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“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” a voice spoke from the shadows.

“Come out where we can see you.” Hopper commanded.

Out from the darkness glided a woman. Her hair was long and she had a dress the color of blood. A long slit down the side revealed fishnets and elegant rollerblades on her feet.

Misha scanned the new person causing an array of data to appear for them.

“Well hello to you too, Hopper Scotch.” The woman glided around the party. “Seems you’ve caught up to me once again.” She grinned slyly.

“What do you want, Lorraine?” Hopper said the woman’s name with venom.

More data appeared for Misha. Lorraine Stiles. Attributes… Skills… Alignment… History…

So this was the Lorraine Stiles that Hopper only talked about with hate.

Instead of answering Hopper’s question, Lorraine glided up to Xoc. “You’ve grown into quite the young man.”

Misha’s scanner started to highlight attributes of both Xoc and Lorraine. But their data processor was having trouble making the connection that the data suggested.

Xoc recoiled from her. “What do you mean? Did you know my parents?”

Lorraine laughed, “You could say we are... intimately acquainted.” Lorraine hooked her arm around Xoc’s shoulder and looked around at the party, “Can you not see the family resemblance?”

“Get off of me,” Xoc commanded, pushing Lorraine away from him.

Misha finally started to understand. A red box highlighted their noses. Short, rounded. A line of data analyzed bone structure: tall and narrow. Misha’s scanner went into overdrive, eyebrows, hair, voices, eyes. Everything similar highlighted by little red boxes. All of it leading to a single conclusion.

“Tsk, tsk, no manners on the youth,” Lorraine scolded. “I think your android friend figured out what I’m talking about.”

Misha didn’t know what to say. How to let someone they cared about know something so life changing. “Xoc, that’s your mother”

Elee summed up everyone’s feelings in three words, “What the fuck!?”

*

Twenty Years Ago

When Lorraine found out she was pregnaunt, she went underground. A few cryptic letters were enough for Hopper to know she was still out there without him knowing that she she was carrying a child.

For the last month she had to stay in a small town, and Lorraine hated it. The idleness made her ansy, but it was too difficult to continually be on the move.

Finally, she went into labor. It was hard, but with some help from an older woman, Lorraine finally got the little monster out of her.

The woman handed the little baby boy to her. And she looked into bright blue eyes, full wonder. New mothers were supposed to feel overjoyed, weren’t they? Lorraine just felt indifference to the small human tucked into her arms. Sure he was cute, and he had a fuzz of blonde hair on his head. But Lorraine just didn’t really care.

She made sure all of his needs were met. Not because she felt a protectiveness. She did it because she had too. She wasn’t a complete monster.

A newborn was tiring, but Lorraine went back to work. She was the villain Hopper Scotch’s story after all.

*

“That’s correct, Misha Jarvis.”

“You’re making this up,” Hopper accused.

Xoc just stared at Lorraine with… fear, disbelief, anger. Pick one. Lorraine wasn’t sure what she was expecting, tears or hugs. Maybe, she just wanted her son to say he missed her. ‘This is all to make Hopper upset,’ she told herself firmly.

“I’m not. I had research done about all of your companions, Hop.” She said popping the p.

When Lorraine received the news that Hopper Scotch was entering Roulettia, she ran a background check on everyone he was with. Xoc’s story had sounded familiar. Too familiar. She had just needed to make sure.

“I had my underlings get the boy’s DNA from that PiPods stand he was at. A DNA test revealed all I needed to know.”

Lorraine Stiles did not get shaken, but when she gotten the results, her hands trembled.

The two people she thought she was never going to see again had just walked back into her life.

Her long dead son, and her first love.

*

Seventeen Years Ago

Lorraine’s travels took her out near the beyond.

She made camp for the night, leaving her son to his own devices. He was old enough to know not to play with fire.

When she woke the next morning, the boy was gone. She looked for days, calling his name and watching for the footprints of a little boy. Lorraine looked for him. She truly did. But he was gone. Her child, one she had never really wanted but a small part of her still loved, had disappeared without a trace..

She cried. A single tear falling down her face as she sold his things. But that was it, because Lorraine Stiles didn’t cry for lost things.

That was something she had learned long ago.

*

The little boy found his way to a new home where the androids took good care of him. They named him Xoc and he loved this home. Everyday he got to follow people around and learn everything about machines and how they worked.

