"Why do you love me?" Lisa asked quietly as she held close to her boyfriend.
"The same reason I've always loved you. You're a beautiful, wonderful, fantastic person." Marc said as he held her close.
"I'm a freak. I have fur. How can you stand to look at me?" She said darkly as she nuzzled her face into his shoulder.
"None of that matters. I love you, the person inside. And besides, you're still beautiful. You've been like this for nearly two years and I can't imagine you being any other way... I wouldn't want you to be any other way." Marc finished in a whisper.
"Maybe there's something wrong with you." Lisa said and pulled back to look Marc in the eyes.
"Maybe. Whatever the reason, you're the most important person in my life and nothing will ever change that. I love you." Marc said firmly, then leaned in to kiss her on the bridge of her nose.
"You keep doing that and you'll get a hairball." Lisa quipped, loving his attention.
"A small price to pay for the privilege of showing you how much I love you." Marc said softly.
"Kids, come up here! Your Aunt Jean found something!" Jan called down the stairs.
"Be right up, Mom." Lisa said and pulled out of Marc's embrace.
Lisa stood quickly, then put out a fur covered hand toward Marc.
"You are so beautiful." Marc said, making no move to stand.
"Hold that thought. They're excited about something." Lisa said with a warm smile.
Marc nodded and took her hand, then stood.
* * * * *
"What is it Mom?" Lisa asked as they walked into the living room.
"Jean was on the Internet and found this site." Jan said with excitement.
Lisa looked closely at the monitor and read as Marc rested his chin on her shoulder to do the same.
"You can't be serious." Lisa finally said and stood.
"Come on honey, you've been cooped up in this house for nearly two years. I don't mind doing the home schooling, but you need to be around people." Jean said in an imploring voice.
"Mom, I'm not going to a mutant school." Lisa said firmly.
"We could both go." Marc said quietly into her ear.
Lisa turned and looked at him in question.
"It says that it's open to everyone, it's just mutant friendly. We could go to school together again." Marc said with excitement.
"You really miss me at school?" Lisa asked timidly.
"Every single day." Marc said absolutely.
"We could check it out. Nothing says we have to stay." Lisa said hesitantly.
"That's right." Jan said quickly, then moved to stand in front of her daughter.
"You really want me to do this?" Lisa asked in a small voice.
"Yes honey, I really do. I've been watching you withdraw more and more from the world ever since this... mutation... started. If it weren't for Marc, I think we might have lost you." Jan said and glanced lovingly at her daughter's boyfriend.
Lisa nodded. She'd thought about it... every day she thought about it. But she couldn't do that to Marc.
"There's a phone number here. Let's see if anyone is there today." Jean said hopefully.
"Which one are you?" Marc asked teasingly to Jean.
"It's not funny anymore Marc. I know very well that you can tell us apart." Jean said mock sternly.
"I guess so... Jan's the one with a sense of humor." Marc said, trying to keep from smiling.
"Do you think your parents will let you go?" Jan asked seriously.
"Yeah, they sent Cody and Leeann off to schools out of state, I don't see why not." Marc said frankly.
Jan nodded then turned her full attention to her sister.
"Hello, I'm calling for some information about your school." Jean said pleasantly.
"She's sixteen... I'll hold." Jean said, then rolled her eyes.
"Yes, she's sixteen. No, no, we just found your information on the Internet and want to find out more." Jean said in concentration.
"No, she's not in any danger... but thank you for asking." Jean said with a worried look.
"Yes, I understand. Lisa Lynette Brogan." Jean said, then waited.
"Roanoke, Virginia." She said, then gave the phone number.
"Give me a second." Jean said, then made a writing motion to her sister.
Jan quickly got a pen and pulled a sheet of paper from the printer.
"Yes, I've got it." Jean said as she wrote.
"Yes, actually there is one more thing." Jean said and handed the phone to Marc.
"Hello?" Marc asked hesitantly.
"Um, I'd like to go to your school too." Marc said unsurely and flashed an aggravated glare at Jean.
The glare made Jean smile gloriously.
"I'm sixteen. Marcus Donatello Stanton." He said, then flashed a loving look at Lisa.
"You can just get in touch with me here at Lisa's house, I'm usually here anyway." Marc said, then got a curious look on his face.
"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Marc asked with a note of apology.
"Oh, no, we'll be there Sunday, but thanks for asking." Marc said quickly.
"Yes, thank you Mr. Vagner. I'll look forward to meeting you too. Goodbye." Marc said and handed the phone to Jean to hang up.
"What did he say?" Lisa asked with a little excitement.
"Well, he asked if... how did he say it? 'Do you haf any immediate need for assistance?'" Jean said, trying to imitate Mr. Wagner's voice.
"I had a little trouble understanding what he was saying." Marc said softly.
"But do you realize who that was?" Jean asked with wide eyes.
"He said his name was Kurt Vagner." Marc said hesitantly.
"Of the Vagner... Wagner Institute. You were talking to the man himself. Look at this." Jean said with excitement as she brought up his biography.
"Look at that Lisa." Jan said with wonder.
"He looks like a demon." Lisa said in disbelief.
"And it says here that he was born with his mutation. He's always looked like this." Jean said as she read on.
"Can you imagine what his childhood was like?" Jan said with a shake of her head.
"He worked in a circus as an acrobat. People thought it was a costume I guess." Jean said and looked at Lisa expectantly.
"I guess I'll have someone who'll know what it's like to be different." Lisa said in a shocked, absent voice.
"By the looks of it, I may be the 'different' one when we get there." Marc said speculatively.
"I don't know, look at this." Jean said and pulled up another picture.
"What? She looks pretty average to me." Jan said as she looked at the picture.
"Dr. Julia Hoffman is an M.D. specializing in psychiatry and social anxiety disorders. Her interests include biochemistry, genetics and... needlepoint." Jean read aloud, finishing with a chuckle.
"Do you think she's a mutant?" Marc asked, looking closer at the picture.
"It doesn't come right out and say it, but I'm guessing that she isn't. She has over a decade of teaching and administrative experience." Jean said in thought.
"Then I guess neither one of us will be the 'different' one." Lisa said as she took hold of Marc's arm gently.
"I think this is going to be cool." Marc said as he reread the details of Dr. Julia Hoffman.
"I think so too." Lisa said as she put her head on his shoulder.