What You Can't Heal
Disclaimer: The Marvel Universe itself is property of Marvel Comics. You knew that, right? Shannon and Mike are mine, however.
Note: A response to Kielle's TCP Challenge.
Dedicated to: Benita, a good friend, and mother to a challenged child. Inside, where it counts, she is the strongest one of us all.
"And today on Jerry Springer: Gay pets!"
"Darla, I love you. I need you as I need air."
"Oh Daniel -- I love you too. But..."
"What is wrong, my love?!"
"Daniel -- I saw you with Tiffany last night."
"You're the father of her baby, aren't you! And all this time, we all thought it was Raphael!"
"Today, Downtown New York narrowly diverted disaster when the super-mutant terrorist, Magneto, attacked a subway train that Mayor Wilheimer was on. He was driven off by the outlaw band of mutants know as the X-Men. Sir, any comments?"
"Those freaks destroyed a perfectly good train! And they call themselves super-heroes! They're no better than that madman Magneto!"
Watching the TV screen fade to black, Shannon Moses dropped the remote control and reclined against the armrest of her dark gray couch.
Closing her dark brown eyes, Shannon groaned inwardly. It seemed nowadays that TV depressed her more than lifted her spirits. Maybe she could hock the thing down at Larry's tomorrow...
The front door of Shannon's modest but well-kept apartment opened and shut. She didn't even have to open her eyes before she heard the chipper voice of her cousin, Marcy.
"Hi-eee!" Marcy chirped, striding into the living room with a pair of shopping bags in hand. "Guess what I got today!"
"What?" asked Shannon good-naturedly, smiling up at her kin.
"Take a look!" Marcy pulled a sleek pantsuit from her bag. It dangled off its hanger, a price tag stamped with a price that was far too much for Shannon to afford waving about.
"Ooooh," Shannon said, appraising it. "It's beautiful!"
"Isn't it?" Marcy chirped, pressing it agaisnt her. The deep red complemented her dark skin and eyes, and the well-cut fit would look stunning on her slender figure.
Shannon hopped up and ran her fingers along the satiny materiel, enjoying the luxurious feel. Sometimes she wished she could buy clothes like this...nah, she decided, glancing down at her well- worn jeans and plaid shirt. She'd never have any place to wear it, in any case.
"Where's Mike?" Marcy asked her, thrusting the pantsuit back into it's bag.
"Asleep. Upstairs. Finally." Shannon punctuated these words with a long suffering sigh. Marcy grinned at her.
"Little devil wearing you out?"
"Yeah," Shannon said, sitting back down as Marcy mounted the stairs to the child's room. "I mean, I love him and all, but sometimes I just get so tired..."
"Huh?! Whatya say?!" Marcy called from upstairs.
"Nothing." Shannon sighed, debating with herself whether she should turn the TV back on. Maybe Springer was off...
"NOTHING!" Shannon roared, and flinched as she heard Mike's cry of surprise. She hadn't meant to wake up her son.
Marcy appeared, toting Mike in her arms. Shannon finally decided 'the hell with it!' and turned on the TV. To her chagrin, a rerun of Jerry Springer had just come on, entitled "Midgets in Love!"
Marcy sat down in the lounge chair opposite her, and lifted Mike up over her head.
"HELLO MIKE!" she said in a slow deliberate tone; Shannon thought it sounded rather like a tourist trying to make himself understood in a strange country. "DO YOU REMEMBER AUNTIE MARCY?"
Shannon sighed. "He's mentally retarded, not deaf, Marcy. And yes, he does remember you, even if he can't say it."
"I know that!" her cousin retorted. "And how do you know?"
"It's a mom thing," Shannon said with a smile as she changed the channel. Ahh, a black and white movie.
Marcy snorted. "Yeah, yeah a 'mom thing.' Whatever."
"Like you'd know!" scoffed Shannon. "You're not a mom! How do you know I don't have some secret psychic connection with him, hmmm? I *am* a mutant, after all."
Marcy rolled her eyes. "For your information, missy, I *will* be a mom -- as soon as Darryl gets his act together and asks me to marry him."
"Uh huh, Darryl. Wasn't last week Tyrone on your must-marry-now list?"
Marcy glared at her. "Shut up," she grumbled. Hooking her fingers underneath her "nephew's" armpits, she bounced him up and down on her lap and make faces at him. Mike gurgled and drooled a bit. His mouth contorted up into a smile and he managed a sorta- laugh.
