Summary: A young Wendy Watson's father is called away to business in the middle of the night. A DC-3 goes down under mysterious and as-yet unexplained circumstances.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. That honor falls to the brilliant Javier Grillo-Marxuach and the good people at ABC Family (who we should be politely if insistently entreating for a second season).
Feedback: Most writers are shameless feedback-sluts, and I'm no exception.
Mom and Dad were arguing again. Wendy sighed and pulled a pillow over her head, but it only half-muffled their angry voices in the next room.
"Peter, it's not safe!"
"Damn it, Dee, it may not be safe, but it's necessary! What do you want me to do? Ignore this?"
"I didn't say that. I just…"
There was a long silence, and then her father's voice again, softer and pitched to comfort. She moved the pillow away from her ears so she could hear.
"David will have my back. He's never let me down before; I don't expect him to start now."
"Fine, I'll pack your overnight bag. You can tell Wendy why you're missing the Art Fair at school tomorrow."
"It's late. She'll be sleeping."
"When does Wendy ever go to sleep when we send her to bed? She's probably in there with her colored pencils and a flashlight under the sheets."
Wendy quickly flipped off her flashlight, moving it, her pencils, and her sketchpad underneath the bed as she heard her father's footsteps in the hallway.
"Wendy?" he asked quietly, tapping on her door. "You awake, Princess?"
"Yeah, Dad," she answered, feigning a yawn.
Peter entered the room, obviously not taken in. He smiled and shook his head, walking to her bed and staring down at her with the kind of affection that made a girl feel warm all over.
"Show me what you were drawing," he directed.
She rolled over and reached under her bed, withdrawing the sketchpad and passing it up to him. "Siberian Husky? Nice."
"It's supposed to be a werewolf," she informed him, crossing her arms over her chest.
Peter gave her a tolerant smile. "I suppose that would explain the red eyes and humanoid shadow," he agreed, putting the pad down on her nightstand and sitting down next to her. "Where'd you get the idea for this one, Wendy?"
She shrugged. There had been a few disappearances in the past few months, always right around the full moon. And enormous dog tracks near NCO Housing, even though her friend Brian, whose dad was a vet, said that there was no one on base with a registered dog big enough to leave those tracks. A werewolf only made sense. Try telling that to an adult, though. They didn't believe anything they couldn't see with their own eyes.
"This is about that feral dog, isn't it?" he asked, ruffling her hair affectionately. "I thought I told you not to worry about that."
"You worry about it," she pointed out. "You never used to make me come inside before the moon rose."
"In which respect, your mother rightly pointed out, I was remiss. You mind, now. I don't want you going out after dusk until this situation settles down."
"I know, Dad. I have to wait until no one's gone missing for two months, lunar not calendar, and until the footprints stop turning up."
"Good girl. You remember that," he told her. "You're too talented an artist to be kidnapped and raised by wolves, hmm?"
She grinned and nodded. "I promise, Dad."
He reached into his bathrobe pocket, pulling out his lucky lighter and absently fidgeting with it as was his way. He stared at it in silence for several minutes.
"So, you aren't going to be at the Art Fair?" she asked finally when he seemed unable to broach the subject himself.
"Princess, I'm so sorry…" He shook his head. "If there was any way I could pass this mission off to someone else, I would in a heartbeat." He regarded her uncertainly. "You believe me?"
"'Course I do, Dad. What are you going to do?"
"Just saving the world again. No big deal." He shook his head.
"You look sad."
"I love my job, but I hate having to leave my family on such short notice all the time."
"We do okay," she reassured him. "And it's always so nice when you come home from one of your assignments."
He broke into a wide smile, ruffling her hair again until she squealed in protest.
"Peter!" her mom called through the bedroom wall, amusement evident in her tone. "You're not going to make it any easier for her to get to sleep at a decent hour that way!"
"Sorry, Delores!" he called back, before turning his attention back to Wendy. "I'm a lucky man, having you two for my family."
"When do you have to leave?" Wendy asked.
"David's coming to pick me up in about fifteen minutes. I just needed to say goodbye to my Princess."
"Bye, Daddy." She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Stay safe."
"Always. That's how I get to keep coming back to you and your mom. Never going to let that change. Believe me?" he asked, engulfing her in a bear-hug.
"Mmm hmm," she mumbled into his chest.
When he let her go, he pushed something into her hand. "Here, Wendy. I need you to keep this safe for me for the next few days."
Wendy stared down at the lighter with wide eyes. "But, Dad. You need this. It's your lucky lighter."
"I know. That's why I want you to have it for the Art Fair. Even if I can't be there, this way I kind of am. Make sense? As long as you've got that, you've got a piece of your Old Man. So you take care of it for me."
"I will," she promised.
He smiled and nodded. "Good girl. And, for the record, this in no way constitutes permission to smoke ever in your life. Now get some sleep."
"Yes, Daddy." Wendy lay back and placed the lucky lighter on her nightstand next to her sketchpad.
"You mind if I take this?" her father asked, gesturing to the picture. "I don't have any of your recent work at the office."
"Just a second." Wendy retrieved her colored pencils and quickly shaded and redefined the shadow in two or three places that had been bothering her. "There, that's better," she announced, handing it to him.
"Thanks, Princess. This is going up with the others." He kissed her forehead. "Now get some rest. You have a long day tomorrow."
"Night, Dad," she yawned, laying down again.
