Title: The Most Bitter Pill pt3

Author: veiledndarkness

Rating: Hard R

Summary: Jealously can make things far more complicated and it's always a bitter pill to swallow.

Jack awoke the next morning with a start as he shook himself out of yet another nightmare. He let out a shuddery breath, his heart still racing. He lifted one shaky hand to his head, running his fingers through sweat soaked hair. That one had by far been the worst. He took several deep breaths, and attempted to get his body under control.

Jack sat up carefully with his back to the headboard. He fumbled for his smokes, nerves still badly shot. His still sensitive shoulder throbbed in protest to his movements. He ignored the pain as he lit the smoke then carefully took a long pull from his cigarette. He closed his eyes as he rested, pulling his knees up after a moment. He glanced over at Bobby who was still deeply asleep.

Jack knew that Bobby waited till he fell asleep each night before he would crawl in. He sighed as he realized that Bobby was just as frightened as he was, unsure of what move to make next. Sure they weren't ignoring each other, or yelling, but the distance between them was tearing small holes in Jack's heart.

Jack crept out of bed quickly, hopping from toe to toe at the touch of the cold hardwood. He yanked on a pair of jeans and snagged a sweater from his bag. Just as he was about to open the bedroom door, he heard Bobby's sleepy voice call out to him.

"How is that you can get out of bed without making a sound?"

Jack stared at his feet for a moment, choosing his next words carefully.

"Lots of practice, I guess" he said flatly. Bobby winced. "Right"

Then he added, "Where you going?" Jack finally looked up Bobby. "Outside."

Bobby nodded and made to sit up. Jack waited for Bobby to get dressed. He studied the grain of the hardwood, avoiding looking at Bobby as he dressed. They headed downstairs with barely a word between them. Jerry had gone back home yesterday, saying it was high time he got back to his kids. Angel was over at Sofi's again and for that Bobby was glad. That girl annoyed the shit out of him. Always screeching and whining about something. For now, it was just the two of them. The house had never seemed so big and empty.

Jack headed out to the front yard, frowning. The cold air caused his shoulder to throb in memory. He could still see the blood in his mind as it had poured from him. Remembered that frightened look in Bobby's eyes as he'd pushed down with both hands on the gunshot wound. He could remember screaming for Bobby, begging for help. He shifted on his feet uneasily as the sounds of gunfire echoed in his ears. Bobby stood next to him, hawk eyes watching his movements.

Jack turned his head to face Bobby. "I'm fine. You don't have to watch over me like I'm going to shatter or something"

Bobby huffed impatiently. "Why are you getting' so bent out of shape over having someone care about you?"

Jack looked off into the distance before answering. "It's been a long time since someone did" he said.

"What the fuck are you sayin' Jackie? You think Ma didn't care? Or Angel or Jerry? And what about me? You really think I don't give a shit? You don't know how fuckin' far off you are right now!" Bobby said, his voice rising alongside his temper.

Jack closed his eyes and counted to ten in his head. Through gritted teeth he said "I meant since I left, Bobby". Bobby groaned under his breath.

'Oh bravo, Bobby. Good one'. Bobby kicked at the ground with one shoe, then crossed his arms. "Sorry" he muttered.

"Listen, I got some stuff to do and uh, I'll be back later tonight." Bobby added, after a moment. Jack heard the unasked question. 'Will you be here when I get back?'

Jack nodded quickly and started walking. Bobby watched him walk away with a heavy weight on his shoulders. He'd just lied to Jack and all he felt was a small stab of guilt to his stomach. He didn't have anything to do really, he jut needed to think. He gave a sad grin as he started up his car. He always did his best thinking while drinking.

Jack wandered around the neighborhood for an hour or so. He smiled at the kids playing in the streets, at the sight of the young boys wrestling. He missed that carefree, youthful feeling. A new thought stopped him cold. 'Before Ma, when was I ever carefree?' He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat and kept going.

The morning bled into the middle of the day. Jack had wandered till he found a bus going downtown. He ended up in front of a well known tattoo parlor. He smiled to himself as he went through the door, the chimes chirping lightly. So this was where he'd been headed. Ever since he was a young teen, he'd tune out and just let his body take him wherever he needed to go.

