Me, a Dad. I am a father, Bo’s father. After knowing the truth for weeks, this fact is still difficult for Tate to wrap his head around. In hindsight it seems almost obvious that Bo is his. She and he share so many traits. And for what other reason would Winter pick some random convicted murderer on death row to take care of a sweet ten year old like Bo? I should have known, and in some ways I think I did.
Tate looks over at his daughter asleep in the passenger’s seat. It’s been one whole day of complete peace, just Tate and Bo, the dynamic duo. And while it has been wonderful, Tate just can’t shake the feeling of inadequacy. He’d been in jail for seven years, what exactly made him a suitable companion for a kid, let alone a parental guide? He didn’t know anything about her. Is she allergic to anything? What are her favorite foods? Did she have school in that Orchestra place? What’s her birthday? Oh my God, I don’t know my own kid’s birthday! What parent doesn’t know when their kid is born? Oh yeah, one who meets their kid when the kid is ten years old, that’s who. What if it’s tomorrow and she’s used to having—
“August 19th. My birthday is August 19th,” Bo says drowsily. She blinks at him and then yawns.
Tate looks at Bo startled and then turns his attention back to the road. “I thought you were asleep… I didn’t say any of that out loud, did I?” She looks at him; exasperation (with a heavy dose of exhaustion) covers her features. “You can read my mind while you’re sleeping?!” She has so many abilities. What’s really amazing is how normal she is…
“I don’t know… It’s never happened before. Maybe it’s because you were thinking so loud. You shouldn’t worry.”
“Bo, how can I not worry? It’s just us. We’re on our own.” I’m on my own he thought but didn’t say though he suspected she heard it anyway. “I don’t know what I’m doing here. I mean yea, we go to Mexico but then what? I’m a criminal Bo, a thief. Who would want me for a Dad?”
“I would,” she replies brightly.
“That’s sweet’n all Bo but you’re ten; I’m not sure you’re the best judge. Besides almost everyone you know and love is a criminal and/or a fugitive. Winter, Channing, me… You don’t have a whole lot of good options.” Tate stares straight ahead into the street, his expression growing hard. He’d meant to tease her but as the words sank in his tone grew more and more serious. Now, Bo sat looking at him in that way only one other person he’d ever met could. Her eyes are bright and serene; her smile is reassuring. She looks like her mother on the first day I met her.
“Mom thinks you can do it. She said I was ok, ‘cuz I’m with you now. We’re gonna be ok.”
Once again, Tate was shocked; this seemed to happen a lot when Bo was involved. “Y-your mom said that? When? At orchestra?”
“Mmhmm,” Bo said nodding and smiling that soft smile. “And Milton thinks you can do it too. He wouldn’t have let me come with you if he didn’t. He promised mom.”
“Promised mom what?”
“He promised mom he’d take care of me, keep me safe.” Bo’s eyes dropped down to her hands. She twisted them uncomfortably. “…before she died,” she added quietly.
“I take it you got this information from Winter through your usual method of interrogation, snatching thoughts from peoples’ heads.” Tate turned to Bo and smirked. As he’d hoped, her sad look was replaced by a disgruntled one.
“You’re still not funny. I can’t help it.”
“I’m a little funny,” Tate laughed. Honestly he didn’t care if she thought he was funny or not. A disgruntled tween was better than a sad one. “Let’s play a game.”
“Like a car game?” Suddenly, Bo is grinning widely and sitting up in her seat. It doesn’t seem to take much to lift her spirits.
“Well, we’re in a car and it’s a game so you could call it a car game. It’s called Favorites. My mom invented it when I was even younger than you. We go back and forth asking each other about our favorite things. You can ask anything: favorite shoes, favorite music, favorite toothpaste. Ask whatever you want.”
“Ok.” She pauses thoughtfully, “What’s your favorite candy bar?”
“I don’t really like candy. One Halloween I binged on my entire haul. I haven’t really had a taste for it since. It used to be Snickers.” Tate heard what sounded like a muffled choking sound and turned to find Bo struggling to hold back her laughter. The sight brought a smile to his lips.
“Your mom found you in the bathroom. You couldn’t move!” She held her sides chuckling. “Wow, you were always in trouble weren’t you?” Tate was grinning in earnest now.
“Yea I guess I was kind of a troublemaker.”
“Yea, kind of. I think it’s your turn.”
“Um… What’s your favorite thing about having powers?”
Bo seemed to think about this question for a long minute. He’d thought it to be a fairly innocuous question; surely she’d encountered it before. But then as Tate thought about it he realized that she’d grown up in a place with others who are quite like herself. They wouldn’t have to ask what having powers was like. They already knew! After a long pause, she finally answered. “I really like helping people. I guess that’s why I have powers. But my favorite thing is being able to pick up Stanley from the floor if he falls off the bed without getting up. Or turning off the light without getting up. Or locking my door… without getting up.” Well, if there was ever any doubt about Bo’s paternity before, it’s squashed now.
“That’s my girl! High five on that one,” Tate exclaimed holding his hand out for Bo to slap. She did, hard. “Ouch, that three minute lesson with my dad really paid off didn’t it?”
“Yep! I’m probably as strong as you now!”
“I don’t doubt it. You’re probably stronger than I am kiddo. Hey, what do you say we stop for the night?”
“What? The game’s over? We just started…”
“No, we can keep playing but we need to find a place to sleep. I’m getting tired and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for ten year olds to drive—even if they use their powers.”
“I wouldn’t help anyway,” Bo replies giggling.
“Really? You wouldn’t help your dear father?”
“Nope, hotels are fun. They have TVs and tiny refrigerators!” Tate throws his head back and laughs at this.
“Alright. Hotel it is.”
