A.N. Hey everyone. I know it's been along. A big hairy monster named school and my entire future gobbled me up. Sorry. But I'm back, and here to stay for a while.

I know it's been a long time since I've posted, but if you give me more reviews, I will be more inspired to update more often.

QOTD winner Anger Issues because that story is just ridiculous. Also Thats my name, that sounds like such an awkward situation- but so hilarious.


Chapter 5: Cheated

Present Day

Emmy absentmindedly traces the pale raised ridges on her arms beneath her baggy sweater.

She steals glances towards a mother fussing over her wailing toddler, soaked in sweat and half melted ice-cream.

It's late afternoon in the city's small zoo, and I pity the frazzled woman. How she could have lasted the day's surprise wave of humidity amazes me. Most families have already wandered back home, packing their strollers, bulky baby bags, and animal costumed children into trash laden minivans. This lone hero braved the muggy outside air, and, only minutes ago, found solace in the air-conditioned sea lion observatory were Emmy and I sit.

It's been a few weeks since I first met Emmy. She's improved incredibly from that night and we've found a precarious trust in each other.

As she's grown, she's constructed a barrier around herself, the difficult moments, the secrets, every little pit of pain that has torn her to shreds. Along the way, she's hidden any joy in her past with the torments, and hidden them away.

When she began, she was only a shell. We've proceeded slowly, only approaching one layer at a time.

"I never really had that, you know." Between the longing glances at the woman, Emmy looks down at the moving patterns cast on the floor by the light moving through the tank water as if she were mesmerized.

"It isn't wrong to want what you never had: a childhood, a mother."

"But if I..." She toys with her threadbare cuff.

The mother hastily cleans up her sticky child, packing him into the stroller and promising him a new ballon before they leave. As they exit the exhibit, the child, now contented, babbles on to his mother about "pretty yellow fishies and really big kitties".

"...but if I let myself want something I can never have- I don't know I-" She looks up at me, searching for understanding in my eyes, and even if she can't express the feeling herself, I know.

"Emmy, you can mourn what you never had," I pause for a moment before I add, "I know what it's like to have a childhood taken away. It changes you."

Never before have I struggled so hard to keep my private life and my professional life separate with a patient. It's a big "no-no" to share personal details with a patient, and I can understand why: this treatment- well it's not about me. But maybe she'll trust me more if she knows that I really do understand.

She looks up, and, for the first time, I feel the connection.

"Do you feel cheated?"

"Do you?"


Past flashback: about nineteen years earlier.

Dear tortured souls reading this dusty diary in the future,

I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry.

OK, this is ridiculous. I am so bored. Mom and Dad won't let me do ANYTHING! Apparently I'm too "self-destructive" to be trusted to live, so I'm stuck here at the house, alone, while everyone else runs off to do interesting things.

I tried to convince Puck to stay with me today, so we could do something...fun, but I think he's too terrified of my dad deep inside. He says that he really wanted to check on a new family in his little pixie army, but I don't believe him. Besides, what's the point of having a mischievous boyfriend, if you can't have a little fun?

But whatever, I still love like him.

I'm interrupted by a knock on my bedroom door. Finally, something to do!

Launch myself off the bed and skid over to the door, opening it a crack, before being confused by the puzzling absence of someone outside. I open to door wider, and lean out to check up and down the hallway, and I nearly trip on a long paper wrapped package on the floor.

I hoist it to my bed, and search for a note. I find a slip of paper with a single line of script scrawled across it.

It's time to practice.

Even though I suspect what it is, my heartbeat still quickens as I hurriedly tear the paper.

Yes! Uncle Jake has come through for me again. At least I'm pretty sure it's him. No one else would leave me a weapon well actually it a bundle of weapons because there is an entire quiver of arrows with the bow that sits innocently on my bed. I know from listing into conversations behind half closed doors that he's been pushing Mom and Dad to let me practice. But I guess it's dangerous to let a suicidal kid around weapons or something.

For a second I can't believe it. After months of wasting away in my bedroom, feeling like dark hearted Rapunzel, I have a chance to actually do something.

The moment is gone. I throw myself into preparation, whipping my hair into a high ponytail and retrieving my battle leathers from the dusty recesses underneath my bed. Barely taking time to lace up them up, I'm off, bolting to the practice range we used to have set up in wood behind the house. It has to still be there.

After a couple mishaps- blind missteps, and run-ins with thorny blackberry vines- I find the clearing.

Not much is left, most of the weapons raided and structures weathered, but an ogre shaped target, its moldy green paint wearing thin, hangs at one end of the clearing, and a wobbly weapons rack stands opposite it.

