AN: My first venture into the Four Brothers fandom. This story is very AU: Bobby and Angel are brothers and are the only two that were adopted by Evelyn. Jerry is Bobby's best friend, and Jack is just a teenager on the streets. For this story, their ages are as follows: Bobby is 25, Jerry is 23, Angel is 19, and Jack is 16. I have four chapters written already, which will be posted in intervals based on how quickly I get to writing the other chapters (which may not be too quickly, depending on how much my professors wanna torture me until winter break).
Disclaimer: I don't own Four Brothers or anything associated with that universe (if I owned Mark Wahlberg, I would sit him in front of me and make him recite his lines from "The Departed" for all eternity).
"What can I getcha?"
Jack looked up from where he was idly tracing lines with his finger along the surface of the bar, his mind still in a post-show fog and his ears ringing with the songs of his last set. Playing seedy, run down bars certainly wasn't anywhere near his dream of rock star status, but he couldn't deny the rush he got playing in front of a live crowd. His adrenaline was still flowing, making his heart pump rapidly in his chest and his legs bounce with unused energy.
"Beer," he said, with all the feigned assurance of a man twice his age and self-confidence. The bartender looked at him skeptically, smirking, before pulling a beer out of the cooler, popping the cap and sliding it over to him. Jack nodded his thanks, taking a long swig and wiping his mouth with his sleeve. When he set the bottle down, he noticed the bartender was still staring at him. "What?"
"You're not 21," the bartender observed, folding his arms across his chest and leaning against the side of the bar. His brown hair was slicked back, and Jack instantly wrote him off as a guy who thought he was a hard ass, a hot shot. However, his battered Redwings jersey, complete with faded bloodstains, along with the obvious beginnings of a black eye, made Jack think that maybe there was legitimacy behind the perceived arrogance.
"No shit," Jack mumbled, taking another swig. He looked at the bartender over his bottle, trying to read him. No luck; he was still smirking, as if to say maybe I'm fucking with you, maybe I'm not. Do you wanna press your luck? Jack decided he did. "Got a problem with that?"
The bartender shrugged, reaching for a towel and slinging it over his shoulder. "Who me? Nah, I got no problem with that at all." He grabbed a glass from behind him and began wiping it down. Jack was almost relieved for the distraction; something about the other man's gaze was beginning to unnerve him.
"However," the bartender continued, holding the glass up to the light, as if to inspect it, "my friends down at the police department...well, they might have something to say about it. And then it's your problem."
"Hmm, serving alcohol to a minor," Jack said, barely above a murmur, mirroring the bartender's actions and inspecting his own beer bottle. He looked up, raising his eyebrows. "Problem?"
The bartender snorted. "Good one, kiddo," he said, nodding his approval as he set the glass down, taking another beer from the cooler. He popped the top and poured the contents into the glass. "You think I have fuckin' friends in the police department? I practically live there. We're like one big happy goddamn family."
"Glad to hear it," Jack said absently, resting his elbow on the bar and propping his head up with his hand. He was feeling the beginnings of a post-adrenaline headache. He closed his eyes briefly, hearing nothing but the buzz of the crowd, the occasional drunken yell, and the sound of his own breathing. When he reopened his eyes, the bartender was still there, leaning back and holding the glass in one hand. "What?"
"You've gotta be fuckin'...sixteen at the oldest," he chuckled, taking a drink of his beer. "That your band makin' all that fuckin' racket just a minute ago?"
"Yup, that's my band," Jack said, suddenly feeling slightly defensive and a bit intimidated that the bartender had guessed his age correctly. Here's one advantage of looking older than you really are. "And I'm nineteen," he lied.
The bartender raised his eyebrows, whistling. "Big man," he said, smirking again and offering a hand. "Bobby Mercer."
"Jack," was all the younger man offered in return, taking Bobby's hand for a quick shake. However, when Bobby's hand touched his, he felt a spark pass between their fingers, almost like an electrical shock. He pulled his hand back quickly, shaking it for emphasis. "Fuck, that hurt."
"It's only fuckin' static, ya pussy," Bobby said. Normally, if someone Jack had just met called him a pussy out of the blue, he wouldn't have hesitated to land a punch right on the side of the other guy's face. Something felt different with Bobby, though...like this banter was normal, like they'd done this before. Even though they'd just met...
"So...just Jack, huh?" Bobby asked, breaking the awkward silence as Jack stared down at his hand. "No last name?"
"Maybe," Jack said, not looking up. "Maybe not."
"No nickname?" Bobby persisted. "What about Jackie? Can I call you Jackie?"
"No," Jack said, shaking his head and reaching for his beer again. "Just Jack."
