Prodigal Daughter

Part One: Random Thoughts


1) This story is set in the Wormverse, which is owned by Wildbow. Thanks for letting me use it.

2) I will follow canon as closely as I can. If I find something that canon does not cover, I will make stuff up. If canon then refutes me, I will revise. Do not bother me with fanon; corrections require citations.

3) I will accept any legitimate criticism of my work. However, I reserve the right to ignore anyone who says "That's wrong" without showing how it is wrong, and suggesting how it can be made right. Posting negative reviews from an anonymous account is a good way to have said reviews deleted.

[A/N: This is definitely an AU. A few dates and names have been changed around. You can pretty well figure out what's going on.]

[A/N 2: This fic beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]

[A/N 3: I wasn't going to write this, but it's Christmas.]

I wonder if other people ever look in the mirror and wonder who their real parents are?

I used to.

I knew who my real mom was, of course. But she's dead now. I can see her every time I look in the mirror. Mostly, anyway. I've got her hair and cheekbones, but I've got my father's eyes.

Which aren't the same as Dad's eyes. He's got brown eyes, while my mom's were more hazel. Mine are pale blue, like winter ice. Dad needs glasses, too, but I don't.

Dad's tall and skinny, with dark hair, though he's starting to go bald. My hair's dark, too. So was my mom's. My father's was as well.

Mom was tall and skinny too, and I take after her, so people don't usually wonder if Dad is my real father. It's not totally unheard of for two people with brown eyes to have a blue-eyed baby, but I'm pretty sure I know what it means.

Of course, I couldn't talk to Dad about it. How do you even ask that sort of question, anyway? Excuse me, but do you know who my real father was?

This isn't to say that I spent all my childhood obsessing over who got Mom pregnant back in the day. Dad did a reasonable job of being a dad, and Mom was a wonderful mom, so I had it pretty good. I didn't daydream about having my real father swoop in and take me away to a better life … well, much, anyway. Though I sometimes wondered what Legend's real eye colour was, at least until I found out he was gay. I didn't wonder about Eidolon. He's cool and all, but not in a 'perfect dad' sort of way.

So I grew up and had friends and went to school and did all the things that kids do. Well … mostly. A lot of the time, I just liked to watch people. Not in an "I find them fascinating" way, but more in a "bugs under a microscope" way. Where everyone else obsessed over what Johnny was thinking when he did that, or what Raylee thought of them, I kind of just … knew. It wasn't a cape power. Well, at first I didn't know, but after I watched them for a while, I had it figured out. For the most part, it's because people are idiots. Predictable idiots, at that. Most of them can't fit two thoughts in their head at the same time.

After a while, this kind of made people boring to me. I couldn't get into a conversation without knowing what they wanted to talk about, and how it would play out. It was honestly a lot more interesting to curl up with a book, because in a book I only knew what the book wanted to tell me, when it told me.

I still had friends … well, one friend. Emma was pretty cool. Her dad was richer than mine, but she didn't mind sharing her stuff with me. This was kinda because her dad and my dad had been friends like forever, and partly because she felt sorry for me that I didn't have any other friends. I didn't mind, and it was nice having someone to talk to that wasn't me. Really, I agreed with myself all the time, and Mom had always told me it was a good idea to find people who didn't agree, so I could find out what they thought about stuff.

So yeah, I was pretty happy. Right up until Mom died.

When that happened, a small part of me died along with her. Dad died a little bit as well. He kind of went away for a while, which meant that I lost both of my parents right then. Losing Mom hurt more than losing Dad. I'd like to say this was because I knew Dad would come back, but deep down I knew better. Dad's not my real father, my secret thoughts went, not really. But I never admitted, even to myself, that I don't love Dad as much as I loved Mom. I'm not even admitting it now. Honest.

Things got shitty then. Until Dad remembered how to be a Dad again—let's be honest, he had to first remember how to be a human being again—I had to go over to Emma's parents so I could eat from one day to the next. Emma was really sympathetic, which reminded me why having friends and associating with people was actually a good thing. I even cried a bit, a couple of times.

Dad came around, eventually, but he was never really the same after. Which meant that he didn't really take notice when Emma … but I'm getting ahead of myself.

