A/N: Yes, um... really, nothing much to say, other than I know this isn't a great chapter, but it will get better. I have more made for each story I have, but I won't be posting again until next Sunday... So you shall just have to wait... MWUAHAHAHA... *cough cough* yes, um... anyways.

Tom wasn't sure what had set his step-father off; his memory was getting a little hazy. The trip down the basement stairs, and the steel-toed boot to the head were probably contributing to that.

He groaned as another one of Jack's kicks connected with ribs, flipping him from his protected position, to where he was lying flat on his back. Whatever he'd done, it'd really got the old man's hackles up.

He glanced around the room for the clock. Three something, he was pretty sure it read. Hard to tell for sure, since both of his eyes were almost swollen shut.

Despite his determination to remain as quiet as possible, a scream tore from his throat as his step-father stomped on the left side of his chest.

Please, Doug… Get home… Was his last conscious thought.

It was almost seven o'clock. Six fifty three, to be exact.

And Deborah could be exact. She'd been staring at the damn thing ever since she'd gotten home, waiting for her phone to ring.

She would like to think that her not getting a phone call was a good thing. But she highly doubted it. Doug's reaction to hearing about his brother going home early confirmed her worst fears.

So she'd raced straight home after dropping the older McQuaid brother off, and sat down at the kitchen table, staring at the phone and the clock alternatively.

She'd tried grading some papers; that had lasted all of about ten minutes. Her impatience, and constant staring at the two devices on the wall had required all her concentration. So she'd just sat. Twiddling her thumbs, telling herself that she was wrong. Telling herself that there was a logical, benign explanation for Doug's behavior. For Tommy's behavior.

Telling herself that she was wrong to be worried. That Tommy would show up in class tomorrow with that cocky smile of his.

But she couldn't stop staring at the damn phone.

When it finally did ring, it's obnoxious sound shattered the silence in the house like a sledge hammer. She actually froze for a moment, before jumping up, tripping over the table in her haste to get to it.

She picked it up with a hoarse, "Hello?"

"Mrs. Deborah Whitney?" A female voice asked.

"Yes, I'm Mrs. Whitney."

"Mrs. Whitney, this is Barbara Meyers from St. Jude's hospital. We're calling on behalf of… Thomas and Douglas McQuaid?"

"Oh my God. What happened? Are they alright?" She asked anxiously, grabbing her jacket off the back of the kitchen chair, and fishing in the pockets for her keys.

"Douglas is fine; he actually brought his brother in. Refused to tell us his parents' names. He just asked us to call you."

"And Tommy?"

The nurse's hesitation told Deborah everything she needed to know. She didn't even wait for a response, just barked out a quick, "I'll be right there," before hanging up the phone, and bolting out the door.