You Don't Have to Be Blood to Be Family
The night was a disaster, the worst birthday ever.
Maya shifted uncomfortably in the cold, hard hospital chair, still trembling from head to toe. Riley's screams of pain were still fresh in her mind, Lucas's pained groans, too. They had said that both of them would be alright, but she still couldn't shake her worry.
Or the fact that this was her fault.
Just don't think about it, she fought back her tears as she typed. Her fingers danced across the screen, finally landing on 'send.'
The words flashed across the screen, and she released a shaky breath that she didn't know she'd held in.
There. Mr. and Mrs. Matthews knew what happened, or at least part of it. With any luck (though with her life, luck was pretty much nonexistent) they would be on their way soon, and then she wouldn't have to stay in this blasted waiting room alone.
Letting out a soft sigh, Maya leaned against the back of the seat, dabbing at the tears in her eyes. Why was she the one crying? She wasn't hurt, she was the only one to escape the whole ordeal without a scratch, and she had the nerve to cry about it?
She glanced around the empty room and let out a sigh. She didn't want to be alone. She needed somebody.
But she didn't have anyone; her mom was at work, Lucas and Riley were in the hospital, and as much as she loved Cory and Topanga, they wouldn't understand. They would say that they did, but she knew they wouldn't.
What about Farkle?
The thought popped into her head from nowhere. She had barely thought about Farkle, with all of the stress she'd been under lately. Farkle would understand, and if she needed him, he'd come in a heartbeat. Farkle was... well, Farkle.
Guilt weighed heavy in Maya's chest. He doesn't know about me and Lucas. He doesn't know that Daniel is abusive... I never told him... How couldn't I?
I already dragged Riley into this mess... I can't do that to Farkle, too.
Every single little cell in her brain told her not to pull out that phone again. No clicking on the contacts, no scrolling down to Farkle's number, and no texting. Definitely no texting.
Her body just didn't seem to listen, and she didn't realize what she was doing until she pressed send.
Farkle's late-night study session was drawing to a close, his eyes tired and the words of the science book beginning to swim off of the page. He closed it with a snap, rolling over and staring up at the ceiling.
He was prepared for the test on Monday, and that should have put him at ease. But it didn't. He couldn't think about getting good grades without thinking about getting bad grades, and he couldn't think of bad grades without thinking about Maya.
He was worried about the spunky sixteen year old blonde. She'd, well... Lost her spunk lately. She was quieter, moodier, and had a shorter temper than usual. Normally, Farkle would have chocked it up to it being that time of the month, but after two weeks, he wasn't so sure.
She wasn't bickering with Lucas anymore. She wasn't making her usual smart remarks in class, and Farkle could barely remember the last turtleneck joke he'd heard. She just... wasn't Maya. And it wasn't like Riley was any help in figuring out what was wrong.
Farkle loved her, but she was a terrible actress.
Farkle sighed, sitting up to start putting his books away. A distinct beeping sound suddenly reached his ears, and he frowned. Who could be texting him this late at night?
He reached for the phone, and blinked in surprise as her face lit up his screen. The last text from her was from two weeks ago.
Now there was a new one.
Farkle, I need you to come to the hospital, ASAP.
Beep! Another text came through.
I need you.
The halls of this leg of the hospital were nearly empty, the only noises coming from the shuffling of nurse's footsteps, and the dull hum of air conditioning. It was slightly warm, a sharp contrast from the icy cold air of the outside.
I hope everything's okay, Topanga thought with a sigh, her thoughts instantly scolded for being stupid. If everything was okay, we wouldn't be in a hospital! At least Auggie's at Ava's...
"Topi," Cory's comforting voice cut through her thoughts. "I'm sure everything will be alright..."
Even he didn't sound sure of herself.
"I just don't understand what happened," he continued. "Riley told us she was just going over to Maya's to hang out for her birthday. But she was meeting her dad? And Lucas, of all people, is involved?"
Letting out a soft sigh, Topanga looked at her husband, knowing she was the one who had to reassure him. We went through so much together when we were young, especially being friends with Shawn, she thought. But never something like this...
Before she could even open her mouth to reply, the hallway opened up into the waiting room before her eyes. It was even emptier than the rest of the hospital, a single person sitting alone in a corner.
"Maya!" Topanga called, her voice echoing slightly. "We came as soon as we got the text."
She felt her heart tear into pieces as the petite blonde, the girl who was like a second daughter to her, looked up and into her eyes.
Maya was the toughest girl she knew, especially for her age. In all the years she'd known her, she'd hardly ever seen her cry. But now she looked like a kicked puppy, wanting some comfort but too afraid to let anyone near her.
"Mrs. Matthews..." the girl breathed softly, her voice hoarse from crying. "Mr. Matthews... you're here..."
"Maya..." Cory was at her side in an instant, Topanga at his heels. Maya latched herself onto them, crying into Cory's shoulder.
"He was terrible," she whimpered.
"Who?" Topanga asked, genuine concern and curiosity in her voice. She hated seeing Maya like this, and wanted nothing more than to find whoever 'he' was and tear him into pieces.
The young blonde was in tears again; as quickly as she wiped them, more replaced them. "M-my dad..." she stammered softly.
What? Her dad... oh, no...
"Maya, you met your father?" Topanga asked gently. She knew how much a day like this meant to her- the fact that it ended in the hospital... well, she didn't have to be a mind reader to know that it crushed her.
