Title: The Art of Easter Eggs

Author: veiledndarkness

Rating: PG

Summary: Jack's not speaking but Evelyn is sure there's a way to break through.

Warnings: The usual I suppose about them not being mine. This takes place several years before the movie. I figure I placed Jack around 11, maybe 12. And I know technically that Easter was a few weeks ago, but lately I've been running a few steps behind.

Evelyn set the last bowl on the table and smiled with satisfaction. 'There' she thought, her mouth set in a small smile. "Now to convince the boys" she muttered. She wiped her hands off on the nearby hand towel. In the living room, she found Jerry sprawled across the floor, his textbooks open, and an intense look of concentration on his face as he worked over a series of math questions.

"Still hard at it Jeremiah?" she asked. He nodded absently.

"How would you feel about a short break?" she asked carefully. Jerry swiveled his head around to flash one of his bright smiles at her.

"Shi…uh hell yeah Ma," he said with a sheepish grin. As he climbed to his feet, a thought occurred to him. "This isn't one of those 'good for you' breaks right?" he asked, somewhat nervous now. She gave a short laugh.

"It's good for everyone, I promise you." Jerry sighed as he followed behind her. "I've heard that before" he said sullenly, looking back longingly at his homework.

"Come now Jerry, cheer up. Now where is Angel hmm?" she said as she headed for the stairs. "You go sit in the kitchen. I'll be back with Angel in a moment."

Upstairs, she found Angel stretching, going through his warm-up exercises. She watched him for a moment before he realized that someone was in the doorway. He stopped mid pushup and waited silently. "Sorry to interrupt you Angel but I'd like your help."

Angel sat back on his heels. "Sure. With what?" he said. 'Not a man of many words. Well, boy really' She chuckled to herself. Angel was younger than Jerry, yet he was taller, more filled out. No doubt thanks to his repeated exercises.

"Well you see I'd like to show Jack what it means to celebrate Easter. And I thought that if all of my boys were there to show him, then maybe he'd feel a bit more comfortable."

Angel thought this over and nodded. He'd figured that this would have had something to do with Jack. "Still hasn't said a word huh?" he muttered as he stood up.

Evelyn sighed, her eyes dimming a bit. "No. I'm starting to wonder if there was more damage done than the workers would admit to," she said sadly.

"Maybe he just doesn't wanna talk," Angel said. She nodded.

"He'll come around. I'm sure of it," she said, as she forced herself not to dwell on Jack's refusal to utter a single word in anybody's presence. She led Angel downstairs and had him sit in the kitchen with Jerry, who was currently balancing a spoon on his hand and flipping it every so often.

"Do either of you know where Bobby is?" Both boys shook their heads. "I wonder…do you think he's still in the garage?"

Angel smirked then. "Well wherever Bobby is, you'll find Jack". Evelyn gave him a light smack upside the head.

"That's enough out of you Angel Mercer." He ducked his head. "Sorry Ma".

Evelyn grabbed her coat from the hook in the hallway and slipped on her boots. "Be right back boys," she called. She made her way across the still slightly frozen ground. "You'd think by April, the ground would thaw a little," she grumbled as she neared the garage.

Inside working yet again on his broken down car, was indeed Bobby. He swore angrily as he threw down his grease rag, exasperation clearly showing on his face. He caught a glimpse of Evelyn in the rearview mirror.

"Oh, hey Ma," he said.

"There you are Bobby. I was hoping you would want to come inside to help me." He started walking over to her immediately.

"Course Ma. Whatcha need?" he said, wiping his hands on a cleaner towel.

"I'll explain it once we go inside. Is Jack with you?" she said as she craned her neck looking to catch sight of the boy.

Bobby looked around the room, his eyes scanning for where he'd last seen Jack. He sighed to himself as he saw a slight movement behind a pile of tires. He'd known that Jack had been in the garage the whole time.

Since the first day that Ma had walked through the door with him behind her legs, Jack had spent every moment that Bobby was in the house silently trailing him. Watching him, but never speaking. He always stayed a few steps out of the way. Bobby had tried to start conversations but Jack had just stared at his feet. Finally, Bobby gave up trying to get a response and just accepted the fact that Jack would follow and watch him.

"He's behind the tires, Ma," he said. They exchanged glances. Evelyn nodded and moved towards the stack slowly. Bobby bit back a grin at the way she moved, as if approaching a wary animal.

"Jack, would you like to come inside with us?" she asked softly. Jack shook his head, his hair falling in messy layers over his face.

"Are you sure? I think you'd enjoy it," she said. Jack just stared back at her. She turned back to Bobby and straightened up. "Could you try?" she asked, a hint of sadness in her voice. Bobby nodded and gestured to her.

