[Author's Note]

Five guesses who 'Mr. Adams' actually is ;)

Marcy Adams was five years old. It was the first day of kindergarten, and her father was a mess. He stalked back and forward across the floor of their home, his hands shaking, mumbling incoherently to himself. Now and then he would twitch violently, or unleash a curse. Mercy covered her ears whenever he did this, just as he'd instructed her.

Their 'house' was built within the shell of an old warehouse, with each room spaced from all the others, each like an individual set for a movie. Their kitchen was cuddled up gently under an overhang, which gave it the feeling of safety, and it served as the center or nexus of the home. Marcy knew this entire arrangement was unusual only because she had seen no similar homes on the television set, just as she knew it was unusual that she possessed no mother, and no siblings.

The family kitchen had an islet with bar stools drawn up to it. Marcy was sitting on one, her legs dangling high above the floor. She was all dressed up for school in a new jean jacket with pink flowers embroidered around the hems. Her flower-printed backpack was perched colorfully on her back. A new lunch pail, emblazoned with the colors of her favorite cartoon superhero, Spider-Man, lay open upon the kitchen islet.

Halfway through making her lunch, her father had thrown a fit. And her father's fits were... special.

As Mercy watched, her father stalked back over to the kitchen, picked up the knife rack, and proceeded to hurl kitchen knife after kitchen knife at a dart board conveniently placed within throwing distance. He never missed. He ruined one of his good knives by splitting its handle with the thrown blade of another. He swore. Marcy dutifully covered her ears, and waited quietly, and watched each knife as it flew.

She hoped that would be the end, but when he threw the last knife, her father screamed a deep primal scream, like the scream of an animal. Things got worse. He seized onto a pile of dishes and sent them crashing to the ground, shattering into countless pieces. He threw the microwave, and every pot and pan he could find, and screamed, and then just stood there, breathing heavily, his shoulders bowed and his head lowered. He was still shaking.

A long moment passed in this fashion. Marcy thought that she had never seen him so upset. Not for the first time, she wished she could sense her father the way she sensed other people. She wanted to know what was wrong, and she wanted to understand what might happen next.

"We could move," he said suddenly, and she could tell by the tone of his voice that he was very, very sick: It was a quiet voice, a high and child-like voice, cute and pouting, laughing and demented. Bad. "We could move again, lie about your age, another change of name, another change of face..."

Marcy frowned. While she had never been particularly fond of her most recent name (Her favorite last name had been Calypso), she had been looking forward to the first day of kindergarten for what seemed like forever.

"It wouldn't be hard," he purred, trilled. "You could stay home a few more years..." He slowly turned to look at her, acid eyes glinting. His voice dropped in volume and shot up even further in pitch, into an almost fearful, uncertain whine. "Couldn't you, little Buttercup?"

Marcy Adams hesitated, trying to decide what to do. Her father had never hit her, or cursed at her, or thrown anything at her; but that didn't mean his fits were any less scary. After a moment, she pushed her way out of her stool and carefully approached him. He turned to meet her. His quivering didn't cease.

"Or," he cooed, hoping to find a solution, "I could blow up the school!" That of course didn't make any sense. "I could, you know, it would be easy." He knelt down as she reached him, with twitchy not-smiles curling his scarred cheeks. He licked his lower lip, nervous, and reached forward to touch her. "What do you say? Buttercup?"

Marcy touched her father's face. Her fingers brushed over the familiar scars in his cheeks, and traced up slightly into his curling yellow hair. She looked him in the eyes, leaned towards him, and pressed her forehead to his. He grimaced, lips pressing into a thin line. "Buttercup," he whined on realizing that he wasn't going to get his way. His eyelids lowered to a half-closed state, and he nuzzled gently against her.

"It'll be okay, daddy," she promised him. Yellow-green eyes opened again. His forehead creased in an expression of pain. Then he darted forward, wrapping his arms tightly around her and clutching her against him. He smothered his face into her hair, and he breathed deeply. Marcy was pretty sure her father smelled her when he did that, and she always found it funny. She couldn't help but giggle slightly, and hugged him back as tight as she could.

