Susan sat by Butterfly-a-saurus with a small frown. She was getting tired of being left outside of Boston to just sit and wait, but logic and reason kept her there. She didn't want to leave, but Doc was right; she had no business trying to navigate through the sandwiched city. She sighed and let her mad expression go.
"Fine," Susan said. "But if you need any help, or reassurance, or… anything, call me, okay?"
Dr. Cockroach paused at putting his fedora and looked up at his friend. As nervous as he was, it suddenly dawned on him how much she was doing for him. If it wasn't for Ginormica pushing him so hard, the good doctor would have never even known he had a family out there.
He held his hat in front of him and looked up at her. "Susan, I never really thanked you for all you're doing to help me, so… well, thank you."
Susan was taken back for a moment, but then smiled. "I'm happy to do whatever I can to help you. You did the same for me once."
Dr. Cockroach laughed and said, "I remember. I remember when I first saw you, I knew you had to be terrified."
Susan shrugged and cringed at the same time, remembering her first day in prison, as well. She, in her opinion, felt she had over-exaggerated now that she knew just how scary the whole thing was. It was almost like looking back at a stupid thing she said in kindergarten: naive and embarrassing.
"When I first arrived," Dr. Cockroach began to explain. "All I had was a giant grub, a fish-man with a huge ego, and my failure hanging over my shoulders to help me cope."
Susan wasn't sure if it was meant to be a joke or not, so she settled for given a small smile and letting her friend talk.
"I wanted to make sure it didn't take you years to adjust fully, that you knew you had friends beside you." Dr. Cockroach shrugged and looked down at the hat in his hands, messing with the rim. "Seems like you figured that out relatively quickly."
"I wouldn't have without you." Susan said and patted the doctor gently on the head. His antennae drooped beneath the giant woman's palm and his knees buckled slightly, but it was a gentle, king, harmless gesture. "And I know I've been hyperactive this whole time, but it's only because I'm so happy for you. You deserve everything good that comes your way, and I want you to have that."
Dr. Cockroach looked back up at his friend to smile back at her. He nodded and said, "Thank you."
He put his fedora back on and turned around, looking out at Boston and the road he had to walk down to get there. He took his first step and started to leave the female monsters behind. The road winded and twisted away from the little hill they sat on, and when he turned back to catch another glace, Susan waved to him. Dr. Cockroach waved back and checked that his collar was popped-up and straight as he started to walk again.
Butterfly-a-saurus was laying on her side and napping from the minute she landed on Massechutess land. Susan heard her peaceful, deep breathing and chuckled under her breath. She began to nod off, and decided that a quick nap wouldn't hurt her.
Cynthia walked down the hall to her office and pasted by the secretary.
"Mrs. Newman, your next patient is already in your room."
Cynthia nodded and checked the clipboard on the front desk. "Right. Mr. Murphy. Two o'clock. And I'm not scheduled for anymore clients today, correct?"
"Thank you, Mary." Cynthia said and put the board down.
She walked down three doors and found her name on one of them. She opened it and first saw her desk, as usual, in front of her huge bookshelf. To the right, was a big window with a nice view of Boston, a couch, and an armchair. Sitting on the couch, head low and hands entangled, was a man wearing a trench coat with his collar popped up and a fedora low on his head.
When the doctor first heard the door open, he lifted his eyes up as much as he risked to look at his daughter. She looked so much like him when he was a human, but he could tell she had her mother's spirit. Her smile matched her mother's, but she had hazel eyes like his and dark hair like his. It bounced in tight curls, which were pinned up in a loose bun. She was beautiful and perfect, and his heart thumped loudly against his chest, it rang in his ears. He lowered his head just enough to hide his face.
Now, this wasn't the first time a patient had hidden themselves like this. Teenagers come in with lowered hoods, some adults with hats or coats. Cynthia was flexible and knew, with time, this one would come to show his face, just like the others had. As a psychologists, she looked for the little things in people; she noticed how this man (she assumed was a man, not a woman) held his hands together, a good guess that he would not want to shake hands with her, so she did not offer the gesture, instead settled on greeting him with a kind voice and listening ears.
"Welcome, Mr. Murphy." Dr. Newman said as she sat down in the armchair. "How are you doing today?"
"I'm very well, madam." The man said in a low voice. (Yes, definitely a man.) "How are you?"
Cynthia now also knew that though his stranger is shy, hidden, and secretive, he is also polite. He's not just a trouble soul, but one with a heart. She smiled and said honestly,
"Just fine, sir, thank you." She clicked her pen and looked at the man (or rather his hat). "So, let's get right into it; what would you like to talk about?"
What did he want to talk about? Speaking only the truth, he wanted to talk about Cynthia. He wanted to talk about her life, her likes and dislikes, how she met her husband. He wanted to talk about his grandchildren and what they were like. He wanted to talk about Diana. But, of course, he couldn't say that, so he racked his brain on what to answer instead.
"What should we talk about?"
