* Continuity: This story follows the events of the Original Series, and some - but not all - parts of Alien Force, Ultimate Alien and Omniverse.
"Hello, my name is Gwen." Gwen stretched her hand to the young woman who seemed to be at most three or four years older than she was. The young lady was dressed in goth-style clothes, and had pale skin and dark brown hair.
"H-Hi, I-I am M-Margie," she replied, looking nervous and tense.
"Don't worry. You're safe now. We're at the Plumbers base. No one is going to hurt you here," Gwen put her hand on the girl's shoulder, "Just take a deep breath. I'll need you to tell me everything that happened from the beginning so I can help you and your baby. "
The two sat down, and after a few moments Margie began to speak again, more calm now, "I always had an attraction to men with a dark style, so when I met this guy... Older, rich, charming, mysterious and he knew all these fantastic legends. I ended up getting close to him, against the will of my family. They knew he was trouble."
"This man, he is Hex, right?" Gwen asked. She knew this information because her cousin Ben had already briefed her about Margie before.
"Yes, I didn't know that at the time, of course. He introduced himself as Henry, and he was using some sort of spell to disguise those skull tattoos on his face," Margie said, "I don't know why he took an interest in me."
Gwen knew. From the moment she approached Margie, she felt her magic being enhanced, "Honey, you are an Amplifier, that is a very rare gift. When people with magical powers approach you, you increase their powers."
"That makes sense..." Margie whispered, "That's why he wanted me."
"Go on, please," Gwen requested while she held the girl's hand to keep her calm.
"At first I was only crushing on Hex, but I'm sure that at some point he put me under a spell. I wouldn't have left my home and my family for him willingly like I did. The way I acted... For two years, I didn't even give a call to my family or friends to let them know that I was alive... I wasn't myself. That's why when he told me he was Hex, I didn't even react."
Gwen felt a huge rage boiling inside of her. Hex had abused that poor girl. "That bastard will pay for what he did to you."
"During that time I got pregnant with Dawn," Margie said, "I'm sure she was the one who saved me."
"How old is she?" Gwen raised her eyebrows.
"She's one years old," Margie said with a smile, "It may sound odd, but I was taking care of her, and in a moment she glowed in a very intense purple light, and I was myself again. The spell Hex had put on me ended. He wasn't home at the time. He was doing whatever he does, usually looking for more magical gadgets. I ran away with Dawn and called the Plumbers, and I'm here now. "
"Can I see Dawn?" Gwen asked.
Margie and Gwen went to see the baby. Just as she approached Dawn, Gwen felt a magic aura stronger than any she'd ever felt before. It was quite obvious why: Margie was an Amplifier and Hex was a powerful sorcerer, Dawn had naturally been born with very strong magical powers. Gwen knew that Dawn could become one of the most powerful witches in the world if she trained properly.
The baby was crying in the doctors' hands, but she accepted Gwen much more easily, "Gugu gaga," Dawn seemed happy in Gwen's arms.
"Hey, cutie." Gwen kissed the baby's forehead.
"She has a weird tattoo on her thigh," Margie said, a little worried, "Hex made it. I think it's magic."
"This is bad. You and Dawn can't leave the Plumbers base until we find out exactly what it is."
Gwen spent days studying the symbol and nature of the tattoo in her magic books. She met Margie again at the Plumbers' base later.
"Margie, I have good news and bad news. The tattoo is a marker, something that allows Hex to find Dawn anywhere. He probably already knows you're here, but he wouldn't dare to attack the Plumbers base. I think he's just waiting for you to leave here so he can kidnap you two again. There is a potion that can permanently remove the tattoo, but the ingredients for it are rare and most do not even exist on Earth."
"Oh, no ..." Margie was horrified, "Does that mean we're going to have to stay here for the rest of our lives?"
"No. There is a less complex spell that is a temporary solution. It will leave Dawn undetectable for a few months. Like a medicine she will have to take regularly."
"Do you know how to do this spell?" Margie asked with anxiety in her voice.
"Yes, I can do it. And we can meet every month, so I can cast the spell again," Gwen said.
"Thank you so much," Margie hugged her.
1 year later.