The guy behind the counter looked Jack over slowly. "Whatcha lookin' for kiddo?"

Jack frowned. "I got a new design in mind. You free?"

The guy nodded slowly. "Show me what you got"

After a few minutes debating the color, Jack was stripped to the waist and stretched over the tattoo chair. He clenched his teeth hard as he felt the needle start to dig. The first touch of the needle was the worst for him. Soon after, the pain melted into pleasure. Jack gave a hazy smile as the buzzing went straight to his groin. His endorphins flowing, he felt himself grow harder, lightly thrusting against the chair. The guy stopped. Jack gave a tiny moan of disappointment.

"Can't do the tat, if you don't hold still boyo" he said with a touch of laughter to his voice.

Jack flushed deeply as he realized how obvious he'd been as he'd humped away on the chair. "Sorry," he mumbled.

The guy continued with a smirk as Jack held perfectly still. He was almost afraid to move now, lest the guy think that he was getting off again.

Near the two hour mark, the guy announced that he'd finished. Jack stretched the kinks out of his neck as the guy disposed of the needles. Jack looked in the mirror. Perfect. The guy taped a small piece of protective covering over the new tattoo. As Jack walked up to the cash register, the guy stopped him. He didn't like the look in the guy's eyes. Jack tried to pull his arm free, but the guy held tight.

"Where you goin' in sucha hurry Baby? I bet you still got a mean hard on, don't ya" the guy said, leering at him.

Jack felt sick to his stomach. Oh good god not this. He started to really yank on his arm, small whimpers coming out of the side of his mouth.

The guy leaned close to his ear "I tell you what. You do me a favor, and I'll let you have this one free." Jack shuddered.

No fucking way he would blow this fat, sweaty fuck. With a sudden jolt of desperation, he yanked as hard as he could, finally pulling his arm loose. He punched the guy square in the face, curling his fist the way Bobby taught him. The guy howled in pain and fury.

Jack grabbed two twenties from his pocket and threw them on the counter. He was gone by the time the guy wiped some of the blood off his face. He sighed to himself. That boy had such a pretty mouth; he mourned the lost chance to feel it.

Jack ran for a few minutes before turning into a deserted alleyway. He rested his hands on his legs, gasping for breath. The shame would hit later but for now, all he felt was anger and disgust. Shit, his back hurt! The running had ripped the tape loose. He flattened it as best he could before heading for the bus again. Later, he reflected that forty bucks was probably too little. 'Fucker deserved it' he thought with a snort.

While Jack was riding the bus home in the mid-afternoon, Bobby was sitting in a club, waiting for happy hour to start.

Bobby had spent the better part of the day aimlessly driving around the city. At 4pm, he found a seedy looking bar that catered to his needs. He wanted to drown his emotions so badly at that moment. He worked on one beer after another, drifting happily on his buzz.

He let his thoughts wander to Jack, then to Ma, silently asking for her help. He didn't know what to do, and he wanted to make things right. Clearly Jack didn't think that Bobby truly loved him.

'So how do I prove it?' He mused to himself. He ordered another round of beer from the floozy waitress. She brought over a pitcher and said "Here, this'll make it faster Hun."

Bobby had smirked and thanked her in false politeness. She rolled her eyes and bounced away. Somewhere around the sixth beer, another sad sack had started pumping quarters into the jukebox. It groaned to life and wheezed out one mournful song after another.

Bobby leaned back in the booth, his head lolling on the seat as the music played on. One song merged into the next until one caught his ear. Another of Ma's favorite singers, Phil Collins, he thought blearily. He laughed a bit as he marveled at the fact that he could clearly remember that. The music continued as he perked his ears to listen more carefully.

"How can I just let you walk away, just let you leave without a trace?

When I stand here taking every breath with you

Ooh, you're the only one who really knew me at all."

He closed his eyes as the lyrics brought about the very feelings he was currently trying to drown. As sappy as the song was, Bobby was drawn into it. Jack had been the only brother who had ever seen more of the private him than the others.

