A/N: So I ended up changing the summary a bit because, based on the reviews I've been getting lately, I think it was a bit misleading on what the story was going to be like -which is my bad!- but hopefully this'll fix that? Worry not, there will absolutely be drama with Wendy, but at the moment I'm setting up a lot of stuff that'll be important later on in the story.
Sorry I took so long to update, I literally got Corona, but I'm all better now :) Keep yourselves safe and wash your hands as often as possible!
Charles and Sarah stood outside a rundown little house. It was on the bad side of town, the front lawn was unkempt and there was some graffiti on the wall facing the street. The other houses on that street had garbage in the front lawns and driveways, as if others had come to dump their trash here.
"It could be worse." Sarah said quietly, looking around with pursed lips, only a little put off.
"Do you think she's home?" Charles didn't stray his eyes away from the front door.
"Who, Sophia or Christine?"
"Both." He shrugged, slowly walking up the cracked driveway. There wasn't a car, only cracked cement and garbage cans that were in rough shape. They stood in front of the door for a few minutes before Charles took a deep breath, lifting his hand to knock. At first there wasn't any noise from inside so he knocked again, this time a bit more loudly.
"I don't want any of what you're selling!" A surprisingly familiar voice garbled.
"Uh, Christine? Is that you?" Charles called, furrowing his eyebrows.
"Huh?! Who is it? What do you want?" The door slammed open and Christine stood in front of them for the first time in almost seventeen years.
Admittedly, she had not aged well. There were wrinkles around her eyes, and her skin and hair looked unkempt. Her current figure was a far cry from her high school cheerleader body, but all things considered, it was sort of understandable.
Sarah delicately turned her face away when the stench of alcohol followed Christine.
"Jesus Christ, it's not even one yet." She muttered. Christine stood there with her eyes widened, at one point she even roughly rubbed her eyes before continuing to gawk at them. Charles awkwardly waved.
"Hey Christine, remember us?" Before he could say anything, she launched herself at him sending them both flying off the porch and onto the unkempt grass.
"Charles! You've come back for me!" She screamed, pressing herself as tightly against him as she could. "I knew you would someday!" He could smell the alcohol on her breath and tried sitting up.
"Christine, hey, stop." He tried to gently push her away but she was holding on tightly.
"I knew you still loved me!" She was gasping for breath, it almost sounded like she was sobbing against him. "Let's leave this place, let's leave it all behind!" She was becoming hysterical and Sarah had had enough.
"Pull yourself together!" She hissed annoyed, grabbing Christine's shoulders and practically throwing her off of her husband. "We're not here for that, we're here because Charles wants to talk about your daughter." Sarah glared at the woman she once considered her best friend. What the hell is wrong with her, how could she be so irresponsible? She obviously doesn't have a job, and getting drunk in the middle of the day? What's going on?
"D-daughter?" Christine was slowly pulling herself to her feet, swaying dangerously as she did.
"Yes, your daughter. Sophia?" They could see the moment it clicked for Christine and she was not happy.
"What about her?" She practically hissed, narrowing her unfocused eyes.
"What do you mean 'what about her'? I know she's my daughter and I want to be part of her life." Charles furrowed his eyebrows, moving to stand closer to his wife.
"Her? You want to be part of her life? What about me? Do I just not exist anymore? I literally made her!" She was getting angrier and most of her sentences didn't make sense.
"What are you talking about? I'm here about Sophia, nothing more." His words were like a knife to her heart. "I was hoping we could have an adult discussion about this and maybe stay in contact, but I see that that's impossible. Don't worry, we won't bother you anymore." Christine's eyes widened, panic rushing through her at the thought that Charles would leave again right after coming back. Just as he began to walk away she spoke up.
"W-wait! I'll... I'll take you to her." She clenched her teeth, glaring at the ground as if it had personally offended her.
"You mean she isn't here? Does she not live here? This address was on her school papers." Sarah frowned and Christine sneered at her.
"Oh, she likes to run away. Spends more time at her little emo friend's house than she does in her own home, the ungrateful brat." Christine began stomping away down the street, not caring that she was only in socks and obviously not wearing a bra, which was becoming more apparent the longer she stayed out because of how cold it was. She didn't even bother locking her door. Charles and Sarah shared an apprehensive look before falling into step behind the unstable woman.
The sun was hanging low in the horizon by the time Henrietta began to drive us home. It wasn't quite afternoon, but it'd be maybe another hour or so before the sun began to set. It was quiet in the car, none of us said anything and no one turned on the radio. It was actually pretty nice. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the headrest, tired but not sleepy if that made sense; my body felt so drained from today that as soon as I got home I was planning to flop into bed and never get out.