Margie had entered the Plumbers' "witness protection" service, and Gwen became good friends with her because of the monthly meeting. Gwen had also become very attached to Dawn.
So Gwen was completely shocked when she heard that Margie had died in a terrible car accident, victim of an irresponsible truck driver who was texting on his cell phone while driving. Gwen cried almost all night.
After the funeral, Margie's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rocco, asked Gwen to see them at their house.
"I'm sorry for your loss." Gwen greeted the couple.
"Thank you, Gwendolyn," Mrs. Rocco replied with a sad smile, "Margie told us a lot about you. You were her best friend. "
Gwen was surprised. She certainly considered Margie a friend, but Margie considered her not just a friend, but her best friend.
"We have something very serious to discuss with you," Mr. Rocco said hesitantly, "I would not dare ask what I'm going to ask of you, but Margie has explicitly told us to do this, and we will honor her will."
"What is it?" Gwen was curious and a little worried.
"Our wish was for our daughter to put Dawn up for adoption," Mrs. Rocco said, with a tired expression on her face, "We tried to argue with Margie that Dawn was the result of coercion, not love, but Margie loved Dawn very much no matter what. We also argued that Dawn's father is a very dangerous person and staying with her was a risk, but Margie was very determined to raise her daughter. She always said that Dawn was the one who saved her life from Hex."
"But Margie knew that if anything were to happen to her, we would put Dawn up for adoption. And she told us to ask you to raise Dawn as the first option," Mr. Rocco said in a whisper, "We can help you with enough money for kindergarten, food and clothes, but unfortunately, we can't do more than that."
Gwen was shocked, "I ... I don't know what to say."
"Of course, my dear, we weren't expecting you to accept it. You are young, and raising the daughter of a criminal is a burden you don't want either. We understand it perfectly," Mrs. Rocco said with a friendly smile, "We will send Dawn to an orphanage, and you will be informed of everything so you can continue to do the spell thing that you do every month to protect her."
Gwen wondered what possibility Dawn would have to be adopted, especially considering that any potential adoptive parents would have to be informed about her great latent magical powers, as well as who her father was, and the need for the protective spell Gwen had to do regularly. No one would want this 'burden' on their hands.
But Gwen was only 18 years old. She was attending college, and although Mr. and Mrs. Rocco could help with money for food, daycare and clothing, Gwen had nowhere to live with a baby. She was living in the campus' dormitory, a place completely unfit to raise a two year old girl.
"Please, Mr. and Mrs. Rocco, you have to reconsider. Dawn is all you have left of your daughter. Please, you two have to raise her," Gwen requested in a sad tone.
Mr. Rocco lowered his head, "We've already thought about this a lot, and this is our final decision. I'm sorry. Dawn will be sent to an orphanage."
"No!" Gwen shouted, surprised at herself. "I'll raise her."
Mr. and Mrs. Rocco were also very surprised by her words.
"Are you sure, my dear?" Mrs. Rocco asked.
"Yes. Just give me a week to sort things out, and I'll come back to pick her up," Gwen said very determined.
Gwen thought of asking Grandpa Max for help. He would probably be willing to help her take care of Dawn, but Grandpa was not on Earth at the moment. He and Xylene, a lizard-like alien woman, had rekindled their past relationship, and they were traveling together through space. They usually spent a few months on Earth and a few months in space. Gwen had a communicator to talk to Grandpa if she wanted to, but she did not want him to change his plans because of her - Grandpa more than deserved to live his own life - so she decided not to talk to him.
Gwen knew she was going to have to talk to her parents Frank and Natalie, and she figured they would react badly to that idea, but deep down she was hoping to have enough of Lucky Girl's luck left to be able to convince them.
On the weekend, she went to her house in Bellwood, and told her parents the whole story. Gwen asked for them to slightly increase the amount of money they sent her so she could leave the campus and rent an apartment near the university where she could take better care of Dawn, without needing to get a job - because it would be impossible to work, study and take care of a two-year-old baby alone.
Her parents not only refused, but also threatened to stop sending money to her altogether if she went ahead with the idea of adopting Dawn. Her mother - in an extremely angry tone - spoke for what seemed like hours about how irresponsible and inconsequential Gwen was to even consider raising a child at that age and under those circumstances. Her father only confirmed his wife's words.