"How can you just walk away from me when all I can do is watch you leave'

'cos we shared the laughter and the pain and even shared the tears. You're the only one who really knew me at all. So take a look at me now, well there's just an empty space

And there's nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face.

Oh take a look at me now, there's just an empty space .And you coming back to me is against the odds, and that's what I've got to face."

Bobby sighed as the memories assaulted him. The first most painful six months of his self-imposed exile. It had been worse than when he'd done time in jail. At least he'd had an obvious reason to have been there. Hell, even now he still wasn't sure why both of them had left.

'No, wait. Scratch that thought.' He knew exactly why he'd left. Jack had run scared and Bobby had left because everything about Jack had filled his senses. No matter where he went in the house that night, albeit drunkenly veering across the floor, he'd seen, smelled, and heard Jack. He had felt his presence everywhere in that place, so he'd ran, just as fast as Jack had.

He wondered exactly what he would have to do to convince Jack that they belonged together. He sighed in disgust as he realized how soppy his own inner voice sounded.

"I wish I could just make you turn around, turn around and see me cry.

There's so much I need to say to you, so many reasons why.

You're the only one who really knew me at all."

Bobby felt his eyes burn. 'I gotta get out of here, man. This song's killing me.'

He dropped several bills on the table, then weaved his way across the room. He stood in the sharp, cold wind, taking deep gulps of air. His mind a bit clearer, he wandered around the streets in the early evening. He tried to walk without wobbling; it was quite the uphill battle. The last thing he wanted was to get tagged by some rookie green cop.

He stopped every few minutes and leaned against the brick walls of the storefronts. After three hours of walking in circles, he made his way back to his car. His mind felt clearer now than it had in days. Sure, enough an afternoon of drinking helped him to think straight. He chuckled to himself as he listened to the engine turn over. Somehow he didn't think any normal doctor would prescribe Bobby Mercer's surefire cure for confusion.

Jack lay in bed, half asleep on his stomach when he heard the sound of Bobby's old car pull into the driveway. He yawned then as his eyelids fluttered closed. He felt so wrung out from the tension over the past week. He gave a sleepy smile as he heard Bobby curse at the door, struggling to get his key in properly. After a few moments of silence, Jack heard the sound of feet on the stairs. Bobby opened Jack's door with a bit too much force.

The bang echoed in the room. Jack lay very still and silent. He wasn't sure how drunk Bobby was but he sure as fuck could smell the booze from here. His past experience with drunken people was not the best. He'd only seen Bobby drunk a handful of times, and each time, he'd been more of a sleepy, silly drunk.

'Or was that just when he was buzzed' Jack thought, his teeth worrying away at his lips.

Bobby stared at the curve of Jack's back on the bed, eyes drawn to the pale strip of skin visible near his jeans. He lifted his eyes higher then and noticed a few drops of blood near the top of his back. His eyes widened. What the fuck? He stormed over to the bed.

Jack froze reflexively. He felt Bobby's hand rest in the middle of his back, right about where his new tattoo was. He relaxed under Bobby's gentle touch. Bobby stroked the skin lightly, his eyes dark with the desire to strip Jack and the urge to hurt whoever had made Jack bleed.

Jack's heart was beating a crazy, fast pattern. He held his breath as he felt Bobby lift his shirt higher. Bobby held his breath when he saw the plastic cover. He traced the edge of the makeshift bandage, softly pulling it away from Jack's skin. Jack held still, waiting to see what Bobby would do next.

After a moment of silence, Bobby made a strangled sound. His fingers returned to Jack's skin, now tracing the design. Jack had gotten medium sized angel wings on his back, grey-white wings with black shaded tips placed directly between his shoulder blades.

Jack turned over abruptly. He met Bobby's eyes and read the question in them.

"Ma saved me from a life of hell. She made me believe in miracles and angels. Ma was my angel. I may still be a fuck up, but she never gave up on me" Bobby nodded.

Jack felt a wave of relief sweep over him. It felt wonderful to have someone completely understand.