"Alright, Jackie," Bobby said, finishing off his beer and setting the glass down on the counter. "I gotta go take care of some V.I.P.'s down at the other end. You lemme know when you're ready for round two."
Jack nodded, finishing his own beer and looking down to the end of the bar, where a couple of large black men sat, looking slightly out of place in their nice clothes and large coats. Something about the guy sitting in the middle – the one with the big, furry white coat – made Jack's stomach twist a little. He shook his head, looking quickly to the man directly to the right of the coat guy...but something about him – his long, thin goatee that pointed straight down – made Jack nervous as well. He suddenly felt shaky and cold, very cold, although his shoulder was beginning to burn...
"Fuck!" Jack jumped about a mile off of his stool as a hand came down on his shoulder. He whirled around, coming face to face with his band's bassist, Chad, and a tall, skinny blonde with too much eye make-up on her face and too much alcohol in her system clinging to his arm. He rubbed his shoulder, feeling a dull ache there. "You scared the shit out of me."
"Sorry, dude," Chad apologized half-heartedly, looking at Jack curiously. "You okay? You're a little pale, man."
"Fine," Jack said. He looked at the girl and raised an eyebrow. "Going home?"
"Yeah. You coming?"
"I told you, man," Jack said, running a hand through his hair, exasperated. "I'm not gonna crash at your place every night. Especially not when you have...company."
Chad shrugged, looking unfazed. "Whatever. If you end up sleeping on a park bench, just make sure you don't get pissed on by some old, homeless perv."
Jack rolled his eyes, turning back around to face the bar again. Bobby was still at the other end, having what appeared to be a rather heated discussion with the guys there. "Thanks for your concern, Chad."
Chad might have said something else, but Jack's attention was now fixed on Bobby, whose conversation he could hear in fragments above the din of the crowd. He was leaning in close to the man with the furry coat, one hand gripping the bar tightly while the other gestured pointedly in front of him.
"...problem with Jer...my concern...leave him the fuck alo...understand?"
Jack glanced at the coat man again, and once again felt a shiver go down his spine, making the hair on the back of his neck stand up and goosebumps cover his arms. He suddenly felt uncomfortable, not solely for himself, but for the fact that Bobby was down there with them. He didn't want Bobby down there. He wanted Bobby back here, away from Victor Sweet, talking to him, protecting him...
What? Where the fuck had that come from? He'd just met Bobby minutes ago. What the hell made him think that Bobby was going to protect him? What made him think he wanted Bobby's protection, anyway? And...who was Victor Sweet?
"Yo, Jackie-o." Bobby was back, then, placing another beer in front of him. "Round two comin' atcha."
"Thanks," Jack mumbled, popping off the top and taking a very long drink. He needed a buzz, and fast...he was thinking way too much. "Take care of your boys down there?"
Bobby practically snarled. "Those aren't my boys. And as for takin' care of them...let's just say that's for another time and place."
Jack snorted. "You don't seem like the type to back down from a fight."
"Who said they wanted to start the fight?" Bobby asked, turning around to straighten up the counter a little. "Anyway, I'd like to keep my job. I'm not gonna start shit right now."
"Says the Michigan Mauler," Jack mumbled, taking another drink, then practically choking as he realized what had just come out of his mouth. What the hell...the Michigan Mauler? What the fuck is that?
When Jack looked up, Bobby had turned back around, staring at him like he had suddenly sprouted another head. He felt his cheeks begin to burn, and he shrugged, fiddling with the label on his bottle. "You play hockey, right?" What? How did I know...?
"Yeah..." Bobby said skeptically, leaning forward against the bar as if to say go on, I'm waiting.
"Yeah, well, you've got quite the reputation," Jack said, shrugging again. "My friend plays hockey, too."
Bobby stayed silent for a minute, staring at Jack with an unreadable look in his eyes, his head cocked slightly to the side. Jack stared back, trying to find something recognizable in Bobby's gaze. Do I know him? Have I met him? How do I know all of this shit?
"Okay," Bobby relented finally, pushing himself backwards and pushing the heel of his hand into his eye. "Whatever. It's been a long fuckin' night."
Jack opened his mouth to agree, but suddenly Bobby was looking above his head, smiling and waving at someone behind him. "Hey, Jerry!"
Turning around, Jack caught sight of a taller, skinny man coming through the door, dressed noticeably better than Bobby but not nearly as nice as the men at the end of the bar...who Jack suddenly noticed were no longer there anyway.
"Hey, man," Jerry said, sitting down in the empty seat next to Jack and folding his arms on top of the bar. "How's it goin'?"
