Friday afternoon, Sarah's mind was made up. Sure she was taking it a little easier than before but she couldn't or wouldn't miss Ava's cheerleading game and wouldn't allow Richie to miss it either. He needed to see his daughter perform her talents before she'd leave the house. Sarah knew he was worried about that already.
"Ready to go?" Sarah asked, picking up Daniel from his seat.
"Are you sure?" Richie asked worriedly. "Maybe it's not such a good idea right now."
"Lets go see Ava cheer, Daniel might think it's fun and Noah's gonna be there too for school spirit so lets go."
"Yeah, okay." Richie agreed and got up.
It was Friday evening, at the end of September, fall had started but in California that only meant a small difference in warmth. It was still warm enough to enjoy the sun as much as they could.
As they watched Ava cheer on the game with the rest of the girls, they sat comfortably as a family of three.
When they arrived two boys had noticed Noah and had left with him. Obviously they were all friends and wanted to watch the game together instead of with parents. Which both Sarah and Richie understood. Noah didn't have many friends so if he wanted to be around some, they couldn't protest it at all. With Caleb it had been different, same for Ava, sometimes they had to be told to spend some time with family instead of friends.
"Feeling okay?" Richie asked Sarah during half time. "Do you need a jacket? Something to eat or drink?"
Sarah smiled a little, "I'm fine." She answered. "Stop worrying."
During the second half of the game, Daniel fell asleep. Sarah gently passed him over to Richie, knowing he was bigger and stronger and therefor comfier for Daniel to sleep with.
Richie held his son preciously as he watched her daughter show off all her skills. He was so proud of her. Knowing what she could do, he knew she'd get anywhere in life as long as she believed she could, wanted it enough and had the right support. Cheerleading wasn't as simple as everyone thought it was, he remembered the first time Ava did jumps and flips in the air. Even now, each time she does so, he hopes to God that those other girls catch her safely. So much trust.
Right after the game, Richie passed Daniel back to Sarah and got up to get down to the field to at least say hi to Ava before going home.
He waved until she noticed him and ran up to him.
"You were great." Richie said proudly and pulled her into a hug. "Good job."
"Thanks dad." Ava smiled as he let her go again. "Did you have fun?"
"Always fun to watch you. You're so much better than last semester, it's amazing."
Ava smiled again, thankful for the compliment after all the hard work she had done to improve her skills even more.
"We'll see you at home? Don't make it too late." Richie said, letting Ava get back to her friends and the after game party that they'd go to.
Once at home in the garage, he turned to Sarah again. "You go up to bed, I'll take Daniel to bed."
"Thanks." Sarah said and checked her phone again.
Richie frowned, "Noah probably just went to the party too. Ava knows so she'll get home with him."
"I guess." Sarah answered. "Just not like him to go to parties."
"It's good for him though, instead of always reading those books."
"He loves his books."
"I know, but parties might get him to socialize some more, make friends and go out. He's always at home just reading." Richie answered. "He's with those friends we saw him with, it's good for him."
"Yeah." Sarah didn't exactly agree, she knew Noah was comfortable with who he was but maybe Richie was right too.
She did as agree and went upstairs as Richie took Daniel to bed.
Luckily Daniel only woke up while Richie tried to change him but was back asleep as soon as he was in his bed. Leaving the night light on, Richie walked out of the room.
He frowned as he saw Noah walk out of the main bathroom in a towel. Noah was supposed to be at the party, not walking out of the bathroom. It was strange to him but when he noticed a large bruise on Noah's side, he got worried. He was sure he wasn't noticed yet, he followed Noah with his eyes and watched him walk to his bedroom, when he noticed blood on his ankles.
He stepped out of Daniel's bedroom and out into the hallway.