Maya had watched Riley go off to her half-brother's room with a soft sigh, plopping down in a chair in the far corner of the waiting room, positioning herself so that her back faced the others. Farkle had looked like he was about to protest, but he obviously decided better of it, sitting down near the Matthews.
"Are you alright, Maya?" Topanga called from her seat with concern written in her voice.
Maya hid a soft smile, turning away her best friend's mother. Typical Mrs. Matthews... I some stranger walking by didn't know any better they'd think she's my mother! "Yeah, don't worry about me," she winced as her voice cracked. My mother... where is she right now?
Probably working late, she reasoned with herself to keep from freaking out. She probably hasn't seen your text yet, and maybe... maybe it's better that way. She can continue to make money, I can handle myself, we're both as happy as our crappy lives will allow us to be. Nothing changes.
The sadness of her own train of thought was derailed as a door creaked open. She didn't turn around at first, assuming that it was merely a nurse or something, but her heart stopped when she heard the voice.
"Maya... oh, Maya, baby, you're alright!"
Maya's eyes widened at the glorious sound of the achingly familiar voice, and she turned around in her seat, beaming at what she saw.
"Mom?" Normally she should have been upset for letting her voice rise in such a hopeful way, but she had already arrived sobbed in Farkle's lap, so it wasn't like she had her emotions in control at the moment. She frantically tried putting up her brick wall, trying to conceal her emotions as if they weren't there, but she just couldn't. Not when she saw who was in the doorway.
There she was- Katy Hart, clad in her syrup-stained blue waitress outfit- just got out of work, probably at the Nighthawk, Maya noted, but didn't dwell on the thought for too long, just flinging herself into her mother's loving embrace... well, that's what she would like to have done, but she didn't, because her feet seemed to be glued to the floor, her bottom glued to her seat.
Luckily, Katy practically flew to her daughter's side, enveloping her into a hug so tight it nearly squeezed the life out of her- but she didn't have the heart to tell her to let until her face was turning purple.
"Mom... can't... breathe..." she wheezed softly, and Katy bolted upright.
"Baby girl, what happened? Oh, I shouldn't have done it, I shouldn't have let you go... I should have known your father would pull something like this... I just never imagined he'd lay a hand on any of you..."
Maya closed her eyes, taking a few deep breaths. "I-I'm alright, Mom, really..." she stammered, feeling her cheeks grow warm as she avoided her mother's eyes. "Everyone is going to be alright..." For now... Oh, shut up, brain! Daniel won't come back, will he...? Why won't you just shut up!? she silenced the little voice in the back of her head, giving a quick glance to the others.
Topanga watched them. "Why don't we give them a bit of privacy?" she whispered to Cory and Farkle, dragging them out of the waiting room without giving them a chance to react.
After watching them go, Katy brushed a stray strand of hair out of her daughter's eyes, looking concerned. Maya felt really bad for making her mother worry so much..
"I'm so sorry I let you go.." Katy's voice hitched in her throat as she spoke. "... I should have known better... I just wanted to see you happy..."
"Mom," the girl sighed, finally meeting her mother's gaze. As hard as she tried, she couldn't keep her voice from cracking. "Mom... You know me. I would have gone anyways and you know it. I'm the one who got myself into this mess."
The young woman shook her head, leaning down to place a gentle, reassuring kiss on Maya's cheek and pulling her into a loving embrace. "Don't even think about saying that, sweetie, please.. None of this is your fault..."
Maya felt the fresh tears brimming in her eyelids, stinging and making it hard to see. So she squeezed her eyes shut to keep from crying. "I was just so scared... He hurt Lucas and... and Riley, and I thought he'd hurt me too..."
"Shh," Katy soothed, stroking her back to calm down the distraught teenaged girl. "We don't need him in our lives, Maya. Just try and forget about him, okay? He's not going to hurt anybody anymore..."
Maya nodded slowly, wiping at her tears. "Right... We don't need him... I don't need a father... I've gotten along perfectly fine without one till now, right?" The words hurt to say, like someone was stabbing her repeatedly in the chest. She didn't believe herself at all, not one word of it.
Just stop, she told herself, suddenly feeling exhaustion tugging at her eyelids. She couldn't keep her eyes open much longer, and she knew it. She wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep. But she couldn't, not yet. Not as a new pair of footsteps and a new voice came into the mix.
"I wouldn't say you that, Maya..." the voice was soft and gentle, soothing and reassuring to the teen. She looked up and gasped.
Coming to a stop and leaning against the wall with a shaky breath and a concerned look on his face was someone who Maya thought was off somewhere in Europe or South America or something for his job. Someone who made her heart soar, made her feel safe, even in her weak and vulnerable state.
Maya slowly stood up, staring into the man's eyes with a weary look, not sure if she was able to trust him or not. She tried to act casual, brushing a strand of her long golden hair out of her weary blue eyes.
"Maya... Don't worry... I'm here now..." He gave her a weak smile, and her doubts washed away almost instantly. Those few words were all it took for her to know that it was okay.
And so, Maya practically flew herself across the room and into the loving arms of Shawn Patrick Hunter.
To Be Continued...