I knew I forgot something...
I do not own Four Brothers, nor do I profit from this fiction!
Chapter 1; Home
Monday morning, December nineteenth, six days shy of Christmas, and Jack was coming home. Craig sat on the couch in front of the window, looking out at the street, waiting for Jeremiah's car to pull up out front. Jerry and Bobby had gone to the hospital to pick up Jack and they had left at nine. It was almost noon now.
Angel was sitting in the chair in front of the fire place, flipping through the channels of a used television he'd picked up at a pawn shop somewhere. Craig hadn't really missed having a television in the house, his brothers had been keeping him busy with the building they were doing. Craig honestly thought his brothers missed the remote control more than the actual television, they never left it on one station; they were constantly changing the channels.
Instead of a Christmas tree this year, Jerry had hauled over a borrowed hospital bed. The middle section of the dining room table had been removed to make it smaller, and the bed had been set up along the back wall. Jack wasn't going to be able to go up and down the stairs for a while, so the bed would be convenient for him. Craig knew he was old enough that not having a tree shouldn't be that big of a deal, but he was missing having one in the house. His mother had loved Christmas, and the tree had always been a big deal to her. She had decorations that she had saved for years, and there had been a special story behind each and every ornament that hung from the branches. She would tell him the stories every year as they decorated the tree.
Craig turned and looked at Angel. "What time is it?" He asked, wanting to get his mind off of Christmas memories.
Angel looked at the boy. "Five minutes later than the last time you asked." The man gave him a look. "Stop watching the window, and get your mind on something else. They will get here a hell of a lot quicker that way."
Craig turned on the couch to look back out the window. "No they won't." He muttered.
"What do you want me to do? I can't make them get here any faster." Angel returned to the task of changing the channels on the television with the remote.
Craig didn't respond to the man. He'd wanted to go with Bobby and Jerry to the hospital, but they both insisted it would be easier if he just stayed home. As stupid as it may have sounded, Craig hadn't been separated from Bobby since Thursday night, and the boy didn't feel comfortable with Bobby being gone. He was on restriction, and that meant that he had to be with one of his brothers at all times, but it usually meant that he was with Bobby.
"Craig." Angel spoke from the chair.
Craig turned and looked at the man, "Yeah?"
"Go look out back." Angel was looking towards the kitchen.
Craig hadn't thought about the driveway out back, though that was where his brothers had been parking most of the time lately. He stood and started to go to the kitchen, but stopped in the doorway and looked at Angel. He wasn't supposed to go from one room to another unless a brother was with him.
Angel grinned and stood, dropping the remote on the coffee table. "Come on." He took long strides, walking past Craig and towards the kitchen.
Craig followed, sure that they were going to look out the door and find Jerry's car parked in the drive, and see Bobby and Jerry helping Jack walk the distance from the car to the back door. He was greatly disappointed when he looked past Angel, out the door to see only Bobby's beat up car and Evelyn's car, which had been claimed by Angel.
It was obvious that Angel was just as disappointed. He looked at Craig, "Sorry kid, I was sure I heard them." He shook his head. "But since we're in here, grab me a beer." He sat down at the table and looked out the window, watching the drive.
Craig walked to the refrigerator and got out the bottle of beer Angel had asked for. He set it on the table and sat down across from his brother. "What's taking them so long?" He asked.
"Hell if I know." Angel shook his head. "Don't worry; they would call if there was a reason to worry." He opened the beer and took a long drink. "Well, Jerry would think to call anyway." He added after a moment.
Craig looked at the lines creased along Angel's forehead. "You're worried." He muttered.
"I am not worried, I'm just thinking."Angel made a purposeful attempt to clear his features of all signs of concern. "I'm thinking that we should probably try to call them." He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.
"If you aren't worried, then why are you calling them?" Craig asked.
"Cause we need more beer." Angel muttered as he punched in the number for Jerry's cell phone.
Craig watched as his brother held the phone to his ear and listened. After several moments of silence Angel finally spoke. "Yeah, Jerr', when you get this message give us a call at home. Ya' all have been gone for three fuckin' hours. It don't take no three hours to drive to the hospital, pick up Jackie and haul his sorry ass back home. You could at least call and let us know what the hell is goin' on. The kid is getting all hyper on me, so you had all best be getting home soon or callin' back or…" He stopped speaking and hesitated for a moment before he shut the phone. "Damn time on the voice mail ran out before I could tell them to pick up more beer." He muttered the words and looked at Craig. "Let's go back to the living room. At least in there I can watch some T.V." He stood slowly, looking past Craig out the window.
Craig sighed and stood, glancing out the window as well, and hoping that he would see Jerry's car pulling into the drive, but he didn't. "Can't you try to call again?"