"What the fuck?" I looked up and my eyes widened at the scene being caused in the front yard. My mother was in the front year arguing with Mrs. Biggle while Mr. and Mrs. Smithings looked like they were trying to diffuse the situation.
"What the fuck are you assholes doing here?" Henrietta got out from the car and slammed the door behind her. We all followed her lead and I flinched once the adults' attention was on us.
"Henrietta, take your friends inside while we handle this, okay poopsie? I'll be right inside to take you some snacks." Mrs. Biggle tried herding us inside but we all pretty much ignored her.
"There you are! It's because of you that I've been out here freezing my ass off!" Mom suddenly stomped toward me. She was barefoot and obviously wasn't wearing a bra, maybe that's why she was freezing her ass off. Michael stepped in front of me, blocking her path.
"Stay away, bitch." I could hear the scowl in his voice but could see her glare.
"Get out of the way you little bastard." She shoved him to the side and he ended up slipping on some ice in the driveway. Before I could move to help Michael up, mom grabbed my arm and yanked me roughly to where Mr. and Mrs. Smithings stood. "Here she is! Our little daughter Charles! Isn't this a beautiful family reunion?!" She laughed almost hysterically and I could see Mrs. Smithings' eyes widen.
"Let go." I mumbled trying to push her hand away but she smacked my free arm with her other hand.
"Go on! Aren't you going to say something to her? Aren't you going to tell her how much you never wanted her? Or maybe how you wanted me abort her?" It was pretty easy to ignore mom's words, I could hear my friends yelling something too, but I couldn't make out what they were saying.
"That isn't true and you know it Christine!" Mr. Smithings loud voice snapped me back to the conversation and I could feel mom flinch next to me.
"What, you don't believe me? Here, she even looks like you!" Blood flowed back into my arm once she let go, but I wasn't able to enjoy the relief for long before I felt nails scrape along my forehead and grab a fist full of hair. My breath hissed out from between my clenched teeth as she tilted my head back so Mr. Smithings could get a clear view of my face. My eyes swiveled between Sarah and Charles as they stared at my face, I couldn't really name their expressions but I knew it wasn't something good. I wasn't stupid, I knew what they were seeing; my face was still bruised and had fresh cuts from moms last little tantrum, which I was lucky if she wouldn't reopen. I wanted to struggle against her grip, but she had a tight hold on my roots.
"That's enough Christine! Let her go!" Mrs. Biggle yelled from the porch. Ah, she's always so nice, I wonder what she baked today?
"You... What did you do to her?" Charles asked horrified.
"She looks so much like you, doesn't she? Look at those pretty little eyes!" Her sarcastic tone send a shiver down my spine and I grunted as she yanked my head back further. I reached up to grab her wrist, holding her arm in place so she wouldn't pull anymore, at this rate she'd probably scalp me.
"Let her go Christine. Now." Mrs. Smithings voice took a tone I recognized, but I wasn't able to see her face from how far back my neck was bent.
"Or what?" Mom's tone was challenging.
A few things suddenly happened at once.
Two pairs of feet crunched through the snow as they ran toward us.
I'm assuming that one of them twisted mom's arm back and firmly pulled me away.
And I guess the other one was Mrs. Smithings because she suddenly flew by before tackling my mother to the ground and absolutely pummeling her into the ground.
After that there was a lot of shouting, but I was distracted by the fingers gently combing through my hair and prodding at my scalp.
"Are you okay?" I looked up and finally noticed Raven. One of his arms was wrapped securely around my back and the other was gingerly touching my hair. "Do the scratches hurt?" He ran his fingers through my bangs and I numbly shook my head.
"Not really." I said softly, staring at the eye bags under his blue eyes, they were less prominent than usual which meant he was probably sleeping better.
"Wait, to which question?" He furrowed his eyebrows and for some reason his confusion made my lips quirk up.
"I'm fine Raven." I snorted, smiling at him in amusement.
"Holy shit dude." He was distracted by something over my shoulder. My eyes widened as I followed what he was looking at. Sarah and my mother were rolling around in the snow beating the shit out of each other. As soon as one was able to get the upper hand, the other would flip them over and the rolling began again.
"Sarah!" Charles ran forward and pulled his wife off my mother, turning so he would shield her. "That's enough Christine, get out of here!" Both women were breathing heavily and looked like they'd like nothing more than to go for round two. Mom's eyes were flashing all over Mr. Smithings, probably trying to find the best angle to rush him and attack his wife again.
