Major thanks as usual go to Jedimom, my partner in crime, who helped this story as both a writer and a mother. Without her helping me brainstorm, then nitpick, the second half, I probably wouldn't have even bothered with a second half.
Hannah doesn't care that I read slowly. She just sits in my lap, listening patiently, as I read her whatever book she's brought me. The words are all short and easy, so it's not that hard for me, especially since I've read them all so many times that I've practically got them memorized.
And so does she.
"I do not like green eggs and ham," I read.
"I do not like them, Sam I am!" she replies, clapping her hands together excitedly.
Agnes and Logan are out doing dinner and a movie tonight, so it's just me and Hannah. So far we've played outdoors on the monkey bars, then climbed the tree, then had a bath--Hannah directly, and me indirectly from all the splashing--and now we're reading. We ran into a few of the other kids when we were outside. They still won't talk to me when I'm alone, which is fine with me, but when I'm with Hannah, they're all friendly enough. None of them want to have the convict here, but none of them want to hurt Hannah either.
They'll probably never get used to me. But hey, why should they? I'm certainly not interested in spending time with them. Most of 'em don't even realize that they've got a good thing going here. And their precious X-Men can do no wrong, even though they refuse to do a damned thing to try and make life better for any mutants outside these walls.
Makes me hope that Magneto manages to escape soon, even though he'll likely try to kill me.
"Okay, time for bed," I say as we finish the book.
Hannah stands on the sofa, sighs and looks out the window. The front gate is just barely visible from here. "I wish I could go out like Mummy," she says.
"Bedtime," I repeat, scooping her up under my arm and carrying her giggling form to her bedroom, desperately trying to ignore the chill that's seeped into my veins. After tucking her in and handing her Kermit, I walk back out to the living room and finally let the full impact of that little statement hit me. I had no idea she was old enough to realize that she couldn't go out. Shit. What the hell do I tell her?
I need to talk to the professor.
Sticking my head out the door, I see Storm walking down the hallway. Just her. No one else. We've never gotten along, for obvious reasons, but now would be pride-swallowing time. "Um, Ororo?" I call out.
She turns and looks at me guardedly. "What do you want?"
"I need to talk to the professor about something. Could you keep an eye on Hannah? She's in bed. She shouldn't be any trouble."
That got her. She may hate me, but everyone loves Hannah. She nods, then strides over, arms folded tightly across her chest. "What's the problem? Maybe I could help," she offers.
"She said she wished she could go out."
"Oh." The sympathy is evident on Storm's face. I never thought I'd see that, but then again, it's not for me. "You're right. You should talk to the professor. I think he's in his office."
"Thanks," I mumble, getting out of her way and giving her wide berth to get into the apartment. "Her bedroom's the second door."
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Still no one in the hallway. Good. Wrapping my arms tightly around me to keep myself from shaking, I dash down the stairs, hoping there's no one down there either. When I get to the end of the first floor hallway, I knock on the professor's door and wait, hopping from foot to foot, for him to answer. What the hell do I tell Hannah? Is it even my place to say anything to her? For all I know, Agnes has worked out what to say already. But I suspect she would have told me if she had. Dammit. I didn't think she was old enough to notice. I wasn't ready for this yet. I wanted to be ready for her.
"Come in." The professor looks up as I walk in the door. "Ah, Mortimer. What brings you here?"
"Is she all right?"
I take a deep breath and look down at my hands. "She said she wished she could go out like her mother."
There's a pause. "Ah."
I look up at him, and he actually looks mildly upset. I didn't expect that. I thought he'd have the answer. He always has the answer. "What do I tell her?" I ask helplessly. "She's just a little girl. I don't want her to..."
The professor eventually finishes my sentence for me. "...turn out angry like you."
"Yeah," I exhale.
I look up at him, and he seems to be at an uncharacteristic loss for words.
Dammit, I thought he'd be able to help me. I start pacing the length of his study. I can't stand still. I'm too angry. "What do I tell her?" I ask again. "She's not even three. If I tell her the truth, it'll destroy her. She's too young for this. It's not fair."
I look back over my shoulder at him, and he's still doesn't look like he knows what to say. Dammit! I run my fingers through my hair, still pacing, and say, "She's such a happy little girl. I don't want to ruin that. She's too young for this! She's not even three!"
Before I realize what I'm doing, I've hopped on his desk, staring him down. "Don't you understand?" I beg. He has to be able to help me. He has to. Why the hell else am I here if he can't help me?
