|This story features Professor X, Archangel, and the Beast, who are
trademarks of Marvel. This is an unauthorized work and no profit is
being made on this work. This work and all other non-Marvel
characters are copyright of Gladys Hammonds.
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Don't Let Her Play With Dolls
"I know she's one of them mutant freaks," said the woman. "It's got to stop. It's got to stop right now." The woman glared at Professor Charles Xavier, bitterness in every word.
"I've seen you talk about mutants on TV. You know all about mutants. You know about how to cure them, don't you? My daughter is one of those mutant children. You have got to fix her, cure her before she grows up and it gets too bad." Professor Charles Xavier, immobile in his wheelchair behind the desk in his study, felt the bile rise in his stomach as Lucille Greene raged on.
"How can it be but the work of the devil? She don't have any business doing like she does. She tries to hide it from me, but I know. I know what she does. I want her normal. The things she does, it's got to stop." Her voice rose in hysteria.
"Please, Mrs. Greene, remain calm." Xavier wondered if he could take his own advice. A lifelong crusader for mutant acceptance, he cringed as the unexceptional woman vigorously described her own daughter as a menace.
"Look, the regular doctors won't do anything for me when I try to tell them about her. They won't give her drugs; they won't control her. I've got to find someone who can fix her, someone who can make her stop."
She paused warily. "They say Friends of Humanity knows what to do about mutants." Xavier cut her short, appalled that she would consider calling on the anti-mutant lobbying organization for help.
"You've told me you are afraid for your daughter. You think she's a mutant. But you haven't told me what causes you to be afraid. What is her ... special talent." She stared at him, not used to hearing the girl described as having 'special talents.' She saw it as a curse.. "It's dolls," the woman said. "I don't let her play with dolls."
"Every girl is a princess, every girl needs a princess doll." "Every thing you dream, let your princess live it all." The sing-song jingle for the Glamour Fashion Princess transfixed the eight year old daughter of Lucille Greene. Sprawled over her bed in their Brooklyn apartment, the child mouthed the words to the silly lyric as the jingle droned on. In the television commercial, the doll and her playmate wore the same hair ribbons, sang the same songs, played the same games, despite the easily ignored voiceover about how the doll could not walk, talk, or move by herself.
"The Glamour Fashion Princess, as pretty as her name" "You'll be the best of friends because she's called the same." The Glamour Fashion Princess took the name of her owner. Susan's doll became Princess Susan, Malika's doll became Princess Malika, and if a non-sexist parent gave son John the doll to encourage his nurturing abilities, it should really be known as Princess John, although that would only reinforce the stigma against boys and dolls.
Oddly enough, the girl staring in rapt fascination at the TV screen had been christened Princess by her now absent father. Amina, meaning "faithful" was from an book of African names. Her name was one of the few things her father had been able to give his daughter before his disappearance. Still transfixed, the girl's eyes never left the image of the stylish, regal figurine.
"The Glamour Fashion Princess, there's nothing she can't do."
"She is a little princess, just like you"
Professor Xavier choked back his annoyance at Lucille Greene. It sickened him that a mother should hate and fear her own flesh and blood just because she might be a mutant. It was cruelly ironic that the woman, who was black and probably acquainted with the bitterness of discrimination, should practice intolerance toward another persecuted minority. Still, Lucille Greene's anti-mutant paranoia had driven her to the right place for her daughter. Charles Xavier, founder of the School for Gifted Youngsters, was the leading authority on the problems of developing mutants. Tragically, the biggest problem for many was their parent's rejection.
"Your daughter certainly can be helped. Her condition will not require destruction of her unusual gifts, but control of them."
"Control?" Mrs.Greene sighed. "You mean, you can control her?"
"I mean, she can learn to control herself. She can become a responsible child who does not misuse mutant abilities. She can be taught to be harmless." This careful wordplay seemed satisfactory to Mrs.Greene.
"Yeah, teach her to be just like other kids. I want her good, like other girls. I named her Princess, Princess Amina Greene. I wanted her to be good."
The romantic name made Xavier think that once this woman had limitless dreams for her daughter. Once she was a princess to her mother. Now she was a threat.
"Bring her to me tomorrow, at one. I'll send a car." She nodded and for a fleeting second the relief in her face made Xavier see the loving mother behind the mask of the terrified bigot. She must be taught as well, thought Xavier. Parent re-education must accompany the child's treatment.
"You may go now."
As the door closed behind her, he realized that she never really explained what the child's mutant ability was. And what was that remark about dolls?
