Like Father, Like Daughter

Disclaimer: I don't own Star Vs the Forces of Evil or any of its elements.

Special Thanks to my beta IdeaGenerator


Chapter 03: Retail Therapy

Marco opened his eyes to find his arms wrapped around Hekapoo. It was a rather pleasant-though not entirely unexpected-way to wake up. He slowly unwrapped his arms from Hekapoo, careful to not wake her up. As he sat up next to her, he reflected upon how he'd ended up here like this with Hekapoo.

His trial had been going on for several years now, and despite the purpose of the trial being to keep him from getting close to her, Hekapoo would sometimes come right to him.

In the very beginning, all those many years ago, she would offer to make him a portal to take him back home from time to time, and every time, he refused. How could he not? How could he even begin to trust that it would really lead him back home, that he wasn't simply being set for disappointment? Back then, he never wanted to give into her temptations until his mission was complete, not until he had a pair of scissors whose user he could actually trust to take him home. Eventually, after seeing enough the clear determination in his eyes to blow out her flame and finish their chase, she stopped making her offer to him.

Afterwards, her taunts and her words had started to slow down. At some point, she'd just keep popping up, quietly like a specter, at the edges of his vision, always out of his reach but not his sight. She never spoke a word when she did appear. He never was sure just why she kept doing it, but he had his suspicions that she was just making sure whether or not he was still alive, as she most frequently appeared right after he had just narrowly avoided certain death for the umpteenth time.

Marco was sure she had her ways to keep track of him either way, but he appreciated that she personally came to check up on him from time to time. Sometimes, she even brought a few supplies like tools and medicines for him when he had run out of things to survive off of, or when he was teetering on the brink of death. She never did give him any more than necessary, and she often just dropped them off without a word, but he stopped looking the gift-horse in the mouth after the sixth-seventh?-time they saved his life.

From what Marco could guess, Hekapoo didn't want him to just drop dead on her. At first, he would have prefered not to take the items, but he was not stupid enough to believe that they wouldn't come into handy. He was still inexperienced and unskilled in the art of surviving in the wild, and without them he might have died. For that, he was grateful for the help.

Eventually, Hekapoo started calling these kind of events 'timeouts.' The rules were fairly simple; he was not to try and blow out her flame, and in turn, things would be a bit easier for him during these breaks. She made sure to state when these events started and stopped right off the bat, as she claimed she didn't trust Marco to figure it out on his own if she didn't spell it out for him.

After the first couple of times he had been caught unprepared for these timeouts and mistakenly tried to fight her off when she appeared, Hekapoo warned Marco that she'd signal him with a signal flare in the air before she'd appear to him.

As Marco slowly adapted to his new environment, these breaks started to occur less and less frequently, to the point where he thought that they were over. As a result, it came as a surprise to him when one of her bright flares flew out from over the horizon one day. This was especially unusual since he wasn't even in danger of dying and wasn't in need of anything when she signaled to him.

When she approached him, he knew that this timeout would be quite different than the ones before. She had come to talk, to ask him a question. No games, no tricks, no supplies, thatwas all she had come for this time.

Most people would have given up a long, long time ago if they were in the same position Marco was in now. Few people would have kept going half as long as he had, and even fewer would have resisted her offer of throwing in the towel and returning home in an instant, especially with how often the temptation came in the beginning. Yet here Marco was, still going as strong and as-or even more-determined to finally chase her down and earn his scissors.

It was something that had puzzled her, something that had bothered her, and she wanted to know why it was that he kept going, why he would not stop. He had given her the same repetitive answer as he had always given, that it was for his friend, Star Butterfly. She just stared at him after that, like she was scrutinizing every detail of him. Then, she left without a word, just like that.

Though it was a short conversation, if one could even call it that, Marco had enjoyed that moment. It was a nice-if unexpected-change from the near-fruitless task of tracking down Hekapoo's clones and the monotony of going weeks without anyone to really talk to besides his own thoughts. And that was just the beginning of the shift in their dynamics.

After that mysterious timeout, things had started to change, as every so often, a Hekapoo clone would arrive to ask him a new question. One question turned into two, then four, then entire conversations on all sorts of things, most often about each other. These conversations would be far apart and few in between, but Marco enjoyed these fleeting moments. They made the trial just a bit more bearable, and he started to enjoy her company and her companionship. Over the years and through their chats, Marco had learnt more about her, and her about him.

However, one day, during one of their timeouts, he suddenly realized that the Hekapoo he had been talking to was the real deal, not a clone. He didn't know exactly when she had started doing it or how he could tell in the first place, but it was something that both surprised and comforted him, the thought that Hekapoo, the real one, would come in person just to talk with him.

Soon, things began to change even more between them. Sometimes, she'd bring snacks and a blanket, and they would share a small picnic. Sometimes, she'd drag him around to random places, telling him to help her with something. And sometimes, she'd just hang around him, claiming to be bored and needing to rest her legs for a bit, though Marco could tell that she didn't really believe that excuse either.

Over the past few years, they had gotten closer and found out so much about each other in a way that neither of them could have expected. Those years were an experience they both treasured, and they were glad they were able to share it with each other.

Marco was rather proud he had gotten to know Hekapoo so well. He enjoyed the time they spent together, even when it was being spent chasing her across treacherous landscapes. However, he especially appreciated the rare times when he managed to wake up before she did, as most often, he'd awake to find that she had gone while he slept and that their timeout was over.

From these times, he was rather delighted to find out that she made such a cute face whenever she slept and used his shoulder as a pillow. It certainly was something he liked to tease her with whenever their little game restarted, just like his nickname for her.

And now, it appeared to be another one of these rare occasions.

Hekapoo had such a peaceful face that it made Marco feel at ease as well. His hand moved to brush her face free of the stray strands caressing it when her eyes started to flutter. Stretching her arms, she sat up and yawned, the soft noise filling Marco with adoration. It was like hearing a kitten mew, only sweeter, though he tried not to let the emotion show on his face.

"So, you have a good nap?" Marco asked with a sly smirk as Hekapoo turned to look at him.

'Marco.'

"Yes?"

'Marco!'

Marco just raised an eyebrow, a bit puzzled but smiling all the same. "Yeah, that's me."

'Time to wake up sweetie!'

"What? What do you mean?" That was all Marco could get out, his brow furrowing in confusion, before the world around him started to fade into a blank void.

0000

"H…poo?" Marco rubbed his eyes. He opened them to find himself in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar room, alone. He blinked twice, trying to remember where he was, then his memories caught up with him.

Right. This was his old bed, his old room. He was back on Earth.

"Marco? Are you awake?" His mom peeked her head through his door. "Breakfast's getting cold."

"Oh. Right. I'll be down in a minute." Marco said, sitting up in his bed.

"Okay, see you soon sweetie," Angie said with a smile while she backed out of the doorway and out of Marco's sight.

Marco tried to shake his head clear of the fleeting images of his dream-a memory-as his mom walked back downstairs, but they refused to go away. He rubbed his eyes and slipped the picture Hekapoo gave him into a drawer, getting up and starting to get dressed for the day.

He was sure today was going to be a memorable day.

