A/N: First Four Brothers fic. I have a few ideas for some other ones but am holding off so I can finish all the other unfinished fics I have. Maybe some glorious day I won't have three jobs and no internet and I will be able to upload all the chapters, oneshots, fics, etc that are currently written in chicken scratch in my notebooks.

Disclaimer: I do not own Four Brothers or their characters and all that jazz...

Summary: Takes place right after the deleted scene where Bobby teases Jack at the dinner table about being gay. This is also shortly before the boys eat Thanksgiving dinner. If you have not had a chance to see the deleted scene, Bobby takes the joking a bit far and Jack gets upset. Well, it's a lot better than that one sentence, but you get the gist.

Reviews make me smile. ~ ~ ~

Safety

Bobby pushed himself up from his seat at the table as both Jerry and Angel offered him warning glances. He sighed and rounded the corner to find his youngest brother slamming his tongue piercing down on the stove in a balled fist.

"Jack, quit cryin' and get your ass in here to have a fucking Thanksgiving dinner with your brothers."

"Way to make a sales pitch, Bobby," Jerry chided with a small laugh from the other room.

Jack just leaned against the counter, his arms tense and his grip on the edge tightening.

"Come on, man," Bobby rolled his eyes, "it was a joke."

"Fuck off Bobby," Jack gritted his teeth.

Bobby cocked an eyebrow wordlessly. He had witnessed his youngest brother take offense to his teasing, but this was different. Bobby carefully watched his brother as Jack merely glared at the cupboards that were inches away from his flaring nostrils. Bobby briefly mused if he had finally pushed little Jackie too far. He waited for the physical retaliation that was obviously going through his brother's mind. Instead, what Bobby saw shocked him. Jack's shoulders quaked and he faltered momentarily. Within seconds, Jack spun around and hurriedly stormed out of the house.

"Fuck, Bobby," Angel groaned from the other room as the door slammed.

"Bobby," Jerry peered in at his older brother. "Go easy on him. With mom and everything – you know how he gets."

Bobby just nodded and shrugged to avoid further argument. He was too rattled by the fact he had brought Jack to near tears to think of a comeback. Sure, he had made Jack cry before; after forgetting his own strength in what was supposed to be a friendly brotherly brawl or something of that sort. Never had he done it through sheer words. Jack always had some sort of reaction to his brother's obvious insinuations of Jack's sexuality. Sometimes he would laugh it off with a brief "fuck you". Other times he would yell or push Bobby. And then sometimes Jack just got real quiet. This was quiet, pissed off, and crying. Bobby just shook his head and ventured outside.

Jack made it to the end of the driveway before he stopped stomping and just began to wander slowly down the street. He silently cursed himself. He berated himself for not grabbing his jacket as he was clad in only a t-shirt. He scolded himself for ruining the dinner he had worked so hard to prepare. And he swore at himself for allowing himself to respond so emotionally to his brother's familiar antics. He just couldn't take it anymore. He had been living with Bobby's weathered jokes for years. They had always deeply bothered him, but he could take it. With Evelyn there, Jack could take just about anything. Only she knew the real reason behind his sensitivity to the comments but, out of pleading request from an eight-year-old Jack, didn't tell the boys. Jack was embarrassed enough by the jabs and didn't need to add possible meaning to them or past events to back them up. It was better if Bobby assumed Jack was sensitive rather than knowing the truth. But with Evelyn gone, he had no one to turn to, no one to make him feel safe. Sure, Jack felt physically safe around his brothers. He knew they would never really hurt him and that they would do everything in their power to protect him, but that wasn't enough. It wasn't the same. What Evelyn gave him, that desperately needed sense of security and safety, that peace, could not be replicated or replaced. She, and it, were gone, and Jack was left back as a terrified and hurting little boy.

"You're gonna freeze your dick off out here," Bobby's voice cut sharply through Jack's thoughts. "That is, if you still have one – or have you gotten the operation yet?"

Jack stuffed his hands in his pant pockets and began silently walking away.

