So writing this I felt like I was finally getting somewhere with the plot and the what-not. If I had to estimate I'd say maybe five more chapters, although I'd like to do it in less and finally have this not hanging over my head anymore, which isn't to say that I don't still like Four Brothers and the fic, but just that it's been too long, for which I again apologize to any and all of you waiting.
It was early morning and Bobby looked out the window to see it was still dark out before he took stock of the situation. Something had woken him up.
He was tired of being woken up.
He got out of bed and crept over to the door. He waited until he heard it again, and then forwent caution to pull open the door and head towards the bathroom. The lights were out, but he didn't need to see what he knew was in front of him anyway.
He grabbed a towel and got it wet before handing it down to the figure kneeling in front of the toilet.
"Shake it off, kid," he said, then sat down heavily and leaned against the wall.
"Can't," Jack said between heaving and sobbing into the toilet.
"How long's this been going on?" Bobby asked, trying to make himself comfortable on the hard floor.
He saw Jack's shoulders hunch in the approximation of a shrug. "Maybe an hour. I woke up like this."
"There a mess in your room?"
"No." Jack finally pulled back from the porcelain altar and rubbed his face with the towel. "I made it here in time."
Bobby nodded in relief even though Jack couldn't see it. "You been through this before?"
Jack turned around to face him, leaning back against the sink. He shook his head slowly, like he was afraid too much would send him back over the toilet. "Not sick like this."
They were quiet a while, and even in the dark Bobby could tell that Jack was still shaking. He thought about waking Evelyn.
Jack broke the silence by whispering, "Are you sure Jeremiah flushed it, Bobby? Because it would help a lot if I could just have a little hit."
Bobby sighed. "It's gone. It's gone and you're done with that fucking shit, Jackie, so get used to the idea."
"Don't tell Miss Mercer, okay?"
"Ma," he corrected. "Why not? She knows you've been using. What difference would it make?"
"I don't want her to know I've been sick. I can handle this."
Bobby sighed again. He was exhausted and it was way too early for that kind of bullshit. "Come on," he said, and climbed back up to his feet before reaching down to pull Jack up, too. "Rinse out your mouth and get back to bed."
Jack did as he was told, and Bobby followed him back to his room to make sure there wasn't a mess after all. Not that he would be the one cleaning it up or anything. He just wanted to check.
He watched Jack clamber in between the sheets and grip them like that could make the shaking stop. Evelyn thought he could help this kid. He was starting to get the feeling not much could help. But what the hell, when it doubt, fall back on the old standby.
"You ever played hockey, Jackie?"
"No," Jack whispered back through clenched teeth. Bobby hoped they weren't clenched against a repeat of the bathroom theatrics. "I don't know how to skate."
"Huh. Well, all the Mercer boys play hockey. So you're just going to have to learn fast." Bobby pulled the door shut and went back to his own bed. Maybe they could knock a little more sense into Jack on the ice. Maybe they could knock all the drugs and fucked-up crap right out of him.
Evelyn woke up feeling much better about the Jack situation than she had in days. Even though something was going on with Bobby, she knew that having him here was doing a world of good for her youngest boy. Now if she could only find that birth certificate and get the rest of ball rolling.
She was cleaning up her own breakfast when she heard movement upstairs, heavy footsteps and doors opening and slamming, and had cereal and bowls on the table when Bobby finally made an appearance. He rubbed a hand over his eyes and yawned before slumping into a chair and reaching for the milk.
"Jack still asleep?" she asked.
"Not anymore," he said, and shot her a look that told her he was up to something. A few minutes after that Jack appeared and hovered in the doorway, looking at her uncertainly, before Bobby kicked out the chair next to him and pointed at it with his spoon. "Sit," he said around a mouthful of food. "Eat."
Jack sat but didn't reach for any food until Bobby gave him a glare that set him scrambling.
"We've got a big day ahead of us," he said. "You'll need your strength." His smile was devious and Evelyn felt her own lips pulling up into a smile at the sight of it.
Jack poured a bowl of cereal and poked at it until he looked up and saw the return of the glare Bobby was leveling at him. Then he actually started eating, and Evelyn leaned against the counter with a cup of tea and kept smiling through it all.
"Jack," she said, when he was finishing up. "Do you know where your birth certificate is?"
Jack shook his head but didn't look up. "Bobby already asked me that, but I don't know."
"Is there anyone that could have it? Other foster parents or friends?"
"Isn't the state supposed to take care of that stuff?" he asked, while still studying his empty cereal bowl intently. Bobby took the opportunity to pour him some more.
"Well, yes," she said, "but it seems to have been misplaced. Paul Johnson and I are going to figure it out, but I just thought I'd check with you first."
He stared down at his cereal bowl with a look of distaste, but Evelyn wasn't sure if it was the cereal or the subject that was causing it.
"I don't know where it is," he said, and his grip on the spoon had turned his knuckles white.
Bobby caught her eye and they shared a look.
"Go get ready," Bobby said, kicking his chair again, even though he was still in it. "We're wasting good ice time."
Jack shook himself a bit, then put the spoon down surprisingly gently and fled the room. Evelyn starred after him for a while before joining Bobby at the table.
"Got any ideas what that's about?" she asked.
"A few," he said. "He was pretty sick last night, you know."
Evelyn nodded. "Isn't that a bit extreme for marijuana?"
Bobby shrugged. "Not if it was laced, or if he wasn't always doing marijuana. But we'll take care of it, ma. He'll be fine."
Evelyn took another sip of tea and sighed. "So hockey, huh?" She shook her head at the glee in his eyes. "Bobby Mercer. You better play nice."