Unexpected Ties

Family Issues

"Ma?" Lucas opened the door to his apartment. It was trashed, just as he had expected. Every time his father came around his home got trashed. Half empty beer bottles everywhere, cigarette butts on the tables. The stench of alcohol made the boy crinkle his nose.

He stepped inside and looked around. Daniel was passed out on the couch, a bottle in his hand. His mother was nowhere to be found.

"Mama?" He asked, a little louder this time, but not loud enough to wake his father.

Her bedroom door creaked open, and she peeked out. There were a few cuts down her face. Some had stopped bleeding, others were still going strong. Lucas's heart nearly leaped out of his chest, his anger towards his father growing stronger by the second.

He'd done this to her, and now the only thing that stopped him from doing worse to him was that he didn't have anything to do it with. Something glittered in the light all the way across the room- shards of broken glass, Lucas presumed. But they were much too far out of his reach and he was sure his mother wouldn't allow him to go near his father in his drunken state.

"Lucas, you have to leave," his mother whispered, her wide green eyes filled with panic and fear. "Go up to your room, lock the door, something. He'll be looking for you when he wakes up, and I don't want you hurt."

She said it so firmly and yet so softly, and Lucas was compelled to do exactly as he was told at that exact moment. But the anger and hatred towards his father was still going strong, like a fire burning inside of him, flickering in his eyes. He approached his mother, and gestured to the various cuts and scratches on her face.

"Mama, did he do this to you?" he asked, his voice some sort of a mixture between concerned and a growl.

"It's not important, Lucas, just go!"

"It is important!" he protested. "It's the most important thing in the world right now! Did he or did he not do this to you?!"

His voice rose louder with every word he spoke. A loud groan reached his ears- Daniel was waking up. Just barely stirring now, but surely regaining his consciousness. Lucas's stomach churned, threatening to throw up everything he'd eaten today right then and there.

"Lucas, just go," his mother whispered, tears streaming down her bloodied face, her voice faltering. Lucas sighed and retreated to his room, locking the door behind him.

Time passed. Staring out of the window, Lucas couldn't help but miss his old home in Texas. Even though there was still trees and wildlife- to his surprise when he had first moved there, his original thoughts on New York were that it would be all city- it still wasn't the same as the wide open country he'd grown up in.

But there was one thing in New York that he couldn't get in Texas. A girl with pretty brown hair and chocolate brown eyes and a smile that almost never left her face. A girl who stole his heart with every word she spoke and didn't even seem to know it.

A girl, he thought as he checked the time, he was supposed to meet hours ago. A girl who was probably freaking out right now.

His phone was dead and his charger was out in the living room. That was the only thing keeping him from calling or texting her, letting him know he was alright. He felt terrible for leaving her hanging like that, but he didn't really have much of a choice at the moment.

His mind wandered to the past few years, when Riley had fallen into his lap, when they'd gone on their first date, when she made the first move and kissed him. He sighed, remembering the many arguments he'd had with Maya, the way they always went out of their way to play their ridiculous 'game,' even now.

He wondered if that was what it was like to have a sibling. Being an only child got boring sometimes.

Thinking back, he owed a lot to the rebellious blonde. It was Maya who had pushed Riley into his lap, it was Maya who had asked him out simply to 'make things happen.'

He was snapped out of his thoughts when he heard a tap on his window. He turned to see who it was- and blinked in confusion at the face behind the glass. A girl his age, golden blonde hair framing her scowling face, a fire in her blue eyes. Lucas opened the window.

"Maya?" he asked incredulously. Maya glared at him.

"Ranger Rick, where have you been!?" she growls loudly. "You were supposed to be at Riley's hours ago, she's going to have a heart attack if you're not there soon!"

"I... I can't," Lucas told her, forcing back the tears that he could feel, welling up in his eyes. They stung like crazy, but he wouldn't let them flow, not in front of Maya. She didn't need to know the details of his family life. Knowing her, telling her could only go one way- she'd get hurt. And he didn't want that.

"Why not?" Maya spat. She was obviously not happy with him. She never was, but now more so than ever.

"I just can't... I'm having family issues," he reluctantly told her in the most vague way possible. She didn't need to know all of the details. "Riley will understand. I know she will."

Maya eyed him skeptically. "And you couldn't have called her or text her because?"

