Rent-A-Daughter – Part V
Tomorrow? In surprise, I shifted in the bed to look directly at her, and almost knocked her off me. “What?”
“Everything’s already packed. I almost wasn’t going to tell you. I didn’t think I could bear to say goodbye.”
I could feel the loss already. It was heartbreaking. After a few seconds thinking of what to say, I came out with, “It doesn’t have to be goodbye,” I said. “You can still visit.”
“We’re moving in with my aunt. In Florida.” That put visits out of the question.
“Oh.” It seemed pathetically inadequate. Just “Oh.” Like she told me she didn’t like one comic and wanted to get another. It was news that was just too big to process all at once, I knew I’d be losing something that had become an incredibly important part of my life, and I’d be losing it tomorrow. In some ways it was like losing a best friend, a lover, and a daughter all in one.
She sniffled, like she was choking back tears and echoed one of my biggest worries aloud. “I’m never going to see you again.”
My need to comfort her outweighed my own sadness. “You don’t know that,” I said, trying to be soothing, but my voice cracked a little with my own pain. “Nobody knows what the future will bring.”
“Do you think I could call you, sometimes? Just to talk?”
Although on one level I’d have loved that, I also knew how dangerous it could be. One long distance number appearing on the bill and her mother might grow suspicious. “That way might not be safe,” I said, hating that I thought of my own safety at a time like that. “But I’ll give you an e-mail address. For once you get a computer, or you can get on from a library or something. I’ll check it every day. Then maybe we can work out some safe way to talk voice.” Maybe we could eventually Skype or something.
She smiled a little. “Okay.” A few seconds later, she looked at my clock. “I should probably go. Mom said she’d be coming home early today.”
While she got dressed, I slipped on my boxers and went into my office. There, I wrote down an e-mail address… it was one of the backup ones I had for signing up to places that I might use again, but that risked spamming me. I gave it to her out in the living room, then suddenly thought of something, and told her to wait a minute.
I returned with a trade paperback collection of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, stories of Spider-Man she’d never yet read because they weren’t part of the main series. While she read the main books, sometimes they referred to things that happened in the Team-Up book, between the regular comic arcs, and when Maddy asked me about those references, I tried to explain… but I didn’t have a copy of it at the time. I’d read them online when I first started getting into the series. Last time I was at the comic store I picked up the collection, but I hadn’t showed it to her yet. “Here,” I said, crouching a little to be closer to eye-level. “Take it. A going-away gift. Something to read on the trip.”
She took it from me, turned it over to look at the cover, and gave something that was between a giggle and a sniffle, and wiped her eyes. “Thanks,” she said as she tucked the paper with my e-mail address in between the pages, like a bookmark. “I’m really going to miss you, Daddy.”
Tears were beginning to well up in me, too. “I’m going to miss you, too. Whatever happens, you’ll always be my little Supergirl.”
She ran into my arms and gave me one last, desperate hug, then pulled back a little, looking into my blurry eyes. After a moment’s hesitation, she leaned in again, and kissed me… on the cheek. At first, I thought she might be about to kiss me on the lips, but she moved aside at the last second. I returned the kiss on her own cheek. “I just want you to know I couldn’t imagine having a better daughter, even if it was just pretend, and I hope one day you find the kind of people who deserve to have you around.”
She laughed ruefully and started to pull away. “Okay, I better go or I’m going to start bawling and I won’t be able to stop.” With one finger she wiped away at her eye once more.
“Yeah, me too.” My eyes were more than a little dewy, although so far none had broken free and dripped down my face. “Goodbye Madeline.”
She took a few steps back, reached behind her for the doorknob, and slipped out, leaving my apartment for the last time. I did see her briefly the day she left, just long enough for her to wave goodbye while her mother dragged her by the hand to the elevator, and then, she was out of my life. She never e-mailed me. Every so often, I’d try to look her up, but even in the Google and Facebook age, I never managed to find her. I never forgot her, but tried my best to put her in my past.
It was over ten years before my past caught up with me.