He sighs, then wheels closer to me. "I've never dealt with a child as young as her before," he finally says. "I'm sorry. I don't know the appropriate way to handle this. But..." He pauses, and it's all I can do to keep from shaking him to make him cough up the words. "Perhaps," he finally says. "Perhaps one of my colleagues can help. I know some people who work with children her age. I'll place a few calls tonight and get back to you as soon as I determine the best course of action."
I drop my head into my hands. "Thank you," I murmur.
I feel a hand on my foot and look up. "What did the orphanage tell you when you asked the same question?" he asks.
"That I was a freak of nature," I hiss. "That people would stare and point because boys weren't supposed to be green."
"And how did that make you feel?"
"How do you think?" I bark.
"What I want to know was, were you angry, or were you hurt?"
The anger drains out of me as the memories flood back, and I say, "I felt worthless, not angry. Like it was my fault."
He fixes me with an intense stare and says, "We won't let Hannah feel the same way. I promise you."
I look down at my feet, and discover that I've jumped on some papers, tearing them with my boots. Damn. "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking," I sigh, climbing back off his desk and trying to smooth them out. "These were kids' papers, weren't they?"
"Mortimer, it's all right," he says. "They're printouts. The students can print new copies. And if they didn't save their files to disk, that's their own fault." He pauses, then adds, "I don't blame you for being upset. Hannah's lucky to have you."
"That's what everyone says," I mumble.
"They're all correct."
"Well, her uncle's a maladjusted murderer," I shrug.
"Who is doing everything in his power to keep his niece from following in his footsteps."
"I do want her to agitate for her rights, though," I say, looking directly at him. "That's one thing I want her to get from me. I don't know why your lot won't do that."
"Because we can't think of a non-violent way to do it," he replies. "I do appreciate what Eric was trying to do, and in a way, it worked. The world now knows that mutants aren't content hiding and being scorned. But your group made people afraid of us, and in the long run, that didn't help."
"At least we were doing something," I counter.
"That is a valid point," he concedes.
There's another uncomfortable pause between us, and I'm suddenly acutely aware that this is the man who the court has appointed to oversee my rehabilitation. One word from him, and I'm in jail, away from Hannah, who is the reason why I'm in this damned office in the first place. "So, um, what should I do for now?"
"She didn't actually ask you why she couldn't go out, did she?"
"No, she just said she wished she could."
"As much as I hate to advise this, I'd say it's probably best not to say anything to her until she comes right out and asks why. I'll see what my colleagues advise, but for now, I'd say just to say nothing."
"Okay." I turn to head for the door, but then another thought hits me. Turning back, I ask, "Can you also see what they think we should say when she asks why I can't leave?"
The professor's gaze flicks down to my monitoring anklet, and he nods.
I head back to the apartment, and I'm not feeling any better than I was when I left. I really thought he'd have an answer. I thought he might have dealt with this before. But everyone here looks normal, or at least, very close to normal. There's nothing about them that can't just be passed off as a weird fashion quirk, or some normal human genetic variation. Hannah and I are the only full-on freaks.
Maybe in the morning, I should tell the professor that we should be actively looking for more freaks.
Storm looks up from a book as I walk in. "Any luck?"
"Nah, he's never dealt with anything like this before, but he's gonna place a few calls to get some advice."
"He'll find the right answer," she says, with that same unshakable faith that they all have in him. She holds up the book with a little grin. It's Horton Hears a Who. "I haven't seen Doctor Seuss since I was very little."
"Hannah really likes it."
"I can see why. Well..."
"Yeah, um, thanks for staying with her," I say awkwardly. I do appreciate that she did this for me, but now I really want her to leave.
Luckily, she doesn't seem to want to be here any longer either. "It was no trouble," she says as she heads for the door.
And now I get to sit here and wait for Agnes to come home and give her the news. I don't think she's going to like this any more than I do. I mean, we knew this day would come, but Hannah's so young. We thought we had more time. She's a smart kid, though. Agnes and all the kids have done a really good job with her.
And in this one case, that's not a good thing.