Jack rolled onto his side. Bobby pulled his shoes off, tossed his coat on the ground, and climbed into bed. He lay a foot away from Jack, carefully minding the space between them. He closed his eyes and tried to relax. Long agonizing moments later, Jack rolled over to him and whispered goodnight near his ear. Bobby shivered as he hardened almost instantly.

He blushed as he realized that being around Jack made his body act like a teenager again. He struggled in vain not to reach around and pull Jack close to him. Jack had fallen asleep soon after Bobby had crawled into bed. Bobby lay back, listening to Jack breathe. He felt calm now. Sober somehow, and calm.

In the morning, Jack found himself wrapped in Bobby's arms. He started to panic for a moment, until he felt the warmth seeping from him. Jack had never felt more safe or protected then when Bobby held him. He was still very drowsy, and he felt his eyelids drooping closed again. Bobby rubbed his head against Jack's shoulder, nuzzling closely.

They lay in that position for some time, before Jack reluctantly pulled away. He couldn't pretend that everything was ok. He wasn't ready for this. Jack sat on the edge of the bed, gripping the edges of the mattress with tight fingers.

Bobby rolled onto his back with a sigh. His head was spinning...wait, it was the room that was spinning. Bobby always managed to forget about the hangovers that followed his deep thinking sessions. He sat up and groaned as he stretched. Jack looked over at him with a small smile in the corner of his mouth.

"Tylenol?" he asked. Bobby nodded, grimacing at the taste in his mouth.

He watched Jack leave the room, marveling at the wings that moved with Jack's body. He wanted to touch them again, trace them with his tongue. He winced as his eyeballs gave off surges of pain. Jack returned with the Tylenol, then disappeared again.

Bobby made his way to the kitchen. He sat on one of the chairs with his hands over his head. 'So bright in here' he thought. Jack was moving quickly in the kitchen, clearly agitated. Bobby gave a near silent sigh as he watched Jack's hands.

After a quiet breakfast, Jack again disappeared while Bobby showered. Bobby searched the house till he spotted Jack's head in the backyard. He called to him from the door. Jack turned to face Bobby, little tendrils of fear planting themselves in his stomach. He trudged slowly up the stairs, his feet like cement. It was going to happen now, Jack knew.

The talk that they had been putting off.

Bobby paced back and forth in the living room. Jack stood in the doorway.

'Neutral ground' he thought to himself, his stomach doing back flips. One hand made its way to Jack's mouth and he chewed his index finger nail with much agitation.

Bobby turned and faced Jack, taking a deep breath. "I can't keep doin' this Jack. Acting like nothin' happened. We need to fix this and we're gonna do it even if it takes all fuckin' night."

Jack remained silent, his teeth working his nail faster. His eyes were wide and bright as he watched Bobby gesture with his hands.

"Damn it Jack, you have to talk to me! This ain't gonna fix it self y'know." With a disgusted sigh, Bobby sat down angrily.

Jack took one hesitant step towards entering the living room. "I'm not gonna hit you Jackie." Bobby sounded almost disappointed, Jack thought, his heart sinking.

"I know" he mumbled. Bobby looked up at him. "When have I ever hit you Jack? Did I ever punch you so I could hurt you?" Jack shook his head.

"So why are you acting like I'm gonna beat the living shit out of you?" he snapped, pushing a hand through his hair in frustration.

Jack blinked as Bobby's words sunk in a bit. "Sorry" he said, finally pulling his hand away from his mouth. "I just get…nervous sometimes."

Bobby gave a humorless laugh. "I don't know what hurts more Jack. The fact that part of you still thinks that after all this time I'd hit you or the fact that you're scared of being loved. I'd give anything to meet the fucker who put that thought in your head."

Jack's heart skipped a beat at the memory. "Let's just say I had it beat into me" he whispered.

He was startled to hear a low snarl come from Bobby. Bobby was holding one fist to the other, his arms shaking with the urge to break something.

"I know…that Ma loved me. I know that you guys love me…but Bobby, that's just brother love."

Bobby abruptly turned to face Jack. "I can't believe how blind you are sometimes"

Jack flushed an angry red. "I'm not doing this if that's all you got to say". He made a sound of disgust through his teeth and he started to walk through the door.