He started being a dad again, but we weren't as close anymore. I had to take care of myself more often, which wasn't so much of a hassle, because I was already used to doing that. He didn't even notice when I started taking walks at night. I didn't know why. I just felt that the walls were closing in on me, and I had to get out under the open sky. Not that I was stupid about it. I carried a short iron bar with me to start, then when some Merchant kids tried to rob me, I broke one boy's wrist and another boy's arm and when the last one tried to kick me, I broke his kneecaps and his shoulder. The other guys ran off but kneecap-guy didn't, so I took his knife, and the knives the other two had dropped. I thought about killing him, but I decided not to. My first kill needed to be important. To matter.

Knives felt much more natural to carry than iron bars, and they were a lot lighter, too. I started spending time down in the basement with illustrated books on how to fight with knives, practising the moves. It's amazing what you can buy online, these days.

But I still felt restless, so between bouts of stabbing my practice dummy (old shirts and sheets wrapped around two brooms tied together), I started to organise the basement. There were a lot of boxes down here, a lot of them Mom's old stuff. There was no way Dad was even going to touch the stuff, which I thought was stupid. Bugs would get in and ruin it and we'd lose it all anyway.

Maybe he wanted it to happen that way. I never thought of that till just now. Huh.

I didn't really have a plan when I started going through the boxes. Mom had talked about how she'd been a Lustrum follower back before she started going out with Dad, so I wondered if she had any souvenirs of those days. Lustrum had gone to the Birdcage after her followers started attacking men. Had Mom been in on that? I knew I didn't really relate to most people too good, not like I did with Emma. If she was like that too when she was younger, maybe she'd left something for me to learn how to be like normal people. Or at least, act more like it.

If nothing else, maybe she'd left behind a minion costume or something. That would've been kind of awesome, actually.

I don't hate men. I don't hate anyone. There isn't room in my brain for that kind of emotion. But it might've given me some kind of structure to base my life around. Instead, I found something totally different. I'm still working out if it's awesome or not.

September 8, 1994

Dear Diary.

Holy shit. My mom was actually the type of person who wrote 'dear diary'. I had to take a moment to recover from that. Then I kept reading.

I'm alive. I have to keep repeating that to myself. I've thought so many times over the last twenty-four hours that I was going to die, that I'd never see Mom or Dad or Danny again, but I'm alive.

Okay, now I was intrigued.

Butcher and the Teeth are gone from Brockton Bay. He'll be going soon too, I hope. Taking his people with him. Taking the Nine.

I had to read through that one a few times, until it sank in. My mom was talking about Jack Slash, of the Slaughterhouse Nine. There was nobody else 'he' could be.

Mom knew Jack Slash.

Mom knew Jack Slash.

Holy motherfucking shitballs.

Danny can never know what happened. It was so sudden. He was there, and I was there, and I thought I was going to die at any moment. It's amazing what goes through your head at a time like this.

Um … fucking what?

I don't even know why he saved my life. He could've let the Teeth kill me. But while the shots were smashing in through the window of the cafe and I was screaming and the broken glass was raining all around us, he grabbed me and pulled me down into the basement. A basement I hadn't even known was there.

Is she talking about Jack Slash? Did the most murderhoboish of murderhobos save my mother's life?

And we lay there, side by side, while they tromped around above us. And I held him so tightly. I was so terrified. He was just someone warm to hold on to. All I could feel was his arms and his heartbeat. I don't even know who kissed who first.

What … the … fuck?

I thought I was going to die at any second. You get crazy at a time like that. We didn't even get all the way undressed. Just far enough. And then we just … did it.

Oh, no. No. Fucking. Way.

And then just as we were finishing, the cavalry arrived and chased the Teeth off. Well, the Nine, anyway. He zipped up and kissed me, then made a 'ssh' motion. I stayed quiet while he climbed back upstairs and closed the trapdoor behind him.

Mom made it with Jack Slash? I had no idea what to think about that.

I'm alive. I'm glad I survived, but what happened between us ... it should never have happened.

That was when I had to put the diary down for a moment, and go attack the practice dummy for a bit. That was huge. I mean, mega-fuckballs huge. It was taking me all my time to assimilate it, and I'd spent an hour last semester planning how I could sneak into the houses of everyone in my class and murder them in their sleep so I could get top marks without trying. That didn't bother me at all. I mean, I never was going to do it, but I could have, and that didn't concern me at all. This was bothering me big time.

The worst bit was, I couldn't tell anyone. There was nobody I could tell. I could just imagine trying to talk to Dad on the matter. Hey Dad, guess what? Mom fucked Jack Slash, and I'm his kid. Yeah, that'd go down as well as Behemoth crashing a baby shower. If Mom was still around I might have tried to talk to her about it, but … yeah, nope. Unless going to her gravesite and yelling at a chunk of granite had ever done anyone any good … didn't think so.

