“Well, I suppose I own you a token of gratitude, Mr. Bryan, for keeping my little girl safe until now.”

    “Oh, it was nothing, sir.” Trent lied, rubbing the back of his head. In reality, it was the most action he'd had in his entire lifetime combined.

    “I suppose it's more a request than a token, Mr. Bryan.” Mark looked down at his daughter, then back up at Trent.

    “I wonder, could you...” Mark stopped short, shaking his head. “It's more demanding than you will ever hope, Mr. Bryan. You may decline if you wish.” Trent nodded once, wondering what in the world the man was talking about.

    “Would you ever consider adopting her for me? I'm obviously not going to be around for very much longer if I'm her creation. They always fade within a couple minutes.” Mark again distracted himself by stroking her long hair.

    “I-I would be honored, sir.” Trent stammered and gazed at the small girl.
    Mark smiled for the briefest moment and held her away from him.

    “Tell her I love her, and that I will always be here for her if she ever needs me. Please take the best of care of her, Mr. Bryan. I will have you take full responsibility of her, and if anything happens, you will not hear the end of it from me. Understood?” Trent nodded numbly and took August from Mark's arms, cradling her awkwardly against his body.

    “Farewell, Mr. Bryan. Best of luck to you.” Mark saluted him casually and faded, first to the colorless orb, and then to nothingness.

    Trent stared at the girl in his arms, her breathing coming easier and easier as the moments passed. The world around him flickered quickly to the real world and had to side-step a kid on a skateboard, then regained his footing in August's tranquil world.

    August didn’t wake even four blocks down from Trent’s and Mark’s promise. Her world had completely faded, though for about five minutes the world had flickered; August’s mind was trying to keep everything under control, even in its unconscious state.

    “You’re so heavy.” Trent mumbled to the peaceful girl he was now carrying piggy-back style. “Didn’t even get to say hello to your father, that’s going to be frustrating later tonight.”
    The woman he was passing gave him an odd glare. He mocked it and turned away, watching August’s peaceful face.

    She could probably sleep through anything, Trent decided and hefted her to keep her from slipping down his back.

    He stopped in front of the author’s building, took a deep breath and gazed at his reflection in the tall glass walls. He looked like a mess, exactly how he felt at the moment.

    With another calming breath and another shifting of the deadweight on his back, he stepped through the door and ignored the stares boring into his back. He was in his office in a matter of minutes.

    “August.” He whispered after he settled her into his reclining chair that was tucked into the corner. He watched as she shifted slightly, but she didn’t open her eyes to peek up at him.
    Trent grunted with frustration and threw himself into the rolling chair, then let himself spin out of control until he slowed against the opposite wall, finding himself facing the unconscious August.

    “Daddy.” She murmured and turned her head. Trent watched hopefully for her to get up, but she only heaved a deep sigh and fell back into oblivion.

    “This is useless. I have a daughter now? God dammit.” He settled his face in his hands, elbows resting on his knees. “Ana better be up to have one special kid.” He peeked through his fingers at the small girl. Her hair was sprawled about her pale face with rosy cheeks and tinted eyelids, her little chest rose and fell in time to every other second. Her short dress was torn on one side due to a snag on a park bench on their way to the office. The sweatshirt was dirty, the sleeve ragged at the hem right next to her shoulder, and there Trent caught sight of a small number fifty-six.

    Curious, Trent stood and silently made his way across the worn down floor toward his new daughter, then moved the fabric around so he could better see the number. He touched it briefly, but the coolness of her skin surprised him and he pulled away.

    “A tattoo?” Trent muttered, eyes narrowed in confusion.

    August’s eyes whipped open and her hand flew to his wrist, nearly crushing it with only one hand as she stared him down, oblivious to everything.

    “August.” He whispered as soothingly as he could past the pain erupting from his hand. She blinked once and pulled away almost immediately.

    “I’m so sorry, Mr. Bryan.” She cringed into the recliner as she turned her wide eyes around the small office. “Is this where you work?” Confusion sprang across her face as she stared out the glass wall.

    Trent, not sure what exactly to say, lowered his head so that he was at eye level with her.
    “August, you have to listen to me. Your father, Mark?” The clover green eyes looked back at him at the mention of her beloved father. “He… He asked me to adopt you for him.” She gawked for a moment, then closed her mouth and nodded slowly.

    “I would like that, Mr. Bryan. I would like that very much.” She sounded unsure, as if still in a daze from her crazed awakening.

    “Would you?” He tilted his head to one side as she pondered this for a moment. Finally, another nod.

    “Yes, Mr. Bryan, I would.” She smiled gratefully at him and sat forward in her chair, her hair falling over her shoulders. “I would like that very, very much.”