0000

Downstairs, Marco found himself at the dinner table, eating the waffles his mother had prepared. He was told he used to have better manners, but after spending years scrounging for food and learning not to be picky with your next meal, it wasn't a big surprise that Marco simply gobbled up every bite of his mother's lovingly-prepared food.

This was actually one change in Marco that Angie did like. What mother wouldn't find delight in their children enjoying their food so much? It was at this point that Marco, having scarfed down enough waffles, swallowed and asked a question that he had wanted to ask since he got downstairs.

"Hey mom, where's Seraph? Or Star?"

"You shouldn't sleep in so late mijo," his father told him, striding into the room with another one of his smaller art pieces and hands covered in dust. "Star said she was going to take Seraph to go shopping."

"She wanted to get Seraph a few things to make her room feel more like home." Angie continued. "It was so nice of her to volunteer for-

Suddenly, the doorbell went off, cutting off what she was about to say. "Oh, I'll get it!" she said.

As Angie went to answer it, Rafael set down his sculpture and went to wash his hands in the sink, an unsurprised expression on his face. "It seems like he's here."

Marco only quirked an eyebrow. "Who's here?"

A moment later, Angie walked in with someone, someone who had a face Marco had almost forgotten about, one he wasn't quite sure he wanted to see at the moment.

"Mr. Candle?!"

"Hello, Marco," the counselor greeted, nodding his head at the acknowledgement.

"Oh good, you remember him." Rafael patted the man on the back. "We've arranged for Mr. Candle here to come and talk with you.

"Your friend Tom gave us his number," Angie explained. "We thought that maybe you should have someone who can help you, who you can talk to, after everything you've been through."

"A counselor?" Marco asked incredulously. "I-I don't need a counselor. I'm fine!" He then looked at Mr. Candle skeptically. "And I thought that was just a cover job to spy on me and Star for Tom."

"Yes Marco, I am a fully qualified and licensed counselor. And I'm here to help you with some of your problems and questions." Mr. Candle clicked his pen. "Heard something big happened yesterday. Want to talk about it?"

"Whoops, looks like we've got some errands to run right now. Why don't you two sit yourselves down and get comfortable?" Marco's dad said, already on his way out the door with his wife. "We'll be back soon. See you later son!"

As the door closed behind them, half-garbled words of protest tumbled out of Marco's mouth. Then, slowly and hesitantly, he turned towards the other person in the room.

Mr. Candle just smiled at him. "Do you want to talk here or in the living room?"

0000

In another plane of reality, space tore apart as a swirling blue portal formed in midair. A moment later, Star stepped out, followed by Pony Head and Seraph.

Seraph looked all around her, taking in the sights of all the merchandise on the endless amount of shelves surrounding them. A look of amazement and curiosity sat upon her face.

Pony Head easily noticed her expression. It was hard to when her jaw looked like it was about to fall off. "So, is this, like, your first time at Quest Buy?"

"Yeah," Seraph admitted, blinking the stars out of her eyes, "I haven't been able to go to any other dimension besides my mom's and Earth-and I guess that dimension with that hospital I was born in too. I wasn't really old enough enough to go yet."

Star vaguely recalled what Marco had told her the night before. "Oh yeah, I forgot. You're actually a month old but you age fast in another dimen...sion…." Star went pale, her eyes wide. "OH, OH NO! You're not going to start aging really fast outside of Earth, are you? Pony Head, open a portal back, quick!"

"No, no, that only happens in my mom's place," Seraph said, her smile drooping a bit. "But you don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine here."

"Ah, phew, just making sure." Star wiped her brow, relieved that she wouldn't have to take her home and explain to Marco why the newest addition to his family was physically 50 years older than the last time they saw each other.

"Right, sure." Pony Head continued. " My girl B-fly tells me you don't have much in your room, so we're going to change that! Today you have two princesses treating you! Anything you need, it's all on us!"

"Really?" Seraph asked.

"Yeah!" Star put an arm around her. "Consider it a late birthday present-ah, an early first birthday present. Now let's get you some new stuff!"

Pony Head floated to Seraph's other side and the three of them walked into the labyrinthian maze that was Quest Buy.

0000

Marco was laying down on the couch in his living room, Mr. Candle sitting in a chair next to him. It was almost a perfect picture of a psychiatrist's session. Well, that is, if the patient lying down was busy reading a tablet with parenting books downloaded onto it and trying their best to ignore the counselor next to them.

"So Marco, when would you like to begin our talk?"

Marco glanced a bit at Mr. Candle, but returned his eyes to his tablet, not making a move to put it away and begin talking. Mr. Candle sighed at this.

"Marco, you can trust me. Your parents wanted me to come over and simply talk, and that's all we will do today." He adjusted his tie and cleared his throat. "So, must have been quite a shock finding out about your daughter, wasn't it?"

Marco huffed. "And now you're trying to get a reaction out of me to get me to talk."

Mr. Candle shrugged with a smirk on his face. "Guilty as charged. Looks like someone's studied their psychology." He shuffled his papers then pulled out what appeared to be a grade report. "So, I heard you were having some trouble in school recently."

Marco bit his tongue. "I've…just been having a bit of a rough spot with my studies, but I'm getting better."

Honestly, Marco was lying a bit there. Besides having a hard time focusing in classes now, he was having a hard time remembering everything that he had learned in school from what felt was a long time ago. He was starting to remember the information somewhat, but he had to review and study entire chapters of notes just to catch back up. Even then, it was still a bit of a struggle for him. He didn't want to worry his friends and family about it, as he knew he could do it on his own, just like he had back in Hekapoo's dimension. He just wanted everything to go back to normal, to how things were before.

But then again, what was normal for him anymore?

Some of his feelings must have shown on his face, as Mr. Candle simply raised an eyebrow. "You know, there's no shame in admitting you need a little help. You've been through a lot, it's no surprise if you were shaken up by the experience."

Marco scoffed at that, a frown on his face. "I don't need help."

"Marco, all I want to do is to talk and help you deal with everything and anything that may be bothering you. I just want to be able to tell your parents how you're doing."

"What do you mean? I'm fine, I'm doing great."

"Well, you may think so, but your friends and family don't. They're worried sick, worried enough to call ask for a counselor for you. Now what does that tell you?"

"It doesn't tell me how to get you to leave." Marco shot back.

Mr. Candle just pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Okay, how about we make a deal? You just talk to me for a while and whatever I think, I will tell your parents that you're okay. If you want to call it quits, we can call it a day and I'll never come back. Either way, I won't tell anyone anything you say, not even Tom. Patient confidentiality and all that."

Marco stared at the man for a long hard moment, then eventually relented.

"Okay, I'll take you up on that."

"Super! Now, let's start with the big important stuff." He leaned in towards Marco. "What and how much of those sixteen years do you remember the best? I mean, I can't say I have any personal experience with time shifts, and, as far as I know, no human other than you does. So, how about you help me paint a picture of what it's like?"

Marco was quiet for a moment.

"...Well, lately, some memories have been getting a bit...fuzzy. It's not like I'm forgetting everything or anything, it's...more like not being able remember all the details of your fifth birthday and all you have is a vague impression of having been there and what happened."

Clicking his pen and running it across the surface of his notepad, Mr. Candle nodded. "Okay, okay, that's a good start. But what exactly do you mean by 'things have been getting fuzzy?"

