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: It still holds true: I do not own the Mercer boys.
Author's Note: All right, this is really it - the end of the story! Bitter sweet, isn't it? Again, many thanks to those of you who took the time to review! You made my day, and inspired me to get this up as quickly as possible. For a long time, I had no idea how I was going to wrap this all up, but today inspiration struck big time, and I think it'll all work out nicely. So I hope you all enjoy this final installment, and I'll talk to you soon!
Sick Little Fairy: Part 3
The remainder of the ride home occurred without incident, much to the relief of both Mercers. But when Bobby finally pulled up in front of the house, Jack groaned and rested his head back against the seat, squeezing his eyes shut as they had been for the majority of the trip.
"Hey, Jack!" Bobby called from the driver's seat, snapping his fingers under the kid's nose. "Wake up, Little Brother. We gotta get you inside."
Jack just feebly shook his head. He did not want to move anywhere right now!
"Jack," Bobby repeated testily, "you're gonna have to get up; I'm not carrying you in, ya fairy!"
But when Jack still just sat there, as unmoving as an old dog in the summer sun, the eldest Mercer gave an exasperated sigh and got out of the car, coming around to open Jack's door.
"Alright, Princess, I know you can hear me, so listen up. I may not be Ma, but I do know better than to leave you out here in the cold all night – although that is pretty tempting. Now if you expect me to haul your little fairy-ass inside, you've got another thing comin'. I can get you outta this car, Jackie, but trust me, it won't be pretty."
Jack's eyes stayed closed, but he at least found sufficient energy to open his mouth.
"Bobby – shut up."
"Jack – get outta the car."
It was an epic battle of wills, they both knew, but Jack did have the unenviable advantage of being sick –an advantage he would undoubtedly exploit later on after Evelyn returned home.
But Bobby had to try one last time. "Jack, I'm gonna count to three, and if you still aren't outta the damn car, we're gonna do this my way."
Jack was entirely unfazed. "Count away, Bobby," he mumbled. "I'll just have to throw up on you next."
That seemed to strike a chord, and Bobby halted before the word "one" could even get past his lips.
"Fine! Have it your way, then. Let's just get your ass inside before you freeze to death!"
Jack replied with a quick nod and shivered once again, teeth chattering. He had been so hot when Bobby had first opened the door that the icy air had been blissful. But now, he felt like an ice cube again, and the cold was torture. Why did the front door seem so far away?
He was suddenly jolted out of his reverie by the feel of something heavy being draped across his shoulders – it was Bobby's winter coat. Jack frowned, about to protest that he didn't need it, but Bobby had already launched into another one of his famed lectures.
"How come you don't ever really wear a coat, Jackie?" he was saying, clearly not caring if his brother truly heard him or not. "You're always wearing those freakin' sweaters, man, it's no wonder you're sick as a dog."
"They're usually warm enough," Jack argued unenthusiastically, pulling the jacket closer despite himself. It was cozily warm, with Bobby's body heat still lingering on the inside. Jack scrunched up his nose at the scent of old sweat and cheap cologne; it even smelled like Bobby!
"Okay, Kiddo, no more dawdling. Get your ass in gear, and let's go."
Jack knew Bobby well enough to realize that it was indeed time to move – there was no arguing with that tone. Nevertheless, the best he could manage was to more or less roll himself out of the car and into Bobby's arms.
"Whoa!" the older man exclaimed, barely managing to keep his brother from tumbling to the ground. "Hold on, Jackie, what'd I say about carrying you?"
But Jack was too busy wishing his head would stop spinning to reply as Bobby pulled him carefully to his feet and held him steady for a moment.
"You must really feel like shit, huh, Kid? You look like it, too. Now come on, we've been out here long enough."
Conceding to the inevitable at last, Bobby slung one of Jack's arms over his broad shoulders and put his own arm around the kid's slender waist. And as they slowly but surely made their way up to the house, Bobby realized that there were some occasional benefits to having a brother who was skinnier than a beanpole.
Things progressed smoothly until they reached the top step leading up to the front porch, when Jack's stomach got best of him yet again. Suddenly pushing away from Bobby, the youngest Mercer grabbed onto the handrail and vomited over the side. Bobby kept a hand on the teen's back the entire time, feeling Jack's heart race while his whole body convulsed from being so violently ill.
When he was certain Jack was through at last, Bobby gently led his brother the rest of the way into the house where Jack immediately collapsed on the couch. He curled up on himself, shivering uncontrollably, and was only vaguely aware that Bobby had covered him with one of their mother's heavy afghan blankets.
