Disclaimer: I don't own Four Brothers, but the plot and original characters are mine.
"Jack, do me a favor and stay. Don't run, don't mess this one up. I don't want to see you in my office again," Eric Rink, Jack's social worker, pleaded as he parked his old, beat up Volvo in front of an innocent looking house. They all looked innocent until he got inside, Jack thought sadly.
Jack just shrugged. Eric had never been so good at placing him before. How could he promise? He couldn't commit to staying somewhere with people who might hurt him. Besides, he was 13. No one wanted a 13 year old. He would be back in the system in no time.
Eric sighed. "Well, her name is Florence Grant. Her husband died a while back and her granddaughter lives with her. I'm not sure why she wants you, but please try to just stay put, alright?" Eric asked. Jack shrugged again, agreeing with the social worker in his own way. He couldn't understand why this lady would want him either.
The two got out of the car and Jack carefully slung his bag over his shoulder. He still had a few fresh bruises and cuts from his last foster home and they hurt. He hung back a bit as Eric knocked on the door. The only thing keeping him from running was the fact that this wasn't some cranky middle-aged man who just wanted more beer. This was an old lady and her granddaughter. He didn't see what kind of harm they could do him. So instead, they would be was a warm house to live in until he was placed again.
When the door opened, a young girl, at about the same age and height as Jack, appeared. She smiled and motioned for Eric and Jack to come inside. "My grandma will be right back. She forgot something at the store and she wasn't expecting you guys until later," the girl smiled. Jack eyed her curiously. She had long, curly red hair that reached the small of her back and large chocolate brown eyes. Considering her lithe frame and her initial kindness, Jack didn't think she would be hurting him at all, but he wasn't about to let appearances fool him. He had let that happen before and couldn't afford to let it happen again.
The girl led them into the living room and motioned for them to sit on the couch while she settled down on a large, overstuffed armchair. "I'm Meg," she said with a small smile.
"Megan Steel if I'm not mistaken," Eric said properly.
"That is my full name Mr. Rink, but I prefer Meg," she replied, retaining her smile.
"Of course," Eric said nodding his head. "This is Jack Rhode. He'll be living with you as your foster brother for as long as your grandmother plans to keep him."
"He's more like a foster uncle if my Gran's taking him in as her own," she teased, her smile widening to her eyes as she laughed at her own joke.
"Yes, I suppose so," Eric said, clearly not knowing what to say. Jack just sat there watching the pair talk. After a bit, the small talk got too boring and he began to look around the room. It was cozy, with a few mismatched chairs and couches. There was a small cabinet that he assumed held a television and maybe a dozen pictures on the walls. His eyes landed on a picture that looked like Meg family. There were two adults, Meg and three other children all huddled close together as snow came down around them.
"Well Mr. Rink. I don't know where my grandmother is, but if you have something to give her, I would be glad to pass it along for you so you could get on your way," Meg said kindly.
"I did want to discuss something with her but I suppose I could just do that over the phone," Eric said to himself. "Yes, I'll just call. It's been lovely meeting you Meg, and Jack, you be good," he said, giving Jack a knowing look. Jack just nodded to make him leave him alone. "I'll show myself out," he said to Meg as he saw her get up to show him to the front hall. Eric left the room and once they two teenagers heard the door shut, Megan stood up.
"C'mon, I'll show you around," Megan said, her sunny disposition still intact. Jack simply followed her. "So are you from Detroit?" she asked.
Jack was glad that Megan picked up on the fact that he didn't want to talk when he didn't respond. He hadn't said a word to any body since he has left his last foster home two weeks earlier.
"Well, here it is," Megan said after they had walked up to the third floor together. She pushed open one of the doors to reveal Jack's new room. Jack nearly gasped. It was at least four times the size of any other room he had been given in the past. There was a queen-sized bed to his right and to his left there was a large bookcase with an overstuffed armchair, similar to the one Megan had sat down on downstairs in the living room. In front of him, there were two large windows, one with a window seat, and an even larger armoire to put his clothing in between the two. Behind him was a desk. The walls were painted a light blue color and the carpet was dark blue.
"Uh, well, I hope you like it," Megan whispered from behind Jack. Her smile had faded after he had responded with silence to her earlier questions. He almost felt guilty. "I'm going to go to my room. It's the one right across the hall. When you're unpacked, come and find me and I'll give you the grand tour. Gran should be home by then, but you never know," she explained as she back out of the room quietly. He was grateful that she was being so nice about all this and giving him his space.
Ten minutes later, all of Jack's things were put away. With nothing else to do, he found himself standing in front of Megan's door and knocking.
"Hey, wow, that was fast," Megan said as she opened her door, with a cell phone pressed up to her face. "No, not you Lex," she said quickly returning her attention to the phone. "Call me later," she finished and smiled at something her friend had said before snapping her phone close.