When I raise my bow, arrow aimed, my hands shake, and I'm reminded that it's been months since I held a weapon much less hit a target.

You're can't do it.

I take a deep breath and release.

"Thunk," the shaft quivers, stuck in thick bark of the tree holding the target.

You're getting rusty. Devoted you're life to killing on command, and you can't even do this right.

"Fwip" I let another one loose.

Failure.

"Thwack" another buries itself into the outer ring of the target.

They're right. You're not up to this.

I take an angry step backwards, and stumble over my off cast coat, and find myself falling back.

When I meet solid ground, the breath had been knocked out of my chest, and the effort to suck in oxygen makes my vision swim.

I stare at the clouds. The clouds are lazily floating across the sky, and a frame of leaves rustles around the stark blue of the atmosphere.

Relax Sabrina. Don't listen, just shoot.

When I get up blood is trickling into my eyes- I suppose I must have hit a rock in the fall though I don't remember it- but I pay no attention.

I inhale. I exhale. I shoot. I hit. I repeat.

Later, when I stumble back home, my chest is lighter. I made my mark with each of those arrows, and then again.

As I swing the back door open, I hear my mom's sharp intake of breath.

"Sabrina!"

"huh?"

Mom just stares at me, her face as pale as milk, and I am baffled until I glance at my reflection in the kitchen mirror. A jagged gash from my fall stands out, scarlet and gaping, above my eyebrow and down to my cheek.

"Oh."

I turn back to her.

She must have been preparing dinner because she stands, a colorful "Best Grandma In the World" apron around her neck and tomato stained cleaver in her hand.

"Oh?"

"Yeah. I was...I was just..."

Her left eyebrow raises sharply.

"...practicing."

It's her look that really hurts me. I've have swelling bruises from the falls I took in the woods, and my head throbs from the pounding it took from that rock, but her doubt cuts me to the chore.

"Mom. It was an accident. Why don't you trust me?" I turn to go.

"Sabrina." Her tone is pleading.

"Mom." I keep going down the hall to the bathroom. I lean up close to the mirror, and dab at the wound on my forehead. The blood has crusted around the edges, and dirt has caked in the scab.

"Sabrina, don't just walk away from me. You know that's not-"

"Not what Mom? It's not that you meant if you let me go for a second I'll kill myself? Because that's totally what I was doing." I give her my best teenager glare.

"Hon, don't do this."

"What?"

She places her harms on my shoulders. "Don't push us away."

"You were the one who keeps looking at me as if I were a monster. I'm not. I a girl. I'm your daughter, but you don't seem to realize it."

"So let me take care of you. Let me protect you, and keep you from pain."

"Since when have you been able to do that?" I accuse.

"Baby..."

She staggers back, hurt by my words. For a second I regret them, but I can't stop myself from going further. For once I feel in control- something I haven't had since before the hand or foster care- and I can't give it up. So I use my words as weapons, twisting them in a way I know will cause her pain.

"I haven't been your baby for years. I have had to take care of myself and figure out how to survive. I was the one the kept Daphne alive through all of those fucked up foster "parents" and I was the one who helped defeat mirror.

I don't need you." I finish, pausing before each word, giving them power.

For a moment I am terrified. I am scared that I have broken our relationship for good, that I have felled the most effective reformer Faerie has ever seen, that I have conquered the power of a mother's love.

But I see the moment in her eyes when she mentally gets back up.

"Sabrina, baby, I need you."

I don't know if her acceptance or need of me will ever be able to fix the gaping holes in the familial fabric of my past, but I have her now.


Present

By the end of my day, I am exhausted.

After picking my daughter up from school we snuggle down in my bed and I read fairy tales to her- a rare treat. She loves to hear of the colorful adventures, and daring characters. We proceed through the books together, both of us the heroines of our own stories.

I love the feel her her blond head burrowed into my side. I work my hands into her curly tangled mess of hair.

She looks up at me and smiles.

Aly is the brightness of my life, and I don't know how I ever-

I hold back the tears and pull her into my arms.

"I love you, Honey."

With my nose buried in her hair, she smells like life and happiness, and I am content.

When Puck saunters in, home from work, he finds Ally and I snuggled under my plush comforter with a pile of books at our feet.

I'm half awake, and barely conscious when he finds us, but I can see his smile. I can almost feel the kiss he plants on the top of my head before jumping into the bed with us and worming under the covers too.

These are the contented moments I live for.


QOTD: Since I've been in the mood lately for comedy, what is your favorite chick-flick or romantic comedy?

Also, would you be interested in having a review goal competition for a one-shot written by me?

Review and tell me what you think of the chapter.