I lived in that same apartment, all those years. It sounds odd, because I wasn’t a hermit, at least not as much as I was before Maddy, but I’d just grown used to it, and unwilling to change that one thing. Aside from that, though, after Maddy moved, my experiences with her kicked me out of that bubble I’d made and gave me the drive to try again out in the world. At first, the loss of Maddy and all the joy she brought in my life put me into another isolated depression, but when the pain receded a little, I actually began to feel better, and feared a return to the unchanging status quo of what I was before we met. More than that, I felt for the first time in a while that I didn’t have to return… because if somebody as great as Maddy could find me worth being around, even knowing my darkest sides, then perhaps I didn’t have to be alone. So, over the next few months, I made an effort, socialized, cultivated a few new friendships and did the work to maintain them, and even dated a little.
But even with all of that, knocks on my door were unusual. While I went out more freely, I still considered my apartment something of a Fortress of Solitude, with only my closest friends or whoever I was dating allowed inside, and I wasn’t dating anybody just then. So when I heard the distant tapping, I thought it was my imagination at first. Then there was another series of knocks, a little louder, and I got out of my office chair and went to the front door.
By the time I opened it, nobody was there, but I looked down the hallway and there was a dark-haired young woman halfway to the corner. She had heard the door and already turned back, and just stared at me.
“Oh my god,” she said finally.
“Can I help you?” I asked, and as she got closer, I noticed she looked familiar, but couldn’t place her immediately. The dark hair threw me at first. But when I looked at her face, I noticed there was a little dark freckle on her face that seemed familiar, and then, when she next spoke, I spotted a gap in her front teeth that brought old memories home. Her ears still stuck out a little, too, but her face had filled out so it wasn’t anywhere nearly as noticeable.
“It is you. You’re still here.”
“Maddy?” I asked, hardly believing it.
She smiled. “You remember me.”
I did, but I was also worried that the years had converted her memories of our time together into a story of abuse. If she came here looking for justice, I’d soon be in jail, or maybe even dead. Guns were easy to get, after all. “Of course,” I said, then deciding to risk her sudden wrath, added, “My little Supergirl.”
There was no wrath, just a genuine smile. “I can’t believe it’s you.”
“I can’t believe it’s you. Would you like to come in?”
She nodded, and followed me inside, looking around wide-eyed at everything. “It’s almost like I remember it. Like I’m stepping into a time capsule.”
I sat down on the couch, not the same couch we used to sit on, I’d replaced that one, but it was similar. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking at an apartment. I just moved here. I kind of felt like I needed a fresh start while I go to college.”
“Oh? What are you studying?”
“Ancient History.” She smiled. “See, I didn’t give it up. I just got a little sidetracked.” She looked up to one of my shelves, saw Wolverine, the one she broke. My collection had expanded out of my office and into my living room. “Do you still read comics?”
“A little, but mostly collections of old stuff… ever since Eternity Crisis, it’s not been the same.” I said, wondering if she’d even know what I meant. If she didn’t follow them herself after we parted, it was unlikely. Eternity Crisis was the last hurrah of the traditional comic book format, a story that ended the regular DC universe a couple years earlier. Marvel ended the year before, and started the business model that now dominated the industry.
“Oh, come on,” Maddy said, disbelieving. “It’s better than ever.”
I shrugged. “I guess I don’t like reading everything online.” Only a few comic stores remained in business in the country, in the biggest cities, but by the time Eternal Crisis rolled around, only one store survived in my city, and it closed soon after. But without brick and mortar stores, there was probably more material out there than ever, without Marvel or DC publishing a thing except for reprints. Instead of making new material themselves, the big two now sold licenses to any fan or company who wanted to produce their own works for profit, monetized in any way they desired, whether subscription or advertising or sales to the handful of comic stores. With the advent of automated computer penciling, anybody could produce comics online as a solo effort. Even though it was a lot cheaper to produce, only a few “fanverses” were actually profitable. The terms of the licenses required the licensees to split any proceeds with DC or Marvel, and it managed to keep the old companies alive when the bottom finally fell out of the market, at least until Hollywood began to implode.
“You know, you can get printed versions, too…” she pointed out. “They’ll even mail them to you.”
The other downside, for old fans like me, was that there were now so many universes to choose from, and many only lasted a few months before the originator realized how much work writing was and got bored, so it was hard to get invested in any of them. “Yeah, but there’s so many out there, hard to know what’s good.”
