Love. The word is hard to say. At least, to him that is. Vulnerability. Loss. The four letters weigh heavy on his tongue, choking him whenever he tries to utter them. He can't say it. As much as he may like to, it's too hard. The effort. The thought. It tires him. And he regrets it, he does, but he can't help it. But when he looks into her eyes, sees the adoration melted into those dark brown irises, he fights himself. But until that day he can clearly utter it, he shows her as best he can.
Three meals a day. He always makes sure she has something good to eat. Sometimes he makes something decent and healthy. That is when he has the time and money to go to the farmer's market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Other times there are frozen dinners, those being easy to heat up when they plan to consume whilst watching an episode of The Simpsons or something else. He can cook macaroni and cheese. From a box that is. And on most days he packs her lunch-thank god for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But he makes sure she always eat. That she never goes hungry. Even if her favorite crappy, over sugary cereal costs him an arm and a leg...and the claws on said lost arm.
So she has healing powers. Yeah, he knows that. But god be damned that he isn't going to make sure she has annual check ups and dental appointments. Mutant or not, she was still a kid. His kid. And though he'd never admit it, he finds relief with every vaccine she gets. One less thing to worry about. One less illness. Even though she jabs him with her damn foot claw every time she gets a needle in her arm. She hates those. Well, at least heroin would be out of the question. No drugs. Hopefully.
He had spent a crap ton of money on doing her room. Making it perfect. Lavender paint. Butterfly sticker-things. Purple bedspread. More stuffed animals he could even count-or remember where the hell he had gotten them from in the first place. But it was her space. All of it was. And even though he might have not had enough left to decor his own space, having her happy made it all worth it.
He watches her sometimes when she's asleep. Why, he's not sure. Maybe it gives him the relief that she's safe. That she won't disappear when he blinks his eyes. That she's here. Real. His. And sometimes there comes a moment. A rare moment where he finds the strength to whisper the words. The three worded phrase Laura deserves to hear so, so much.
"I love you."
And as he turns away, leaving the sight of his daughter, he misses the small smile that crosses the girl's face.
"I love you too, daddy."