Dr. Newman smiled and dismissed the question as nervousness, perhaps a fear of messing the first session up. "Whatever you wish. This is a safe place, you can say whatever you want to here."
Oh, if only he could. He felt like a child confused about how to play chess, and it was his turn to move. Luckily his opponent appeared to be very patient and kind, so he took his time to lower his chances of ruining everything.
Dr. Newman cleared her throat to try to do so with the air. "How about the weather? Very rainy for May, isn't it?"
"I'm relatively new here." The man said. "I assumed it was a Boston thing."
Cynthia laughed. "We do get a lot of rain in the spring, but you should see the fall! The colors are beautiful and the park is breathtaking."
Dr. Cockroach smiled at hearing his daughter laugh for the first time. He'd give his life to hear it again.
"I've always loved the park." He admitted quietly. He hesitated, but then decided to add, "My wife and I, we would roam the park and talk for hours. It felt like it was just me and her alone in the world."
Cynthia wrote something down on her clipboard, but she was smiling nevertheless. "That's very nice. Do you continue to do so?"
Dr. Newman was clever enough to guess that the wife was no longer in the picture, by the tone of his voice or the words he used, but she had to ask to get her patient to say it. He may be in denial of a horrible death. She had to get the man to tell her the problem, not solely rely on her detective skills.
The fedora turned side to side as the man's head shook. "No, not for years. She's… she's gone…"
"I'm very sorry, Mr. Murphy." Cynthia said honestly. "It can be very difficult to move on when you've lost someone, especially someone so close to you. Losing a spouse is different than losing anyone else and it can feel like you've lost everything."
Dr. Cockroach nodded carefully as to not show his face. He was beyond proud at how wise and intelligent his daughter was.
"I miss her." He said quietly. "I'm… lonely."
Cynthia nodded. "Do you have any other family, sir?"
The man shook his head again.
Dr. Newman felt incredibly sorry for this man, but kept her composure. "Such an event in life can make it seem like you've disconnect with the world, and that it is impossible to fix it. My job is to help you see that it can be done."
Dr. Cockroach didn't want to talk; he wanted his daughter to talk, but she was waiting for him to speak next. He then decided to try to get her to talk about herself. He wasn't sure if she would, but he could try.
"Have… have you ever lost someone?"
Dr. Newman was not surprised he asked this. People are always looking for people who understand them. They may be quick to label them as incapable of understanding, but they'll keep searching for someone that may have the slightest idea of what they're going through. She decided that she could talk about her own experiences to prove that this man was not alone.
"Sort of." Cynthia admitted. "My father was gone before I was born. Mom always spoke very highly of him, and it hurt every once and awhile. I felt confused, mostly because I didn't understand that it was capable to miss someone you had never even met."
His throat was tight. The turtleneck was never usually an issue, but now he blamed it for the tight feeling at his neck. He couldn't adjust it, in risk of lowering his coat too much and showing his true identity, so he only swallowed as settily as he could and continued to listen.
"But I still had Mom," Cynthia said and smiled, thinking of her childhood. "And we always had fun together. We used to go to the store, by a ton of ice-cream and junk food, come home, and make 'Mad Sundaes'." She told with a laugh, thinking of a specific time in which her mother sprayed whipped cream on Cynthia's nose.
"That sounds like fun." The man said in a muffled voice.
"It was." Cynthia admitted happily. "We'd go to the park and play every Saturday. Mom was my number one cheerleader and helped keep our little family together." Her smile faded at the thought of her mother's condition now, but went on with her tale. "I eventually move out for college and got married, but we still remained close. Now I have a big family and I know it wouldn't have been possible without her."
Dr. Cockroach wanted to know more about his grandchildren. "You have children?"
Dr. Newman nodded and gestured to a family photo on her desk. "I do indeed. My eldest, Jade, and my wild boys, David, Daniel and Dave."
Dr. Cockroach looked at the picture and saw the family all wearing some form of grey. The women wore grey dresses and the men grey sweaters-vests, but each man wore a different colored undershirt and the women's dresses were different. Cynthia's was tight and long-sleeved, while Jade's was loose and short-sleeve. Will wore black, Daniel wore navy-blue, David wore crimson-red, and Dale wore emerald-green.
"You have a wonderful family, madam." Dr. Cockroach said, still staring at their shared family.
"Thank you, Mr. Murphy." Cynthia said sweetly. "Dale - the one in green - is an athlete and has played soccer, baseball, football, and even joined a swimming and bowling team at one point. Daniel - the one wearing blue - actually won a scholarship to go to Florida and study oceanology. He's hoping to work on rebuilding coral reefs and cut down on pollution. And David - the long-haired boy in red - is the trooper in the family. He barely made it in the incu, but managed to pull through and now wants to be an artist. I have one of his paintings there."
She pointed to a portrait of herself on the wall behind her, in front of her patient, and Dr. Cockroach observed how detailed and good it was for a man not yet out of high school.
"Very impressive, madam." The man complimented. "And… I'm very sorry about your father."
It was true. Dr. Cockroach was immensely sorry.
