A/N: I found the way Thom and Jock interact very interesting. And you know, some of the things Jock said got me thinking and this is the product.

Summary: By the time Thom was eight, he knew all about being a big brother and what it really meant to be one. One-shot following the Cussler brothers from childhood to after the Super Avalanche.
Rating: T
Alcohol, child abuse, and child neglect. Mild language and violence.
Word Count: 1,441

Thom cringed and pulled Jock closer as the glass shattered against the wall. Even across the hall and huddled in a closet, they could hear the yelling and fighting. Jock buried his head in Thom's side and let out a small whimper as they heard a door slam. Thom reached up and pulled a coat down overtop of them. They both gave an involuntary flinch when the closet door slammed open.

"Brats! I know you're in here!"

Thom put a hand over Jock's mouth to keep him from crying. If they could stay quiet just for a few more seconds…

They heard shuffling, signaling that their father was moving coats around looking for them. All he really managed to do was drop a few more on them, which, in Thom's eight year old mind, is perfect. It'll help them hide and muffle any noise Jock might make – at four years old, Thom's little brother was still learning to be quiet and when to hide and when to run. So, Thom kept his hand on Jock's mouth until he heard the closet door slam shut and their father shuffle out of the room. Thom waited a few minutes before removing his hand and leading Jock from the closet.

"Stay quiet for a little while longer, okay Jock?" Jock nodded, his brown eyes wide and terrified. Thom directed his brother underneath their bed and tip –toed out the door. He had to make sure their dad – whose name was also Thom, ain't that special? –was gone. He wouldn't let him hurt his baby brother. He'd seen him beat Jock once and seen evidence of it many times, so he'd do whatever it took to protect them, and as soon as he could, he'd get them out of here and far, far away. He was tired of living terrified for himself and Jock. He was tired of tiptoeing around the one person they were supposed to be able to rely on since their mother's death.

But most of all, he was tired of not fighting back for himself. For Jock.

Thom fought back for the first time on Jock's fifth birthday. Thom had snuck out with Jock to give him a happy birthday. Their dad was supposed to be working late, so Thom figured he had plenty of time to take Jock to the playground – the best one with the swings and the merry-go-round – and get Jock a present. And Jock had a great time. Thom had never seen his brother smile and laugh so much and it made Thom all warm and smiley knowing he had made Jock laugh like that.

It didn't last long.

They got home around six to find their father waiting for them. Thom glared and Jock cringed.

"Where," the monster began, "have you two been?"

Thom pulled Jock behind him before answering. "Out. For Jock's birthday."

"You weren't supposed to leave the house."

Thom knew then that they were beyond 'in trouble.' He and Jock were up the creek without a paddle. He could see the rising fury in their father's eyes, so he did what he thought was the smartest thing. He stayed quiet.

"Boy, answer me when I talk to you."

Thom doesn't answer – no answer would be the right one anyways – and watches their father's face harden and almost doesn't manage to push Jock out of the way of the incoming fist. Something in Thom snaps. He shoves Jock in the direction of their room with a hissed "Hide!" and flings himself at his father, fist swinging.

He gets the worse betting of his life for that, but couldn't really bring himself to care. He kept Jock safe and he finally – finally- fought back against the bastard.

Jock started fighting back three years later.

Thom was sixteen and Jock was about to turn twelve when the police finally took them away. They took them to an aunt they never knew they had – the sister of their father. Her name was Amelia Cussler. She told Thom and Jock to call Aunt Amy or just Amy ("Honestly, who wants to be called Amelia?").

She's nice. She tells them she loves them and gives them sweets and didn't bat an eye when, instead of sticking to their separate rooms, they ended up sharing a room and bed, and she threw Jock his first ever birthday party. Aunt Amy also opened a bank account for Thom so he could have his own financial means (just in case). She lived in a big old Victorian style home that was painted blue – on the outside. On the inside almost every room was a different color, full of pictures and different odds and ends their aunt had picked up on her travels (and she had traveled a lot). She took them to the local hardware store and let them choose what to paint their room.

Thom and Jock painted snow capped mountains along the walls and a star studded sky across the ceiling.

Aunt Amy died of cancer when Thom was eighteen and Jock was fourteen. She left them everything – the house and all her assets. It was also around this time that their father got out of jail on parole for good behavior.

Good behavior Thom's ass.

What really pissed Thom off though was the fact that the bastard had the nerve to show up at the funeral and demand Thom let Jock live with him.

Like hell.

The custody battle was relatively short with Thom gaining permanent custody of his little brother and the right to deny their father visitation rights. As if he'd let him within a hundred feet of Jock. To make sure he couldn't find Jock, Thom pulled him out of school and they moved across the country and started over. Thom made sure they were unlisted in the phone books to make them that much harder to find. He let Jock pick his school and in no time there was an invasion of teenagers in their new home.

Thom couldn't bring himself to mind.

Thom is 30 and Jock is 26 and Jock is buried under debris and snow and god knows what else. And what is Thom doing? Having a panic attack, heart attack, and stroke all at once and doesn't actually do anything until Callie's –Callie's – father smacks some sense into him. So Thom goes looking for his brother and the whole time he notices the intensity in Callie's father's eyes as the search for Jock and Callie.

Thom kinda wonders if that's what if a father is supposed to be like. He also wonders what that says when he's like that when it comes to Jock.

So. Anyway.

Thom's digging through an insane amount of snow, ice, trees of all damn things, and breaks through into the Ice Cave and finally sees Jock and just about dies out of sheer relief. They pull Hannah out first, then Jock pushes Callie out and follows after her, and Thom finds he can breathe again.

Well, right up until his idiotic, suicidal little brother passes out while they're dangling from the helicopter. Thom swears Jock is actively trying to give him a goddamn heart attack.

It's working too.

Jock is one of the (amazingly) few people to be admitted to the hospital. He doesn't leave until three days later due to severe hypothermia. While Jock is knocked out and buried under blankets instead of snow, Thom does something he hasn't done twelve years.

Thom contacted his bastard of a father. He doesn't tell them where they are, only what happened. The conversation is short and surprisingly civil ("Hey, it's Thom. Just letting you know Jock landed himself in the hospital with severe hypothermia. He'll be fine. Just letting you know. Bye.")

And that was that.

As soon as Jock was released, they headed for the village to aid in the reconstruction, where both kinda, sorta, fell even deeper in love – with the village, the country, the mountains, and most of all, with Katya and Callie.

Thom is 32 and Jock 28 when Thom's first child is born. Katya and Callie call him a natural father, knowing how to take care of his son (Thom still can't get over that – his son) almost instinctively.

Except not.

Not an ounce of it is instinct. He knows what to do because he's done it before.

He raised Jock after all.

And ain't that a terrifying realization that he actually raised his little brother.

Might explain why he's heroically suicidal though.


"Erk. That wasn't my fault, Thom! Honest! …And, no I didn't hit my head!"

Then again, maybe not.

So, this was originally going to be ridiculously long, but I decide on this instead, and I like it a lot more. I'm thinking about continuing this, or expanding on it in a separate story. So, uh, tell me what you think? Pretty please with sugar and cherries and extra yummy delicious tasty chocolate on top? :)