Note: I don't own Four Brothers or Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye.

Chapter 33

I didn't make it, sugar
Playin' by the rules

"I've got a bad feeling about this."

Any other day, Jack would gloat about being right – maybe not to Bobby's face since he wasn't stupid, but he'd definitely feel a little surge of pride at figuring out the shit that his brother claimed to be such an expert at. Problem was, Bobby was so wrong this time that if they made it out of this fucked up mess alive, he would never in a million years tell him he told him so.

The car hit another pothole and he bit back a groan as it rattled every bruise, cut and bullet wound he'd received that week. His wrists were wrapped in duct tape and they'd thrown a piece over his mouth. Sofi was lying behind him, tied up and gagged, though it wasn't hard to make out the impressive string of curse words she was unleashing behind the duct tape.

They were trapped in a trunk, headed to God knows where and the asshole who was driving seemed to be aiming directly for every pothole in Michigan.

Jack just wished he was a tiny bit surprised by the latest turn of events, but he wasn't. On the plus side, they were more or less in one piece and the car hadn't been set on fire or driven off a cliff yet. But the night was still young.

He was supposed to keep Sofi safe, and to say he fucked that up was an understatement.

They were doing exactly what Bobby had ordered them to do – staying out of the way, hiding out in a crappy hotel in Flint. They were bored out of their minds, watching the Food Network as Sofi paged through wedding magazines, when the door was suddenly broken down. Next thing he knew, Jack was waking up in a trunk with a splitting headache, tied up and confused.

One thing was certain – Bobby was going to be pissed when he found out what happened, he just hoped he was alive to see it.

XxXxXxXxXx

Jerry never felt more self conscious than he did at that moment, standing at the door of an abandoned restaurant, wearing a wire even though he had no idea what good a wire was going to do in a situation that was more than likely going to end in gunfire.

There was no turning back once he pushed open that door and he hated that part of him actually considered running off into the night. If he knew without a doubt that Sweet wouldn't come after Camille and the kids, then he probably would have taken them and gotten the hell out of Detroit once and for all. But there were no guarantees with this, and as far as he knew, Sweet wouldn't be happy until every Mercer was dead and buried.

Stepping through that door was like signing his own death sentence and he hoped like hell Bobby and Green knew what they were doing and that their plan worked.

Jerry glanced at the name stenciled in gold across the frosted glass window. Victor's. Seemed fitting in some sick way that the place it was all going to end was named after the creep who started it all.

Saying a silent prayer, he pushed open the door and stepped inside.

XxXxXxXxXx

Angel hated hiding. It felt like the cowardly thing to do, waiting it out in a coat check closet, waiting for his brother to give the signal. He hated even more that Jerry was the one they were sending into the direct line of fire. Jerry was his brother and a survivor like the rest of them, but he knew how he got sometimes under pressure and you couldn't get more under pressure than they were at that moment.

He and Green were huddled over a high-tech, FBI-issued piece of equipment that was picking up the signal from the wire Jerry was wearing. Angel held the headphones next to his ear, listening in as Roy Sweet greeted his older brother in a tone of voice that was menacing in its calmness. He had a gun in his other hand, and he tightened his grip on it, waiting for just the right moment to drop the headphones and storm into the other room.

Green was calmer than calm, but he'd already lost his brother. This was revenge for him. For the Mercers, it was survival.

XxXxXxXxXx

"Jeremiah Mercer," Roy Sweet said slowly with a nod of his head. He sounded so much like Victor that Jerry's step faltered for a second. He hiked the bag he was carrying higher on his shoulder, hoping his hesitation didn't look like weakness.

The bag was full of stacks of cut up newspapers, made to resemble bundles of bills. Why they bothered with the deception, Jerry didn't know. It wasn't like anyone was going to be fooled by it once the bag was open. He figured it was just a task Green assigned to make it feel like they were actually doing something to prepare for the "Operation" as the FBI agent had taken to calling it.

"I'm impressed that you showed up," Sweet added. He was older than Jerry had pictured and far heavier, his voice booming from his large chest.

"I keep my word," Jerry said, trying to keep his voice steady. He glanced around the restaurant. It was one he'd never been in but he remembered the reputation it had when it was open. Flashy and expensive, the place all the local gangsters liked to hang out in to feel rich and classy. It was tacky as hell – just like Victor. No matter how much gold you painted over it, a thug was still a thug and a shithole was still a shithole.

Roy Sweet made a motion, a heavy gold pinky ring flashing in the light, and four large men in dark suits stepped out of the shadows. Jerry wasn't surprised to see them. He stood his ground, trying not to let on that they rattled him. These guys were professionals, not the ex-union guys that Victor employed, trading in their need for money and steady work for loyalty and protection. There were no deals he and his brothers could ever make with these guys to get out of that restaurant unscathed.

"And I keep mine," Sweet said. "I told your brother that I would take from him what he took from me."

