Bobby tip toed quietly into the kitchen, leaning silently in the doorway as he watched the kid sitting at the table. She had smudges of chocolate ice cream around her mouth, and a spoon that looked a size too big for her held in her hands as she kneeled in her seat, scooping big spoonfuls of the melting ice cream into her mouth.
"What d'you think you're doin'?" he asked, causing the little girl of four years to jump, her eyes flashing to his face. Her dark brown eyes lit up as a grin stretched across her face and she lifted up the spoon, dribbling ice cream onto the table.
"Uncle Jack gave me ice cream!" she shouted happily before sticking the spoon in her mouth. Dark brown curls fell into her face, and she pushed them out of the way quickly with her free hand, ice cream oozing from her mouth. Bobby laughed, pushing himself off the door frame as he walked over to the sink and grabbed a napkin off the roll.
"Oh did he?" he asked as he wetted it before turning to face the small girl. She nodded her head vigorously, another toothy grin stretching across her face. Bobby smiled as he walked over to her, using the wet napkin to clean up the chocolate mess on her pale skin. She mumbled something from underneath the napkin, and Bobby laughed before removing it and arching his brows.
"What did you say?" he asked.
"I said that tickled Daddy!" the little girl giggled out, and Bobby smiled.
"Did it?" he asked, feigning being shocked. Marlie nodded her head, sending more of her dark curls into her face, which she pushed back patiently with the hand that wasnt covered in chocolate. Bobby reached forward and took the spoon from her, chucking it into the sink before he wiped her hand off as well.
"But Daddy, i wasnt finished!" she protested, reaching for the bowl as Bobby took it from the table.
"You've had plenty of ice cream for today baby girl. How much ice cream was in this bowl?" he asked as he set it in the sink. Marlie's small face scrunched up for a moment, her dark brown eyes shinning as she thought.
"Over the top." she answered finally, shrugging as she stood up in the chair.
"That's what i thought. Cracker Jack always goes over board on the ice cream." Bobby said, turning back to face her. Marlie giggled as she heard the nick name her daddy gave her uncle, the sound making Bobby grin as well.
"I told you not to call me that man!" Jack complained as he appeared in the kitchen, glaring at Bobby. Bobby grinned over at his little brother.
"Aww, but she loves when i call you that Jackie, don't ya kiddo?" Bobby asked, turning back to his daughter. Marlie nodded, still giggling before she jumped from the stool and ran at Jack. He bent down and lifted her up easily, holding her on his side.
"I like Cracker Jack, it's funny." she stated. Bobby grinned as he slid his eyes back to his little brother's and walked towards where they stood. He had work to do at Jerry's factory, and Jack was volunteering to watch Marlie for him until he got off. Which made Bobby more than a little nervous. Not because he didn't trust Jack to watch his little girl, that wasnt it at all. Bobby would trust Marlie's life with Jack without a moment's hesitation. But with Bobby being an at home dad for so long, he had grown used to being with his little girl on a twenty-four seven basis. This was his first day going to work in Marlie's four years of living, and Bobby seemed to be the only nervous one.
"That's right Jackie, it's funny." Bobby said with a smirk. He reached forward and cupped Marlie's head before pressing a kiss to her cheek and rubbing his thumb on her other one as he forced her to look at him.
"You be good for Uncle Jack alright?" he asked, arching his brows. Marlie nodded once, holding his gaze steadily. "I want a good report when i get back." he added as he dropped his hand and headed towards the door, shrugging into his jacket as he went towards the door.
"And no boys in the house Jackie!" Bobby shouted over his shoulder as he opened the door. Bobby heard Jack growl something that sounded distinctly like "little fucker" under his breath, and for a moment considered going back into the kitchen and smacking him upside his head for cursing in front of his daughter. But what he heard next made him grin widely.
"I'll keep him under control Daddy! Have a good day at work!" Marlie shouted from the kitchen before Bobby shut the door and headed to his car. Jack waited a moment after the door shut, looking down at Marlie as she looked up at him. Her small arms were wound around his neck, her tiny fingers playing with his hair as she waited for him to speak. And as soon as they heard the tires of Bobby's car drive away, Jack grinned down at his niece.
"You wanna finish that ice cream before we head out?" he asked. A grin a mile wide spread across her face, her large, dark brown eyes- the same shade as Bobby's- lit up with excitement as she nodded vigorously.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" she shouted excitedly, squirming to get out of his arms. Jack laughed and sat her back on her feet, allowing her to run to the table as he got the bowl of half melted ice cream out of the sink and got her a new spoon, setting them both down in front of her.
"Try not to make a mess this time kid, I don't wanna clean up after ya." Jack said, noticing the half-dried dribbles of ice cream scattering the table.
