Thanks for the reviews, guys! This story is definitely appealing to my brain, and so here is an unprecedented second chapter in as many days. Enjoy.

Bobby Mercer would smack around Jerry and Angel many, many times, but he'd never forget the look on Angel's face the first time he did so.



"So you're the new kid, huh?" Bobby asked, sliding into the cracked vinyl booth of the local diner. He'd stayed out all night and had only just got home to find a note on the door telling him that his mother, Jerry, and new little brother would be at the diner for breakfast.

Dark, sullen eyes lazily met his as the kid gave a nod.

Bobby bit back a smile and turned to Jerry. "Hey man," he said. "Was, uh, was Ma mad?"

Jerry rolled his eyes. "I don't think she even really realized that you hadn't come home at all. She was too busy getting everything ready for Angel."

"Angel?" Bobby asked, confused.

Jerry nodded at the smaller black boy. "Bobby, meet Angel. Angel, this is Bobby. Ignore him as much as you can."

Bobby responded to this with a light smack upside Jerry's head. "Don't be an asshole," he said before refocusing on Angel. "You got here last night?"

Angel gave him an obligatory nod.

"Not feeling chatty?" At Angel's glare, Bobby smirked. "Point taken. Where is Ma, anyway?"

"She got here and realized that she'd forgotten her wallet at home, so she left us here and went back to get it. I'm surprised you didn't run into her on your way here."

"Hmm," Bobby said, opening his menu. "So what does everybody want?"

"An omelet," Jerry said, "and hash browns. What about you, Angel?"

"Nothin'" he muttered, not even opening the menu.

Jerry raised an eyebrow and exchanged a glance with Bobby who let out a low whistle.

"You know, you can be pissy all you want, Princess, but there's no way Ma's gonna let you get away with not eating," Bobby said, watching to see how Angel would react.

"Fuck off," Angel whispered, opening his menu to block his face from his two new foster brothers that sat across the table from him.

Jerry reached over and hit the menu back down onto the table. Eyebrows still raised, he gave Angel a slow, measuring look.

Bobby, on the other hand, just laughed. "I like you, kid," he said.

This only made Angel scowl as snatched his menu back from Jerry. "Don't touch my stuff," he said.

Bobby kept laughing. "Christ, but you're just a little bitch, aren't you?"

Angel's head shot up at that and he turned to glower at Bobby. Jerry slapped Bobby's leg. "Just leave him alone, man. You're not helping."

Bobby opened his mouth to argue, but was interrupted by Evelyn arriving at the table.

"Bobby," she greeted, smiling. "I'm glad you found my note. I see you've met Angel?"

"Yeah. I like him."

Evelyn frowned slightly at the way Bobby said that, but she only replied, "That's good to hear, sweetheart." Taking her seat beside Angel, she opened her menu. "So, are we ready to order?"

"I think so," Jerry said, eyeing Angel, who was staring at the table.

The waitress came and everyone ordered, including Angel after he decided it wasn't worth making Evelyn mad about--plus he was pretty hungry.

After everyone had their drinks, Evelyn turned to her oldest son. "Bobby, I got a call from the school yesterday."

Feigning nonchalance, Bobby glanced at her. "Oh yeah? They giving me a student of the month award?"

"More like skipper of the month," Jerry muttered, earning himself a kick in the shin from Bobby.

Evelyn sighed and took a long drink of her coffee. Bobby met her eyes, and, seeing her disappointment, dropped his gaze.

"I'm sorry, Ma," he said, giving her the respect of not making excuses. She knew by now that he didn't have a real reason for skipping school, and she'd stopped asking.

Evelyn nodded in acknowledgment, then turned to Jerry. "Now, Jeremiah, we will talk about the lamp when we get home, just so you're aware."

Bobby choked on his orange juice. "You break a lamp, sweetheart?" he asked, chuckling. "Which one?"

Jerry was quick to avoid eye contact with his older brother. "Why do you care? It was just a lamp."

"How'd you break it?" asked a quiet, curious voice from across the table. Everyone turned to look at Angel, and Bobby grinned as Jerry got flustered.

"I...shit, it was just an accident, alright? I was just looking for my shoes, and...I just tripped and the lamp was there…" Jerry muttered, relieved when the waitress appeared with their food, taking the attention off of him.

The subject was dropped for a few merciful minutes until Bobby, thinking about Jerry's explanation while he ate, realized something very important.

"Hey, Jer?" he asked, setting down his fork.


"Remember yesterday, when you were doing your homework in my room and you fell asleep?"


"Well, before I left last night, I didn't want to have to drag your ass back to your own room, so I put a blanket over you and took off your shoes. Considering how much of your crap you always leave in my room, I'm assuming that you left your shoes there until you needed them again?"

"Bobby…" Jerry began, wary of his brother's temper.

"So you were in my room, looking for your shoes, and you tripped over your backpack that you left on my floor, right?"

"Well, I…"

"Which means that you didn't break one of Ma's lamps. You broke my lamp. Were you gonna tell me, you little jerk?"

Bobby didn't look furious or anything, so Jerry tried to play it cool. "'Course I was, Bobby. And, besides, it's just a lamp. I'll buy you a new one today, okay?"

"So you mean you broke the bedside lamp, right? Not the other one." Bobby lifted a dangerous eyebrow, daring Jerry to lie to him.

"No," Jerry whispered, scooting as close to the wall and as far away from Bobby as possible.

"What did you say?" Bobby demanded.

"Bobby," Evelyn cut in, sensing his anger.

"No, Jerry, which lamp did you break?" Bobby continued, relentless.

Jerry closed his eyes and said, "Your lava lamp."