"If you don't leave I'll call the police, Christine!" Mrs. Biggle held up the house phone from her spot on the porch, making her stop and turn to glare.
"Fine! Start walking Sophia!" I took a step back as she turned toward me and Raven turned to shield me the same way Mr. Smithings was protecting his wife.
"Sophia stays here Christine." Mrs. Biggle frowned and put her hands on her hips. "Go home by yourself." My mother turned as she looked around herself, looking more frustrated by the second as she realized no one would take her side. Everyone was glaring at her and it was more than obvious that no one wanted her here. She suddenly gave a loud, frustrated shriek.
"You can all go fuck yourselves!" She stomped away, spitting on the floor as she did. Watching her walk away I noticed how much she was shivering and the almost blue color on her bare feet. Huh.
"Well," we all turned to look at Mrs. Biggle. "Why don't we all come inside for a cup of coffee? I have crumb cake." She smiled, already putting the tense atmosphere behind her and inviting us all into her house.
"That'd be great, thank you." Charles led his wife to the porch. Her eyebrow was split and she had a few nail marks on her face, but besides that'd she was fine. She turned to look at me, furrowing her eyebrows and licking her lips, preparing to say something.
"Sophia," her voice was low as she stared into my eyes. "Are you okay?" My friends turned to look at her, chattering quietly to themselves.
"What?" I frowned in confusion. She was the one that rolled around in snow and got beat up, not me.
"Christine shouldn't have grabbed you like that." Her frown depended as she stepped away from her husband. "Let's go inside and check over you to see if you need anything patched up, okay?" I guess rolling around in the snow made it seep into her clothes and wet them, she was shivering. She probably wants to go inside already, so why doesn't she just hurry up and just go.
"Of course I'm going inside, I can't exactly go home right now." I muttered, looking away uncomfortably.
"Sophia," there's that weird, worried tone again. "Let's go inside and make sure you're okay." She took another step toward me and my jaw tightened. Her eyes were kind of shiny and she hadn't looked away from me yet.
"Sure, whatever." I muttered, walking to the porch and pulling Raven with me. He kept his arm around my back.
Michael glared as he got up from where he was on his ass on the driveway, cheeks burning in embarrassment as watched them walk inside.
"Very smooth Michael." Henrietta snorted. "You were oh so chivalrous, how was it being a human meat shield for two seconds?" She asked sarcastically.
"Fuck off Henrietta." He brushed snow off his clothes and lit a cigarette. "Let's go inside so we don't miss what they're talking about."
"It's none of our business." Pete shrugged noncommittally, flipping the bangs out of his face,
"I agree with Michael." Firkle hadn't taken his eyes off the door since everyone but them had gone in. The three boys turned to Henrietta, waiting to see what she'd say.
"Fine." She rolled her eyes. "Sophia probably won't tell us the full story anyway, she'll probably just tell us a short summary and call it a day." The four goths walked up the porch steps and into the kitchen where everyone was sitting around. Sophia was sitting up on the sink with Raven standing next to her and had her eyes closed as Mrs. Biggle inspected the scratches on her face.
"You'll be fine dear, there's definitely some marks but she didn't break the skin." Mrs. Biggle said cheerfully, disinfecting the marks just to be sure.
"What about her scalp?" Stan pointed out.
"Oh you're right! Lean forward dear." Mrs. Biggle gently nudged Sophia forward, parting her hair at the crown of her head to check her scalp. "Well, there are a few tiny cuts, but it's nothing to worry about." She disinfected them too before turning to Mrs. Smithings. "Your turn." She smiled, opening her first aid box and pulling out some bandages. It didn't take her long to clean up and bandage Sarah.
"I'm going to go wait upstairs." Sophia said quietly, hopping off the sink.
"Wait, shouldn't we talk about what just happened?" Charles furrowed his eyebrows, looking at her worriedly.
"Uh, not really." She responded after a moment of hesitation.
"Why not? Something big happened tonight and it's not healthy for you to go on as if what happened is okay. We should talk through it so you can get your feelings out and not internalize it." Sarah stood up as soon as Mrs. Biggle was done treating her wounds. Sophia looked awaFHy uncomfortably, the older woman's words leaving her feeling embarrassed and awkward.
"What's the point of rehashing it? It already happened and we were all there, everyone saw what happened and we all know it's not... right."
"The point is for you to talk out your feelings while you're still processing this."
"There's nothing to talk about!" An arm reached around Sophia and pulled her back against a lean chest.
"If she doesn't want to vent to your losers then you should respect her decision and leave her the fuck alone." Michael glared, arm wrapped across her chest and around her collarbones with her held securely against him.
