THREE


It was January in Ephrata, and the air of the Pacific was deep and frigid. Overnight, it brought a huge torrent of snow down the west and dumped it all over the town. Like many other small villages in the area, Ephrata had begun preliminary expansion to accommodate more immigrants. Ice covered much of the irrigated, flattened land.

Sage was ten and Callen was eleven. Both were due to graduate to middle school – the only middle school in town – in a few months. It was three in the afternoon when the snow had finally stopped. School hadn't been cancelled, and the intermediate grades all poured out of the school, crowding in the vast baseball field to enjoy the weather. Callen's friend had invited him to a snowball fight, but he refused because he had to walk Sage home.

"Sage has to be home at 3pm today," Callen called out, explaining. At twelve years of age, he was tall and had an easy smile that made him popular with just about everyone; the boys in the class, the girls, and even the teachers.

Callen's friends – all similarly sport proficient and tall, let out howls of irritation.

"Come on, Callen, it doesn't snow very much these days!"

"Why do you always hang out with that kid anyways, he's so weird."

Callen's tallest "friend" Steve, had a head full of fiery hair and an attitude that was almost as big as his stature. "Just ditch that stupid little faggot already," he growled.

There seemed to be a unanimous murmur of agreement. Sage shrank, hunched in his baggy sweatshirt and ripped jeans, his head hung in a permanent downcast.

"It's okay, I'll walk home by myself," he murmured to Callen.

Callen ignored him. He crouched down smoothly and palmed a neat snowball in his bare palms. And in a movement so fast Sage could barely follow, Callen launched it straight into Steve's face with a dull thud.

A chorus of "Ohhhhh's" sounded as the boys all stood stunned, unsure how to react.

"What was that for?"

"He was telling the truth!"

Callen puffed out his chest as Steve rubbed bits of ice out of his eyes, his face beet-red, expression twisted in pain.

"I'm sick and tired of trying to pick sides with you guys," Callen said firmly. "Call Sage a fag again and I'll punch you the fuck out."

Only silence answered, and they all walked away, including Steve. Callen would be suspended for a week the next day, breaking his parent's hearts momentarily, but when he explained to them the reason for his motivations – openly and calmly like always – they would forgive him. His family adored Sage as much as Callen did himself.

"Why did you do that?" Sage asked angrily, five minutes later, tugging on Callen's arm as they walked down the empty street, running shoes crunching in the snow. Sage stared with wide, questioning eyes, and Callen looked back, amused.

"Because."

"Because of what."

"Just because," he answered simply.

And that was that. Why don't you pick them instead? Sage wanted to ask, but he bit back his tongue. He didn't want to seem more pathetic than he was already feeling. He hated to be defended, but then again, he couldn't really defend himself.

"Hey, Sage," Callen asked. "Why do you need to be back home at 3 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday anyways? I've known you for like... forever, and you still haven't told me. I mean, your parents know that you're just hanging out with me, right?"

Sage bit his lip nervously. "Because."

"Because what?"

"Just because," Sage answered.

"You little shit," Callen laughed, and attempted to grab his friend in a headlock, but Sage was nimble. He twisted out of Callen's grasp, scooped a ball of snow, and hurled it straight into Callen's face before he had a chance to react.

"Oof!" Callen grunted.

"Sorry," Sage answered hastily, and for a moment, he was inexplicably frightened. Callen brushed ice out of his eyes, and then grinned crookedly. He reached down, and just as quick, returned a volley back at Sage. Laughing, they exchanged firearms until their hands burned an angry red in the absence of gloves.

"You know, you're pretty fast," Callen said.

Sage grunted. "You tell me that every day."

"Yeah, so why didn't you try out for the dodge ball team last year like I told you to? Or the year before that? And the year before –"

"Because," Sage said. He was tired of having this conversation. I don't like getting hit, he wanted to say.

As a matter of fact, he was downright terrified of it.

But, there wasn't a chance in hell that he was going to admit that to Callen. He wasn't going sound like a wuss and risk the friendship they had. After all, Callen really was his only friend.

"Because of what?" Callen asked, and then pressed a hand to Sage's mouth when he began to reply. "Nope, don't answer that."

They chased each other to the end of the road, before Callen stopped.

"Hey, why don't we go sledding today?"

Sage frowned. "I can't, I have to get home soon."

