She stormed throught the hall as she took off her outerware that protected her from the harsh elements outside.
"Get away from me!" she screamed at the man following her. She tried to slam the door closed, but his strength proved a great obstacle and she resolved herself by kicking the door before trying to run from him.
"Not until you talk to me," his firm voice cut through her turmoil as he held a firm grip on her wrist.
"There's nothing to talk about," she said quietly as she tried to pull away. His grip was firm but never harsh. He was always gentle with her.
"You're telling me that, after what happened? No, you need to talk to me."
Her lower lip quivered when she drew in a breath. His eyes grew dark out of concern.
"I don't need to talk," her voice was shaky and unconvincing, but she didn't look at him.
She turned further away from him. "Why are you being stubborn about this?"
"Why are you being difficult about this?" Silence followed. The rain was pelting outside.
"Because I'm deserving of horrid treatment, and you're not doing so, so I've taken the obligation upon myself to -"
"To what? Punish yourself?! No one's obligated to punish themselves for the reason - no, the excuse you're using!" he interrupted. He had let go of her by then.
His frustration was evident as he paced the room. The strength of the rain never faltered, and he ran a hand through his thick hair.
The girl had resolved to sinking to the kitchen floor, curled as tightly as possible.
It was a full ten minutes before stifled sobs reached the man's ears. He'd never seen her like this before. He stood over her.
"I'm pathetic, aren't I?" No answer.
"Go ahead and leave. I know you don't need me anymore."
His anger increased with this. He grabbed the tops of her arms and shook her. "Why the hell would you tell me that?"
"You think I've been using you?!"
"Never in my whole life have I ever -"
"You're hurting me!"
He stopped. She pushed at his chest and ran as fast as she could to the living room. He followed her.
She was curled on the floor, stifling her sobs. The rain was loud enough to drown out the noise, but he had always been able to hear her in her moments of despair.
"Why are you always like this?"
Silence. The rain outside reflected what was happening inside.
"What about it?" He had always been patient with her.
"I've always strived for perfection."
"Because I thought it would make him love me."
"My father." She turned to look at him. Never before had he seen so much pain in her eyes.
What had first intrigued him to her was an element in her eyes he could not pinpoint. It was always there, even in her extremely happy moments, when her smile could melt hearts. Now he knew what it was.
Here was that element in its most concentrated form. Pain, despair, loss, frustration, fear. All of it was there, present in her eyes. His voice hitched.
"Why would you say that?"
"I always believed that if I were perfect, if I could impress him, he would tell me out loud that he loved me. If I was best of the best, he would be proud to say that I was his daughter."
He had nothing to say. He couldn't think of anything to say.
She laughed at his silence. Her laugh was bitter and full of hate.
"You know that he died last week."
"You know what his last words were?"
His eyes froze on her. He was afraid of her response. He sank down next to her on the floor.
"He said, 'Your worst subject is Biochemistry. Improve it.'"
"That was his last response?"
"He didn't even say 'I love you'."
Her voice cracked. She muttered 'Oh God' under her breath and she began to cry. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest. Whatever strength she had left to keep everything inside broke in his embrace.
"No 'I'm proud of you'! No 'I love you'! No 'Don't cry, sweetheart'! Nothing!" She cried into his chest.
He held her closer, tighter. "I'm proud of you."
Her tears softened.
"I love you."
He cradled her face and kissed every tear that passed through her eyes. Her tears stopped. She looked at him in bewilderment, and her eyes froze on his face.
He smiled at her gently. He pressed his lips to her forehead.
"Don't cry, sweetheart," he mumbled against her skin.
Her tears began again. He held her to his chest and murmured every reason he knew as to why he loved her so much in her ear.
"You're beautiful and smart. You can cook like heaven. You never think about yourself. You put others first. You beat me like crazy at ping pong..."
She clung to him for all she was worth. For all he was worth. She let him continue, mostly because she didn't know how to stop him, but also because she couldn't remember the last time anyone told her that they loved her.
The rain outside continued its march. The two sat together, content with each other. Whatever was happening inside was no longer reflected by the storm outside. Inside, it was perfection.