When they're first born(created, molded, call it what you will)they are told one thing, and one thing only.

Be happy for Mother.

They are taught the happiest, most convincing smiles are the ones that happen when you don't look the other in the eye(which is a lot harder than one would expect, considering their eyes are of buttons).

They are taught that they are here only to serve Mother.

Never displease Mother.

If Mother is displeased, you will be disposed of.

They don't know what it means to die, since they never really lived in the first place. They are puppets. They are dolls, brought out only for deceit and slander. But they know what it is not to exist. Darkness, an ever open void that swallows them whole and squeezes, squeezes them until they can't remember anything and eventually they just.. Cease. To remember, to breathe, to exist.

They really try to please Mother, but Mother is ever doomed to be displeased.

Other Father is told to be all smiles and all fun and everything her real father isn't. You are not her protector, you are not her father. You are her friend only. You do not look after her. You look after what entertains her.

Secretly, in the deepest, squashiest part of his being that he keeps hidden, locked away she must never see she will be so angry, he does not like being called the Other Father. Mother says he is called this because he's better than her real father, the one who ignores her and does not play with her and makes her disgustingly healthy meals and cares more for her well being than what entertains her.

In that squashiest part of him he would never dare reveal, he understands why the real father does these things. He thinks he does, at least. When these guilty thoughts arise, he tries to comfort himself with the fact that in a way, he is also looking after her. He is just looking after the more shallow, selfish needs this young girl has. He's never very comforted.

He knows that eventually, one way or another, Mother will have her way. There's no denying her. The idea is laughable. There's no negotiation, no compromise, nothing. Mother takes it all, and she does not give it back. No matter how it is spun, this is Mothers world, after all.

But that squashy part began to grow. It grew and it grew, becoming so large he couldn't even stop himself when she came back.

"All will be well, soon as Mother's refreshed. Her strength is our strength..."

His mind(what was left of it, as Mother was getting very impatient with the game, and so barely had time to keep him from unraveling as, inevitably, the rest of her woven world unraveled)was crumbling away quickly, falling away and disappearing. He knew his fate was coming. He knew what was going to happen.

Still, even he just kept his mouth shut, just for a little while, he could be spared for a few extra moments...

"Mustn't... Talk when Mother's not here."

Something else is said, but he's drifting away now, drifting far away because he's crumbling in on himself. He's self-destructing from the inside out, and he's tired, he's so, so tired, and he just wants to lay down and just let what is going to come come already and just take him.

Something niggles at him, and in a vague, quickly drying up corner of his mind, he thinks he has worms. But no, it's a thought, so painful and so against everything he has ever known since he was plucked from the garden and woven into a man resembling a father.

Must protect child.

He is standing so still, the silence threatens to suffocate him. He is so sure to his very roots that Mother has heard this stray thought, has heard his guilt, and is coming to end him now.

But there is just silence, and his fear drains.

And he realizes, with no little shock to his already drained system, that it is not fear for his measely existance... It is fear for the child.

He wants to laugh, except he's not happy at all and he's sort of sad and a little confused and while Mother taught him that laughter is not always(almost never, in fact)happy, he doesn't think it's suppose to feel like this.


In the garden.

"So sorry."

Short cropped blue hair, orange pajamas, terrified expression with defiance and determination hiding in her eyes.

"Mother... Making... me..."

She was. He could feel her, inside of him, watching through his button-eyes and faint laughter(horrible and happy for all the wrong reasons)ringing in his crumbling mind.

He couldn't win. He couldn't do anything. He couldn't even protect himself, let alone a slip of a girl.

He couldn't protect her.

...But he could give her the means of protecting herself.

"Don't wanna hurt you!"

He was slowing down. Everything was going so fast, happening at the speed of light, and he was beginning to stand still.

If he was going to die(fade away, vanish, cease to have existed in this plane or any other...)he was going to die with the defiance this little girl had in spades.

"Take it!"

His lips quirked in one last smile, bitter and sad but real, as he vanished beneath the waters surface.

Mothers shriek of fury rang in his mind.