Chapter1

Tommy McQuaid groaned as his alarm clock screamed in his ears. Had he even set the thing? If he had, he didn't do it on purpose. Sure, he had school today, but he had been up late last night, drinking with his brother, and had been fully prepared to ditch school, or else show up late, as he and his brother often did. School was pretty much useless to them, besides the fact that it was someplace to go just to get away from home for a while. They didn't usually do assignments, never tried on tests... They had no hope of gaining anything there besides money from drug purchases and a safe place to hang out during the day.

He reached over to the side of the bed where his alarm clock was crushed between the mattress and the wall, groping around until he finally grasped it in his hand. Blindly, he slammed his other hand down on the clock, pressing whichever buttons his fingers happened to stumble against, and then threw the clock back down on his bed. He was back to sleep again in seconds.

But it seemed only another few seconds before the alarm clock was going off again, as he must have hit the snooze button instead of actually turning the clock off. The screeching sound seemed even louder this time. Tommy pressed some random buttons on the thing again and then tossed it back down on the mattress. He sometimes wondered why he even had an alarm clock. Pretty much any time he actually set it, he ended up turning it off instead of getting up when it went off.

Rolling over onto his side, Tommy sighed. He didn't fall asleep right away this time. He had been rudely awakened twice now and could feel a bit of a dull headache coming on from a mild hangover. He hadn't had that much to drink last night, just enough to get him a little drunk, not totally wasted. He hoped he could manage to fall asleep soon, because he was tired. So he just laid there on the bed, closing his eyes and trying to relax enough to fall asleep regardless of the annoying pain in his head and a tinge of nausea in his stomach.

When the alarm went off a third time, he made a sound that was a mixture of a growl and a soft scream. This time, he looked specifically for the off button, smashed it down harder than necessary, and then threw the alarm clock at the wall so that it made a loud cracking sound.

The second he did it, he regretted it. He could hear his father's footfalls stomping up the stairs almost immediately, and his booming voice didn't sound at all pleased, "what the hell are you doing up there?" he growled.

Tommy rolled over so that he was facing away from the door. He drew his blanket up so that it covered his whole body, and almost his entire head, and pretended to be asleep. Curling himself into a little ball and staying as still as he could possibly manage, he hugged the blanket tightly around himself and held his breath for what was to come.

"I said what the hell are you doing up here?" his father screamed again, opening the door with such force that it slammed loudly against the wall and bounced back so that he had to push it open a second time.

Tommy's heart was racing and he felt the familiar feeling of adrenalin coursing through him. His father yelling at him was not a foreign experience. He also knew feigning sleep wasn't going to save him from his father's anger for very much longer. Nevertheless, he kept still and hugged the blanket close. He really didn't want to deal with this right now.

"Damn it!" his father yelled as he crossed the room and pulled the blanket off his son, "what are you throwing around up here?"

Tom didn't even have to roll over. His dad's hands were on him in no time, grabbing his arms roughly and pulling him to his feet. But he wasn't on his feet for long. His father then shoved him roughly back down on the bed so that he was sitting, looking up at the man's looming presence, "nothing," he lied, glaring up at the man, "you must have been imagining it," he smirked, but he wasn't at all happy. The smirk was more of a sarcastic 'fuck you,' to his father than a symbol of his joy.

Wit was one of his only defenses against the man. If he couldn't physically defend himself, he could at least use words. It may not actually do any good. In fact it usually only made the man more angry... But at least it made him feel like he had at least some control. At least he wasn't just sitting there like a scared little child as his father yelled at him. Making his father angry was the next best thing to actually hitting him back.

"Don't talk back to me," his father ordered, raising his hand and smacking his son roughly across his cheek.

Feeling tears welling up in his eyes, Tommy raised his hand to his stinging cheek. But he didn't let the tears fall. He set his mouth in a tight line and stared up at his father, refusing to show him how much that had hurt, "don't ask me questions if you don't want me to answer them, dad," he said the last word in a tone that showed the man he wasn't using the word in the same sense the rest of the world did. This man was his father biologically, but was in no way a proper father figure.

As his father raised his hand up to strike him again, Tommy closed his eyes and brought his arms up so the blow would hit them instead of his face again. He knew he had no chance at overpowering the man, so the best he could do right now was to try anything at all that would make the strike hurt less.

When he didn't ever feel the expected pain, he opened his eyes and lowered his arms in time to see his brother Doug wrestling with their father. Doug hadn't even made the effort of trying to reason with the man. He knew it would do no good. The two of them hardly ever got into verbal arguments like Tommy and their father did. They just fought physically instead.

Doug was big enough that he could actually hurt their father back if he was lucky. He wasn't as strong as their dad, but he was at least a better match for the man than Tommy was.

Tommy quickly jumped up from the bed and rushed to his brother's aid. He might not have been as good at protecting Doug as Doug was at protecting him, but he certainly wasn't going to just sit back and let his fear prevent him from trying to help his big brother. If no one else was there for them, they would at least be there for each other.

Doug fell back roughly against the wall as his father's fist connected with his face. His nose was bleeding now, but he didn't even reach up to try to stop it. He just let the blood flow over his lips, down his chin, and onto his shirt as he continued struggling with the man.

Wasting no time at all, Tommy grabbed his father's thick arm, pulling him back so he couldn't strike Doug again. This only resulted in the man turning on him and punching him in the stomach so that he doubled over in pain. He felt his father's hands on him again, pulling him to his feet, but before he could deal any more damage, Tommy pushed him as hard as he could, "that all you got, Pops?" he growled, stumbling back from the force of his own arms shoving against the other body. His stomach hurt from where he had just been punched and he was still a little out of breath from it, but that wasn't going to stop him from continuing to fight.

