Not sure if this is a final version. I only just finished it and I haven't read through it to see if I go "Eh" or not.
Born in December of 1988 as Amber Marie Greenhouse in Austin, Texas (the "Live Music Capital of the World"), while her mother was chasing down her father, both of whom were from LA. Afterwards, her mother followed her father to NYC.
Her parents never married. Her father successfully obtained a restraining order from her mother when she was 2. After many attempts to skip out on child support, when she was 6 he was finally successful in leaving the state and "disappearing."
Mother then managed to provide a roof, meager meals, and the occasional new piece of clothing for herself and Amber for a few years, with the help of the public school system's latch key program so she could work full time for minimum wage. But her seeming inability to make any headway in her life caused depression to set in. She turned to drugs to deal with her problems, being only careful enough to keep her dealings from interfering with her job. As her addiction grew worse, taking care of the apartment and herself and her daughter fell more and more on Amber. While Amber was learning to adust to the role of care giver in her family her grades in school started faltering. Eventually a concerned teacher uncovered the root of the problem. The teacher convinced Amber's mother to enroll in a recovery program, and with support from the school's Principal, helped her mother through it.
Fortunately not enough damage had been done in Amber's academic life to have to keep her back a grade that year. But unfortunately, her mother's recovery was only temporary. Eventually the depression took it's hold again, and her mother turned back to the only way she knew how to cope. But this time she pressured Amber to not let on at school so no one would meddle in their lives again. Amber ended up giving up her after school time with friends and TV so she could keep up on her assignments at school as well as being "the wife" of the family.
With all her mother's problems reaching their extreme when Amber was 10, it was overly easy for Amber to keep her budding new power from her mother's notice. Even despite the new issues beginning in school. She was in fourth grade. Amber had always had exceptional hearing, even being able to hear things only dogs could. But now her teachers began sending home notes saying she hummed too much, especially during study times, and that she was having problems with "keeping her thoughts to herself", though she always claimed she hadn't said anything. She lost friends because she "babbled" too much and it bothered them. But she look quite a liking to music class, and earned herself one of the solo's in the annual recital as well as two musically inclined friends.
In Middle School Amber excelled in music classes, drama classes, joined the orchestra, and landed the female lead in the school play both her 6th and 7th grade years. But her success earned her jealousy amongst the other music and drama kids instead of popularity. And with music being considered dorky at the time, she did not find support elsewhere from her peers except for those two she knew in elementary school. Added to that her quirkiness about always listening to music, whether because she was practicing or memorizing or just listening to the radio, gained her ridicule instead of friends. On the academic side of things, Amber did fine grade wise but started frequently running afoul of certain teachers who simply would not put up with her constantly making noise in class. Amber started carrying a small radio with her as a cover for no longer being able to completely shut down her power, and had to refuse to turn it off or hand it over to a demanding teacher, which earned her many trips to the principle's office for being disruptive and defiant. Eventually most teachers simply chalked her up as "one of those hooligans" and allowed her to play her "radio" in class so long as she kept it quiet, after all she did keep showing up to class and actually learning.
When Amber was twelve, one day she came home from school to a normally quiet home, did her homework, and dutifully began making dinner. But when her mother never materialized from the bedroom to eat, Amber knew she'd have to nurse her mother through the night again. She put away the breakables in case this ended up being a violent fit, and moved the furniture out of the center of the living room in case her mother started convulsing. Then she went into the bedroom to help her mother out of bed. At first she couldn't wake her mother up. It was always harder to feed her mother when she wasn't awake, and Amber couldn't quite carry her out to the living room. But her mother felt cold to the touch, making Amber assume her mother was sick on whatever she had taken. So Amber tried harder to wake her, until she noticed her mother was still in the same clothes from the day before. Which meant she hadn't gone to work. Amber almost started to worry; the one thing her mother had always been good about was going to work, since it was the only thing that kept them going. But before concern could set in, Amber realized her mother wasn't breathing. It didn't take her but a few seconds to realize what had happened. Sometime during the day her mother had died of an overdose, quietly and alone, in their apartment.
The whole experience of finding her mother, and having dealt with her mother's addiction for so long, put Amber off drugs for life. It also left her with the need to turn on the radio or tv whenever things got too quiet. Silence started to give her the creeps, like how most children react to the dark.
Amber didn't tell anyone. She didn't have anyone to tell. And until the money stash in the apartment ran out, and therefore soon after the food, her mother's death hardly changed her life. Except for sleeping out on the couch instead of in the bed with her mother. Even after she dragged her mother's body out back to the ally once the smell got too much for Amber to stomach, Amber still slept on the couch. She had no desire to use the bed ever again.