As the little boy grew up the memory of his mother became faint and distant, only leaving behind a quiet longing in his chest.

The little boy very quickly grew into an awkward teen. When he came of age that longing became louder, so one day he decided to follow it. Xoc set off into the unknown to find the people he came from and the world he belonged to.

*

Demons were tricky things. They crept up when you least expected them to and then they just caused damage. Hopper Scotch had a lot of demons, but Lorraine Stiles was the worst of the worst.

Now, one of Hopper’s many misfortunes was leaking onto a person who didn’t deserve it. Xoc was a good kid who didn’t need to have Lorraine’s attention. That never ended well.

“I could just hit her really hard,” Elee offered.

“Not yet,” Xoc said. “Show me the results of the DNA scan then,” He looked brave, but Hop could see a doubt in his eyes.

“Of course, here.” Lorraine pulled a computer tablet from an unknown pocket in her dress and handed the device over to Xoc.

He quickly scrolled through it and then handed the tablet to Misha. “Is this legitimate?”

They looked through the information, their one eye turning an intense red. “This information appears to be accurate. I believe that there is no tampering of the information.”

“Misha,” Hopper asked. “Could I see the tablet.” Misha handed the gadget over.

WELCOME to Deena’s DeoxyriboNucleic Acid test! Learn who you’re related to today!

Subject name: XOC
Age: 19
Maternal Match : LORRAINE STILES. Expand? [yes] [no]
Paternal Match : INFORMATION RESTRICTED BY USER
Relatives Expand? [yes] [no]
Sensitivities to illness Expand? [yes] [no]

DNA Sequencing. Expand? [yes] [no]

Remember Deena the next time you need all of your family secrets revealed!

“Why can’t I access the paternal data?” Hopper asked.

“Because you can figure it out without that page.” Lorraine answered.

“Just tell us who the hell the father is,” Elee said.

Lorraine answered her question with another. “Hopper, do you remember our night in Kassberry?”

Hopper did, he remembered it very well.

*

Twenty Years Ago

Hopper Scotch had been tracking Loraine for almost a year. Trying to find her before she could cause damage to yet another town.

In reality though, the last year had turned into Simon fixing all of Beatrice’s messes.

It was nice that he got to travel and be a hero But life on the road was tough. Full of constant travel and keeping his guard up, it wore a person out.

He was in a little nothing of a town named Kassberry Falls. The place had one tavern, one church, and a general store. After some intimidation and a little bribing, the barkeep had told Hopper that there was a tall blonde woman with a wide brimmed hat staying in the upstairs room.

He crept up the stairs and to her room, kneeling down to pick the lock. Before he could get his tools in the mechanism, the door swung open.

Hopper looked up at the form of his longest friend and now enemy. Lorraine wore a bright red Kimono, the cloth clinging to her body in a way that was objectively beautiful. Hopper definitely did not think that she was pretty. No way. Nope. Why would he ever think that?

“Hopper Scotch” she whistled. Lorraine walked into the room, “Come in, come in. You could have just knocked.”

Hopper followed in a daze. The space was very basic with a double bed and a vanity.

Loraine sat on the bed, legs crossed. Her arms behind her holding her up. “What brings you to this little town, Hop?”

“I’m here to stop you from hurting people,” He said frankly.

Lorraine motioned Hopper towards her with a single finger. “Can I tell you a secret?”

He cautiously stepped towards Loraine. She pulled him down so she could speak into his ear.

“I think you like the thrill of the chase.” she whispered. Her breath on the shell of Hopper’s ear made him shiver. He couldn’t decide if it was a good or a bad thing.

He straightened but didn’t step out of Loraine’s space. “And maybe you just like causing pain,”

“Why would you say that, darling?” She tilted her head, hair cascading over her shoulders. In the soft light of the room, it looked like it was made of gold. Hop wanted to touch it. “Everything I’ve done is for you. You wanted to leave Dunshire, I gave you a way out. You wanted to be a hero, I gave you a villain to pursue. You wanted an adventure, I gave you it.”

Hopper started to reply but was cut off by Loraine kissing him. The kiss lit a fire in the pit of his stomach.

Hopper kissed her back, forgetting all that he had come for.

It wasn’t Hopper Scotch and Lorraine Stiles anymore. It was a man and a woman he loved despite his best efforts to hate.

