Unexpected Ties

No Turning Back

Knock, knock, knock

Am I dreaming? a half-asleep Maya wondered, letting out a soft groan as she tried to force herself out of her slumber. This was definitely odd. Nobody usually woke her up- she either woke herself up, or let her alarm do it for her. Unless...

"Maya, sweetie?" Her mother's voice echoed through the thin walls of the apartment. "Are you awake?"

"I am now!" the girl called tiredly, rolling herself out of bed. Her bedroom door creaked open, and Katy appeared in the doorway with a wide smile on her face and a plate of pancakes balanced in one hand, an assortment of different candles poking out.

"Happy birthday, baby girl," she said softly, coming all the way in and sitting down on the edge of her bed.

Maya took a moment to figure out what was going on, but when she did, a small smile flickered across her face. "Th-thanks, Mom," she stammered, her blue eyes wide. "I'd hug you but I don't want to burn you," she looked at the flames flickering on the candles.

Katy laughed and held the plate out to her. She counted the candles and started to feel numb as she realized how many there were. Sixteen, she thought, sort of amazed at the realization. I'm sixteen now... whoa.

Her mother's voice sliced through her thoughts. "Make a wish, Maya."

A wish? the thought was almost foreign to her as she met her mother's gaze. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before replying. "A wish? Why should I do that? I have everything I ever wanted right here."

She blew out the candles, ignoring the tears welling up in her eyes. Except for one thing, she thought, though she'd never say so out loud. A father.


It wasn't until around five minutes before the subway was to pull into the station that the now sixteen-year-old Maya Hart realized that what she was about to be doing was the worst idea anyone had ever come up with.

She was sitting next to Riley on the bench of the Bleeker Street Subway Station when she came to the realization, and instantly her heart began to hammer and her hands began to twist the golden heart-shaped locket around her neck, nervously shifting in her seat.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Riley asked for the millionth time, gazing at her friend with concern in her wide brown eyes.

Maya frowned. Part of her wanted to say no- to run away and never look back, to forget she even had a father, let alone a brother being abused by said father. But she just couldn't.

You're Maya Hart, she reminded herself. Stubborn in the face of stupid. That's the only road I know, and it's the one I'm going to take.

"I'm always okay," she finally replied, her voice soft. Letting out a sigh, she leaned her head on Riley's shoulder and watched the people go by, going about their daily lives and hardly caring about the event just around the corner, the one that could end up changing her life.

Riley had been really big on watching people since the whole Crazy Hat thing back in the seventh grade, but Maya usually didn't have the attention span for it. Now, she realized, it was almost calming.

A few minutes passed, and soon their train rumbled into the station, but Maya didn't even notice until Riley shook her.

"Maya?" Her voice pierced through her thoughts. "Come on, the train's here."

Maya blinked, snapping out of her trance. "Huh- oh, yeah. Coming!" She put as much cheerfulness in her voice as she could muster, jumping off of the bench.

The subway car was empty, so the two girls were able to get a seat rather than stand. The heavy doors slid shut, locking them in as the train lurched forward.

"There's no going back now, huh?" Riley broke the awfully awkward silence that had settled around them. Maya looked at her for a few heartbeats, then let out a sigh.

"I guess not," she said, then turned away. "Riles, can I tell you something?"

The younger brunette leaned forward, turning her friend's head so that she faced her again. "Of course you can," she said, her sincerity showing in her dark brown eyes. "You can tell me anything, you know that."

"I know," Maya smiled weakly, then grew serious again.

"I'm... I'm scared," she rose her voice above the pounding of her heart, her hands shaking a little bit. "I want to do this, but..."

"You can't help but think that maybe this isn't such a good idea after all?" Riley finished for her, her eyes darkening as she nodded toward Maya's locket, that, if it weren't for her nimble fingers, might have been tied into a knot by now. "I know; I'm terrified."

Well, that didn't really help, Maya thought, a frown tugging at the corners of her mouth. At least I know I'm not the only one...

"So what's the plan again?" Riley changed the subject. Thank God.

"He's going to be waiting for us when we get off this thing," Maya explained, knowing full well that Riley knew the plan; they'd gone over it what felt like a million times. Then, it had felt like she had been planning something that wouldn't take place for months; it had only just dawned on her that it was happening in less than an hour. "We meet him, we go out to eat, we go home. Simple as that."

"Okay," Riley smiled weakly.

The rest of the ride passed fairly quickly- to Maya, it seemed like the minutes turned into seconds and the seconds turned into milliseconds. It was a blink of an eye before the subway train rattled to a stop.

Riley's hand found hers, squeezing it in a tight, yet comforting way. Maya smiled softly, grateful for her friend. She was risking a lot to be here with her, but it had been her own choice. She wasn't complaining.

What did I ever do to deserve such a great best friend? she wondered, keeping her thoughts to herself. Whatever I did, I can never make up to her for this.

Before she could dwell on the thought any longer, the door slid open. She gulped, closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths.

Riley led the way out of the car, looking around for Daniel. Maya followed her gaze, seeing someone who seemed vaguely familiar. She felt her stomach lurch, what little she'd had to eat threatening to remove itself from her body.

"I-Is that him?" she stammered softly, the color draining from her face and her blue eyes wide.

Riley nodded silently, her face betraying no emotion, the fear in her eyes visible to only Maya.

Maya took a deep breath. "Well, let's say hello, shall we?" Her voice shook with the effort to stay calm and collected. You've got this, Maya, she told herself, every fiber of her being knowing that that was a lie. She lied to herself all the time. But she never believed herself.

Releasing a shaky breath, she led the way to her father, who had his back turned. Gathering all of her courage, she forced a smile, tapped his shoulder, and spoke the one word that sounded foreign on her tongue.

"D-Dad?" She stammered. "Is that you?"


To Be Continued...


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