Adrian would cry, her voice raw from the desperation of it, from how long she'd been doing it, and cling to her dad. She’d bury her face beneath his jaw, her nose pressed to where she'd have cut him with her knife and sob and tremble. The warmth of his palm would race along the length of her spine, and she could feel the vibration in his throat as he spoke, his voice a low rumble she'd have missed in the silence her anger had forced between them. This was the voice that taught her how to say 'goodnight daddy, I love you' in five different languages, the voice that sliced through her anxiety with soft words, the voice that sang sad melodies to lull her to sleep as a baby. The voice that coached her through submission holds and triple-axels and college applications. The voice that had been tinny or grainy, distorted somehow through a phone or a computer for most of her childhood. He was her daddy, and she had his hair and his love of science and languages and his existential heart. She had his anxiety and his poor judgment and his guilt. And she'd mourn the time she'd lost with him, mourn how she'd stolen such his comfort and support from her own children in denying him. "I’m sorry," she'd murmur between sobs. "I’m so sorry."
Adriel would clutch Adrian to his aching chest, consciously regulate his breathing through the pain of her blow, through the pain of holding her, through the pain of hearing her cry. He hurt her and he left her and he'd been selfish and he'd been scared. He’d always been so scared. And in succumbing to that fear, he'd done exactly what he'd been afraid he'd do. He was ashamed and he was guilty and he had no idea how to bridge the gap between them. But she reached for him and he wouldn't deny her. Ever. He’d always waited, hoped she'd come back to him, hoped that, like him, she just needed time and space. That, like him, she'd always come back to what she loved. Because she'd developed his taste for body art and metal, his taste for risk, and his taste for the thrill of the body. She’d developed his horrible sleeping habits, his crippling self-doubt and his questionable self-worth. He’d burdened his daughter with so much of his own baggage; it was hard to tell where he ended and where she began. "It’s okay, baby girl," because she'd always be such to him. His baby girl. How many times had she cried for him and he wasn't there? How many times had she accomplished something amazing, and he wasn't there to celebrate her, to remind her he loved her, to prove how great she was? "I’m sorry, too," he'd say. "Christ, Adrian, I’m sorry, too." He'd hold her for a few moments longer before prying himself from her grasp, before pushing her away enough to wipe the blood and tears from her face.