The next morning, Agnes and I sit quietly sipping our coffee as Hannah eats breakfast. Neither of us can eat right now. I just told her about it this morning, before Hannah woke up. I'd planned on telling her last night, but when she popped her head in the door and asked if I'd mind if she spent the night elsewhere... Well, needless to say, I wasn't going to ruin that for her. But I slept on the sofa so I'd know when she came back. And just as I suspected, she crept back in about a half an hour before the time that Hannah normally wakes up. At first she was alarmed that I was back on the sofa, but once I started talking, she had something that was actually important to be alarmed about.
There's a knock on the door, and I jump up to get it. I need to move anyway. I don't deal well with tension if I can't move. My psychiatrist says it has something to do with the fact that I've always dealt with problems physically, because I was never taught to use my mind instead. I don't particularly care why I do it. I just care that it helps. I open the door, and it's Logan. "I talked to the professor this morning," he says. "You guys okay?"
"Um." He shifts his weight to his other foot. Looks like he and I share a trait. "I just wanted to thank you for last night. I mean, you shouldn't have had to keep that to yourself..."
"It was no trouble," I say dismissively. Hell, I just want my family to be happy, and if that means keeping something to myself for a night so my sister can have fun, so be it. "Oh, um, come in."
"Thanks." The two of us head to the kitchen, and Agnes looks up at Logan with a sad smile. He leans over, kisses her on the forehead, then says, "Hey, squirt."
"Hi!" Hannah is being blessedly oblivious this morning.
Logan leans against the sink and says, "The professor's going to send Kitty up to watch Hannah so you two can go talk to him later this afternoon. I think a couple of people have already called him back."
"You should come with us," I say, sliding back into my chair.
"Nah, it's a family thing," he replies.
Agnes catches my eye, and I nod. "Logan," she says, "you are family."
He shoots a puzzled look at her, then at me. I just shrug. What can I say? I may not be a fan of the guy, but he treats my sister and my niece really well. And when I couldn't be here, he helped Agnes look after Hannah. Besides, he's made my sister a very happy woman. I remember what it feels like to have someone. I won't begrudge her that. Hell, I miss it so bad some days that I ache inside, but I had my one shot. I don't think I'm getting another one. I was damned lucky the first time, and that kind of luck doesn't happen twice to people like me.
"Well, I have to teach a class in twenty minutes," Agnes says, getting up from the table.
"I've got her," I say, scooping Hannah under one arm and carting her giggling body off to the bathroom to try and clean some of the cereal out of her hair before we go outside. She's just going to get dirty again out there, but I've already learned the hard way that half-dried cereal attracts twigs and leaves. And once that whole mess dries, it's a bitch to clean.
Right, I can carry on like nothing's wrong this morning. I've had practice. Hell, I've even had therapy. Nothing like a nosy shrink to give you the impetus to pretend everything's fine. Hannah'll never know I'm a wreck inside.
Kitty shows up just as we're finishing lunch. Agnes and I actually managed to eat a little something this meal, and Hannah was voracious as usual. She eats a lot for such a little kid. She's really short for her age, but that's not really news. Guess my lack of height wasn't just caused by malnutrition. I just hope she doesn't end up squat like me too. "Let me just clean her up," I say, reaching for her.
"I can do that," Kitty replies, looking away hastily when we make brief eye contact. Mustn't look at the convict.
Agnes looks over at me with an apologetic shrug. She feels awful about the way the students are around me. She thinks it'll change over time. I think she's being unrealistic.
"Oh, and Logan's already in the professor's office," Kitty adds. She walks past me in a wide arc, pulls Hannah out of her high chair, and jokingly asks, "Why do you put food in your hair? Are you saving it for later?" as she carts her off to the bathroom.
Agnes takes my arm in hers, and sighs, "He'll have an answer," as we walk out the door together. "That's his job, right?"
"Yeah," I reply, hoping she's right. Weird thing is, I'm starting to trust him too.
Logan's already pacing around the room when we get there. The professor looks up with a gracious smile, and says, "Ah, you're both here. Now if you could all just sit? I'd rather not have the two of you stalking back and forth when I'm trying to talk."
Logan and I exchange a guilty glance, and we each sit on either side of Agnes. I'm doing my best not to fidget, and out of the corner of my eye, I see him rubbing his hands together. Yeah, in some ways we're more alike than I think I want to admit. I don't know why I'm still pissed at him. I think it's just habit at this point. I'd ask my shrink about it, but that'd mean opening up to her about something new, and I'm really not interested enough to do that. I know she's supposed to be helping, but I always feel more nuts by the time she leaves.
"I have good news," the professor says.
