Unexpected Ties

Taking a Stand

Each second that passed felt like hours before Daniel spoke, his gruff voice soft, but imposing all the same.

"No?" he echoed, his icy blue eyes narrowing menacingly. "Why don't you, uh... rephrase your answer just a bit?"

Maya's heart might as well have burst out of her chest, it was pounding so hard against her chest. "No way?" she tried to sound sarcastic, but as her voice came out as a pitiful squeak, she undoubtedly failed.

Daniel moved forward, his muscles tensed and his hands knotted into tight fists. "How cute," he said with a sickening smile. "You think you actually have a choice," he gently carresed his daughter's head with one hand.

Her stomach tying into a knot, Maya growled. "I do!" she bit down on his hand as hard as she could, feeling the skin rip under her teeth, the salty, unmistakeable taste of blood trickling into her mouth before she decided to let go. The roar of pain Daniel let out would have been a cause for joy if it weren't for what happened next.

With lightning-quick speeds, he snatched her from the ground by the hood of her oversized sweatshirt, leaning so close that she could feel his breath on her face, the stench of alchohol overwhelming her. "You shouldn't have done that," he whispered, breathing heavily. "You're too much like yer mother, you know that?"

Maya opened her mouth to reply but it came out as a yelp of pain as Daniel used his other hand to grab a hold of her neck, shoving her against the wall and banging her head on the corner of a picure frame.

"MAYA!" cried Lucas, who angrily stepped forward. "Leave her alone!"

"And what are you going to do about it?" the man taunted, his strong hands trembling but keeping a firm grip on Maya's neck. Her heart pounded against her chest as is grip tightened. Was he... was he trying to strangle her?!

Daniel and Lucas, father and son, stared into each other's eyes for what seemed like forever. "Just let her go," Lucas pleaded softly. "She didn't do anything; she doesn't deserve this..."

Her father's hold only got tighter, cutting off her windpipe. She struggled feebly in his grasp, only to give up, letting herself hang lip. He's going to kill me, she thought dazedly, her vision blurring with tears. He's going to kill his own daughter... she let out a strangled yelp. She didn't want to die, not like this!

Then everything seemed to happen so fast- first Lucas was pleading with his father for her life, but as soon as she screamed he snapped into action, lunging forward at speeds that made Maya's foggy mind wonder if he was invisible. She saw his fist connect with Daniel's face in slow motion, and heard his outraged yowl of pain and rage, but his choke hold only got stronger. If she went much longer...

"D-Daddy!" she choked out desperately, her mind swimming. "St-stop it! You're hurting me!" Usually, she would have scolded herself for sounding so weak, so vulnerable, but she was weak and vulnerable- this was a matter of life and death, quite literally.

At these words, Daniel suddenly fell away from her, as if he realized what he was doing and regretted it. She collapsed to the ground, gasping for air and mentally rejoicing as it flooded her lungs. Oh... oh, thank God he stopped...

Maya lay there for a minute or two while Daniel and Lucas went at it, getting some oxygen into her system and gathering her thoughts. Her desperate pleas... that's what made him stop... Oh.

A memory long forgotten suddenly surged to the front of her mind. She was very little, maybe three or four, running into her father's arms. He'd been squeezing the air out f her tiny little lungs, and giggling, she'd said those exact same words; "Daddy! Stop it, you're hurting me!" That had to be what made him stop, it just had to be!

The sound of glass shattering on a desk and then a loud wail of agony from Lucas yanked her out of her thoughts and into the present, where she looked up just in time to see her brother crumple to the ground clutching a bleeding head, Daniel looming over him with a broken beer bottle in hand.

"LUCAS!" screamed Maya, crawling towards her half-brother as she struggled to her feet.

"I-I'm fine, Maya," he mumbled dazedly, but she wasn't nearly convinced. He was clutching the side of his head, a thick red liquid- blood, she realized with a jolt- trickling through his fingers where Daniel had struck him. The ground lurched beneath Maya's feet.

"N-no you're not," she told him, kneeling at his side. Her mind raced as she tried to figure out what to do. She swore she heard police sirens in the distance- good. Just how long until they got there? Could they stay alive that long? She didn't have time to wonder any more, because now Daniel rounded on her.

"Do you want some of this, too?!" he barked, and before she could reply he drew the broken end of the bottle across her face, digging the shards of glass into her skin and leaving long, deep scratches. She yowled in pain, fighting back tears, but they came flooding from her eyes to fast, and so her cheeks were streaked in blood and tears.

The wail of sirens drew nearer and nearer, but in her shock Maya barely heard them. She fell to the floor with a thump that knocked the breath out of her. She silently pleaded for somebody, anybody, to come and save her, but nobody came. What was taking the police so long?

"Damn it," Daniel muttered under his breath, his gaze lingering on the gun lying on her desk. Was it loaded? Would he... would he actually use it?

"Wh-what are you going to do with that?" she stammered feebly. He turned to her with a twisted smile.

"It's for anyone who tries to stop me," he told her. "They'll pay the price... now, let's get going, shall we? I believe we've got a lot of... catching up to do, my girl."

Your girl! Maya was outraged, but held her tongue in her fear of getting hurt again. The danger of the killing machine just a few feet away from her was very real now, and she didn't want it used on anyone. It was just better to stop fighting, stop struggling. The cops would be their in just a few seconds. she could wait a little longer, couldn't she?

A new sound reached her ears. Maya glanced up hopefully- but there was nobody at the doors leading outside. That could only mean one thing; it was a teacher or a student. She glanced to the inside-school-door, and her hopes plummeted. No!

Because there stood a girl with wide, panicked brown eyes and a tear-streaked face, fumbling with the doorknob with her left hand. The door finally swung open, and there stood Riley Matthews.

Daniel lunged for his gun, ignoring Lucas and Maya's screams of "NO!"

"Riley, watch out!" sobbed Maya, a pit of dread opening in her stomach as Daniel's finger curled around the trigger. No... no.. oh, please, God, no...

There was a few loud BANG's and then a wail of agony, and then Riley crumpled to the ground.

To Be Continued...
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