"For me, it's as though some early memories are just blurring into each other. The incredible adventures I've had, the beautiful lands I crossed, I can still remember a lot of them. But all of that really came after the years I spent just trying to figure out how to survive out in the wild on my own."

Marco chuckled, but it sounded tired and weary, almost at odds with his young appearance. "Back then, I could barely even track my way out of a paper bag, let alone begin to start hunting down any of Hekapoo's clones. Those days and nights were full of nothing but me trying to find my way in a multiverse I barely knew at the time, doing the same routine over and over again. Try to get food, build a shelter out of anything I can, and check to see if I was on Hekapoo's trail. After all that time, all those years, they just blended together." He laid still for a second, staring at the ceiling as if searching for something.

"I don't know when I stopped thinking about those years, but now, back on Earth, I can barely bring them back, not even when I try to. All I remember is that it was tough, and that I had made a routine to keep me going. A good deal of my memory, before I started being the adventurer I am-I mean, I was-is like that. But some days...Some days I know I won't ever forget."

"That's fair, some days can be pretty memorable and hard to forget. But, out of the days you do still remember clearly, how many of those days would you describe as 'good?"

A slow smile stretched across Marco's face, a pleasant one this time. "Well, most of them really."

0000

All was calm in the aisles of Quest Buy. Shoppers were shopping, cash registers were registering, and Pony Head and Star were dodging and firing energy blasts at what was chasing them. Finally, both of them turned a corner and jumped behind some of the shelves to avoid the blasts.

Pony Head yelled over the commotion. "Who the heck leaves Slaughter-nauts and Murder Golems on in a store?! I get you sell them! You sell everything! But don't leave them on! I don't care how many we bust up, I am not paying for them!"

Meanwhile, Star took a deep breath and readied herself. She jumped back into the open aisle, wand ready and glowing. "NARWH-" Star paused in the middle of her spell to duck.

A stone head with a newly formed and still glowing dent the shape of a fist went flying over her head. Star got up to see Seraph, standing at the end of the aisle with her outstretched fist engulfed in flames.

"Ugh, that's annoying," she said with a slight frown as she lightly shook her hand, the flames curling around her fingers dying down.

Both Star and Pony Head looked into the aisle, where all that remained of the weaponized automatons were their burnt, scourged, and melted remains. Both princesses stared in utter surprise.

On their own, those things would have been no match for either Star and Pony Head, but the large group that had been chasing after them gave even their combined penchant for destruction some trouble.

Pony Head finally spoke to Star, unable to look away at the sheer destruction in front of her. "I know Marco is all about the hand fighting and junk, but that has to got to be from Hekapoo."

Star could only nod slowly.

"Man, that was amazing!" Seraph jumped up in delight. "Are there any more of those things? I want to do that again!"

"Yeah, but she definitely got that from Marco." Star smirked, reminded of the reaction Marco had the night they first met, right after his first monster fight.

"No, no, uh, it looks like they're fresh out." Pony Head pushed Seraph along with her muzzle, away from the scene of automaton carnage. "Plus, I don't want to be around when they start asking who's going to pay up."

Quickly, they hurried away from the mess before any employees showed up. After checking for any sloths in the vicinity, Star gave a sigh of relief. "Looks like we're all clear." She chuckled and turned to Seraph. "Good thing your mom's a fire elemental, or we might have gotten in some trouble back there."

"Huh?" Seraph just looked at Star in confusion.

"Yeah, you know, fire powers? Your mom?"

Seraph furrowed her brow. "My mom's not a fire elemental."

At this, Star got confused as well. "Well, isn't she on-"

"Hey, you three." The trio looked up to see a sloth guy waving at them. "Like, do you know who caused that mess back there? Someone's going to have to pay for it."

"...Uhhhh…"

0000

"Being there was actually pretty great. I had a goal pushing me forwards, and every day I would do or learn something new and exciting," Marco explained to Mr. Candle as best he could. "Wherever I would go, I would try to help whenever I could, and every day brought me one step closer to catching Hekapoo."

Mr. Candle took note of it. "Having a clear purpose to drive you every day must have been great, I presume."

"I guess it was."

"Yes, but was there more to it? Was there any other reason you liked being there?"

"I-I don't know, a purpose is one thing but you can always find a purpose. You can find your purpose anywhere. You make your purpose."

"So then, it was the adventure that drove you?"

"Well, uh, no. I had plenty of adventures back here with Star."

"Hm…" Mr. Candle flipped through his papers, a questioning look on his face. "Yes, yes, about Star Butterfly…She mentioned a little something about when she caught up with you. How you almost didn't want to come back. That you, quote unquote, 'liked going on adventures whenever you wanted,' that 'it was the journey." He leaned back in his chair and looked Marco on the eye. "You did come back to Earth in the end, but, if I may ask, what exactly was it that made you hesitate?"

"Uh…" Marco tried to concentrate and think. "I...I don't know. Maybe I did want something more. I loved the freedom and the adventures and the life I had made for myself in Hekapoo's dimension, but it wasn't like I didn't want to see my family and friends again. It's just…"

He found it hard to describe.

"I lived that life for so long, being in charge of my entire life and able to go and experience everything the multiverse had to offer whenever I wanted and however I wanted. It was just so hard to imagine me living any other life than the one I had made for myself." All he could do was sigh at this. "It still is."

Mr. Candle tapped his chin in thought. "Then what keeps you here then, if you feel that way so much?"

"I guess it's that...If I did leave, then I'm afraid I might not want to come back. I might never come back. That I might never see any of them again."

"Really? And what about now?"

Marco didn't have an answer to that.

0000

After that incident, the girls had gotten a shopping cart and were throwing in anything that drew Seraph's attention.

Right now, they had stopped at the snack section, which had snacks from all over the multiverse spread across infinitely long aisles. Just about anyone would be daunted by such a choice.

"Okay, for this, just go with your favorites or something." Pony Head started to poke around for treats for herself. "Oh heck yeah! Look at this B-fly! It's Chee-Z Chaaaaps!"

Star bit her lip in thought. "I think I'm going to try something new. I'm in the mood for something sugary and sweet." Star picked a few colorful bags of candy and placed them in the cart. "Anything looks good to you, Sarah?"

"I don't know," Seraph said, "I can't decide. There's too many!"

"Hmm." Star tapped her chin. "Okay, what flavors do you like?"

"I like savory stuff," Seraph said, poking a bag with her finger. It was full of something squishy and green, but it didn't look appetizing to her. "Maybe something a little spicy as well. Mom likes spicy stuff and I sorta picked up on that."

"Savory and spicy," Star noted. "Yeah, Marco likes that too." Star scanned over the snacks and spotted the aisle for them. "Okay, let's get a lot of that stuff so you can try them out."

"Oh what the heck, let's just get just a bunch of everything to try it out." Pony Head started shoving entire shelves of snacks into the cart, creating a small mountain of deliciousness.

Star and Seraph just looked at each other and shrugged, starting to grab armfuls of snacks as well.

0000

It had been a few minutes since Mr. Candle asked his question. He had waited for a reply, but with little progress to show for so far, he decided to try and poke directly for one instead. "So Marco, do you have an answer?"

