Demons in the Daylight

Despite the rocky end to the evening before, the day had dawned bright and cheery. The sun was shining, birds chirping, and a few fluffy clouds scudded through the blue sky.

It was a day full of promise. The only problem was that it did fulfill a promise, just not the hoped-for one.

Adam woke up fairly early, especially considering that he had had a late night. He hadn't really been able to sleep, but he'd tried for a few hours at least. Mostly he thought about Kat, ping-ponging between thoughts of their date which were rather euphoric and thoughts of her appearance at his house later which were mostly confused and rather afraid. Something was coming, some rude awakening, and he really wasn't sure he was ready for it.

Instead he decided he would see if he could help his mom make some breakfast for Kat. Waffles, he thought, with raspberries and whipped cream. She would like that.

By the time he gave his teeth a good swipe with the brush and some toothpaste, washed his face, and put on some deoderant, he was ready to head downstairs. Normally he didn't bother, but he hadn't wanted Kat seeing him before he'd cleaned up at least a little bit.

Mary was already in the kitchen, the waffle iron on the table, a bowl of batter mixed and ready to go. Adam took one look at her and smiled sheepishly. "'Feel-better' food. Thanks, Mom." Waffles were the special treat Mary always made for him when he was upset or had done something well. He kinda figured maybe Kat qualified for both, at least considering the way his mother was acting.

While the first waffle was cooking, Adam peeked into the living room to see if Kat was up yet. Seeing her lying on the couch, the covers huddled up to her nose, hair tangled on the pillow, his heart clenched in his chest and he had one of those odd moments of seeing his future flash before his eyes - a future of seeing her sleeping every morning, of being curled next to her. It only lasted a moment, but it took him a few seconds more to catch his breath. It was a wonderful - and terryfing - thought.

Then she moved, a hand coming out, and one eye squinting open. Her hair fell in her face and she made a muffled sound of protest. It was adorable and he found himself slipping into the room.

"Morning," he said softly, not wanting to startle her. He bit back a laugh as she blearily opened her eyes, then yanked the covers over her head.

"Go 'way. 'm not even dressed!" Kat was self-conscious, awake in an instant and all too aware that Adam was going to find out what happened. She knew him and how defensive he was of her. He had let slip the bruises she had covered up or tried to explain away, but this was something neither one of them could pretend was ok.

"Don't worry about that. You have the blankets. Breakfast is almost ready and it's way better right away. I just wanted to make sure you're awake." Adam left some distance between them, not trying to tug her out from the covers, not sitting on the couch. His hands were shoved in his pockets and he felt unsure. Both because she was the first girl he had ever kissed, and because he couldn't really hide from the fact that something was wrong anymore. He wasn't sure if he should ask. She hadn't said anything yet, and he had tried to wait, but should he keep waiting?

Just then he heard his mother coming from the kitchen. Turning, he saw two plates, one in each hand, both piled high with a waffle, raspberries and whipped cream. It made him smile and he crossed to meet her, taking the plates carefully, avoiding spilling any juice on the carpet which would result in a heavy scolding and a good while working the stain out on his hands and knees.

"Kat, come on. Breakfast!" He stood closer this time, the scent of the food making his stomach rumble. It apparently had a similar effect on Kat because she peeked back out from under the covers, a suspicious look on her face. Right up until she spotted the plate and then her eyes widened and she pushed back the covers.

She reached for the plate, taking it with great care, then settling it on her lap so she could cut off a piece with the fork. She paused a second as though not sure she should, but then she speared the chunk of waffle, catching a berry and some cream, then lifted it to her mouth.

The sound she made had Adam feeling the need to squirm, even at that age. The look on her face was pure bliss. Adam smiled, settling down on the chair nearby and digging into his own plate with abandon.

His father was just walking into the room, drawn by the scent of breakfast, when the front door shook under an assault, followed by the doorbell. Adam was startled and only just managed to grab his plate. Kat had frozen, her eyes darting to the door in fear.

Adam's father unlocked the door, opening it with a frown on his face. It was, after all, early Saturday morning and usually anyone who came to visit was polite. The man he saw on the other side of the door was anything but. Shorter than Adam's father by perhaps an inch, he was significantly wider and heavier. To put it bluntly, he was built rather like a wall. The hair on his head was thinning to the point that more scalp could be seen than hair, while in constrast the hair that curled its way out of the neck of his shirt seemed to be all too thick.

