Simple Things

BY : Aerys_Krystie
Category: 1 through F > Four Brothers
Dragon prints: 74
Disclaimer: Everything of and referring to Four Brothers is not mine. This is a fan-based, non-profit story. Please support the official release.

~Simple Things~

 

By: Aerys Krystie.

Theme: AU — Pre movie.

Plot: Bobby picks up Jack from school and they bond a little.

Warnings: Language, slight slash (if you squint), OOC.

Disclaimer: Everything of and referring to Four Brothers is not mine. This is a fan-made, non-profit story. Please support the official release.

oOo

Bobby sighed as he sat in the car, waiting for the bell to ring. He wasn’t expecting traffic to be decent, as he usually got there a minute or two after the bell had already rung. He yawned and glanced up at the sky, seeing that clouds were rolling in. Aside from that, it was clear and the sun was shining brightly. He glanced at the sidewalk he was parked beside when the bell finally rang.

He watched as kids streamed out and raised an eyebrow when there seemed to be a patch of ice on the sidewalk, just as it became a corner. He couldn’t help but smirk as he saw teens stumbling and falling, laughing at their antics. Bobby snickered as he watched one girl fall and take her friends down as they tried to help her up. They laughed merrily, as though it was the best thing to happen to them that day. They stood to the side and Bobby raised an eyebrow as he thought they would warn others about the patch of ice. However, he felt a spark of pride as they laughed when others fell instead.

Bobby’s eyes were drawn from the falling teens as one caught his attention. He was standing on the verge, talking with a group and more than just his breath was coming out of his mouth. Bobby sighed and shook his head, wondering why the kid would get hooked on cigarettes. He opened the door and stepped out, walking around the patch of ice and noticing that the kids parted for him. It seemed many of them had older siblings that had gone to school with him or his reputation was bigger than he thought possible.

The group his baby brother was standing with frantically tapped Jack on the shoulder, while putting out their smokes. Jack looked over his shoulder and his eyes closed as he realized Bobby had seen him. Jack’s friends made excuses and ran across the street, which made Bobby feel a little better. He was surprised that Jack didn’t bother to put out his smoke. Instead, he finished it and walked behind Bobby, keeping his eyes down. With a smirk, Bobby skirted the patch of ice and glanced over his shoulder. He laughed with the girls as Jack slipped and fell back.

“You fuckin’ suck, Bobby,” Jack muttered as he got to his feet gracefully and slid along the ice. He got into the car and hunkered down in his hoodie, watching as other kids slipped on the ice.

Bobby grinned as he saw the smile on Jack’s face. They stayed silent for a few minutes, just watching the kids that stumbled and the ones that fell. Eventually, they began making predictions on who would fall. Bobby wasn’t sure if Jack was aware that he’d spent more time on the ice than anyone else. He knew what to look for with their knees. However, he wasn’t about to pass up a little action and he could use his win to help Jack get over the addiction.

“If I win, you give up smokin’,” he said and met Jack’s stunned eyes as his head snapped to him. He felt a shiver go down his spine when Jack bit his lower lip and his eyes dropped.

“Okay,” Jack said softly and looked up again. “But if I win, you have to do somethin’ for me.”

Bobby raised an eyebrow as Jack didn’t continue. He shrugged and looked at the group of five that were walking toward the ice. “Three of them will fall,” he predicted, while Jack said two would and they’d take down another.

They waited with baited breath and Bobby chuckled as three of them slipped on the ice and crashed to the ground. He watched the pair behind them and said they’d stumble, which Jack said one would fall. He saw the way Jack’s widened as the pair stumbled and looked back the ice, as though trying to figure out why they hadn’t seen it.

Jack watched as a single kid was walking by, Bobby saying she would fall. He didn’t bother to contradict his brother, as he knew what he was looking for. It wasn’t surprising when she fell, so he just sighed and pulled out his packet of cigarettes and his lighter and handed them to Bobby. He did laugh softly as one kid hurrying by with his arms full of books slipped, while Bobby chuckled at another that was carrying some project.

He blinked as he felt Bobby’s hand on his hand that was holding the smokes, pushing it back to him. “As long as you don’t smoke in the house or break the law or do somethin’ else questionable to get the money to pay for ’em, you can smoke, Jackie.”

Jack looked at Bobby, watching as his eyes danced at such a simple pleasure in life of watching kids slip on a patch of ice. He couldn’t remember the last time Bobby looked so alive, since he was thrown out of the league. He wanted to say something, anything, but he couldn’t think of a thing. So he went back to watching the kids slipping and stumbling. He joined in with Bobby, chuckling as one girl managed to take down the four friends she was walking with.