*

Hopper woke up the next morning alone. He stood and gathered his pieces of clothing that were scattered around the room. Every trace of Lorraine was gone except for an envelope on the vanity.

When he opened it it spoke in her voice, “Hello Hopper Scotch. Last night was fun but I’m afraid I have to leave. Another grand adventure for Lorraine Stiles awaits. And another mystery for Hopper Scotch. Goodbye for now, but be assured, we will meet again. PS: would you be a dear and settle my tab for me?”

Hopper groaned and sat on the bed. He had his chance. He could have locked Lorraine up for good. Made sure she never terrorized another town again. Instead he had to blow it and have sexwith her because he hadn’t gotten over his feelings. Feelings that were nearly a decade old and better left in Dunshire for a girl that never really existed.

Hopper sighed and left the tavern. Back to his travels. Back to helping everyone but himself.

*

Hopper just stared at Lorraine dumbfounded.

What she was insinuating couldn’t be right.

“Well, Hop,” Lorraine said, “Did you figure out who the father is?”

“Damit!” Hopper cursed. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“You think I would blow that piece of information for no reason?”

“You stole all those years from me,” Hopper could feel tears of anger forming. He refused to let Lorraine see it though. “I could have taken care of him and instead you don’t tell me until I found him on my own.” Hopper sighed heavily, “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

Lorraine gave him an unreadable look, sad maybe, or perhaps regret. But Hopper knew Lorraine couldn’t feel regret. It was smugness, probably.

*

Nineteen Years Ago

Lorraine considered many times just leaving her son with Hopper. He would make a good father. She came so close to leaving the boy with him.

It was long before dawn while Hopper still slept. The baby was tucked carefully into a basket with his favorite toy and a note to explain everything. She gently put the basket next to Hopper’s tent. Kissing his forehead one last time before turning and leaving.

She made it 50 steps out of camp before a possessive nature over took Lorraine. That child was still her son.

And…

And, it all felt much to adult. This was no longer a game of cat and mouse. It was two grown people dealing with a mistake they had created.

So Lorraine walked right back into camp and took her son. She swore then that she wouldn’t tell anyone who the father was and she would never let Hopper Scotch see her son.

*

“Slow down,” Xoc interrupted. “Who the hell is my father!?”

Hopper looked over at the boy… His boy. “It, it’s me. I’m your dad,”

Xoc’s eyes were large in shock.

*
Twenty Years Ago

“Shit,” hissed Lorraine, wiping her mouth. She’d been sick and nauseous for the last two days.

She thought back trying to figure out what was causing this. She didn’t have a fever or any other symptoms beyond vomiting.

With panic Lorraine realized what was happening. It had been six weeks since her night with Hopper, and she had missed her last period.

“Ah fuck!”

*

There are so many and no emotions coursing through Hopper. He just stood there, frozen, looking at his son. His son!

Hopper always wanted kids. He knew someday he’d like to marry someone and have a few children. It never happened though. He was too busy becoming a hero, he never settled down. Beyond a few times with Lorraine, Hopper had barely had time for romance.

But somehow, his long lost hope was a reality. A child, all his own was standing in front of him.

He mourned the time lost, he mourned the first words, and steps, and love. But somehow. He had wandered into fatherhood without even realising it.

Months ago, when Hopper had first met Xoc he had a feeling of recognition. The boy looked familiar, but in the distorted way of an old mirror. He had ignored the feeling because this boy was from the beyond. There was no way Hop could have known his relatives.

How had he been so stupid?

*

Xoc stared at the man he had come to care for. This was his father. After 19 years, Xoc had finally found his parents. He may not have liked his mother very much. But his father... Xoc loved him.

Xoc surged across the distance hugging Hopper tight.

Hop hugged him back, holding the boy close. “I love you,” He whispered into Xoc’s hair.

“I love you too.” Xoc whispered back, crying into Hopper’s shoulder.

*

Lorraine watched Hopper and Xoc hug. Father and son could be together, finally.

 

Did Lorraine regret never telling Hopper? Maybe, but she would never admit it if it was true.

Lorraine glided back towards the shadows she had come from. Elee watched her, the look in her eyes suggested that if Lorraine tried to hurt Hopper or Xoc again she would kill her.

Lorraine wasn’t afraid of the old woman, so she just winked, disappearing. Maybe she would take up her old hobby again.

Making Simon Simon hurt, and making Hopper Scotch into a hero.