"Really?" Agnes gasps. I sure as hell wasn't expecting that either. Good news? For Hannah?
"Yes. My colleagues informed me in no uncertain terms that I was being an idiot." I suspect everyone's as shocked as me to hear that word come out of his mouth. He raises his eyebrows and adds, "Their term, not mine. Hannah can go out. Perhaps not to the same places that the three of us can," he says, indicating himself, Agnes, and Logan. "But there are places that are safe for her. And perhaps by taking her to those places, we can forestall the more difficult conversation that she's too young to understand right now."
"What kinds of places?" I ask.
"Private places, mostly, that we can get to without taking busy roads. There's a private zoo nearby that can be rented out for exclusive use for a day. We could rent it for all the children some weekday and bring her along. I know the owner. He'd gladly do that for her."
"I'll bet she'd really like the zoo," Logan muses.
I'll bet she will too. Damn, I wish I could be there with her when she went. Damn. For the first time since I got here, I really feel like I'm in prison. It didn't matter before that I couldn't leave. I had nowhere to go. But now... Logan'll help Agnes take care of her when she's out. He's a good guy. He'll take care of her. And I'll ask Rogue to take pictures for me.
Okay, now I have a concrete reason to hate him. I don't think I've ever felt this jealous in all my life.
"And I've found her a playgroup," the professor continues. "It meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings. You can bring her there as early as tomorrow, if you like."
Agnes really lights up at that, but it's short-lived. "Other kids her age? Are you sure? I mean, won't they just treat her terribly?"
"Unlikely. I learned about this group from Doctor May, a psychiatrist who works with sick and disabled children. She's the one who set up this playgroup. It consists of two children, both of whom are Hannah's age. One is a girl named Evie who is on chemotherapy, and the other is a boy named Jason who was severely burned as an infant, and is terribly scarred. They play together specifically because they look different from normal children. I've spoken with their parents, and they'd be happy to have Hannah join them, although they'd like it if she kept her unusual abilities under wraps."
"That's fine," Agnes says. "I'll keep an eye on her. She's good at not using her tongue anymore, and she's learned not to climb the walls anywhere other than our apartment. Still, won't the kids comment about her color?"
"Most likely, yes," the professor says. "Doctor May told me that you should sit her down before she meets them and explain that even though people come in many different colors, she and her uncle are very special, because they're the only two people that come in green. The children will most likely only be intrigued by her color, not bothered by it. They're too young to think that it's wrong. They'll just know it's unusual. And Evie's parents are really looking forward to another child joining the group. Jason's recovered enough from his latest surgery that he's starting to get boisterous, and they'd really like another child present to hopefully siphon some of his energy away from Evie, who is very low-energy from her chemotherapy."
"What happens if she asks why I'm not going with her?" I ask.
Agnes takes my hand and gives it a squeeze, and I see Logan squirming uncomfortably in his seat out of the corner of my eye. Yeah, your girlfriend's brother killed people, okay? But if you'd been just a little off on your aim, you'd have killed Mystique. Deal with it, hypocrite.
"My colleagues all agreed that she's too young to know the full truth of that situation as well," the professor says. Good. I didn't want to have to tell her any of that yet. This is going to be tough enough. "They said to just tell her as much as she needs to know. She's so young, that she'll probably be content with you saying that you're busy, or simply that you can't go with her. Once it occurs to her to ask why..." He trails off.
"I know. I'm going to have to tell her sometime," I say. My stomach hurts. Suddenly, lunch seems like it was a bad idea.
"Once again, though, they say you should only tell her as much as she needs to know. She's used to getting time outs as punishment, correct?" I nod. "Tell her that you're having a time out. And if she asks why, tell her that you hurt some people. I know it sounds overly simplistic, but Doctor May assures me that a child as young as Hannah should be satisfied by that explanation. Telling her the full truth would only confuse and hurt her deeply."
"Just like trying to explain prejudice to her would," Logan snarls.
"With any luck, the prejudice conversation can be put off long enough for society to become more accepting of people like her again," the professor says calmly, fixing me with a level stare. "I haven't forgotten our conversation from last night," he tells me. "You are right. We aren't actively doing anything to help the mutant cause. And you have my word that I'm working on it."
I'll wait until we're done talking about Hannah to bring up my idea.
"Can I speak to Doctor May directly?" Agnes asks.