"I don't know," Marco admitted.

"You don't know?"

"I...don't know. I just don't know. It just felt right, being there."

"But you came back. Why? Was it your friends and family?"

"My family and my friends...Well, I did miss them back then, but I hadn't seen them for so long that I guess I just sort of...moved on, you know?" Marco bit his lip.

"Though I still missed them deep down, I just...started thinking of them less and less as time went on. I had made a life for myself, traveling the multiverse, tracking down Hekapoo, having amazing adventures. It was great, but Star helped to remind me of them, to remind me that I had missed them. I think that that was what convinced me to come back. But now, after coming back, it's like I don't belong here anymore."

Marco was silent for a while, a frown on his face. "I've been trying to go back to what my life used to be like, but it's just so difficult. I can't remember how to be 'myself' half of the time, my friends and family look at me like I'm a complete stranger at times, and sometimes-" Marco stopped talking, his frustration causing his breaths to become ragged.

Mr. Candle waited for his breathing to ease up for a moment, then spoke. "And sometimes what?"

As the beating of his heart went back down, Marco took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "...Sometimes, I think about leaving a few days after I came back, about running off and exploring the multiverse. Just going off on my own and not telling anyone, not Star or my parents. But, I can't let myself go. I want to catch up with everyone, and I don't want to forget them again. I saw how worried Star was and how my parents reacted to me after I came back, and I don't want to worry them even more. It just doesn't feel right to leave anyone again."

"So, what about Hekapoo?"

"What?" Marco stared at him.

Mr. Candle just smiled back, an odd sparkle in his eye. "What is she to you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I may just be grasping at straws here, but you did tell me that you rather enjoyed that 16 year-long chase of yours, so clearly she had some influence on your actions, even in a passive way. And, despite how she brought you to her dimension away from Earth, the 'game of chase' you two had, and how, according to a Miss Star Butterfly, you didn't know about the time dilation until the very end, the two of you clearly got and stayed on close terms by the end of things, especially considering you now have your daughter living with you. So," Mr. Candle said, looking him directly in the eye, "let me ask you; what is Hekapoo to you?"

Marco stared at him, unsure of what to say to that.

"Look Marco, I'm not going to pry into any personal details or make you talk about anything that will make you uncomfortable," Mr. Candle started off. "I just would like to know what you think of her."

"Well, what can I say about her? Yeah, she's special to me. We used to be like rivals, but over time she had become someone I could trust, someone I could always depend on. A close friend."

"And then, at some point, the two of you got…Ahem, excuse me, more 'intimate."

Marco looked aside and rubbed the back of his neck, a faint blush in his cheeks. "Yeah, we kind of did."

"And you two had a child together. Now, that brings me to my next question. According to what I've been told, you only found out you had a daughter yesterday. I'd imagine that such a thing must have come as a big shock to you, so," Mr. Candle paused, letting his words sink in, "I want to ask, how do you feel about the whole thing?"

0000

After wandering off for a bit, Seraph found herself standing before a rack of weapons. The metalworks shone in the display in front of her, an allure of action and danger emanating from them. Her eyes looked around the selection of weapons before they fell onto a long sword, one that looked quite enticing to her with its sharp blade and ornamental decorations.

"Oooh." Transfixed, Seraph started reaching for the leather-bound grip, almost as if she was spellbound by the sword. Absentmindedly, she wondered where she left Star behind and what Star would think of such an awesome blade.

Meanwhile, several aisles over, Star was checking out a set of lava lamps, similarly transfixed by the colorful blobs bouncing around inside them. "Hey, what do you think of these lamps Sharon?" After hearing no response, she called out again, unmoving from her position in front of the lamps. "Sharon? Come look! They're changing color again!"

Again, no response came. Star's head shot up, the lamps now at the back of her mind. "Sharon?" Turn. "Sierra?" Another turn. "Serah?"

Her eyes turned to pinpricks, a ball of horror settling in her gut.

"...oh no."

Back at the weapon rack, Seraph had picked the sword from its stand and was now swishing it around, bashing and cutting imaginary enemies. "Shiiiiing! Shiiiiing!" she said out loud with each swing. She then narrowed her eyes and took what she hoped looked like a stance of pure awesomeness. "You think you can beat me? Hah! Well, why don't you take a load of this!"

And with that, she swung her sword as hard as she could in front of her, the sound of the metal blade cutting through the air like music to her ears. However, she had forgotten one key step in achieving maximum coolness; holding on tight enough. And right at that moment, a very worried princess ran out around the corner of an aisle into the open.

"-raph! Where are you SeraAAHHH!"

THUNK

Seraph looked on in horror with her hands over her mouth at the sword sticking out of the wall, directly above the golden locks of a familiar face she almost just cut off.

A few blonde strands of hair fell to the ground as Star's eyes slowly turned from the sword that almost beheaded her to the girl who had just thrown it. Her face was a rumbling mixture of emotions; fear, horror, panic, and now, most notably, something that started to look more and more like fury.

"OhmygoshImsosorryImsosorryImsosorry-" Seraph said quickly, trying to excuse herself, "-IdontknowwhathappenedIwasjustplayingarounditlookedsoniceandcooland-"

"You're not getting that sword." The voice stopped Seraph's explanation in its tracks and sent a shiver down her spine. "I've been looking all over Quest Buy for you! Where the heck have you been?!"

"...I-I-I just...I was just was walking around and saw that stand of cool weapons and thought you might like them and stuf-"

"Like them. Like them?! You almost cut my body off with a sword! What the heck were you thinking?!"

Seraph stepped back, a flinch coursing through her body. Her bottom lip started to tremble, and she started to curl down into herself.

Star didn't know why Seraph reacted like that at first, but then she felt her face and looked at the girl more closely. A scowl was contorted into place as her heartbeat was thumping in her ears, and the girl in front of her had an expression of fear, of terror. She was afraid.

Of her.

"I-I-It was just an accident, I didn't mean to," Seraph meekly stated, and Star felt guilt balling up in her gut when tears started to form in the girl's eyes. She didn't mean to make her cry!

"It's okay it's okay!" Star took hold of Seraph's hands and tried to put on a smile. "I'm sorry, I just...don't know what came over me there." Seraph sniffled a little, and Star tried to think of what to say to her. "I was just so worried I wouldn't find you again! You can't just wander off and mess around with weapons like that! Someone could've gotten hurt!"

Seraph just looked at Star with guilt-ridden eyes in silence. "...Look, please just…just…" Star inhaled deeply and gave a long sigh. "...Just don't run off like that again, okay? Who knows what could've happened if I didn't find you."

As Seraph slowly nodded and began to wipe her eyes, Star spotted an ice cream stand in the distance. Maybe that could cheer Seraph up!

"How about I get you some ice cream, 'kay?"

Sniff. "...okay."

0000

"Well, I think-actually, no, I know Seraph is a miracle. Even though I don't know how she could have been born in the first place, I don't really care about that. She deserves to have her father in her life, and I want to make sure that happens, though I am a little upset about some things." Marco looked aside for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "I mean, don't get me wrong, but...I would have loved to have held her when she was a baby, to see her take her first steps, to hear her first words...You know what I mean?"

"Of course! It's understandable that you'd feel that way. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you, but if it is any solace, I am certain that you would make a great father."