"Please!" Callen said, his hands on his knees, bending so he was at eye level with Sage. "We haven't had snow like this in a long time. C'mon we'll just go over to the park at Lakeview. I'll even call my dad to tell him to bring over the sled while we walk there to save us time."

"I don't wanna trouble Mr. Worthwright," Sage murmured, looking away.

"It's 'uncle.' And it's no trouble, he doesn't work today. You know he's always happy to do stuff when he knows we're hanging out together. I told you we're all family."

"Okay," Sage said, sighing, "but I have to be back home before half past three."

He chewed his lip, hoping he wouldn't regret his choice. He hoped that his mother was still stuck in traffic. He hoped that her boyfriend was still passed out on the couch.

There was a big possibility that either one wouldn't be, but Sage didn't want to disappoint Callen. And when his friend's face broke into a big, toothy grin, Sage knew it was worth it, even if it meant that he was being crushed in a death-grip bear hug.

It was on this day that they went sledding when Sage started to feel strange around Callen.

Particularly, when they were perched on the top of the highly crested hill, overlooking the small, frozen lake that it happened. Callen had positioned the sled on the ground and told Sage to get in first. He promptly positioned himself behind him, and wrapped his arms around his shoulders, long legs wrapped around his sides.

His breath was warm against Sage's neck, and he felt a sort of curious tingling there, just as heat suddenly bloomed all over his face.

A peculiar sensation began to grow between his legs, and before he knew it, he was uncomfortable and aroused and it was all so weird. He was too afraid to adjust himself and he stared upwards, trying to focus on some geese that were passing overhead in formation.

"Are you ready?" Callen asked. His voice was deeper at such a close proximity.

Sage shivered involuntarily, and thought about his mother's boyfriend and how his breath stank of Bacardi golden rum and Marlboro reds. That helped a bit.

"I'm ready," Sage replied.

But not by much.

"On the count of three."

"Okay..."

"One."

A sudden lurch and the sled started to roll downhill.

"Callen?" Sage yelled. His friend answered with a wild laugh.

Icy wind blasted past his face. The world rushed around them, and Sage's stomach floated right up into his head. He screamed at the top of his lungs.

"FuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK!"

Their sled hit a patch of ice, flipped at a forty five degree angle, and they plummeted into the snow face first.

Dazed, Sage stood up, and felt a rush of nausea rise into his throat. He took a few breaths to calm his stomach. Callen's laughter exploded through the air.

"Dude," he said, between breaths, "you... you swear so much when you're scared."

"Shut up," Sage snapped, beating snow off his jacket.

"I don't think I've ever heard you say 'fuck' so many times in my entire life!"

Sage kicked snow at his friend and stalked away, murmuring about how his friend's potty mouth was a bad influence on him. He heard Callen's footsteps crunch and he strode to catch up to him.

"So was it fun?"

Sage shot his friend an angry look. "No!"

Callen grinned. "You just have to get used to it – I promise it won't be scary anymore after the next few run-throughs."

"I don't think I'll ever get used to falling on my face," Sage said bitterly, and he stopped, sitting cross-legged onto the ground.

Callen frowned. "Aw, c'mon, we'll slide down another part of the hill. Do it one more time with me? It's not fun if you don't come. Please?" He stuck out his bottom lip and clasped his hands together.

No one could resist those eyes. Especially not Sage. He sighed, and agreed.

By the end of the fifth run, Sage hadn't liked the sled rides any more – but he looked forward to the few seconds of respite that he had, nestled between Callen's legs and warmth that wrapped around him.

Then Sage checked the time and he felt his insides leaden. It was half-past four.

"Oh, darn!" Sage said. "I have to go."

"Shit." Callen scowled at his watch. "Sorry, I lost track of the time. I'll call my dad again to –"

"No," Sage said firmly. "I'll walk home."

"I'll come with –"

"No!" Sage snapped, louder this time, and he took off running.

x x x

Sage pushed the front door of his home open and slipped behind it without a sound, his heart in his throat. Shutting the door behind him carefully, he blinked in the darkness and tried to calm his breathing. The stench of beer and cigarettes was overpowering, but Sage was used to it by now. Holding still, he listened for any noises, contemplating his next move. He heard no footsteps, no voices, no crashes. High pitched static reached his ears.

The TV was still on. Sage released a sigh of relief. That meant that his mother wasn't home, and he was asleep, so Sage knew it was safe to tiptoe up the stairs and into his bedroom. He would change quickly and then do the family laundry. If he did that fast enough, it would look like he had arrived home a long time ago. And if he did that really fast, he could even get around to cleaning up the living room, which he was sure would be a mess even though he had just cleaned it last night. That would give him absolutely no reason to get into trouble.