About the only other person I could think of to talk to about it was Emma. Would Emma understand? She seemed to understand everything else about me. But would she be on board with me being Jack Slash's illegitimate offspring? Would she scream and run, or ask me for an autograph, or say something like 'yeah, right'?

Maybe there was something more, I decided. I wanted to get the full story before I said anything to anyone. So I started looking through more of her diaries. I learned a hell of a lot about her that I hadn't before, some of which I didn't want to know. She was a lot more graphic about describing the way she had sex with Dad, which I really didn't want to know about.

But then I managed to find some more, starting about a year later.

August 19, 1995

Dear Diary.

Welp, she still hadn't shaken that habit. Oh, well.

He's back. The others aren't with him. He's dyed his beard and mustache as a disguise, but I recognized him straight away.

Okay, 'he'? I'm wondering, here …

I was out shopping and he just stepped up beside me and started chatting, like we were old friends who spoke every day. Then he asked me about Taylor. I had to tell him.

Holy shit. Wait one turtle-fucking second. Jack Slash asked about me? I had to put the book down for a moment. To my astonishment, my heart rate was up. Wow. Like, wow. I never got excited over anything.

He sounded pleased, especially about how I'd named her after him. He wanted to see her. I was terrified he'd want to take her away, but what choice did I have?

I blinked. My middle name was Jacqueline. Mom had always told Dad and me that it was the name of a friend who'd died when she was just a child.

That was a lie?

She'd thought so much about him that she gave me his name?

Son of a horny hairy goatfucker. I was going to be running out of swearwords at this rate.

I brought Taylor out to see him. She was so tiny, only a couple of months old. The sunlight in her eyes made her screw her face up. He made a soft noise, then he poked his thumb with a knife and brushed it over her forehead. I couldn't help but think he was branding her with his mark.

I couldn't help it. I reached up and rubbed my forehead. I don't know what I was expecting to find. There wasn't anything there, of course.

He said he'd be back when he could, and to tell him if Danny treated me or Taylor badly. I said that he wasn't, that he was being a really excellent father, even though neither of us had really expected the pregnancy.

I had to snort at that. I bet.

I hope he never returns, but if he knows I'm taking care of her, then he won't attack Brockton Bay.

I hope.

The diaries continued onward. 'He' showed up every few days, then every week, then once or twice a month, for maybe two years. The last entry was when I was two and a half. There was even a faded Polaroid of Mom and a very young me, and someone who could've been Jack Slash, all smiling (or in my case, gurgling) at the camera.

Well, holy shit. That was proof, or as much proof as I thought I was ever gonna get. I put the diary back where I'd found it, slipped the photo into an old envelope, then took it upstairs in my pocket.

Dad was making dinner, which turned out to be mac and cheese. I reminded myself that he was stretched pretty thin at the moment, what with the Dockworkers being strapped for cash. "So, hey," I said. "Could I maybe go over to Emma's for a sleepover Saturday night?"

Emma and I did sleepovers every now and again. It wasn't a huge thing for me, but it was for her. She liked to do makeovers on me, and show me how to do makeup that brought my eyes out. We'd dress up in her clothing, and laugh like idiots at how they hung off of me—well, she'd laugh, and I'd smile a bit—and then we'd watch stupid shows on TV and stay awake way too late. Stuff that friends did. I could see now that she thought I was unhappy and she was trying to cheer me up, but she was wrong. I was happy, or at least as happy as I was ever going to get.

This time round, I had an ulterior motive for initiating the sleepover. With that photo, I could tell Emma and even prove it. My reaction to finding out had been pretty extreme for me, and I wanted to see what it would look like on a normal person.

"Shit, sorry, Taylor," said Dad, looking anxiously at me. "I know you love to go over to Emma's, but we had that summer camp organised for you, remember? Starts on Saturday morning, goes for a month?"

And of course, now I remembered it. I'd asked to go, not to get away from Emma, but to get away from people. To get out into the great outdoors, where I could walk into the woods and be totally alone and think my thoughts, and be myself, and if someone happened to push me too far and I had to kill them, I could hide the body a lot more easily.

Not that I wanted to kill anyone.

I still wanted my first kill to be important, after all.

So I put together a smile on my face to show Dad that it was cool, that I didn't mind.

And I really don't.

It'll only be a month, after all. And then I'll be back. And I can tell Emma all about Jack Slash being my real father.

And the look on her face is gonna be amazing.

End of Part One