Marco laid down into the couch and stared up at the ceiling. Those words from Mr. Candle made him feel better, more reassured in the future. He wasn't completely sure why, but Marco felt as though a large weight had been removed from his shoulders, and the corner of his mouth curled in agreement with him.

Mr. Candle looked at him, his pen tapping his chin in thought, before he continued. "You know what, let's double back for a bit. I want to ask you again; what do you think of Hekapoo?"

"What more is there to say?"

"Well, you two seem to have quite a unique relationship from what I can tell, so what I want you to do is try and describe it to me so that I can try to understand."

Marco thought about it for a moment. "I don't...I don't really know how to describe it."

"Are you afraid of losing that relationship?"

"What?! No!" Marco immediately answered, resolute in his conviction. "That would never happen! Hekapoo values our relationship like I do, and I know she wouldn't do anything to break it."

"You certainly seem to have a lot of faith in her."

"Of course I do."

"Did it make it easier to leave when she said you could come back at any time?"

"Yeah-I mean, I guess it helps to know I can go back to visit her anytime I want."

"Hm." Mr. Candle simply smiled at him.

"Okay, seriously, what's with the smile?"

0000

The trio of girls had been wandering Quest Buy for a while now. The maps there were never of any use in telling where you were or where the department you wanted was, but finally, after an hour or so, they had stumbled onto the prime motherload of all departments.

"Hey look!" Star shouted. "It's the clothing department!"

"Clothing?" Seraph only quirked an eyebrow. "What do we need at the clothing department?"

Pony Head smirked at her. "Girl, you're gonna need a lot more variety in your clothes if you're gonna hang out with us. Besides, you kinda dress a lot like your dad."

"Yeah," Star mused out loud as she tugged at the sleeve of Seraph's red hoodie, "it really looks a lot like Marco's hoodie. Where'd you get it in the first place?"

"Oh, it was something mom gave me," Seraph answered. "She said it was something she had to remind her of my dad."

Star's lips pursed in thought over that. From what she could remember, Marco had only taken one of his hoodies when he was taken by Hekapoo, but he brought the same one back at the end. Had Hekapoo snuck into his room and stolen one of them? It wouldn't be that hard for her to open a portal to Marco's room anytime she wan-

Aaaand she was going to ignore that train of thought. "Okay, let's get you some new clothes." Star hurriedly pushed Seraph along the row of dresses, motioning for her to pick something out for herself.

"Yeah," Pony Head said, smiling at Seraph, "pick something out for yourself. Like your old man said, 'Individuality is totally like not criminality,' or whateve's."

Seraph paused for a moment. "That kind of sounds like something a doll my mom got me would say." She shrugged before going back to the clothes.

"A doll? You still play wit-oh wait, right. Nevermind." Pony Head zoomed around the shelves with a judging look on her face, then came back and dumped a small pile of clothes in Seraph's arms. "Hm, you seem like a fall or maybe a summer to me, so let's start out with those colors."

As Seraph went into the dressing room to try them on, Star and Pony Head stayed back to wait for her. In the meantime, Star tried to put on a floppy hat and see how look it looked on her in the mirror, but then Pony Head pushed her over to a dark corner of the store. "B-fly, are you okay? You've been acting a bit cray-cray today."

"Pony Head, what are you talking about?" Star just looked back at her in confusion.

"We've been besties for, like, foreve's girl, you think I wouldn't notice anything wrong? Besides, you never forget to get me a scoop of fruity mint swirl, and yet you go ahead and get ice cream with Marco's kid without getting me any." At this, Star tried to excuse herself, but Pony Head wasn't taking any of it. Not without a raised eyebrow, that is. "Does this have to do with your crush on Marco?"

"What?!" Star choked out. "Me and Marco? Ha! Whaaat? Pfft! No way!"

Pony Head just looked at her with a flat expression. "Uh-huh, you keep saying that. But seriously, I can tell something's bothering you bad B-fly. I don't like being all that mushy and stuff, but you know you can count on me if you have any problems."

"No no, Pony Head, you don't need to do that, but thanks for offering." Star sighed. "It's just that… things are just a little bit weird right now with Sarah around, but I can't blame her for all of my problems." Pony Head opened her mouth as if to say something, but Star kept talking before she could say anything. "It wouldn't be right. Besides, things' got to be weird for her too, having to go live on Earth without her mom without any friends or anything." At this, Star stared Pony Head straight in the eye.

"I was like that once, but Marco changed all of that for me. I just feel like I should return the favor by trying to be friends with his...with his daughter." It felt uncomfortably strange for her to say that word out loud, though she couldn't figure out why.

"Aw girl, that got me right in the heart. Okay, let's hug it out."

Star just chuckled before hugging her friend.

"But really, if you ever need to talk about this, I am there for you anytime B-fly," Pony Head whispered to her. "Just let me know and I'll do the rest."

"Hey, uh, Star? Pony Head?"

Star quickly let go of her friend when she heard that voice, trying her best to look as normal as possible. "Yes? What is it?"

"What do you two think?" Seraph asked as she came out of the dressing room, her hands timidly behind her back.

"Oooh, that looks nice!"

0000

"So, Marco, seeing as it's starting to get late, can I give you my thoughts before I go?" Candle leaned in and steepled his hands together. Their talk had lasted well into the day, and now it seemed that it was about to finally come to a close.

"Yeah, suuure?" Marco said, less than excited for what he would hear.

"I think you just need some more time to get used to life back on Earth."

"I know I need to-wait, what?" Marco jolted up from the couch in confusion. "You're not going to go on about how I should try to 'be more involved with my friends and family' or anything?"

"Well, that would be a good thing for you to do, but Marco," Mr. Candle said as leaned back in his chair, "I think you'll be just fine with a little bit of time. You just have to get used to being back in this world and around everyone, that's all.

As Marco quietly mulled over his words, Mr. Candle sat up and put his hand on Marco's shoulder. "I do realize it might not be the easiest thing for you to, but I think it might make things better for yourself if you stopped trying so hard to be who you used to be and focus on being who you are now. Marco, you're still who you are, just with a few extra years of memories and experiences added on. There's no harm in not being the all-perfect-grades safe kid anymore, and I'm sure your family and friends would understand if you go 'out' by yourself sometimes. Just be sure to let them know beforehand, okay?"

Beep beep. Beep beep.

Looking down at his watch, Mr. Candle got up from his chair. "And that looks to be about it." He brushed off his shirt and looked Marco in the eye. "Now Marco, I did tell your parents I would give them my thoughts on our conversation, but like we agreed on, I won't be telling anyone about what you told me too much. If you ever want to talk to me again, your parents have my number and you're free to come to my office anytime. See me whenever you want, Mr. Diaz." And with that said, Mr. Candle opened the door and started to walk away.

"Mr. Diaz? Why'd he call me Mr. Dia-" Marco's eyes widened in realization. "Wait a minute."

Rocketing out of his seat and to the door, Marco called out to Mr. Candle. "Hey! Don't think I missed what you did there! You kept calling me by my first name to get me more comfortable with talking to you! That's day-one psychology! I won't fall for that again!"

