The first thing Irene ever says to Raven is, "Don't get ahead of yourself, dear."
Raven obviously thinks she's a telepath at first, because that's what Raven's own experience has been, between her brother and the Brotherhood's Emma. Irene lets her keep right on thinking it for several hours before explaining that it's precognition, not telepathy.
Regardless of what it looks like to Raven at first, she's not seeing what Raven wants to do to her (that she has no doubt been trying not to think about the entire time), but what they're going to be doing, later.
It doesn't take long for Raven to find that Irene is always a step or fifteen ahead of her. As soon as it sinks in, she begins to spout off about 'mutant and proud' every five minutes.
"I grew up with a telepath," she says more than once. "I'm not going to be scared of you. So you don't need to worry about that."
Acceptance is all very well and good, but Raven's declarations come off as more naive than anything. Telepathy is one thing; Irene's gift is both harsher and more unforgiving.
Just as the phone rings, Irene picks up the receiver and says, "Yes."
Anyone else would assume she means 'yes?' - as in 'hello?', or 'who is this?'
Raven, though. Raven gets that it's an answer, not a greeting; and her response is, "Oh, thank god. I was starting to think we were going to have to just leave this kid with Charles, and he is not good with babies."
"If you'd remember to turn the lights off when you have to go out of town, you wouldn't have this problem," Irene points out, when Raven is just about to grumble because nothing happened when she flicked the light switch on. "Here, let me see her while you take care of that."
Irene doesn't really do the whole baby thing, or at least she hasn't prior to this. She wouldn't have the first idea of what to do with this one if it weren't for the impression that comes into her mind, of herself seconds from now, one hand supporting baby's bottom, the other her back.
She's heavier than Irene thought she'd be, and more solid.
"Your brother was right," Irene says. Meaning, when Charles Xavier contacted Raven to tell her this child is (will be) a mutant, he was correct; more correct, too, than he could possibly realize, when he said that perhaps a home with mutant parents might be best, with her biological human parents gone. Her gift will be a hard one, Irene knows now, thinking of the glimpse she's just had of a girl with a venomous touch, doomed to stand apart.
Everyone in this world needs to be touched; Irene can imagine how hard this child's future will be - she's seen it, some of it anyway - and wishes very much that she couldn't.
The baby slaps her sticky, tiny hand into Irene's mouth, and Raven says, "Oh, she's a little grabby, isn't she? I can take her back now, if you want."
"No, it's fine," Irene says, when the baby's hand, wet as well as sticky now, prods at her cheek. "She can be as grabby as she likes. She won't always be able to."
Raven will, in a moment, ask her what she means by that.
Irene will see no reason not to tell her.
Later, after Raven's put the baby down for the third time (and the concept of 'sleep, now' seems to have made an impression for the first time), Irene traces the familiar landscape of Raven's face with her own fingertips, and whispers, imperious, "You're going to make me scream."
"I don't know about that," Raven says, laughing lightly, and leans in.
"Oh, but you are. You're going to make me beg, too."
Later yet, Irene is ready, ready, ready under Raven's hands and Raven's mouth that roam everywhere but where Irene wants (needs) them the most.
"You're going to stop teasing me now," she says, going for imperious again but falling short. It doesn't help that she's actually lying; her gift makes the truth easy, falsehood nearly impossible.
Raven laughs. "Not yet." Her breath and hands are warm on Irene's skin.
And later still, Irene wakes in a start, and sees.
Sees that the baby sleeping in the next room over will be a weapon, one day; sees just whom it is she'll be wielded by.
Irene rips the covers off Raven. "You're going to get up," she says, giving not a damn about translating, about rephrasing it like it's a suggestion or an order rather than what will be. "You're going to get up, and you're going to get out of my house."
"...What are you talking about?" Raven says, and where she starts off sounding groggy for the duration of 'what,' her voice is fully alert by the time she's halfway through.
"You're going to get up, and you're going to get the hell out of my house." Irene doesn't have to try for imperious this time; the sky is blue, or so she's been told, and the grass is green. Raven is leaving.
Irene's hands are shaking, though her voice isn't. It never does, not when she's Cassandra (but not so much Cassandra, because she is believed).
"...Um, to start with, it's our house." And it's at this point that Raven either notices the gun in the morning light or changes her eyes to see in the darkness, because there's not-quite fear and a measure of disbelief in her voice when she adds, "Irene, what the fuck is going on?"
