okay, so this is a revamp of an older story. not a lot has changed although there are some new scenes and, i hope, smoother writing. so, if you enjoyed the old i hope you enjoy the new. if this is all new to you, i hope you enjoy it all the same.

this story exists between two different POV's, and follows a rough timeline. i will try to keep chapters in singular POV's, but that is not always going to be the case. either way, they will be under headings.

i will try to have these out about once a week, probably sometime during the weekend. maybe...five to ten chapters, depending.

sunday, 8 july, 2012. 6:43 pm.


1999: Bo.

"Wait up for meeee!"

The drawn-out cry did induce me to wait, the sound of the holey soles of my old Keds on my brother's feet pounding the brick-like dirt causing me to turn my face in time to see him hauling ass to catch up with me.

"Stop shout'n, Kelly."

My reprimand was as tired and worn as the one unbroken strap of my backpack, a shoulder encased in a torn-off sleeve shrugging against its weight.

"Geez, Bo, sorry."

"Whatever."

We walked in silence for a few minutes, passing one crummy trailer after another in the slummy park we live in, Kelly's Keds scuffing the dirt without leaving a mark.

"Hey! Guess what?"

I made a noncommittal sound but my lack of enthusiasm didn't phase him; it never does.

"Today, in gym, we were doin' runs, and stuff, and this kid, he fell on his ass, and got to go home because he kep' cryin'."

"Yeah, so?"

He deflated a bit, kicking back with, "Well, I never cry."

"Oh shut up, you do too."

My dismissive tone made him angry, his lip puffing out a bit as he grumbled; "Not jes' fer falling on my ass."

I'm mean, I know and understand that, so I felt no guilt in whirling around and shoving him hard, sending him flying backward and onto his bum. He looked up at me in shock, tears already starting to shimmer in his eyes as I stood over him; he was just gearing up to cry when he noticed the tiny smirk on my mouth, his eyes turning dark as he scowled and kicked my legs out from beneath me. I tumbled down on top of him, grinning madly even as I dug my fingers into his side and armpit, sending him into a shrieking fit as he kicked his legs and feet in an attempt to dislodge me. Running out of breath soon enough, I quit, pulling back and to my feet, shooting a hand out to yank him up when he wordlessly stuck his palm into the air in expectation.

"You douche," he snarked, scowling once more; particularly when I reached out and ruffled up his shaggy brown hair just to piss him off, snickering as he slapped at my hands.

Finally, he sighed and shoved his hands deep into his faded jeans, saying, "You never cry."

"I'm thirteen," I retorted, but he shook his head.

"You never cried."

I'd be lying if I said he was wrong.

I had to literally dig the key to our trailer out of my front pocket, my jeans probably already two sizes too small so I can only ever get my thumb and forefinger in there at any one time; instead, I've perfected the technique of finding its shape down at the bottom and running my fingernails up the fabric, pushing the key up to the top so I can pull it free without busting my hand in the process. Once the key was in hand I shoved it into the scratched up doorknob to the trailer, giving it that signature rattle and pop to the right, the only way it will unlock without you having to fight tooth and nail for it. I pushed the door open and clumped up the last cement block that made up our front steps, Kelly on my heels until he shut the door and disappeared down the claustrophobically small hallway to the right; his footsteps creaked the flooring as he walked, and I knew by one creak in particular that he'd gone into the bathroom.

I head down the hall myself, shrugging off my pack and tossing it into the open door of our shared room before heading back toward the kitchen. There were crackers in the top cabinet that I'd hidden days ago, and I had to hop up onto the counter and stand on my knees to see into that top shelf, my hand groping into the far back as I scrunched up my face with effort and snagged my prize. The half-eaten sleeve of mildly stale saltines made my mouth water, lips twisting into a grin even as I hopped down and made all the dishes rattle a bit in the dish drainer.

I'd have to remember to have them put up before Momma came home, or she'd squawk.

Kelly was already turning on the TV set as I grabbed a few plastic-wrapped slices of generic American cheese and went out to join him, plopping down on the couch and tossing a slice of cheese his way, making a game of tossing a few crackers that he eagerly caught with rare giggles.

We were nearly finished eating when there were footsteps on the concrete blocks outside the trailer, both of us shooting up from our slouches as the door opened and let in a tiny-proportioned woman with a tired face. Her hair was even darker than ours, shot through with an ample amount of gray despite that she wasn't even quite thirty yet.

"What do you boys have," she asked, suspicious when Kelly shoved his last cracker into his craw, looking absolutely innocent as he stared at her with overly-wide eyes. Her stare moved from him to myself, and I knew enough to sigh and open my fist, showing the crackers and small bit of cheese that I had left.

She continued to stare for a long moment before tiredly shaking her head, heading back to their bedroom even as she was saying, "Your father would tan both your hides for eating his snacks."

"Crusty, fat bastard," I grumbled, and Kelly giggled sharply before cutting it short, clapping his thin fingers over his mouth.

I waggled my eyebrows and crossed my eyes at him, causing him to let loose his laughter even as I crammed the last of my food into my mouth and stood, indicating that he should do the same as I went into the kitchen to put away the dishes from that morning.

I was in the middle of helping him with his maths when the 'fat bastard' came home from work, the sound of his truck grinding to a screaming halt in the nonexistent front yard putting everyone on alert. I heard his hard boots clomp their way to the front door, his grunt as it slammed behind him automatically causing the air in our trailer to become stifled.

