Pain coursed through Ryan's head as he took another blow to the face from AJ's fist. His vision was taking longer to come back after each hit, he struggled again to shake the black spots and blurry vision before the next assault. The last blow had forced him to his knees and he blindly attempted to get his feet under him and keep low while stumbling backwards away from where he thought AJ would still be. Before he could get far enough away he felt a solid boot smash into his side and send him flying to the ground. He curled into himself slightly and stayed down for a second, maybe if AJ thought he'd passed out… or maybe he didn't want to hit a man down… Obviously not Ryan thought as he took another kick to the ribs, stifling a cry out as he thought he heard a faint crack. Luckily at this stage AJ seemed to lose interest as Ryan wasn't making an attempt to get up. He walked to the fridge, grabbed another beer and slumped down onto the couch to watch the game.

Ryan, hearing and vaguely processing that the violence was over for now, tried to pull his body under himself to get up. The slight movement caused stabbing pain through his side and chest and he involuntarily hissed in pain.

AJ, hearing him, seethed "Shut the fuck up and get out, you little shit!"

Ryan didn't need to be told twice, he gritted through the pulsing pain and tried to see through the black spots in his vision as they made a return appearance and staggered through the front screen door letting it slam back closed on rattling hinges. He struggled to get his bike with one hand wrapped around his side and pushed it and himself over the yard and out onto the street. Ryan kept up his halting walk as fast as he could until he was a couple blocks away then turned down a small alley a couple meters and collapsed.

His vision was swimming with the knocks his head had taken and he could only breathe in quick shallow breaths. The pain from his side and pounding head made him suddenly nauseous and he promptly turned his head and heaved, nothing much came up as he hadn't eaten that day so he could only endured his gag reflex and seizing stomach. Once his stomach had settled he leaned back against the wall and shut his eyes. That little experience had only made his ribs hurt more but at least he didn't feel like throwing up again.

Jesus, AJ really fucked me up this time Ryan thought to himself. Usually Ryan could hold his own a bit longer or until AJ lost interest and returned to his familiar position on the couch with a beer. Often he was plastered so he was clumsier and he easier to evade. Today however he been sober – or as close to it as AJ ever got and had surprised Ryan, gotten a couple quick hooks to Ryan's face which dazed him. Ryan guessed it was from swiping a couple of beers last night for him and a mate, trust AJ to notice something like that, but in reality anything could've set him off today, Ryan wouldn't even try to work it out, stopped doing that a long time ago.

What Ryan didn't notice when he'd stumbled into the alley was a couple of guys further down exchanging packets in hushed tones. Their furtive glances had caught Ryan as soon as he'd slumped to the ground. Watching him dry heave, they'd made their way over.

"Yo what the fuck you doing here man?" One said. Ryan just noticing them snapped his head up which made the whole world tilt and spin funny and he closed his eyes immediately not able to respond to them.

"Hey he asked you a question faggot!"

Both guys noticed Ryan's swollen face and dazed manner and knew he wouldn't have noticed anything. Still, gotta teach him not to be where he doesn't belong.

Another hook to Ryan's face sent him sprawling to the ground on his side. Seeing his limp state they decided not to take it further and dragged him out to the street,

"Don't be coming round here again!" One hissed and they dropped Ryan to the ground. As his head hit the pavement blackness finally consumed him.

Sandy Cohen was making his way home after a long day which had taken him to the local correctional facility in Chino. He'd gotten somewhat lost in the backstreets but thought he knew the general direction he needed to be going so continued that way hoping to hit a main road. That was when he saw the boy lying on the sidewalk. Sandy didn't want to be cynical but he knew this wasn't the best neighborhood and the guy could be passed out from alcohol or just have decided the filthy sidewalk was a good place to have a nap. As he neared closer though and saw the awkward way he was lying and closer still saw the stark discoloration of his face and he could imagine what had happened. He pulled up to the curb and not seeing anyone around got out and jogged up to the boy.

Up real close Sandy saw the kid couldn't be older than 16 Seth's age he thought. His whole face was a mess of bruises, swelling and a few cuts. He could only imagine what other injuries the kid had. He gently shook his shoulder hoping he'd wake up. When there was no reaction whatsoever panic grabbed Sandy as he reached for the boy's neck to check for a pulse. He sighed in relief when he felt it a little faint but steady, tough kid he thought. Sandy immediately grabbed out his phone and dialed 911, this kid needed medical attention and Sandy had no idea where the closest hospital was or if he should move him considering his other possible injuries. The police also needed to get involved as this was an obvious assault case.

A minute later an ambulance was on the way and Sandy stayed by the boy as he waited for it. A couple people had walked past in the last few minutes but had either crossed to the other side of the road when they saw the scene ahead or simply walked by, not giving more than a glance towards Sandy and Ryan. How long could he have been here? Or stayed here before someone helped him? Sandy thought with concern. He wondered if this was gang related or an argument that got out of hand, he had no idea but seeing the kid there lying so still and helpless he wanted to find out and help him.

The ambulance finally arrived and the paramedics bombarded Sandy with questions. He could only tell them he didn't know anything, that he'd been driving by, seen him and pulled over. They looked skeptical at first, obviously that wasn't something people from here did, but noticing the man's car and expensive clothes, they must have realized he was an out of towner and could legitimately have done as he described.

They carefully checked Ryan's spine for injuries before lifting him onto a stretcher and putting him in the ambulance.

"We can take it from here, thanks for calling it in." One of the paramedics said to Sandy.

"Wait, can I come along? I need to know if he'll be okay." Sandy didn't understand it himself but he felt a pull with this kid to help him. He didn't know what trouble he might be in and had a strong urge to protect him from whatever might be happening in his life.

"If you're not family you can't ride in the ambulance sorry sir, you could make your own way to the hospital if you'd like."

"Okay I'll follow you."

The paramedic nodded and each went to their respective vehicles.