Princess Amina Greene, nicknamed Amy, sat demurely in Professor Xavier's study, a docile, polite eight year old. Her observant eyes behind the glasses she wore made her look like a tiny pedagogue, as serious as Xavier himself. She had spent an hour being examined by Xavier's colleague, Dr. Hank McCoy, whose extraordinary mutant appearance, 300 pounds of fur, fangs, and claws, earned him the name Beast. The child seemed to view the animal like genius as though he were a big teddy bear come to life.
Not knowing the nature of the girl's mutation was an advantage, Xavier decided as he observed her. It would prevent misdiagnosis caused by preconceived expectations. And it was entirely possible that the hysterical mother was wrong about her child; the girl did not have to be a mutant. Xavier realized he'd be disappointed if that were so, for ordinary human beings had come to bore him.
For Charles Xavier, the discovery of an unknown mutant was the opening chapter of an epic story, a ceaseless saga of bizarre adventures that left you gasping at its infinite possibilities. What meager tale could be foretold from the genetic code of an ordinary child?
She sat quietly, fiddling with the buttons on her sweater as her saddle shoes scuffed the carpet. Xavier opened what appeared to be an standard manila folder. It was actually a telepathic narrative, a document with mental images and sounds embedded within it. The telepathically gifted, like Xavier himself, could "read" it without assistance; psionic enhancement buttons made it available to the telepathically challenged, while its contents were securely impenetrable to the unaware or the uninvited.
An image of Dr. McCoy appeared in his mind. "DNA testing shows incontrovertible evidence of the genetic X-factor for the child 'Princess Amina Greene'. McCoy shook his head, bemused. "She is definitely a mutant, but as you know, outside of detecting the presence or absence of the X-factor gene, we've made precious little progress in identifying the actual genetic markers that would indicate the nature of an individual's mutation. Simply put, she is a 'gifted youngster' but we don't know exactly what her gift is."
"We can speculate endlessly about the type of ability that might disturb a woman like Lucille Greene. The genetic ability to tie your shoelaces faster than normal might upset some people. I see no internal precursors of non-standard physical anomalies. That is, she will look ... normal, so that cannot be the source of her mother's fear."
Professor Xavier cringed slightly. Dr. McCoy never complained about his 'non-standard physical anomalies.' Perhaps it bothered him more than he let on. So, Mrs. Greene, for all her provincial ignorance, had been right about her daughter being a mutant. The child must have demonstrated her skills in some way that caused her mother to be intimidated. Xavier, of course, felt absolutely no fear. Mutant powers usually manifested themselves fully only at puberty, so it was unlikely anything she could do could be damaging.
He decided not use his own mutant ability, telepathy, to probe for the answers to the questions he had about her. The telepathic presence of a stranger in one's mind would be too traumatic to one so young.
"Amy, what do you think of dolls?'
"Momma says I can't have any."
"Do you like to play with dolls?"
"I don't know," she replied. A wary sullenness had crept into the childish voice. "I'm not supposed to play with dolls."
"You don't think it's fair, do you, that you can't have dolls? Other girls can have them, but you can't" "I have dolls," she interrupted. "I just can't play with them." The girls voice trailed off into a whisper at the guilty admission.
"Momma doesn't know."
Xavier opened his desk drawer and pulled out a well dressed, familiar icon. The undisputed royalty of dolls, Glamour Fashion Princess posed in her smiling, perfect glory.
For a second he wondered if he'd made a faux pas by handing the blonde, blue eyed figure to the young African-American girl.
She paused, then took the doll reverently. "I saw one in the store. I touched it, and it ... tingled. It's the one I wanted. But Momma, she took it away. She said I should never have a doll like that." Her voice was breathy, tremulous. She seemed slightly dazed.
"But it's the doll I always dream about. It's the one I really wanted."
"I'm going to leave her in your hands. You may do as you like with her. Your mother need not know. I will explain it to her in time."
Xavier left the study. He did not hear her say, softly, under her breath:
"And it wanted me."
Hours later, observing from a two way mirror, Dr. Hank McCoy and Professor Charles Xavier were both thoroughly bored. Princess Amy played with the Glamour Fashion Princess the way any child would, combing her hair, rearranging her clothes, chatting to her. "
Her activities are disappointingly normal," observed Professor Xavier.
"I hate that word - normal. It never seems to include us." replied Dr. McCoy.
A tea party was in progress. The girl was now sitting on the floor with her legs crossed under her, the doll in a similar position, drinking imaginary cups of tea, sharing imaginary secrets.
In the background, a radio announcer's voice resonated.
"Mutant related killings have the city on edge. Horribly mutilated bodies have been found in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Westchester. All show a similar pattern of cruel violence, although no suspects have been identified by the police."
"Why must all mysterious killings be assumed to be the work of mutants?" Professor Xavier asked irritably. "Humans beings are perfectly capable of doing unspeakable harm to each other."