"Go inside Ma, I'll be right there."

Once she had left, Bobby walked over to the pile of tires. He picked up one of his tools and examined it. He spoke then, almost absently as he rubbed a fleck of grease off with his thumb.

"I'm thinkin' of heading in. Kinda cold out here. I bet I could get something to eat inside too."

He waited a moment. "Yeah, that's what I'll do." He put the tool down and walked slowly back over to the front of the door. As he put one foot outside the garage, he heard the faint sound of feet scuffling across the cement. He smiled. 'Well at least I can get him inside' he thought with a grin. He wasn't sure why, but every instinct in his body wanted to help this kid, more than any other that had come and gone from their house throughout the years.

Bobby entered the house, Jack five steps behind him. Evelyn said nothing as she saw Jack trailing behind Bobby, though she gave a silent prayer of thanks. Bobby washed his hands at the sink, while Jack stood half way in the doorway, half out taking in the scene with wide eyes. Bobby sat down in one of the chairs and looked at everything that was on the table.

With a bewildered look on his face, he turned to Evelyn and shrugged. "What the hell is all this?"

She smiled. "This is how we celebrate Easter. Surely you remember that we do this each year."

Bobby thought hard, and then grinned. "Sorry Ma, guess I forgot."

"So long as you help out Bobby," she said as she patted the table. Jerry looked over the bowl of eggs that Evelyn had placed on the table moments before. He wondered how in the world she was going to get Jack to join in.

"Come on now, these eggs aren't going to color themselves." She said brightly. Jack watched from the doorway as they began to sturdy the eggs on the metal dippers.

Angel felt ridiculous holding each egg carefully as he traced designs on them with crayons. At his age, the last thing he wanted to do was dip eggs for Easter. He glanced over and saw Jerry break one of his eggs as he drew on it too forcefully.

"Shit," he muttered fiercely, a scowl on his face.

"That's fine, here's another one," Evelyn said as she handed the egg to him.

Bobby took the most time with his eggs. Each one was carefully drawn on and dipped slowly so that a multitude of colors showed up. His tongue poked out of the side of his mouth as he lifted the egg slowly out of the dye. Evelyn watched the boys as a sense of pride filled her. She could see Jack edging closer to the table out of the corner of her eye. He clearly felt more comfortable when no one was watching him.

Jack moved close to Bobby's side of the table. He slipped into the empty seat silently, his eyes on Bobby's hands the whole time. Evelyn placed an egg in front of Jack without making eye contact. She kept her eyes on Jerry as he swore softly when he messed up one of his eggs again. Jack poked at his egg in surprise as he debated whether or not to try and color it. He'd never been allowed to do arts and crafts in a home before. During his brief periods in which he attended school, he'd always sat off in the corner, unwilling to join in.

He watched the older boys now and felt the urge for the first time to try what they were doing. Jack picked up one of the crayons and rolled it between his fingers, enjoying the waxy feel of it. He smelled the crayon quickly before anyone could glance over at him. He slowly started to draw simple jagged lines, similar to what Bobby had done with one of his eggs.

As he drew on the egg, Evelyn blinked away a tear. She was so proud of Jack for sitting with them. It wasn't much, but it was a start. After some time, Jack was ready to dip his egg. He fumbled with the egg, unable to get it to sit right on the wire. He made a grumbling sound of frustration as the egg rolled off again. Bobby watched Jack's face get darker with anger. He put his own eggs down and reached over to Jack.

"Here, ya gotta slide it on an angle, otherwise it just falls, see?" he said as he put the egg in the right position. Jack nodded, his eyes shinning with happiness.

Evelyn watched the look on Jack's face with a small tendril of unease making its way through her stomach. The look was one of …worship. It made her nervous. She wasn't sure exactly what to make of it. She gave a soft smile then. She supposed that in a few years, she'd have to keep a closer eye on those two.

After Bobby showed him how to dip, Jack began to smile and make soft giggling sounds every so often. Angel rolled his eyes, but ruined the effect by letting a small smile escape. Jerry laughed out loud, drawing Bobby's attention.

"You wanna say somethin'?" he said, his voice quiet but firm.

"Never knew you were so good at, y'know…dipping," Jerry said with a smirk, his eyebrows wiggling at the implication.

Silence reigned over the table.

After a moment, a soft, steady voice said "Go suck an egg Jerry!"

All eyes turned to Jack who was trembling with the urge to run and the urge to yell. Bobby broke the silence by laughing so hard he had to rest his head on the table. Angel snorted then broke into laughter as well. Jerry sat back a surprised smile on his face.

Evelyn laughed as she patted Jack's hand. 'Well if that had to be the first thing he said to them, so be it.' She thought with a grin.