Title: Best Laid Plans
Summary: Their first mistake was pointing a gun at Bobby Mercer. Their last mistake was pointing one at his baby brother.
Disclaimers: I do not own the Mercer boys or their lovely mother. I do own the DVD, but I don't think that counts though. I might claim the characters in the story, but you know I'm not that greedy. Heck, I don't even claim some of the insults I used.
Author's Notes: Actually, I have to give some props to Whilom, whose fic "Lost and Found" partially inspired this story. So thanks Whilom! I also totally ganked "dwarf lord", from LoNni's "Never Easy". In fact, go read those two first, then come back here. It's okay, I'll wait.
Good. Great reads right? Oh yeah, right, the actual author's note… This story is actually almost done. I had planning on finishing it in the eighth chapter, but Bobby took me aside, and kindly whispered that he wasn't getting enough screen time. So we're looking at probably nine chapters, ten at the absolute most. Right now I don't have a beta, so I'm having to do a very intensive self-edit. If anyone who has a good grasp on the characters and the English language is interested, please message me. All right, I'll let you read now, and bug you again when I post chapter two.
All Jack Mercer wanted was to get a toothbrush.
He did not want, nor need, a ride from his eldest brother. He also did not want, nor need, forced family bonding time with his current least favorite brother. Well, second, since it was his other brother that was responsible for this late night trip to the store. He also did not want, nor need, a lecture on his "behavior" from someone who couldn't seem to stay in one place for more than a few months.
Jack snorted, which caused the window to fog up against the cold Detroit night.
"What was that, Fairy?"
Jack rolled his eyes heavenward at his brother's pet nickname for him. He tried to remind himself that it was Bobby's second night back in Detroit, and he had to make up for the months of picking he had missed while playing for the league. Jack had endured about a hundred attacks on his sexuality and masculinity since coming home from school that afternoon. It was wearing thin rather fast.
Jack let the silence sit for a few moments, mostly just to irritate his older brother, before responding. "I can walk, you know."
"It's freezing out there," Bobby said by way of explanation. After another moment of awkward silence he added. "I needed to pick up a few things."
Bobby glanced over at Jack, who upon catching the other's gaze, flicked his eyes back out to the icy road. "At eleven o'clock at night?"
"I could ask the same of you."
"Fine," Jack shot back tersely.
Jack turned his attention back to the road, frowning as they passed the usual corner store he would run to for his late night excursions and last-minute purchases. The walk was long enough to clear his head if he needed it, but not too long for their mother to worry about him roaming the streets for long.
"You just passed it."
"Yeah, but we're not going to that one," Bobby pointed out.
"Bobby," he breathed his brother's name in annoyance. It was bad enough for Bobby to invite himself on Jack's escape from the Mercer household. Now he had to hijack the trip itself and make it longer than necessary.
"Their selection of toothpaste sucks. Besides, you know you have to pay for the 'convenience' of it being so close."
Bullshit, Jack thought to himself. He'd known his brother long enough that Bobby was working himself up to one his famous paternal lectures. Although what it could be about was beyond Jack this time. He hadn't immediately hugged the man like he had come home from war, and yeah, he hadn't gone out of his way to talk to him. Then again, Jack was starting to resent the cavalier way he would jump in and out of their lives depending on what whim hit him. Maybe it was starting to show.
Bobby turned a corner, "Look, Jack—"
Jack frowned and peered at what he guessed to be their destination. "The supermarket? What? Did Ma rope you into doing a major shopping trip?"
Bobby sucked in an annoyed breath, trying to calm his temper. His little brother had been avoiding him, and he was hoping that maybe he could cajole a reason out of him if he could trap him in one place long enough.
"Well, sweetheart, I thought maybe you needed pick up some new razors to shave your legs. You know the boys love a girl with smooth legs."
"Fuck you, Bobby."
The car jerked to a stop as Bobby whipped his car into a spot close to the entrance. Jack flew forward, but the seatbelt yanked him back at the last moment. He glared at his older brother, who just returned the look with a grin.
