Late Christmas present! I'm really sorry but life has been really stressful and hectic and for some reason every time I've sat down to write nothing comes out. Here you go! And, as always, read and review!

-Meg


The TV was on giving an eerie glow to the living room; it had been hours since she had stormed upstairs away from her father, though she wasn't sure that he had gotten the message and locked the door to her mother's bedroom where she had been holding up in. Now she was sitting at the top of the stairs, trying to asses if he was still awake. The bluish glow that came with the early morning only helped create the shadows, not making his face any clearer. It had been twenty or so minutes since he had last changed the channel and the previous TV program had morphed into the 700 club, and she knew that anyone in their right mind would not be able to sit through more than five minutes of it.

"Now or never." Standing from her crouched position her knees seemed to make the most obnoxious popping sounds possible, Ailis cringed, and she couldn't remember how deep of a sleeper he was. She waited for any form of response from Mitch before she let herself creep down a few steps.

There was still no sign of consciousness from him, Maybe I can get through this without any human interaction.

"You've always been really bad at trying to sneak down."
"Fuck." she didn't know if her best chances were to run back upstairs, locking the door to her room and receiving meals and messages through the window and somehow successfully avoid this situation for the rest of her life or just awkwardly not deal with it by ignoring him.

"Hello?" Even though it had been years since he had last watched Ailis in the house he still knew the telltale signs that she was out of bed, a creak that only one of the steps made when you stood on it too long, a darkening of the shadows coming down from the staircase; craning his neck over the back of the couch Mitch could catch her form on the stairs, waiting to see what he was going to do.

There was a thick pause before she spoke, "Why haven't you left yet?"
He sighed, letting his head rest on the back of the couch and his eyes rest on the ceiling, "Ailis, you and I both know you're horrible at playing dumb." Even though he couldn't see her, she still looked away with a bit of guilt; she could only play the bitch card so much.
"If you don't want to talk about it, we won't. I just want to see you." There was another pause, Ailis was trying to see what his facial expression was in any reflective surface, she couldn't tell if he was being honest.

A few moments passed before there was another identifiable creak on the stairs; Mitch was letting them tell him if Ailis was coming down or not, his eyes floated back down to the TV screen, even though he was, he didn't want to seem expectant.

Her avoidance wasn't new, when he had first met her she had interrupted an argument that was mounting between Keira and him, the combination of his yelling and aggressive behavior had put a barrier between the two that took weeks for him to break down.

"Keira!"

"Mitch you need to leave!"
"Not until you give me an answer."
After a moment of crossing and then crossing her arms Keira replied, "Yes."
It didn't take long for him to erupt, "For four years you kept me away from my own daughter?"
"Mitch, you need to keep it down."
"You knew, when we broke up, you knew that you were going to have her," he turned his back to her and paced between the dining room table and the front door, though her turned back to her after a frustrated sigh, "God Keira, you know I would have stayed."
"Would have, Mitch."
"Keira you know I would have loved to stay, for both of you, God, why would I be here now? I want to meet her. I regret not looking for you, asking you, bugging you why you wanted to break up. I would have loved to watch her grow up."
"It wouldn't have been fair."
"What do you mean not fair?"
"God, you're a genius, you got into three top school's pre-law programs. Mitch I couldn't stop you from doing that."
"Doing what?"
"Getting somewhere with your life. Away from here. Do you really think if you had stayed around here that you would still be in school? Do you think you would have the chance to get where you are?"
"Kiera, that's just school and achievements. This is my daughter, my family..." he swallowed, "Our family."
"Momma?" called a tiny voice, Keira and Mitch paused their argument, Mitch's gaze traveled from red faced Keira to a small body with a mop of hair and two big blue eyes that were peering through the slats of the stair's banister. Ailis, who was swimming in the material of one of Keria's old track shirts, looked between the two adults. The man from the park was here and yelling at her Momma, she had only heard Grammy and Momma yell like that a few times, like when she had run into the street they had gotten loud. They said that they got loud because they were scared.

"Momma? Are you scared?"