Maya nodded, then explained what happened, starting with the picture that Riley had found in her mother's box and the fact that Lucas was her brother, and ending with her disastrous birthday dinner that had resulted in the hospital visit.
As her story ended, Maya dissolved into a sobbing mess, and Topanga's maternal instincts kicked in, swallowing the lump in her throat as she pulled the girl into her lap as if she were six years old rather than sixteen.
"It's okay," she soothed, stroking her back in the way she would do with Riley or Auggie. "You're safe now, Maya, I've got you..."
"We've got you," Cory corrected her gently. "We're here, Maya. We won't let him get to you."
"Why... why do you treat me like family?" she asked softly. "I'm... I'm not-"
"You don't have to be blood to be family, Maya," Cory interrupted her softly, stroking her back.
Sniffling, Maya wiped at her bloodshot eyes. "Thanks... I think I'm okay now.." she released a shaky breath, more tears flooding her eyes. "But... Lucas... And Riley..."
Lucas is her brother... she had said it earlier, but Topanga only just grasped the understanding. Lucas, the handsome young man who her daughter had fallen head-over-heels for, was Maya's brother. And he was in the hospital.
And she's blaming herself for this. We can't let that happen.
"Maya..." she ran out of words to say as soon as they left her mouth. She wanted to tell her that it would be okay, that everything would work out fine. But how could she tell her that if she didn't know that herself?
"Lucas is in the hospital because I was too stubborn to refuse to meet my-our father, even though I knew he was abusive..." the blonde breathed softly, pulling away from their embrace. "If I hadn't been so stupid, he'd be fine..."
Maya's words were like a dagger, stabbing Topanga in the heart repeatedly. "Don't say that, Maya, don't. If anything, this is a good thing."
The girl stared at them like they'd grown second heads. "Good?! How on earth could this possibly be a good thing?!"
Cory sighed softly, putting an arm around her small shoulders. "Maya, listen to me. If Daniel is like Lucas said he is, then it was bound to happen sometime. But he's going to get caught, and then he'll never hurt anyone else ever again."
"That doesn't change the fact that he's hurt right now!" Maya's screech echoed through the waiting room. She broke away from Cory, standing up with wide, stormy blue eyes. "You guys just don't understand... You'll never understand..."
The girl turned away from them, hurt glimmering in her blue eyes. "I need some time alone," she said softly, her voice cracking as she spoke. She started walking away, heading in the direction of the restrooms.
"Maya, sure we understand!" Cory called after her. "Maya!"
But Maya was already gone, her footsteps fading into silence. The bathroom door clicked shut.
"I'm going after her!" Cory stood up, but before he could take a step, Topanga stopped him, putting a hand on his shoulder and gazing at him with wide, concerned eyes.
"We can't force her to talk, Cory. She'll come out when she's ready."
"Then what do we do now?"
Topanga sighed and sat back down, disliking the way the cold, hard hospital chair felt under her. "We tell Katy. She deserves to know where her daughter is, and what happened tonight. I... I don't think she knows how bad Daniel is."
"It's just so... unreal," Cory said. "I had my suspicions, but boy... I don't understand why someone would do that..."
I was afraid he'd say that, Topanga thought with a sigh. "I can't believe it either, but thinking about it won't help anything," she told him softly, pulling out her phone. "I'm calling Ka-"
"Maya! MAYA!?" A pair of footsteps followed the new voice, the familiar voice. "I came as soon as I- Mr. Matthews? Mrs. Matthews? Wh-what's going on? Where's Maya?" It was Farkle, appearing in the doorway of the waiting room with wide, concerned blue eyes. Topanga looked up at him and sighed.
"Farkle," she said. "Did Maya tell you what happened?"
"No, Mrs. Matthews," the boy shook his head, looking slightly panicked. "She just told me to get to the hospital really quickly. I came as soon as she text, what's going on?! Where are Maya and Riley, I thought they were hanging out for her birthday?"
Cory and Topanga shared a glance at each other, and the look on her husband's face concerned her. The poor boy... we have to tell him...
"Farkle... Riley and Lucas are hurt," she began, the way Farkle's face fell tearing her heart into pieces.
Cory took up the story from this point, breathing a soft sigh before continuing. "Riley and Maya went to go meet Maya's dad, and Maya's dad is Lucas's dad. He...He hurt them... really bad. Riley's arm is only broken, but Lucas, we're not so sure about. Maya is fine, but she's really shaken up about it.."
Topanga studied the fifteen-year-old boy's face, searching for some sort of reaction, some emotion, other than fear. His eyes were nearly popping out of his head, they were so wide. He was genuinely worried.
"Wh-where is she?" he stammered softly. "I can go talk to her, I can calm her down."
"She needs some alone time, Farkle," Cory said gently, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. Farkle lightly brushed him off, looking up at him with pleading blue eyes.
"Mr. Matthews, please let me go to her," he pleaded softly. "I know her like the back of my hand; she's blaming herself for this, and I can't let her do that."
Blaming herself? No... no, she can't be... Topanga finally understood what Maya had been trying to say. She had thought she had dragged everyone into this, so naturally she had thought that this was her fault, even though it wasn't. She closed her eyes, letting out a sigh.
"Go to her."
To Be Continued...