"Craig, don't you like spending time with me?" Angel asked the question while crossing his arms at his chest.
"Well, yeah, but…" Craig started to speak, surprised by Angel's question. "I didn't mean…" He couldn't finish his sentence. He didn't want Angel to think he didn't like being with him, but he was anxious about Jack coming home, and he honestly had gotten used to Bobby being around all of the time.
Angel smiled. "Come on, let's go wait in the front room, you can draw a picture or something." He motioned for Craig to walk in front of him.
Twenty minutes later Craig was involved with a sketch of some trees and a meadow. He wasn't sure where he'd seen it, but all of his drawings were of things he'd seen somewhere. Sometimes he'd see something on television that he couldn't get out of his head and he'd draw it, or he'd see an advertisement in a magazine and put it to paper, making some subtle changes so that it looked more as he wanted it to. Bobby had been letting him draw more in the past few days, and he'd been able to get a lot of pictures out of his head.
Not many of his sketches had been of peaceful meadows lately, he'd drawn out most of the scenes stuck in his head from the past couple of weeks, and very few of them were pleasant. Though there had been a few times in recent days that he'd seen moments that were good , he had sketched out pictures of his nieces playing in the front yard while their father and Uncles worked on the house. He had a very good picture of Angel and Sofi that he was very proud of, though he didn't know if he wanted to show it to Angel or not. Angel hadn't known he was looking when Craig took the mental snapshot in his head.
There were some pages that he'd colored dark, and though there were forms on the page, there were no details. Blank faces, shaded over in the soft lead, with nothing but fog surrounding them, these were the fragments of memories left over from his time spent with Victor Sweet, in the dark, with no way of seeing what was going on around him, only the feel of the cold floors, the way he was touched, and grabbed, and dragged around like a piece of trash. He knew the moments that each dark rendering marked, but he could never explain them to anyone else. He shivered at the fear that seemed to linger around those pages, trying to reach out to him, to invade his mind and put him back into the panicked state he'd been in when he first went to Jerry's house from the hospital.
"Hell, ain't no one gonna even offer to help us get this shit in the house?" Bobby's voice filled the room with no warning.
Craig looked up to see Bobby standing in the dining room doorway holding a plant that had been given to Jack in the hospital, and a couple of bags holding Jack's personal items. Behind him Jerry was walking Jack over to the hospital bed that had been set up for him.
Craig had been waiting for this moment for so long that it took a moment for his mind to comprehend the meaning of Bobby's presence. All four of his brothers were finally at home with him. He smiled and stood, but not as quickly as Angel, who was already moving past Bobby to help Jerry get Jack settled in. He could hear Angel talking to Jack, asking if anyone had sent anything home for him.
"He was the one in the hospital ass hole!" Bobby called out to Angel, unloading the contents in his arms onto the dining room table before turning to look at Craig as the boy walked up to him. "You doin' okay?" He slid his arm across the boy's shoulders and gave him a slight squeeze. "You survived a few hours with this ass, didn't you?" He asked.
"I'm fine."Craig spoke quietly, still not quite sure how to handle the attention his brothers gave him. He liked it, but it was still new and felt awkward to him. Bobby told him he would adjust to his brothers being back home, but it was more than them being back home. He had never been close to them when he was little, and now they were in control of his life. It was confusing for him at times.
When he was younger he was afraid of letting anyone besides Evelyn Mercer get close enough for him to love them. He'd wanted his brothers to notice him, and like him, and be one of them, but they hadn't really wanted him around, or so it seemed. He understood it a little better now. He could look back now and see that they did love him back then, but he was too young to really be treated the same as one of them. They treated him like a seven year old because he was seven. The lives they led back then were the lives of teen agers, and they couldn't drag a seven year old around with them, it wouldn't have turned out very well for any of them. Besides, he would do something to try to get their attention, but when they started paying attention he didn't know how to deal with the kind of attention the Mercer brothers gave. He would end up feeling hurt he didn't understand the way they talked, and acted. They didn't know how to talk and act with a kid that young and he would get scared and back off.
He was understanding that better now, because he had gone right back to the same behavior when they all came home to bury their mother, but this time they hadn't let him run away from his feelings. They had all made him deal with them, and he was glad they had. But he still had the urge to try to put the distance between them. It was easier than trying to fit in with them.
Bobby was his legal guardian now, and the man was taking the job to heart, Craig had to admit that. He'd burned his ass a few times now, but he'd also made it clear to the boy that it didn't have to be that way, Craig only had to listen, and try, and everything would be good between them. They'd had some very long talks a couple of nights in a row, and Craig had admitted to Bobby that he was still scared, and that it was hard to open up and let his brothers help him. Bobby seemed to understand that. That was the reason he was on restriction. Bobby's logic was that if he kept Craig with one of his brothers all of the time that the boy would have no choice but to deal with them. They could help him deal with the fears that he had, and eventually Craig would trust them enough to talk to them about the shit still going around in his head from the past few weeks.
