Evelyn looked up from her stories when she heard the front door open. She laughed softly when she saw her boys walk in soaking wet and looking very cold.
"Did you boys have fun?" she asked standing and heading to the hall closet where she kept extra towels.
"Me and Jackie won of course." Bobby bragged with a proud look.
"That's wonderful." Evelyn said mostly to Jack as she handed him a fluffy towel. He smiled shyly at her.
"Bobby cheated most of the time though." Jerry declared. "Jackie played fair."
"Well that's good. I'm glad one of you plays by the rules." Evelyn said. "Why don't you boys go change and warm and I'll get some hot chocolate made."
"Sounds like a plan." Angel declared as he rushed past Bobby and Jerry up the stairs.
"Did you have fun playing with them Jackie?" Evelyn asked helping her youngest dry his blond hair.
"See. It wasn't so bad was it?" she asked gently.
Jack shook his head. He really did have fun playing with his brother's. Not once did they yell at him for anything he might have done wrong nor did they come close to any kind of sign of striking him.
The only thing close to yelling at him was Bobby cheering him on when he'd managed to strike Angel in the chest and got Jerry twice in the back of the head. He'd someone managed to dodge every snowball that came at him, making him the new demand to be on team's during the next game.
"I'm so proud of you Jackie." Evelyn said and placed a gentle motherly kiss on his forehead.
Jack was surprised at himself. He just allowed someone to get close to him, allowed them to make contact and didn't once show any kind of fear.
"He's on my team next."
"No way. The kid stays with me."
"Why don't we try the two oldest against the two youngest?"
"I'm the oldest so I get to pick first and I say that Jackie's with me."
Jack had to admit that he was a bit amused but he was more confused if anything else. Never in his entire ten years of life had people fought over which team he should be on.
Fights had happened around him, about him and on him but never once had a positive arguement happened over him.
He felt a warm blanket placed over his shoulders and lightly smiled at his mother as he continued to listen to his brother's debates. He felt his mother sit next to him and found himself not minding. He felt her warmth and found it relaxing and addicting.
"He's on my team next!"
"No way. I'm closer to his age. He's with me!"
"First born, first choice. Deal with it!"
Jack mentally laughed at the three before he found his eyeslids starting to become weighed down. A second later he felt himself slouched against someone and felt a protective and gentle touch wrap around him.
It was then that he felt for the first time what safety and comfort were really like.