I never planned on telling Liz who her father was. I told Liz I only wanted her to be happy. But the truth? The truth is I didn’t want to have to explain myself to her.
Costa Verde High School, Orange county, California:
Liz Allen and two other stylish girls her age walk the corridors to the cafeteria. She can’t believe that Nick asked Liz to go to Cabo for Spring break, her red-headed friend exclaims. She knows, right? Liz agrees. She means who knows if she’ll even be interested in him by then? India? The other girl, Sasha, asks if she thinks he’ll take her to the One & Only. She saw it on TMZ. TMZ is so over, Liz lectures her. The vice principal orders them to get to class. It’s like uh, lunch, the red-head informs him dismissively.
Inside the cafeteria, the three girls stop, disgusted at the sight of a crowd surrounding and cheering at an obese boy, Teddy, wolfing down dozens of burgers, twenty-four by now, to be exact.
I grew up in Palmday, California, right next to “Nothing to do, California.” One night, it was maybe seventeen years ago, the circus came to town.
A sickly-looking boy in black clothes records Teddy’s performance on his cell phone. Her life literally sucks, Liz sighs dramatically. “Hi sis,” Teddy greets her and she begs him not to call her that.
That’s where I first met Frank. I was not an unattractive girl. I’d lie to think Liz gets her looks from me. And yes, Frank was enormous even back then.
Teddy burps and Liz shouts it’s no wonder nobody likes him, before storming off. They were just having fun, Teddy says almost apologetically while his friend tells him to forget her, she’s just another Costa Verde bee-yatch. He throws a burger after Liz, hitting instead vice-principal Dillard, who orders the two boys into his office.
I went back to see him night after night. On the fifth night and a couple of cocktails, I felt the earth move.
A little later, Liz tries to be excused for the rest of the day, as it’s her time of the month. That would make the third time of the month this month, the secretary points out amused. In the nearby office, Dillard criticizes Evan and Teddy for their behavior. What happened to him? he asks Teddy. When he first transferred here, it seemed like he had his head on straight. Joined the football team. He was more like his sister. Now, what kind of future does he imagine for himself?
The two boys chuckle and nudge each other. Has he seen that show “Man Versus Food?” That guy actually gets paid to eat stuff. He should totally have his own reality show, Evan tells Teddy. They could film it themselves and put it on YouTube. Dillard shouts at Teddy not to let this piece of white trash drag him down to his level. Dude, not cool, Teddy replies. Dillard suspends both of them for a week.
Nine months later, Liz was born. I thought I’d never hear from Frank. It’s not like the circus comes to town every day. If I was stupid enough to get pregnant I had to be smart enough to deal with it.
Later, at Liz Allen’s home in Costa Verde, a spacious villa with a pool and its own tennis court, where Liz and her mother are currently training. Liz informs her mother that Teddy was kicked out of school. Her mother decides to let things cool and talk to the vice principal on Monday. He seems like a reasonable man. Does she have any idea how humiliating this is for her, Liz whines. He’s her brother, her mother reminds her. He’s gross! Liz replies forcefully. She can’t even have people over because he lives here.
Teddy stands at the window of his room, eavesdropping to what the two women are discussing in the court below. Evan is at the video game console, telling him it’s his turn. Teddy just looks hurt.
But much to my surprise, Frank called out of the blue. He took the news really well. Wanted to be involved. Frank even offered to take Liz off my hands entirely. Which I would have considered if it hadn’t been for Magneto.
In the court, Ms Allen tells Liz she is no better or worse than Teddy is. And they both have the same father. Like she has to remind her! Liz scoffs. The Blob? How drunk was she? Her mother slaps her. Liz doesn’t seem to mind while she drives off in her BMW every morning, she snaps. After all that happened, he provided for them, she reminds her daughter. As long as Teddy was part of the deal. In a small voice, Liz agrees, but she hates him.
Evan calls out Teddy. They get what they deserve, he tells him.
We were living in New York by then. Just me and little Lizzy. When out of the dark came a man white hair, piercing eyes and a cape. He told me the truth about Frank and what it meant about Liz. “Mutant.” It wasn’t the first time I‘d heard the word, but the way he said it, he made me feel small. He convinced me that it was better for Liz not to know. We agreed that her father could visit her as her Uncle Frank. Then we waited years to see if she was one of them.
A motel outside Disneyland, Anaheim, California:
Derek Morgan and Jimmy Hudson are waiting inside the motel room until Karen Grant aka Jean Grey returns with groceries. Angrily, Jean berates Jimmy for opening the door. He knew it was her, he defends himself. That’s not the point, she shoots back.
Derek intervenes. They are all just going a little stir crazy, living out of Greyhound buses and Super 8 motels. The X-Men had jets and a mansion! They were rock stars. They are not the X-Men, Jean replies forcefully. The X-Men are dead! All of them…
Jimmy changes the subject by suggesting they sneak into the park. It’s late. Catch a couple of rides on Space Mountain. Jean tells them they are not her to go on rides or be rockstars. One mistake, just one, that’s all it takes. And they are either taken in or shot down!
Whatever it is they are waiting for, Derek asks. Any idea how much longer? Soon, Jean promises.
