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I wobbled, my leg throbbing. I didn't have long until another blow would come. I quickly shuffled away as a leg came towards me again, but ended up getting hit in the chest anyway.

There was yelling, oh yes, but I found himself not able to comprehend what it was saying. But I got the point.

Gabe wanted to hurt me. And it was working.

It wasn't like I was unable to fight back. I was strong for a twelve year old and could easily break his jaw if I wanted.

I wanted to. Badly.

But if I fight back, my mom gets it. And she's had her share of pain, but if I can spare her a beating, I would and I will. I'm not afraid of pain. I'm afraid of her pain.

Gabe took one last kick to my stomach and was finally satisfied. I heard the door close as he probably went to go drown himself in alcohol again. I was safe.

My breathing was hollow as I carefully picked myself up. I winced. At least I wasn't coughing up blood this time. I inspected my new wounds. I rolled up my sleeves and found a few new bruises. Those were easy to cover. All I had to do was wear long sleeves. The problem was the black and blue bruise blossoming on my face. I could cover minor scratches with makeup, but I will probably have to make up a story for this one.

My little cousin hit me with a baseball bat at our family reunion. It was believable and made sense. Good enough. No one ever really asks me questions anyway.

I limped over to my room, collapsed on the bed, and fell asleep.


Turns out, I didn't even have to make up a story. Some people looked at me wierdly but didn't say anything.

Well, almost.

"Hey, dude, what's wrong with your face?" A kid asked me as school went out.

He had blonde hair, was only a little taller than me, and the most piercing blue eyes I had ever seen.

"You gotta problem with my face?" I said menacingly, hoping to scare him away. I didn't need human contact right now.

He didn't look too scared. "No, no, I didn't mean it like that- did someone hit you?" He asked as if he was genuinely concerned.

"Yeah," I mumbled. "Little cousin accidentally hit me with a baseball bat,"

"Oh," he stared at me for a while. I turned away to avoid eye contact. "Do you want to play basketball with me?"

"I can't" I mumbled. "Sore leg." I wasn't lying.

"You've got a lot of injuries, huh?"

I felt a tiny smile creep to my lips a weird lifting in my chest. "Yeah,"

"Well, maybe we can sit down and talk. I've been kind of bored these days." He suggested.

I did some quick calculations in my head. Gabe won't come home from his stupid poker games until 7:30 p.m. Maybe later. I smiled at the boy.

"Alright, then," I said. He held out his fist for a fist bump. I delivered.

"I'm Jason," He said, grinning. I noticed a pale white scar on his lip.

"I'm Percy,"

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