He smiled as he felt Bobby’s hand on his neck, the fingers making small circles at the base of his skull. Bobby smiled and removed his hand, starting the car as the last kid walked by and slipped. He drove them home and glanced at Jack, seeing that his head back, turned towards his window as he watched the city pass by. If it wasn’t for his reflection, Bobby would’ve thought him asleep.

As he pulled up in front of home, he saw that Jack didn’t budge. He placed a hand on Jack’s shoulder, which brought him out of his reverie with a jolt. He blinked his big blue eyes and looked around. “What’s wrong, Jack? You ain’t zoned out like that in a while, man.”

Jack glanced at him, almost shyly before he shrugged and opened the door. Bobby followed him out of the car and up to the back door. “Just thinking, man. It was nice to sit and laugh with ya.”

Bobby laughed and ruffled Jack’s hair as he opened the door. “You been worried about me, you little fairy?”

Jack glared over his shoulder at the nickname. “Fuck you, Bobby,” he said with a light tone. He dropped his backpack on the table and pulled out three textbooks, before his notebooks and Bobby raised an eyebrow.

It was unlike Jack to do his homework at the kitchen table. Bobby cracked a beer and poured Jack a glass of milk, placing it on the table. He watched as Jack started with his algebra homework, his eyes widening slightly as he saw how easily his brother went through it. The same with his chemistry homework and Bobby was getting a little worried. He wanted to make sure his brother wasn’t cutting drugs, since he knew formulas and algebra, along with a little calculus so easily. He shook his head, deciding that he should stop jumping to conclusions. Jack wasn’t stupid.

Bobby went to head for the living room, deciding it was weird that he was watching his little brother do his homework. He stopped when Jack said his name and looked over his shoulder. “What’s wrong, man?”

“I…I…” Jack lowered his eyes and Bobby stood beside him, looking at the last textbook. He saw a slip of paper sticking out of the book and pulled it out, hearing Jack inhale sharply. “It doesn’t matter,” he said and tried to snatch the paper back.

Bobby easily kept Jack at a safe distance and unfolded the note from the teacher. His eyes widened and he lowered it, glaring at Jack. “You’re failin’ English?!” he demanded and shoved Jack back into the chair. “Why the fuck are you failin’ such an easy class?”

Jack’s hand fidgeted in his lap, keeping his eyes on them. “I don’t know how…” he finally mumbled and Bobby narrowed his eyes.

Without asking permission, he pulled out Jack’s book report on Of Mice and Men and flipped through it. His anger died off when he saw that the answers were spelled correctly, with correct grammar and were detailed. There was absolutely reason for the teacher to fail him on that, but the giant red F was on the top corner. He lowered the report. Jack was refusing to meet his gaze and Bobby felt his mouth go dry.

Not wanting to, he grabbed Jack’s arm and pulled up the sleeves. He growled when he saw fresh bruises around his wrists. Jack tried to pull away, but Bobby held him and lifted the bottom of his shirt, seeing more bruises. He forced Jack’s head up and stared into his terrified eyes. He was really starting to detest the way the teachers at that school treated him and his brothers, especially since Jack was still in the mindset that he deserved to be punished for some wrongdoing that never happened.

He sat Jack down and told him to finish his homework, while he got the name of the teacher. He went upstairs to Ma’s room and dialed Jerry’s number. If Angel was still around, he would’ve asked him to help him pay the teacher a beating. As soon as Jerry said no, Bobby explained what happened and instantly Jerry was on board. He said he’d have the gas can ready to go and Bobby’s eyes flashed.

Bobby told Jerry to be there at seven. He hung up and tried to think of a lie to tell Ma, as he didn’t want her worrying about them. He closed his eyes and shook his head, dialing Jerry again and told him to bring the gas can around now. He told him that if Ma called for him or Jack there to say that they were outside having a smoke. Jerry said he’d be around in a few minutes and Bobby hung again, running downstairs. He found Jack pouring over his English homework, making sure everything was correct, despite knowing it wouldn’t make a difference to the teacher.

True to his word, Jeremiah showed up five minutes later with a full gas can in hand. He placed it in the laundry and hugged Jack, asking how he was and trying to pretend he wasn’t being abused by his teacher. Jack smiled and Bobby noticed that it didn’t reach his eyes. After a few minutes, Jerry left and Bobby called out that they’d ‘swing ’round later’ for a visit. He turned back to Jack and saw that he was frowning, considering that Jerry had just left.

