The Little Brother

Summary: Being the youngest in a family is hard. Angel knows what it's like. Jack isn't used to it. They have a little talk about what it really means to be brothers… until Bobby comes in.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the brothers.

A/N: Yay! You guys are liking these! Thanks for reviewing my other ones! This is great. Anyway, this is one of the two transition stories from "Fortune Cookie" to "A Night Alone". So please, if you haven't, read "Fortune Cookie" first. Thanks! This one is kind of fluffy, but it's not as bad toward the end!

Note: They are the same age as in "Fortune Cookie". This actually takes place when they get home from the Chinese Buffett.

Why do they care so much? Jack thought to himself, lying in his dark bedroom as he stared up at his ceiling. Bobby has even risked his life for me…

In his mind's eye, the ten-year-old could see the headlights of a car fall on him, a car that was being driven by a drunk driver. It was bearing down on him, and he probably would have gotten hit if it hadn't been for Bobby.

The oldest Mercer had jumped into danger without even a second thought to save his life, to pull him out of the way of the car. Angel and Jerry had been furious that he had nearly been killed, and they had helped track down the driver, who was sentenced to five years in jail for driving drunk.

But Jack still didn't understand why they cared so much about him. They weren't related by blood, and he had shown them no respect whatsoever. He pretty much ignored their existence completely. Yet… they were kind to him, at least Jerry and Angel were. They treated him like he was really their younger brother…

"Why aren't you sleeping, Jackie? It's a school day tomorrow."

Jack looked at his open doorway, and he saw that Angel was looking at him with confusion. "I'm just thinking." he told him.

Angel walked into the room and sat down on the bed. "It must be important if it's keeping you up this late." he commented.

The newest Mercer didn't say anything, but he didn't have to. Angel looked down on him, recognizing the look in his eyes. He had had the same look in his own eyes when he first joined the family years before, and Jerry had been the one to recognize it. Bobby, on the other hand, had seemed to be completely oblivious to everything. "It's not easy being the youngest, is it?" Angel suddenly asked. "You always seem to be lagging behind. You have the most jokes being made on you and all that crap."

Jack looked at Angel with surprise. That was exactly what he was feeling…

Angel laughed a little when he saw the surprised look. "I've been there too, little man." he said. "So has Jerry. We've both been the little brothers of the family. It really isn't easy, especially when you have Bobby being the oldest."

"Why is Bobby so mean?" Jack asked quietly.

"Mean? Yeah, he is a little mean, isn't he?" Angel answered with a smile. "Sure he's a hothead and mean to everyone, but if someone is givin' ya' a hard time, and I mean worse than he does, you can always count on Bobby to give them worse. He's very protective of us because he loves us, though he'll never admit that. You just have to know Bobby. It's kind of like tough love, ya' know?"

Jack was silent, feeling confused. If Bobby was mean because he "loved" him, then his father really must have loved him.

Angel noticed the confusion. "Do you know what love is?" he asked.

Jack thought about the answer before he said anything. Then, he slowly shook his head.

"I didn't either… until I joined this family." Angel told him. "Sure we're not related by blood to Mom, but she still calls us her sons. That's the first love I've ever had from anyone, and now I also have Bobby and Jerry's. Sure we may be… dysfunctional at times and Bobby gets us in trouble a lot, but the bond we have runs deep. We always watch out for each other. That's what love's all about, and I want you to know that that's how we feel about you, kid."

Love. Jack couldn't believe that a small, four-letter word could mean so much…

Angel laughed. "And do you know what else?" he said. "It may be our role to protect you, but it's your role to keep us in line, especially when Bobby's on an angry rampage."

"Really?" Jack asked. He actually had a role even though he was the youngest?

Before Angel could answer, they heard footsteps outside in the hall that came to a stop in front of the door. "What are you girls talking about so late at night?" a sleepy-sounding voice asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Bobby." Angel answered, turning to face his oldest brother. "Did we wake you from your beauty sleep?"

"Ha, ha, ha." Bobby mocked laughed, walking into the room and smacking Angel on the back of the head. "That's my line, ya' dick." He looked down on Jack. "I never want to hear you call someone that, you understand me?" he added, sitting down on the bed next to Angel.

Jack quickly nodded, showing that he understood.

"Good." Bobby muttered, sighing as he dug into his pajama pants' pocket. "Man, I have to go outside…"

"Mom hates when you do that." Angel warned, watching as Bobby took out a cigarette. "She wants you to stop that habit, especially now that Jackie's here. He doesn't want him getting started. You should really kick your drinking habit too…"

Bobby gave him an exasperated look. "I know that, darling." he told him like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "That's why I do it outside." He suddenly became defensive. "And who cares if I drink a little now and then anyway?"

"Anyone within twenty feet of you when you wind up getting yourself drunk." Angel replied with a laugh, getting another smack on the back of the head. "Ow…"

Jack watched his brothers, a smile beginning to appear on his face. Then, not knowing why, he started to laugh.

"What are you laughing at, sweetheart?" Bobby asked, glancing back at him. "Are we really that funny?"

"Try funny-looking." Angel muttered with a grin.

Bobby turned to face Angel. "I dare you to say that again." he said.

"Not right now while we're in front of Jackie." Angel replied, the grin still on his face.

"Yeah, good point." Bobby reluctantly agreed. "We don't want to set a bad example in front of our little sweetheart, do we?"

Jack smiled slightly. Bobby sighed. "Well, I'm going outside for a few minutes and then come back in." he muttered, getting to his feet. "You girls had better not tell Ma what I'm doing."

"We won't, man." Angel told him quietly, watching as his older brother left the room. "Have a good night, Bobby."

Bobby muttered something incoherently as he quietly skipped down the stairs. Angel then turned his attention to his other brother. "Get some sleep, Jackie." he said. "We have school in the morning. Don't forget that you can come to us for anything."

Jack nodded as he watched Angel leave the room, then lay down and curled up underneath his blankets. At first, he had been terrified to open up to the people he was supposed to call brothers and be a part of a family. Now, it didn't seem so bad. It felt kind of nice to have three brothers that would always be there for him. Finally, for the first time he could ever remember, he felt like he was home.

A/N: Sorry if it's kind of short. As I said, it's the first of two transition stories, the second one taking place at school the next day, between "Fortune Cookie" and "A Night Alone". I hope you liked it anyway! Please review?