Craig watched as Jerry and Angel got Jack settled. Jerry asked the younger man if he needed anything. Was he hungry or thirsty? Did he have enough blankets and pillows? Did he want his guitar?
Craig laughed as he remembered his first night at Jerry's after he'd been released from the hospital. Jerry had done the same with him, hovering over him as if he would disappear off of the couch if the man turned away from him.
"Jesus Jerr', shut the fuck up. If I want anything I'll tell you." Jack laughed at the man.
Jerry looked at him for a long moment, surprised by the words. "Alright," He swung his arms up in an exasperated motion. "I was just tryin' to help is all, you're gonna have to depend of these sorry ass holes after I leave, you do realize that."
"We'll take care of him Jerr'." Bobby spoke seriously. "We'll tuck him in all nice and warm at nine o'clock, read him a bedtime story and slide a teddy bear under his arm as he drifts off to lull-lull-land."
"Alright, make jokes. Ya' all had better remember what the doctor said about that drainage tube, and don't forget to give him his medication. Every four hours, he gets the yellow pill, but he gets the big pink pill every six hours." Jerry looked at Bobby.
"Jerry, I can tell time, I know when I need to take the pills, okay?" Jack spoke up, waving at the man to get his attention. "I'm not five years old; I can take care of myself."
"You might be home little brother, but you still can't do shit. You can't even get out of that bed to go any further than the couch." Jerry pointed to the couch in the living room.
"Don't worry Jerry; we'll carry his fairy ass around the fucking house if we have to. We got it under control." Bobby pulled Craig towards the bed. "We're all home now, and we can handle this."
"Don't start that shit Bobby." Jack looked at Bobby.
"What shit?" Bobby smiled.
"The fairy shit." Jack pointed at Bobby. "I am not gay, and you can stop calling me fairy."
"Jack, I'm truly insulted." Bobby held his free hand up to his heart. "I call you fairy out of love. I want you to know that gay or not, you're my brother and I love you."
"Don't say it." Jack kept his eyes glued to Bobby. "I am not gay."
Bobby laughed. "Say what? That I love you even if you are gay? It's the truth Jack. I'm your big brother, and I accept you for who you are. If you aren't gay, then so be it. I still love you."
The room grew quiet. Bobby actually had let it go? It didn't seem possible. Craig was waiting for Bobby to say something else, and apparently so was everyone else.
"That's it? You aren't going to make some kind of fucking joke?" Jack looked as skeptical as Craig was feeling.
"Naw, I'll give you a few days before I start making your life hell. Wouldn't want Jerry here to have a heart attack 'cause I got you all stressed." Bobby looked at Jerry.
Jack looked at Craig. "So, little bro', how are you doing? These clowns have been takin' good care of you?" He asked.
Craig nodded his head. "Yeah," He answered. He couldn't believe he felt awkward at that moment. He'd seen Jack in the hospital several times and had felt more relaxed there than he did now. He'd wanted Jack to come home because he knew he would be able to talk to him about some things that he couldn't talk to Bobby, Angel or Jerry about.
Bobby's wise cracks about Jack being gay were one reason why he was afraid to talk to his oldest brother about the things that had happened to him. Bobby made fun of Jack, and he knew that Jack had been hurt the same way Craig had, when he was little, before he became one of Evelyn Mercer's sons. Craig didn't know how Jack could take that from Bobby, and he didn't understand how Bobby could torment Jack that way. Part of him was afraid Bobby would start calling him a fairy, and he knew he couldn't handle it if he did.
Craig didn't know exactly what had happened to Jack in the past. He had only figured out that they shared similar history because Jack had told him several times that they had a lot more in common than Craig knew. It had taken some time for the boy to piece it together, but he was sure that Jack knew firsthand what it was like to be violated in the same way he had been, and he needed to talk to someone about the way he'd been touched, and the fears he had of being touched again. Fears that seemed to creep up when he least expected them too, and were impossible to control.
Craig listened to his brothers talking to each other as if they were old friends, joking and laughing. He watched as Jerry got Jack a glass of water, even though the younger man had insisted he wasn't thirsty. He was drinking in the feel of his brothers all being home, and feeling more secure just being with them than he ever had. He let his mind forget the hell that the past few weeks had brought down on all of them, and he laughed with them and joined in some of the conversation, but he didn't talk too much, he didn't want to chance sounding stupid and having them make fun of him for some reason. He just wanted to feel like a part of the family that was left since his mother had been taken from them. He missed her, and the feeling of belonging with her. He needed to feel as if he belonged somewhere.