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Fly Away
Universe: Stand-alone
Word count: 1300
Summary: Roger has the best baby girl in the world, but one day, she begins to change in ways he doesn't like...
Notes: This is an old story from Servathon, prompted by Anonymous. It was sponsored by the Patreon crew: metahacker, kaylin881, silvercat17, Jay, Suzanne, cloudiah, contrapangloss, hanasaseru, inurashii, Bitmap Prager, and Seamus.

Roger had the best baby girl in the world.

It hadn't been easy. Roger hadn't won full custody of her till she was five, so he'd missed a lot of the early days, but he'd tried to make them count. He'd made it clear that he was the father, her the daughter. His job was to protect and provide, hers to honor and obey, and when she did her job well, he made sure to shower her in love and affection.

“You're one in a billion,” he'd tell her as he hugged and tickled her, while she shrieked with glee. “You're my little lady!”

He made sure never to compare her to her mother, even when she was bad. The books all said that was bad for a kid's development, and anyway, Roger didn't want to give her any ideas. Part of him feared that his ex-wife's condition had been passed on to him, even though rationally, he knew it couldn't be something hereditary. It was all all in how you raised them, and Roger was going to do it right.

And he did. His daughter was a little angel, all smiles and curls. She said her please and thank-yous, she set the table perfectly, and she even insisted on helping with the laundry. Roger never needed to scold and shout; the few times she began to slacken, a stern look was all that was needed to point her in the right direction.

Roger's friends were all very impressed.

“How do you do it?” They'd ask him. “All mine ever does is mooch around and whine.”

Roger would always shrug and smile and say, “genes.” But secretly, he knew he was raising her right. No TV to rot her brain, no Internet or fancy phones for his little girl. He gave her books, the right books, and good old-fashioned toys for her to work her imagination on. It was all about the parenting.

But when she turned ten, that started to change.

Roger had been prepared for this, or so he thought. Puberty, the great ravager, corrupter of children. He'd made sure to carefully explain to his daughter, in detail, about how her body worked and how boys' bodies worked, and about peer pressure. He taught her about temptations, drugs and sex, and told her he was sure she'd do the right thing. And she'd watched him with wide eyes and nodded and hugged him and said she'd always be his little girl. But he saw a hint of nervousness in her eyes, something that seemed out of place. Nothing seriously surely. But still… still...

As she'd walked away, a bit of fluff fell from her sweater. At first, Roger thought nothing of it, until he got up and saw that it was a feather. Then his stomach turned cold.

He was being paranoid, he told himself. Must've come from outside. Nothing to worry about.

But despite everything, his little girl began to change.

She started spending more time with friends; sometimes, Roger would come home and there'd only be a plate left out for him and a note: “with friends; back later! XOXO.” She started back-talking him, asking why, asking about her mother, and couldn't they go see this movie or check out that book. Roger never saw it, but he was positive she was looking at boys.

And the feathers! They were everywhere now, as though she never vacuumed anymore. They were deepest in her room.

“What are you doing in my room?”

He hadn't heard her come in. “You know I'm allergic to birds.”

“I—I don't have a bird. I'd never--”

But he could see it in her face; she was hiding something. “You're lying to me. What have I told you about lying?”

She quailed, and it made him angry. Why was she treating him like this? It hurt. “I don't have a bird!”

“Tell me what you're hiding, angel.” He put an arm out, gentle, just to keep her from running. If he let her run away once, she'd never stop. He'd learned that from her mother.

She showed him, eventually. He made her take off the cute shirt he'd picked out for her, and there they were, downy little feathers all over her back, peeking over her bra straps. Roger tugged one; after some resistance, it came out, though his daughter winced. But she didn't whimper, didn't cry. She pulled away, got dressed again. She wouldn't look him in the eye.

Roger spun the feather between his fingers. What should he do? He mustn't show indecision; he was the father.

“Don't let me catch any more of these,” he said, holding the feather. “You know I'm allergic.”

She looked up at him, and her eyes were wet. “Did Mom have these?”

Roger only turned away.

He still found the feathers sometimes. More often, he found her vacuuming, trying to get them all, sometimes even late at night or early in the morning. She smiled at him, but there was fear behind it.

Good. Maybe a little fear was good for a kid.

The weather turned colder, she started wearing bulky vests and jackets, and he mostly forgot about the feathers, because he stopped seeing them. Maybe it was just a freak genetic quirk. Maybe they were gone now—after all, she was only half her mother genetically, and ALL him socially. Maybe it'd just been her trying to fuck with him, get his attention. Teenage girls did that.

And she was turning into a teenage girl. She stopped smiling at him whenever he came in. She stopped introducing him to her friends, or telling him where she was going. Now he regretted not giving her a phone; he couldn't keep track of her. But he couldn't give in; if he went back on one of his rules, she would know he could be bargained with.

The weather warmed, but she kept wearing the jackets. At first, Roger assumed it was a fashion statement. But her posture had changed too—hunched, like she was trying to hide. It made her look afraid, which he didn't like. A little fear was all well and good, but looking like that, it'd give people ideas. Make him look bad, like he was some ogre.

Maybe she wanted him to look bad. Maybe she was spinning lies to people, telling them god-knows what. It was like she was turning into her mother before his eyes, but he didn't give in. She was a teenage girl. He was a grown man. He was in control, not her.

One day, he came home to find no dinner at all, no note, and no daughter. For a moment, he felt cold panic—not like her mother, not like this--

Then the front door opened and she came in, breathing hard, like she'd been rushing, trying to make it home before him. She saw him, and she froze.

“You're early,” she said.

“You're late. Why are you late?”

And she ran. Fled upstairs, like he was some kind of monster, like he was wrong, like he was the disrespectful one. And when he came up after, he found she'd shut herself in her room. There was no lock, of course, but when he tried the knob, the door wouldn't open; she must've blocked it with a chair.

“Angel,” he said quietly, “open the door, please.”

He heard fast, hitching breathing, whispering cloth. And a scrape; the window, sticking in the summer heat.

Roger's blood ran cold. He smashed against the door, once, twice, and the chair gave way. He burst in, and she was crouching on the windowsill, topless except for the pink bra he'd bought her last month.

The straps were pinned to make way for two enormous brown wings.

Roger froze. “I told you to get rid of those.”

She was crying, but she managed to stammer out, “I'm leaving, Dad.”

“I'm allergic. I told you I was allergic!”

“Goodbye, Dad.”

And she was gone, flying off into the dark on those brown wings, leaving him to clean up her mess. Just like her mother.

Around him, the air was full of feathers.

Date: 2015-11-02 07:57 am (UTC)
ljlee: (jz_glasses)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
I was interested in this story premise for some time and considered sponsoring it, but it looks like the good folks on Patreon did it! God, this story is creepy and all too relateable at the same time. I like the way you used wings as a symbol, and bonus points for avoiding the usual white angel wings trope. The story goes into uncomfortable territory and that's what makes it interesting.
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