Eventually Amber had to leave apartment, due to non-payment of rent. She took only her favorite stuffed animal, a few pictures, and the couple papers she knew were important; those turning out to be both her and her mother's birth certificates and social security cards. At first she slept over at her friends' houses and hid out at her school overnight for a while. But when winter vacation came she was forced to the streets for the first time. She was lucky enough to be found her second night by someone who gave a damn, who took her to the local YWCA. With her friends' help and the school open again, Amber managed to finish out the winter school term of 7th grade.
It was Spring break that did her in. She ran across one too many street folk and ended beaten up so bad she missed the first couple days back to school. And without the school meal program, she wasn't eating. Weakened from the whole experience, Amber lost what little control she had learned over her powers and started producing sound continuously. It was a slippery slope she never recovered from. She bottomed out at having to trade sex for food. The only things she owned that survived her initial experiences where her life, a single picture of her family when she was a baby, her mother's birth certificate, and her own social security card.
The streets force people to learn quickly if they are to last there. Amber picked up the basics of where not to go and who not to cross or deal with. She regained control of what kinds of sounds she made - or more accurately the ability to prevent her sound generation from betraying her thoughts out loud - simply out of the need to not piss people off. Music seemed to be the safest recourse, especially sticking with whatever was most popular on the streets that week. But eventually she found out the noise she made continued even while she slept when she was kicked out of a shelter for not observing the quiet hours. She also soon learned the general population's reaction to mutants, and the street's reaction to mutants that "weren't useful", and started taking steps to hid her powers as best she could.
Things weren't so bad for her over the summer, with the warm weather it was easy enough to find places to sleep, and she found ways to earn - or take - money for food. When she wasn't running or starving, she loved to just sit and listen to all the goings ons around her. Eventually she realized she could mimic other sounds beyond the human voice, and used her time to practice doing so. Amber also discovered she could create sounds away from her that she could turn off. But her favorite discovery was the day she realized she could still hear the radio after she turned it off. After that she practiced at listening to individual sounds amongst a whole mess of noise, and thereby picking out and hearing clearly only what she wanted to hear. She worked her way into being able to hear any sort of sound wave, not just vocal or radio.
One day Amber was overheard singing in the park by director who needed a child for his new little off Broadway musical. He offered her the job, which she gladly accepted. She forged her mother's signature on paperwork she 'took home'. She mimicked her mother's voice over the phone when calling the director from a pay phone whenever he wanted to speak with her mother. Most importantly, she arranged to be payed in cash. The musical ran a whole season, but failed to take off and so didn't get picked up for a tour. But it helped Amber regain her self worth and realize what she wanted to do when she grew up: Music.
At the age of fourteen, Amber jumped the turnstiles of the subway and headed back to her home borough to find her only two friends, whom she hadn't seen in about a year. It was the end of Middle School for them, and they happily decided to start a band together with Amber. The three worked all summer before the start of High School: earning money to buy instruments and equipment, finding rehearsal space (which her friends' suburban parents were happy to lend their garages for), getting sheet music, and learning songs together.
Suddenly, Amber found herself face to face with a distant memory. A man claiming to be her father pulled her off the sidewalk and starting babbling at her. Her mind had no problems following what he was saying, due to her abilities, but she was stuck in shock at the concept of her father existing. He said he had seen her in her play and had been trying to track her down ever since. Even though he knew a lot about her early history, she had to pull out her family picture to be sure it was him. But on verifying it was indeed her father, she willingly and quickly accepted him into her life. She so wanted a family and a home again. They went to lunch together to catch up, and eventually she told him all about how her mother had died and how she'd been living the last couple years. He was very sympathetic, but also seemed distracted a lot of the time. He seemed most interested in her singing talent and the possible career that lay ahead of her, which they talked about at length since that was a favorite topic for Amber as well.
When she finally got up the nerve to ask "where do we live?", her father frowned at her and abruptly changed the subject, asking about what she had done with the money she had earned from the play. The conversation quickly degraded even further from there. Soon he asked her to turn off the insipid music she was playing and practically demanded her money, saying since he was her father and she was a minor he was in charge of it. She tried to vaguely explain that she couldn't turn off the music, but she gave him all the money she had on her at the time, which was a fair amount since she had the band's last set of car wash earnings. He seemed placated, and even smiled at her. Then said he had to get going but promised he'd be back to take her home when he was able.
