Disclaimer: Don't own anything, please don't get me.
Warnings: Please look at the rating; it is there for a reason. This is a dark piece, with non-con, violence and mature themes. It is also slash / yaoi / whatever people call it, so if you don't 'approve' of this, I'm not making you read it.
"Jackie! Get up, ya little fairy! You have school in an hour!"
Jack groaned and sat up in bed, hearing Bobby call him from downstairs. He gazed blearily at his alarm clock (which apparently wasn't working) and found his brother to be right. Grimacing, he rolled out of bed, slightly scared of Bobby coming into his room and dousing him with cold water if he fell asleep again… like last time.
He could hear Evelyn telling Bobby off for calling him a 'fairy' again, but Jack didn't really mind. At sixteen, he had come to the conclusion that if he was ever going to become less coltish and be as tough as Bobby; that would have happened by now. Besides, it wasn't like he meant any harm by it; it was just teasing, and Jack could put up with that easy. He'd been through a lot worse, after all.
Shaking himself from that particular train of thought, he glanced around for something to wear. Although living with the Mercers had stopped him thinking about his past, every so often he would drift off and remember everything.
But not now.
No, it was a new day in his new life, everything else was over. Jack walked over to a cardboard box that still contained most of his clothes, despite having a perfectly fine dresser, and pulled on some jeans and a T-shirt with his favourite rock band on it. He knew kids usually dressed up for their first day at a new school, but he had given up that idea pretty quickly. After being shifted around foster care so much there is a limit to how exciting your seventh or eighth new school is to you. This time was no different. He had been kicked out of the last one after he had gotten into a fight with another boy who had said something about Evelyn, and now he was going to the one his brothers went to. Well, all except for Bobby, who had left years ago, but he used to go there.
"Darling, I know you want your beauty sleep," Bobby said, now outside his door, "but if you want breakfast, you're gonna have to get your ass out of bed."
Rolling his eyes, Jack moved to the door and flung it open, raising an eyebrow at his brother. Bobby gave him a shit-eating grin.
"Well, about time, Jackie."
Not sparing Bobby a word, he walked out into the hall and headed towards the kitchen. His brother followed and slung an arm around his shoulders.
"Excited about your new school?" Bobby asked.
Jack shrugged, despite the weight of his brother's arm around his neck, and fixed his gaze on the floor.
"It's a nice place," Bobby continued as if Jack had given him an answer. "Man, I had some good times there. Hey, if anyone gives you any trouble, just give me their names and I'll sort them out for you."
Jack tensed a little. That was a problem; he was thin and his features were fine to the point of being a little feminine. He had always been the target of the odd comment here and there in the past, but this was a different school and he was the 'new kid'. He was going to get slaughtered. Something that Bobby had clearly thought of, judging from his offer.
"Hey," Bobby said, noticing his look. "You'll be fine. You're a Mercer now; no one will fuck with you."
Jack hummed noncommittally, wishing for Bobby to be right as they walked into the kitchen and Bobby pushed him towards one of the chairs with the instruction to 'eat'. Angel and Jerry glanced up and nodded to them at their entrance, but hastily resumed scoffing down Evelyn's famous pancakes. Evelyn herself was by the stove, frying the next batch. She looked around when they entered and gave Jack a smile.
"Hi, Jackie. Help yourself to pancakes."
Jack shook his head, not even contemplating food when his stomach was churning so fiercely.
"I'm not hungry."
"You have to eat, Jack," she said in her no-nonsense tone.
He picked up an apple from the fruit bowl to please her and bit into it before she could object.
"He's trying to keep his figure, Ma," Bobby grunted, head bowed over his plate.
Jack aimed a kick at him from under the table but missed.
"Whatever," he said instead.
Bobby glanced at him with a smirk.
"Aw, Jackie, is it your time of the month?"
Jack kicked out again, and this time caught Bobby square on the shin. His older brother cried out in pain before cursing him in earnest when Jack reflected his earlier smirk back at him.
"Language, Bobby," Evelyn reprimanded, laying out a fresh plate of pancakes. "Jack, do you have everything you need for your first day?"
"Yeah," he said, having checked the night before.