"Come on Jack!" Bobby shouted. "I'm just joking! Lighten up, damn it. What the fuck is wrong? Turn around, Jack. Jackie!"

Bobby cursed and jogged to catch up with his brother. Bobby reached out and slapped a hand on Jack's shoulder who flinched and pulled away roughly.

"Damn it, Jack, you know I ain't gonna hurt you" Bobby said more seriously as he hated when Jack reacted like that to him. "Thought we were way past that fucking shit. Come on. Look at me."

Bobby grabbed Jack's arms and turned him around so they faced each other. Bobby nearly lost his grip when he saw his brother's face. Jack's eyes were red-rimmed and tears decorated his flushed cheeks. He wasn't mad or annoyed or even scared. He just looked broken. It was how he had looked when Evelyn first brought him home and then at her funeral.

"Jackie –"

"Don't." Jack hissed.

"What the fuck is it, man?" You know I love you, man. Right? Talk this shit out. Is this 'bout Ma?"

"No," Jack mumbled, attempting to turn away but locked in his brother's hold. "No – not – sort of. Not really. I guess. I don't know."

"You're gonna have to give me more than you're 'I don't know' run around bullshit."

"Just leave it alone, Bobby, please." Jack's 'please' came out haggard and desperate.

"Jack, either you tell me what the hell is going on inside that fucking head of yours or I will lock you out here and let you freeze."

"You wouldn't."

"Really? Ask Angel." Bobby raised his forehead in a challenging expression.

"Please," Jack repeated, "don't."

"Don't what?"

"Don't make me."

"Don't make you what?" Bobby nearly screamed, not amused by the repetition game.

"I can't." Jack whispered through a sudden broken sob.

"Jack, you're scaring the shit outta me here, alright? Just speak. Whatever it is, I promise I won't laugh or make a joke or anything. Okay? Damn it, Jackie. What is it?"

"Stop," Jack coughed.

"Stop what?"

"Stop. Just stop the fucking gay jokes and names. It's old and it's enough already. I can't take it anymore, okay?"

"You're out here crying 'cause I been teasin' you? Don't buy it. I always give you shit."

"But I can't take it anymore," Jack repeated through clenched teeth. "Please."

"You gotta give me more of a reason, Jack" Bobby shook his head, not accepting the answer.

"Just because!" Jack suddenly yelled. "Can't you just fucking leave it at that?"

"No," Bobby countered simply. "Jack, you're my brother. Whatever this is – whatever you're going through –"

"It's not just something I'm going through!" Jack roared, violently pulling out of Bobby's grip. "It's what I went through! It's what I've been fucking going through my entire damn life! Every day I remember and every damn night I fucking relive it all in my fucking head! Sometimes – sometimes – when I'm on stage or when I was with Evelyn – I would forget. I'd go hours – days – without thinking about it. But every fucking time you say that shit I'm right back. Right back! I live in a fucking nightmare, Bobby! You don't understand! The only thing – only person – that kept me safe – kept me sane – was Evelyn. And now – now she's gone! She's dead and I – I don't know what to do. I feel like – I don't know, man. I'm fallin' apart here."

"Are you talkin' 'bout the abuse, Jackie? 'Cause I know about that. Shit, man, we all know. But what does me callin' you gay have to do with getting' slapped around –"

Jack's eyes looked up darkly from the spot on his shirt he had been honing in on and met sharply with Bobby's. The gaze was strong enough to stop Bobby from speaking and in another lingering second it all came together. There had always been something hovering over Jack like a black cloud from his past that went far beyond mere beatings but the brothers never pushed it. Bobby's eyes flashed realization and Jack quickly glanced and backed away.

"Jack –"

"Don't," Jack held his hands up as if shielding a blow.

"Jack, you need to look me in the fucking eye right now," Bobby ordered and waited until Jack finally obeyed. "What did he do to you?"

"Don't make me answer that question, Bobby. You already know the answer."