“Oh… C’mon kid! No bouncing on the bed. You might bust your head on the headboard and then what would I do?” Ugh, I sound like my dad!
“You always sound like him,” Bo says giggling. She bounces up once more and then lands on the bed hard with her arms and legs stretched. She looks a bit like a fish flopping on a boat deck. “That was fun!” she announces grinning widely.
“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” Tate says dryly. “Now go get your PJs on.” Bo hops off the bed grabbing her pajamas and skips into the bathroom. The sight leaves Tate chuckling. He glances around the room, taking in the space. Why leave the curtains open when there’s nothing but auto shops and fast food restaurants for a view? Tate crosses over to the window and closes the curtains sharply. Speaking of food, perhaps we should get some. “Hey kid? Are you hungry? There’s a place across the road-”
“Do they have pizza? I want pizza,” Bo interrupts coming out of the bathroom.
“Well, what do you know? It’s your lucky day kid. It is a pizza parlor,” Tate says with a wry smile. “I’ll find the number and find out if they deliver.”
“They do,” Bo says and flops onto her bed. “What’s your favorite pizza topping?”
“Oh it’s all about the spicy pepperoni. Without pepperoni, it’s barely pizza!” Tate replies animatedly. “One time, on the way home from my grandparent’s house we stopped at this little Italian restaurant. They had this homemade pepperoni… Literally the best pizza I’ve ever had,” he adds smiling fondly. “The three of us ate so much food that we could barely walk out of the restaurant.”
“I don’t really like pepperoni. I don’t like spicy food; it burns my tongue. Eucgh!” Apparently the mere thought of eating spicy food has Bo’s face screwed up in disgust.
Laughingly, Tate replies, “Yea, your mom wasn’t too fond of spicy food either. What’s your favorite topping?”
“I like spinach.” Tate was completely taken aback. He’d guessed she was a plain cheese kinda girl. “Don’t look at me like that. It’s really good. Especially in those folded pizza thingies.”
Folded pizza thingies? Honestly. “Calzones.”
“Right, calzones. The spinach and cheese taste really good together. You should try it.” Tate looks at his daughter with a mixture of disgust and disbelief. He’d have to talk to Winter about this whole “organic foods” thing. His kid’s completely corrupted. She eats weird crap like pomegranate fruit strips and fancy granola bars. Whatever happened to potato chips? Not to mention, organic food is expensive. He wanted Bo to be healthy just as much as the next person but no child of his was gonna grow up thinking spinach was an acceptable topping on a pizza.
“Um… alright. Half pepperoni, half spinach it is.”
“You still think it’s gross, don’t you?” Bo says reclining back on the comforter. She must find this position uncomfortable because she sits up and then slides backward until her back rests on the headboard.
Tate looks up from the hotel’s information guide and says “Yes, I do.” He focuses his attention back at the guide. “The pizza place is called Palace Pizza and... Yes! They do deliver.”
“Told you. Where’s the remote?”
“Um… I think I saw it on the dresser,” Tate replies distractedly. Bo turns toward the dresser and sighs deeply. Out of the corner of his eye, Tate sees something fly across the room towards Bo. He looks up at her smiling. “Bo, did you just use one of your spookies to get the remote without getting up?” She looks sheepish but then nods. “You are most definitely my kid,” he says proudly. Bo grins but as soon as the smile appears, it disappears. The smile is replaced by a look of apprehension. “What’s wrong? Is something bad gonna happen?”
Bo doesn’t speak; she just shakes her head softly. This does nothing to alleviate Tate’s worry. “Bo, what is it? You can tell me, remember? Whatever it is, I can handle it.” The last time Bo acted like this, she’d had that scary dream about the subway. In fact, the only thing she’d struggled to tell Tate was that the dream was about him. Maybe whatever is bothering her now is about him too. Tate walks over to the bed and sits next to her. He reaches out and takes her hand. “It’s about me isn’t it?” he asks softly.
“Well… would it be alright if..?” She pauses looking at him chagrined. Tate tries to review their conversation in his head. What had he said that would make her embarrassed? “Could I…? I mean, would you mind if...?” She pauses again and suddenly it clicks in Tate’s head what she’s trying to ask. “Do I have to keep-“
“Bo,” he interrupted. “You can call me whatever you want. You can keep calling me Tate, or you can call me Dad. Heck you can even call me Billy, like my dad. It’s up to you.”
Bo’s smile is filled with relief. “Hey! You are a mind reader.”
Tate pulls her into a warm embrace and places a kiss on her forehead. “Yes, quite obviously you inherited that trait from both of your parents.” He pulls away slowly. “I have to order the pizza now or we’re both going to starve.” Bo sits thoughtfully for a moment and then grabs the remote to turn on the television. The TV is on what appears to be a local news channel. Just as she starts to change the channel the news anchor says that they are going to announce the lottery numbers for the week.
Bo sits at attention facing the screen with great focus. “They’re announcing the winning lottery numbers.”
“Huh? Oh… here,” Tate says sliding the lottery ticket across the night stand towards his daughter. Bo grabs the ticket and stares at the screen again. Tate grabs the phone and dials the pizza place to place their order. Thirty minutes? Man they must be busy. We’re across the street. The woman on the screen is announcing the final number for the lottery.
“I think we won something! Two of the numbers match. What does that mean?”
“It means we won a grand total of two dollars,” Tate answers sarcastically. “They said the pizza will be here in about 30 minutes.”
“Dad?” Bo asks quietly, tentatively testing out the word. Tate’s heart swells at the sound and he finds himself smiling more widely than he ever has before.
“You know what we could do with two dollars?”
“We could buy you a Snickers bar!”
“Alright, now who’s not funny?” Tate says with a smirk. And then Bo is laughing. And it might be his new favorite sound.