Jack is doing something bad.

Bobby doesn't know how he knows it, he just does.

He guesses it has to do with the fact that an hour ago, Jack walked away so quietly. Because he's been quiet since then. Because it's the wrong kind of quiet.

There hasn't been a single cough, a single chord strummed, there hasn't even been a shift of the floorboards as Jack walks from the television on his bureau back to his bed or the shift of springs as Jack rolls in a nap.

This is practiced quiet.

Jack is good at quiet.

In fact, Jack is like the fucking MVP of being quiet.

Bobby knows this and Bobby recognizes the skill involved.

He is not surprised to find Jack's door locked but he pretends like he isn't.

"Hey, Jack, come watch TV with me. I'm sick'a talkin' to the commercials."

No answer.


Bobby doesn't wait any longer because he knows.

Bobby picks the lock in about two seconds flat and the scene that appears makes his blood run cold.

His baby brother spread eagle in the middle of the carpet. A band around his scarred and slender arm, a needle on the floor. Mouth open, eyes glassy, staring at the ceiling.

He wants to scream.

"Jackie?" he whispers. He is too scared to leave the doorway.

His heart is on the verge of tumbling over some cliff he did not know existed within him, when Jack blinks.

Bobby takes one step forward and falls to his knees beside his little brother. "Oh, Jack," he says. His hand trembles above Jack's head before falling to his side. "Fuck it all."

Jack licks his lips and opens his mouth slowly. He breathes three long breathes (as Bobby blinks back tears and then chokes on them) before pushing out the word, "Hey."

Bobby doesn't know whether to laugh or strangle the kid. He pounds the floor weakly with his fist.

"Hey?" he says shakily. "All you can say is 'hey', you fucking fairy? Well, fuck you, Jackie. What the fuck is this shit?"

Jack's eyes are far, far away but Bobby stares at him hard, daring the kid to pull himself closer to reality.

"I wanted to remember what it felt like. Bad. So bad. Crazy … crazy bad."

"Oh, yeah? Well was it as fucking great as you remember?"

Jack frowns at the tears streaming down his brother's face. He doesn't quite understand them. He whispers, "Yes."

Bobby wishes he could hit his brother. "That's shit, Jack. You're better than this."

Jack shakes his head slowly. He's remembering something from before he went away to this nice place he's at right now. His glassy eyes fill with tears. "No … no, I'm bad."

"You're dumb," Bobby corrects, shoving his fists into his eyes like the little Dutch boy who tries to stop the dyke from flooding.

"Bad," Jack whispers, never moving from his prone position on the floor. "Bad, bad, bad. Wanted it 'cause I'm bad. Bought it 'cause I'm bad. Did it 'cause I'm bad. Bad 'cause I did it."

Bobby realizes in this moment that Jack has defined his life by "bad", by how "bad" he supposedly is.

Bobby could kill someone, that knowledge alone makes him so angry.

"You idiot," he growls. The heat of tears is only growing. "You're so fucking dumb," he says.

But Jack can't hear him. All Jack hears is "bad, bad, bad."

His dumb little brother, laying there, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes.

Bobby shuffles closer and puts his hands under Jack's armpit. A troubled look comes over Jackie's face. He weakly shies away from Bobby's touch, making Bobby curse.

"Don't tell mom." Jack's voice cracks. "Don't. Just … just call the church and tell them … them 'em I wanna confess. Everything. All of it. Now." Jack is sobbing in earnest. "Please? Bobby … please? I'm going to hell, Bobby."

"No, Jackie."

"Please, don't let me die before the priest gets here, Bobby."

Bobby stares at the wall, smoothing his hair back, hugging Jack closer still.

"Shut up, Jackie," he begs, trying to still Jack's shuddering body. The sobs rip from Jack's throat.

"I d-don't wanna gota hell," he cries, clutching Bobby's shirt. He tugs his long legs onto Bobby's lap. Jack is fifteen but Bobby cradles him.

"Jackie, stop. You're a good boy. You did a bad thing but you're a good." Jack is hyperventilating. Bobby rubs his fingers, trying to keep the circulation going.

"I don't wanna go, B-bobby, don't make me."

Bobby doesn't understand why God tortures a kid so goddamned good.

"This is just a bad trip, kiddo," Bobby says, trying not to sound nervous because Jack won't quit with the shaking shit. He plants a kiss in Jack's sweaty hair. "C'mon Cracker Jacker."

For a few long moments, Bobby is silent. He doesn't move. He wonders if should call Ma. Call the hospital. Call anyone. Call someone who can say the magic word that will stop Jack's teeth from jackhammering so hard that Bobby is genuinely frightened as to how he will keep his brother from biting straight through his tongue.

But Bobby remembers this from when Jack was little and he's seen it a dozen times before with kids on the street. No one can fix Jack right now.

He carefully lifts his little brother, so featherlight in his arms (but somehow weighted by the drugs) and carries the kid to his bed. Jack is sweating and shivering and dragging his nails on Bobby's hockey-toughened arms.

"Let go so I can get you warm, Jackie."

But Jack shakes his head, gasping on his own tears. "No-o-o," he moans. "D-do-don'"

"Shh." Bobby hums, trying to quiet his brother. He sits, Jack still in his arms. "I won't, Jack. Don't worry. I won't go. Nothing could make me fucking leaving you."

Jack lets out a sharp breathe and clings a little less violently.

Because even if he's scared to death, if his brother's here, he thinks maybe Bobby might be able to scare the devil.