Mr. Candle simply turned around, shrugging his shoulders with a smirk on his face. "Why, I have no idea what you mean, Marco." He then put his hands in his pockets and whistled off, not looking back at the house as he did so.

0000

A few minutes later, after Marco got the adrenaline out of his system, he found himself on the couch thinking about what Mr. Candle had said to him. However, his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of space and reality tearing apart. A swirling portal formed in the middle of the living room and Star emerged from it, several bags lining her arms.

"Star?" Marco got up and looked at the princess, who was currently sporting a sheepish grin.

"Sorry we're back so late Marco. We had to find something to eat after we were done shopping, and believe me, three pounds of snacks don't make that good of an appetizer. "

As Star's stomach grumbled in memory of that horrible experience, Seraph stepped out of the portal carrying several bags in her arms as well, though of a much smaller number than the princess. At this, Marco could only blink in surprise.

"Hey dad! Look at what Star got for me! What do you think?"

Seraph's outfit, though she still had her hoodie and boots on, had changed. Underneath a stylish orange leather jacket was her red hoodie, a simple yellow blouse resting under both layers. With her original pair of boots came a new black pair of jeans, and to top off the whole ensemble was a bright red ribbon belt with a silver buckle wrapped around her waist.

As he looked up and down at Seraph's new outfit, Marco could only smile. "You look great in it!" he said, stepping forwards and wrapping his arms around her tightly.

Though she was a bit surprised at first, Seraph hugged him back. "Thanks, dad."

After a short moment of hugging, Marco pulled back and looked her in the eye. "And did you say thank you to Star?"

"Daaad, of course I did," Seraph told him, pulling him back into a hug so he couldn't see her mouth 'Thank you' to Star.

Star just chuckled at the scene, then she looked down at the bags in her hands, seemingly unsure of something.

"You...know what, I think I'll go leave these in your room. You should probably spend some time with...with Marco," Star excused herself as she went up the stairs, leaving Marco and Seraph to finish their hug.

After she left, Marco sighed. "Too bad you two already ate. I was thinking about making some friendship-slash-family nachos tonight, but looks like I won't need to."

"I can still eat!" Seraph told him with a new and eager look on her face. "I want to try those nachos!"

"Well, okay, but it might take some tim-"

A portal formed next to them as a sloth stepped out of it, a clipboard in his hand. "Hey, Quest Buy delivery here for, uh, a Seraph Diaz?"

"Right here!" Seraph took his clipboard and signed it as Marco stared in confusion.

"Wait, what deliver-"

"Bring it in guys!" the sloth called out, and several more sloths came out of the portal carrying several large boxes. As the sound of heavy objects being moved around filled the living room, Marco turned Seraph around to face him.

"Seraph, what's all this?"

Instead of a sheepish look on her face like would be expected, Seraph just looked as happy as could be. "Star thought that I might need some things for my room, so…" she said as she shrugged with an innocent smile.

"And she paid for all these?" Marco felt his shoulders drop as he asked, the urge to facepalm growing every second.

"Yeah," Seraph answered as a sloth with a large ornate dresser passed besides her. "Ooh, she even got the one with rubies on it! I thought she said you guys were sold out!"

Right there and then, Marco decided he needed to have a talk with Star about spoiling his daughter.

"STAR!"

0000

Walking down the night-covered streets, Mr. Candle was in the middle of a phone call with the elders of the Diaz house.

"...Yes, yes...That's all I can say about that...No, there's no need for that, it was my pleasure...Okay, let me know if any new developments come up. Thank you, goodbye."

As he made to put his phone away, a torrent of flame burst into existence to his side. A pair of lilac hands split the curtain of fire and a horned figure stepped out.

"Hey," Tom greeted with a wave as the flames died down behind him. In turn, Mr. Candle simply nodded back.

"Hello, sir."

"So, how did things go?"

"Marco is fine, he just needs some time to readjust." Mr. Candle looked to the side and shifted his jaw a bit. "Actually, finding out he had a daughter was probably the best thing that could've happened for him."

Tom just stared at him in bewilderment. "Really, having a kid helped him?"

"I'm sure he probably would have adjusted back either way, though having a kid like this would just help accelerate things. Plus, well..." Mr. Candle trailed off.

"Plus what?"

Mr. Candle stroked the end of his beard slowly, the corners of his eyes slightly crinkling. "It's actually kind of funny. Sixteen years and he's still not good at realizing some things, even with a kid and her..."

"What are you talking about?" Tom asked, completely and utterly lost at this point.

Candle just walked around the confused demon and continued his walk off into the night. "I'll get back to you later, sir. Got some stuff at the office to take care of."

"Dude, don't just walk away!" Tom exclaimed behind him. He then huffed and crossed his arms in annoyance. "Man, that's just rude!"

0000

Marco was lying down on the floor, beaten and weary from the battle he had just endured.

In all his time in Hekapoo's dimension, in all the times he and Star had faced legions of evil monsters together, never once had he felt such a mighty need to run as much and far as he did. Something he knew had been coming had arrived, and as much as he tried to fight it, he couldn't do anything to avoid it.

It was already bad enough his parents insisted on giving him the 'talk' again, saying he needed a refresher even though he absolutely did not need it.

"-Dad, I already know how to use one, you don't have to do the banana demonstration again!"

His mother only tsked at him while his father started peeling the fruit. "You should still get a reminder so we don't have any more surprise grandkids show up. At least, not without telling us beforehand."

"Mom!"

During that section of his life, Marco's brain had futilely tried and failed to shut down several times in an attempt to preserve the last remaining shreds of his sanity and dignity.

Oh, how much did Marco wish that was as bad as it got. But they weren't done yet. At all.

When his brain had finished rebooting, a barrage of questions about his sex life came barreling into him. They asked him about why he hadn't thought of using a condom, if he'd been with anyone else other than Hekapoo (he hadn't, which he wasn't sure if it relieved his parents or not), and about what exactly his relationship with Hekapoo was. But thankfully and finally, their torrent of inquiries eventually calmed down and finally came to an end with a single question; how was he taking the whole situation?

After deciding to give them the same kind of response he had given to the same question just hours before, Rafael and Angie just smiled.

"I think we understand," Rafael said. He then put his hand on Marco's shoulder. "I want you to know we're here if you need any help."

Enveloping Marco in a hug with Rafael following suit, Angie spoke. "We still love you and we are already falling in love with our granddaughter. Just remember that you don't have to go through this alone."

Marco smiled under their caring embraces. "Thanks dad. Thanks mom. I will."

Angie, pleased at hearing those words but still wanting to make sure their message got across, then looked him in the eye and took a breath. "Marco, we trust you. We trust that you'll make the right choices and that you'll let us know if you ever need us."

At his determined nod, Marco's parents grinned, and they simply left without saying another word, leaving Marco to ruminate about their talk on his bed. He lied down, staring up at the ceiling. After a few minutes, he reached his arm over to his drawer, pulling out a picture. It was the same picture that Hekapoo had given him the night before, and Marco's thoughts soon wandered to the discussion he had with his parents about his and Hekapoo's relationship.

His parents had thought, at first, that they were lovers, but Marco didn't think that word felt right. It had a large weight to it, speaking of a promise and bond that neither of them had ever made to the other nor thought about making. Then his mother had asked if it was like having 'friends with benefits,' but that phrase felt way too tawdry for what they were, and Marco asked his mother never to use that phrase again.

