Title : A Stolen Birthday Wish

Rating: Pg 13 to me for swearing and mild violence.

Disclaimer: not mine, never will be. Warning: Mentions of pre-slash

In honor of Mark Wahlberg's 35th Birthday today!

Hmm, I guess I'm going with the movie ages this time. Bobby's 25 so that would make Jack about 14.

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Jack watched fearfully as the mall security guard hung up the phone, his beefy fingers plunking the receiver down slowly. He gave Jack a nasty grin as he sat back in his chair.

"You'll be happy to know that I got a hold of someone at your house" he sneered.

Jack felt the first stirrings of panic rise in his stomach. 'Ma's gonna kill me' he thought despondently.

"You thought you could steal somethin' from my mall and not get caught?" the guard asked. Jack glared back at him defiantly. He knew the guard didn't want him to answer.

"Look at you. Little fuckin' punk, just like all the others, hair all over the place, jeans around your ankles. You look like freaks, all of you! Think you can just take whatever you want, rules don't apply to you. Let me tell ya something! I catch you anywhere near this mall again while I'm here, I'll personally beat some sense into you!" he spat, his face turning an alarming shade of purplish red.

Jack rolled his eyes but kept his mouth shut. Same old spiel. He'd heard a hundred times. The guard continued to rant at him for awhile, Jack continued to block the sound of his voice out. Finally, he sat back in his chair and grabbed his folded newspaper to read while they waited.

Jack sighed softly as he crossed his arms over his chest. He hadn't meant to get caught; he hadn't gotten caught in well over six months. 'Stupid rent-a-cop' he thought viciously as he kicked at a scuff mark on the faded linoleum. A sudden worry flashed through his mind then. 'He never said who answered' he thought as his throat closed up with panic.

He leaned forward in his chair, one eye on the guard as he struggled to breathe. 'Don't panic, it's ok, maybe Ma picked up. Yeah, Ma's home about now. Yeah, Ma. Or Angel, oh please god if you're listening, let it be Angel!' he prayed feverently.

Jack watched the hands on the clock move slowly, ticking loudly, each passing minute felt like eternity to Jack as he waited. The guard noisily turned the pages, rustling his paper and clearing his throat every so often. Jack mentally thought over what he was going to say when Ma (or for the love of god, Angel) came to get him.

He felt a sinking feeling as he remembered then that Angel had told them all this morning that he was leaving early today for the base today. He scanned his memory quickly, straining to recall if Jerry had been in the house at all today. 'Shit!' he thought miserably. Jerry hadn't been by in two or three days.

He breathed through his nose shallowly. 'If Angel's not home, and Jerry wasn't over, and what if Ma wasn't there, then that means...' he trailed off. Oh god. Bobby must have answered. He felt a terrible sense of unease at the thought. He could handle Ma's disappointed face or even anger at his actions, but the thought of Bobby being disappointed with him made Jack feel sick to his stomach.

30 Minutes Earlier

Bobby had been laying on his, well technically Jack's bed, attempting to sleep off his hangover. He had stumbled in around eight thirty that morning, wobbling dangerously as he flopped down onto the bed, his shoes still on. Some of the guys at the bar had toasted him with one drink after another celebrating the fact that he had lived to be 25. The last thing he could clearly think of was that he was grateful that Jack had already left for school that morning. He grimaced at the thought of Jack seeing him this plastered.

'Kid's seen enough fucked up shit, last thing he needs to see is you falling down drunk' he mumbled to himself as he fell asleep, his soft snores muffled by the bedspread.

Now, the ringing of the shrill phone was blasting through his eardrums. He groaned as he propped himself up on one elbow and waited to see if anybody was going to pick it up. After the fourth ring, he sighed loudly. Rolling quickly out of bed and wincing as his head flared with renewed pain, he ran to Ma's room to grab the phone by her bedside.

"H'lo" he barked into the phone.

He listened for a minute before sighing again and resting his head on the wall beside the phone. "Yeah, I'll be there soon."

He dropped the phone with a disgruntled snort.

"Fuck" he swore quietly. Five hours of sleep had taken the edge off his hangover but now, his head throbbed as he realized that this meant he'd have to drive to go pick up Jack and to do so meant going out in the unforgiving sunlight.

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Jack watched the door with blank eyes. He didn't want the guard to see how nervous he was. He glanced back and forth between the door and the clock. With each passing moment, he was more and more convinced that Ma wasn't coming to get him.

He looked over to the guard's desk and sighed. He could still see the slight shine of the silver cross pendant on the desk blotter. He wished briefly that he had the courage to just reach over, grab it, and run as fast as he could. 'Bobby would' he thought glumly.

If asked, Jack would furiously deny just how much he envied Bobby. He looked upon his oldest brother as something to be envious of, someone who was never scared, and someone who was tough as nails, who took no shit from anybody. And that was everything that he wanted to be.

His ears twitched a bit as he heard the sound of footsteps in the hallway outside the door. He sat silently waiting, holding his breath as the doorknob turned. The guard dropped his paper and gave Jack another evil grin.