Imagine looking out your front door one night and seeing your only daughter frightened and all alone. Crying her eyes out. Without her clothes. On fire…
One week later at school:
A footballer, Nick, is flirting with Liz in the cafeteria when Evan and Teddy come in. Teddy asks if they can bum a ride home with her. Liz rolls her eyes and Nick calls him ‘tubby’ and orders him to get lost. What’s up with him, Teddy asks. They used to be friends. Then he quit the team so he could be with his new girlfriend here, Nick refers to Evan. Hey, Nick! Evan replies and reaches for his backpack to produce a gun. “You’re a realllllly funny guy!” What’s he doing? Teddy asks. Evan points the gun, at Nick and the others. Nobody’s laughing now, he states. Vice-principal Dillard orders him to give him that gun. Instead, Evan shoots him.
Her mutant powers had… activated. Things fell apart very quickly after that. Magneto showed up. Then the X-Men. And for some reason Spider-Man. They all wanted Liz to pick a side. Instead, she ran away. I was left alone without my baby girl.
Outside the school, the situation is soon reported and Jean and the gang learn about this as well.
Everything changed again after New York. That tidal wave when Frank died. I’d heard on the news what Frank did to that woman. The Wasp. Terrible. Horrible. I don’t even want to think about it. I’m not defending him… but … he’d been listening to Magneto for so long. You hear about these suicide bombers. Going into crowded markets and buses where families… children… Things you’d never believe a person would do… and yet… I’m not excusing what Frank did. It’s just the man I knew wasn’t a “mutant terrorist.” I never knew the Blob.
While still holding the students in check, Evan admires the filmed scene on a phone. Check it out, dude, he tells Teddy. They’re on TV! Teddy asks him to put down the gun and just chill. The other boy refuses. The gun makes him “the Man.” Teddy walks towards him, announcing he can’t let him hurt anybody else. Evan fires at him. The bullets bounce off Teddy’s flesh without hurting him. It tickles, he states surprised. “You’re a…” Liz begins.
He’s a mutant! They’ll kill them all! other students panic and begin to run while Evan comically protests he’s not like Teddy. He’s not one of them. He next sees the news on his iPhone where it is announced that two mutants are responsible for the shooting at Costa Verde High. He’s not a mutant! he screams. What’s wrong with being a mutant? Liz asks and flames on, revealing her Firestar form.
What’s that old expression? When one door closes another one opens. That’s when Liz turned up back home again. She knew everything had changed. Being… what she was… now it was against the law. She said it herself, she had no place else to go. I knew we had to move again. Hide, just disappear…
Liz’s friends are taken aback. Liz scoffs. They are more afraid of her and Teddy than this idiot, she refers to Evan, and they didn’t do anything! Suddenly, Evan finds himself as defender of the others as he orders them out. He’ll hold the mutants off until the cops get there. She doesn’t think so, Liz replies and begins to melt the weapon. The next moment, there is an explosion and the blaze spreads out.
The morning we had the house all placed, a registered letter arrived. Frank had lived up to his word. There was a life insurance policy that would take care of me and Lizzy forever and ever. All we had to do was find Frank’s other child, Theodore, and we could live happily ever after. Teddy had grown up in foster homes. He didn’t know anything about his mother or his father.
The police try to establish some order. Liz’s mother stares at the blaze heartbroken.
Inside, Liz tells Teddy they need to get out. That moment, Jean, Derek and Jimmy appear in front of them. “Come with us if you want to live,” Jean announces. She did not just say that, Derek mutters. Yeah, she did, Jimmy replies.
From the moment I saw Teddy, all I could see was Frank. But we took the money and moved back to California. Only this time it wasn’t Palmdale. This time we’d be in Orange County. Every day the boy seemed to get bigger. Every week the grocery bill doubled.
Liz recognizes Jean from Xavier’s school. She doesn’t want to go back there, she shouts. Not after what happened! There is no school, Jean replies. There isn’t any of that life left. They are being hunted now but they are here to keep them safe and help those like them. Liz would rather run away like before. Jimmy points out that if they could find her… Jean threatens she could make them come with them…
Suddenly, someone joins them at superspeed. That would not make her better than his father, Magneto, Quicksilver announces.
Liz couldn’t stand Teddy. He “creeped her out.” She insisted it was because he reminded her of Frank. I think it was because with Teddy in the house Liz couldn’t forget what she was.
Teddy happily announces he knows him. He’s one of the Ultimates! Quicksilver replies he was and knew Teddy’s dad too. If he’ll join him, he’ll show him how he can have a better life!
She thought he was dead, Jean states angrily. The same could be said about her, he retorts. He sees she is gathering them. They aren’t so different… They don’t have anything in common! she spits.
People always ask how I could live in California. As if we have earthquakes every day. But if they knew what I really had to be afraid of… they’d ask me how I could ever be their mother. We don’t get to pick out kids. Mostly anyway. But it is our job to raise them. To protect them. If we do our jobs right, they’ll grow up and leave us to be on their own.
Jean turns to Liz and Teddy, telling them SHIELD is here, the government. They are going to take them into custody or worse. They have to decide now. It sucks, Jimmy announces, but it’ll be okay. Liz smiles and powers down, then walks over to them, announcing that she’ll go, but she doesn’t want to be a hero.
Teddy stays behind and takes Quicksilver’s hand. He isn’t coming with them? Liz asks. Who is she kidding? he asks. Up until an hour ago, she thought he was gross. She wasn’t any different from Nick or any of them. Evan might have been wrong… but he was kind right. Wait! she asks half-heartedly but Quicksilver takes them both away as Liz looks after them.
I’m Liz Allen’s mother. I accepted the responsibility of bringing her into this world. I didn’t know who or what her father was but, even when I did, I stuck it out. Despite the life we shared and love I have for her, I’ll probably never get to see my daughter again…