"Eh, the usual," Bobby said, his eyes flickering towards the other end of the bar for a moment before coming to rest on Jerry again. "Same fuckin' shitheads in here every night, you know?"
"Yeah," Jerry said, whose eyes had also strayed in the direction of Bobby's for a brief moment, before the two shared a knowing look that Jack wished he understood. "I know."
"Speaking of shitheads," Bobby said, breaking the tense atmosphere, "the little punk to your left if Jack. Jack, meet Jeremiah Brown."
"Pleasure," Jerry said, extending his hand. Jack hesitated for a moment, remembering the shock he got from shaking hands with Bobby earlier. He took Jerry's hand, though, and was relieved when he felt nothing of the sort. "How do you know Bobby?"
"Just met," Bobby cut Jack off, sounding slightly uncomfortable all of the sudden, like that fact would sway Jerry's liking of him. "He's got himself a little band he played with earlier."
"Oh yeah?" Jerry asked, turning to Jack. "Any good?"
"I don't know," Jack said, shrugging and looking towards Bobby. "Any good?"
"Hmm..." Bobby pretended to be deep in thought, leaning his elbows against the bar. "Well, I don't usually listen to fairy music, so I couldn't te..."
"Wait, fairy music?" Jack asked, slightly taken aback. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Bobby grinned, obviously taking pleasure in the fact that he'd struck a nerve with Jack. "You know, fairy music. The whole 'I'm really sad and depressed so I'm gonna scream and bitch about it' kind of thing."
"I don't scream," Jack mumbled, taking a drink from his almost forgotten beer. His heart sank a little. He wanted Bobby to approve...
"Maybe not," Bobby continued, still grinning, "but you still bitch."
"I do not." Great, Jack. Why don't you stomp your foot and pout a little next time?
"Sure, you do."
"As much as I'm enjoying this conversation," Jerry cut in, holding back laughter as he watched Bobby and Jack go back and forth, "I can't actually stay, I left the car running. I gotta get the girls home from their recital. I was just stopping by on the way to see how...things were going."
"Things are going fine, Jerry." Bobby's joking demeanor was suddenly gone in an instant, and his eyes were blazing. "Things are under control. I told you not to worry about it."
"And I told you not to get involved." Jerry's voice was suddenly lower, more urgent. "I told you, Bobby, that's my shit..."
"Let's not do this now, okay?" Bobby said, backing away from Jerry, shooting a glance towards the end of the bar again. Jack followed his gaze. No coat guy. No goatee guy. He turned back around to find Jerry glaring daggers at Bobby.
"He wasn't here?" Jerry asked, his voice raising a notch. When Bobby didn't answer he sighed heavily. "Bobby, please tell me he wasn't..."
"Go, Jerry, take your girls home," Bobby waved him off, but Jerry stayed put. "I mean it, Jerry, go."
Jerry stood up, obviously angry and a little flustered. "I'm not gonna tell you again, Bobby. Stay out of this. It's not your battle to fight. I'm not gonna have you putting yourself and..."
"Not now, Jerry, okay?" Bobby sounded tired, defeated. Jack slumped in his seat a little. He hated not knowing what was going on. "Not now. Go. Just go. Tell the girls I say hi."
Two names suddenly popped into Jack's head. Amelia. Daniela.
"Fine," Jerry started to back away towards the door. "This ain't over. I wanna talk about this."
Jack watched Jerry turn around and storm towards the door. "Tell Angel to get his ass back home in one piece next time he calls," he said, not looking back. "And tell Evelyn..."
Jack turned back around, staring blankly at his beer bottle. His mind was beginning to feel heavy, like there was too much information being processed too late at night. He recognized those names... Angel. Evelyn. Amelia. Daniela.
"Stubborn ass," Bobby's voice broke through his thoughts, but he was beginning to see spots, his eyes growing darker by the second. He reached his hand out to steady himself, knocking over his bottle in the process. He was suddenly very hot...names started popping into his head, some he knew, some he didn't...
"Jack? Yo, Jackie?"
...Angel Evelyn Amelia Daniela Camille Sofi Victor Sweet Bobby...
"Hey, Jack? You okay?"
Jack looked up, hearing the blood rushing in his ears, his heart pounding in his chest. He felt a drop of sweat trickle down from his hairline across his temple, but was suddenly too exhausted to lift a shaking hand and wipe it away. He felt like he was going to throw up. Bobby was staring at him, concern replacing the previous fire in his eyes.
"You okay, Cracker Jack?"
Cracker Jack? What...?
And suddenly, Jack was losing his balance as the world titled around him. He felt himself falling sideways, but was too hot and too tired to catch himself. He was aware of only one thought before he hit the ground...