"Certainly," the professor says. "I anticipated that, so she'll be here tomorrow evening. Oh, and Mortimer, there's an outside chance that you'll be able to accompany Hannah one particular place."
"But the judge said I couldn't set foot off the property," I protest. She was very clear. I leave, I get tossed in jail. I'm not risking that. I'm not leaving Hannah. She's the reason I sold out Magneto and Mystique, even though I never dreamed I'd get house arrest instead of jail time. Even if they can't appreciate it, I'm not going to make all that have been in vain.
"Hear me out," he says, holding up a hand. "I was talking with Jean this morning, and she reminded me that the Unitarian Church is actively extending their 'Welcoming Congregation' philosophy to include mutants. I put a call in to the local Unitarian minister this morning, and she's very interested in meeting Hannah. If this is something you're interested in, or if you're interested in another church, I believe I could get the judge to let you leave the property for Sunday services. There is precedent in similar cases."
I look over at Agnes, who seems to be mulling it over. "I'm not particularly religious," I shrug.
Logan snorts. "Not a problem with the Unitarians," he says with a wry grin.
"I was raised Anglican, although I'm not practicing anymore," Agnes says. "I didn't have any intention of raising Hannah Anglican anyway. I don't really know much about the Unitarians."
"Nicest bunch of people you'd ever hope to meet," Logan says. "And the least preachy religion I've ever seen."
Okay, this is officially weird.
Logan clearly realizes that we're all baffled to hear this coming out of his mouth. He shrugs, and says, "Look, before I came here, I was helped out more than once by different Unitarian congregations. Once, when things were really bad, I broke in to a church and slept in the basement. When they caught me the next morning, they brought me breakfast and asked if I needed warmer clothes. A few other times, before I got my truck, I'd do odd jobs at the first Unitarian church I ran across in exchange for a place to sleep for the night. They never said no. I have no idea if the local group's gonna be as nice as the ones I ran across, but it can't hurt to check 'em out, if you're interested."
"The minister is willing to come here to talk to you," the professor says. "She's really quite interested in mutant outreach. Apparently, they've added mutant awareness to their Sunday school lessons."
"I don't know," Agnes says. "I'm just worried about the other children."
"She's going to figure out that she's different sooner or later," I say. "Trust me. May as well have it be in a friendly environment, and this sounds like one."
"Besides, she'll already be spending time with that little playgroup," Logan adds. "She'll already have a clue."
"I just feel funny going to someone else's church," she says. "I mean, what do they believe? What's the church all about?"
Logan shrugs. "Couldn't really figure that out, to be honest."
The professor says, "From what Jean told me, they're based on Jewish and Christian traditions, but with a very liberal bent and a heavy emphasis on individual freedom and dignity." He drums his fingers against his armrest, then says, "Agnes, at least talk to the minister. If nothing else, she'll be able to get you in touch with other parents of children Hannah's age who believe in the inherent dignity of all life, including mutants. If you decide to try their services, you can go a few times on your own to see if it's something you like. If so, then I'll talk to the judge about letting Mortimer join you."
"If it means my brother gets to go out..."
I cut her off. "No, don't think about that, okay? Just do what you think is right for Hannah. This is not about me."
She takes both my hands, and asks, "What would you have wanted at her age?"
"Friends," I blurt out without hesitation. "I would have done anything for friends. Even if a few of them hurt her, so long as she comes away with a few good friends, she's ahead." I take a deep breath. "Look, her life's been pretty good so far. It's only going to get harder the older she gets. The more friends she makes now, the better off she'll be as time goes on."
"Right," my sister says, squeezing my hands decisively. "Then I'll talk to the reverend. And she starts playgroup tomorrow. And if she asks why you can't go..."
"I'll be trimming the hedges tomorrow morning," I say. So far, that's my job around here. And I'm good at it. Turns out, I don't just have a literal green thumb. "One talk at a time, okay?"
I look over at Logan, and he nods. He knows I'm passing the torch to him when it comes to taking care of Hannah outside these gates. He's a good guy. She'll be safe. And he's no goody-two-shoes like the rest of the lot. He'll fight when he has to. I may not like it, but I have to be realistic. I've done a lot of things I hate for my niece. May as well do one more.
Agnes thanks the professor, and she and Logan get up to leave. "I just need to talk to the professor alone for a minute," I say when they notice I'm not getting up to join them.
Once they're gone, the professor asks, "Yes?"
"I was thinking about our talk yesterday. I have an idea."
