Unexpected Ties

Use A Mirror, Babe

She didn't like crying; those wet, warm tears streaming down her cheeks, the way her eyes turned red and her face scrunched up, and made her want to wail like a kicked puppy. It made her feel disgusting and childish, like a baby who needed her diaper changed. And Maya Hart was definitely no baby.

Then why was she sobbing so hard she could barely breathe?

She ran out of the waiting room and down the hallway, her legs feeling weak, as if they'd give out on her at any second. Her lungs screamed for air, a terrible burning sensation in her chest. But she had to get away from them. She needed time alone.

Using what little strength she had left in her, the petite teenager pushed open the heavy door to the women's restroom. The bathroom, like the hospital it occupied, was empty. Nobody to hear her cry, nobody to wonder why a sixteen-year-old was acting like a six-month-old. Nobody to offer her any sort of comfort. And even though she told herself she didn't want anyone around, she knew, deep down inside, that she needed somebody.

I shouldn't have pushed Riley's parents away like that, she thought as she paused, leaning on the bathroom counter to catch her breath, taking in desperate gulps of air. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she choked back her sobs, her body wracking with the effort. Maybe if I had just told them how I feel, maybe they would understand.

But then again, maybe the wouldn't understand. And it's better to be safe than sorry.

If she didn't get her hopes up thinking they would understand, she wouldn't be disappointed if they didn't. Better yet, she wouldn't even tell them how she felt. It would save a lot of heartache in the future, right?

Get it together, Maya, she scolded herself for crying. You're alright, you're alright... you're gonna be alright... Everyone is...

But she barely believed herself.

Footsteps echoed in the hallway outside, and on instinct, Maya darted into the nearest stall, locking it behind her. The footsteps passed, and she breathed a shaky sigh of relief, sliding into a sitting position on the ground with her back to the door. Alright, I can get myself together in here, and go back out like nothing's wrong! She forced her thoughts to sound optimistic, failing to fool herself.

But something is wrong, she reminded herself, feeling the flood of tears returning as the terrible thoughts returned, going through her brick wall and piercing her hear. My brother, my best friend, they're hurt, because I dragged them into this. If I hadn't been so stubborn-

Her train of thought derailed, and she burst into tears, pulling her knees into her chest and burying her face into them, rocking back and forth to keep her sobs under control. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? her thoughts screamed, but she ignored them. She had to let her emotions out. Keeping them bottled up inside of her was no longer a possibility, at least not right now. She could build her brick wall up later- now she tore it down brick for brick.

Then it happened; the door opened. Somebody was in there. She held her breath, trying to become invisible. Hopefully she could go unnoticed; the person would come in, do their business, and leave.

"Maya?" a familiar voice echoed through the bathroom, and Maya's heart leaped to her throat. She'd forgotten about texting Farkle. And now, as soon as she didn't want him there, he finally came.

He actually came.

No, no, no, no, NO! I CANT let anyone see me like this, let alone Farkle! Maya sucked in her sobs, hoping that he wouldn't hear or see her. Farkle's voice continued, his footsteps echoing through the room, then stopping. She heard a door click shut. "Maya, I know you're in there."

She couldn't hold her breath long enough for him to leave, her face turning purple and her chest burning. She took in a gulp of air, hoping he didn't hear.

You hope for things, you get disappointed.

"Maya, please," Farkle pleaded. Clearly, he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. "Mr. and Mrs. Matthews told me what happened, and I need to know if you're okay."

Maya sighed in defeat. She couldn't hide anymore. But she had the strange feeling that she didn't really need to hide anymore. "Th-this is the girl's bathroom, Farkle," she stammered in reply, wishing she could make herself sound like the confident, spunky Maya she usually was. "You're not supposed to be in here."

"I don't care," Farkle's voice was firm. "I need to know if you're okay."

"Of course I'm okay, Farkle," Maya fought to keep her voice steady, even if she sounded much harsher than she meant to. "I'm always okay; why else would I be locked in the bathroom crying my eyes out?!"

"Maya," he begged softly, his distress plain in his voice. "Talk to me, please...-" he was met with no words, just breathing, and a soft sniffling sound that Maya was trying her hardest to control-"Riley's parents told me everything you told them. I know about Daniel, and I know that Lucas is your brother... please, Maya, I just want to help you..."

The words echoed through the room. I just want to help you... She could picture the hurt look on his face, even if she couldn't see it, and it killed her. She had done the one thing she had set out not to do.

She'd hurt him.