"You're going to get out of my house. You're not going to come back. You're never going to touch me again." Irene doesn't even know if the latter two are true, though the last is, it has to be, no matter that prior to this she loved Raven more than she's ever loved anyone (and still might, but that makes no difference, it can't). There are boundaries, there are lines, and she cannot, she will not forgive, she cannot and will not forget the attempted murder of an innocent child.
"I haven't done anything. I don't care what you think you saw, I haven't done anything."
"You say that like you think it matters." It doesn't matter, will never matter; she's seen it, can't un-see it, she knows the future in this at least is already written, etched even now into stone. "You're going to get out of my house, Mystique."
Raven leaves, alone.
Irene weeps, but there's no time to sit with her face in her hands, no time to give into it. Erik Lehnsherr will be coming here soon, so angry (when anything else?), demanding answers. They need to be gone by then. The bank first, then a Greyhound, or a train. To anywhere, or somewhere more specific, depending on what she sees or doesn't.
The baby starts crying, whether because the shouting woke her or because she would have anyway.
Irene dresses, gathers together the really very few things that are needed to leave one life and begin another (kept, all of them, in an envelope inside her top dresser drawer), then goes to the baby's room, where she stands just inside the door for a moment, waiting to learn what she's supposed to do next.
All she gets in that moment, is the location of the diaper bag, and that the baby is reaching for her. For once, it doesn't feel like she's about to get more information beyond that, and that's how she knows there's a choice here. Not a choice as to whether she and this child will be on the same path for at least a while; she's had enough glimpses, already, to know they're stuck with one another for a duration of years.
No, the choice here is that Irene can either keep herself at a distance, shielding herself as much as possible from all the heartache she knows is to come, or -
Irene walks over to the crib, reaches in to pick up the baby (who stinks).
"Hi, sweetie," she says. She kisses the top of that velvet-soft baby head, and refuses to let herself cry anymore, though she knows it will be a long time before she stops wanting to, if she ever does. "Looks like it's just you and me now."
She realizes that she has no idea how to change a diaper. She does know that Marie lives to grow up, so she supposes she'll work it out.
"You're going to sit in the aisle seat today," Momma says in her most Momma-like way that brooks no argument.
Marie stomps up the steps of the bus. 'But Momma, why?' she's going to complain; but before she can, Momma says, "I don't know yet." Then, she's going to say, 'But Momma,' but before she can say that, Momma says, "You're not going to whine about it," in that same brook-ing voice, like she's not so much telling Marie what to do as she's saying what Marie already did (it drives Marie just crazy).
But Momma doesn't say a single word about pouting, so Marie crosses her arms over her chest and does.
A couple of minutes later, Momma says, "Well, shit." She reaches over and grabs Marie's hand, squeezing tight. "Marie, listen to me. I love you, and I'm going to wake up."
And that's when the window on the bus explodes inward.
Miraculously, Marie isn't hurt at all, except for some scrapes and bruises that she doesn't even really feel.
No one listens to Marie when she tries to tell them that her Momma is going to wake up; that what her Momma says always come true. Some people send her to stay with a new family; and when she runs away one too many times, to another; and then another, and another.
She never stops believing what her Momma said to her, until the day she kisses a boy and that alone nearly kills him.
Maybe she's been poison all along.
She runs away for the seventh time in six years, and this time no one looks for her. Or if they do, they don't exactly look very hard.
After the Statue of Liberty, the Professor calls her into his study to talk to her about how Magneto was on a psychotic break when he kidnapped her and tried to kill her. Marie isn't clear if this is supposed to make her feel better or what, but it doesn't exactly help. For sure it doesn't change anything. Not only can she hurt or kill people by accident, but now she knows she can be used to hurt - or kill - people on purpose. She could have gone her whole life without knowing that, or wanting to.
After Alkali Lake, the Professor calls her into his study again.
"Would you like something to drink?" he asks. When Marie glances at the bottle of wine on his desk, he adds, "No, no. Not that. That is for me," and hands her a Coke.
"Um," Marie says after a really awkward silence. "Do you want me to tell you Magneto was having a psychotic break again?"
"Would it help?" the Professor asks - Marie thinks he's most likely being sarcastic, but it can be hard to tell.
"...Probably not," she admits.
The Professor starts pouring wine into what seems to Marie to be a really big glass. "Then that won't be necessary, thank you."
He doesn't come out and say that they have something in common now. But it's kind of obvious from the whole bonding over a game of checkers thing. As totally weird as the experience is, Marie is enjoying it by the end (other than the horrible genetics jokes).