Cynthia shrugged. It had been awhile since she's thought of him, not since her mother asked who she had married. She wasn't mad, but there were too many unanswered questions.
"Like I said, Mom spoke very highly of him." She said. "She told me he was a scientist and often performed his own experiments. She never could tell me what happened to him, but…" She wondered if it was safe to tell this stranger the next part. Yes, why not? "I've often guessed that he was killed through his studies."
"And… what did he study?"
It took Cynthia a moment to remember what he actually studied. They met at a hospital, but he wasn't a normal doctor. He didn't practice medical treatments necessarily. What was it…?
"I think it was human biology." Cynthia said slowly. "He… he was worried about a nuclear war destroying everything. He might have been studying radiation, but… I don't know for sure…"
Do it now. Before she can change the subject.
"You're right." The man said.
Cynthia looked at the man and was surprised for the first time this entire therapy session. Odd, that he would confirm that Cynthia's father, a man neither of them had ever met, was a scientist that was taken down by his own research. Perhaps he was just agreeing with her, but the tone in his voice was so sure…
"He was afraid of losing everything in one fell-swoop." The man added. "He was afraid of everyone he loved being destroyed, so he tried to find a way to make it indestructible. He wanted to find a loophole in a world where everything was so unsure and secretive, and in the process, he destroyed everything."
Such bold talk from someone so quiet and shy. His voice was still small and unconfident, but his choice of words were peculiar and Cynthia tried to handle this the best way possible.
"I wouldn't say he destroyed everything." She said carefully.
"I'd say so." The man said flatly. "He left his family behind and was blinded by his intelligence and over-confidence."
"Now, hold on, sir." Cynthia said firmly to make the man stop insulting his father like that. "My father made a mistake. He didn't run away or abandon his family, he tried to help us. People make mistakes all the time, what we must chose is how we react to them."
Maybe that was it! Did the wife commit suicide and this man was having trouble forgiving her? Or did someone else gravely wrong this man? It became clearer that this man struggled with forgiveness, and if demonstrating it was the best way to show him how, so be it.
"And what did you chose?" The man asked in a cracked voice.
"I chose to forgive him." Cynthia answered. "No matter what happened to him, he's still my father, and I love him."
The man held his head and his shoulders moved up and down, like he was taking longer, deeper breaths. Cynthia leaned over in her chair, ready to start rubbing his back in necessary.
"I'm… very glad… I'm really happy to hear you say that, my dear." He said thickly.
He lifted his head and was level with a big pair of hazel eyes that matched her own perfectly. Her mouth opened as she saw the man's eyes were filled with tears, but they looked so much like her's! It was unsettling, she shouldn't dare to hope. And yet…
Dr. Cockroach only stared back at her. How much could she see? Whatever she saw, it was not enough to make her scream or run, not even dart her eyes to the nearest phone to call the police if needed. His heart was hammering now and his eyes stinged like chlorine was in them, but he needed to keep going. He needed her to know that he loved her. He was ready to move his hand up to his hat, but Cynthia acted first.
What should he do next? Should he say it, take off his disguise, deny it and run? With his throat too tight to speak and wanting nothing more than for her to know, he nodded.
Cynthia only blinked to reveal hazel eyes with tears; now their eyes were truly matching. She reached for his hand and grabbed it. His skin was rough, but warm. She looked down at it to find it red and hard. Had he experienced a horrible burn? It looked like it. Cynthia rubbed the top of his hand with her thumb and looked back up at him. His eyes were locked on their hands.
He sighed and lifted his free hand to his hat. He pulled it away.
Cynthia's eyes widen, but she held her breath. She hardly moved, like a statue. Ironically, this did not ease Dr. Cockroach's nerves. He was stunned that she didn't run or scream or… anything! Not doing anything was almost as scary as doing something. He wondered if he had caused his daughter to go into shock.
Cynthia then blinked, breathed, and let go of Dr. Cockroach's hand. She didn't jerk it away, but merely let go to stand up. His heart skipped a beat, afraid she'd run away or for the phone to call for help, but no. Instead she walked to the blinds of the wall-sized window behind her father and closed the blinds on his right, hiding the view of the city. She then crossed by the couch and closed the other half of the blinds.
The room was now very dark, apart from a glowing lamp from the desk and the sunlight that crept in through the cracks. Did she not want to look at him?
Dr. Cockroach never took his eyes off his daughter. He watched her come to his left-side, sit down, and look down at her hands, which were trembling. He didn't know want to do. He only looked at her, waiting for what she would chose to do. Cynthia's bottom lip quivered, and then she hugged her long-lost father tightly like her life depended on it.
Her hands grabbed his trench-coat. She buried her face into his shoulder, breathing in his scent and feeling his heartbeat against her chest. A single tear fell onto his clothing and did not reach his thick skin.
He was beyond blessed. He was passed shocked. He hugged her daughter back and laid one hand on her curls and the other by her shoulders. He closed his eyes and felt like it was just the two of them, alone in the world together.