"No," his father growled, back-handing him across the face, this time on the other cheek.

Doug was on him again in no time, pulling him away from his younger brother. He still hadn't uttered a single word.

Their father was used to beating his kids back, and was pretty good at it. Even the one man against the two boys wasn't a fair fight, and not in the way one might imagine. The man could easily take on the two teenagers by himself and still end up the least hurt of the three. The next thing Tommy knew, Doug was practically thrown at him. They both tumbled backward, landing on the crumpled heap of sheets and blankets on Tommy's bed.

"Get the fuck to school," their father growled. He then turned and made his way out of the door slamming it loudly behind him and then stomping back down the stairs.

Tommy looked over at his brother. He could tell Doug was absolutely livid. He felt the same way. Though these physical fights were nothing new to either of them, they still didn't enjoy them. Every time his father lashed out like this, it made Tommy angry. But he knew better than to act on his anger. So did Doug.

There was no reasoning with the man. And there was certainly no option of going after him and trying to resort to any sort of violence. They had learned long ago that it was best to leave the man alone whenever possible. Going after him with vengeance in their hearts would likely only cause them to get hurt even worse than they already were from whatever the man had dished out at them in the first place.

"Come on, man," Tommy squeezed his brother's arm, "I'd rather be at school than here. Let's just go," His stomach hurt where his father had hit him, and he felt like he might have bruises on each of his cheeks pretty soon. His body was even trembling slightly from all the adrenaline and fear. But he at least knew nothing was broken. This fight was nothing compared to some he'd had with his father in the past. He had sustained pretty serious injuries in the past. At least this time he knew nothing was broken.

"You okay?" Doug looked over at him, his eyes worried and his mouth set in a frown. He also had a large amount of blood running from his nose.

Tommy laughed, "that's a strange question coming from a guy with half his blood on the outside, running down his face."

His brother shrugged, "let's go," he pulled Tommy to his feet and grabbed a wad of toilet paper from the bathroom, pressing it up against his face. The two brothers then rushed out of that house as fast as they could. Luckily, their father was through with the 'conversation,' and they didn't have to fight him to get out of the house today.

Fortunately, Tommy had still been wearing his clothing from the day before, even his worn out sneakers, so he didn't have to bother getting dressed before rushing out of the house. Maybe his night of drinking and passing out on his bed still wearing his shoes was actually paying off now.

They were too late to catch the bus, so they were forced to walk to school. Not that Tommy minded. He didn't really want to get to school any faster than necessary, and he knew Doug could probably use a couple minutes to clean the blood off his face. He also knew they could use a few minutes to pull themselves together into their usual rough personalities. The last thing they needed was to show up to school looking like kicked puppies. They had a reputation to uphold. If the other kids weren't scared of them, they were doing something wrong.

"What did you do to set him off this time?" Doug wondered, looking down at his brother. He still held the toilet paper up to his nose, mopping up the blood as though it was no big deal at all, as if he was just performing a normal daily task, which, unfortunately, he was. A bloody nose from one of his dad's punches wasn't something he found unusual.

"Threw my alarm clock against the wall," Tom frowned, "I just didn't want to get up this morning. If I'd known he was going to freak out, I wouldn't 'a done it. I mean... obviously it wasn't a smart idea. I guess I just wasn't thinking. Besides, goin' to school is a hell of a better deal than getting the shit beat outta you and then having to go to school anyway."

His brother shrugged, "I'm sure he'd of found some reason to get mad anyway."

Tom nodded, "yeah. I guess. Your nose broken?" he asked, narrowing his eyes and squinting up at his brother's face, trying to see what damage had been done. He reached his hand up toward his brother, trying to move his larger hands out of the way so he could see his brother's injury and make sure it wasn't serious.

Doug swatted his little brother's hand away and shook his head, "nah," he assured him, "I'll be alright. I've had worse," Doug looked down at his brother again, "sorry I didn't get in there faster."

"It's not your fault," Tommy assured him, "how could you have known? It's my fault, for throwing my clock. What was I thinking? Making a loud noise like that early in the morning? I knew he'd get mad, but I was stupid and I did it anyway."

Doug turned toward him, putting his hands on Tommy's shoulders, "that's not your fault, Tommy. Maybe he had a right to be angry, but he didn't have a right to hit you."

Tommy frowned. He sighed and looked up at the sky. It was time to tuck this bit of their lives away for a few hours. Time to stop being the boys whose father beat them and start being the tough guys who bought and sold drugs. The guys who showed up to class late and made fun of the teachers right to their faces. The guys who other kids avoided at all costs unless they were looking to buy weed or coke, and who were scared to approach them even then.

He felt his brother's arm fall over his shoulders as they neared the school, "ready to do this, brother?" Doug asked. Tom could hear the smile in his brother's voice.

Tommy smirked, for real this time, "Yup!" he quickened his pace. School wasn't really so bad when he thought about it. At school, no one ever tried to mess with them. Maybe teachers, but all they did was talk. No one could hurt them there. And it was certainly better than being at home having to deal with their father. At least at school, instead of him being scared, everyone else was.

xxxxxx

Please drop me a review and tell me what you think of this first chapter. I've got the whole story written; I just need to proof-read and edit it, which I'm doing one chapter at a time. It's going to be pretty long eventually, so I hope you guys are into it. :)

Thank you for reading, and please come again.