"Get your ass back in here Jack!" Bobby yelled from the living room. "We ain't finished yet."

Jack gave that same harsh laugh that Bobby remembered from the park two years ago.

"Oh yes, we are. I don't have to listen to you and as matter of fact; I think you're the one that's blind."

Bobby was out of the living room and standing in front of Jack before he could fully blink. Bobby got right up into Jack's face and spoke with a soft, deadly calm that sent chills up Jack's spine.

"I know what you're doing Jack. You think that if you start a fight, I'll back off, and you can run away again. Well guess again, my little fairy, you can say every hurtful thing you can think of, and I'll still be here. You can hit me, throw something at me, scream your lungs out, and we're still gonna finish this tonight."

Bobby backed up and watched Jack's face for a reaction. Within seconds Jack's face crumpled and he twisted away from Bobby.

"Why can't you just let me be? So what if I don't want to face this right now?" he said between shuddery breaths. He gathered his courage, forcefully told himself to be strong.

Bobby stared at Jack's hunched form in the kitchen in disbelief.

"Jack, I won't back down. I've never backed down from anything. I'm sure as fuck not gonna start now" he said quietly. Jack's shoulders twitched. The wings seemed to move on their own.

Jack turned around to face Bobby.

"What do you want from me? My apology for not being able to handle your confession? Well, fuck that. If anything you should apologize to me for chasing off yet another boyfriend!" Jack spat at him.

"What the fuck did you just say to me?" Bobby said, his eyes flashing. Jack ignored the warning in Bobby's eyes. He'd started this; Jack would finish it for them.

"You admitted it Bobby, it's too late to deny it. You chased them all off, and you never told me why till that night! Most of the time it happened behind my back so I wouldn't blame you! They all left, sure enough. And you wonder why I think that I'm not allowed to be loved. Every time I felt anything for a guy, as soon as someone told you, it was over" he snapped.

Bobby felt the anger rolling through him now. His stomach lurched with the urge to shake Jack. He felt the sweat prickle on the back of his neck. 'No, damn it. Control!' he yelled mentally. "I told you why I got rid of them" he said. Jack snorted.

"Ah yes, your confession. You wait till the exact worst moment to tell me that you love me. What did you expect me to say to you Bobby?" Jack shot back, his heart racing.

Bobby glared at him, masking the ripping pain in his chest. 'Fuck, this was snowballing so goddamn fast.'

"I never meant to tell you like that. I was…I wanted to tell you later but you just kept pushin' me Jackie. I wasn't gonna lie to you anymore about that" he said.

Jack rolled his eyes and sighed. Bobby felt the urge to smack that dirty look right off his face.

"Jack, I told you. Causing a fight isn't gonna get you out of this."

Jack made a bored sound and looked around the room.

"You little brat." Bobby said with a flare of temper. "It never worked with Ma, don't even try it with me."

Jack looked at his feet then, slightly embarrassed that he'd been so transparent.

Bobby stood in the kitchen with his arms crossed. Jack stood, propped against the wall, fiddling with his thumbs that were wrapped up in his long sleeve shirt. They spent a moment in complete silence.

Finally Bobby faced Jack and started. "Look, Jack, I know that you're scared. I know that I scared you the last time we were alone together. And I'm sorry; I never meant to hurt you."

Jack stared at his thumbs. "You don't understand Bobby" he whispered. Bobby sighed.

"What wouldn't I understand? You can't just avoid this…I'm not gonna just let you walk away again. That was a mistake I made before, it ain't gonna happen again. I love you too much to just let you leave."

Jack looked at a point over Bobby's shoulder. "You don't want me Bobby. You just think you do" Jack sniffed suddenly.

Bobby growled as he stalked over to Jack. "You can say whatever the fuck you want, Jackie. I'm not changing my mind. There's nothing you could tell me that would make me turn my back on you".

Jack glared moodily at his hands. "Why did you push them all away so much?"

Bobby smiled then, a grim, lopsided grin. "You don't know?"

Jack shook his head no. Bobby sighed. "I was jealous, Jack. I wanted you all for myself."