That was the first time that he heard the top stair creak, when Ailis rushed her short legs down the stairs in a left-right pattern and then over to Keira's legs, brushing past Mitch with a swoosh of wind.
Keira bent down and lifted Ailis to sit on her hip; she looked down at her daughter, brushing a few strands of unruly hair out of her face to see her eyes, "No alligator, I'm not scared."
Ailis turned to look back at Mitch once more before returning her attention to Keira, she took a long look into her eyes, "Are you scared?"
"No baby." This wasn't enough evidence for Ailis though.
"Are you sad?"
Keira gave a big smile, hiding the guilt that she felt over this whole situation between Mitch and Ailis, and pecked her on the cheeks and forehead, making Ailis squeal, "I can't be sad when I'm around you alligator."
Then leaning in Ailis cupped her hands around Keira's ear, "Who's he?" came out in a strained version of the little voice, it didn't take much effort for Mitch to catch it.
Keira readjusted Ailis on her hip and looked between the daughter and her father, "This is my friend, Mitch."
For a three year old, Ailis gave a hard look at Mitch before turning back to Keira, "Did he make you sad?"
"Alligator, momma's not sad."
"Okay." Ailis nodded her head but still kept her eyes on Mitch.
"Why you up baby?" Somehow Ailis in a matter of a few minutes had managed to get her hair frizzy again; Keira looked down at her and petted the hair back into place.
Ailis laid her head in the crook of Keira's shoulder, still managing to keep her eyes on Mitch, lazily she replied with a finger pointing to her ear.
"Your ear hurting again?"
Ailis's head nodded on her shoulder.
"I'll give you some medicine and I'll put you back upstairs."
"Em 'kay," though she was awake enough to carry out a conversation, sleep had started to glaze over Ailis's eyes again. Keira, in what seemed to be in perfect sync, carried Ailis over to the kitchen counter and started to rummage through the cabinets before returning to Ailis with a tea-spoon full of a purplish substance. Ailis made a face that Mitch couldn't help but laugh at; she stuck out her tongue and grabbed her nose, squeezing her fingers tight she was attempting to keep herself from tasting the medicine.
As Keira took Ailis back into her arms again, she walked past Mitch, "Tomorrow morning, 9 am, I-HOP."
He watched Keira who carried a drifting Ailis upstairs before he started to for the front door. He was getting what he wanted. His daughter.
Upstairs, Ailis who had pulled Keira into bed with her was snuggled into Keira's side. She was settled with a light blanket and her loyal stuffed pal Kookie crooked into her arm, though she felt something was off. Rolling herself onto Keira's knees, not the most comfortable position for either of them, she leaned in and kissed Keira's nose.
"Don't be sad, Momma."
"Thanks, alligator."

"Could you turn it down?"
Ailis had watched him revert to flash back mode as he continued to watch the TV screen and she had wanted to use it to her advantage, walking slowly past the TV she made her way over to the kitchen, successfully stubbing her toe into the coffee table in the process.
"Yea, yeah, sorry."


Parking in the space next to his brother's motorcycle, Seeley crossed his arms and rested his head on his forearms. It wasn't as if he had left Ailis and Mitch late, maybe everything was finally catching up with him.
"Hey Seeley!" Seeley looked up to see his brother give him a drunken wave, loosing his balance in the process and stumbling in as he attempted to hold onto something solid. Out of his zone it took him a moment to realize the danger that his brother had put himself in, he couldn't find the patience in him to respond without annoyance clear in his voice.
"Jared, get inside now!"
"Come on it's a beautiful night!"
"Get inside so you can open the door for me." Jared looked over his shoulder, his eyes attempting to focus in the dull light coming from the living room. After a moment he swayed as he set himself for his journey, in frustration two stories below Seeley pinched the bridge of his nose, too many complicated situations were happening at once.

Exiting the elevator he entered the hall Jared's apartment was on, quickly identifying which apartment was his by the open door. His hands tensed at his sides, he honestly didn't need this at the moment, he needed a good night's sleep in his own bed, a break, a beer maybe; he put more authority into his steps as he made his way down the hallway. A crash from inside the apartment quickened his pace.
Jared was sitting in his kitchen floor, "So, first Dad and now she comes back." Seeley jumped when he heard his voice.
Closing the door behind him, Seeley walked over his brother's legs, making his way through the mess of his kitchen to sit on a bar stool, "You can't just call Mom, she."
"How can you call her your mother? She left us. It never even occurred to her to take us with her."
The hand that Seely laid on the table tensed into a fist, "That isn't the reason."
"What, you think she would have come back for us?"
He sighed, getting angry with a drunk Jared wasn't going to get the point across to him, "She wanted to."
"You never left, you and pops, even Dad didn't leave."
"She had a good reason to leave."
"She had a good reason to stay too."