Or at least, that was what he had hoped.

Before Sage could even reach the top of the stairs, a voice pierced the air.

"Hey where do you think you're goin'? Make me some fucking food!"

Sage's heart sank right back down and settled into a cold pit in the bottom of his stomach.

He hung his head dejectedly for a split second, then, squaring his shoulders, he rushed back down the stairs, hurling himself into the kitchen.

The voice yelled again. "Eggs!"

Sage heated the pan and fried the eggs. He heard the bathroom door open. Slow, heavy footsteps sounded. A shadow fell over him, and all the hairs on the back of Sage's neck stood up as rotten, ethanol poisoned breath radiated from behind. The scars on his hand throbbed where they had once been pushed into that very burning stove he was standing over, and suddenly, he wished he was doing anything else other than frying a late afternoon breakfast.

"I said sunny side up," Cruz growled into his ear.

Sage froze. Chest tight, he blinked down at the pan. The golden yolks glistened with moisture, not quite done yet. But, they were sunny side up.

"I'm sorry," Sage said hastily. "I'll make another one." He turned off the heat and squeezed his way carefully to the fridge, trying to ignore the looming presence behind him, fumbling to extract the carton.

A grating of metal on metal. Sage stole a look back and saw Cruz removing the frying pan from the stove, dumping the eggs into the sink. He looked at Sage with bloodshot eyes. Tattoos stretched across his shoulders, faded and green.

"You just came home, didn't you?"

Sage looked down at his feet and calmed his breathing. He had forgotten to take off his jacket. Melted ice dribbled from his pants and onto the floor. He thought hard, wondering whether or not to let loose the denial that was at the tip of his tongue.

Sage barely had time to put up his arms when Cruz swung the pan with full force into his side with a dull thunk. Pain exploded through him as his body snapped sideways and off his feet. A bang as his temple hit the cupboard.

The egg carton bounced on the floor twice, sending eggs rolling in all directions.

Sage's vision was blurred in a film of tears. Cruz loomed over Sage, glowering, the dim lighting behind illuminating his shirtless figure into a hulking silhouette, his face eclipsed in darkness. The frying pan seemed infinitesimally small gripped in his fist, numerous dilated veins snaking their way up his forearm.

"I'm sorry," Sage said, his voice breaking. He scrambled backwards and hit the corner.

I won't do it again, he wanted to say, but he couldn't manage anything after his apology. His throat had sealed off, betraying him.

Physically, there wasn't anything Sage could do. But, he had a little trick up his sleeve. It had taken him a long time to perfect it, but after living with Cruz for so many years, Sage could prepare himself and be ready within a few short minutes. He closed his eyes and released a huge breath. He relaxed his wiry muscles. He pretended he was floating.

I am in a place far, far away...

Cruz advanced. He took his time, his footsteps slow and even, bare toes gripping the kitchen tiles. "You useless little faggot."

...The air is warm and fresh. There is sunshine, there is grass, and it is green, except for the patches that have crowds of fat white flowers.

The feet stopped moving. "I'm going to fix you up."

Sage felt a fist slam into his forehead. The back of his skull hit the wood behind. Feedback sprang in his ears, but the pain was lessened. Almost negligible. Sage kept his eyes shut.

I am completely alone, and when I look up, the sky is the deepest, brightest, most impossible colour of blue I have ever seen.

"I am going to set you straight."

It was the colour of Callen's eyes.

Cruz lifted the pan. The next hit flooded his mouth with blood, but by then, Sage was gone.

x x x

Callen didn't follow, because he knew it would anger his friend even more. Out of the four years that he had known him, he had never stepped foot into Sage's house, nor had he even seen his parents.

Callen's parents, too, were suspicious, but Callen tried his best to keep the appearance of normality. Because the more he tried to press, the more reserved and quiet and sad Sage would become.

He watched his friend run off into the distance, his backpack bouncing left and right as he approached the lone, one-story house-cabin at the side of Lakeview. Surrounded by a moat of ditches, it stuck out from the backdrop like a scab, with peeling grey paint and an iron chimney that jutted out at a bent angle into the sky. A maroon Volvo, tires flat and rusted, was parked in the driveway.

Callen gathered his sled and began dragging it home, but three steps later, he stopped.

