she is in effect a loose cannon. She needs to be trained. Her ability is only activated when she is around another mutant. That's how she's avoided detection. In essence, it doesn't exist in the absence of another mutant. But when other mutant's are around, it apparently automatically activates, and when they use their powers, she experiences an almost uncontrollable urge to release it. Being around us is constantly keeping it activated."
"Scott, what is her mutant ability?" He could always depend on Ororo to come to the heart of a subject.
He pursed his lips. Everyone perked up. Scott was very disturbed. "She is able to magnify another mutant's ability."
Remy put in, "Dat's not so bad, ey?"
Scott addressed him. "Not as long as she can control it. But, if she accidentally releases her power, the events could possibly be devastating. She has no idea about the limitations of her power."
Rogue gasped and Hank interjected, "That could be a real problem." He rubbed his chin.
Scott continued, "That's not the worst of it. If her secret gets out, she going to be hunted like a rabid dog. She'll be enemy number one of groups like Operation: Zero Tolerance, and every evil mutant known to man will want to possess her. This could get way out of hand." He paused looking at each and every face. "She wanted all of you to be fully aware of all the risks. Unless the vote is unanimous, she doesn't want to stay. I know I don't have to tell you the danger she might bring if she doesn't."
"Well, bub, we really don't have a choice, do we?" Logan liked the girl and besides he didn't mind a good fight.
"Does anyone have any objections to her staying?" Scott knew there wouldn't be. Once upon a time each of them had been in her shoes. Well, to a certain extent anyway. "No? Good. There's just one more thing. Until she gets control of herself, there will be no use of our abilities here at the mansion unless there is a emergency or she has been notified. She is not used to being under constant pressure and any unexpected use might trigger an accident. Hank and Logan, I need some help coming up with a game plan for her training." They both nodded in agreement.
Joseph spoke up, "Maybe I should show her around and help her meet everybody. Since I'm the newest person here, we have something in common."
"That is an excellent idea," he replied to Joseph while thinking Joseph had no idea how much in common they really had.
"Okay, folks, that's it." With his signal, everyone rose and started to leave. "Joseph, can I speak to you?"
Joseph had turned to leave, but now he turned back in Scott's direction. "Sure."
"Joseph, stick close to her. She's very upset and really needs a friend." Joseph shook his head in acknowledgment. "Don't inquire too much about her past. It's a very sensitive subject with her. When she's ready, she'll talk about it. Jean and I were told the whole story, and we agree to not discuss it with anyone. Normally, we would not
keep any information to ourselves, but her's is a peculiar situation. Okay?"
Joseph was thoughtful. "No one knows more than I how haunting the past can be, even if you can't remember it. I guess we really have a lot in common."
"You have no idea.!" Scott replied causing Jean to send him a look he knew well. He had almost said too much. "Why don't you hang around and Jean can go get her; then I'll introduce you." Jean gave him a smile, a nod and left to retrieve Maggie.
Magda was deep in slumber. She heard the sound but wasn't alert enough to recognize the knocking on the door. She made the journey to awakeness with a start. She realized now what she was hearing and wondered how long it had been going on. She jumped from the bed. "Just a minute, I'm coming." She pulled the door open with a jerk. There was Jean. "I'm sorry. I drifted off to sleep." Magda waited with anticipation. She saw a wide grin spread across Jean's face. "Welcome home, Maggie. It was unanimous."
Magda felt an emotional relief and reacted by grabbing Jean to give her a big hug. "Oh , thank you, thank you and thank the rest for me, would you?" Jean, at first a little startled, returned her hug, then grabbed her arm pulling her along.
Laughing, Magda asked, "Where we going in such a hurry?" "
"To my room to primp. Joseph's waiting with Scott in the conference room to meet you." Jean pulled her along through the mansion to her and Scott's room. She helped Magda freshen up and comb her disheveled hair. After they had finished, they stood back and stared at their reflections in the mirror. Jean was in very good humor. "Well, I guess there's enough room here for two beautiful redheads." She was obviously having a good time. Magda was in good spirits, too. She turned, smiling and faced Jean. Jean continued. "You're gonna knock him right off his feet. Just stay calm and remember to call him Joseph. Okay?" Magda was so emotional at this point she could only manage to nod her head. Jean knew what it felt like to be hopelessly in love with someone and was very sympathetic to Magda's cause.
Magda gripped Jean's arm with sudden urgency. "He not romantically involved with someone else, is he?" Jean saw fear rise in Magda's eyes.
Jean told her the truth. "He has some interest in Rogue."
Magda visibly slumped. "Does she return his interest?"
"Well, she does, but she is also interested in Remy." Jean noticed the fear change to puzzlement. "Rogue likes Joseph very much and, perhaps if Remy should reject her, there would be the possibility of a deeper relationship. But, Remy seems to have a genuine affection for Rogue so...."
"I see," Magda said slowly. "I won't push him. If he prefers Rogue, I won't make trouble and stand in his way. I love him too much to prevent him from finding happiness."
"Listen, I know the way Magneto was possessed with your memory. It was the undying love of two souls. Not something that is only skin deep. His memory of you may be gone, but the part of him that fell in love with you, his soul, still remains. You are his soul's mate. You are his eternal love."
Magda started crying. Jean hugged and patted the suffering woman. "Don't cry, don't cry. Everything is going to be all right." She surveyed the damage. "Here, let's fix your face." Jean was kind and patient. Magda once again composed herself.
"Okay. I'm ready." She stood straight and tall. "Let's go."
Jean led her to the conference room door and turned to give her a smile of reassurance. Magda licked her lips and motioned for Jean to open the door.
"This is what I've been waiting for most of my life," she said and Jean opened the door. Magda walked in. Her glaze immediately fixed onto the back on the man in front her. Her heart beat wildly.
Scott looked at them as Magda and Jean entered. "Joseph, I'd like you to meet Maggie."
Magda held her breath as Joseph turned around. A feeling of joy swept over her entire body as soon as she saw his face. It was him. It was Erik. He had on modern clothing and his white hair was long, but he looked almost identical to the last time she had saw him. It is said the eyes are the windows to the soul. Magda believed this. She looked directly into his eyes and relief washed over her. She was home.
He extended his hand and said, "I'm pleased to meet you, Maggie." She placed her hand in his and he stared at it for a moment. Instead of shaking it, he raised her hand to his lips and kissed her soft skin. He stared into her eyes. He was overcome with a feeling of deja vu. There was something so familiar about the beautiful woman standing in front of him. He recovered himself and remember his task. "I've volunteered to be your personal tour guide. Can I show you around?"
There was a radiant glow around her as she gave an emphatic, "Yes." Still holding her hand, he let her out the door.
"Jean, what do you think?" Scott came to her and wrapped his arms around her.
"No one knows the future, Scott, but I'd be willing to bet things will work out just fine for those two."
This story has been continued in The Convolute Journey. A Copyright Application has been filed for The Virtuous Pilgrim as an Unpublished Literary Work.
copyright 1997 Elizabeth Christine Counts