He was really not going to mess things up. After seeing his adopted mother's face once he had been kicked out of Linten High, he had sworn he was never going to see it again. He was going to make things work this time round, even if it killed him. Evelyn had been the best thing that had ever happened to him and he was damned if he was going to let her down again.
"Do you know where you have to go?" Evelyn asked.
That one he wasn't so sure about.
"The office," he said.
Some of his uncertainty must have bled into his tone as Jerry glanced at him.
"I'll take you, make sure you get settled in alright and you find the place," he offered.
Jack gave him a small smile of gratitude.
"I'll drive you guys," Bobby said, taking a swig of juice.
It seemed he wasn't the only one who wanted this to go well.
"Alright," Evelyn said, looking at the clock and untying the apron around her waist. "I have to go to work. I'll see you boys later, have fun."
She left the room, picked up her briefcase and walked out the door. Jack watched her go, suddenly feeling even more nervous now that she was gone.
"You'd better go find some shoes, get ready," Bobby said over the silence created by Evelyn's departure.
His younger brother nodded and went up to his room. The three remaining boys looked at each other.
"They're going to kill him," Bobby declared.
Jerry and Angel glared at him.
"Oh come on, he looks like a fucking lamb to the slaughter," Bobby pointed out.
Angel shook his head.
"You'll know he'll be fine when he gets there, he can do his emotionless, scary thing," Angel said, feeling the need to defend Jack from the inevitable truth.
"And failing that," Jerry continued. "He can beat the shit out of the lot of them, like that kid from Linten, the one he got expelled over."
Bobby shrugged, but knew Jack wasn't going to do that again. After visiting the guy in hospital (on Ma's orders), just him and the kid, he had seen how stricken Jack was by what he could do. He was actually really sorry about the bastard's broken nose, although from what Jack told him, he deserved a lot more than that. After that incident, Bobby doubted he was going to start another fight.
"Maybe you're right," Bobby relented. "But keep an eye on him, okay? If anything happens to him at school, I'm gonna blame you guys, and that won't be pretty."
"Don't worry about it," Jerry said unfazed. "Crackerjack's safe with us."
Bobby turned to look at Angel, who quickly nodded, obviously wary of his brother's wrath.
"Good," he said. "We'd better get going. Don't want to be late for school, now, do we ladies?"
With an eye roll from each brother that Bobby pretended not to notice, they got up and picked up their stuff from the hall just as Jack came down the stairs. He was now wearing some heavy-looking boots, a plain black bag over one shoulder and the leather jacket Bobby had grown out and given to him when he had moved in. It only seemed to emphasise his lean frame and pale skin, something that had always struck Bobby as odd, as it had only made him look tougher when he was Jack's age. Then again, he had never been as stick-thin or as pretty as his brother. His hair also looked a little messier, but Bobby assumed it was on purpose and didn't comment. Besides, it looked cute on him.
There had never been any doubt Jack was stunning, but it seemed even more obvious today.
Bobby hailed him with an exaggerated wolf-whistle.
"Got your sights on a guy already?"
Jack flipped him off calmly and walked past them all, out to Bobby's car.
"Still think he's gonna get killed?" Angel asked him quietly.
Bobby shot him an irritated glare. He wasn't sure why, but sending Jack off to a pack of hormonally-charged teenagers looking like a fucking model made him more than a little unsettled. He told himself he didn't care who Jack dated, boys and girls alike, before following the teenager out. Really, Jack was sixteen… and since when did he ever give a second-glance to a guy?
He got in the car and turned over the engine, glancing over at Jack who was sitting in the passenger seat, his feet propped up on the dashboard. Even if he was older, and Bobby wasn't as straight as he thought he was… with Jack's history, he would be surprised if Jack would ever want to be involved with a guy after everything he had been through.
Angel and Jerry piled into the back seat and Bobby pulled out of the drive, perhaps a bit too quickly as he thought everything over.
It took Jack months after moving in to feel comfortable around the other three teenagers and longer before he felt able to be alone with them. Even then he had been skittish and almost silent. Now, after almost two years living with them, he was pretty much fine. Bobby was not going to risk his progress just because he was noticing little things about Jack he had either not noticed or flat-out denied before. Like the way his hair fell into his striking eyes, or how kissable his lips looked, or his perfect figure, or-
Oh God, he was a pervert.