Jack muttered a few choice words as he extricated himself from the old junker. As soon as he was outside, the cold wind bit against his bare skin and his thin hoodie. He suppressed the urge to shiver, lest he invite another comment from Bobby about maybe his clothing choice or lack of proper winter attire, and instead trudged towards the brightly lit supermarket.
He could hear Bobby's heavy footfalls behind him, but didn't slow down his stride. In one of life's fun ironies, Jack had just finished going through a growth spurt, and now was taller than his older brother. It also lengthened his stride, which helped keep the gap between him and Bobby.
"Hey, slow down you long-legged freak," Bobby called out, and Jack glanced back to see him almost jogging to catch up. He couldn't help but smirk as his older brother had to hop a little to catch up, and then keep pace with him. "Man, Ma needs to let you smoke pot or something to stunt your growth. You're getting way too tall."
"Maybe you just toked a little too much in your day, Dwarf Lord."
Bobby snorted and lightly cuffed his little brother on the head. "Respect your elders."
Jack half-heartedly swatted at Bobby, but the older man easily ducked away and right into an older couple leaving with a few bags of groceries. Bobby quickly apologized and turned back to his younger brother.
"Not one word."
"What? I didn't say anything—Twinkle Toes."
"Hey Gigantor, just watch it. Wouldn't want you to hit your head on the door."
Despite his irritation at being shanghaied Jack couldn't help but smirk, and pretended to duck as they passed through the automatic doors. "Well, that was a close one. Good thing you warned me."
Jack glanced up as they entered, trying to find the aisle that he needed. He spotted it off near the corner. Glancing back he could see Bobby also mapping out the store, trying to figure out what he needed. He took off for the personal hygiene aisle, noting that he still had his own shadow.
"So…" Bobby started, his joking tone replaced by a more serious one.
Jack just took intentionally longer steps, forcing his older brother into a faster pace.
"Mature, Jack, real mature," he muttered as he fought to keep pace. "What the hell is your problem?"
"I hate the grocery store."
"Hey, you invited yourself along," Jack spat back as they reached the toothbrush aisle. "Did you ever think maybe I just wanted to go get some air?"
"You're sixteen years old! Getting some air at eleven o'clock at night means stepping in the back yard, not wandering the streets."
"Ever hear the one about the pot and the kettle?" He stopped in front of the toothbrush display, dramatically jamming his hands into his pockets. "Besides, it's not that late."
"I grew up in this neighborhood too, and it's certainly late enough for a scrawny white kid!"
"You know, if Ma agreed with you, then maybe I wouldn't go. If she's not worried, then why should I be?"
"You're such an idiot," Bobby muttered to himself angrily and turned around to find his precious toothpaste.
"Well you'd be the expert on that, wouldn't you?" Jack shot back, tone equally as low as he eyed the row of toothbrushes in front of him.
"What was that?"
"Why the hell are you trying to start something, huh, Bobby?"
"I'm not starting anything—"
"Then why won't you just let it be for once? Why do you always have to come home and immediately jump on us about everything?"
"Yes, us. Every single time you come home you've always got something to say to me, Angel, hell, even Jerry! I'm surprised you didn't pop on over to his house to give him some well-meaning advice on how to keep his marriage and sex life healthy. Obviously without you here, we're all going to hell in a hand basket!"
"Hey, that's not fair—"
"Yeah? Well neither is you coming and going like Ma is running a damn hotel!"
Usually for Bobby to get information out of Jack, it was like pulling teeth. He either had really pushed his buttons just now, or this had been brewing for a while. Bobby had a feeling it was the second. "Is that what this is about?"
"The cold shoulder, the fact that you'd prefer to walk to the corner store in thirty degree weather rather than endure a small car ride with me to the grocery store."
"I already told you: I hate the grocery store."
"Because it's been such a bitch lately," Bobby rolled his eyes. "Come on, Jack. I'm only home for a little while, and I'd rather not spend the entire time fighting with you about stupid shit."
"You're only home because you're on suspension," Jack muttered.
"I'm only home early because I'm on suspension," Bobby corrected. "I always come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas."