"We're the preferred scapegoat. Humans would prefer that mutants take the blame for crimes that demonstrate their savagery. It makes hating us all the more easier," said McCoy glumly.
"Dwight McKinley, a survivor of an assault, appears to have been driven mad by his ordeal." droned the radio announcer. "Although his statement to police has been mostly incoherent..."
"Oh yes, insane, incoherent witnesses, that makes for terrific evidence," interjected McCoy. "He continues to describe his tormentor as a being of enormous power, not a normal person - obviously a mutant, and masquerading as ..." Xavier abruptly flicked off the radio as he peered into the false mirror.
"How could I have been so blind." The doll he had given the girl could do no more than pose in a limited set of pretend model stances. It did not have bendable arms or legs. Yet doll and girl were now in identical poses, cross legged on the floor, arms bent at the same angle. Then the eleven inch figure stood up, twirled, and projected stylized model attitude as it glided across the carpet. Then it faced her playmate, raising its arms as if to say, 'See what I can do.'
Princess Amina Greene clapped her hands in delight.
Turning on the uncharacteristically low tech tape recorder after an afternoon of observation, Professor Xavier began his dictation.
"Eight year old Princess Amina Greene exhibits a item-specific form of telekinesis. She has the ability to animate inanimate objects. Reasonably enough, as a young girl, it manifests itself in the movement of dolls."
"Spontaneously and unconsciously, her power seems to limit itself to small items, like dolls. One who could move the arms and legs of a fashion doll should be able to move other items as well, but as yet, we have seen no evidence that she can do so."
"Except for her mother's hostility, the girl's case is simple enough. Compared to many mutants, she has little to fear. She will be unburdened by unattractive physical manifestations that are the source of so much mutant anxiety and pain."
"Her greatest problem is the hostility of Lucille Greene, her mother. Convincing Mrs. Greene that her daughter's skills pose no threat will surely be our most taxing challenge."
Confident that he had fully described the child's condition, he turned off the tape recorder and re-entered the study. His specially designed hoverchair, powered by alien technology, made no sound. Amy was teaching the doll the steps to a dance called the Electric Slide. They no longer moved in synch. The doll danced her own idiosyncratic steps.
"Amy, that's all for today; You may go home now." The child gasped as she realized Professor Xavier had caught her in her secret game. The dancing doll halted mid-step, awkwardly posed on one leg.
"Don't be alarmed, Amy. You have done nothing wrong."
"But Momma says..."
"Amy, listen to me. It's perfectly natural for a young girl like you to play with dolls. Even if you play with them in your own special way, there is nothing wrong in that." Surprised by the acceptance, the child felt reassured by the smile that played on the lips of the usually severe Professor. She carefully returned the Glamour Fashion Princess to her familiar, but rigid pose.
"I'll explain it all to your mother. You have nothing to fear. And Amy, you may keep the doll."
Amy skipped down the hallway, doll in hand, suddenly, slipping on the slick floor. The Glamour Fashion Princess, now immobile, slipped from her grasp and clattered to the floor. Secured in his hoverchair, Xavier found it awkward to help.
From a doorway, a tall, powerfully built man stepped forward and helped the girl to her feet.
"Careful, princess," he said.
"How did you know my name," she whispered, enthralled.
"I can tell a princess right away, or a living doll." He flashed perfect white teeth and clear blue eyes from his handsome, but oddly tinted face as he handed the toy back to her.
"Thanks, mister, but where's my .."
"Your friend is in one piece, lucky for her." He picked the doll up and gave it an appraising look. "She's pretty all right, but she'll be no match for you when you're grown."
Professor Xavier was surprised. Warren Worthington's flirtatious banter sounded more like the light hearted teenager he'd known years ago than the troubled X-Man of late.
More than he cared to admit, the team of mutants that Xavier had recruited and trained as heroes had willingly assumed the weight of the world on their shoulders, a weight that inevitably seemed to crush them.
Self loathing seemed to be an occupational hazard for the genetically gifted.
Warren Worthington himself was an apt example. Christened Angel as a youth for the wings that sprang from his back, he had been a high flying playboy when he first joined the X-Men. But an unwilling transformation, engineered by a vicious foe of the X-Men, tinted his pale skin a surreal blue and made his formerly living wings into deadly metallic weapons. The transformation, had sown a bitterness that seemed to permanently taint his spirit.
Xavier sighed at the recollection as Warren handed the the doll back to the girl and then strode down the hallway. "I won't see it happen to you, Amy," he swore to himself.
"I won't allow you to suffer."