There was a pause before, "Boy!" and I got up from our creaky bed and went out into the hallway, where he stood looking down toward our bedroom.

"Yess'r?"

"Why is your momma in the kitchen by herself?"

"Tol' me to 'elp Kelly with his maths."

"Get over here."

His voice had gone quiet and I felt my face become blank, obeying without protest and unsurprised when his hard paw of a hand came out and smacked me across the face as soon as I was close.

It stung but I didn't say anything, merely nodding with a tight jaw when he said, "Get yer ass in that kitchen, you hear me?"

I did as ordered, Momma quietly telling me to start stirring the chicken soup she'd been stirring not more than ten seconds ago. All of us were hyperaware of my father as he walked down the hallway to their bedroom, the sound of the closing door not enough to relax us, though it helped a bit.

After supper, I cleaned the dishes as Kelly watched the baseball game with Dad while Momma wandered back to their room for a spell. Occupied, I only half noticed the way the old man glanced up as she passed, hearing him get up from his chair to follow her. Soon, the sound of their voices carried out to the living room, low and easy to ignore, though my ears were hypersensitive even then. Kelly's eyes never left the TV screen, not until the first crack of skin on skin startled him, his head whipping around to stare in the direction of their bedroom. When it came again he looked over at me, his eyes overly dark and helpless; I hate seeing that look. I hate seeing that look whenever I stare into the mirror and see yet another fresh cut or bruise on my face.

Momma didn't start crying until a particularly dull thud, Dad's words suddenly rising in volume over the muted crashes; he called her a whore, a slut, a two-timing cunt. I was angry, shaking with fury, but Kelly was pulled into himself on the couch, wounded and jerking when their door flew open hard enough to bang against the wall as he stormed back down the hallway.

When he saw the way my brother cringed when he reentered the room, he stomped over and grabbed the nine-year-old by the forearm, shaking him as he snarled something unintelligible. Kelly let out a muffled cry of pain even as I heard a dull snap, my brother sobbing and making Dad hit him in the face once, twice, until I was there and jerking at his arm.

He let go to flat-out sock me in the face, catching my eye and grabbing a hold of my shirt to stop me from flying backward so he could punch me again in the mouth, blood bursting from my lip when it cut across my teeth. I took another punch to the eye without so much as a sound and he finally threw me to the ground, delivering a half-hearted kick to the edge of my hip that still made me curl up from the pain.

Without another sound he stalked out of the trailer and slammed the door, the engine of his truck revving loud soon after as he backed out and tore away.

I could barely feel the throb in my face and hip as I pushed off the floor, stumbling over to where Kelly sat nursing his fractured arm and avoiding my gaze, trying to hide the way tears continued to streak down his face. There was nothing I could do for him so I limped down the hallway, trying to ignore the agony in my hip as I made it to their bedroom.

Momma was still trying to sit up from where she lay slouched between the wall and the bed, her face bleeding from her nose and the fractured mess that was now her cheekbone and eye socket. She cried when I touched her as gently as I could, softly mewling even as she harshly shoved me away, turning her face in shame as her arm gave out and dumped her back onto the floor. I sat there on my knees, heels digging into my tailbone as anger simmered up from deep inside.

I felt boiled alive, choking on hate, and knew that this was never going to happen again. No more. I was never going to see the boot marks on my mother's arms and legs again, never going to wonder what he might have damaged this time.

I was furious; I jerked to my feet and stood there a moment, staring at Momma before abruptly letting loose and punching the wall as hard as I could. She flinched, cries turning to sobs, and I turned and left her, returning to the living room and ignoring how my hand dripped blotches of blood from where I'd split my knuckles open.

Kelly stared with wide, glassily frightened eyes until I sat beside him and pulled him in close to my chest, rubbing his back with my good hand and feeling him tremble slightly against me. He doesn't understand why I never cry when Dad hits me-Momma cries, and he cries, but I never do. He doesn't understand why I stand up and take the shit for them, not caring about the bruises and cuts and occasional broken bone. Our dad has broken my arm more than once, dislocated my shoulder when I was six, and cracked my ribs just last year. His temper is bad sober, but it's even worse those times he comes home smelling of smoked crack and cheap beer, when he's ornery at everything and everyone and quick as a rattlesnake to get you.

Not anymore, though; I'm not letting him do this ever again.

I made Kelly go into the bedroom with Momma, telling him not to come out for anything, and then I went searching for the solid ash-handled bat Dad had given me the year I turned eight. I hefted its familiar weight, the raggedness of the grip recalling a hundred lessons on the proper form for the perfect swing, and felt my mouth set into a determined line.

Then I dragged a chair over to the door and settled down to wait, bat placed across my knees and my fingers clenched against its wood.

...

I had to wait a long time before hearing the familiar truck, listening to its dying screech as he killed the engine and shut the door. I was standing on the chair when the bastard opened the door, the familiar smell of booze and drugs catching against my nose, and I waited for his dilated eyes to meet mine, seeing confusion there as to how I'd grown so tall.

I waited for him to understand what was happening before I gathered up my strength and hauled back, swinging the bat as hard as I could, just as he'd taught me the night he'd given it to me for my birthday.

A jarring sensation went up my arms as the bat crunched against his face, and he went back down the concrete steps and stayed down for a very long time.


a/n: until next time.