6 - Callie

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 A grown man like Percy reduced to tears wasn't something I was prepared to see. He was making these little gasping noises that made me think he was trying to keep from breaking down into sobs. He was attempting to hide his face, but I could see his tear-stained cheeks, and his fingers were knotted in his hair.

The sight immediately made me feel uncomfortable. I'd spent the majority of my life with two older brothers and a single father, so I wasn't used to seeing such an open display of emotion. There was still this deeply ingrained instinct to comfort Percy somehow, for him to stop crying, but I didn't know what to do.

I glanced toward Ian, and he was watching Percy with the same uncomfortable expression as Mikey was.

"I really don't think he's lying about this," I whispered to Ian, turning my back to Percy.

"Yeah, but come on, Callie," Ian protested, lowering his voice. "How is any of this even possible?"

"The study of science is ever expanding, you know," Mikey cut in wisely. "And can you ever really define the line between fiction and reality? Who's to say that he really isn't from the nineteenth century?"

"Thank you for your philosophical input, Michael," Ian snapped, glaring at his little brother.

Mikey shrugged, slouching back in his computer chair. "Either way, there's obviously something wrong with this guy. Callie, be a dear and get him to stop crying. I don't want him dripping snot all over my Pokemon sheets."

Ian slapped Mikey upside the head as I awkwardly shuffled over to the bed. I thought about putting my arm around him or something, but since he just about spontaneously combusted the last time I dared to touch him, that probably wasn't a good idea. And asking him if he was okay was another dumbass idea, seeing as he was not okay. Whatever the hell happened to him was clearly having some lasting effect.


His head quickly shot up and he loudly cleared his throat, wiping at his cheeks with the tattered sleeve of his shirt. "I, uh, do forgive me, Callie, for - "

"C'mon." I offered him a hand to help him to his feet. "Let's get you cleaned up."

Percy pulled himself upright and awkwardly took my hand, his palm all clammy. I led him across the hall into the bathroom, stopping to grab a towel out of the linen closet. I'd spent so much time at the Caldwell's over the years that I knew where to find almost everything.

I swung the bathroom door shut with my foot and pointed to the edge of the bathtub. "Sit."

Percy immediately acquiesced, and I realized for the first time just how tall he was, seeing how he had to stretch his legs out in front of him to be able to sit comfortably.

I pulled open one of the sink drawers and found a tube of Neosporin for the gash on Percy's forehead. I grabbed a washcloth from the shelf above the toilet and ran it under hot water to clean Percy's cut. He didn't protest as I cleaned the cut and only winced once when I applied the Neosporin.

"What now, miss Callie?" Percy asked quietly when I'd finished.

That was a fair question, and one I had no idea how to answer.

"You know how to use a shower, right?" I blurted.

That pout took over Percy's face in about five seconds flat. "I am familiar with the concept of bathing, thank you very much."

I choked back a laugh. "Um...great. So, help yourself, then," I said, gesturing to the shower. "I'm going to go find you a change of clothes."

For the first time since I'd stumbled across him, Percy actually looked relieved. "Thank you."

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