Unexpected Ties

What To Do

"Riley?... Riley? Riley?!"

Maya frowned, waving her hands in front of Riley's face. She was met with no reaction other than an apathetic look. It was like she wasn't really there.

What's going on? Maya thought worriedly. Nothing made any sense. Neither Lucas or Riley had gone to lunch, and when they finally showed up, just after the bell rang, they both had looked like they had been crying. And to make things worse, neither would tell what had happened.

Maya wasn't the best student, but she wasn't stupid. She knew when something was up, and this was definitely one of those times.

Riley continued to stare blankly into space, even as Ms. Kossal began class. Attendance was called, she barely blinked. As everyone else's papers began to fill with drawings, hers remained just about as blank as the expression on her face.

Needless to say, Maya was ready to freak out.

"Riles, you have to talk to me," she whispered. "What's going on?"

"I... I can't tell you," Riley finally spoke, turning to face Maya. She stared at her with a strange look I'm her bright brown eyes. Like whatever she wasn't going to say was important. A secret she would keep until the grave.

Maya opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off as a voice came over the speakers.

"Maya Hart to the front office, please. Maya Hart to the front office."

All heads turned to her, and quiet whispering broke out among the other students. She couldn't make out everything they were saying, but she had a pretty good idea of it.

What did I do now?

Maya quickly stood up and walked out of the room, wondering what could possibly be going on for her to be called to the office. She hadn't done anything wrong, at least, not that she could remember. She'd been a perfect little angel all day.

She pushed open the door to the office, peering in. The lady at the desk looked up from her computer boredly. "Maya Hart?"

Maya looked at the lanyard on which hung her school I.D. "That's what it says on my I.D card," she shrugged, trying not to act as nervous as she really was.

She suspected that it wasn't coming off very well.

"So what'd I do now?" she asked.

The lady blinked. "Nothing that I know of. Your mother called, she wants to talk to about something." she pointed to the telephone sitting on the desk.

Confused, Maya dialed her mother's work phone number, her hands shaking. What's going on? she wondered. Mom never calls me during school...

Nervous, she lifted the receiver to her ear. After a few rings, a man's voice came through.

"Hello? Nighthawk diner, how may I help you?"

"Hey, this is Maya, Katy Hart's daughter. Is she there?"

The person on the other line paused for a few seconds. "Yeah, she's available. Just a second, ma'am."

Maya sighed, tapping her foot impatiently.

"Maya?" after what felt like ages, her mother's familiar voice reached her ears. "You there, sweetie?"

She relaxed a bit. "Hey, Mom. What's up? Is everything okay?"

She could hear her mother let out a long sigh, and her heart rate skyrocketed. What's going on? she thought, slightly more panicked than she already was.

"I wanted to talk to you about this in person, but I'm working late tonight-" Katy explained. Maya tried not to scoff. Of course she was working late tonight "-and he wants me to ask you now.."

He? Maya thought. Who the heck is 'he?'

"He?" she repeated, narrowing her eyes.

"Maya, your father is back," Katy finally dropped the bomb. Maya felt like her heart would leap out of her chest.

Her initial reaction was anger. He'd missed the past eleven years of her life, and now all of a sudden, he came back?

The second reaction? Longing.

She wanted to know him. Sure, she had met him, but meeting someone and actually knowing them were two totally different things.

"What?" she gasped loudly. The lady at the desk gave her a stern glare and shushed her, but she didn't really care. The lady didn't understand how important this was.

"Maya, he wants to see you," Katy said. Was that hesitation in her voice? Maya couldn't quite tell. "Do you want to meet him?"

Part of her wanted to scream: Yes, yes, a million times yes! Is that even a question? But she couldn't bring herself to do it.

He had left them. He never paid child support, he never helped. Her mother had been struggling to keep a roof over their heads, barely able to put food on the table. And he'd been gone, taking care of and providing for another family.

But she couldn't bring herself to hate him.

"Mom, I-I don't know what to say..." she whispered.

"This is all up to you, sweetie," Katy told Harry. "You're almost sixteen now, you're old enough to make your own decisions. Think about it before you decide-" she paused. "I have to go, sweetie. We're really busy. Just, please, think about it for me. Please?"

"I-I will," Maya stammered. She hung up the phone and sighed, her entire body trembling with excitement and nervousness.

Her return to the art classroom was met with questioning stares and hushed whispers. Nearly everyone abandoned their drawings, calling out to her.

"What did you do now?"

"How long will you have detention?"

"Are you gonna be suspended?"

Maya smirked to herself and returned to her seat. Riley seemed back to normal, for the most part. She was sitting there, looking at her with wide brown eyes. She showed some signs of life, so that was a good thing.

"Is everything okay, Maya?" she asked softly.

Maya nodded, trying to stay cool. But it was kind of hard to stay calm when her heart beat so loud and so fast that she could hear it pounding in her ears.

"Riley... my father is back," she dropped the bomb.

Riley's eyes widened so much, Maya was afraid they might pop out of her head. She opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out. Maya took that as a cue to keep talking.

"He's back in the city, he wants to meet me... I want to meet him."

"Maya, that's great," Riley said with a smile that looked a little too forced for Maya's taste. "That's really, really great."

Maya was hurt.

This was huge. This could change her entire life, and Riley wasn't even giving her a real smile. Maya knew her well enough to know when a smile was fake or real.

The two of them went back to their drawings. Maya had been back for around ten minutes before Riley all of a sudden 'remembered something.'

The brunette raised her hand.

"Yes, Riley?" Ms. Kossal asked.

"May I please be excused?" she asked. "I just remembered... my dad wants me to make some copies for him. It's his planning period."

Maya knew full well that Mr. Matthews didn't need Riley's help to make copies. She supposed there was some part of her that was impressed. Riley was finally able to lie without freaking out. But still...

"Sure, Riley, go on ahead," the art teacher smiled. Riley stood up- was she shaking?- and hurriedly walked out the door.

Cory sat at his desk, grading papers. The last assignment he'd given, about socialism and communism, had been fairly easy. Most students had high grades, but then again, there was always those few students who just didn't care.

He had just scored Farkle's paper- a 100%, of course- and was moving on to Lucas's paper when his classroom door creaked open.

"Daddy?" Riley peeked her head inside. "Can I talk to you for a moment?"

Cory smiled. "Of course you can, Riley-" he pushed his papers out of the way- "It's not like I was doing anything important." he grinned. "Considering you have my class next, it looks like you can't get enough of me."

Riley smiled weakly, coming all the way inside and closing the door behind her. "I have a really important question to ask you."

Cory frowned. "And what would that be?"

Riley took in a deep breath. She brushed a strand of long brown hair out of her eyes, then sighed.

"Hypothetically speaking, if you knew someone who could be being abused at home, and you knew others might be in danger, what would you do?"

To Be Continued...

A/N: So what did you think?

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