The car ride was quiet: with Jack thinking about the day to come, Bobby thinking about why the hell he was looking at his brother like that and Angel and Jerry not being able to keep a conversation going in the stiff atmosphere. Jack was playing with the condensation on the window, drawing little patterns on it before swiping them away with his sleeve and starting again. It was oddly relaxing when coupled with the city flashing by outside in the cold morning light. He hummed a soft tune as he worked; the prospect of school long forgotten.
Bobby glanced across at him from the driver's seat, but simply shrugged when Jack didn't pay him any attention. It wasn't like he was having a flashback or anything; he was just distracted. The kid was a bit of a dreamer really.
Bobby pulled into the school gates and Jack abruptly stopped humming, obviously not that distracted. The building was large, plain and made of concrete blackened by the city's pollution. There was a large banner on the wall in front of them with 'Westmore High' printed on it in bright colours. It was clearly meant to look welcoming, but it only seemed to emphasise how prison-like the building looked. Jack shivered a little despite his jacket: something just wasn't right about the place. Students swarmed around the outside of the school in an odd mix of colour and noise which left Jack feeling more than a little out of his depth. Regardless of his brother's foreboding, Bobby took a long breath.
"Ah, home sweet home," he said, parking untidily outside the school. "Kinda makes me want to go back."
They all made to step out of the car, but Bobby caught Jack's wrist and pulled him back onto his seat. They waited for Jerry and Angel to walk away, although Jerry did hang back on the sidewalk, obviously still meaning to show Jack in.
"Listen," Bobby said quietly, as if someone could overhear them. "I meant what I said about any trouble. I'm not having you sort shit out on your own, no matter what Angel and Jerry might tell you. You have a problem; you come to me, alright? You can't get expelled here; there aren't any other schools as good as this in Detroit, okay?"
Although he knew Bobby was just trying to look out for him, he felt a small spark of rebellious anger flicker into life in his chest.
"What makes you think I don't know that?" Jack asked acidly, really tired of being treated like an idiot.
Bobby stared at him a moment before leaning back in his chair with a grin.
"You're cute when you're angry," he said sardonically. At Jack's growl of irritation, he held his hands up, now laughing. "Alright, alright, I get it: you figure shit out for yourself, you're all grown up. Go on, get out, I'll see you at four."
Gaping at being dismissed so easily, it was a moment before Jack got out of the car and slammed the door shut behind him. He looked around for Jerry in the mass of students and found him standing close-by, waiting for him to catch up.
"What was that about?" Jerry asked, referring to the talk between Jack and Bobby.
Jack shrugged and they started towards the entrance of the school.
"Bobby telling me not to get myself expelled," Jack summarised with a roll of his eyes.
"Helpful," Jerry commented.
Jack let out a smile, knowing he could count on Jerry to share most of his views, especially when it came to Bobby. He was lead up to the heavy metal and glass double doors before he got into the school. It seemed to be just as dull on the inside as it was on the outside, with plain grey linoleum, cream walls and steel lockers lining the hallways.
"I know it doesn't look like much," Jerry admitted, taking him to the office. "But it's gotten better in the last few years, new principal's really turned it round, you'll see."
Jack looked at the kids milling around the halls, taking books out of lockers or hanging around in groups, talking.
"I hope so," Jack murmured under his breath.
They finally arrived at the office and Jerry knocked on the door smartly. At the muffled 'come in', he opened the door and pushed Jack through it before closing the door again and walking off. More than a little annoyed at being shoved into some unfamiliar room and then ditched, Jack had half a mind to find Jerry again. Unfortunately, the secretary had already spotted him.
"Hello there, can I help?"
Realising now was not the time to get his brother back, Jack walked up to her desk hesitantly.
"Hi. I'm Jack Mercer, I'm meant to be starting today."
The secretary glanced down at an open book on her desk, before nodding and smiling.
"So you are. Mr Yates is waiting for you through there," she said, gesturing to a door to his left. At his uncomprehending look, she took pity on him, "the principal."
"Oh," Jack said a little inadequately. "Thanks."