A week later he reappeared, much to Amber's happiness. Again he conjoled her out of her money after a lengthy discussion about what she was doing now and promises of helping her. Then he disappeared once more.
The next time he surfaced she even gave him her social security card so he could access any money tied to it that she might not know about. When he went to leave without her again, she pleaded with him to take her with him. The explanations that followed turned into an argument when Amber wouldn't give up begging him. As the volume of the argument rose, so did the music playing around Amber, and the tone of the music changed to match the rising tempers. Eventually her father started to realize what was going on, and dragged her out of eye sight and ear shot of anyone else. Amber willingly confessed to him that she was a mutant, hoping it would prove to him she was willing to do anything if he would take her home. Much to her dismay, he literally threw her away from him. He called her a fraud, saying she would never become famous once everyone learned it was her powers that let her be so good, and that she was utterly useless to him. He stormed off, leaving Amber in tears on the ground.
After that Amber no longer wanted any reminders of where she had come from. She decided to best sever all ties to her past she should change her name. She chose Melody Richards because it represented her new life and she liked the sound of it. Her friends went along with the name change, both of them deciding it was a cool idea to choose a stage name and so chose ones for themselves.
Melody was lead vocal, Duke was bass, and Jacob was the drummer. Jacob could also play the keyboard, and Duke lead guitar, and Melody seemed to be able to "fake it" with most other instruments, but the group knew if they didn't get more members they would be limited in the songs they could play. So the next several months were spent promoting the band, gaining a following, and then auditioning new members. Grades slipped, but the band members didn't much care, they were too focused on the band, and Melody never found out since they didn't tell her.
Melody loved having music be so important in her life. When the rest of the band was in school, she filled out her time with trying to find gigs for the band to work, learning new music, practicing with her powers, and try to find herself food or a place to stay when weather was bad. All while trying to avoid the druggies and gangs of the streets. She had started to be noticed by the street folk as being good at avoiding trouble, which seemed to mean to them she had developed useful skills. Once in a while she couldn't get out of being pressed to help in some stunt or another. And it was during one of these "events" when she was almost caught that she discovered she could cause someone temporary deafness.
Eventually the rest of the band wanted to drop out of school too in order to pursue their music career, which was starting to take off locally. But at Melody's prodding and insistence, backed up by her life story, her band-mates returned or stayed at home. Making sure they had places and people to take care of them was important to Melody. With them she easily fell back into the care giver role that she had grown up in. They were her only family now, and she only knew that one way to deal with family. As a side effect, having them in their parents' homes meant all the money from the gigs they got Melody was able to put back into the band: practice space, instruments, equipment, and outfits. Whatever they couldn't afford, they would buy used and cheap, or if it was a smaller item: steal. Melody took care of the band and the equipment to the best of her abilities, some times even forgoing her own needs to do so.
Melody would sleep in the band's practice space or gig if she could manage it. Occasionally a band member would be able to sneak food from his house for her. Over the years she had adjusted to going long durations without food, so it wasn't necessary every day. But she would eat whatever she came across whenever it presented itself because she was never sure when she'd be able to eat again. She used the YWCA to bathe and to wash her clothes. And she made sure to keep one work worthy outfit nice, and only wore it to a gig. She kept herself from feeling lonely when away from the band by playing out loud the radio stations and other transmission she could hear. Or sometimes she replayed conversations she'd had with her friends, which is how she realized she could remember word for word, and tone for tone, more than just songs or scripts she heard.
One day, much to her surprise, Melody received an invitation to check out a special school in Westchester. It briefly explained she had been highly recommended by a benefactor, and the visit had already been arranged for her, all expenses paid. Not one to turn up free anything, Melody called the number on the invitation and accepted. Days later she found herself a sixteen year old student in Xavier's School for the Gifted, thanks to Alison Blaire - Melody's anonymous benefactor - who had heard Melody's band and realized both Melody's talent and her still growing mutant powers needed a safe place to live and grow for her to have a chance to survive. Melody also learned the feedback the band's instrumentation rarely succumbed to but that caused her severe pain, to the extent that her ears would bleed, was not actually due to the equipment being old or cheap but Melody herself. Part of her powers she couldn't control. She made an agreement with headmaster Scott Summers to take classes and keep her grades up in exchange for being able to live at the school, with all the benefits every student gets.
But having not been in school for four years, Melody isn't the only one in for a rude awakening....
Labels: Character History, Melody, RP