"And you did that. It's over," Jerry said, his chest aching even though it was a lie. Jack and Bobby were alive and well; but as far as this bastard knew, they were dead, killed in California by his hired guns. For once, Bobby's quick thinking seemed to have worked.

"Shot down on the street like the dogs they were." Sweet twisted his pinky ring on his finger and sighed. "Doesn't fill me with the satisfaction I was hoping for, though, and I can't figure out why."

"Revenge never solves things the way you hoped it would," Jerry answered.

Roy's eyes grew cold and Jerry realized he'd said the wrong thing. "Maybe you should have thought of that before you killed my son."

XxXxXxXxXx

"Shit," Angel whispered, dropping the headphones and reaching for the door.

Green put a hand on his arm and stopped him, silencing him with a finger to his lips. "Not yet," he whispered.

"Fuck that shit, that's my brother in there," Angel answered, reading to spring out of the coat room, firing at anything that moved.

"We're close."

"You ain't any closer than before Jerry walked in there."

Green held up his hands. "Five more minutes, tops. Bobby needs time."

XxXxXxXxXx

"He killed my mother," Jerry said steadily.

Sweet started to pace. "Ah yes, the saintly Evelyn Mercer. He told me about her, how she was causing so much trouble. He was too soft, just wanted to scare her. I told him he couldn't let some old lady make him look stupid and weak."

"You told him to kill her?"

"Suggested is more like it. I like to offer advice when it's needed." He stopped pacing and looked right at Jerry. "For example, I would have told you that coming in here alone was a stupid idea, even if your brother is hiding somewhere in the restaurant, waiting to ambush me."

Jerry opened his mouth to protest, but Roy cut him off with a sweep of his hand. "Let's not embarrass ourselves with another lie." Roy gave him an almost sympathetic look. "And I know you have no money to bargain with."

"You're just full of knowledge, aren't you?" Jerry didn't like where this was going and was wondering just what was taking his backup so long to make themselves known.

"You're thinking the only way your wife and daughters stay safe is for me to die in this club tonight."

"You already killed two of my brothers. What more do you want?"

Sweet started to laugh and Jerry's blood ran cold. "I want you to welcome our guests, Mr. Mercer."

XxXxXxXxXx

"What the fuck?" Angel said as he glanced at Green, who had his gun out and his hand on the door.

Green opened it a fraction of an inch and peeked through. "Shit," he said, watching as two more men entered the restaurant, dragging Jack and Sofi with them. "Things just got more complicated."

XxXxXxXxXx

Bobby watched helplessly from outside the building as his brother and Sofi were pushed onto the floor.

He grabbed the gas can at his feet, having already emptied one around the perimeter of the restaurant and more than ready to empty a second one over the heads of the assholes inside. Gun in hand, he pushed open the door.

"Wouldn't start a party without me, would you?" he announced. Wasn't exactly the plan he'd discussed with his brothers and Green, but when the fuck did his plans ever work out anyway?

He poured out a trail of gasoline as he walked toward the gathering in the center of the room. He dropped the can when he was done and fished a lighter out of his pocket – Jack's lighter that he'd stolen from his coat when he wasn't looking.

"Bobby Mercer. You're looking surprisingly healthy for a dead man," Sweet said, not the least bit surprised to see the oldest Mercer standing in front of him.

"If you stay away from fatty foods and carbs, you live longer. May want to look into it. A jog around a track once in a while couldn't hurt either."

Sweet ignored the insults. "I'm surprised you let the situation get out of hand as far as it has, Mr. Mercer. You handed me your whole family on a silver platter. Massacres can be messy, but I am looking forward to this one."

"Not as much as I am," Bobby said with a nod and Angel and Green stormed through the door of the room they'd been hiding in.

Angel had killed two guys before anyone even noticed they were in the room. Green followed close behind, but the gunfire grew more intense and he managed to wound one guy before having to take cover behind the bar.

Jerry dropped his bag and pulled out his gun, diving toward Jack and Sofi, hoping to help them before they got caught in the crossfire. Jack winced as Jerry pulled the tape off his mouth.

"You okay, kiddo?" Jerry asked and Jack nodded, rubbing the circulation back into his hands as Jerry got to work on cutting Sofi free.

"Get them the fuck out of here," Bobby yelled above the gunfire.

"But -" Jack started to protest, but Jerry pushed him toward the door.

"You heard him, get the hell out of here," Jerry shouted. "Keep Sofi safe."

Jack ducked and ran, pulling Sofi behind him, wishing the door was closer than it was.

They were two steps out the door when the place suddenly burst out in flames, tossing them painfully to the ground.

"Angel!" Sofi yelled, and Jack caught her around the waist to keep her from running back inside. "No!" she cried and he watched helplessly as the flames filled the doorway and shattered the windows.

Guns were still going off and Jack took small comfort in the fact that someone still had to be alive inside.

It was when the gunfire stopped that he felt like falling to his knees and giving up.