Wendy closed her eyes as he turned out the lights, but opened them again the second he had closed the door. She sat up and picked up his lighter, flipping it open and striking the wheel. She had always been fascinated by the lighter, but her mother didn't like her to play with it. She flipped the lid shut to smother the flame when she heard her mother walk past her bedroom door, but Mom was only headed downstairs. Wendy crept to the door and nudged it open just enough to hear what was going on.
"I'll make tea," Delores was telling Peter.
Wendy dropped onto all fours and crept towards the stairs, peeking out through the railing.
"You're a lifesaver, Delores. The Kid says it's bad this time."
"Yeah, well what else is new?" she retorted, dropping his duffle bag onto the couch and walking into the kitchen.
"Come on, Delores, don't be angry."
"I'm not angry, just worried. Like always."
"You know, most of the time saving the world isn't nearly as dangerous as it sounds."
"I'll bear that in mind. Where's that apprentice of yours anyway?"
"He'll be here." As if on cue, there was a knock on the front door. "See?"
"Pete, you ready?" a new voice asked.
Wendy tried to make herself small, but was too curious to draw back completely. That was David, her father's driver: a man in his late thirties who her father generally referred to as 'Kid', despite their similarity in age.
"Yeah. When's our plane leave?"
"Two hours. That was the quickest the Paranoid Android could fix us up."
"Well, it's not bad. Delores is making tea. Have a seat. Timing's good, at least," he said. "It's another week and a half until the next full moon. That should give us plenty of time to resolve this."
"With luck. Always assuming we can get a flight back easily. What we need, Pete, is a private plane. Bet old Marvin could fix us up through her bosses."
"I'll have her put in a requisition when we get back," Peter promised. "Hey, check out what Wendy drew!"
"Oh, my God. Did you tell her--"
"Not a word, Kid. She figured it out on her own."
He laughed. "You'd better watch it, Pete, or your own child's going to be taking over your job one of these days."
"Nah! Unlike us, she's too clever to get into this line of work."
"Ha! Unless she's lacking your sense of adventure, Old Man, she'll be drawn to the middle ground like a fly to honey. And you know it."
"I do. And it worries me." He shrugged. "I won't deny that, Dave." Sighing and shaking his head as Delores returned with the tea, he asked, "How many temporal anomalies are we dealing with, exactly?"
"At least three distinct ones, and that's just in the past few hours. This thing is spiraling."
Peter cursed under his breath, jumping to his feet. "Call the office. We can't wait two hours for a flight out. I don't care what she has to do, we need to be in the air within the next half hour. Dee!"
Wendy's mom emerged from the kitchen into the living room. "I guess this means you have to leave now?"
Peter nodded and drew her into his arms, giving her a quick kiss. "I love you, Dee. Take care of Wendy for me. Get lots of pictures of the Art Fair."
"I will," she promised. "Now keep yourself safe."
"Always," he answered, giving her his favorite cocky grin. He smacked David and the shoulder, grabbing his bag and heading for the door. "Let's roll, Kid."
"Your father is going to be so proud of you, Wendy," her mother told her as they drove back from the Art Fair. "A gold medal for your latest watercolor!"
"Can we call him when we get home?" she asked eagerly.
"Of course we can, darling. I don't know if he'll be able to answer but, if not, we'll leave a message."
"Isn't that the car David drives?" she asked, pointing to a car waiting in their driveway. "Maybe Dad got home early."
"Wait in the car, Wendy."
"Wait in the car!" she ordered, jumping out and running to the porch where David was standing, hands in his pockets.
He spoke to Wendy's mother for a few moments, then pulled her into a hug. Wendy watched with a sinking feeling. Clutching her medal in one hand and her father's lighter in the other, she slid from the car and slowly walked to the porch where her mother stood weeping in the arms of her father's driver.
"Wendy," David greeted her solemnly. "Let's go inside."
"Where's my dad? What happened?"
"His DC-3 went down. We don't have all the details yet."
"I thought you got a chartered flight?"
His eyes narrowed. "There was a last-minute change of plans. Let's go inside," he repeated.
"Come on, Mom," Wendy murmured, taking her mother by the hand and opening the door. "I'll make a pot of tea. Just 'cause his plane's down, that doesn't mean anything. The recovery teams will find him."
"That's the spirit, Wendy," David whispered, following them inside. "Look, is there anyone I can call to come stay with you two? Until we know what's going on? I don't want to leave you and your mom alone."
"My aunt. I'll get her phone number for you."
"Thanks, Wendy. Pete always said you knew how to keep your head in a crisis."
Wendy made tea and kept her mother company until her aunt arrived a few hours later. The whole time, David watched her with a speculative, thoughtful look. Finally, he rose and shook hands with Wendy's mother, giving her another hug. Then he drew Wendy aside and handed her a business-card.
"If either of you need anything at all, you give me a call, okay?"
"That includes if you see any weird dogs around, all right?"
"Full moon's not for another week and I stay inside."
His eyes widened and his voice shook as he told her, "Smart girl. But if you or your mom need anything, ever, you call me. I'll come as soon as I can."
"I'll walk you to your car."
"You don't have to do that," he assured her.
"I want to," she answered, following him outside. "I wanted to ask you without my mom there. What really happened to Dad?"
He closed his eyes, drawing a deep breath. "Wendy, I'm sorry. I can't." He shook his head.
"Can you at least tell me if he managed to save the world this time?"
"World's still here, isn't it?" he answered, gesturing around. "Be proud of your dad, Wendy Watson."
"I am," she whispered, pocketing the business card and returning to the house. She needed to paint…