He leans back in his chair and folds his hands in his lap. "Go ahead."
I've never proposed an idea to someone in charge before, and suddenly I'm feeling really twitchy. "Mind if I walk around?" I ask.
"Feel free." I think he knows me well enough at this point to understand.
Deep breath, let it out. The worst that happens is he says no. "The kids here. They all look pretty normal."
"You're right. They do."
"So where are the kids who look like freaks? Who look like me?" I ask. "I mean, they're out there, right? Where are they?"
"In hiding, I suppose." He leans forward, eyes hooded. "You have an excellent point. We should be looking for them. They're not coming here on their own like the other children."
"Exactly. We could start with the orphanages. I mean, no one's gonna adopt them. If we could take them in here..."
"...we'd be doing them a great service. I can put in some discreet words at nearby hospitals, including New York City's."
"Be sure to talk to someone in the rehab wards."
"Nah, but I drank. I probably would have done drugs if I could have, though."
He just nods. He's good at not showing pity. I appreciate that. "I should also put in a word with child social services," he muses. "See if they have records of mutant children being abused or neglected by their families. Although that could be problematic, taking children from their families. It would be a public relations nightmare if a family fought back, and that's not what we need right now."
"But if they're being abused..." I protest.
"If we're perceived as taking children from their families, we'll be shut down," he says firmly. "And that means any children we've already taken in will be taken away. The best we can do is work with the children who have already been put into foster care."
"Well, we have to do something for them!"
He furrows his brow and sits silently for a moment. Keep it zipped, Mortimer. Let the man think. Pace a little faster if it'll help you keep from saying something stupid. He's actually agreeing with your idea. Don't blow it before it even starts. "I'll talk with Senator Kelly's widow. She's looking for a way to keep up her husband's work," he says with a little irony in his voice. "Perhaps advocating for taking mutant children out of abusive family situations would be apropos. I'll suggest that to her."
I let out a deep breath. "Okay." So long as something's being done, I can deal with it. "What about street kids?" I ask. "Could you use Cerebro to find them?"
"How do you know about Cerebro?" the professor asks, eyes narrowed.
"Remember when it was poisoned a few years back? Mystique did that."
"Right." He pauses, and I suspect he's trying not to act pissed. I mean, I just reminded him that we used to be on different sides, and that my side nearly got him killed. Mind you, his side tried to return the favor. And if he's waiting for an apology from me, he's got a long wait. There's only one death that I regret. Just the one. Although there's a few policemen who got a bum deal back at the Statue of Liberty. Guess I do actually feel a little funny about that. I should tell my shrink. She'll be so excited, she'll wet herself. He finally says, "Cerebro doesn't work that way. It's not really made for global sweeps, just targeted searches."
"Ah well. Figured I'd ask." Five years of good behavior, and I'll be able to go out on the streets myself and look for them. I can't see a street kid talking to someone like Cyclops, but they might talk to me.
The professor says, "This is a worthwhile project, but we need to start small." He's probably right, but now that I've actually gotten him to agree to it, I'm really feeling impatient. I want to help them all, not just a few of 'em. "We'll need to hire more staff to do this right, and I'll need to have more of the mansion converted into children's rooms and classrooms. Plus we'll need to apply for appropriate licenses, and so on and so forth. Why don't you start by researching orphanages?" he adds. "I'll have Jean and Doctor May discuss what specific preparations we'd need to set up here to start taking in younger children."
"You want me to do research?" I ask incredulously. Brain work? Me?
"I can't think of a more knowledgeable person on this entire premises," he says with a faint grin. "And besides, it's better rehabilitation than trimming the hedges."
Hunh. Me, doing research. Go figure. Magneto never would have asked me to do that. "Um, if you don't mind, I think I'd still like to do the hedges too," I say. "At least tomorrow morning."
He nods knowingly. "By all means."
Hannah's having the talk alone with Agnes right now, and I'm trimming the hedges out front. I like this job. It's honest work. I think this is the first job I've had that could be described that way. Just me, the hedges, and a big pair of garden shears. Very Zen. Mystique tried describing Zen to me once, and I never got it until now. It's a nice way to just blot out my thoughts.
Wait, a car's coming out of the garage, and...yes, there's Hannah, waving out the window at me, a huge grin across her face and Kermit tucked under her arm. I smile and wave back as the car heads out the gate.
Good luck, sweetie. Welcome to the world.
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