After the Cure, Marie sort of assume she'll be asked to leave the school, when things calm down enough for them to notice she's still here. But that doesn't happen - though she gets her share of funny looks, conversations that stop as soon as she walks into the room.
Not that that's new or anything. She got that before, from mostly the same people. It doesn't really bother her, except sometimes when it does.
Then, one day, Miss Ororo comes to tell Marie that there's a phone call for her.
That's got to be a mistake. Who'd call her? She doesn't even know anyone outside the school, not anymore. And it's only November, so not like two-thirds of everyone else has gone home for the summer to need to make a phone call if they want to talk to her.
When she's alone in the Professor's study for what has to be either a mistake or a joke, Marie lifts the phone to her ear and says, "Hello?"
The phone call is from a long-term care facility several states away.
Her Momma woke up.
When Marie hangs the phone up, the only thing she can think is to wonder how they could possibly have known to call her here. She ran away. She hasn't been in contact with anyone from her old life. That was kind of the whole point.
Then she looks over to see the empty place on the other side of the desk where a wheelchair should be, and she reckons she knows.
She's spent the better part of the last two months wondering if she really is just some kind of frigid bitch for not reacting, for not crying over the Professor or the others; if other people think she is, too; if part of her so-called 'gift' makes it where she can't really connect with other people on any level at all. If that part of her is still around underneath, even though she doesn't have to wear long sleeves or gloves anymore unless she wants to (she can't imagine ever being cold enough to want to).
But now, for some reason, now that she has the one thing she's wanted the most in the world since she was eight years old, now she starts crying. Not the quiet kind of crying that slips out of her or that she can hide from other people, but the loud and messy kind, complete with hiccups and snot and everything.
She's not really sure how much of it is for her Momma, how much for the Professor, how much for herself.
Marie goes alone, though both Logan and Bobby offer to come with her (it may not be fair, but they didn't come with her last time, when she really could have used the company and the support, so why would she want either of them with her for this?).
It's funny, she hasn't been on a bus since she was eight - she's always avoided them, thinking it would bring things back she'd rather not think about - but looking out the window of the Greyhound bus feels like coming home, more than anything else ever has. Even if she does have to sit halfway back rather than in the handicapped seating up front.
The nursing home is much nicer than Marie half-remembers from the few visits she was allowed, before. She remembers peeling paint, an underlying pee smell that the harsh cleaners couldn't cover up. She's not actually sure if this is even the same neighborhood, though it is (she thinks) the same city.
She wonders if the Professor -
If she thinks about that, she's going to start crying again.
The nurse says to go on in, so Marie does, not knowing what to expect.
She thinks, for just one moment when she gets there, that she must have the wrong room, that the woman in that bed can't possibly be her Momma. Her Momma was never that tiny - was she?
"You're going to come over here and give me a hug," Momma says, and there's no doubt now. Marie would recognize that tone of voice anywhere, even if the Momma in her head is bigger, without those new little lines on her face, that gray streaked in her hair.
"Okay." Marie's voice comes out sounding like she's eight again; trembles and breaks, like she's going to cry. She realizes she just might.
Her Momma's arms look so thin and frail, but they're stronger than they look.
"Let me see you," Momma says, and raises up her hands to cup either side of Marie's face between them. And then she says, "It's going to happen now. I am so sorry."
And that's when the thing inside Marie - that's supposed to be gone - rises up inside her and out of her, with the intent to swallow her Momma whole, like it would do to anyone Marie touches, ever -
But her Momma was lowering her hands already, and Marie reels back, and it's all for just a second, only a second.
The first thing Marie knows then is that her Momma isn't hurt.
The second thing Marie knows is that she has gone blind.
The third thing she knows is: everything.
Starting with this: far from being in the ground, the Professor is in a room two hallways away from this one. His sister is with him.
And Magneto - who may or may not be on yet another psychotic break at the moment - is on his way here, too.
There are at least five ways this can go now. All of the possibilities are actually pretty okay, at least in that the nursing home does not blow up in any of them, and also no one dies that Marie can tell. Marie gets to kick some ass in at least two of them, too.
"We have a lot to talk about," Momma says.
"We sure do," Marie agrees, and she thinks that she really does sound like she's going to cry now; realizes, belatedly, that she already is.
No matter what facet of the future Marie sees, not one of them involve her Momma pushing her away.
Marie feels around for a chair, pulls it up to the bedside, and waits for her eyesight to return, and for her Sight to recede.