Bobby checked the can and found that Jerry had gotten the teacher’s address as well and smirked. He memorized it and took the can to his trunk. He put it away and turned to the house, staring at it and inhaling shakily. He wasn’t sure how Jack was going to react to that night, but he wanted his baby brother to feel in control of something in his life, aside from his music. He only hoped that night would make Jack feel a little better about himself, as well.

oOo

“Hey, Ma! We’re goin’ ’round to Jerry’s for a little,” Bobby called from the front door as Jack walked down the stairs slowly.

Evelyn appeared in the entrance to the living room and raised an eyebrow. “Both of you? It’s a school night, Bobby. Don’t stay out too long.”

Bobby kissed Evelyn’s cheek and smiled, which he realized later was the worst thing to do. She was on her guard instantly and knew it was likely one or both of her boys would be bringing the police around. “I’ll have him back by curfew. I swear.”

Evelyn raised an eyebrow and went to Jack, hugging him. “Have fun, then.” She stepped back and watched as her sons left the house, making sure the phone was by her side for the rest of the night.

Bobby wrapped an arm around Jack’s shoulders as they walked to the car. He hadn’t told his little brother about anything, except that they were going for a drive. He knew that Jack didn’t believe him when he told Jerry they’d be around later, but he couldn’t stop the curious gleam in his eye from being seen. He waited until Jack had buckled his seatbelt, before he pulled out of the driveway and took them in the opposite direction of Jerry’s place.

It took Jack a few minutes to realize that they were going elsewhere and then fear set in. “Bobby, he isn’t worth it! Whatever you’re planning, he isn’t worth you going to jail!”

Bobby smirked as he applied a little more pressure on the accelerator. He took Jack to a slightly worse neighborhood and suddenly realized how that piece of shit could be a teacher. “We ain’t gonna do anythin’, aside from scare him, Jackie. Trust me.” He glanced at Jack and frowned when he saw doubt in his brother’s eyes. “You don’t trust me anymore?”

“It isn’t that, Bobby,” Jack whispered and lowered his eyes, playing with the lighter. “I know what you’re like and I know you’ll take it too far. I don’t want you getting into trouble because of me.”

Bobby slowed down as he turned into the street he needed. He parked several houses down and raised an eyebrow when he saw that the teacher had a family, judging by the small shadows that were running past the windows. For a split second, doubt filled him, until he remembered the bruises on Jack’s body because of that ass clown.

“Jackie, I promise I ain’t gonna have ya do anythin’ ya don’t wanna.”

“Then why are you packin’?”

Bobby cocked an eyebrow. He wasn’t expecting that question, as he was almost certain Jack was still in his room when he slipped the pistol into the back of his jeans. “I wanna scare the fucker good, Jack. No one gets away with hittin’ a Mercer.”

Jack inhaled shakily and Bobby glanced at him. “Bobby, I love you, but I don’t want you becomin’ a murderer because of me. I don’t think Mom’d appreciate it, either.”

Bobby chuckled and ruffled Jack’s hair. “You think you’re the first Mercer brother that’s been beaten by a teacher? There’s a reason why teachers tend to fear us, Jackie,” he explained as he ran his hand down Jack’s hair to rest on his neck. “I didn’t kill mine, but I sure as fuck got the bastards that hurt Jerry and Angel.”

Jack stared at Bobby blankly, until Bobby saw the realization of what he was talking about. He lowered his eyes and then stared at the house, as Bobby removed his hand. It seemed that Jack had no problem knowing that his oldest brother was a killer. Bobby grinned as the snow started falling and decided they could use that to their advantage as the minutes ticked by.

The lights in the neighboring houses went out and Bobby opened his door, stepping out. He wasn’t sure if Jack was going to follow him, but he was grateful to see him beside him as they approached the house. They inspected the back porch, seeing that someone was forced to smoke outside. Bobby checked the trash can and saw that the bag from that day hadn’t been taken out yet. He looked at the front door and whispered out for Jack to stay by his side, as he was still in the back.

Jack joined him, just as the front door opened and the teacher walked out. He was groaning and rubbing his ribs, muttering about a ‘Mercer bitch,’ which made Bobby raise an eyebrow and grin at his brother. Jack just shrugged. Bobby stepped around the trashcan as the teacher reached it and blindsided him with a punch. He fell down like a sack of potatoes and Bobby kicked him, just to make sure he was out. He told Jack to help him, as they dragged his unconscious ass to the car. He was thrown into the backseat and Bobby pulled away calmly, heading towards the outskirts of the city.