Curiosity got the better of him.

With a heavy throat and a heart that pounded a little too loudly in his ears, he set the sled off to the side, stuck it upright in the snow, and walked in the direction of Sage's house.

Today, he would see what it was it was all about.

Callen tiptoed around the side of the house, pushing overgrown cattails aside. He attempted to peer in the windows, but the blinds were lowered everywhere. After circumnavigating the house about ten times, nearly falling face first in the snow at least twice, Callen decided that he was just going to try the front door.

He walked up the rickety stairs onto the porch, and then attempted to ring the doorbell, but it was broken. He knocked, and knocked again. Then he tried the handle.

The door was unlocked.

As it swung open, an overpowering stench of unwashed clothes, mold, cigarettes and alcohol hit Callen in the face. He gagged, squinting, raising an arm to his mouth. It was completely dark inside as far as he could see. Heart thudding, he began to have second thoughts. If Sage saw him here, he might never trust Callen again.

That was enough for him to, reluctantly, close the door as softly as he could, shrug his backpack higher up his shoulder, and then leave. He took out his phone and texted Sage.

I hope you don't get in trouble. Sorry for making you stay out too long.

He started back home with a resigned exhalation, but had gone no more than three steps before he heard shouting. Callen turned, wary. It was a man's voice. Sage's dad?

Not wanting to intrude, he took two more steps before he heard a short, agonized scream.

Callen froze.

It was Sage. Sage was in trouble.

Callen dropped his backpack and rushed back. He burst into the house, heart racing. Two turns to the right, he entered a dim living area, and then he saw them.

Dust swirled in the air where the light snuck into the musty room. Empty beer cans and plastic vodka bottles laid strewn all over the floor. A man, shirtless and swaying, loomed in the kitchen. He was broad shouldered with faded tattoos covering the better half of his body. He gripped a battered frying pan in hands that bulged with veins. Grease leaked onto the floor, a steady drip, drip, drip.

There was Sage, lodged in a corner of the cupboards, holding in an earthquake, cradling his jaw.

And God, there was blood. Blood leaking out from the corners of Sage's lips. Blood on his hands. Bruises and patches of raw flesh on his temple, glistening with scarlet and serum.

Callen felt heat rush into his body like never before. His vision blurred, his innards burned and he swore there was a fire inside.

He saw red.

"Callen?" Sage asked. He had seen him. The man turned around too, looking at the intruder in shock.

"Hey kid!" he growled. "Who the fuck are you?"

Callen strode up to the man quickly before he had a chance to stop him. Swooping down to the floor, he grabbed a wine bottle and swung. The man, yelping, brought his frying pan up. The bottle clashed, but did not break.

Yelling, Callen struck again, but the man grabbed his arm, twisted, and threw him into the floor.

"You little shit!" Eyes wide, the man lifted up the pan over Callen, who rolled off to the side just in time. He scrambled to his feet. The man grabbed his throat and threw him into the fridge.

Callen felt the breath rush out of him, but he didn't seem to feel any pain. Sage was screaming in the background, but he couldn't make out what he was saying. Callen pushed wildly against the rough grip at his throat, spitting, kicking out, meeting the eyes of his attacker.

The man was young, maybe in his late twenty, with a wasted, angular face, even paler than Sage's. His scleras were crimson, and they seem to glow within an encirclement of dark circles that dragged his eyes south. A snarl twisted his mouth.

Callen thought it was the most despicable face he had ever seen.

And then all of the sudden, a smash! And the man was screaming and crumpling to the floor. Sage stood behind, horror across his face, a broken coffee pot in hand. Steam permeated the air. Bits of glass and scalding, yellow coffee flowed all over the greasy kitchen tiles.

"Oh god," Sage said, gasping.

Callen grabbed his arm without another word, and pulled him out of the house. Pausing only momentarily to retrieve Callen's fallen bag, they ran all the way across the icy field, past Lakeview Park, hand in hand. Wordless, chest heaving, tears streaming down their faces.

It felt like forever when they finally stopped. Or rather, when Sage stopped. He crashed stomach-first into the ground and didn't get up, seemingly in exhaustion, rolling slowly onto his back. He stared up towards the sky.

Callen, unsure what to do, sat beside him.

"I'll call Dad to pick –"

"No."

Callen swallowed, and looked at Sage. For some reason, he felt like, by taking Sage out of the house, by interfering, he had done something wrong.

Sage cleared his throat. "I need to go back home."

