Disclaimer: I own nothing. I've only seen the movie once, so the characterizations are based on a faulty memory. Apologies.

> > > >

"Goddamn it!"

Bobby Mercer swung his arm behind him, grabbing the alarm clock and throwing it against the wall without ever opening his eyes. But the persistent beeping didn't stop. He cursed again before rolling over to see what time it was, but the clock, of course, was beyond it's time-telling days. A quick glance at the window told him it was early morning, and still too dark for any reasonable person to be calling him. But he kicked back the tangled sheets anyway and groped his way out of the bedroom and out to the couch where he crumpled into a heap before finally lifting the phone and grunting into handset.

"Bobby? Bobby it's your mother. Bobby, are you there?"

Bobby raised a hand to wipe at his eyes and try to banish the sleep that was still clinging to him. "Yeah, ma, it's me. It's early."

"I know, and I wouldn't call otherwise, but…"

She trailed off and Bobby could almost see her sitting there, clutching the phone in both hands in the kitchen, still fully dressed and worrying herself like she had for so many years over one of her charges.

"Who is it and what did they do?" he asked, coming more fully awake when he realized just how strange it was that she was calling him. If there was a problem with the house, she'd call Jerry, and if there was a problem with one of the kids, she'd go after them herself or if it was really bad just call the cops. Only once before had she sought him out, over a black boy seven years his junior who really need an older brother. But Angel was his brother now, and off being a jarhead. Uncle Sam was Angel's big brother for the time being.

"Just come home, Bobby. I need your help."

Bobby sat in the dark a moment and listened to her breathe on the other end. He peered around his two room palace and at the lump of his hockey gear, abandoned and thrown into the corner. He could make out the empty liquor bottles on the floor and the counter of the kitchenette, and really couldn't think of a single reason he shouldn't pack up and get the hell out of there as fast as he could.

"I can be there in four hours," he said.

"Thank you."

> > > >

He'd been in Detroit for only a month. A month of living at the Mercer place after his social worker had dropped him off with a helpful, "End of the line, kid." And that was it. Countless foster homes had come and gone, and maybe Evelyn Mercer hadn't hit him or locked him out of the house or worse yet, but he wasn't just going to sit around and wait for it to happen. So he was taking precautions.

That is to say, he was getting high. Every chance he got. With any means possible. He'd hocked just about everything he could get his hands on and shove under his jacket or into his tattered backpack. He'd ripped off teachers, and people on the streets, and even Evelyn Mercer. Besides, she was only going to railroad him out of her place the first chance she got, and more than that, he'd been using for too long to know how to function without it, to even want to function without it.

It was closing in on four in the morning and he hadn't been back to his foster home since getting up to go to school two days ago. Not that he had made it to school. He'd tried school before, and found that it was a waste of time to try when everyone had already pronounced you a lost cause. So just like almost every day since he'd arrived he'd sought out all the places he would have gone if he had been back in Lansing. Alleys. Overpasses. Warehouses. All the dark and creepy places that it turned out Detroit was bursting at the seams with. That particular day of skipping school it had taken him a little under an hour to find someone willing to deal. He couldn't really remember where he spent the first night, but he woke up in alley and spent the second day on the streets to support his habit. He was thin and fairly attractive, and had found out early that if he smiled, it was all too easy to get close to people, to get handouts and then wallets and purses when they let their guards down.

But now the second night was almost over, and with his buzz dying and the streets too quiet to find the stuff he wanted without the trouble he wanted to avoid, he turned his feet back towards his foster home, and the comfy, if used, bed he figured was probably waiting for him. He had just enough in his pocket that if Evelyn Mercer wanted to make a fuss, he'd take it to drown out the yelling or the hitting or whatever she wanted to throw at him, and then get the hell out of there.

> > > >

Bobby made the trip in 3 and a half hours, since there was little to no traffic on the freeways and even without the excessive speeding he would have made good time. He got out of the car around five am and grabbed his duffle out of his trunk. He started up the small walkway to find his mother holding the door open for him. She was still dressed, as he had expected, and while he could tell she was happy to see him, she was more worried about whatever it was that had him speeding home in the night to do anything other than grab him and hug him tightly.

"I called Jerry when I saw you pull up," she said after releasing him. "He's on his way."

"Ma…" he started, but she grabbed his duffle from him and started up the stairs.

"Have a seat on the couch. When Jerry gets here, we'll all talk together."

He watched her go upstairs and when she was out of sight, looked around the small living room. It was how he remembered it. It was always that way: neat and comfy, used but familiar. It smelled like her and like a hundred people had passed through, had sat on the couch or eaten at the dinner table. And it was true, even though it had been years since many other foster children had lived there, since when Bobby himself had arrived about 16 years ago, and Evelyn Mercer had adopted her first son. She was almost 60 now, and Angel, her third and youngest son had only recently moved out. Looking around the downstairs, he couldn't tell if there were any foster kids there or not. But if it wasn't foster kids, he didn't know what to think. Children were his mother's life, and he didn't know of anything else that would stress her out like she was.

He heard the door open and turned back to see Jerry coming in, looking like he hadn't slept, but then again, he had a baby at home and probably wouldn't have been sleeping anyway. Bobby was amazed that Jerry had turned into the family man, had found himself a wonderful woman and now they were having kids of their own. Of the three of them, it seemed Jerry had benefited the most under Evelyn's tutelage.

"Hey, bro," Jerry said, and the two embraced briefly before he headed toward the couch and slouched into it, closing his eyes and appearing ready to catch a quick nap before the shit hit the fan.

"Hey, Jer. You know what this is about?"

Jerry cracked a single eyelid to peer up at his older brother. "Only one thing it could be, Bobby," he said, and closed the eye again.

"Yeah?" he asked, already getting frustrated by being left in the dark since his mother's cryptic phone call hours earlier. "And what would that be?"