“How’d you know I was packin’?” Bobby asked as he passed the city exit and pulled into a trail through the forest.

Jack shrugged. “You’re wearin’ ya short jacket and I saw the barrel while you were huggin’ Mom,” he answered and Bobby smirked. He didn’t expect Jack’s observation to be that good, not bothering to question why his brother’s eyes were looking at his ass.

He drove in roughly four miles and then parked the car. He got out and dragged out the still unconscious teacher. He went to the trunk and grabbed rope, binding the wrists and elbows behind the back and connecting them to the binds around the ankles. He told Jack to grab the gas can, which just made Jack raise an eyebrow. He did as he was told and followed Bobby as he dragged the teacher into the woods. Neither was sure how long they walked for, but when Bobby stopped, the teacher was conscious and screaming for help.

“Jackie, you go back to the car before you lose our prints, okay?”

“Why?”

“Because you ain’t ready for this.” Jack glanced at Bobby for a moment, hugged him and Bobby lifted his smokes and lighter and headed back. As soon as his brother was out of earshot, Bobby punched the teacher that was still screaming. The punch was mostly to shut him up, as it was beginning to give him a headache “Do you know who I am?” he demanded.

Everyone knows who the Mercer brothers are! The scum of Detroit, as I like to think!”

Bobby laughed and nodded. “Yeah, I can’t say ya wrong there. There’s a small problem with us bein’ scum, man,” he said as he crouched down and noticed that the teacher flinched at the movement. “You’re bad mouthin’ my Ma and ain’t no one gonna get away with that.” He punched the man again, content when he heard something crack.

He took a moment and then grabbed the gas can, opening it. He ran the nozzle under the man’s nose, smirking when he saw the fear. He rolled the man over and checked his pockets to make sure he had no identification on him and raised an eyebrow, grabbing his wallet. He opened it and saw a picture of the two kids he saw running by the window.

“Now, I got a question for ya,” Bobby said as he crouched down again and showed the picture to the man. “What would you do if a teacher bruised ya kid?”

“I’d kill the fucker,” the man answered without hesitation and realization at his words sank in.

“You tell me why it’s acceptable for you to hit my baby brother, but a teacher ain’t allowed to hit your kid?” The man remained silent, so Bobby kicked him in the gut, which forced him onto his back. “Why are you allowed to hit someone else’s kid?”

“Because it ain’t my kid!” the man shouted back and Bobby tilted his head.

Bobby’s eyes blazed with rage as he punched the man. He didn’t like that answer. “Well, he ain’t my kid, either. But he is my brother and you fucked with the wrong kid! What else have ya done to him?” For every five seconds of silence, Bobby punched him.

“I didn’t do anythin’ else to him!”

Bobby stepped back, panting slightly. It had been a while since he had a work out like that. He poured the gas over the man, taking care to make sure it didn’t splash on him. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, missing the feeling and the rush of nicotine. “Are you lyin’ to me?” The man shook his head. “Do ya know why everyone knows about the Mercer brothers?”

“Because you’re all fucking insane! You’re a fucking psychopath!”

Bobby stood up and stepped back, thinking it through. He couldn’t argue with that. He was a little psychotic, especially when it came to someone hurting what was his to protect. He took another hit off the cigarette, giving consideration to letting the fucker walk back home. However, he couldn’t allow the guy to bring Jack into the picture. He didn’t want the cop to put him in their scopes, but he also knew there was the chance that the guy could kill Jack just to get back at him.

With a sigh, he pulled the gun out of his pants and cocked it. He aimed it at the man. “You really shoulda thought about what kid you were beatin’, man,” he stated and put a round in the man’s head. He dropped the cigarette on his body and watched as it went up in flames. He grabbed the can and went back to the car, knowing that Jack would’ve heard the shot.

Jack was sitting on the hood, head tilted back and smiling as the snow fell on his face. He shook his head when Bobby closed the trunk and looked over his shoulder. “Did you kill him?”

Bobby moved around the car and stood in front of Jack. “Why didn’t ya tell me a teacher was hurtin’ ya, man?” He exhaled softly and pulled Jack’s head onto his shoulder. “I can’t protect ya if ya don’t tell me.”

Jack raised his head and stared at Bobby. “It’s still new to me,” he admitted and Bobby frowned. “Having people care about me.”