He walked over to his left and opened the door to a much larger office, this one decorated in shades of brown, ranging from a deep burgundy to a light cappuccino-cream colour. It was a sharp contrast to the shabby hallways and Jack found himself liking the room, despite himself. At the centre of the office sat a large oak desk and behind it was the man Jack assumed to be Mr Yates.
He was younger than Jack had expected; probably only thirty at the most, with light blondish hair and surprisingly dark eyes. He seemed to be physically fit, to the point of being muscular and was the sort of guy he was sure a lot of the girls at this school drooled over. At his entrance, Mr Yates gave him a welcoming smile.
"You must be Jack, right?" he asked, standing up and offering his hand.
Jack took it with a nod, returning the smile with a little less enthusiasm. Mr Yates' casual gaze soon became a lot more intense as he looked Jack over and he looked away, uncomfortable. Jack shrugged off his apprehensions; probably being a principal made you a bit weird. This guy wasn't like the others: he had a job, was good-looking and seemed relatively sane.
He found himself frowning; why was he thinking about this so much today?
When he realised Mr Yates still hadn't released his hand, he quickly extracted himself from the grip and crossed his arms.
"Take a seat," Mr Yates offered, his smile undiminished.
Jack sat down in a deep armchair in front of the desk obediently, deciding that, as creepy as the man was, there was no real reason to refuse.
"So Jack, I hear there was a bit of trouble at your old school, Linten High."
He dropped his gaze to the desk, gripping his upper arms to prevent himself from fidgeting.
"I guess," he said softly.
"A fight with another student which ended when he was rushed to hospital…" Mr Yates read from a piece of paper on his desk.
"It was a mistake," Jack stated. "It won't happen again."
If that was this little talk was about, he was going to lose his patience pretty quickly.
"Naturally," Mr Yates said smoothly. "But just to let you know, I'll be watching you personally," Jack gave him an odd look, now feeling slightly unnerved. "Any other 'mistakes'," Mr Yates said. "And I will expel you without a second thought."
Knowing the man was serious, Jack nodded mutely.
"It won't happen again," Jack repeated.
"Good. It would be a shame to lose you so quickly."
Although he wasn't sure, he could have sworn the principal was flirting with him... But that was ridiculous as he wasn't like those other men and that whole life was over.
"Alright," Mr Yates said, drawing out a thick brown envelop from his desk. "This is all you need to know about life at Westmore; schedule, map, code of conduct, everything you need. If you have any questions or problems make sure you just come and see me," Mr Yates said with an odd inflection to his voice and another smile. "I'm sure I could sort you out."
Jack stood up and took the folder from him before moving away quickly. He wasn't naïve: people didn't go to see their principals with their problems; they went to their tutors, or, more commonly, no one. Mr Yates noticed his look.
"Something wrong, Jack?"
The smirk in his tone showed Jack he was right about the odd feeling he was getting from the man and he could only shake his head in reply, now feeling a little threatened.
"As much as I enjoy your company, you'd better go to class. We wouldn't want you to get into trouble on your first day, would we?"
Not sparing another second, Jack bolted from the room. He escaped into the hall, ignoring the receptionist's alarmed look, feeling the need to be as far away from that man as possible.
He walked briskly down several corridors, keeping his gaze on the floor and not caring who he bashed into on the way. Was he just over-reacting? Maybe he was just reading too much into this because he was… well, a little more sensitive to those sorts to things.
It was only once the bell rang, signalling the start of first period, that he realised he was lost.
He watched the halls drain of kids around him and he stood in the centre, feeling out of place. Jack wandered aimlessly for a moment before he remembered to look in the envelope he had been given. Although his timetable did tell him which room his first class (Math) was in, and there was a map telling him it was on the ground floor, he didn't know where he was now, so didn't know which corridors to take.
"Fuck," he muttered, glancing around for any clues.
Jack glanced up to see another boy, a bit older than him, leaning against the lockers ahead of him. He was smoking, his brown eyes glowing from the embers. He seemed to be a rebellious, rock-star type, wearing a T-shirt from some concert and wristbands on either arm. He had longish, dark brown hair which was almost black and it flicked outwards around his face. Something about him reminded him vaguely of Bobby and he seemed harmless enough.