"Sick motherfucker," Bobby nearly choked on the words and took a moment to compose himself. "How long?" He demanded and received no reply. "How long?" He repeated venomously.

"Three years," Jack's voice cracked and held the weight of a feather.

Bobby clenched his fists and jaw, muttering something Jack couldn't and didn't want to hear.

"All this time," Bobby swallowed. "All this fucking time with us, Jack. And you couldn't tell us? We're your brothers."

"Would you want to talk about this shit with me or Angel or Jerry – or any fucking body?" Jack countered. "The only reason Evelyn knew was 'cause it was in that damn file they had on me."

Jack turned away and pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. The two were silent as Jack smoked and Bobby mulled the entire conversation over. Neither knew quite what to say or do. Bobby wanted to swiftly hunt down and brutally, slowly and painfully tear his brother's source of agony apart, even more so than he did when he first found out about the physical abuse all those years ago. Abuse was no foreign topic to the Mercer brothers. They all knew verbal, physical, emotional abuse and neglect quite well. But this? This was something entirely different. Bobby thought back to the little boy Evelyn had brought home, how vulnerable and broken he had looked and now had a whole new understanding of the kid. Evelyn had told the boys that his life had been extremely trying and that he had gone through a very traumatizing childhood, but had left it at that. It took a long time, but eventually Jack learned to trust the household, at least, that's what Bobby had thought. When young Jack had told Bobby of the violent beatings he had received and shown him the scars, it had been presumably a significant step for the youngest brother. Bobby had had no idea that there was so much more to be told behind those wounds.

Part of Jack yearned for his eldest brother to reach over and embrace him. After all the defending himself of his sexuality, it seemed ironic and far too sensitive. But Jack couldn't put the tough guy mask on his inner pain and desires. He needed that comfort. It was what Evelyn had done so many times on those nights he had awoken, screaming and sweating, having relived one of his childhood horrors in his sleep. She would wrap her loving arms around him and whisper soothing words only he could hear. As much as he would never admit it, along with any Mercer brother, he desperately missed that. He missed the warmth, the protection, the love.

Finally, Jack took one last drag and closed his eyes.

"Jack," Bobby sighed, "you gotta know that you're safe here."

"I only ever felt completely safe with Evelyn," Jack admitted, surprising himself.

"Well, you're safe with us, alright?" Bobby replied, not wishing to reveal to his baby brother that he felt the same way. "That shit's over. You ain't gonna go through that again. I ain't gonna let you get hurt."

"Don't make promises you can't keep," Jack frowned and tossed the cigarette down into a pile of snow.

"Fine, smartass. I can't control if you're stupid and walk in front of a bus or get freakin' lung cancer from those damn things, but I will do everything I can to keep you safe, ya hear me?"

Jack nodded simply, staring at the ground.

"Now come on," Bobby pulled his brother towards the house as he slung an arm around his shoulders. Get your ass inside before we both freeze and Angel and Jerry start eating all that damn food. By the way, I never knew you were freakin' Martha Stewart."

Jack shot him a quick glare.

"What? I'm your big brother. It is physically impossible for me to not give all three of my younger brothers a good, healthy dose of shit. It's all in love, Jackie," Bobby teased and then went serious, "all in love."

Bobby ruffled Jack's hair and Jack didn't pull away for once. Bobby could be the world's largest ass, but Jack knew that the jokes were just that, jokes, and his brother meant what he said about loving him and wanting to protect him. And as he reentered the house, Jack began to think that maybe, just maybe, he could somehow find that safety again.

A/N: I know - I hate two Author Notes too. Obviously, I took some liberties with this. Maybe Jack did tell them earlier, maybe not. We know Evelyn knows and that's all we get from the film. And they didn't go into some long heart-felt discussion or talk about feelings and memories etc etc because that's not how I think that they would address this. Bobby doesn't fly off the handle and make a huge deal of it because he knows that would push Jack away. I don't even know if this is any good. It just came to me.

Like it, hate it? Be nice, be mean, be funny, be critcally cruel.