As Jack had feared, Bobby stormed through the door, appearing larger than life to him. He slammed the door behind him, sending all of Jack's hopes that Bobby wouldn't freak out on him down the drain. He shivered lightly at the look on Bobby's face.

The guard gave him a through once over, his eyes beginning to bulge as he realized exactly who was standing in front of him. "You!" he began to sputter.

Bobby nodded. "Me" he said, his eyes cold and dark.

The guard turned the same shade of red as earlier. "This kid is your brother!" he yelled.

Bobby smiled then, a fierce and toothy grin. He remembered this guy, oh the years of tormenting this fat fuck.

Bobby took two brisk steps over to the desk and propped himself with his hands flat and stared until the guard sat down again. "So what's this I hear about you callin' my brother a thief?" he asked almost politely.

The guard glared up at him, his cheeks puffed with anger. "He is a thief, we caught him red handed in the store."

Bobby looked down at the desk and spied the silver chain. "All this for a fuckin' chain?" he asked, one eyebrow raised in annoyance. The guard shot Bobby a filthy look of contempt.

"I'm not scared of you, Mercer! I know who you are, you and all those fucked up brothers of yours. Everyone knows what kind of trash you all are. Your mother's delusional if she thinks that you guys are worth the effort!" he spat angrily.

"And now we got ourselves another fucking Mercer running through the mall doing what he wants and you think I'm gonna let this slide. Next time, it'll be a damned car that he steals!" he added, his face passing red and moving into a purple shade again.

"You guys belong in jail, all of you! Get this fuckin' loser outta my sight Mercer, or I'll call the poli-..."

During his speech, Bobby had felt the telltale tingling in his palms as his fury boiled over.

He walked around the edge of the desk and grabbed the guy around the neck with one hand as he brought the guard's face close to his.

"You say what you want about me, you sweaty bastard, but you sure as fuck ain't gonna talk about any of my brothers or my mother while I'm around to hear it. I find out you been talking shit about my family, and I'm gonna pay you another visit, only next time I'll cut your fuckin' balls off and shove them down your goddamn throat" he said, his voice frozen with anger and outrage.

"Now, I want you to apologize to my baby brother for being so rude" Bobby said with a malicious smirk on his face as he dragged the guard over to Jack, who had been staring at Bobby's his mouth hanging open in shock.

The guard's mouth opened and closed like a fish as he tried to shake his head. Bobby tightened his grip slowly. The guard gasped as he clawed at Bobby's vice-like grip. He sagged abruptly and closed his eyes.

"...sorry..." he garbled. Bobby shook him like a rag doll.

"What was that? Speak up you piece of shit!" he yelled in the guard's ear.

"S-sorry, sorry" he gasped. Bobby dropped him then, a wide grin on his face.

"That's better. I hope for your sake that you remember what I told you" he said. He turned back to the desk and scooped up the silver chain and cross pendant and dropped it in his coat pocket. He kicked the guard roughly with his leg, then placed his foot on his chest and leaned down a bit.

"Nobody fucks around with a Mercer. I thought you would have learned that years ago."

Bobby kicked the guard once more for good measure. He started for the door, and then turned and smiled at Jack, a real smile. "You comin'?" he asked.

Jack shook his head quickly and jumped up out of his chair. He glanced back at the prone body of the still gasping, wheezing security guard. Bobby chuckled beside him dryly. "Don't look back, he ain't worth it."

They walked through the mall, Bobby making his way through the crowds easily, Jack close by at his side.

"Won't you get in trouble?" Jack asked, the words coming out of his mouth faster than he could stop them.

Bobby snorted. "Not fuckin' likely. That old prick should have realized when he caught you just who was gonna be dealing with. Now Jackie, tell me why you stole something?"

Jack blushed. "Well...I...wanted to uh, get you something" he mumbled into his chest. He waited a moment then lifted his head to look at Bobby, his heart pounding wildly.

Bobby smiled at him, another real smile that made Jack feel warm. "For me?"

Jack nodded. "Ma said it was your birthday this morning and I saw that chain and..." he trailed off, embarrassed.

"Do...do you like it?" he asked hopefully, his eyes wide with fear and love.

Bobby slung an arm around Jack's shoulder and pulled him close. "It's great kiddo. I like it. You didn't have to steal it though. Ma would have helped you."

Jack closed his eyes. Here came the disappointment from Bobby. "I didn't think she would give me the money, so I grabbed it" he whispered.

Bobby laughed then. "I guess this where I go into Big Brother mode and tell you not to steal anymore, right? Nah, that ain't me. Just don't get caught hmm? And don't tell Ma that either huh" he said as he nudged Jack.

Jack felt a weight lift off his chest at Bobby's words. "Sorry" he muttered.

"No prob. You worry too much ya little fairy" Bobby said. He fingered the necklace in his pocket with his left hand absently smiling as he thought about the lengths that Jack had gone to just to get him something for his birthday. He hugged Jack a bit closer, feeling loved.

It felt good.