When he spoke again, his voice had dropped an active, into a natural, warm, rumbling baritone: "Alright, squirt. You win."

Squirt. That was what her father called her, always. Not 'Buttercup.' Not any of her other names. Marcy knew she was 'Squirt' more than she'd ever be anyone else, and she liked that.

He pulled back and while his eyes were somewhat pained, his face was smiling. "Geez, your first day of school. There you go, making me feel old."

"You're not old, daddy," she told him happily, but then recalled the fit he'd just had: "Although... you did scare me... And you broke a lot of stuff." Yup, and he'd have to fix it and clean it all, too.

Her father glanced around them, looking at the shattered plates, dented pots, and broken kitchen appliances scattered around them. "I'm a terrible parent," he murmured thoughtfully, as if having forgotten them, and she protested his assessment with a *gasp!* He evaluated the unfortunate condition of his kitchen and then looked back to Marcy, an apologetic expression on his face. "I'm sorry, squirt. I-I didn't mean for you to see that..."

"It's okay daddy," she shrugged, having already forgiven him.

"No, it's actually not. You were right to be afraid. You'll... understand when you're older..." He trailed off for a moment, but then ruffled her hair. "But look at you! Don't you look snazzy, all dressed up for school?" He slipped into an effeminate lisp that had nothing to do with insanity. "That jacket, those shoes, those pants! They just look fa-a-bulous!" She broke out laughing. "But this hair!" he cried, combing through it. "Oh no, this will never do, we need some stars, some glitter-"

"Da-ddy!" she laughed in protest, play-fighting against him. "You've got to make my lunch." He dropped the act and scooped her off the ground with one arm, giving a deep laugh as he did so. She squealed in delight. "Ah, that's right. You caught me, squirt; I was stalling for time!" He plopped her back in one of the stools and then slipped gracefully around the table, settling back to work on her lunch pail. "Alright, now, where was I?"

He picked up the butter knife and went back to smoothing mayonnaise over her turkey sandwich. "Mayonnaise- check! Lettuce..." he spun around and threw open the refrigerator, and conducted a head of lettuce back to the kitchen islet by tossing it into the air and keeping it afloat through a mixture of juggling and sleight of hand. He bounced it against his boot heel, knee, and shoulder until it finally came to rest on his cutting board. He pulled one of his ubiquitous knives out of his back pocket, and quickly cut off a layer of lettuce. "Check!" Marcy clapped.

He cooked like a show chef, tossing his vegetables nimbly through the air, and catching them on his utensils. Her sandwich was assembled in no time, and was soon followed by fruit, vegetables, a bottle of chocolate milk and a pack of fruit gelatin for dessert. He packed the articles carefully into her lunch pail, closed it, and then slid it in front of her and planted his hands on his hips. "Tada!" He beamed.

She laughed and held the pail to her chest (it was kinda big to carry comfortably). "Thanks daddy," she said. "I should go to the bus stop, the bus will come soon."

"That's right," he said, and he quickly hopped around the islet to help her out of the chair. "I'll walk you there." She nodded with a smile and placed her little hand in one of his much larger, calloused ones. At the door he paused to study her one more time. "Do you have your lucky card?" he asked.

Marcy nodded, "Of course!" and pulled the card out of her pocket to show him. Then she tucked it away again. Her father licked his thumb and smoothed back some of her stray hair so that it lay neatly behind her ears. After straightening her jacket and favoring her with a beaming smile, he rested a hand on her shoulder and guided her out of the warehouse doors, out to the bus stop.

He waited beside her, and squeezed her shoulder affectionately when the bus arrived. She felt his personality crack slightly as she slipped free of his arms and boarded the vehicle. His smile became a mask, and the rest of him plummeted. He waved to her as the bus shifted into drive and slowly sped away. She waved back, because she already missed him, because she was nervous about her first day, and because she knew he needed it.

[Author's Note] Five guesses what card it is.