A/N: Well, this is yet another Cricket story. She's my favorite to write if you haven't figured that out yet. This is her life around when she's in junior high. Deals with what happened around the time her parents separated. Hope you guys enjoy! Please leave me a review and let me know!

CARUTH HOME

Clint had carried his sleeping daughter to her bed and covered her up. He stood there for a few minutes to make sure she was sleeping and quietly closed her door when he left.

He went to make a few business calls and decided that he'd check on Cricket a few hours later. She had woken up and was sitting on her bed, holding the stuffed dog. He walked closer to her and sat on the end of the bed. "hey kiddo"

"how'd I get home?" she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

Clint smiled, "I brought you home, I took the afternoon off to get you from Burl's"

Cricket was surprised, her dad never took off work for her, except the day after her mother's funeral since she was just too upset to go to school. He'd missed a few cheer competitions and dance recitals because of work but never missed work because she'd been upset. She just sighed, "oh…"

He wanted to talk to her but he didn't want to bluntly ask her why she ran off the night before. he wanted to try to ease into the conversation but he knew it would be hard for her because of the way he'd treated her before.

"did you sleep good hon?" he asked.

She shrugged, and yawned. "I guess so"

"can we talk about the test? I know I should have listened to you, so I want you to try again and explain it to me" he suggested, hoping she would be willing to give him a second chance.

She shrugged at first, her teacher had smiled and let her keep the test when she brought it back with her father's angry signature on the page. She got up and dug through her backpack to find the wrinkled piece of paper and sat back on her bed, "I'm sorry…"

He sighed, he realized his actions the first time she showed him had left an impression on her that it was her fault for making a bad grade. "sweetheart, remember, I told you that you don't have to be sorry for that"

She just sighed, "but why? there's no excuses for bad grades… you told me that"

He took the paper and sighed, "kiddo, your counselor explained to me that when kids go through scary things, like you did, it's normal for them to make lower grades than they usually do. I didn't know that before I talked to her"

She just looked at him, she was surprised he talked to her counselor. "why'd you talk to my counselor?!"

"hon I knew you were sad, and I knew things haven't been easy for you… I wanted to know what to do to help you get better" he explained.

She sighed, and hung her head. All the nights she sobbed in her room, hoping for him to come and hold her, and she still just wanted to be held, but she didn't think he realized it. "you can't" she mumbled.

He flipped through the pages of his daughter's test, he realized he should have just talked through it with her, he knew she was good at history, she just randomly circled things because she was distracted. "sweetheart, come here… I wanna show ya somethin"

She hesitated but slowly crawled over to him, "what?"

He picked up the test and held it where she could see it, "kiddo, I know you know this stuff… it looks like ya just circled whatever you felt like"

She hung her head, he was right. She couldn't read a question without tears pricking her eyes and she just circled something so she could finish the test. She had an A in her history class before her mom died, and she was really upset that she blew her test. He noticed his daughter becoming embarrassed, but gently squeezed her shoulder. She just decided to nod, since she was a little scared to say much.

"if that's what you did it's okay, you were really sad that day" he explained, rubbing her back.

"I didn't even wanna go to school but I knew you wouldn't listen to me so I just went anyways" she cried.

He knew that she had a really rough night after the funeral and he should have made sure she was feeling like going to school, but he didn't and treated it like a normal morning.

He kept rubbing her back, "I'm sorry, you could have said somethin sweetie"

She just sighed, she didn't get why he was being nice. Her dad's friends were always nice to her, no matter what, and he was only nice to her when he felt like it. "really?"

He continued rubbing her back, "yeah, I probably shoulda kept you home that day"

She blinked her tears back, she wanted to talk to him about her mom, everyone else tried to explain it to her, but he never did. She was afraid to ask him anything about her mom, since she was still afraid of his reaction.

He knew she sometimes screamed for her mom at night and it broke his heart, he thought maybe she didn't understand what had happened and thought maybe she would come for her if she called. He just wasn't sure how to talk to his daughter about what had happened about a month ago.

He did finally notice the tears falling from her eyes and for once he gently squeezed her shoulder and pulled her close, "tell me what's wrong kiddo"

She was still too scared to tell him that she missed her mom, and wanted to talk about it. She whimpered, and was a little surprised when he pulled her close and kept rubbing her back. She just continued to cry, she was getting tired of crying so much all the time but she felt like it was her only way of telling him how she was feeling.

She decided to try telling him why she cried, unsure of what his reaction would be. it took her a few minutes to decide what to say but all that she could get out was a mumbled, "momma"

He sighed. This was when he realized that crying and calling for Delilah had been a daily thing for his daughter because she never got any answers. But what he wasn't prepared for was when she nearly screamed at him, "I WANT MOMMY"

He sighed, and gulped back his own tears. He knew she was young, but he thought she understood what had happened. He knew Delilah almost always went to Cricket when she called for her, and that the sudden change of having no one come was probably upsetting, and confusing.

He held his daughter close, "shhh sweetie, daddy's got you"

Cricket was confused as to why she was finally being held, but she wasn't going to complain, or ask because she didn't want him to leave her. It took her a while to calm down but her sobs finally reduced to whimpers, and she was still holding onto her father because she didn't want him to leave her.

Clint wanted to do something to help his daughter feel better, but he wasn't sure what. He knew she needed something, she was really missing her mother and he'd been slacking trying to help her. She'd been quiet in his arms so he thought that just holding her was enough, but he had a feeling it wasn't. "what can daddy do to make things better?"

She was a little bit surprised by his question, but decided to take a chance. It took her a while to come up with something, but she'd always wanted him at her cheer competitions, at least one time. Now that her mom was gone she thought he had to, but she knew he'd come up with some excuse as to why he couldn't. "come to my competition this weekend…. And actually stay" she quietly told him.

Clint was a little hurt that she knew he never stayed the whole time, and he sometimes missed her team perform, but at least he showed up. And he thought that's what mattered. He wasn't sure if Cricket was even up for the competition, but he wasn't going to push it. "you sure you wanna cheer this weekend? I was thinkin about takin you to ride the horses"

"I wanna do it, they won't be able to do the routine without me…." she told him.

he just rubbed her shoulder, "alright, maybe we can ride horses after the competition"

"really?" she looked at him, and was actually surprised he was offering to spend time with her.

"yeah, might be good to get ya outta this house for a while" he told her.

"you'll be distracted with work like you always are" she quietly mumbled, he would try to do something with her and he'd be constantly on the phone with someone about work. it was one of her main reasons for not wanting to spend time with him.

He sighed, "it'll be a Saturday sweetie, I can tell the secretary to make sure nobody calls me"

She tried really hard to believe him, but she just couldn't. the only way she'd actually believe him was if he did what he said. She just leaned into him and sighed, she really wanted his attention more than anything.

Clint hoped that taking his daughter to ride for most of the afternoon on Saturday would help her relax and trust him a little more. He knew she loved the horses, but he never took her out there enough.

He just continued to hold her when the only response he got was a nod. He knew he would have to work really hard to help her build up her trust in him, but he really wanted to try.

A/N: I really hope you guys like this! I'm always open to suggestions. I'm just busy with school right now, first round of tests are this week so I'm trying to study as much as possible.