Summary: Pre-movie. Jack comes down with a nasty flu bug, and Bobby's the only one home to take care of him. Definitely NO slash. Rated for some language. Admittedly fun and fluffy, my goal here is to make you smile!

Disclaimer: I may adore Jack and Bobby Mercer, but sadly, I do not own them.

Author's Note: Ok, here we go - my first Four Brothers fic! I owe a special thank you to Torilei and Whilom for first sparking and then sustaining my interest in this movie, which has since become one of my favorites. You guys are so awesome, I love you both! Like many authors before me, I don't habitually use swearing in my fics, but it would be rather difficult to keep the Mercer brothers in character without it. Well, this was originally going to be a oneshot, but it started getting a bit longer than I'd anticipated, so I've decided to break it up into two parts. Please enjoy, and feel free to review!

Sick Little Fairy: Part 1

Jack Mercer took one last drag on his cigarette before grinding it onto the front step with the toe of his shoe. He was later than normal today. He'd woken up that morning with a bit of a stomach ache, and it hadn't exactly improved over the course of the day. So the walk home from school had been a leisurely one, despite the biting winter wind and the fact that he had an even greater incentive than usual to get home on this particular Friday afternoon.

The tall sixteen-year-old pushed open the front door, grateful for the warmth, and entered into a surprisingly quiet house. And considering how lousy he felt, Jack found himself wishing it would stay that way. But of course, it was never silent for long in the Mercer household.

"Cracker Jack!"

Jack jumped in spite of himself, almost knocking his coat off the hook where he'd just hung it, and whirled around in time to see Bobby amble from the kitchen into the family room, a good-natured grin on his face.

"Hey, Bobby," the teen greeted his eldest sibling, shakily returning the smile as his stomach fought to recover from the older man's surprise entrance.

"Where've you been, ya little Fairy?" Bobby went on, clearly wasting no time in employing some of his favorite nicknames for his baby brother. "I've been waitin' for ya all afternoon."

Jack just offered one of his typical shrugs in response, but Bobby had already pulled him into a big bear hug. When they drew back, Bobby held his brother at arm's length and studied him closely.

"What?" Jack protested, squirming slightly under that scrutinizing gaze. Even now, after all the progress Evelyn had made with him since he first came into her care at the age of ten, he still was uncomfortable in the undivided attention of other people.

But Bobby just shook his head and made a face. "You really need to stop growing, Jackie, you're almost as tall as me now. Or at least cut off some of that crazy hair you got so you don't look so tall." He reached up to playfully ruffle his brother's spiky mess of dark blonde hair, but Jack pushed his hand away.

"Stop it," he muttered.

"Aw, what's the matter, Sweetheart, you afraid I'm gonna mess up your pretty hair?"

Jack only sighed and pulled away, moving to deposit himself rather miserably on the couch. He had learned long ago that as much as Bobby truly cared for his three brothers, he was simply relentless in his teasing. It was almost as if the oldest Mercer deemed it impossible to fulfill his proper duties as a big brother without meeting a daily quota of merciless taunts and gibes aimed at his younger siblings.

And as though to prove Jack's mental point, Bobby continued. "And, Jackie, you know when I tell you to 'stop growing,' I only mean 'up and down'." He headed back into the kitchen. "Shit, kid, we've gotta put some meat on your bones; you're skinnier than a freakin' beanpole!"

"Thanks, Bobby," Jack drawled with as much sarcasm as he could muster, "it's good to see you, too."

"Quit your whining," Bobby ordered sharply. "I'm gone for six months, and this is the homecoming I get? Come on, Jackie, you could at least pretend you're happy to see me." He sauntered back into the family room, a beer bottle in each hand, and flopped down on the couch beside his brother, propping his feet up on the coffee table in front of them. "Want one?" he offered, holding a bottle out toward Jack.

Jack groaned inwardly. Of course he wanted it! What kind of a question was that? Usually he had to bug Angel for beer, and here Bobby was holding one right under his nose. But he was feeling nauseas enough as it was, and the last thing he needed was a beer on an empty stomach.

"You know I'm just gonna drink it myself if you won't," Bobby's voice broke into his musings.

"Give me that!" Mind abruptly made up, Jack grabbed for the bottle and immediately chugged down almost half of it at once, just to aggravate his brother.

Bobby only laughed. "Easy, Sweetheart, it's not like I'm gonna take it outta your hand if you don't finish quick enough. Not like that'd be hard, of course. It'd be easier than taking candy from a baby."

Jack just blew out a long-suffering sigh. He really wasn't in the mood to fight, but per the official Mercer rules of engagement, he had to say something. "What did I ever do without you, Bobby?" he finally retorted with a roll of his blue eyes.

But Bobby was unperturbed. "See, I knew you'd missed me," he persisted with a jovial grin, slinging an arm across his brother's shoulders.

"Yeah, and now that you're back, I'm gonna miss the peace and quiet."

"Peace and quiet?" Bobby echoed, clearly amused. "With you blasting that damn fairy music all over the house? I don't think so, Jackie."

Jack shot him a rather vicious glare. Oh, if only looks could maim… "What the hell's put you in such a good mood today, Bobby?"