“MUSH is pretty good so far.” That was one of the popular ones, Multi-Universe Super Heroes, from one fan who managed to exploit an early loophole and acquired license to both DC characters and Marvel’s, and build a universe where Superman and Spider-Man coexisted. “They’ve even got Brian Michael Bendis writing a Daredevil/Batman crossover.”
“I can’t get into it,” I admitted. “I like my universes separate. Besides, I miss the X-Men.” They were sold separately from Marvel’s normal license, and the creator of MUSH never got the rights to them.
She laughed. She browsed through my shelves, trying to pick out which ones were new and which ones she remembered, and she stopped, transfixed, at a small, framed picture. “That’s me,” she said with wonder. She was dressed as Supergirl, posed with her hands on her hips.
“Yeah.” It was the only picture I kept of her. Whenever someone in my apartment asked about it, I claimed it was the daughter of a woman I’d dated for a few years and felt a little like a father towards.
She looked around, all over. “I don’t see any pictures of any other little girls…”
“There were no other little girls,” I said. And it was true. I had some limited social contact with younger girls since Maddy, mostly relatives, and in one case the daughter of a real woman I was dating, and I never once slipped and did anything inappropriate. The funny thing was, I had no serious temptations, either. I think part of it was because none of those girls were practically my whole world like Maddy was. I wasn’t as socially isolated, and I was having sex with women regularly, and wasn’t prone to sinking deeper into the dangerous fantasies. If I wasn’t seeing somebody for a long enough time, I patronized escorts (of legal age), just to prevent the build-up of urges.
I wasn’t cured of pedophilia, I still had fantasies, and collected dangerous porn… mostly cartoon images, but sometimes I’d stumble upon naked pictures of tween girls and save them for several months before deleting everything in a spiral of guilt or when starting a new relationship. It had just recently become possible to manufacture computer generated child porn at home that would fool anybody, and even include them in some limited virtual reality sex scenarios. I got on board with that as soon as it was possible… I always did like new gadgets. But that was strictly a release, a safety valve, never anything that dragged me deeper. I knew I’d slipped once, and I never wanted it to happen again with a real girl. “I’ve dated women, but never touched anyone under eighteen. You were my only mistake.”
“Mistake,” she said flatly.
I took a breath. “It was wrong what I did. I cared about you, but that doesn’t make it right, it makes it worse. There was no excuse for me taking advantage of you, and I’m sorry.” It was a long time coming, but I owed it to her.
“Don’t be,” she said. “What you did… it wasn’t so bad…”
“It was wrong.”
“Maybe,” she said. “But you know what I remember? That no matter how much you wanted it, you never once forced me or pressured me to do anything I didn’t want to do. And that you were there when I needed you. I can’t think of any other guy in my life I can say both things about. And it really, really felt good. So I guess I should say thank you.”
I didn’t even know how to deal with that. I’d apologized for molesting a girl and she thanked me for doing it. “I thought I’d fucked you up.” Maybe I still had, if she was thanking me. “I’d just assumed you realized I’d taken advantage of you and hated me. You never contacted me…”
She grimaced. “It was the stupidest thing! I lost the paper you gave me, with your e-mail address. It must have slipped out of the book you gave me, and got lost in the move. I was kicking myself for months! I tried looking you up a few times, but do you know how many James Browns there are?”
“Yeah,” I said. There were at least four in this city alone. My number was unlisted, and even on Facebook very little is visible to non-friends.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of times I wanted to talk to you and I couldn’t.”
“But…” I asked. “You’ve had a good life, though? Overall?”
She shrugged. “It’s a life, you know? Some good, some bad. You probably don’t want to hear about it.”
“Actually I do. I’ve always wondered what happened to you…” I said. “I thought about you all the time. I tried looking you up, too, you know, to see how you were doing, but I couldn’t find anyone with your name in Florida…”
“My Mom’s fault. She kind of got involved with a creepy stalker guy in Florida and we had to move again, and she went back to her maiden name, and made me too.”
“Oh my god.”
