"Mom?" gasped Valeria, and the gaudy blond giggled and drawled "Tha's right, hun. Aw, momma's missed her sweet baby. Where's yer brother? I gotta get th' both o' yew outta here. You kids gotta be with yer momma."
Valeria wasn't a fool. She knew her mother was expierencing some kind of mental change, as the woman laid out cosmetics and creams. Still, she was her mother...and that was all she needed. Just because she was a brilliant as her father, didn't mean she had
any greater affection for Reed than Susan. Her mother had always been the one to kiss her scrapes and sooth her fears. Reed was just "Red" but Susan had always been "Mom"...and she wanted to help her mother.
"Mom, what's all this about? I'll put on whatever makeup you want, but...I've got to know what's happened to you."
Dolly Dixie began to apply a special cream to her daughters cheek, and she soothed. "Jus' sit back an' let Dolly take care o' yew, baby. Just sit back...an' let Dolly do everything."
Valeria stiffened, and felt her mind drifting...as the woman soothed and sang to her, talking about music and being pretty and loving her mother...she felt so strange, as Dolly Dixie told her how pretty she was...and always was...and always should be. She
was a pretty girl, and that...was so important. So very important...
Dolly looked up from her work, and smiled. Franklin stood there, looking confused but happy to see her. "Mom, what's going on...Val? Is that you?"
Dolly held out her arms, and the little boy ran to her and hugged her. Dolly kissed his cheeks, and begun applying the same creams to his face...he stiffened, fell into a trance...and she began to sing...
The three of them walked back into the New U Salon, and Dee Dee (who'd feared that Susand conditioning had collapsed) gaped at the woman...and the two darling, beautiful little girl who pranced along with her, singing the same song. Dolly smiled, sauntered
towards her, and said "Hey there, Dee Dee. Has you met ma' daughters? This here's Valerie..." and a darling little girl - dressed like a pagent entry in one of those absurd reality shows - posed and batted her thickly tashed eyes. "...an this here's Francine."
and the second girl - almost identical - smiled and hugged Dolly. "Thay's gonna hang out here with me while I work. That sound cool, Dee?"
Dee Dee was facinated...and nodded her head. The two children flipped through country music magizines and chatted in thickening southern accents. A quiet question had produced the expected answer. Dolly thought her daughters were just as they always had
been, and the girls felt the same way. Dee Dee could feel Francines' power just below her mind, and she wondered if there was a way to make use of it. The boy Franklin was one of the most powerful mutants on Earth, and Fran obviously still had his powers.
All that power, and all Dolly could do was gush over how her "girls" were going to be pagent winners, and how she'd taught them to sing.
Just then, Maria Jill walked dreamily back into the Salon, looking confused and somewhat dopey. She mumbled "I've gotta appointment...or something...for a makeover..." as Dolly giggled and said "Sure y'uh do, hun. Jus' step this way..." and she led her to