If he was asked, Marco would easily call Hekapoo a friend, a former rival, and someone he could trust. But truthfully, when he thought about it, he wasn't actually entirely sure what they were. On some days, they would hang out together at whatever crazy party had caught Hekapoo's eye, and on some nights, when the mood struck them, they'd share a bed, but they didn't really think much of it afterwards.

However, most of the time, it was simply spent in their 'game' of chase, exchanging friendly and harmless jokes and taunts as Hekapoo weaved in and out of his grasp and as he followed her wherever she went. Marco didn't know where they stood now, especially with Seraph in the picture, but he knew that he would try to be the best parent he could, and he hoped that Hekapoo would do the same.

Standing up from his bed to get ready for the night, Marco moved to put the picture away-making a mental note to get a frame for it in the meantime-but in his open drawer sat an object that he didn't recall putting there.

As he took a closer look, his eye simply twitched as his hand sped to its destination on his face. He groaned as he removed his hand, the box of condoms still sitting in front of him.

"Really?"

0000

Wearing a large orange night gown, Seraph had just finished brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed. Her room had been barren the previous day, but now her room was far more full of life. Colorful posters were plastered across the walls, and various knick-knacks from Quest Buy littered her new desk, chairs, and drawers, courtesy of Star.

She was on her stomach, enjoying her new lava lamp from her bed and watching how the blobs inside hypnotically twisted and turned, how they changed size and color as they cast shadows on her walls. When her trance had come to an end, she looked towards a small black frame to her nightstand, which held a worn out picture. It had been a gift from her mother, a picture of Hekapoo with a man wearing a torn leather jacket. Though he looked much older than what he looked like now, the eyes told her exactly who was next to her mother.

Reaching over to her drawer, she pulled out the second oldest gift from her mother, a doll of her favorite princess, and she turned off her light. Crawling under her covers, she looked up at her ceiling, which was now covered with dozens of glow-in-the-dark stars, arranged to resemble the night sky from her mother's dimension. Memories of her mother taking her outside at night right before going to be to point out the stars, telling her about the constellations, the stories about their stars, and about her father ran through her head. She then cuddled her plush dragon and her doll tightly, the voice of her mother whispering good night to her.

"Good night mom. Good night, Princess Marco."

She yawned as her eyelids started to feel heavier and heavier. "I wonder if you...know...my…...dad…"

And then, she fell asleep, softly snoring the night away.

0000

Omake: Mother's Day

In the middle of a family living room, on a bright and sunny Californian day, a pair of blades cleaved through reality, leaving behind an orange swirling vortex just shy of the coffee table and barely missing the fireplace. A pair of red boots made their way out of the portal as it closed behind them, their wearer looking around the room for a specific daughter of hers.

Hekapoo had just come from scouring through a good chunk of the multiverse, searching for the leak for the Magic High Commission, and at the moment, she was looking forwards to a nice hot lava bath at her castle and some peace and quiet. However, instead of her forge, she was currently standing in the middle of the Diaz family home.

Seraph had been especially adamant about spending the day together, this day on Earth, for some reason Hekapoo had no clue towards. Though her visits to the house had started to become slightly more and more frequent in the recent past, apparently today was supposed to more important than all of the rest, one day that her little girl just had to spend the entirety of with her.

Although she loved her daughter very much and was interested to find out what was just so special about this Earth date, reasons had just piled up to try and keep her away today. A case of someone abusing a pair of scissors she had made because they had partied too hard and got the wrong drinks, having to stock up on materials for her forge, and the Commission had taken up a large chunk of her day, almost making her forget about everything else except getting some relaxation, but thankfully, she managed to remember to keep her promise to Seraph before the day was up.

Hekapoo took a few steps, her footsteps muffled by the thick carpet under her boots. Normally, whenever she showed up, the house would have been full of life with at least one person around to hear her entrance, but nobody greeted her this time. Not even Seraph.

"Hello? Anyone here?" she called out, hoping for a response. "Seraph? I'm here!"

However, the one she did receive was the smell of something burning, which was soon followed by the sound of a fire alarm going off upstairs. Following the smoky smell and ignoring the blaring of the alarm, Hekapoo raced her way to find Seraph in the Diaz kitchen surrounded by a large amount and variety of foods, with quality ranging from 'horribly undercooked' to 'pure charcoal,' and an almost completely ruined kitchen. In the middle of the mess was Seraph herself, covered in ash and the remains of burnt food with a fire extinguisher in her hand and an extra-smoked apron tied around her waist.

"Uh...surprise?" she said slowly, a strained smile stretching under Seraph's tired eyes.

"Seraph, are you okay?!" Hekapoo quickly grabbed a napkin and started to wipe what could be generously called fried eggs from Seraph's face.

Her daughter only let out a disappointed and disheartened sigh. "Yeah, I'm fine. I managed to put out the fire before the house burned down."

Hekapoo looked at the scene of cooking carnage around her and the faint impressions of smoke in the ceiling. All she could do was blink. "Sweetie, what happened?"

"Well, I was trying to cook something, but…" Seraph glanced in the direction of the piles of ruined pots and dishes, "it didn't quite...work out that well."

Hekapoo blinked. "Why are you trying to cook? And where's everyone?"

Seraph let out another sigh. "Abuelo and dad took grandma out to brunch."

That sentence just puzzled Hekapoo. "Brunch? I think Marco mentioned that once. That's, like, a mix of breakfast and lunch, right?" Seraph simply nodded at her, to which Hekapoo quirked her eyebrows. "So, what? Do they put eggs in burgers or something?"

"Actually, they do do that here and it's quite yummy, though it can get a bit messy sometim-wait," Seraph stopped herself, shaking her head. "That's not why I...This was supposed to be a special meal for you. It's…Today's Mother's Day, mom."

Hekapoo quirked her eyebrow. "Mother's Day? What's that?"

"It's an Earth holiday mom, it's meant to celebrate, well, moms. You're supposed to do something nice for your mom and spend the day with them. Dad invited me to go with them to grandma's brunch, but I wanted to spend the whole day with you." At that, Hekapoo's heart turned to mush, full of adoration for her daughter. "I even tried to make you a nice meal, but..." Seraph pouted and looked downwards.

Hekapoo softly chuckled before planting a kiss on her daughter's forehead. "That's very thoughtful of you." She leaned down, caressing Seraph's cheek with her hand. "You do remember you don't know how to cook yet, right?"

Seraph held out an open book, its pages freshly stained with ingredients and ash. "I thought I could just follow the recipe, but then it got all confusing with the broiling and the sautéing thing and the stuff."

"Yeah, cooking is more of an art than a science," Hekapoo said, her finger on her chin in remembrance of her first times cooking. "Even I took some time to get good at it the first time I tried."

Seraph smiled for a moment, but then looked down and rubbed her elbow morosely. "I really messed things up, didn't I. I ruined the kitchen and I couldn't even cook anything properly for you, mom. Sorry about all this."

"Sorry? Sorry about what? We get to spend the day together, isn't that the point?"

Seraph looked up at her mother, a small and hopeful grin forming on her face.

