Unexpected Ties

Life As We Know It Is Changing

Riley's words hung in the air, echoing in Maya's mind. "Daniel.. Daniel is your father too."

"Wait... what?" Maya blinked, trying to wrap her head around what Riley just said. "Riles, what are you saying?" she held Riley's gaze, staring into her eyes.

"Maya, do you trust me?" Riley asked. It's such a simple question, yet the simplest answer Maya could give didn't even come close to answering it.

"Of course I trust you, Riles," she said. "More than anyone in the world. But what do you mean Daniel is my father? You're kidding, right?" Maya gave a half-hearted smile. She knew that what Riley was saying was kind of ridiculous, but she knew her.

Riley wouldn't lie about something as important as this. Granted, Riley was a terrible liar in general, so even if it wasn't so important, Maya would know if she were lying or not, but that didn't matter.

The question was; how did she know?

Riley closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "When I followed Lucas home from the bakery yesterday, I met him, and he seemed like kind of a jerk. I didn't think he was that bad, though. And when you came over with the box, that thing I wouldn't let you see? It was a picture of your parents, before you were born. It was him, Maya, I'm sure of it."

A million questions buzzed through Maya's head, all questioning the sanity in what Riley was telling her. What if they just looked alike? They say everybody has a twin, right? And besides, Riley's prone to overreacting at times anyways.

"But how do you know they're the same person?" she was finally able to get her thoughts out of her head in word form. "T-they could just look alike, right?"

"Look, Maya, I know what I saw," the look in her brown eyes intensified. "Can you tell me where Lucas moved here from?"

"... Texas," Maya told her, narrowing her eyes. It was obvious, at least to her. "That's why I call him cowboy, remember?"

Riley nodded. "And do you know where your father moved when he left? What he did there?"

Maya's eyes widened in realization. "My mom said he moved to Texas, and-and started a new family there, right before I was born... he would visit and make sure I knew who he was, but by the time I turned four he had disappeared. I-I don't even remember what he looks like..."

"See?" Riley asks. "It's too much of a coincidence."

Maya stared at her, trying to wrap her head around all of this. "So if Ranger Rick-"

"When are you going to stop calling him that?"

"Never- If Ranger Rick's father is my father, that would make him my... half-brother?"

Riley nodded, as if that were obvious.

She doubled over in shock. "He's my BROTHER?!" she clamped her hands over her mouth and gagged. "I went out with him for, like, ten seconds!" she gagged again.

"Maya, this is serious!" Riley apparently didn't find her reaction funny at all. "Daniel is an abusive jerk and if he's hurting Lucas he'll hurt you too!"

The realization began crashing down on the young blonde, hitting her like a ton of bricks. All her life, she hadn't been able to hate her father- how do you hate someone you barely knew?- and she finally got a chance to meet him, and then before she even got a glimpse of his face she learned he was an abusive jerk?

And then- oh, this world was such a strange and confusing place- she found out she had a half-brother.

She'd always suspected she had a younger half-sibling or two in Texas, and she was more than happy not knowing who they were. Auggie was enough, and he wasn't even her family.

But how, she wanted to know, are you supposed to wrap your head around the idea that one of your closest friends, whom you've teased and picked on for his Texas heritage for the past few years, relentlessly trying and failing to get a rise out of him, and going out of your way to play you little 'game' is your little half-brother?

She officially hated the universe.

But even more so, she hated her father.

She grabbed a pillow off of Riley's window seat and began to punch at it, much to Riley's apparent surprise.

"Maya! What are you doing-!?"

Maya looked at her, a hurt look in her ocean blue eyes. The last thing she wanted to do was tell her BFF what she had just realized. It would mean tearing down her brick wall, unlocking her dungeon of sadness. But if there was one person in the entire world she would do that for, it was Riley.

"Ranger Rick is my little brother, she breathed. "But he's not even a year younger than me. Only a few months."

Riley seemed confused, so Maya continued, brushing a strand of light golden-blonde hair out of her eyes.

"My-my dad got his mom pregnant while my mom was still pregnant with me. And she couldn't have been too far along. So he just didn't care about me or my mom, not enough to stick around." Maya took a deep breath, fighting to control the tears that were welling up in her eyes.

She couldn't do it. Everything was too much for her to handle. Overwhelmed, she thought she might explode.

Before a single tear could roll down her cheek, Riley had pulled her into a hug. "Maya, look at me." she held her face so that she had no choice but to stare into her eyes. "You don't need him."

"But now all of a sudden he wants something to do with me! What am I supposed to think, Riley? I want to hate him but I can't!"

She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, pulling herself out of Riley's arms. "This is a lot for me to take in right now, Okay, Riles?" she asked shakily, her blue eyes wide.

Riley nodded understandingly. "I know. It's okay. I can't imagine how this must feel."

"You don't want to imagine this, pumpkin." Maya massaged her temples, sighing heavily.

The brunette sighed, and they sat together for a good few minutes, Riley leaning her head on Maya's shoulder. She suddenly shot up.

"Wha?" Maya blinked.

"Bay window, bay window right now!"

"We're already in the bay window, Riles," she pointed out, rolling her eyes.

Riley looked around, her eyes wide. "Oh," she giggled. "I knew that!"

Maya rolled her eyes so hard it hurt. "So why do we need to go to the window?"

"I have an idea!" she said, looking at Maya with wide, excited brown eyes. "You still want to meet your father, right?"

Maya had to consider this for a moment or two. She honestly didn't know wanted to meet him, but she didn't want to get hurt... but then again, Lucas had dealt with it his whole life. And who was to say he would actually physically hurt her?

"I... I don't know," she admitted.

"That's okay," Riley told her. "But if you do decide that you want to, you don't have to meet him alone."

Maya narrowed her eyes, confused. "Riles, what do you mea-"

"I mean I'll go with you," Riley interrupted her. "Daniel didn't hurt Lucas when I was around. My theory is he won't hurt you either."

"Y-you'd do that for me?" Maya stammered in shock. The theory was a little out there for someone neither of them really knew. How was she to know that Daniel really wouldn't hurt them?

"Of course," Riley smiled, placing a gentle hand on the blonde's shoulder. "You're my best friend, I'd do anything for you. You know that."

"But what if he does hurt one of us?" she asked as a lock of golden hair fell into her eyes. "You said it yourself; he's an abusive jerk. He might not care if you're there or not."

"And then again he might care," Riley fixed her hair for her, brushing it out of her face. "It's a really big risk, but it's one I'm willing to take for you. That will never change."

Maya smiled weakly. "Thanks, Riles. I.. I'll think about it. I don't want you to get hurt."

Riley rested her head on Maya's shoulder, like they'd done a million times before. They sat like that for a while, both of them completely lost in thought.

Everything's changing so fast, I can barely keep up with it, Maya noted with a sigh, looking at Riley. A weak smile crept across her face. What did I ever do to deserve such a great best friend? Whatever I did, I'm glad I did it. There's no way I can make it without her.

"You realize, Maya, that life as we know it is changing," Riley's voice broke through Maya's thoughts. The blonde nodded, the beginnings of a smile creeping on to her face. This was the same conversation they'd had so long ago. Looks like it was just one of those moments they'd remember forever.

"Scared?" she asked, looking into her friend's bright, glittering brown eyes.

"No," Riley smiled weakly, shaking her head as she wrapped her arms around her shoulders. "I've got you."

Maya laughed softly. "Really?" she asked, raising an eyebrow, the beginnings of a smirk on her face. "Cause I'm terrified."

To Be Continued...

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