Summary: Jack Mercer has been through so much in his life, but when he becomes seriously ill during his junior year in high school, will he even have the will to continue to fight for his life?

AN: This isn't my first story, but it is the first one I've written that involves doctors and hospitals and all that jazz, so please don't give me too hard of a time if I don't get everything exactly right, but I will do the best I can to make it seem realistic. And also, I decided to change the ages of the brothers to make it fit the story more so Jack is 16 and a junior, Angel is 17 and is a senior, Jerry is 19 and going to school at a local college, and Bobby is 21 and lives in a small apartment close-by.

C h a p t e r O n e

Jack shut his locker and rested his head against the cool metal. He felt extremely tired and it wasn't even noon yet. He closed his eyes, wishing for the time to fly by so he could go home and sleep. At least it was Friday, so he would have the whole weekend to get some rest.

"Whoa... you look like shit," Monica Mitchell said bluntly as she approached Jack's locker. Monica and Jack had been best friends ever since he moved to Detroit in 6th grade.

Jack turned around and opened his eyes. "I could say the same for you," he shot back dully.

"Hey," she said defensively, holding up her hands in a surrendering manner. "I'm just stating the obvious. No need to get all pissed off."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you, I'm just really tired."

"Jeez, I swear you're more moody than me sometimes." She looked up, appearing to be in deep thought, before adding, "You have been looking paler than normal lately... if that's even possible..."

Jack couldn't help but smile. She always seemed to make him laugh even when he tried his hardest to be mad at her.

"Seriously though, you should go see a doctor or something. I'm kind of worried about you." Jack smirked at her last comment. "Repeat that to anyone and I'll kill you," she added.

"I always knew you wanted me—" he began when the bell rang, cutting him off and signaling the beginning of class.

"Shit." Jack and Monica said in unison before hurrying down the hall towards Mrs. Holladay's English class. Jack opened the door and they walked inside. Unfortunately, Mrs. Holladay had already begun class so they couldn't slip in unnoticed.

"Jack, Monica. How nice of you to join us," she said turning from the board to face them.

"Mrs. Holladay, how nice of you to finally shave of that beard of yours." Jack said, sitting down in his seat. The rest of the class snickered and Monica gave their teacher an apologetic look before also sitting in her desk.

"I'll be expecting you both this afternoon for a two hour detention."

Jack rolled his eyes. "No fucking way." He didn't have time for this.

"Mr. Mercer, shall I make it three?"

"Whatever," he said, slumping down in his chair.

The rest of the day went by somewhat slowly, and Jack couldn't wait to get out of there when the last bell finally rang. He walked to his locker to put away some text books and saw Monica already there waiting for him.

"Hey," he greeted as he opened his locker and shoved the books inside.

"I figured we could head over to the detention room together," she said, picking at her nail polish.

"Oh yeah." Jack said as he swung his backpack over his shoulder. "I kinda forget about that."

"Well... that's what you have me for," Monica replied, still picking at her nails.

Jack shrugged. "I'm not going."

"Why not?"

"Cause I don't feel like it."

"Suit yourself, I can't afford a Saturday school for skipping one measly detention." She said before turning around and heading for the detention room down the hall. "Call me later."

Jack headed home. It was snowing outside and his jacket didn't seem to be doing much against the cold, but luckily he only lived a few blocks away. When he reached the house and walked inside, almost immediately smelling the aroma of his mother's cooking.

"Hey Ma," he said as walked past the kitchen on his way up to his room.

"Hi honey!" she said back in her usually cheerful voice. "Dinner will be ready in about an hour."

" 'Kay." When he reached his room he immediately threw his backpack down and practically collapsed on his bed. Angel normally stayed out for a while after school and Jerry didn't normally get home until around five o'clock so Jack knew he would have at least a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Downstairs Evelyn finished dinner just as Jerry walked in the door.

"Ahh, you made it just in time." Evelyn greeted her son.

"Great, I'm starving," he said, setting his bags down.

"Will you go get your brothers for me?"

"Yeah, sure." Jerry headed up the stairs. Angel was downstairs in a hurry, but Jack wasn't so easy to get up.

"Jack, get your ass out of bed and get downstairs already." Jerry said, starting to lose his patience.

"I'm not hungry," he said, still not moving.

"You're never hungry." Jerry said, grabbing Jack's arm and practically dragged him out of bed and downstairs to the kitchen table.

They said grace and everyone began to eat, except Jack. As usual, Angel and Jerry eating as if it were their last meal.

"Jack, are you feeling alright?" Evelyn asked, concern etched in her voice. "You're not eating anything."

Jack continued to rearrange the food on his plate with his fork. "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just not hungry."

"You don't look fine. Maybe we should take you to the doctor."

Jack shook his head. He hated doctors. "Can I be excused? I'm really tired." He stood up and put his plate in the sink.

Evelyn gave him another concerned look but let him leave anyway.

Jack was about halfway up the stairs when he suddenly felt dizzy. Shaking it off, he continued upstaris and went into his room. He laid back on his bed and rubbed his temples. No matter how much he tried to convince himself, he knew he was anything but fine.