Kevin walked cautiously around the hallways to his locker. He hadn't seen
his brother Brian all day, but that wasn't unusual. Brian's classes weren't
near his. He hoped that Brian wouldn't be too angry that he hadn't told him
earlier what he'd been planning. He probably wouldn't be, though, as Brian
was the one pushing Kevin to get out of their house any way he could. Their
stepfather, Gary, was getting more and more violent and Brian wasn't sure
how long he could keep him from Kevin.
Jason peered at him a few lockers away and nodded slightly. Jason was
Kevin's new best friend and savior. A modern day knight in shining armor,
minus the shining armor, if you will. Jason had been following Kevin around
since the beginning of the school year and interrogating him as to why he
never smiled or why he didn't seem to ever be having any fun. Kevin was
annoyed at first. What business was it of his why Kevin wasn't smiling or
having fun, anyway? But the taller brunette wasn't backing down. Kevin
pushed back his dark blonde hair and thought about their early days.
Jason was new at the school in the beginning of the year and lived with his
sister nearby. He immediately latched onto Kevin, who wasn't at all happy
about this new development. He had his own trouble to watch out for and
didn't have time for a new friend. His brother was almost dead from the
nightly beatings at home coupled with the daily beatings at school. And his
stepfather showed no signs of letting up. Neither did that asshole, Matt
Henshaw. He and Ryan Trevors bullied Brian mercilessly, but the older
brother refused to do anything about it. Brian had learned from experience
that fighting back in any way prolonged the pain. So he took it.
And Kevin felt so guilty about that. He knew that Brian was taking as much
of Gary's wrath as he could so that the younger brother wouldn't have to.
In fact, Kevin knew Gary didn't just beat Brian. But his older brother
refused to talk about what went on between himself and their stepfather, so
Kevin couldn't do anything about it.
And at school, there was Jason. He always asked what was wrong and never
accepted Kevin's offhanded replies. He looked at Kevin like he was reading
into him. Once day last week at lunch, Jason pulled Kevin into the parking
lot and threw him into his car. They silently drove off to a scenic lookout
point and Jason then pulled Kevin out of the car and up against a tree.
"I know damn well you and your brother are being abused by your stepfather
and you are going to tell me what the hell is going on with you!"
Kevin, shocked, immediately broke down into tears and sobbed into his
friend's chest, relating everything that had been happening to them since
their mother died of lupus two and a half years ago, when Kevin was
fourteen. When he finished, he looked up into Jason's eyes expecting to see
revulsion. Instead he saw sadness and compassion.
"I know how you feel," Jason said sadly, letting Kevin off the tree and
pulling him to sit down on a nearby rock. "Why do you think I live with my
"Why?" Kevin sniffed, wiping his hazel eyes of their tears.
"Because my father liked to 'give me away' to his friends and my mother
didn't do anything to stop him."
"She knew?" Kevin's eyes grew wide.
"Oh yeah," Jason said. "My sister was much older. She's actually my half
sister. Different father. Lucky." Jason's dark eyes narrowed. "She
suspected something weird was going on when I turned five, but she was in
college and my mother assured her I had ADD. The doctors doped me up on
Ritalin for a few years, which didn't help."
Kevin listened to his friend in fascinated horror. No wonder Jason didn't
give up his quest for answers. He was familiar with the signs.
"When I was ten," Jason went on, "Gina, that's my sister, was established
in a legal firm practicing as a family law attorney. She fought for custody
of me and had a private detective case our house. A year later, she won me,
and my parents were in jail. I've lived with her ever since."
"Oh my God," Kevin whispered.
"When I saw your face that first day, I knew you could understand me all
too well," Jason said. "I just had to break through to you."
"I don't know what to do," Kevin cried. "Brian can't hold out much longer
and he's been begging me to run away, but I can't leave him."
"He's asking you to save yourself," Jason said. "And then he'll get out,
too. Kevin, he's not leaving until you do."
"Where would I go?"
"Home with me," Jason said without batting an eye. "Gina already knows
about you. In fact, she said if I can't bring you home by the middle of
next week, she's sending someone from social services."
"Why didn't you let that happen?"
"I have friends who went through that," Jason shuddered. "Social services
is a last resort as far as I'm concerned." He then smiled at Kevin warmly.
"Besides, I wouldn't be able to see your bright shining personality
everyday if I let them take you."
Kevin shook his head and brought himself back to the present. Today was the
day he left with Jason. He'd already packed his stuff into his friend's car
at lunchtime and left Brian a note. He only hoped his brother would get out
as soon as he read it. Jason had asked him if he wanted to ask Brian to
come with them, but Kevin knew Brian would refuse to go anywhere until he
was sure Kevin was out. Brian had used himself as a human shield for too
long to do otherwise. Kevin would ask Gina to send in social services
tomorrow, as that might be the only way to save his brother from Gary. That
pig. Kevin hoped fate was fair and got the man someday.
Too bad Brian didn't have someone like Jason in his life. He looked over
his shoulder again and saw Matt and Ryan walking to their class. This was
the period they had science in Brian's class. He only hoped his brother was
Jason caught his eye again in silent question and Kevin shrugged. His
brother's only hope was that Kevin get safely out of the house. Jason
closed his locker and sauntered over to Kevin's area. Kevin closed his
locker, too and they left to get Kevin settled into Jason's house.