(Billy's a bit out of character in this one. Sorry… will be better next time.)
Spring was a great time for Billy. It was warm enough to take Samantha to the park. At five years old, she would be starting kindergarten in the fall. But until then, she would still stay at home with Daddy. Not that either of them minded, of course.
Anyway. Spring was a time for Billy to take Samantha to the park. He hadn't done it yet. They had been out on laundry day (now cut back down to two days, as Sam was much older) when she had seen it. The playground. She had begged and begged and pleaded, and after Billy had talked to Penny about it, Billy had been given the permission to take her to the park. So that morning, Billy was just as excited as his daughter. Special day called for special morning.
A lot can happen in five years, a lot can change. Billy still wasn't the best cook in the world, but he could make a mean chocolate chip waffle. Without the toaster. Many days of trial and error and a few personal firemen cell phones on speed-dial later, Billy was able to make his three year old a good batch of Mac'N'Cheese. A year later he learned pancakes. A few months later it was waffles. He was coming up in the culinary world; soon he might be able to make cupcakes for the up-coming class-time birthdays. Maybe.
Sammy and Billy sat at their little kitchen table, giggling up a storm of what they were going to do at the park.
"And then we can go on the swings and we can go down the slide and we can build a sandcastle and we can…"
Billy grinned as he let her talk, running the brush through her hair. He loved her hair. It was Penny's hair, only, not. Penny's hair was thick, dark red, and adult. It had gone through puberty, it had oil, it had seen the world. Sam's, no, no. It was soft, it was thin, it was unchanged by body-oil. And it had a bit of Billy in it too. Billy and Penny could see so much of themselves in their daughter. More Penny than Billy, but there was enough. She had the same high-chubby-cheekbones as Penny, giving her the same face shape. It'd thin in time, taking on a bit more of Billy. She had her mother's hair, with thin dark bits of gold in it making it positively shine in the sun. And curls; soft ringly curls that framed her amazingly blue eyes. Billy had thought they'd change to be the green of Pen's, overly relieved when they darkened to more blue than green. They'd stick. She wasn't going to be a tiny-Penny. Billy loved Penny, but he didn't want his daughter to be a copy.
Both had wondered at the curls, however. Penny's hair had waves, not curls. Billy's was the same. After a bit of looking, they found that Billy's father had lambs-curly hair. Must have gotten it from him? Billy loved the curls in her hair, buying a special round-brush so that when he combed her hair every morning he could make them stand out and behave. Today he pulled her soft hair into a high pony-tail, tying it in place with a bright yellow ribbon. Penny had gotten her a special yellow spring dress for her day in the park with Daddy. It would be easier to keep track of her.
Being a typical parent Billy went camera crazy. He was really going to hate having to send her to school in a few months. His little diva loved the attention and posed for him. They made lunch, they made last-minute trips to the restroom, they packed the old gym bag, and headed out to the bus. Sam sat next to the window, face pasted to the glass, watching with big eyes as the world wizzed by. Billy held the old bag in his lap, arms draped across it, watching her. How had she gotten so big so fast? Seems like just yesterday he was teaching her how to walk around the washers in the Laundromat. Now she was sitting on her own, not in a car seat. Now she was in spring dressed with hair tickling her ears. Now she was in shoes and frilly socks. So much had changed on him too. He was almost thirty years old now. Still young, perhaps too young, to have a five year old; not that he minded. Almost thirty; the lines on his forehead had gotten a bit deeper, there were crinkles around his eyes that were from worry and joy rather than long hours with goggles, but his face was pretty much unchanged. It was his person that had changed. He was still a head-in-the-clouds dreamer, still a man that wanted to rule and change the world. But his priorities had changed. He'd hear a news story about Wonderflonium being transported, and his interest would be caught. There'd be an advertisement right after for a kid's movie and Sam's eyes would light up and he'd be far more interested in that, science forgotten for the time being. His gym bag had been devoid of Dr. Horrible for so long; now it held a stuffed bear and lunch and a first-aid kit and water bottles and candy and toys and…
Yes, his world had changed. And he wouldn't change it back for anything. He still wanted to rule the world, make it better. He didn't want anything that could harm his daughter running around. He wanted to make the world safe, make it wonderful, make it fun. He was well on his way to do so. Four years since he had stepped foot in his lab; Penny had made him sleep there when he was on verge of melt-down. But after the first year with Sam, things had gotten easier. He hadn't touched a thing of science. Penny couldn't believe it, Moist knew it wouldn't last. But so far it had.
The ride to the park wasn't long, but it had been a relief to the squirming child next to him when Billy told Sam they were there. He held her hand tightly, well aware that if he didn't she would just take off and run to the playground like a mad-thing; Billy had to go over rules first.