She laughed a little. “It sounds worse than it was. He didn’t follow us or anything, and I actually liked Ohio more.” She moved back to the couch and sat down, and for the next half hour or so we talked about our lives. From the sounds of it, she had her troubles… more than her share, in fact, but had started to overcome them. Her mother drifted into alcoholism and now they didn’t talk, her father Brian found religion and had a brief desire to make amends, but then later reversed himself and wound up deciding that she didn’t fit into his new family. But there were good spots too, she had to drop out of school but had recently gotten her high school equivalency on her own initiative and was now putting herself through college. “I know it’s not like there’s any demand for it these days. I’d be lucky if I even get a teaching position, much less anything in the field, but… I love it, you know? And you don’t abandon something you love.”
“That’s great,” I said. “I’m glad you pursued it. And I’m sure you’ll find something… degrees are still valuable, even if it’s just to show you’re willing to follow through.” That was true, but I was probably overestimating her chances. The country was in another massive job slump, especially for skilled jobs, in part because of the increase in computer automation in fields that were previously considered safe. College courses could be better done online without teachers, and the same programs that made it possible for virtual immersive child porn and that automatically draw comics was threatening to implode Hollywood and turn it to a town where one man with a computer and an idea could create a whole blockbuster movie by himself, without the need for lights, catering, practical effects, or even actors. Even my job was now mostly done by software. I survived a massive downsizing by convincing my bosses they needed me to monitor and maintain the programs. Like I always say, it pays when the people who employ you don’t really understand what it is you do.
It got quiet… I guess we’d reached a natural lull in the conversations, our stories both told, or so it seemed, and after a minute of silence, she asked, “So, are you seeing anybody right now?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s been a few months now.”
“Good, then I don’t have to feel guilty about doing this.” She leaned forward quickly, so quickly I didn’t even know what was happening until her lips made contact with mine, softly at first, then a little insistently as our mouths opened. Her tongue darted out, sought mine, and I responded.
Finally, she broke our kiss, and pulled back, just a little, but still intimately close. “I’ve been wanting to do that for years,” she said.
“I kind of did have a crush on you, you know…” I didn’t… I didn’t even really consider it. I knew she liked me, maybe even loved me, like a father figure, but even though we were sexual with each other, I’d always thought that she was just going along with it, and she had no romantic or sexual attraction to me. “And you were the first guy to make me cum.”
Her admission of a crush, that was the last piece, that let me let go of some of the guilt I’d held over those last few years. She had really wanted me, on some level, and, from what she told me of her life, it didn’t seem like I’d damaged her. Maybe I was responsible for some of her troubles in some indirect way, but there was nothing I could point to where my weakness all those years ago obviously ruined her. She’d even told me she’d clung to the things I said to her when she was feeling like nobody could love her.
I’m not trying to downplay it, but the more I heard about her life, the more I came to think that we weren’t abuser and victim, but just two damaged people that needed each other at a particular point in their lives, and maybe even helped each other. It was still wrong, a moral lapse as I called it earlier, I’m not going to deny that, but… wrong doesn’t always mean hurt. It’s like if I was driving drunk with a child in the backseat. It was totally irresponsible of me, and just because we got home safely, it doesn’t negate that. But there’s no need to keep dwelling on that one mistake, if she came through it okay.
I didn’t know what to say, though, at that moment, after she admitted her feelings. “I hope it was worth the wait,” I mumbled.
“Sorry,” she said, blushing a little. “I know I’m not exactly your type any more.”
“No, trust me, you’re well within my type…” And it was true. She was older than my ideal, but that didn’t matter. She was still beautiful, and her body still seemed tight and petite, although now she had a rather impressive bust for someone her size.
Madeline looked down at my lap, and let her hand fall there. I had a bulge, and she grinned. “Then you want to see if you can still make me cum?”
Before I knew it, we were making out, and then, not long after, making love. In the bedroom, she rode on top of me, much heavier than the last time, and now with an impressive set of grapefruit-sized breasts to hold onto. And though, in my heart of hearts, I find a much flatter chest to be more attractive, boobs are certainly a lot of fun to play with in the heat of passion.
