Spoilers: Up to S2 “Rebirth”
Warning: For potentially sensitive issues about parents, siblings and a difficult childhood
Summary: Everything that has happened is her fault; in her mind, it always has been.
A/N: Betaread by Fanwoman.
She blames herself for what happened. The gambling, the ring, and, more importantly, the exploitation of Maia, however willing she might have been. She should have been there, should have noticed something was off days ago. Should have seen it coming.
It isn’t exactly out of character for her sister to pull a stunt like this, extreme as this example may be, and if anyone knows April well enough to predict her reaction to Maia's visions, it’s her. She could have stopped it all, prevented Maia's feelings from getting hurt, both by what April has done and by the need to send her away.
She sees how much it means for Maia to have more family, and the inclusion of April had expanded their family by 50%. The connection between them had been almost instantaneous because she is Maia's one and only aunt. Maybe she'd been slightly jealous of the way her daughter had latched onto April. After all of her effort to forge a comfortable relationship with the young 4400, it had been easy for April. Maia wants April to love her because she needs a wider sense of family, of belonging, something that is denied to her by their solitary existence.
Perhaps Maia’s bond with April would have been less of a problem if she had more friends, but she doesn’t…can’t, really. Exploring that bond is what had led to Maia going along with April's whims and to testing her aunt. She even wonders if Maia has picked that up from her somehow, her need to be certain, to test the waters. For her, it's because she doesn't want to make mistakes. Her mother had always found something to criticize, and April, for all her mistakes, has never seemed to learn any lessons from them. Yet, for some reason, their mother hadn’t been very critical with April, where as Diana had been expected to keep April in check, be the responsible elder sibling, despite the many faults her mother was always pointing out.
The image of herself, back then, had been both ideal and cracked at the edges – their mother had seen something in her that had created high expectations of how she should be in reality, something for her to inspire in April, too. It had never worked. April had never learnt from Diana any more than she had met the expectations of their mother. She'd only been left with a need to do things right, not for her mother but to not fail herself. She had tried to look at problems, situations, every which way and come to a decision that was the most practical, least damaging. It was what had gotten her so far in her career; she had a sharp mind and a clear sense of what was needed.
But she's never had that same clarity when dealing with people. She wishes she’d known herself better, back before she and April had gone their separate ways, but it has taken distance to see what their parents had done to them. The alternating elevation of each of them by their parents had led to them resenting each other. One day, Diana would be the example held high, an organised dedicated young woman, and the next, April would be the beautiful, creative wonder. Any glory had been short-lived; their parents’ love and attentions had been fickle in the way they switched the limelight, leaving the other child not just out in the cold but being told they should aspire to be more like their sister.
Only now, more than ten years later, has she finally perceived their mother’s legacy. She doesn't mourn her lack of family; she's detached herself from caring about people because, comparatively, it seems safer – relationships of any kind had never gone well, even after she'd moved from her parents. Living alone had been working for her, until Maia.
By now, she's practically forgotten why she'd strived to be so perfect. She'd wanted that feeling of being loved, just like Maia does, and she'd done everything she could to get approval. But unlike Maia, she had never questioned it, never tested if her mother could ever be satisfied. Now, she questions everything, as if to make up for her earlier naiveté – to ensure no one can hurt her again like her mother had. But even now, as an adult, she's carrying on just the same as she had long ago, not remembering that she can't account for everything.
She hadn't seen what April was doing, but she should know it's not possible to catch everything - mistakes will always be made. Pain can't be dodged by planning and careful consideration. It catches you unaware, and hits you squarely where it hurts. That will never change, but she should have seen that things would go sideways eventually, especially with April around – and yet, somehow, she can't quite cope with it right now. Their mistakes, all three of them, are a blow to her. She needs to rethink a lot of things because it's long overdue. She's been avoiding her family baggage for years, probably longer than April has, and she knows she needs to put the lid on the coffin and bury it like she should have when their mother died. But it will take time, and that's why April has to go away, why Maia's forgiveness of her changes nothing.
It's Diana who needs to forgive, and forgiving April is just one step. Her pain runs deeper, this latest event cutting further than she can deal with, right back to the start of it all. It had been her mother’s fault, not hers, but she's been living apologetically for years, trying to meet standards that had never won her anything in the first place. Her mother wouldn’t apologize now, even if she was still alive to do so, but Diana forgives her because it does no good to hate the dead. The hardest part will be forgiving herself. It’s something she had never been taught and has yet to learn, another step much farther down the path. Her mother wouldn't be proud, but these days it doesn't matter to her – she's proud of herself, and there's no shame in that anymore.