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Gaige wasn't anyone's favorite. So a welcome home feast and even the dm of local partier was kind of a surprise to the least favorite son. Mostly because it was supposed to be easy to avoid a few meals at home like it used to be. Not crab legs and buttered biscuits and invites to chug god-awful beer. 

Luckily, if you keep your mouth full of words you don't have to keep it full of food. And as quiet as Gaige was, he could do good at catching hsi family up if it meant not finishing his plate.

"Yeah, so they don't throw this little boy a family -or friend- party because apparently everyone's too busy for that. She's supposed to get some amazing present at Christmas but still, it's shit. I mean, he's six. What kid doesn't want a crazy party full of presents?" Then Gaige took a strategic drink from his water glass and let his tale of Chester's birthday simmer in his family's dinner. 

Paige -Gaige's mother's- face wrinkled as she pushed her mash potatoes on her plate to mix with the gravy, "That's just mean. That poor kid isn't going to get a real childhood that way."

"Man," Leon whined, leaning his head to the side as he cracked open another crab leg, "That house sounds like a downright prison. What's better, G, juvie or that house?"

Paige quickly snapped her attention to her slightly younger son, "Leon!" It was safe to say she didn't like talking about that time a whole lot. Maybe she wasn't a fan of her son being a juvenile criminal.

Gaige shook his head, "I don't know, man, that's tough. I've got just about the same amount of freedom in both. Although, I bet Erin wishes I didn't have as much," The teenagers -Gaige, Leon, and Maddie- all shared a snicker.

" Be respectful, Gaige. I wouldn't like it if you were disrespectful to me, don't be disrespectful to your step-mother," Neil nodded his head, taking a big fat bite of his mash potatoes and gravy. 

"The differences is, Gaige respects you, Pop, and you respect Gaige. This Erin woman doesn't seem to give two shits about whether he's his father-son or not. Bros practically locked in his room twenty-four seven to avoid them," Leon raised his upper lip and shook his head. 

Gaige became silent, lips stuck to the rim of his water cup, eyes darting between all the people tucked into the round dining table. He could say so many things. He could agree with Leon, tell them he Erin is a tyrant out to ruin his life, how she acts like he isn't remotely related to the family. He could disagree with Leon, tell him he's locked in his room twenty-four seven so he's not distracted by any food, any corruption. 

"Gaige, honey, you're face is looking a little thin," Paige tilts her head to the side -in sync with her fork- a frown pulling down on both hers and her son's face, "Are you eating enough? Are they feeding you up there?"

Gaige set down his fork, blinking at the lack of ripples across the water in his clear-glass cup. His mama only ever made short, tiny comments about the way his cheekbones protruded, or his fingers were so long and thin. But this was the first time he could ever remember her saying something about him eating enough. And even then, it wasn't his fault he was wasting away. It was someone else. 

Because lord knows her baby could never hurt himself.

"Uh," Gaige cleared hsi throat, pushing his mind through all the concerned looks that surrounded him right now. The first thought his brain produced was 'Imagine if Adonis was filming this' but he wasn't. It was a lone boy being attacked by predators that covered themselves in masks of family, "Yeah, yeah, I'm good, Mama, really. I eat. I just, uh, work out and busy with school work. I don't know, I eat."

It felt good to be able to sit outside at night, out of the bad Michigan weather. But despite it being winter, Leon, Maddie, and Gaige could all sit out on the edge of the porch, as the sky began to darken, the insects began to sings their night songs, and Gaige's inability to sit still was all kicking in.

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