"But why?" Maya cried out, throwing up her hands. "Why would you even lie to me like that and tell me that you'd made Dad leave when he made the choice to leave us both?"
"We've been over this, Maya!" Katy yelled right back, long fed up with their argument. "I didn't tell you because I think that you need to love and respect him. You and he both deserve that much."
"Well, guess what?" Maya snapped. "I don't respect him, and I certainly don't love him!" Katy buried her head in her hands and groaned before Maya demanded, "What did he even do that was so great anyway to deserve all of this 'love and respect'?!"
Katy jerked upright, snapping, "He took us in!"
As soon as the words had flown from her mouth, Katy blanched, which made Maya freeze and ask in a suddenly careful tone, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Katy stammered, "It means that he's your dad and he deserves for you to think of him as such."
Maya took a second to consider her strange wording and obviously nervous posture before she repeated, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It doesn't mean anything," Katy shrugged. "He's your father and that's all that there is to it."
"No," Maya rounded on her mother, a nerve-racking suspicion suddenly taking root in her mind. "No, that's not all that there is to it. Is Kermit my dad?"
"Yes," Katy answered without missing a beat – too quickly, as a matter of fact, Maya realized.
"Is he my biological father?"
Katy hesitated, and Maya laughed with mirthless shock at the only confirmation she needed. So that was why her mom never wanted to talk to Maya about Kermit! He wasn't even Maya's real father!
"Then who is?" she suddenly thought aloud.
Katy slumped down at the table in their apartment, requesting weakly, "Maya, don't. I don't want to talk about it."
"Well, I do, and it's my father, so we're going to!"
Her mother was on the verge of tears now, but Maya couldn't bring herself to care. All she wanted was straight answers to this whole stupid mess. She wanted the truth! Was that too much to ask of her own mother? "Tell me who he is!"
Katy lowered her head back into her hands and gave in, speaking softly and brokenly. "It was just a one-night stand. We'd both had a bad day and we both got drunk. I'd lost my job, he'd broken up with his girlfriend, and we ended up going to the same bar. I left before he was even awake the next morning. So there's your story – nothing fancy… just a series of bad decisions that gave me the best part of my life."
Katy's broken smile made a valiant effort at reaching her eyes when she finally met Maya's gaze. Maya slid down into the seat across from her mother, feeling drained in her own right, before she whispered, "Do you even know his name?"
Katy shook her head self-deprecatingly. "He told me it was Jack, and I'm not sure that I'd believe him, but he gave me a last name too."
"And what last name is that?" Maya asked with a half-hearted roll of her eyes, tired of having to pry information out of her mother like pulling teeth.
Katy winced, curling into herself anew. "No. I'll tell you anything but that."
"Are you that against me finding him?" Maya scoffed.
"Yes and no. I actually recently heard of him again."
"Does he even know that I exist?" Katy shook her head. "Is he… an okay person?"
Katy offered up another tiny smile. "When I met him, he said he was in the Peace Corps."
"Where is he now?"
"I don't know; I didn't look."
"So somebody else mentioned him to you, didn't they?" Maya realized. When Katy nodded, she asked, "How do you even know he's my dad, then?"
"This 'somebody else' showed me a photo of him. It was definitely the same person, but I honestly don't know what he's up to now, Maya. In fact, for all I know, he may have a family of his own by now."
"Perfect," Maya muttered dryly before asking, "So… how exactly did you and Kermit meet, then? Because if you lied to me about my dad, I assume that means that you would've had to have lied to me about how you met Kermit."
"I wanted Kermit to be the only father you'd ever know," Katy informed her.
"Well, now that Kermit's gone and you're dating Shawn, that's already not happening, so tell me how you actually met Kermit."
"What we told you about that was the truth; only the year was different. I told him about you when he asked me out the first time and he was fine with you. He loved you before we even got married."
Until he left us. "How old was I when you two got married?"
"You were one and a half," Katy admitted.
"And look at us now, Mom," Maya murmured, shoving back from the table and fleeing the apartment for some much-needed air. "Look at us now."
She had to go somewhere – anywhere – to get out of the apartment and away from her mother. When she made it to the sidewalk, she automatically turned to go to the Matthews' apartment – only to remember that they were out of town, having gone to visit Alan and Amy in Philadelphia. She screamed her frustration towards the sky once, twice, and then remembered that Lucas had given her and Riley his address last week so that Riley could write him while they were away. Riley had wanted to write him a real love letter, and Maya had incidentally been standing there while he'd written the address down. She recalled it now and so badly needed someone to talk to that she turned in the direction of that address and ran to him.