At this, Callen stood up.

"No." Callen shook his head. "Like hell you are. There's no way I'm letting you go back to... to... who the hell was that? Is that your dad? Your brother? Do you even have a brother, or a dad?"

Sage shook his head, but didn't answer. His eyes were vacant, deadpan, cold, like the sky. Callen had never seen that look on him before. It frightened him.

"You're coming with me," Callen said without a second thought.

"Your dad and mom will ask questions."

Callen shook his head, staring incredulously. "Is that what you're worried about? Them worried about you? What the fuck is wrong with you?" He pulled Sage to his feet roughly, and Sage yelped in pain when Callen pushed him right back down into the snow.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Callen screamed at him. "I thought I was your friend! Didn't I tell you before, if someone's giving you crap, you can tell me? Well, why didn't you!?"

Sage ignored the question. "Promise you won't."

Callen shook his head, as if he didn't understand his request, but he already knew what Sage was going to ask of him. Don't tell anyone. Promise you won't tell anyone. Only Callen didn't know if he could keep something like this quiet.

"Someone has to know." He felt his voice crack.

"You know," Sage whispered. He rubbed his nose. "I'm scared, Callen. Promise me you won't tell your dad and your mom."

Callen bent down and cupped Sage's cheek with his hand. Then he looked at him. He looked at the shiny patches of purple and raw red at the side of his temple, glowing against his pale skin like soil and embers. He looked at the smattering of freckles stretched across his cheekbones, and Callen traced them with his thumb.

Sage seemed to glow and humanize at his touch, life and moisture seeping into his eyes. Soft, golden irises. Big fat tears began to leak down his face, dripping onto Callen's knees.

How could anyone hurt someone like Sage?

How could anyone hurt my Sage?

The thought filled him with rage, and in the end, it took all of his resolve to abide by Sage's implore.

"Alright," Callen agreed through gritted teeth. "But, you're staying over tonight. And the day after. And the week after that. And you're staying until Isay you can go, or I'm going to tell my parents right away." He crossed his arms and tried to imitate his father's stance when he was giving a lecture. "Do I make myself clear?"

Sage swallowed. He nodded. Callen pulled him to his feet, slung an arm around him and pulled him close. They walked home together, Sage pensive, Callen's mind working in overdrive, fabricating an elaborate excuse to how they both ended up in their current state.

x x x

Callen would never forget the three days Sage spent over at his house. His parents, after some hesitation, had said yes. Callen had told them that Sage's parents agreed, and that they were both on a business trip so wouldn't be able to get back in time anyways. His parents thought that was strange, if a bit impolite of them to not show up personally or give a phone call, but they trusted Callen.

He was the mature, responsible, golden child. Luckily, Sage suffered only surface injuries, so after a quick treatment, they ate up his lies.

After dinner on the first night, they talked excitedly on top the blankets. Callen's room was messy, but spacious. His wide book shelves were crammed with history books, Biology books, and his walls covered with posters of stars and galaxies.

"Space is amazing," Callen was explaining. "The government's pouring money into NASA and reconstructing cities 'cause of global warming, so we've made a lot of discoveries these past few years."

"Like what?"

"Last year, they found life on a planet."

"Life?!" Sage asked, incredulous. "Like aliens?"

"Well," Callen said, laughing. "Not really. Well, it wasn't really exactly life, but they found something similar. It was on a planet too far for us to travel to – but their probe got some sample videos and NASA looked at them back on earth. They're a bunch of self-replicating proteins, like what we have in our body, multiplying in a little pool of water underneath the planet's surface."

"What does self-replicating mean?"

Callen turned off the night light, crawled back into bed, and explained that to him. He explained the double helix structure of DNA; he explained the basics of genetic modification. He explained global warming and its effects on rising coast levels, and he explained the major companies involved in asteroidal mining.

Throughout the night, Sage listened on his stomach, head propped up with both palms, brown eyes wide in awe. Callen felt like he was the most interesting person in the world, and on and on he went, growing more and more excited and animated. He could never talk about things like this to the other kids in his class – they didn't understand nor did they care.

When Callen explained his favourite topic, Schrödinger's cat, Sage broke his silence. He seemed to have difficulty grasping the concept.

"Can you explain it to me again?" Sage asked.

"Sure. Which part don't you get?"

"Everything."

Callen, smoothening the blankets underneath him, drew an invisible box with his hands.