"Okay, let's clean this place up first," Hekapoo told her. "Then we'll see what's still left in the fridge and we can make something together. "

"Really? But I'm supposed to make something for you. It's supposed to be a gift!"

"Well, I get to spend the day with you and that's all I need. If you really want to give me something, then help me make something we can both share."

Thankfully, Hekapoo knew some magic for the stains and smell of smoke lingering on the walls from her times in her forge, and her pyrokinesis definitely helped with getting rid of all the ruined dishes of food, though she hoped the Diazes wouldn't notice the 'cleaned up' stove, oven, and fire alarm upstairs. At least the delivery guys had the same models of equipment on hand, thank goodness, but that blaring had started to get on her nerves after a while.

Now, Hekapoo and Seraph were looking through the fridge and pantry for something to cook. It had been a few tiring hours since Hekapoo had arrived from her exhausting work, but here with her daughter, she barely felt tired at all.

"You know," Hekapoo began while squeezing an avocado to test its ripeness, "for a long time, I didn't know how to cook either. I mean, I don't really need to eat or anything so I never really bothered to learn back then. I just ate whenever I wanted to just because, and if I happened to want something to eat then I could just go out and get something. But if you asked me to actually cook something from scratch? Heh, now that was a recipe for disaster!" Hekapoo laughed at some far off memory in mirth, remember her own epically terrible attempts at cooking. Though Seraph had only ruined part of her kitchen, Hekapoo would have been lucky just to have one at the end of things.

Seraph listened in rapt attention as she absentmindedly picked up a loaf of bread and some garlic cloves. "So how did you learn to cook?"

"Well, your dad actually taught me how to make my first real dish and a couple of cooking techniques as well." Hekapoo started chopping some vegetables with a knife, the cuts smooth and quick. Meanwhile, Seraph tried the same next to her, though her cuts were much slower and not as even. "And then, when I had you, I started to taking cooking classes, as I was not just going to order takeout every single day. Luckily for me, I had some time to learn; baby food comes in jars and doesn't take much to prepare, and clones are pretty helpful for being in more than one place at a time."

As they slid the chopped pieces into a boiling pot on the stove, Hekapoo's mind wandered back to the past. "The day you were born was one of the scariest days of my life. When I got to the hospital, I was in complete pain everywhere. I didn't even realize that I was pregnant with you until the doctors told me!"

Hekapoo set down her empty board and knife and exhaled softly. "I didn't even have time to think about the whole situation before I had you. You were this tiny little thing with messy red hair and blinking gold eyes, and you had such a strong little grip with those tiny fingers." She paused in the middle of setting up plates on the table, and Seraph couldn't find anything to say.

"I remember the first thought I had back then. I made this. I made you. I made this amazing living thing in my arms, and I was responsible for this life. I was this baby's whole world right now, and it was scary and wonderful all at the same time." Hekapoo turned to look Seraph in the eye, her face soft and smiling. "At that point I realized something. Something incredible."

"What?" Seraph found herself asking, blinking owlishly at her mother. "What did you find out?"

Hekapoo gave a kind and loving smile as she wrapped her arms around her daughter. "I realized that I loved you. That no matter how scary things got, I would always love you. That I would always love you, no matter what."

Seraph's heart surged with emotion as she reciprocated the hug. "I love you too, mom."

They stood there for what seemed to be a silent eternity, arms around one another and their love for each other almost palpable in the air. Nothing could possibly interrupt this moment. Nothing, that is, except the ding of a timer. Hekapoo and Seraph broke their hug, joyful tears welling up in their eyes, then they laughed together.

"Looks like the food's done."

It wasn't exactly a gourmet five-star meal, but that didn't matter to the mother and daughter pair. It was something they had made together, and that was all they cared about. They spent the meal talking about Seraph's progress at school and the new friends she had made as well as some of the craziness that Hekapoo had to deal with earlier. Who knew that popcorn machines could be used like that?

Afterwards, when they were out of topics and food and the day was starting to get late, Hekapoo got the idea to end the day with taking Seraph somewhere special in the multiverse. She had shown Seraph places with waterfalls made of diamonds, seas that slept with rivers that dreamed, and people made of smoke in cities made of songs before, but now she wanted to bring Seraph to a special event that would be happening soon, one that Seraph had never seen yet.

This event was the Kagero 'Celestial Lights,' a phenomenon that only occurred once every few millennia where several traveling clusters of sentient meteors would meet and collide with each other. These collisions would knock off and transfer gathered materials and information between the clusters, with some taking in said materials to grow and learn, and others using them to give birth to a new generation of meteors to travel the multiverse, eventually repeating the process far in the future. It was a sight to behold, and every instance was completely and utterly unique.

Hekapoo had taken Seraph to the Kagero star system; specifically, to a distant and lush planet called Fons. Fons was a planet full of forests and lakes, and the atmosphere was just perfect for viewing the celestial occurrence. Lying under a night-filled sky on the ground, the grass beneath them smelling like apples, the meteor storm had erupted above their heads. The sky danced with lights, awash in purples, greens, brilliant yellows, and colors Seraph swore didn't exist.

It was to these wondrous lights that Seraph had fallen asleep, and so Hekapoo, not wanting to wake her up, carried her back home and tucked her into bed. Placing Seraph's dragon plush next to her, Hekapoo watched as Seraph slowly reached out and cuddled it. Gently, Hekapoo kissed her daughter on the forehead and went to create a portal back home, but a hand sneaked out of the covers and caught hers.

"Thank you, mom," Seraph sleepily whispered. "Happy Mother's Day."

Hekapoo smiled. "Thank you, Seraph. Good night, I love you."

And with that, reality was cleaved open and closed as sleep finally took Seraph. That night, she dreamt of the times she shared with her mother and of the days they'd spend together in the future, all with a pleasant grin on her face.


Author's Notes: Hey, so, sorry for how long it's taken me to update. Me and my beta have been working out the details for future storylines. Basically, we got a lot of stories planned out and got details worked out. So, hopefully the story will come out more coherent and just overall better.

On a personal note I'm looking for a new job, I'm working on an abridge series as writer and editor and some voices. I'm writing my own book and trying to polish it up before having people look it over and get an editor. Plus I've gone ahead and written several rough drafts of future chapters. So, kinda been busy.

Thank you for all your kind reviews and waiting for me to get my stuff together. I hope you guys enjoy this chapter. Also sorry for the late Mother's Day omake, yeah things didn't work out there.

Final note, the new cover is something I commissions from hntrgurl13 on tumblr, go check their stuff out, buy things from them and tell them I sent you. And I guess leave a review in this story telling me what you think and if you got those references.


Beta Notes: Yeah, sorry about the late update as well. Figuring and planning out all of the future stories and arcs took quite a long time on its own, and having finals and AP exams the past few months really slowed down my ability to edit, especially with entire sections that we had to all but rewrite and the conversations, but we finally managed to finish this chapter. It's been really fun helping out with future stories (and exciting to wait for your reactions to what we've gotten planned), and thankfully, I'll be a bit more free this summer to work on this story. Also, we've hidden a couple of references in this chapter, especially one to an obscure game series that first came out about a decade ago. Kudos to anyone who can figure out the references!

This is IdeaGenerator, signing off.