In the medical laboratory of Dr. McCoy, Warren Worthington sprawled over a chair, his outstretched wings crowding the formerly spacious lab.
"Sorry, Hank. I know there's no room here, but they get uncomfortable if they're folded up too long."
McCoy nodded companionably. Explanations weren't really necessary between the two, friends since enrolling as teenagers at the Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
"Who are the visitors?"
"The woman brought her daughter in for testing," answered Dr. McCoy. "thinks she's a mutant."
McCoy, a gentle, compassionate man despite his savage appearance, unleashed his one favorite diatribe: The bigotries of human beings.
"She's a woman who hates mutants and our tests show her daughter is undisputably a mutant. She practically wants her daughter eviscerated for her "curse." A mutant kid with a bigot for a mother. The worse thing you could imagine."
"You ever think people like her could be right, Hank?" McCoy turned towards his friend in shock.
"Hank, when we were kids we knew what we were doing, protecting the innocent from so-called "evil mutants" who might harm them. How is that so different from the fears of that woman? She thinks mutants are dangerous."
Warren twisted forward, his face assuming the eerily demonic appearance he got when he was agitated. "Hank, we are dangerous. What's the difference between the damage that Magneto or Sinister can do, and what we could do now, if we wished?"
He turned away from his friend, his metallic wings rustling harshly, giving strident emphasis to his words. "I can live up to every fear that woman has."
"Look, Warren, when we were kids, I was the Beast in name only, not a fur-covered animal. You were an Angel in spirit as well as in form, not the herald of Death and Destruction. But life happened to us Warren, we changed because we're human, not because we're mutants."
"Destructiveness is a human flaw, my winged friend, not a mutant curse. If you doubt that, consider these "Mutilation Murders" the tabloid press has been ranting about lately. Ten to one an ordinary, nondescript, everyday human being, one that Lucille Greene would accept as a neighbor without hesitation, is at the bottom of those killings,"
To himself, McCoy thought, I hope I 'm right about that. Warren stood, seemingly unconvinced.
.. "I wish her daughter wasn't like us. I wish she was just a normal little girl."
Outside the mansion waiting for the car that would send the girl back to the city, Xavier spoke again.
"You are special, Princess Amina. There are things you do with dolls that no one else can. That is a blessing, not a curse." Professor Xavier looked directly into her brown eyes. "Never let anyone tell you otherwise. And if they do, you must not believe them. Do not fear your powers." Xavier spoke with such intensity his thoughts rang in Warren's mind as well. Warren had heard similar lectures from Xavier as a youth. Then he had no reason to take them to heart.
No, your powers aren't a curse, thought Warren. Your life is.
Amy studied the immobile figure of the Glamour Fashion Princess in her hand as she sat in the back of the Professor's limousine. Mrs. Greene, a single mother who worked as a nurse, could not accompany the child to her therapy, so the limousine ride was a treat Amy enjoyed alone.
It had been fun spending the afternoon at the School for Gifted Youngsters. She took tests that were more like games with the big blue animal. A child who secretly made dolls move did not find talking to giant stuffed animals out of the ordinary. Neither was the handsome man with the colored skin who called her a princess. No man besides her father had ever talked to her that way.
Amy shuddered as she thought of her father. He had been a strong, confident man with a hearty laugh, but months of unemployment and left him broken and dispirited. Amy's last memories of him were of desperately trying to cheer him up.
Amy tucked the doll into her bookbag before she ran up the stoop to the apartment where her mother waited. Professor Xavier said he'd explain to her mom, but the girl decided to take no chances that her mother would grab it and throw it away as she had with so many others. She had a secret place she liked to keep her dolls.
She eased the doll under the pillow in her room, all the while daydreaming about the life of a grown up princess. If she was indeed a princess, she thought, the tall handsome man at the school was definitely the Prince Consort. The blue beast was her friendly animal companion, like Snow White's dwarves.
And Professor Xavier was definitely a wizard. Was he an evil wizard? Well, a scary wizard at least. But he said nothing she could do with dolls was wrong. He said it and momma told her to do what he said. She fell into the half sleep she had whenever she dreamed about dolls.
Warren Worthington listlessly strolled the sidewalks of Salem Center, hoping the bustle of the tiny hamlet would lighten his mood.
The image inducer which masked his blue skin allowed him to mingle peacefully with ordinary people, but it had the side effect of heightening his own sense of isolation. He felt like a fake, knowing the polite passersby would reject him if they could see him as he was. At times like this, he hated ordinary people as much as he hated himself.
In a shop window, he saw his true image reflected back at him, galling him, as it always did..
"I like your face, even if you don't."
The woman, blonde with crystal blue eyes and porcelain skin, smiled as he turned to her. She had the slender figure of a model and the face to match. Long legs, a trim waist, a heavenly smile.