"Phone's dead and the charger's broken," Lucas said, his voice a growl. "I'm not going to go into detail.. I just need some time alone, okay?" he said it harsher than he meant to, and Maya's gaze softened.

"... Okay," she finally said. "I believe you. But if Riley has a heart attack it's on your conscience."

Without waiting for a response, the blonde was out of the window, shutting it behind her, leaving Lucas to wonder exactly what had just happened.

Riley had obviously sent her. He officially hated himself for making her worry so much. He'd forgotten how serious she was about everything, especially since she knew of his... situation. She had probably automatically assumed the worse. She was probably freaking out right now.

And it was

All.

His.

Fault.


Family issues.

Something Maya was all too familiar with. But she couldn't wrap her head around what Lucas had just told her. Family issues? In the time she'd known him, Lucas had never had family issues before.

Well, none that she knew of, at least. But Lucas told Riley everything, and Riley told Maya everything, so if he'd had them before, she would have heard about it sooner or later. Riley was a terrible liar, even if she didn't tell her everything.

Either way, family problems were something Maya had dealt with since she was born. Well, since before she was born, honestly. Her father left. He started a new family just before she was born, all the way in Texas. She had a half-sibling or so she'd never even heard the names of. Her father had visited and sent her things for the first four years of her life, and then he'd just... disappeared.

She'd gone a good portion of her life thinking it was her mother, who was never there to take care of her, who drove her father away. She couldn't hate her mother, but she was as close as anyone could get. Then as soon as she found out the truth, that her father had left because he couldn't commit, money started to get even tighter and they saw even less of each other.

Yep. Maya knew family issues.

But even then, when she slid through Riley's bedroom window and uttered those two words, she didn't understand why her best friend started to freak out so badly.

"This is bad!" she shrieked, pacing back and forth across her bedroom. "This is really, really bad!"

Maya sat cross-legged in the window seat, staring at Riley. "Riles, what is bad?!" she asked for the umpteenth time. She didn't know what made her think she was going to get a straight answer, but she thought it anyways.

"This!"

"And what is 'this?'"

"Everything!" Riley yelled, pausing and throwing her hands in the air.

... And that pretty much summed up their conversations for the next ten minutes. After telling 'everything,' Riley would go back to pacing, muttering 'this is bad' under her breath, which was followed by identical conversation after identical conversation. Nothing got solved, and Maya's patience for this was beginning to wear thin.

She grit her teeth and stood up. Riley literally walked into her, making it easy for her to grab her shoulders and shake her gently.

"This isn't the Riley I know and I want to know why and I want to know now!"

Riley snapped out of it, staring into her friend's eyes. Maya felt herself relax as the brunette in front of her seemed to snap back to life.

"Maya, I'm breaking inside."

Maya would never understand how such a bubbly and happy and amazing person like Riley could say such a heartbreaking thing so bluntly as she sat down on the window seat.

She blinked and leaned forward, anger surging through her. Whoever was making Riley feel like this was gonna pay- they were gonna pay big time.

"What?"

"I'm breaking inside," Riley repeated, less blunt this time and somehow even more heartbreaking to Maya. "Lucas made me promise not to tell anyone, but I can't keep the secret anymore, or else I'm going to explode. I'm telling you, and you're not gonna tell anyone, okay."

It's a statement, not a question. But before Maya could even react, she kept talking, spinning a tale about Lucas's father and how he came to New York from Texas because Lucas had gotten an offer to become a professional baseball player. He'd turned it down, and his father, who, from what Maya could tell, was an abusive jerk, didn't like that.

Lucas's father. An abusive jerk.

Abusive.

Father.

The world seemed to stop for a moment. Just a moment, as those words sunk in. Lucas... was being abused? By his own father? Maya had thought she'd seen it all when it came to family issues. Apparently not. And now her heart went out to the guy, who she'd relentlessly picked on over the years.

If she'd known... no. She couldn't think about it. There was nothing she could do- the past was the past. Maybe she could change in the future, but that didn't matter. What mattered was now.

"I... I..." If only right now she could speak. But her mouth felt dry and her heart seemed to have jumped up into her throat. "I can't believe... his own father would..."

Riley gave her a pained expression. "No," she breathed softly, her voice barely over a whisper.

Maya blinked, confused. "No what?"

"No," the brunette repeated, more emotion and power in her voice this time. "Not just his own father. Daniel... Daniel is your own father, too."


To Be Continued...


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