The expression on his face didn't help any, either. His features were screwed up into a mask of hate and disgust, anger turning his neck and jaw red. "Where is she? I know the little slut is here. You're a disgrace, letting a teenage girl sleep over in your house."

Kat's plate crashed to the floor as her fingers went numb and her face went white. Adam looked between her and the man at the door, connections being made in his brain that he really would rather not be made. The man at the door had to be Kat's father. Tiny hints around the eyes, a suggestion around the chin.

He was already trying to force his way past Adam's father when he spotted Kat and his eyes narrowed. "You pick up that mess you just made and get your stuff. I told you last night that you should have known better and it was your own fault. You shouldn't have come here and disturbed these people." The way he sneered the last two words made it rather clear how he felt about Adam's family, a family that would take in an unhappy teenage girl and give her shelter under the same roof as a teenage boy.

Adam's father interrupted at that point, putting a hand on the man's chest. "I didn't catch your name, but I didn't invite you into my house either. I apologize that we didn't let you know Kat was here last night, but it was late and we planned to check in this morning." Adam's father was trying hard to be polite, glancing back over his shoulder at the kids, then wrapping his hand more firmly around the edge of the door and stepping into the opening himself, pushing his way outside. They didn't need to hear what he was pretty sure was going to get said. He had an awful feeling Kat had heard it far too many times.

It took a few moments, but Kat's father was clearly surprised to have anyone refuse him and perhaps that alone let Adam's father push him outside and pull the door shut.

It didn't stop the sounds though. The shouting was muffled, but not enough, and Kat flinched at particular phrases that were things no father should ever say about his daughter.

Adam looked on, lost as to what to do. He understood, but he couldn't process. He had no idea what to do for Kat, how to help her or make her feel better. Rage burned inside him at the same time, and he wanted to lash out at the man who could only loosely be termed Kat's dad.

Kat knelt, the quilt forgotten, trying to pick up the pieces of the plate and waffle, trying to clean up the mess and getting tiny cuts on her fingers in the process from the shards of the plate. The red of the raspberries stained her fingers, making it difficult to tell what was blood and what was not.

Into this Mary came, a safe haven. She wrapped her arms around Kat, pulling her back onto the sofa and shoving the messy quilt out of the way. "Don't worry about it, sweetheart. Just sit here. I think it's time you told me what's happening. You don't have to go back there, you know. You can stay with us. If he's hurting you, he shouldn't. We won't let him." Mary hugged Kat closer as the shouting from outside escalated, some rather pointed phrases being said by both men.

Mary met Adam's eyes over Kat's head and made it clear he was to go to the kitchen. He nodded, still feeling adrift, and hurried to gather up the quilt and the detritus from the plate of waffles, his own plate sitting on an end table, forgotten.

Once in the kitchen, he  dumped the mess from the quilt into the garbage, then shoved the messy spot into the sink, soaking it with cold water. He didn't notice as the water kept running, his attention on the soft conversation he could hear from the living room and the muffled threats he could hear from outside.

A shakey breath was the best he could manage as he thought about it. How could Kat's father hurt her? How could he say those things about her? His own family had left him utterly unprepared to process something like that. As he listened to Kat stutter and stumble over telling his mother about her life, the part Adam had never known about, his fists clenched tighter and he began to shake.

He hadn't understood, had never really wanted to see. He should have. If he had, maybe he could have protected Kat before then. They'd been friends for years and he had never done anything about it. The bruises made sense, and the way she'd run off that time he'd tackled her. But he'd never wanted to think about it.

His fault. It was all he could think. It was his fault and he was never going to let anyone hurt her ever again.

Adam clenched a fist, thinking back to that day, thinking about standing in the kitchen as Kat poured out her heart. "I wish you'd told me. We could have done something, found someone to help. You wouldn't have had to go through it like that." It was what he'd wanted to say back then but hadn't. He'd long since forgiven her, and it wasn't said with any bitterness, but he had blamed her at least a little for not trusting him back then.

Kat met his eyes and shrugged a little, helplessly. "I was broken. I didn't know how to tell you, how to say it. I thought you'd see me for what he said I was if I told you. I went to a counsellor for a little while after I left. We talked, but I wasn't ready. But I was thinking about you, about what happened, and about what the counsellor said. And I had to come back."

The End

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