"You have a big iron crate with a bomb inside," he said. "You put a cat inside it and lock him up. The bomb has a fifty percent chance of doing nothing, and a fifty percent chance... of blowing up."

Callen made an explosive sound low in his throat for the second time, and Sage stifled a laugh. He continued. "But you can't hear that, so people won't know if the bomb went off or not. So, before you open the box, the cat is actually both alive and dead."

"That's really creepy," Sage said, rubbing a spot on his forearm.

Callen grinned. "But, when you open the box, then the decision is made. You'll find the cat either dead or alive. So as long as you don't open the box..."

"... The cat is both?"

"Yeah."

Sage stared at Callen's knee for a good minute, eyebrows furrowed, before he spoke again.

"Can you explain it to me again?"

Callen rolled his eyes, but he was more than happy to oblige.

When they drifted from quantum mechanics to the topic of solar systems and warp travel, they decided that the view through Callen's bedroom window wasn't quite good enough, so wrapped themselves up in three jackets each and crept out into the backyard to look at the stars.

The snow clouds were thick, and the city lights illuminated the haze, polluting their vision. Still, they rested on their backs and tried to make a couple of snow angels, but the snow was too hard.

"One day, when I'm old enough to learn how to drive, you and me... we'll go on a road trip," Callen said. "We'll go east into the Rockies, camp out with a tent. I've got one that's a good size in the garage that we could use – and then we can watch the stars there. We'll be able to see everything, even the Milky Way."

Sage's expirations were little puffs of white. "Okay," he said in a small voice.

Callen caught onto his discomfort right away. "What's wrong?"

"It's just... I don't know. Never mind."

Callen sat up, propped onto one elbow. "You can tell me. You can tell me anything."

Sage rubbed his eyes and sighed. "Callen... I just I don't think that will happen. I mean, Cruz, he..."

Callen poked his friend in the side, who squirmed.

"We will go. No one can stop us, Sage. I promise."

Sage didn't reply for a long while. And when he did, he looked at Callen with his huge brown eyes shielded by lashes, dark eyebrows scrunched up. They seemed to search him for answers he didn't know the questions to.

"Okay, Callen. Let's go when we're both grown up."

Callen sighed, and then, shifting close, planted a kiss on Sage's left eyebrow, where a tiny white scar rendered a spot free of hair. On any other normal day, the action would have been beyond him – but at that very moment, it seemed like it was the only thing that was appropriate to do. And somehow, it felt right. His chest burned with a fire, and he resolved to keep Sage out of danger and discomfort for as long as he lived.

And like all noble, resolute promises, it broke three days later.

Sage's mother came and picked him up. She was a slight lady with mousy black hair, pale and tired, but with a surprisingly kind face. Her eyes were the same as Sage's – large, brown, and hopeful. She thanked Callen's parents for taking care of her child, and agreed heartily when they invited her for dinner next Saturday. Judging by Sage's stoic expression, he didn't believe his mother's words.

Callen trembled all over during the entire exchange, and when Sage was ready to leave, he grabbed his arm firmly, refusing to let go.

"You're not going anywhere."

His parents looked at him in shock – his mother, mortified. His father, serious. Sage, imploring. And Sage's mother... by the panicked expression on her face, she guessed that Callen knew exactly what she didn't want him to know.

"Callen, stop," Sage protested, struggling.

"You're staying here tonight, and we're gonna get dinner," Callen said. "Then we're gonna build that dumb snowman. And then tomorrow we're going to –"

"Callen!" Sage shouted, and they all started. Callen looked at his friend, stung. The anger in his eyes stung. Why on earth wouldn't he want to stay another day? Didn't he have fun? Wasn't it better than getting beaten black and blue at home?

"I'll see you at school on Monday," Sage murmured without looking back, and he was the one who dragged his mother back into the car, who was apologizing profusely for her son's behaviour. They pulled out of the driveway brusquely.

Nothing made sense anymore.

"Son, what was that all about?" his father asked, a hand on Callen's shoulder, expression stern.

Sage was hit in the head by a red hot frying pan three days ago. His mother doesn't do shit all to stop it and I only just found out.

Callen clenched his fists until they shook.


[Author's note: Hello, I hope you enjoyed reading "Six Seconds" so far. I would really appreciate it if you left me some feedback to let me know what you liked or didn't like about this story. Hope to hear from you soon!

You can also find this story on "GayAuthors." Simply Google: /story/fishwings/sixseconds and you will be able to find it.]