That wasn't Gwen's lucky day.
A few months ago Gwen had started dating Kevin Levin. Yes, the same Kevin Levin who had tried to kill her and her cousin (and many other innocent people) out of sheer sadism when she and Ben were ten during that summer trip that completely changed their lives.
When Gwen and Ben were fifteen, their paths intersected with Kevin's again. Kevin was now working with the Plumbers under supervision to redeem himself for his past crimes. He explained that he had a serious condition of split personality - and the Kevin that Ben and Gwen knew before was the bad Kevin.
Kevin helped Ben and Gwen with alien problems regularly and befriended them, showing an obvious crush on Gwen. Kevin asked her out many times, but Gwen was not shallow nor foolish enough to suddenly throw herself into the arms of a person who had tried to kill her before just because he was tall, strong, handsome and charming. Only after years - time for her to actually see that Kevin's change of heart was genuine – that she finally decided to give him a chance.
Gwen's parents did not like Kevin much, but only because they thought Gwen could do better. Kevin had dropped out of school, and earned his living from a small car repair shop. They did not know that Kevin had been a criminal, that he had a split personality or that he had tried to kill Gwen in the past. Surely if they knew that, they wouldn't accept the relationship at all.
Despite Gwen's own initial reservations, so far their relationship was going very well. Kevin was really keen to show that he was a completely changed person, and he seemed deeply in love with Gwen. He had been indeed a very good boyfriend, lovely and sweet, the perfect 'bad boy with a good heart' from teenage romance movies.
And now Gwen would need him more than ever.
Gwen went to Kevin's garage - the place where he had built his car repair shop - close to her university.
"Hi, Kevin," Gwen said, announcing her presence.
"Hi, babe," Kevin stepped out from under a car and started looking at her with dreamy eyes. She had her long red hair loose and was wearing a black skirt and a red blouse, "You look amazing!"
"Thank you," Gwen blushed. She was silent for a few seconds, gathering courage to speak, "Kevin, I have a very crazy thing to ask of you."
"I'd do anything crazy for you," Kevin said, with a mischievous grin, "Actually, I've been wanting to do some crazy things with you for years..."
"I want to move into your apartment-" Gwen started to speak.
"YES!" Kevin shouted, interrupting Gwen's request. He made a fist bump, very excited, "It will be a pleasure to have you living with me, babe. I'd hug and kiss you right now, but I don't want you to get grease all over your clothes. Today, after I finish my work, we're going out to celebrate for sure," he said, grinning like a fool.
"Kevin," Gwen said in a worried tone, "It's not quite what you think... I'm really going to need your help a lot."
"What happened, babe?" Kevin asked, now also starting to worry.
Gwen explained the whole story to him. Kevin already knew about Margie and Dawn, including how Dawn was a baby with great magical powers, unlike other children, so Gwen hoped he would understand why she was the better person to take care of Dawn in that situation.
"So, Kevin," Gwen concluded, "I need a place to live... with the baby."
Gwen took a deep breath, waiting for Kevin's response. Kevin was speechless. After almost a minute of silence, he whispered, "Gwen, I can't. If you were to adopt that child, I'd have to be the father figure, and believe me, this would be a very bad idea."
"Why?" Gwen asked.
"Gwen, you know me, the terrible childhood I had, all the mental problems I have to deal with," Kevin said in an apologetic tone, "I'd be a terrible father. I don't want kids."
"You don't want kids?" Gwen had never stopped to discuss this with Kevin. She certainly wanted her own children someday, but he clearly had different plans for the future of their relationship.
"It would be better not to," Kevin said, "If you can't convince Dawn's grandparents to keep her, it would be best to let her go to the orphanage and you can still visit her often, maybe every weekend," Kevin suggested, "It's better for you too, so you can focus on your studies."
"I... understand," Gwen shed a tear from her eyes and left in a hurry. She really thought Kevin would side with her on this, but she was wrong.
That afternoon, Gwen called her cousin Ben to meet her in a cafe near the college campus. She needed to talk to someone.