"Alright, so this is the third floor. You know where your room is, and my room. Over there's the bathroom and then that's the linen closet," Megan said pointing while she exited her room, cell phone still in hand as she closed the door behind her. "Behind that door is a staircase to the attic. No one really goes up there. It's filled with World War II stuff from when my grandpa was in the army and some other old junk that my grandma can't part with. I don't think she even knows what's up there," she informed, as she led Jack to the second floor.
"That's Gran's room. You're right above it, and while Gran's a relatively deep sleeper, I would keep the noise to a minimum," Megan said. "There's a bathroom connected to Gran's room and then there's another one right there. The second linen closet's over there and the room at the end of the hall is a guest room or whatever," she explained.
Megan grabbed Jack's arm to lead him downstairs and he jumped in response.
"You okay?" Megan asked, worry laced in her voice as she pulled back from Jack as if she had burnt her hand. He nodded and held his arm close to him, following his companion down the stairs, swearing to himself that he would be a lot more careful and attentive so that no one would ever have to touch him again.
"Um, alright," Megan said. Jack could see she knew something of where he came from. It was obvious that Eric told the Ms. Grant what had happened and he could only assume the girl was told something. Even if nothing was said, she had enough sense to not touch him again and to not make any sudden movements.
"So this is the ground floor. You have the dining room, kitchen and living room. There's another bathroom on this floor too and a maid's room. Well, actually, it's Bree's room. Bree! C'mere girl!" Megan called. A few moments later, a small kitten with ginger fur came ambling into the room. Once the kitten was close enough, she scooped up the small animal and held her to her chest.
"My sister got me Bree before she sent me to live here this summer," Megan said with a smile as the kitten yawned showing its small, yet sharp, teeth. "Bree, this is Jack, he'll be living with us for a while, kay?" she asked holding up the kitten to face Jack. Bree stretched out a paw and touched him on the cheek before her owner could stop her. "I'm sorry," Megan said as she pulled Bree away from Jack.
"That's alright," Jack said, his voice sounding scratchy from disuse.
"Oh!" Megan said in surprise. "Well, um, do you wanna hold her?" she asked, not knowing what to say.
Jack nodded and Megan handed over her new pet. She wasn't the only one who was surprised by Jack speaking. But since he had started, he didn't see the point in stopping. Well at least in front of her.
"Thanks for showing me around," Jack said softly.
"No problem," Megan said brightly. Jack was confused as to why she was so happy that he was talking, but he wasn't going to question her. She seemed nice so far and he didn't want to upset her enough to make her want to hurt him.
"Uh, all that's left is the basement. It used to be junk down there but when I got here I made it my project. It's almost done now. It's got a foosball table, a ping pong table, a big ass television and my video games from home," Megan said proudly.
"What games you got?" Jack asked curiously.
"I don't really know. My friends kinda threw them at me as I was leaving. I do know I have a copy of Super Smash Brothers," Megan said happily.
"Super Smash Brothers?" Jack asked.
"Only the best game there ever was. It's like the only one I can play, but I'm so good at it so if you ever wanna challenge me, you better make sure you're ready to lose," Megan said smugly.
"I don't know how to play, but my foster siblings always talked about it," Jack said pulling Bree closer to him. The small kitten jumped out of his arms and onto his shoulder in response, not liking the feeling of being squished. He knew exactly how she felt.
"Oh, well I can teach you. I remember, my friends would never slow down and teach me, so one summer I bought the game and I sat down and I played and played until I was able to beat all of them easily," Megan recounted fondly. Jack simply nodded his head and winced and Bree stepped on one of his many bruises.
"Oh I'm sorry, I meant to cut her nails, I just forgot because I've been so busy with your room and the basement," Megan said as she reached up and took Bree off Jack's shoulder. She cradled the kitten and pressed on her paw to make her reveal her claws. "Ow," she winced. "Do you want me to see if there's a scratch? If she left one, you should clean it up. I could help," she continued, offered her assistance hesitantly.
"No, it's alright," Jack said while shaking his head vigorously, knowing it wasn't Bree's claws that had hurt him.
"Alright," Megan shrugged as she set Bree on the floor. "Oh! That's Gran pulling into the garage. I'll show you that later. There's a bunch of stuff there like old ice skates and bikes."
"I, uh…" Jack trailed off shyly.
"Yes?" Megan prompted. Jack could tell she was eager to see some of his personality.
"Nothing, forget it," Jack said shaking his head.
"Oh," Megan said, biting her lower lip. "Well come on. Gran'll be happy to meet you finally." Jack just nodded and followed Megan.
A/N: So that's the beginning. I know it's different, but give me time. Jack will be a Mercer yet.
Love and Luck,