"What is there to talk about?" she said rather bluntly, wiping at her tears. "Lucas and Riley are hurt-" her voice broke as more tears flooded her cheeks. "-and it's... it's my fault."

"Your fault!?" Farkle sounded appalled. "Maya, how could you say that?! You can't blame yourself, nothing that happened was your fault!"

Maya sighed, closing her eyes. "Farkle, please, I'm not ready to talk about it... not yet."

"Maya... Maya, listen to me. If your father is really-"

"Daniel is no father to me," Maya growled coldly, interrupting him. "Mr. Matthews told me that you don't have to be blood to be family. I think it could work the other way around, too."

Farkle instantly corrected himself. "If Daniel is really as bad as you say he is," he said, "Then something like this was bound to happen sometime. It sounds bad, but as long as Lucas is alright, it's a good thing. Now Daniel will get caught, and he won't be able to hurt anybody anymore."

"That's exactly what Riley's parents said," she pointed out.

"Well, it's true."

"It still doesn't change the fact that I caused this!" Maya cried softly, letting out a soft whimper. "Daniel wanted my drawings, so he could sell them. He wouldn't have come to New York if he didn't want them. And I'm the one whodragged Riley into this... she didn't do anything..."

Farkle sighed. "Maya, come out of that stall." he said firmly.

Fine, Maya bit back the sharp comment. You want to see me? You'll see me.

She opened the door and looked into Farkle's clear blue eyes, losing her cool and crumpling to the ground in tears, shaking with sobs. Then it hit her; He's here... he's actually here... I'm not alone anymore...

"Maya," sitting down beside her, Farkle pulled her into a tight embrace, one from which she felt too weak and comfortable to pull away from, like a huge weight had been lifted off of her chest. He was here. She didn't need to hide anymore. "Maya, whatever happened, you have to listen to me; It was not your fault."

"But-"

"But nothing." Farkle's voice was firm, more firm than she'd ever heard him be, but his touch was gentle, stroking her back soothingly, like her mother used to do. She let herself relax, something she rarely did these days.

Maya let out a soft, barely audible sigh, not offering a response as she buried her face into his shoulder. Normally, she would have mentally screamed at herself for doing this. Nobody was allowed to see her like this unless it was some sort of special case, not even Riley, and Riley knew pretty much everything about her, every single thought.

This was a special case.

This was Farkle.

She didn't know how long they had stayed like this, just sitting in his arms with her face buried in his chest, when she began to calm down. The tears had ceased their flow, and her heart had stopped racing. It could have been minutes, or even hours, before he finally spoke.

"Maya?" he asked her softly. "Can I ask you something?"

"Yeah?" Maya pulled away from him, sitting up straight and wiping at her tear-streaked face. She was still trembling and shaking, but not nearly as much as before. "Anything, Farkle."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Tell you what?" Maya's heart sank, dread flooding her emotions. She knew perfectly well what he meant; why didn't I tell him about the Lucas situation? Why didn't I tell him about our father?

"You know what I mean, Maya," Farkle said gently, his blue eyes softening. "I don't want to pry, but... you know you can tell me anything, right?"

Maya suddenly became very interested in the ground, a frown tugging at the corners of her mouth and a light pink color tinging her pale cheeks. "I know," she whispered. "It's just... it's just..." her voice began to falter.

"It's just what?"

"I-I dragged Riley and Lucas into a-all of this, and l-look what happened to them," she stammered softly, pressing closer to him. "I didn't want to drag you into it, too..." Maya paused for a reply, but when she didn't get one, she continued. "I wanted to tell you, Farkle, I really did. It killed me, not telling you... I just didn't want you to get hurt. I did it to protect you..."

She searched Farkle's face for some emotion, but she didn't get a thing until he flashed her a weak smile, holding out his hand. "Maya, look at me."

Maya took his hand, and he pulled her into a standing position, her legs shaking with the effort. She looked to him, then looked at their reflections in the mirror. Well, she thought silently. Would you look at us.

They were quite the odd pair, the two of them, she noted. She was an utter mess, her skin pale, dark circles around her eyes, and her clothes too big. He was clad in his usual turtleneck and colored jeans, his brown hair still the same as it had been in first grade, back when things were much simpler. They were odd together, but they were together. That's all that really mattered in the end.

Here we are... maybe he doesn't need to be protected as much as I thought. He's still here, at least.

"Use a mirror, Maya," Farkle's voice echoed through the otherwise-empty restroom, derailing her train of thought. "I'm not the only one who needs protecting."


To Be Continued...

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