Jack's head shot up. With a small, sad smile, Bobby nodded. "I was so in love with you, I could hardly breathe. And every time I saw you with someone else, fuck…I felt like I was dying. I was too scared to tell you"

"And how do you feel now?" Jack held his breath as he waited for Bobby's answer.

"You really have to ask? Sweetheart, if I didn't love you so much, I would have given up a long time ago." Jack laughed softly as he realized how stupid they both had been.

They stared at each other as the realization dawned over them. "Do you think Ma knew?" Jack asked.

"I think she always knew, Jack." Bobby said.

He leaned his forehead against Jack's bowed head. Jack's heart started to slow down. His eyes blurred with unshed tears. They leaned into each other, absorbing the strength and warmth each provided. Jack's shoulders were shaking lightly with the urge to run. He still felt the pull to run away and hide.

Jack broke the silence a moment later. "Why do you love me?" he asked, looking deep into Bobby's eyes.

Bobby smiled and let his love shine through for a moment. "This is gonna sound real sappy Jack, but I've always loved you. The first time that you walked through our door, all scared and nervous; I just wanted to scoop you up and keep you safe. I love everything about you; I love you even when you're being a total brat."

"I'm sorry about the way you found out, but I'm not sorry that I told you." Bobby said as he suddenly hugged Jack hard, leaving him gasping for air.

He released Jack then, and they looked at each other. Jack dropped his eyes.

"I'm sorry I ran. It scares the shit out of me, the idea that you could love someone like me." Bobby gave another frustrated sigh.

"There's nobody else that I could possibly want the way I want you" he said. Jack ran his hands through Bobby's hair, mussing it gently. Bobby made a throaty groan as he felt Jack's long fingers slide along his scalp.

Bobby pulled back a bit and gazed at Jack. Jack closed his eyes as he leaned forward. Bobby met his lips with a small moan.

'Finally!' his mind screamed. The kiss sent tingling sparkles of arousal through the both of them. Jack felt it all the way down to his toes. The kiss deepened, their mouths parting slowly, tongues meeting, hesitantly at first, then bolder after a moment. Jack pulled back, his arms still loosely wrapped around Bobby's waist.

Bobby placed small, soft kisses on Jack's throat, Jack trembling with desire at the feather light touches ghosting over his sensitive neck. Bobby moaned as Jack's hand snuck between their bodies and pulled him closer. Jack panted as they bumped against each other through their jeans. He made a tiny whine when Bobby pulled back a second to adjust himself.

With rapid snaps of their hips, they ground against each other. Jack was frantically pleading, begging Bobby not to stop. Bobby groaned as he felt his body tightening. His hips jerked faster as he moved against Jack. Jack cried out as he came, hot, hard and fast. Bobby followed close behind, chuckling as he pulsed.

"There's something about you Jackie, that makes me feel like a teenager." Bobby said between gasps. Jack smiled as he licked the sweat off Bobby's temple.

"It's a gift" he said simply. Bobby laughed as he pulled away.

"Don't go gettin' full of yourself" he chided gently. Jack grinned as he went to the fridge and pulled out a carton of juice.

Later that day, the two of them lay in bed, wrapped around each other, both hazy from pleasure and exhaustion. Bobby nuzzled his head into Jack's neck for the second time that day.

He paused, then asked Jack to turn over. Jack rolled over and gave him an inquiring glance.

"What is it Bobby?" he asked softly. Bobby hesitated, then plowed ahead.

"Do…do you love me? You didn't mention it downstairs and I just was wondering…" he trailed off.

A look of understanding dawned in Jack's eyes. He smiled at Bobby and kissed him sweetly.

"Of course I do Bobby. That's kinda why I was so upset when you told me that you loved me. I thought you were just saying it. I was too scared to believe that you loved me as much I love you".

Bobby smirked then and he gripped Jack hard.

"Don't we sound like a pair of old, romantic fools?" Jack laughed.

"I don't mind" he said.

Later that night, when Jerry stopped by to make sure that Bobby and Jack hadn't killed each other, he'd found them wrapped tightly around each other, deeply asleep. He smiled then.

'It's about fuckin' time' he thought as he turned to leave.