"What the hell's put you in such a sour mood, Princess? Me, I'm just happy to be home, happy to see my baby brother again."

"Why? Haven't had anyone to torment for the last six months?"

Bobby pretended to be affronted. "Ouch, Jackie, that hurts."

"Doesn't mean it isn't true."

The older Mercer could only shrug with feigned innocence at that statement.

Jack smirked, then continued. "So, did you get home in time to see Mom before she left?"

"Yeah, I did. How about that, huh? My first weekend back, and she decides to leave us and go on an early Christmas retreat with her friends from work."

Jack scoffed, disbelieving. "C'mon, Bobby, it's not like she deserts us at every given opportunity. I mean, how long has it been since she's really had some time for herself?"

Bobby thought about that a moment, then replied, "Well, probably not since I came along."

"Exactly. She deserves a vacation, and you know it."

"Yeah, I know. I was just hopin' to see her more, that's all. But I'm here til after Christmas, so there'll be plenty of time."

"I am glad you're staying longer this time," Jack said softly, the most serious he'd been since his arrival home.

"Me too, Jackie." Bobby's arm tightened briefly around his brother's shoulders before withdrawing completely.

Jack finished his beer in the silence that followed and set the empty bottle on the table with a loud clink, already wishing he had just turned it down. Now he really felt like crap.

Bobby suddenly glanced at his watch and shifted impatiently in his seat. "Where the hell are Angel and Jerry? I didn't think they were usually this late getting home."

"They're not," Jack told him. "But Jerry did say something about spending tonight and tomorrow at Camille's. Her grandparents are in town, or something like that, and she wanted him to meet them."

"Hmph. He really is serious about that girl, huh? And how about Angel – any idea where that big sister of yours is?"

Jack shook his head, but at that moment, the phone rang. Bobby grudgingly got up to answer it, muttering a fluid stream of curses along the way.

"Hello? Angel, where the hell've you been, man? Me and Jackie are just sitting here waitin' for ya…"

Jack tuned out the conversation after that, closing his eyes and leaning his head back against the cushions. All he wanted to do right now was curl up in his bed and sleep – fat chance of that. It seemed he had barely shut his eyes when he suddenly received a swift smack on the head from Bobby.

"Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty!"

"Oww! Shit, Bobby, what's your problem?"

"My problem? My problem is that now Angel's ditching us, too. He's staying over at that girl Sofi's house, the bastard. Looks like it's just you and me tonight, Kiddo."

"Sofi?" Jack frowned. "Is she the one you call 'La Vida Loca'?"

"Yeah, that's her alright. I'm telling ya, Jackie, girls like that are nothing but trouble. So if Angel the ladies' man won't listen to me, I'll just have to drill my hard-earned life lessons into your thick skull."

He clobbered Jack on the head again, this time with a throw pillow which he then allowed to be wrested out of his grip.

"You're not gonna leave me for some chick are ya, Jackie?"

Jack sighed and rested his chin on the pillow that he now hugged against his chest. "No, Bobby."

The eldest Mercer paused, a wicked grin playing on his features. "Or for some dude?"

"Shut up, Bobby!" Jack snapped, abruptly whipping the pillow at his brother.

But Bobby caught it effortlessly and moved to put it back on the couch, shaking his head all the while. "That was weak, Jack. What're we gonna do about you, Fairy?"

When Jack didn't respond, Bobby gave him a quick nudge on the shoulder. "Enough of this shit. Get your ass off the couch and grab your skates. Let's go see if we can get a pick-up game goin' down at the rink."

Jack swallowed hard at that, his stomach lurching. Hockey? Now? Oh, please, no…

Panicked, he threw out the first excuse that came to mind. "You know, there may not be anybody down there right now, Bobby."

"I know. I had hoped that with Jerry and Angel here, we could at least play two-on-two. But since they've both deserted us, the least I can do is teach you some new tricks. You know, toughen ya up a little."

Jack snorted softly. He knew what that meant, all right– getting knocked around on the ice like a rag doll, and all in the name of brotherly love.

"But it's getting late, Bobby, and besides, it's freezing out there." He didn't care if he sounded like petulant child; he didn't want to do anything right now! Anything, of course, except sleep – or perhaps throw up. That didn't sound like such a bad idea right now, either. Definitely shouldn't have had that beer…

Yet Bobby remained undaunted. "Don't be such a sissy, Jackie. What's the matter, don't you wanna go play hockey with your big brother who you haven't seen in ages?"

Jack suppressed a groan. Bobby just had to put it that way, didn't he? Well, if nothing else, perhaps the fresh air would do him some good? Not likely. But when Bobby Mercer wanted to play hockey, there was little stopping him. Screw golf, that man would have played hockey on the moon if he'd gotten there first!

"All right," Jack finally conceded. "You win. But only if you help me up, first." He extended a hand toward Bobby who happily pulled him none too gently off the couch.

"Come on then, Little Brother, let's go!"

Jack drew a deep breath in a futile attempt to clear his head and followed reluctantly after his older brother. Suffice to say, he had a bad feeling about this.