Author's Note: Originally this was a small writing exercise that ended up growing. I do have more planned out so bear with me. I only watched the movie for the first time a few months back and was surprised to discover life within the fandom despite its age! The dynamics between the characters made me fall in love so I couldn't resist writing something. Also, if I fail to grasp all the Americanisms please point them out for me to fix, however I will try my best. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Oh and this story will NOT be slash sorry to say, just pure brotherly love! (:

Also, a few warnings: There will be language, underage drinking, drug abuse, mentioned of child abuse, etc. So read of your own accord.

Disclaimer: From here on out I own nothing.

Uphill Struggle

He retched violently, breath heaving as he fought to take in air and throw up the contents of his stomach at the same time.

"Oh, God," Jack groaned quietly as he wrapped his arms around his shaking frame and pried his tightly-clenched eyelids open. He was two houses away from home and from the looks of it everyone had retired to bed if the darkness inside was any indication. 'Good', he thought. He just couldn't face his ma's worried expression and gentle hands; fetching him water and aspirin and soothing him through the inevitable gagging over the toilet seat. No matter how many times he fucked himself up she was always there, and whilst it made Jack guilty he still snuck out most nights with the intention of meeting up with his friends and having a good time.

It had been just after 3am by the time he'd realized through his haze that he should probably start staggering home lest he pass out on the pitiful couch he had spent the better part of the night hallucinating on. Save from a few diversions to trash cans, shrubs and now Mrs. Craylin's rose bushes, he had made it back as quickly as his inebriated state allowed him. Jack supposed he should be thanking his lucky stars the streets had seemed, for the better part, mostly empty; an unusual sight for the shadier part of the town he passed through.

Tripping blindly he shuffled his way up the pathway, shivering from the cold despite the light perspiration decorating his face, and reached a shaky hand into his pocket for his key. He disregarded climbing back in through his window unless he wanted to end up in A&E or worse, he thought with a grimace, caught. He directed the key towards the lock, sharply missing and tapping the wood instead and then dropping it altogether onto the porch with a 'clang' that had him letting out a short giggle (that he blamed entirely on the drugs, thank you very much) before looking around in paranoia. After bending to retrieve it and further antagonizing his already sensitive stomach, Jack aimed again, hand slowly inching forward and he silently cheered when it was met with success.

Whilst carefully opening the door he repeated the silent mantra in his head: 'Please don't let him wake up, please don't let him wake up', before he leant back against it and let the silence throughout the house blanket him as he attempted to get the growing nausea under control. Shit, he'd gone overboard tonight and surpassed even his limit because there was no way in hell this was going to be slept off in a few short hours for school.

First things first, if he could just make it to his room he'd be saved from a verbal, and hell knowing Bobby, physical ass whupping for being out so late to begin with. He wouldn't even want to think of what he'd do if he knew what his baby brother had actually been out for. Bobby had stepped right back into the alpha role since his return and had been on his back ever since and, in all truth, it was pissing Jack off.

Leaning away from the door unsteadily Jack slowly moved to the bottom of the staircase, placing one knee on the second step then rethinking his plan entirely when the room started spinning dangerously. He felt like he was on one of the rides at the fair that had you going green in a matter of seconds and scrambling for the nearest bathroom stall. 'Bad idea', he moaned internally as he laid his forehead onto the thick-carpeted step. He'd just lay here for a moment. That sounded good.

Evelyn Mercer had always been an active woman, and despite nearing her sixties that didn't seem to be changing anytime soon. After all, just because her boys were growing up and beginning their own lives did not mean they would suddenly stop needing her. As it was she still spent a lot of time running after her two youngest sons; Jack was currently dragging his way through high school whilst Angel had a job at the garage. Between being a mother and social worker there was never a moments quiet and that was just the way she liked it.

It was an early Wednesday morning and an urgent case involving a child she had fostered briefly a few months ago required her attention. Abbey had only been in her care a mere five weeks a few months back, but in that time Evelyn had worked her magic and the frightened child now trusted her implicitly. As was such, since being in the hospital under her new guardian's care the little girl had done nothing but ask for her, refusing to say anything of what had happened and Evelyn knew she would have to leave town in order to help as best as she could. In her absence she was entrusting the care of the house and Angel and Jack under her eldest's watchful eye. Bobby had returned from Chicago a few days prior in the middle of the night on apparent 'leave', and despite raising an eyebrow Evelyn had welcomed him home with a kiss on the cheek and a warm smile.

Pulling her robe tightly around her to ward off the chilly air she made her way to the stairs, passing Jack's bedroom and deciding to give him a few more minutes before waking him up for school. Rousing the teen in the morning was a gruelling and increasingly exhausting task, and despite her progressively firmer demands that he get his back side up he still refused. So far Jack had managed to be late pretty much everyday and seemed unconcerned with both his mother's and the school's threats for punishment over it.

'Well, except for yesterday,' she thought with a smirk. Her repeated attempts at getting her son up had worked, shame it wasn't the one she was addressing though. Bobby had come shuffling out of his and Jerry's old room, bleary eyed and asking if she was okay. Sick of Jack ignoring her, she'd handed the reigns over to her eldest and watched in amusement as he'd forcefully entered the room and proceeded to drag Jack bodily from his bed. He'd then spent the rest of the morning following him around and barking orders at him to do some chores before finally allowing him to flee the house. Nearly fifteen minutes earlier than usual.

Shaking her head she turned down the stairs, her smirking faltering considerably as she noticed the familiar, black-clad figure sprawled along the bottom three steps.

"Jackie, sweetheart?" she called softly, making her way down and placing a hand in his blond hair, carefully stroking it back from his face and frowning at the strong smell of alcohol and marijuana clinging to his clothes.

Jack screwed up his face, mumbling unintelligently before relaxing his features back into sleep. There was no way she was going to be getting a coherent response from him in this state, she'd come to learn.

"Okay then," Evelyn sighed heavily, speaking more to herself as she gave her comatose son a comforting pat on the back. She needed to get Jack settled in bed before she could do anything, and whilst she wasn't best pleased with the situation, she knew somebody who would be downright furious, regardless of being woken up early. Again.