"You fucking broke my lava lamp? You bastard, I'm going to fucking kill you!" Bobby said, his voice rising with each word as he reached over to punch Jerry in the shoulder.

"Ow! I'm sorry!" Jerry exclaimed. "It was an accident."

"Oh you'll be sorry, I can promise you that. That's a fucking guarantee. You just wait until we're outside."

"Bobby," came Evelyn's quiet, pointed voice. "You're scaring your brother."

"He better be scared," Bobby said, but frowned as he leaned over to get a better look at Jerry's face. He was going to make Jerry pay, alright, but Jerry was used to Bobby's threats by now, and knew better than to think Bobby would actually hurt him.

"Your other brother," Evelyn clarified.

Bobby remembered Angel, and turned to look at him. His lips were set in a thin line, giving away his clenched teeth. His face was set in a scowl, but his eyes were open wide, ruining his tough guy facade.

"Oh…" Bobby said, thinking fast. He needed to fix this if he ever wanted to gain Angel's trust.

The waitress dropped off their check at the table, and Evelyn picked it up. "I'm going up front to pay. I want this fixed and settled by the time I come back, understand?"

Bobby nodded and waited until she was out of earshot to say anything. It was Jerry, however, who spoke first.

"Angel, Bobby's just b.. Really, he's full of shit. He'd never actually hurt me, or you, for that matter."

Angel was far from convinced. He eyed Bobby coolly, obviously viewing him as a threat now.

"Aw, damn it, kid," Bobby said. "Jerry's right. When I said that shit, I just meant that I was going to, like, push his face into the snow until he hollered uncle or something. He may be a little bitch, and a complete asshole for breaking my lava lamp," he shot a glare at Jerry, "but he's still my baby brother. I'm not just going to punch his face in. Believe me?" he asked.

"I'm not a baby," Jerry mumbled, giving Bobby a shove.

Glancing from Angel to Jerry, Bobby said, "I'd just keep my hands to myself if I were you, cupcake." With a glance to Evelyn's returning figure, Bobby said, "Angel? You believe me that I wouldn't hurt Jer, right? You're not scared of me?"

Angel just flipped him off. "I'm not scared of you, asshole. I could kick your ass."

Bobby laughed at that. "I'm sure you could, little man. So, when Ma asks, you tell her that now I'm afraid of you, okay? And so is Jerry. We're terrified."

The three boys stood as Evelyn approached the table. She placed a hand on Angel's back. "Don't you pay any mind to Bobby, Angel. His head is just too hot for his own good."

Angel nodded, and Bobby was spared a lecture. However…

"You and I still have some unfinished business, Jeremiah," he hissed as they walked behind Evelyn and Angel.

Jerry didn't reply, and the ride home was silent. Once they pulled into the driveway, though, Bobby jumped out and blocked the path to the door from his brothers. "Ma?" he said, "we're going to build a snowman, okay? Get to know Angel a little better."

Skepticism colored Evelyn's smile, but all she said was, "Don't break any bones."

She went into the house, leaving the three of them outside. As soon as she was gone, Angel said, "I don't want to build a snowman."

Bobby rolled his eyes. "Good. Snowmen are for fairies." He pivoted to face Jerry, ready with a lecture about the sanctity of lava lamps, and was met with a snowball to the face. "Why you little shit," he said in good humor, running toward Jerry and tackling him to the ground. "You think that was funny? I'll show you funny, black boy." Grabbing a handful of snow, Bobby smashed it into Jerry's face, getting some of it down the collar of his shirt. While Jerry sputtered, Bobby took the opportunity to straddle himself over Jerry's stomach and promptly plop down on top of his brother. Abandoning hopes for more snowballs, Bobby used both hands to pin down Jerry's arms. "Now, you listen and you listen good, Jeremiah Mercer. You use my room, you leave your shit laying around--fine. Who gives a damn? But you don't break my shit, especially my lava lamp! Ma gave me that lamp on my first birthday here, because I told her I didn't want anything and she has horrible taste, but I loved that damn lamp and now you broke it. Got anything to say, you little bastard?"

Jerry stopped flailing for a moment. "You're a dick, Bobby. But I really am sorry. I know that Ma gave you that lamp, and I swear it was an accident."

Bobby narrowed his eyes at his brother, scrutinizing. "Okay, fine. You pass the Bobby lie detector test. You break anything else of mine, and I'll have your ass, understand?"

"Yes, Bobby."

"Okay." Bobby got off of Jerry, and when he didn't move to get up, he reached down a hand to help him. Jerry took it gratefully and let Bobby pull him up. Bobby gave his cheek a pat, then turned to see Angel, unmoving in the snow, staring at them. "See?" Bobby said, gesturing toward Jerry. "No harm done."

Slowly, Angel nodded, then broke into a small smirk when he saw Jerry move away from Bobby, then throw a snowball at his brother's ass. Bobby twirled around and was quick to retaliate, hitting Jerry in the chest with an overly large snowball. The two continued for a while, until Bobby got the bright idea to redirect his snowball at Angel, hitting him square in the face.

Angel's anger came back full-force as he wiped the snow out of his eyes. "You fucker!" he screamed at Bobby, visibly shivering.

Bobby strolled over to the kid and gave him a light slap upside the head. Angel looked at him, shocked, and Bobby just laughed. "Don't get mad, kiddo, just get even."

Finally shedding the last of his put-on bravado, Angel bent to scoop up some snow, and chunked it at Jerry. Bobby laughed harder as Jerry sputtered, but he got a surprise himself when Angel's second snowball hit him not three seconds later.

Oh yeah, he thought, you'll fit in just fine, kiddo.