We didn’t talk much once we got to the making out stage, just let it happen, but as she bounced up and down on my cock, she began to say softly, “Oh, yes, fuck me Daddy, that’s it, fuck me hard…”
She climaxed first, and then again, before I was done… maybe it’s one of the side effects of getting older, but I seem to last longer… it’s not quite as intense, but still a fantastic ride, and for longer, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to make your partner cum twice before you’re ready to go. But her second orgasmic cry of “Oh, Daddy,” triggered that sensation, and I shot off into her, and then we lay together in my sheets.
“I think I’m going to take the apartment,” she said, after she’d caught her breath. “It’s on the floor below.”
“So we could see each other… more?” We hadn’t really discussed if this would be a one-time thing… we hadn’t discussed anything, really, it had happened so fast.
“If you’d want to.” She seemed a little insecure, unsure of herself, almost like she was a kid again.
I put an arm around her. “I would. I really would.” Whether that meant casual sex or dating, I didn’t know. We hadn’t talked about exactly what we were looking for. But I’d take what I could get, though I knew I’d prefer something more like the latter. We had enough in common, seemed to be sexually compatible, and it would be refreshing, once, to have a woman that knew my darkest secret, my attraction for little girls.
“There’s just one thing…”
“I have a daughter.”
My heart jumped. She’d conspicuously left this out of her life recap, although now that I thought about it there were some pauses where she seemed to think twice about what she was about to say, and changed tack. “Oh.”
“Her name’s Mary Jane. She’s seven.” I did the math quickly and relaxed a little. One bullet dodged, that meant it couldn’t be mine. I didn’t screw her up by getting her pregnant at twelve. But there was only one other reason I could think of to hide it, or bring it up now…
The moment hung, and I decided to broach it first. “I understand. You don’t want to risk it, with me being… what I am.”
She looked up to me. “No. I mean, I trust you. I had to practically beg you to touch me remember. I think you’d be okay… but… her dad split before she was born. And after, well, most guys don’t want a relationship with a single mother. They’ll hang around a while for the sex, but don’t want to be a daddy. I promised myself I wasn’t going to get serious with anybody unless I thought they were going to stick around. She could use a father figure in her life, maybe someone who can supervise her while I work… do you think you could do that?”
“I want to,” I told her. “But are you sure you’re not worried I might… slip?”
“No, but…” What I didn’t say, just thought, was that you couldn’t, probably shouldn’t, trust a pedophile at his word. Even one of the ‘good’ ones. We sometimes slip.
“I don’t think you’d hurt me like that, and I don’t think you’d hurt her at all.” She snuggled up a little closer.
I told her I’d think about it, but never came to a firm decision… yet we kept seeing each other and eventually she introduced me to her daughter. MJ’s a great kid, and I fell into a fatherly role pretty easily once exposed to it. That’s how Rent-A-Daughter made me a father, even if it took over a decade, and we’re even talking about making it for real, and having another kid together.
I know what you’re thinking, but nothing ever happened with Mary Jane. Not once. She never did take to calling me Daddy, but she’s told me she thinks of me “like a father” before, and I certainly think of her like a daughter. She’s entering high school now, and now that we’re past the age of maximum attraction, I’m more worried about the boys she goes to school with than I am about myself. I’m not saying I was perfect… I had a few inappropriate fantasies, but even those were rare, and I’ve never touched her. There was no need. Fantasies are overrated, they don’t need to be made real when what you have is pretty damn good. Maddy took care of all my sexual needs, and Mary Jane took care of the need to be a father and protect somebody. Like the old Marvel and DC universes, they didn’t have to be combined, they’re probably better separate.
And Maddy? We’re still together, doing great. Last summer we fulfilled her lifelong ambition and took a family trip to see the Pyramids. She also got me back into reading comics, the new ones, regularly, and we even go to conventions together, with her in costume, making geeks salivate. The best part of those is, little Mary Jane thinks superheroes are kind of dumb, so we leave her at home with a sitter. Maddy and I get some much needed private alone time, and, when we retreat to the hotel room, usually the costume stays on for quite a while. These days Madeline mostly favors Sif, X-23, or Lady Doomsday for her cosplay, but one thing hasn’t changed since the days she used to dress up like Supergirl for me. Unlike her daughter, Madeline does call me Daddy. She only does it in the bedroom, and that’s enough for me.