Jack twirled his finger in the air in a "whoop-tee-do" motion, before crossing his arms again and staring at the obscenely huge selection of toothbrushes. "Just let me pick out my toothbrush, okay?"
Jack groaned audibly, knowing there was a reason he hadn't mentioned his reason for going to the store up to this point. It was enough of a break in the tension for Bobby to creep up next to his shoulder and peer at the toothbrush selection with him. Partly to see Jack's reaction and partly to hear the voice that had suddenly dropped to indistinct levels.
"Why do you need a new toothbrush, Jackie?"
"Just drop it," he muttered miserably.
"C'mon, this sounds interesting."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"What? Did you lose yours in the sock drawer?"
"Angel…" he carefully eyed the display, not daring to look at his older brother. "…stole it."
"Angel stole your toothbrush?" Bobby asked, unbelievingly.
"Borrowed without permission," Jack ran a thumb over his brow, voice climbing a few decibels into the audible range.
"Why would he steal your toothbrush?" Bobby asked bewildered.
"Sofi got a new dog," Jack winced, as if it was painful for him to say it. "Apparently she needed something to brush its teeth."
"La Vida Loca," Bobby shook his head gravely. Angel's common sense seemed to disappear around that woman, and stealing Jack's toothbrush for a dog… that was pretty stupid as far as Bobby was concerned. Jack's sense of property was one of the hardest things for the Mercers to teach him, and for Angel to just—
"He tried to give it back," the younger of the two brothers shuddered. "But you know, I think I might be to the point where I can just buy another toothbrush."
"Aw, well I'm proud of you."
"Shut up, Bobby." Jack muttered darkly.
"Would it make you feel better if I promised to kick his ass?"
"I can kick his ass myself," Jack protested feebly.
"Sure you can, sweetheart."
"Why don't you just go grab your damn toothpaste and let me decide?"
Bobby waved the tube of toothpaste he had already picked up. "Already done."
"Then just stop standing over my shoulder and let me decide."
"Well I can see this is a big decision for you," Bobby pat Jack on the shoulder. "I'll leave you and the toothbrush aisle alone and go pick up the other things on my list."
"Meet you up front in ten minutes. If you can decide by then."
"Go buy your groceries, old man."
"Gigantor, Slayer of Doors, master of the wit."
Jack's lips twitched into the semblance of a smile. "Whatever, Dwarf Lord."
Bobby chuckled lightly as he left Jack to his tooth brush decision making. One of the reasons he liked the corner store was that there wasn't this much selection. It certainly made it easier to pick one out. Growing frustrated with his inability to make such a simple decision he closed his eyes and picked one at random. He cracked an eye open and spied his choice. Quickly he yanked his hand away from the sparkly pink toothbrush as if it had bit him.
What kind of nickname would Bobby come up with if he saw that one? Princess Sparkles? Dental Hygiene Barbie? The Tooth Fairy? Then again, the look of abject horror that Bobby would get if he picked something so hideously girly might be worth it.
…who was he kidding? Nothing was worth that. He quickly picked the plain blue one next to it. There. Decision made.
Triumphant, he ambled towards the front of the store. He considered grabbing something at the register and making Bobby pay for it. That seemed like decent revenge for this side trip. Maybe he would think twice before hijacking his little brother next time.
Jack paused at the end of the aisle to glance at his watch. Damn, if Bobby was true to his word, then he still had eight minutes. Oh well, maybe he would peruse the supermarket rags, see who Brittney's latest boy-toy was. That and it was fun to do something "feminine" if only for the brief look of disgust that crossed his older brother's face as if Jack had broken some unspoken man-code, again, and it reflected poorly on his influence as an older brother.
He rounded the corner, glancing up to see two other patrons checking out. They seemed to have similar attitudes as him in regards to the weather outside, and only wore hoodies and jeans, the hoodies currently pulled over their heads. Jack frowned, a warning bell going off in his head.
He took a quiet step back just as the man closer to the cashier reached behind him, as if he was reaching for his wallet. Instead of a billfold the man pulled out a nine millimeter. Jack felt his feet turn to lead, and the toothbrush slip from his hand.
Oh, shit. This was not good.