"My question is, why is Sophia still living with Christine." Charles spoke up and the room fell into silence. It was a valid question, one almost everyone in the room had asked themselves at one point or another. "Things can't continue going on as they have, changes need to be made. We need to get the police or CPS or some sort of authority involved to make sure this stops happening." He crossed his arms. Sophia's eyes widened under her fringe.
"I don't want to get thrown into foster care!" The quiet girl suddenly spoke up, remembering the horrible stories Kenneth and Karen told her. "It won't be that long until I turn eighteen anyway, I can just hold off until then."
"We wouldn't let you get thrown into foster care, dear." Mrs. Biggle spoke up, smiling kindly. "I'm sure it'll be a rough application process, but they could give your custody to us, right Thomas?" Her husband nodded gruffly behind her.
"They'd most likely hand the custody over to Charles." Sarah suddenly spoke up, making the teenagers in the room tense up. "There wouldn't be much of an application process because he's her biological father and has a history of trying to find her. We own a house and he's in good standing at work..." She trailed off once she realized the children all had their undivided attention on her, except for Sophia. She couldn't really tell, but from what she could see, the girl had gone pale and was staring at the floor. The room fell into another uneasy silence.
"How about you kids go upstairs while we talk and so Sophia can get some rest?" Mrs. Biggle smiled. "Here, take some crumb cake with you." She handed Stan a plate of already sliced cake. She had already learned who would be the easiest to give food to, which was Sophia and little Raven, and sometimes Pete depending on what mood he was in. The kids went without making any comments for once, pleasantly surprising Mrs. Biggle.
"What the fuck are we going to do?" Pete began pacing as soon as they entered Henrietta's room. Michael was gently leading Sophia to sit on Henrietta's bed while they all settled around the room.
"That bitch is right, they're not going to favor my stupid parents over your biological dad." Henrietta lit a cigarette, scowling at her carpet as she let herself fall onto some cushions on the floor.
"We need to find a way to make sure they pick your parents so Sophia doesn't leave with those assholes." Pete ran his fingers through his bangs frustrated. Sophia still hadn't said anything, frowning down at Henrietta's comforter.
"How the fuck are we going to do that?" Firkle spoke up as he sat next to Sophia, leaning against her quietly.
"We'll figure it out." Michael crossed his arms, fingers twitching anxiously.
"I don't..." Sophia muttered and everyone shut up to listen. "I don't want to cause Mrs. Biggle any more trouble than I already have."
"It'll be fine, it wasn't very difficult for her to adopt that other twerp so she'll probably be able to get custody over you at least until you turn eighteen."
"You mean Bradley?" Stan spoke up. "Didn't he find his real family?"
"Yeah, but it was so sudden that on paper he's technically fucking missing, it was a whole shit show with the cops." Henrietta rolled her eyes, but then, almost like she just realized what she said, she groaned loudly. This only served to make Sophia feel more dejected. She didn't want to go live with her... father, or his family.
"So what now smart ass?" Pete flipped his bangs back.
"Wait, isn't there a kid in town whose dad is a social worker? Kenny told me about him when they went into foster care, the guy's kind of an idiot but he knows what he's doing."
"A social worker? What kid?"
"I'm not sure, Kenny said he was really lame and he liked to dress up with his group of friends. I think they got Karen to dress up with them once for a birthday party at Casa Bonita." The veteran goths turned to look at each other with wide horrified eyes.
"And, uh, what did they dress like?" Henrietta crossed her arms.
"They were vampires or something." Stan flinched as Pete kicked something over and Michael groaned loudly as he ran his hands down his face. He looked at Sophia but she seemed just as confused as him.
"Fuck! We haven't talked to those assholes in years!" Michael lit a cigarette angrily.
"I can't believe we have to go ask something of them." Firkle shivered and Sophia put an arm around him.
"Shut up idiots, if this is what we have to do for Sophia then we'll do it." Henrietta glared at the upset boys and they immediately shut up. "What's the worst they could do? Make us drink clamato juice? They're literally losers, all we have to do is give them a bat or something and they'll do whatever we want."
"When should we go?" Stan's eyes flashed between his friends, seeing them in a slightly different light as before.
"We'll figure out where they meet then go after school tomorrow." Henrietta rolled her eyes and lit a cigarette. A soft voice spoke up.
"I really appreciate everything you guys are doing. I know how much you hate the vamp kids..." She trailed off.
"It's whatever." Pete looked away, but there was a tiny smile on his face.
"It's almost fun talking shit to them." Michael shrugged, smirking at Sophia.
While the adults continued to talk about adoption plans, the young ones upstairs were cooking up some plans of their own.