"Jackie, you wanna try and make it upstairs to your room? No? Well, how 'bout givin' me my coat back, then? I may need to wash it after all this."
Jack just shook his head miserably in reply, holding the jacket even tighter, and Bobby suppressed a chuckle.
"Big baby," he teased, quickly ruffling Jack's hair. Nevertheless, he dashed upstairs and returned shortly with a few more blankets and the pillow from Jack's bed.
"Here ya go, Sweetheart, these oughta help." He laid the extra blankets over his brother but had to literally pick up Jack's head before he could shove the pillow under it, habitually ignoring the kid's groan of protest.
"You'll thank me for this someday," he assured the ill teenager while reaching down to remove his shoes. "Let's at least try to keep Ma's furniture somewhat clean, okay? And speaking of which…"
He trailed off and abruptly made his way back into the kitchen, coming back with a large mixing bowl in hand.
"For the next time you throw up," he explained, trying to keep his tone light.
Jack grunted a most unappreciative response, and suddenly kicked off all the blankets Bobby had brought him not long ago.
"Hey, Princess, what the hell is this?" Bobby exclaimed, taking the opportunity to snatch his jacket up from off the floor. "I thought you were freezin' to death."
"Not anymore," Jack groaned, turning over onto his back. He wiped a hand across his face, now covered with a sheen of sweat.
Bobby gazed down on his younger brother and hurriedly wracked his memory. Fevers: hot and cold flashes – right. It had been while since he'd really been sick himself. Well, except for the occasional hangover, of course.
"Jackie, where does Ma keep thermometers and shit like that? The bathroom?"
Jack nodded, eyes still shut in his misery until a few moments later when Bobby whacked him on the nose with a thermometer.
"Ouch! Damn it, Bobby, can't you let me sleep?"
"You ain't asleep yet, darlin'," Bobby replied, totally unmoved. "Besides, if your temperature's over 104, I'm draggin' your sorry ass to the hospital whether you like it or not."
Jack opened his mouth to argue, but Bobby just seized the moment and stuck the thermometer under his brother's tongue.
"Good, now shut your mouth and keep that there for a minute," he ordered, and though Jack pouted around the thermometer, he complied. At long last, a verdict was reached.
"103.2," Bobby read. "So no hospital, lucky for you. Just don't die on me now, or Ma'll have my head when she gets back."
Jack didn't respond, just rolled back onto his stomach and clutched desperately at the corners of the pillow beneath his head.
Bobby sighed. What else was there to do? Suddenly, he was struck by a rare bolt of genius.
"Hang on a sec, Jackie, don't go anywhere." He hurried back into the kitchen for the second time, rummaging loudly through the refrigerator for some time until he finally let out a victorious "Aha!"
There was the distinct snap of a pop can being opened and the distant chug of liquid being poured before Bobby finally reemerged with a tall glass in hand. Of course, Jack hadn't gone anywhere.
"There ya go, Cupcake." Bobby set the glass down on the coffee table in front of Jack, grinning broadly despite the circumstances. "Now you're officially sick."
Jack raised his head briefly and made a face. "Bobby, what is that?" His tone was slightly less than trusting, and understandably so.
Bobby didn't seem to mind. "It's just 7-Up, Sweetheart, no need to get antsy. See, even I know that's like a cure-all when you're sick to your stomach."
Now looking partially convinced, Jack reached out for the glass, hand trembling slightly, and brought it unsteadily to his lips.
"Sorry," Bobby continued while Jack drank. "I woulda gotten you one of those little kiddie straws to go in it, but we didn't have any. You an' Angel must go through 'em pretty fast, huh, Kiddo?"
"Ha ha, Bobby, very funny." Jack glared up at his older brother as he set the glass back on the table.
It had been nice getting something to drink, and the sweetness of the 7-Up had cleansed his mouth of the disgusting flavor that came from throwing up so many times. He shuddered again, suddenly chilled by the sweat that dampened his clothes and made them cling to his skin.
"You cold again, Jackie?" Bobby inquired with a frown.
Jack nodded, already reaching down to retrieve the previously discarded blankets from the floor, but Bobby beat him to it.
"Hold on, now, you just take it easy," he scolded gently, forcing Jack to lie back before covering him again with the blankets.
Jack wordlessly pulled the blankets up closer around his neck and pitifully rubbed his aching head against the pillow. For as badly as he wanted to fall asleep, it certainly wasn't proving to be that easy.
"Ya know," Bobby mused, "I could mix some Vodka in with that 7-Up and have you sleeping like a baby in no time."
"Please don't, Bobby," Jack begged him. "I don't think I could deal with the headache when I woke up."