"Alright Sam, you see that bench over there?" Billy knelt beside his daughter some feet off from the sandbox full of swings and slides and monkey bars and heaven knew what else; so thick with kids you could only catch glimpses of who was who by their bright colored clothes. Sammie nodded.
"Yes daddy. I know, okay?! You'll be over there, and I need to stay where you can see me, and not talk to strangers, and I need to make friends, but not tell them my address or my phone number unless they're a policeman and I need help. Can I go now?!" Billy chuckled, shaking his head. She had grown up way too fast for his liking.
"Alright sweets, go on." He didn't even get to finish. With a jump and a shout of "YESSSSSSSSSS!" the little girl ran off in her eye-scorching yellow dress, instantly mixing into the flock of children.
First thing Billy noted once he sat down on the only empty spot in the park was that he was the only father around. It was Friday, where was everyone? The benches were packed, but it was all women. And every single one of them were giving him looks of "don't you come near my child!" It was a little frightening. Billy opted to ignore it and keep an eye on Sam. The last thing he could deal with right now was her being hurt in any way.
So when the woman next to him finally turned and spat out "If you're some kind of pedophile you best leave right now" it caught Billy off guard. And it annoyed him. Because really, he didn't want to talk to these people, he just wanted Samantha to have a good time.
"It's not like that."
"Then what's it like? Because we don't like men hanging around our kids."
"I have my own child here, okay? So lay off."
It was a little odd, and Bait would have been proud. Gone were the days of shy little Billy who wanted nothing more than to take over the world and catch laundry-girl's eye. He was a parent now, a responsible adult. Even if he looked pretty much the same. He could see why this mother was getting on his case; he was still very young looking even with the lines in his face that showed up no matter his mood. And true, he did have a bit of a stalker past. He looked out of place.
But he wasn't.
"Oh do you now? Which?" Seriously?! He had to prove that he had his kid here?
Pulling out his wallet he fished through to find the picture of himself, Sam, and Penny. Passing it to the rude mother next to him (he had no respect for mothers, if it wasn't for Penny he'd hate them all,) and then pointed at the bright red and yellow blotch in the mass. With a study of the picture, then the child he was pointing at, she gave a curt nod and gave him back his wallet.
"You pass, this time. How come we haven't seen you here before?" Just then, Samantha broke from the ameba of children, running off in chase of another girl, tripped, and fell. Billy's eyes tripled in size as he jolted to his feet to make sure she was okay. The lady grabbed his sleeve, pulling him back down.
"WOAH! That would be why. Chill out young man, she'll come to you if she's hurt." Sure enough, Sammy stood, dusted off her knees, and continued running. Boggled, Billy watched her, then turned back to the lady.
"You are new to this, calm down, kids are indestructible." He didn't believe her. "Look, my Johnny comes home a bloody mess every day. He doesn't even notice. How old?"
"Um. Five, five years."
"You look horribly familiar."
"I get that a lot, one of those faces I guess."
"Have you ever made the news?"
"Not that I know of."
"DAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!" That was a sound that every mother and father dreaded. More so if they had more than one child. Billy, however, knew it was his Sammy. Bolting off with bag in hand, ready for anything, Billy found Sammy in the sand with another girl sitting beside her. Sammy was crying. Her hair was down. Where was her ribbon?
Of course, on the other girl.
"She won't give me my ribbon back!"
"You gave it to me!"
"Sammy, what's your friend's name?"
"I'm Alex, and I'm six years old, and my mommy says that public schools are rotting our brains, so she home schools me. My mommy also says that when people give you gifts, you're supposed to be nice and tell them thank you and even if you don't like it, you keep it for one month before giving it away, exchanging it, or throwing it out. And when someone gives you a gift, they can't ask for it back."
"Uh, right. Alex, did Sam actually give you the ribbon?" Billy put his arm around his daughter, who inherited his pout.
"Yes. She took it from her hair and put it in mine."
"Sam, did you tie your shoes today?"
"No. I don't know how."
"Hmm. Sam, Alex, how about you two just shake hands," Billy put his arm around the other girl, pulling the two of them closer so they could do as he said "and make friends, okay?"
"Sam, do as I say."
"Ooooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay." She huffed. Scowling, she shook hands with the smug looking thief. Letting go of Alex, Billy blocked her from Sam as he picked up his daughter and slung his bag on his arm.
"I think it's time we go, we have some shopping to do." Heading quickly away, he managed to catch the bit of a scream behind him.
"My ribbon, my ribbon's gone!"
"Dad?" Billy's attention was pulled back to his daughter.
"Why did you let Alex get my ribbon?" Slipping his hand into his pocket, Billy pulled out a long yellow hair ribbon. Sam's eyes grew just like her father's.
On the bench with the only open spot in the park, a woman took out her phone, standing and moving from the large prying-ears group.
"Normal? Tie here. Nail was right, we found him."