"Whether your skin is pale or pastel blue, it doesn't matter to me, Warren Worthington. You're exactly what I want to see."
Her voice was high pitched and musical and seemed to swirl in his ears.
"I'm surprised you saw through my facade," he said. "Most people don't."
She took him by the arm as if she'd known him for years and strolled in step with him. The touch of her delicate flesh sent an electric tingle up his arm, into his chest, into his heart.
"I need your help. I think I know something about those terrible crimes against human beings," she said. "I may know who's responsible." "How could you know? The local police have hunted that killer for weeks, and gotten nowhere. Why not go to them?"
"I think it's someone close to me. My friend would be devastated. It's difficult."
His tension eased as he had the intoxicating feeling of meeting a soulmate who seemed right for him in every way. He knew that was nonsense, a delusion triggered by his own loneliness and misery, energized by the shimmery halo of the sunlight on her hair.
"You know my name, but if I am to help you, you must tell me yours."
"My name is" she stopped to ponder her answer.
"You may call me ... Angelique."
Just as he thought, a woman right for him in every way.
The next morning, Amy Greene awakened to her mother's voice.
"Amy, Professor Xavier said he gave you a doll. Let me see it."
"Let me see it, Amy. Now."
The girl handed it over.
Mrs. Greene examined it carefully, face, hair, clothes, shoes. She pulled out a flyer from a toy store and compared the picture with the figure in hand. "It's just like the picture Amy. You didn't change a thing. You didn't fix anything, did you?"
"That's good, Amy. You can keep it. It's a normal doll for normal girls. Like you." This Xavier, he knows what he's doing, the woman thought. My baby's going to be all right.
Warren Worthington stirred in his bedroom in the Westchester Mansion. Since the encounter with the mysterious woman his evening had gone unusually well. Even a wealthy mutant did not often meet a stunning woman with an attraction to mutants, no fear of blue skin and metallic wings, a woman who was both sexually spontaneous and adventurous.
He rolled over and slipped an arm around his sleeping companion, marveling again at the smooth perfection of her skin. He felt energized as he planted a kiss on her lips.
And recoiled. Her lips were strangely hard and cold. Her body was heavy and hard, almost rocklike. In a sweeping motion he flipped the light switch by the bed and flung back the covers. Lying next to him was a five foot seven plastic figure with the wide eyed eternal smile of the Glamour Fashion Princess. A life sized doll where the sexy living woman should be.
"You have reached the School for Gifted Youngsters. If you wish to report a dangerous mutant sighting, press 1. If you suspect that you, your child, or your neighbor is a mutant, press 2. If you would like to join our Take a Mutant to Lunch program to promote human-mutant relations, press 3. Otherwise leave a message after the tone. Have a nice day."
Lucille Greene slammed down the phone, frustrated after listening to the annothe last three weeks.
"I told you before, they're on a mission, Momma. They're busy." Amy looked up from the floor where she was sprawled, surrounded by the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
"A mission. What exactly is a mission? What kind of school sends its students on mission?" Patiently, since they had repeated this conversation time and again in the last few weeks, Amy replied:
"They help people. They fight criminals and bad guys and villains, Momma. They're heroes."
"Well, if they're going to fight criminals and villains they should do something about whoever's grabbing folks and leaving them mutilated. There's something in the papers about that every day."
"I don't understand that Professor Xavier. First he picks you up for treatment every day for weeks, in a limousine, too, just to help you and doesn't charge a dime. Then he makes me come too - to meet those freaks he calls 'students' "
"Then just like that no limo, no Professor Xavier, and no one to answer the phone at that place. I leave a hundred messages, nobody calls me back." Amy, did Professor Xavier tell you he was through treating you?"
"Well, no, Momma."
"Then what is going on at that place?"
"It's okay, Momma. They do lots of things. They have adventures, like on the TV cartoons. They put them in comic books and everything."
"Cartoons and comic books - they're pure and simple nonsense made up to fool gullible people, make'em think mutant freaks are safe. But I know better. Now, Professor Xavier, he's a shrewd guy all right. I bet he makes plenty money off that stuff - TV and toys and comic books."
Of course the money did pay for scholarships for students like Amy, and for that Lucille Greene was truly grateful. But no matter how many times he introduced her to his 'students', she did not see eye to eye with him on the mutant question.
Every time she explained to Professor Xavier that mutants were dangerous, and had to be eradicated if their powers were not eliminated, he glared at her like he was about to have a stroke.
Still, Amy was better. She played with building blocks and card games, as normal as any mother could want. That was what mattered most.