Bobby laughed. "Ain't that the truth!"
"What time is it, anyway?" Jack asked, shivering once more.
Bobby glanced at his watch. "Almost 10:30, believe it or not. I don't remember how long we were at the rink before you puked your guts out all over the ice." He chuckled. "That'll be a pretty site for whoever gets there first tomorrow."
Yet when Jack remained silent, the older man came over and placed a warm hand on the teen's shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
"But don't worry about that, Jackie. It'll be all right. You just get some sleep now, okay?"
Jack nodded quickly and let out the breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.
Amused, the oldest Mercer grinned down at his little brother. "You need to relax, Jackie, you're all tense. No wonder you can't fall asleep."
"Well, maybe you talking nonstop has something to do with it, too?" Jack suggested tiredly.
"Maybe," Bobby agreed with a shrug. "But I'll shut up now so you can sleep, all right? I promise."
Jack gave a shaky sigh, struggling to relax his anguished body, and he didn't mind at all when Bobby began to gently massage his shoulders. But after several minutes of this had passed, and Jack still hadn't completely fallen asleep, Bobby suddenly laughed.
"Bobby," Jack moaned, turning his head to face his brother. "You promised you'd be quiet."
"I know, Jackie, but it doesn't seem to really be helping. Besides, I've been thinking."
Jack looked unimpressed. "Please, do tell," he drawled.
"I was thinking," Bobby went on, "about how freakin' stupid I am."
Even in his current state of misery, Jack had to grin. "You're just now figuring that out? How come?"
"Ever heard of a little thing called medicine, Little Brother? Cuz apparently I haven't. Be right back." He left to go upstairs and came back down shortly with a bottle of aspirin in one hand and some Pepto-Bismal in the other.
"I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner," he muttered, continuing to degrade himself. "Don't tell Ma, okay, Jackie? Even she'd never let me live it down. Here, take this."
He thrust the medications in Jack's direction, and the boy took it gratefully, making a face as he swallowed the infamous pink liquid.
Bobby raised an eyebrow. "You gonna hurl again?"
"No, I'm fine," Jack replied, shaking his head. "I just wish they could make this shit taste better."
"Amen to that!" Bobby agreed with a chuckle.
Jack lay back down then, drawing the blankets up close to his chin, while Bobby turned out the lights and settled himself down on the floor with his back against the couch.
"Go to sleep now, Jackie-o. I'll stick around in case you need anything later, okay?"
"'Hokay," Jack sighed as he closed his eyes once more. "Night, Bobby."
"Night, Cracker Jack."
"Hey, you're welcome, Sweetheart," Bobby replied with an unseen smile, reaching up to once again rub the back of his brother's head.
Jack didn't say anything more, but his steady breathing soon thereafter told his sibling that he'd finally fallen asleep. Bobby stretched his legs out with a wide yawn and closed his eyes, leaning his head back until it rested against his younger brother's shoulder. And so he slept.
Bobby awoke late the following morning to the familiar sound of laughter. He squinted his eyes open and craned his neck upward to behold none other than Evelyn Mercer herself.
"Ma?" he asked bewilderedly, wincing as he sought to move his sore body from the uncomfortable position in which it had spent the night.
"Good morning, Bobby," she said sweetly, walking up to greet him with a kiss on the forehead. "It's always good to have you home, Son."
"Thanks, Ma," he replied automatically, still hopelessly confused. "But what're you doing home, I thought you were gonna be gone on that retreat all weekend?"
"I was," she explained gently, "and last night was very fun. But we had to leave early this morning due to the bad weather coming in. Didn't you notice?"
Evelyn gestured outside the window where snow was being wildly whipped around in gusts of icy wind – a true Detroit blizzard.
"If we'd stayed any longer, we would've been lucky to get home by Tuesday." She laughed again. "Even Jerry and Angel might find it hard to get back home any time soon."
"Well, in that case, I'm glad you came back," Bobby told her, finally getting to his feet. He rubbed his stiff neck and sighed. "It's been a long night."
"I can see that," Evelyn replied with a smile, turning her attention to Jack who was still sound asleep on the couch. She didn't need to inquire after her son's condition; motherly intuition told her all she needed to know. "But it looks like you've done a fine job with him."
"Thanks, Ma," he said, returning her smile. "It was no problem. After all, someone has to look out for the sick little fairy. But still, I'm glad you're home."
"So am I, dear," she agreed, giving him a soft pat on the cheek. "So am I."
Suffice to say, Evelyn Mercer had a much better feeling about leaving her sons home alone than ever before.