"I'm sorry for asking you to meet me like this all of a sudden, Ben," Gwen said, wiping a tear from her cheek, trying her best not to show that she had cried before, "I hope you weren't busy today.
"Don't worry," Ben said, "I had a date with Julie, but I explained to her that you sounded very desperate on the phone and she understood. We will reschedule it."
Gwen sighed, "I can't believe I made you miss a date. I'm really sorry, Ben. Crap."
"Do you want to apologize? Pay the bill, cuz," Ben said with a grin and called the waiter.
While they were eating, Gwen explained everything to Ben.
"My parents won't help me, Kevin won't help me ... I wish I could do this, but I feel there's no way," Gwen said in a sad tone, "It'll break my heart, but I'll have to talk with Margie's parents to send Dawn to the orphanage."
"Look, Gwen," Ben said thoughtfully, "You are 18. You're going to college. Raising a baby is a pretty crazy idea, I have to admit. But you help me fight criminals on and off ever since you were ten, and you're dating Kevin, so crazy ideas are kind of your specialty, right?" Ben chuckled, and Gwen rolled her eyes, "I'm kidding. I really think it's best for you to let it go, but I don't think you should give up just because you don't have money or a place to live or because your boyfriend, or your parents, or me, are telling you to give up. Think for yourself! Are you absolutely sure you want to raise Dawn?"
"Yes," Gwen said with conviction, "I'm sure I could find a way to balance college and taking care of her if I had the money. And if Kevin doesn't want to help me, fine. But he would have to at least accept that I'm going to raise this girl, or things between us would be over. And my parents would also have to accept it, whether they like it or not, I'm an adult and they can't tell me what to do. I just can't have Dawn living with me on the university campus, because that way the orphanage is really a better option. My biggest problem is money. "
"Don't worry about that. I can rent an apartment for you. I'm officially a Plumber now," Ben smiled proudly, "I'm getting a paycheck. I told you that being a superhero was much better than college, Dweeb!"
"Congratulations, Doofus!" Gwen said, gently rubbing Ben's arm in a gesture of affection, "But it wouldn't be fair to ask you to support me with your salary, Ben. You and Julie have your own plans for the future, and I would be exploiting your goodwill."
"Hey, I'm only 18, I'm not in a hurry to take a big step with Julie just yet," Ben folded his arms behind his head in a relaxed position, "And as for exploiting my goodwill, do you remember that time in Xenon, when you jumped in front of me before those bloodlust wildvines attacked and almost got yourself killed?"
"I remember," she said, recalling the memories - some good and some not so good - of when they were ten.
"You were willing to die for me, Gwen. That's how far goodwill goes between you and me. This apartment thing is nothing, really," Ben whispered in a serious tone, holding her hand.
She and Ben were really close, and would sacrifice their lives for each other without hesitation. She blamed herself for not being so close to Ben anymore, because of college and her new relationship with Kevin.
"I want to help you with the baby too. Dawn would be buried in dweebness under your care! She needs to have an awesome Uncle Ben like me so she can learn to have some fun too," Ben said with two thumbs up.
"Do you want to live with us?" Gwen asked in surprise.
"Actually, I was already thinking about renting an apartment for myself before I talked to you," Ben said, and then hesitantly asked, "Do you think it would be... weird... if we live together for a while?"
"No, not at all, Ben. I loved your idea," Gwen shed a tear from her eyes again, but this time of joy, "Thank you so much, cuz." She stood up from her seat and gave him a long hug.
One of the customers - an old lady who obviously didn't know that Gwen and Ben were cousins - said, "Aww, young love!"
Ben and Gwen immediately blushed in embarrassment, and Gwen pulled away from the hug.
TO BE CONTINUED
* Thanks to Aurora Nightstar for beta reading this, and thanks to all of you.
* It was probably not the best idea to start another multi-chapter fic while I already have one ongoing AND my university classes to worry, but I couldn't stop myself from writing this. You know how geniuses work with sudden outbursts of geniality? Well, I'm definitely not a genius, but I am kind of crazy, and we - crazy people - work in a similar way, with sudden outbursts of crazy ideas, so that's what happened to me XD Please, leave a review if you think I should continue with this.