Lucille picked up a box of unfamiliar toys secreted at the back of a bookshelf.
"Amy, what's this? What happened to these toys?"
Amy looked up from her puzzle, a laugh choking in her throat.
"It's, I call it the Doll Hospital, Momma. They're kind of broken. Momma, you have to be careful with dolls. I saved them when you threw them away."
"Well, you should be careful with all your things, Amy."
Lucille Greene suppressed a twinge of guilt. Perhaps she had been too severe in discarding Amy's plaything's before Professor Xavier got her curse under control.
"Doll Hospital." She liked the sound of that.
"Maybe you'll be a nurse too, Amy. Or a doctor, even." Her eyes turned to a set of figures Amy displayed prominately on the top of the bookshelf.
"I got'em from the school, Momma. There's one for each of the team."
"The professor gave'em to you? Then I guess they're all right."
She picked one up, studying each in turn.
There was the girl with the two-toned hair and the silly name that made you think of makeup, Rouge was it? The handsome man with blonde hair and blue skin - Amy always gushed over him. The toy wore a weird backpack, and a T-shirt and sweats, just as he had when she'd seen him at the school. And an Asian woman draped in a towel. A towel?
"You know, Amy, they don't really look like superhero toys. Their clothes are too sloppy. They look like people hanging around the house. And here's Professor Xavier - you'd never miss him."
The figure was identical in every detail to the man she'd met weeks ago. The same severe expression. The same intimidating gaze. The same wheelchair, that you noticed and then forgot because something about the man told you that he was powerful, not crippled.
"Since when do they make dolls of men in wheelchairs for kids to play with?"
"Amy," she yelled. "Amy, come here right now."
There were other dolls lined up in rows on the back of the shelf. Amy did not have the money to buy all those dolls, dolls that looked like people you saw everyday. Friendly people Amy met on the bus. Her third grade teacher, the one Amy told her was transferred. Kids from school, bookbags in hand. The counterman at the drugstore. Amy's favorite people lined up in a row.
No toy company made dolls like these.
In the back of the shelf was a figure Lucille Greene recognized. Earl Greene, her husband, the man she thought had deserted her three years ago. She picked up the figure, dressed in the clothes he had worn the last time she saw him.
With a strangled cry, Lucille Greene sank to the floor in shock, for she felt she understood her daughter, her 'gifted child' at last.
Princess Amina Greene could make dolls move like living human beings, true enough. But she could also make human beings into charming little dolls, just the right size for a little princess like her to play with.
"Momma, what's wrong?" She saw the male figure in her mother's hands and tried to explain.
" I helped Daddy. He was sad when he didn't have a job. Now he's all right, Momma."
"And the others - They go on missions to help people and they have to fight and and they get hurt. I didn't want them to get hurt, Momma."
"Look what you've done to these people, Amy."
"It's ok, Momma. Professor Xavier said nothing I do with dolls is wrong. He said I have a power and having powers is good."
"So what if he said that. He can't say anything now." Lucille Greene, held the motionless Professor Xavier in one hand and her long missing husband Earl in the other. "But I helped him Momma. I even made him walk just like the Glamour Fashion Princess, but he didn't like it."
"This is wrong, Amy. You can't do this to people. I warned him you were dangerous. I begged him to stop you. Did he tell you to make him like this? He didn't did he? You know he didn't."
Her mother grasped her by the arms, forcing Amy to her knees.
"You're gonna stop this right now. You've been a bad girl Amy and I'm gonna put a stop to this myself." Lucille Greene's voice was ragged with anger as panic glared from her eyes. Amy stared into them, as transfixed as when she listened to the Glamour Fashion Princess jingle on the television. Then her mother gasped.
Amy picked up the Mommy and the Daddy doll and placed them back on the shelf.
Amy was alone in the apartment. That wasn't new to her. Her mother had often left her alone while she went to the grocery store or ran errands. When Amy was alone she always dreamed about dolls.
"Princess Amina, I want to play with you." Amy heard the words in her mind, but she knew that no one had spoken aloud. Rarely did anyone use her full name. Even her mother usually called her Amy. Amy regarded the figure of the Glamour Fashion Princess standing on the balcony of her cardboard fantasy castle. Appropriately for its royal owner, the castle doubled as a modeling studio and shopping mall.
A child who accepted blue furry acrobats as medical doctors, and flying blonde Angels, and men made of ice who gave her popsicles from his fingertips, could not be surprised by the mental communication of a fashion princess.
"We can play." said the child. "Do you want to dance? I'll turn on the radio. We can do the macarena."
"That's no fun, Princess Amina,"
"What do you mean, it isn't fun." The little girl was confused. "You mean, you don't want to play with me? You always like to dance."