Bobby nodded and brushed the flakes off Jack’s cheeks and pulled him off the hood, handing back his smokes and lighter. He shook his head as Jack lit up. “Don’t forget it ever again, ya little fairy.”

“You never answered my question. Did you kill him?”

“Would it make you feel bad if I did?” Jack shook his head. “Would it make you hate me, if I did?” Jack shook his head again. “Then who gives a fuck?”

Jack smiled and exhaled smoke with a chuckle. “You’re insane, Bobby,” he said softly and then looked at him. “Thank you.”

Bobby ruffled his hair and smirked. “That’s what family does, man. Anyone that’s dumb enough to fuck with the Mercers’ is gonna feel our wrath.”

Jack raised an eyebrow. “It’s the small things in life, right?”

Bobby laughed and nodded, heading to the driver’s side. “Exactly, Cracker Jack. Now, get in the car before ya freeze ya fairy ass off.”

Jack rolled his eyes and flicked the end of his cigarette away. He fluffed his hoodie, shaking off the snow and slipping into the car. As Bobby turned it on, he stared at his brother. “I love you, Bobby.”

Turning around on the trail, Bobby smirked. All of his brothers said the exact same thing to him on their own nights like that. Unlike Jack, though, Bobby had no problem with Angel or Jerry delivering the finishing blow or watching as he did it. It toughened them up. “I love ya, too, you little fairy.” He glanced at his watch as saw that it was past Jack’s curfew. “I’m in so much trouble.”

“Was it worth it?”

Bobby grinned and nodded. “It always is.”

Jack shrugged. “Then who gives a fuck?”

Bobby laughed as they exited the forest and headed for home. He glanced at Jack and realized he’d never properly welcomed Jack to the family. “Welcome to the Mercers’, Jackie.”

Jack shook his head. “You’re about six years too late for that, Bobby.” He lowered his eyes. “I meant it, when I thanked you. You, Mom, Angel and Jerry are the only people that’ve ever done anythin’ nice for me.”

Bobby glanced at him, forgetting that Jack always felt worthless, regardless of what they told him. He hoped that killing the teacher proved to him what his worth truly is. “I hope ya realize ya worth it, Jack. Ma doesn’t adopt just anyone.”

Jack raised his eyes and gave a small, genuine smile. “I’m starting to realize it,” he said quietly.

“Good,” Bobby growled and ruffled Jack’s hair. “If I have to beat it into ya like I did with the other two, I will. And I won’t go easy on your fairy ass, either. Now, put ya seatbelt on.”

oOo

By the time they got home, it was nearly two in the morning. Jack was asleep in the car and Bobby really didn’t want to wake him, but he wasn’t going to carry his brother through the snow. He gently shook Jack’s shoulder and watched as his tired eyes opened, taking a few moments to figure out what was happening. He blinked and stretched. Bobby winced as he heard his spine cracking and he slipped out of the car. Bobby followed, not surprised to see Ma waiting by the front door.

With the ‘mom glare’ on her face and her arms crossed over her chest. Jack seemed oblivious to it as he smiled sleepily at her and went upstairs. Bobby watched him go, making sure his door closed before he lowered his head and mumbled an apology. He expected a light slap on the arm for keeping Jack out so long, but somehow, Ma knew what he’d done.

Evelyn uncrossed her arms and pulled Bobby into a hug. “Did he see it?” she asked quietly and relaxed a little more when Bobby shook his head. “Why did you shield him? You never did that with Jeremiah and Angel.”

Bobby lowered his eyes and then glanced at the stairs. “They could handle it. They didn’t have the same innocence that Jackie has.” He pulled back slightly, keeping his eyes down. “Can I sleep in your room tonight?”

Evelyn held Bobby’s face in her hands and forced him to look up. She hid her heartbreak at the emotions playing through her son’s eyes. “Of course you can, Bobby,” she said and kissed his forehead. “I’ll be up in a minute.”

Bobby nodded and trudged up the stairs. He grabbed the spare pillows from Ma’s bed and dropped them on the floor. He pulled off his jacket and shirt, while kicking off his boots. He didn’t bother to remove his jeans, as he was too tired to do that. He fell to the ground and closed his eyes, seeing the teacher’s scared eyes in his mind. He could see the three other pairs of scared eyes from teachers he’d killed over the years, because they had dared to attack his little brothers.

He kept his eyes closed as Ma came into the bedroom, grabbed her sleepwear and left to change in the bathroom. He remained ‘asleep’ while she placed one of her knitted blankets over him and got into bed and began reading the book she was on currently. He stayed the same way as he heard a gentle knock on the door and she called out for Jack to enter.

