"No, I didn't.. I didn't think.. well, he didn't see me -", he interrupted her then with two fingers gently held against her lips, knowing she would simply stutter and ramble on incoherently for some time if allowed. Time.. he was running short of it, he always was, perpetually trying to beat the clock. She looked a bit hurt, so he continued..

"I don't have to know, no one needs to know where it came from. If you want it, it's yours.. just don't let your mother see it when she comes home. You know how she is about your little treasures.."

She nodded silently and affirmed with her eyes that she understood, this was his preferred means of communication with her given that he was too impatient to wait on the words she always had to work for. In his mind, they were so different the two of them, he went as far as to tell himself they'd never once shared the same thought. She was only like that around him, though he was too busy in his own little life to see it, ever oblivious that man. Oddly, she didn't care, and still loved him despite the way he brushed her off so often. He wouldn't deny that he should spend more time with his family but he also never made the effort to do so. They didn't care.

The young girl clutched her little toy, one bronze coloured arm dangling, ready to fall off of the mechanical "Sebastien", from The Little Mermaid happy meal toy series. She'd seen it in the lost and found at school and had taken it when the teacher's eyes were averted. She was never afraid of consequence, probably because she never had to deal with it. Everyone felt sorry for the girl with the heroin addict for a mother, and a father who worked incessantly.

She wound up the little mechanism on the toy and set it down, watching it flail its arms and legs haphazardly but never moving. She thought of how it seemed quite like herself.. the little toy that wanted so badly to move but was stuck there, frantically trying to escape. The whole world assumed her depression, that underneath the smiling exterior was torment over a torn family life, but it wasn't true. She was happier than most children, because she knew that things would not always be this way, and she placed her faith in the stars she watched from her window most evenings.

She picked the toy up and smiled at it, before she placed it in the worn little wooden box, the one her mother had used for her needles and drugs before going into rehab a few weeks beforehand. She used it for the little treasures she found now, the little things that reminded her of the life she had now and the one she hoped to live some day. Every night she'd lay them out on her bed and look at each one, caress them with the tip of her finger and then put them carefully back into the box covering them with a dishcloth. She would crawl into bed after closing her door, but for a tiny slit to allow some of the hallway light in, pull the blanket snugly around herself, and smile at the printed wallpaper of her own little box.

He'd wander in some time later as she slept and smile at her closed eyelids and soft breathing.. he always placed the little blue teddy bear next to her these times, and she'd wake up and know he'd been there. When she thought about it, this is how she knew he still cared, and it was comforting. She liked to lose herself in the thought of him placing the little bear next to her and then slipping out of the room oh so quietly as to not disturb the sleeping occupant.

This night, though, he went to the little box on her dresser and opened it enough to retrieve the mechanical toy which he brought to the kitchen and proceeded to repair, he was adept at such things. He placed it back in the little box afterwards and re-covered it with the dishcloth. It had reminded him of her, the toy, and so he had vowed to fix it, as he had to try and fix his broken family somehow. Her mother would be home for a visit this weekend, and he wasn't sure how anything would be, but he had seen her playing with the toy earlier, watching its failed attempts to move with weary but ever hopeful eyes. "I love you..", he whispered to her as he kissed her forehead softly, she turned her head up and looked at him with sleepy eyes and a grin, "I love you too daddy". They exchanged a brief smile as he placed the little bear beside her, then walked slowly out of the room to the window in the dining room, where he would stare at the stars in which he placed his faith for a few hours before wandering off to sleep.