Shannon stared at her son's mishapened head and too-small body. A sorta-laugh was the closest to talking he had ever managed in all his eight years.
Putting him down in the front of the TV on his pallet, Marcy started for the kitchen nook. "You want anything?"
Shannon watched her son's unsuccessful attempts to stand up. He'd never walked a day in his life. He'd never said "Mama" to her. He'd never even be capable of using the bathroom for himself. "No. No thanks. Oh wait, I'd like a Coke!"
"Coming right up!" Marcy called. "I'm fixing myself a tuna sandwich. You mind?"
"Lalalala that thong that thong..." Marcy sang along with the song in her head as she pulled out a can-opener, "that thooooong that - - OOOWAH!"
Shannon leaped up, carefully stepping over her son. "Marcy, are you okay?"
"No!" her cousin pouted, stomping from the kitchen, clutching her hand. "I cut myself with the can opener."
Shannon sighed, examining Marcy's sliced and bleeding fingers. "You do this on purpose just to see me do this, don't you?"
"I do not!" huffed Marcy, her pride injured along with her finger. "But it *is* kinda cool..."
Shannon chuckled, and closed her own fingers around Marcy's. A pale glow surrounded their clasped hands, and Marcy gasped as she felt new flesh regrown almost instantaneously. "Thanks!"
"Don't mention it," Shannon said with a hint of a smirk as Marcy examined her healed hands. While her power wasn't particularily awe-inspiring, it helped with life's little emergencies.
Marcy smiled, flexing her fingers. Only some blood showed she had ever been cut. Not even a scar marred her flesh.
"Uh, Shannon, I gotta go. Darryl is at home, and I only said I'd be gone for a minute."
"Okay. You want your sandwich?"
Marcy laughed. "After I bled all over it?"
Shannon smiled. "Point taken."
With a smile, Marcy kissed her cousin on the cheek and called out "Bye!" to Mike. Picking up her bags filled with expensive clothing, she ran out the door and hailed a cab.
Shannon stood the kitchen, cleaning up the bloody sandwich. Marcy, of course, had forgotten about it. Grumbling, she wrapped it in a paper towel and chucked into a garbage can. Turning around, she walked back to the counter and picked up the can opener.
*No way am I going to put this back in the drawer,* she decided, running water over the utensil. Blood ran off the slick silver edges, and washed down the drain board.
Shannon wiped off the opener, then gently touched the thing against her skin. A tiny red pinprick bloomed, like a tiny red rose. One finger reached out, and caught the droplet before it fell. In an instant, the skin healed and the sole blood droplet fell into the sink.
Shannon sobbed, acidic tears dripping down to join the blood drop. She clutched the side of the sink, dropping the can opener on the countertop. Opening her brown eyes, she could barely see her tears mingling with the blood through a haze of salty water that swelled in her eyes. A harsh, tortured sob escaped from her throat, but she was already berating herself for her weakness.
It wasn't fair. Those words had become her mantra after her son's birth. It wasn't fair that a mutant, created by a accident of genetics, should birth a baby who was also an accident of genetics. It wasn't fair that Norman should leave her the moment he heard the words "Mentally retarded." Most of all, it wasn't fair that she couldn't help him.
Staggering from the kitchen, she caught her last sob like a wounded bird in her throat, determined not to let the beast escape. Wiping her eyes off on her sleev, she walked into the living room.
Sitting down beside her dozing child, she lightly kissed him on the cheek. Once more, for the thousandth time, she tried to use her healing power on him.
And once more, for the thousandth time, it did nothing.
Oh, there was a more contented look on his distorted face (more from her presence than anything else) and she noticed a healthier glow about him, but his limbs did not grow, his mouth did not work, and his eyes did not shine with the inherent intelligence and wonder she saw in other mother's children.
Her power could only heal injuries; abrasions and defects caused by outside forces, like Marcy's cut. They were useless on the genetic, on the cellular level. Mike's defects were not caused by a car accident, or too much smoking, or a shotgun.
They were caused by her own imperfect genes she had passed onto him.
Mike stirred slightly in his sleep, and she gulped down the last fighting sob. Leaning over, she pressed her ebony cheek to his, and whispered:
"I'm sorry I'm not good enough, baby."
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