“Mom?” Jack whispered and stepped into the room, not fully closing the door. Bobby remained passive as he felt Jack’s shocked eyes on him. He had no doubt that Jack expected him to be in Angel’s room or on the sofa “Did I do this?”

Evelyn closed her book and placed it on bedside chest. “Jackie, do you feel guilty about what happened?”

“No,” Jack whispered, his voice thick with emotions and Bobby fought to not roll his eyes. Jack would always be the most expressive of them. “I feel guilty that Bobby had to do it. He shouldn’t have to fight my battles for me. I’m nearly sixteen.”

“Jeremiah was seventeen when Bobby helped him with his teacher problem,” Evelyn explained and Bobby could hear the warm smile in her voice. It broke his heart that she had to live with a murderer. It broke his heart that she knew everything he did and he couldn’t stop. “Not everyone is cut out to be a big brother.”

Jack shuffled into the room and Bobby opened his eyes, looking under the bed. He saw that Jack was kneeling beside the bed, hands fidgeting in his lap. “He shouldn’t have to live with my mistakes, though. I tried to report the teacher, but the principal said if I was gonna lie, I should make it believable. I even showed him the bruises, but he just said that my brothers probably got too rough with me. I didn’t want Bobby…I didn’t want Bobby to know that I’m still so…”

“Jackie, hush,” Evelyn whispered. “Bobby does what he can for our family, because he loves us. No one will ever believe a Mercer over an ‘upstanding citizen,’ regardless of the proof they’re shown.” They were silent for a moment. “And don’t ever think that you’re weak, Jackie.”

“Bobby sent me away before he did what…he did.”

“Do you think you would’ve wanted to see what he did?” Jack must’ve shaken his head. “Then why does it matter if he sent you away?”

Bobby watched as Jack rubbed his arms. “I don’t know,” he whispered. “I guess I’m a little upset that Angel and Jerry could see what he did, but I wasn’t allowed to.”

“Hey,” Evelyn said firmly and Jack’s hands stilled. “Bobby doesn’t think any less of you because you don’t live for violence the way your brothers do. He doesn’t think any less of you because you’re more sensitive than your brothers are. He loves you, Jackie and he always will.”

“I want to be like them, though. Nothing scares them—”

“That isn’t true, Jackie,” Evelyn cut in and pulled Jack up to sit on the edge of the bed. “Losing his family scares the hell out of Bobby. Not being able to protect his brothers scares him to death. He might not like that he has to kill to protect us, but he also knows that if he doesn’t remove the threat, it will just get worse. Angel and Jeremiah are the same way. Family is everything to your brothers and losing that or seeing one of us hurt, scares them. You just show that more than they do.”

Bobby closed his eyes, trying not to think about the shit he’s done to protect his family. He tried to act as though it didn’t take a toll on him, but it did. If he’d something—anything—sooner, his brothers wouldn’t have been hurt. The burden he carries as the big brother is his reminder that he failed somewhere to protect them. And he would take that over one of his brothers dying or worse, Ma.

“Can…Can I stay in here tonight?”

“Of course you can, Jackie. But you need to be in your pajamas and you need to bring in your pillows.” Jack left the room and Evelyn sighed softly. “Was there anything you wanted to add to that, Bobby?”

Eyes flying open, Bobby sat up and stared at his mother. She was smiling warmly and Bobby grinned, shaking his head. “I love ya, Ma.”

“I love you, too, Bobby. Now, go to sleep before Jackie gets back. Sweet dreams.”

Bobby settled down a minute before Jack entered the bedroom again, stepping over Bobby and getting into the bed beside Ma. “Good night, Mom.”

“Good night, Jackie.”

Jack rolled over and Bobby felt his eyes on him. “Good night, Bobby,” he whispered and Bobby felt a gentle brush of fingertips over his cheek. “Sweet dreams.”

For the first time in years, Bobby slept without the nightmares that plagued him. His mind focused on the first time Jeremiah, Angel and Jack came to live with him and Ma. It brought forth all the times they played hockey and the three of them teaching Jack how to skate. For the first time in decades, Bobby actually had a full night’s rest and woke up feeling better rather than worse.

He didn’t know what brought it on, until he realized that his family was all in the same room. Jack was right on the edge of the bed, curled into a small ball, but he had a gentle smile on his face. Evelyn was on her side, facing her boys, looking peaceful. It really was the simple things that made life worth it, he decided as he slipped out of the room and went downstairs to start a pot of coffee.



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