"No, Princess Amina, that's not what I mean. You are big and I am small. When we play, you can only watch. The team of heroes is going to attack Magneto and imprison Apocalypse and then they're going to go shopping and have tea with me. But you're too big to play with us properly, Princess Amina." The child felt as though her friend was deserting her. Glamour Fashion Princess didn't want to play anymore. How could she?
"You could be like us, if you want, Princess Amina."
"What do you mean?" said Princess, the girl.
"Be our size," said Princess, the doll. "Become like us. You know how. You do it all the time."
The girl was silent.
"You don't like being alone, do you, Princess Amina. But you can have fun with us, lots of fun. But you need to be our size, ok?"
Amy thought about it. To live in the world of the Glamour Fashion Princess; the world of her fantasies. To live with the heroes of cartoons and comic books, to be a hero herself, surrounded by the people she loved. What could be wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with anything you do with dolls, Professor Xavier had said. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Enjoy your powers, he said. Master them. Amy focused her powers the way Professor
Xavier had taught her. Then Princess Amina Greene joined the Glamour Fashion Princess on the turret of the Dream Castle. Somehow it was not the world of her childish reveries. The colorful fantasy castle was ugly cardboard, garishly painted. The familiar furniture of her room loomed overhead, a threatening, misproportioned landscape.
And the gleam in the eyes of the Glamour Fashion Princess was the lifeless glare of a toy store doll. In the voice of Professor Charles Xavier, the doll said "Princess Amina Greene, you have been a very, very bad girl."
"I wish to God you had destroyed her powers. I wanted my Amy normal. Then those poor people would never have suffered."
Lucille Greene faced Xavier in his study once again. Her voice was hoarse from crying, her eyes haunted and red. Before, she'd been a angry parent demanding help from the headmaster. Now she was a crushed and defeated woman begging for mercy on her delinquent child.
"Calm yourself, Mrs. Greene," said Professor Xavier. As you can see, my X-Men have no permanent damage, and even now the last of Amy's little friends are being returned to their homes, as normal as ever."
"But they were kidnapped - the police will be after Amy."
"I assure you Mrs. Greene, they will remember nothing. Absolutely nothing about Amy."
Xavier's skillful deception, enticing Amy to join the Glamour Fashion Princess in her games, had freed the unfortunate human playthings; for Amy could not retain control of them once she herself was minaturized. Xavier, the world's greatest telepath, could speak with assurance about what the human victims would be allowed to remember.
"But it is important that you cooperate with us." he continued. "We have a boarding school in Massachusetts. Your daughter needs a full time program of intensive therapy. You realize it is for the best."
Professor Xavier spoke into the intercom on his desk. "Dr. McCoy, would you bring Amy to my study, please."
"My pleasure, Professor."
Dr. Hank McCoy, a visual example of a dangerous mutant if there ever was one, carried in the child, lightly balanced on his huge shoulder.
"A fitting entrance for a princess," he said, placing her in her mother's arms.
"Say goodbye to your mother, Amy," said Xavier. Mrs. Greene hugged her daughter and pressed her to her heart.
"I love you Amy, no matter what."
"She'll be in the best of care.You need not worry. We will see to it that she has exactly what she needs."
Reluctantly, the woman rose to leave.
"Professor Xavier, those other dolls, the broken ones, Amy had a 'Doll Hospital' What happened to them? Were they..." She could not finish the question.
"Broken dolls, Doll Hospital," mused Xavier. The armless, legless, and headless broken toys could not be reformed without fanning the flames of anti mutant hysteria. The Friends of Humanity already suspected mutant involvment in the series of crimes.
"Do not trouble yourself, Mrs. Greene. The situation is entirely under control."
With a last confused look at her daughter, the frightened woman left.
"What's the next step, Professor?" asked McCoy.
"The girl is young and far too powerful. She certainly can not be allowed to live with an intolerant, suspicious human mother, one who believes only in her potential to do harm. Although I have control of the situation now, she can not be allowed free rein over her powers."
Dr. Hank McCoy, scientific researcher and mutant Beast, nodded agreeably at the Professor's reasoning before responding.
"We can plan a regimen of treatment, carefully controlled of course. The child seems to have a fondness for me, a sort of Beauty and the Beast rapport, you might say." He smiled indulgently at the quiet girl, who viewed them both with solemn eyes. "I will be happy to draw up a set of recommendations."
Xavier shook his head..
"Your genius is better spent on other tasks, Hank. I've found some articles in a Swedish medical journal that may be pertinent to your Legacy Virus research. Later, I'll be meeting with the other team leaders to discuss how to handle this mutant hating presidential candidate, Graydon Creed, as well as those troublesome fools, the Friends of Humanity. I'd like you there as well."
