Flames flickered on Sarah’s back and down her arms as she followed Barbara to the police station. She took Barbara’s hand and held it tight. She kept hoping that the young woman would change her mind.
Then, she wondered if that was the right thing to hope for. Shouldn’t she be hoping for her parents? Hope that they were looking for her? Hope that they would want her, love her, accept her just as she was? After all, they were her parents.
It was a strange word and an almost foreign concept. She wasn’t even sure how she would ask Barbara about it. What would be the right hand gesture to represent him and her? Mother and father.
Her mother and her father.
Would she remember them if she saw their faces and heard their voices? Would all of those lost memories come rushing back?
Or would they always be mysteries to her?
Always strangers with no shared past.
Carthage’s headache pounded without mercy as he walked towards the police station. He tried to walk with his eyes closed, but that didn’t work out too well. He wound up walking into a parked police car.
He opened his eyes. “Tch.” He kicked the closest tire and stubbed his big toe. “Ah! Darn it!”
Carthage hobbled towards the police station, only to stop short.
A woman with honey-blonde hair and a small girl with dirt-blonde hair walked up to the police station’s front door.
His mouth dropped open.
It can’t be her.
They opened the door.
He took a deep breath and yelled, “XQ! STOP!”
XQ stopped. She looked up at Barbara with wild, frightened eyes.
Barbara looked back. She gasped softly as she recognized the man running towards them. He was not wearing a furry gray suit. Just black slacks with a gray turtleneck. But she recognized him.
“Sarah, go inside. I’ll distract him.”
Sarah tugged on her sleeve.
Barbara looked down at her.
The small girl sadly shook her head.
“What? What is it? What’s—-
“XQ!” He stopped behind them. “My XQ. My…” He knelt and held out his arms. “My little XQ. Please come with me.”
Sarah transformed into XQ, but she did not move.
“No.” Barbara said. “You stay away from her. You have no right to—-”
He stood and glared at her. “No right? What do you know? She is who and what she is because of me. I created her. I turned her into this wondrous creature of flames.”
“That doesn’t make her yours.”
“True, but I am her father. That makes her mine.”