"Yeah," he admitted. "Know where Room 112 is?"
The boy stubbed his cigarette out against one of the lockers nearby and pushed himself from the wall. He walked over, studying him with curiosity.
"Are you going to tell me?" Jack asked.
The boy shrugged one shoulder casually; his gaze bright and full of mirth. Jack met his look with a slight glare and the boy grinned, holding out his hand.
"Robin," he drawled.
He paused for a moment, seizing up the proffered hand before sighing and shaking it.
"Jack," he returned.
"How old are you?" Robin asked, tilting his head. "Fourteen? Fifteen?"
Now that was just plain insulting.
"Sixteen," he answered, a little pissed. "You?"
Jack nodded to himself.
"Are you going to tell me where my Math class is now?"
Robin laughed, the sound echoing in the halls. He slung an arm around Jack's shoulders, unknowingly echoing Bobby's actions from earlier, and pulled him down a hall. Although a little wary at physical contact after his encounter with the principal, he could tell Robin wasn't like that. His touch and manner were more brotherly than anything and he felt himself relaxing; Robin's cool attitude soothing his frayed nerves.
"You have two choices, Jack," Robin declared. "You can go to Math, be a model student and blah, blah, blah. Or, you can come with me to the basketball court out there," he said, gesturing out of a window to a court over the street, "and we can have some fun away from this place."
It was the first time the phrase 'have some fun' actually wasn't anything sexual to him. Jack found himself smiling.
"I want to," Jack said, in case Robin got offended, "but I can't. I'm not meant to do anything out of line; I got expelled from my last school."
Robin groaned, ruffling his hair.
"Expelled, huh? Sounds like you should know how to have a good time. Come on, it's only your first day, they always let you do some shit around here anyway."
Jack was tempted, but remembered Mr Yates' warning.
"I can't. The principal said-"
"Mr Yates?" Robin interrupted, his voice noticeably darker.
Jack nodded and Robin stopped in his tracks, spinning the other boy to face him.
"Listen to me right now," Robin said seriously. "You have to stay away from him, he's dangerous."
Jack gave him a glance at the extreme reaction; he knew the guy was a pervert, but he didn't seem like the type to act on it.
He was a principal.
He wouldn't be allowed to stay in his job if he was anything more than a bit unsettling… unless that wasn't what Robin was talking about or unless Mr Yates was very clever.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Robin sighed and then looked Jack over as if to reaffirm his resolve.
"I'm telling you this because you seem like a nice kid and I don't want to see you hurt, okay? Keep your distance from him. You're young, attractive and innocent; he's going to take advantage of you if he can. From that look, I can see you suspected something similar."
Jack shook his head, mainly out of denial.
"He can't actually do anything, can he?"
Robin's gaze was unwavering.
"If he can get away with it," Robin said, before pausing. "I'm just repeating something everyone in the school knows: stay away from Mr Yates."
Everyone in the school…?
"But my brothers go here, why wouldn't they tell me something like this?"
Robin did a double-take, looking at Jack in a new light.
"Fucking hell, you're Jack Mercer, aren't you?" Robin asked, ecstatic. "I'm in Jerry's form. Man, he said you were coming in today."
Not finding this topic remotely important when faced with his brothers' possible betrayal, Jack nodded bleakly. Robin noticed his change in demeanour and winced.
"If they didn't tell you, I'm sure they just did it to protect you."
Jack frowned, considering this. Although his family obviously did care about him and treat him like the 'youngest', surely warning him of their principle would have been helpful? Jack thought back on Bobby's words, both at home and in the car; was it possible he meant Mr Yates, rather than the kids at school?
Had he been warning him of this?
"Yeah," Jack said, unconvinced.
"I know Jerry, he wouldn't do-"
"Let's ditch," Jack proclaimed abruptly. "Basketball is suddenly a lot more appealing."
Robin gave him a nervous look, shifting his weight.
"If it's gonna get you in trouble, maybe I should just take you to class," he said, obviously worried.
Jack shook his head.
"No, forget it," Jack dismissed. "Please? I want to go."
It took only a split second for Robin's doubts to vanish and he replaced the arm across Jack's shoulders, leading them to the exit.