"Yes, of course, Professor. The X-Men are heroically overburdened as always. But still we must make time to decide what to do for this little girl." Professor Xavier paused thoughtfully. Yes, the X-Men were overburdened. Even he, the team's founder and mentor, felt strained by their never ending responsibilities. His stress wasn't helped by an onslaught of headaches lately that left him feeling not quite himself.
"Have no fear, Hank. I know just who can be trusted with the well being of Princess Amina Greene."
"It's her. It's Angelique."
The stares and whispers rustled through the elegant restaurant as New York's latest hot supermodel glided in on the unmistakably blue arms of Warren Worthington III.
"They're staring again," he said after they had been seated. "I thought I could never get used to it."
"Silly Warren" she replied. "It isn't always you they stare at, even when you show your true colors." He gazed into her eyes, mesmerized as he always was by her unreal beauty.
"Angelique, I felt my life was a curse until you came along. You are truly my angel."
Taking her slender fingers in his hands he brushed them with his lips. "When I met you, I came alive."
She smiled the sparkling, wide-eyed smile she was famous for.
"Warren, I'm so glad. I know what it's like to struggle to come alive."
After all, it had never been fair that she had been trapped in the form of an immobile doll, cloned repeatedly and limited to dawdling with silly children. It took the mutant touch of Princess Amina Greene, a wistful child visiting the toy section of the department store with her harried mother, to free the Glamour Fashion Princess to live as the full-sized professional beauty she deserved to be.
"Angelique, my Angelique, you're completely one of a kind."
"I had better be," she said, and they both laughed. That was why those other dolls, the human playthings, had to be ... damaged. While Amina dreamed her mysterious dreams, the big human doll attacked the small human toys, leaving them ugly and mutilated, so that none would compete for the child's attention. The Glamour Fashion Princess, now known as Angelique, a glamorous princess of the fashion world, required the undiluted benefit of the girl's powers to live for more than a few trifling hours.
Thanks to her unsuspecting benefactor, Charles Xavier, Amina was under control, and the princess of fashion no longer had to worry about sharing the girl's gifts with anyone else. And now she had Warren, wealthy, generous, enraptured Warren. To Warren, she was the perfect living doll.
Jubilation Lee, world class mall rat and all around teenage prankster hooted at the package on her bed.
"A present from the Prof, and it's not even my birthday'" she crowed. "Weird, huh"
The package came with a note from the Professor, a note which babbled on about a 'special assignment' and 'appropriate responsibility'.
She glanced at the note quickly but was stunned by the contents of the package. Could Xavier think that a teenager who'd battled cosmic villains like the Shadow King and the Brood would be excited about having custody of a fashion doll?
"Ol' cueball's gone completely off his rocker. Ever since I joined the kids at the Massachusetts Academy, he's acted like I'm just a goofball kid, like I'd never fought side by side with the rest of the X-Men."
"It's not even the real Glamour Fashion Princess," a doll she had always hated for its All-American blonde perfection and craved for the same reason. It was more like the glamourous princess's nerdy African-American friend, complete with glasses, bookbag, sweater, and saddle shoes.
" But it's still a doll," exclaimed the teenager.
"Doesn't he know that I'm too old to play with dolls!" From her second story window, she picked up the doll and flung it away.
"Today, New York police barred our television cameras from the gruesome scene inside this Brooklyn apartment. Mutilated bodies, some without heads, legs, or arms, were discovered here, apparently the latest victims of the Mutilation Murderer."
"Police believe the horrendous crimes were committed by the tenant of this apartment, who lived there with her young daughter. Lucille Greene, a surgical nurse at Harlem Hospital, has been taken into custody for the crimes."
"Found among the carnage was her husband, Earl, who has not been seen in public for several years. Neighbors say Mrs. Greene claimed that he deserted her three years ago.
Police are unsure of his role in the case, whether willing participant or passive witness to his wife's crimes, as he appears to be permanently catatonic."
Police are also fearful of the fate of the couple's eight year old daughter, who lived here with her mother. There is no sign of her in the apartment.
The television screen showed the hysterical woman, handcuffed and straight-jacketed, led screaming from the apartment.
The panicked, tear-stained face filled the screen.
"It's the dolls," screamed Lucille Greene.
"I told her not to play with dolls."
In his study, Professor Xavier, self assured mutant protector, snapped off the TV monitor, entirely at peace.
Visit my web page at http://members.aol.com/supersoul/xmen.html
Includes The Tomb of the Thieves, Restless, Don't Let Her Play with Dolls, A Review of Marvel paperback books and an essay on My Mutant Obsession. See you there!