CRASH!

Lilith shot straight out of bed, dragging on a housecoat as she sprinted for the kitchen. Preternatural reflexes are handy when raising a hellion.

She wasn't at all surprised to find six-year-old Agatha hanging by her hands from a pantry shelf, surrounded by an impact zone of water and broken glass. The shelf was tilting forward and threatened to release a second cascade of jars over the girl's head.

"Dear, how did you get UP there? And why?" she said as she lifted the poor child down from her perch, and automatically checked that the locket was still in place.

"I was," *sniffle*, "just trying," *hic*, "to get a jar to put the flowers," *sniff*, "in." Agatha held out a handful of dandelion buttons, whose stem nubs would have been too small to reach the water in anything but a soup bowl. "And now they're all crushed!" The tears started in earnest. "Why am I so DUMB?"

"Honey-girl, you're not dumb. You're just a little clumsy, right now. You're probably getting ready to grow again. Here, you take the broom and we'll have this cleaned up in a trice."

"But I can't do ANYTHING right anymore. Everything seems to go wrong!" sobbed the child as she carefully swept up the pieces and helped to mop the floor, Lilith straining to keep her from noticing the times her foster-mother caught objects Agatha had almost knocked over.

"It's probably just growing. You should have seen the things I did when I was first re-animated. It takes time to get used to changes in your body." That wasn't, she knew, the real reason. Barry hadn't really thought out what his device's unintended consequences would be. Supressing a spark that was trying desperately to break through? And hiding her brain pattern? It wasn't trivial. And it was definitely affecting Agatha's state of mind, even when she wasn't being paralyzed by the hideous headaches. Where the hell *was* Barry, and why didn't he get his butt back here so they could try something different? This wasn't good for the girl.

Lilith sat down and pulled Agatha onto her lap. "Oof! You're getting to be a big girl now! Almost nine! I don't know how long these old bones of mine can stand your weight!"

Agatha giggled. "You're a CONSTRUCT, Mother. You could pick up the cows one under each arm and not feel it."

"Well, but the cows aren't growing! They're all grown up! And they don't have sharp behinds like you! *And* they're not ticklish!" retorted Lilith, wriggling her fingers at Agatha and getting a few more giggles out of her before her face turned solemn again.

"It's Mothering Sunday, you know. I couldn't afford to buy anything, not even one of those printed cards, like Jamie at school did for her mother, but I thought I could at least bring you flowers."

"Don't worry about it, sweetie. Besides, I don't think your real mother..." (Damn, she thought, I should be able to control my tongue about Lucrezia by now!)

"YOU are my real mother, Lilith. The people in the locket- I don't remember them. I'm sure they were fine people, but I don't miss them that much. I have you and Adam. You look after me. You smack me when I'm bad and you take care of me when I'm sick. You teach me my lessons and you suffer through my piano practice. You love me. You've always taken care of me! You and uncle Barry. And Uncle Barry isn't a MOTHER. You are!"

Agatha flung her arms around Lilith and squished her bony little body up against her foster-mother. "I love you. You're my Lilith. You're WONDERFUL."

"Oh honey," Lilith wrapped arms around the little girl and savored the moment. Perhaps she could never have babies of her own, but Agatha almost made up for it. "I love you too. You'll always be my wonderful daughter, no matter who gave birth to you." Barry, damn you, she thought, get back here before your stupid device hurts my little girl.