"Loco Ono will clean it up later." Marlie said before taking a huge bite. The innocence of her statement and the unabashed usage of Bobby's nickname for Sofi had Jack laughing as he sank down into the seat beside Marlie. Bobby would be pissed when he found out he missed this one. He had been waiting for the day his kid would start repeating some of the stuff that he said. Especially when it came to Sofi, Angel's girlfriend.
"Yeah, i guess she will.'" Jack said, watching as the kid made a mess with the ice cream. Jack leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms, his mind wandering as the house was filled with the sound of Marlie's humming, and of the spoon hitting the plastic bowl she was using.
Jack still remembered the day when Bobby met the mother of Marlie. It was a few weeks after Evelyn was shot, after the incident with Victor Sweet and a few days after Jack got out of the hospital from his bullet wounds. Bobby had taken Jack to the drug store to pick up his pain meds, because Bobby was in over protective mode and refused to let Jack go anywhere alone while in his 'condition'. They were standing in line for almost two hours, Bobby gripping and complaining to Jack the entire time, earning death glares from the other people in front of them in the line, all the while Jack hissing under his breath and telling Bobby to shut up. Instead of listening, just like classic Bobby, he talked louder, his language getting more vulgar until finally the young woman in front of them had turned around sharply and glared at him.
Her skin had been an unhealthy ashen color, and dark circles were under her emerald eyes that signalled she had been missing out on sleep. She had turned around and snapped at him, claiming that he had no reason to be bitching about the long wait if nothing was seriously wrong with them. She had flushed with embarassment when Bobby pointed out that Jack had been shot and just got out of the hospital. She apologized and when asked why she was waiting in line said nothing more than, "It's not important. You guys go ahead." And had relented her spot in line after informing them that her name was Alana, and it was more important for them to go in line before her.
After that her and Bobby had been hanging out a lot more. He had taken her on dates, and she even seemed to be living with them in the Mercer house. Sharing Bobby's room, helping them pay monthly bills. She had her own section in Bobby's dresser- which was always a big thing- and her toothbrush and a few of those girly items in the bathroom. As her and Bobby got closer, her and Jack got closer as well. He learned that she was just two years older than him, making her twenty three, while Bobby was a good ten years older than her. Every chance Jack got he teased Bobby about being a craddle robber, and he'd get smacked everytime. She would help out Jack in the kitchen, watch Jerry's kids for him when him and Camilla went out, and she kept Bobby in order. As much as one can control the Michigan Mualler that is.
Jack still remembers the day that Alana found out she was pregnant. She had been in hysterics when she told Jack. He had comforted her and said that Bobby would be thrilled to become a father, and that she shouldnt worry. Alana had begun laughing and shook her head. Explaining that she wasnt worried, that they were tears of joy. Because she had been told when she was sixteen that she would never be able to have children. That night they went out to eat as a family, even Angel and Sofi, Jerry, Camilla and their girls were invited. And Jack also remembered the day Marlie was born.
They had all waited out in the hall while Bobby was in there. It had been Jack, Jerry and Angel. Camilla was at home with the girls, and Sofi was in the cafeteria getting them coffee, because they had been at the hospital since nine last night, and it was now nearing six in the morning. The doctor had come out, a solem expression on his face that had everyone's stomach's dropping. They were informed that Alana didnt make it through the birthing process, but that the baby was healthy and born without any complications other than being premature, and that they were able to go in after they had removed Alana's corpse.
They all stood back with somber expressions as the bed was wheeled out, a white sheet pulled over the form of a small body. When they entered, no one knew what exactly to expect from their older brother. Him pissed and angry, the new-born still in the plastic containers they were put in after birth, Bobby arguing with the doctors, him storming from the room. But they weren't expecting Bobby to be standing up on the far side of the room, a smile a mile wide on his face as he held a small bundle wrapped in a pink blanket in his arms. No one questioned Bobby about the death of his girlfriend as they congratulated him on his baby girl, and he informed them that her name was Marlie Alana Mercer. It wasnt until a few days later, after Marlie was discharged and sent home with her father and uncle, and she was asleep in the crib Bobby had put in his room that Jack questioned him about Alana.
Bobby had simply shrugged, an air of sadness surrounding him as he pushed tears back and continued to make the baby bottle and put it in the fridge before explaining what had happened to Alana during birth. Since the doctors had informed her that she would not be able to have a child, and yet she conceived one anyways, there had been complications during the birth. The doctors gave them a choice. In order to guarantee Alana's life after the birth, she would have to have a C-section, cut the baby out. But it did not guarantee them that the baby would make it, due to said complications. Alana had disagreed immediately and told them she was doing this the normal way, no C-section. She was not going to risk the life of her baby for her own. Bobby wanted to argue, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't want to risk the life of his unborn child either. Alana delivered the baby without complications, and lived long enough to hold her baby girl, smile softly at her, and then tell Bobby that she loved him and to take good care of their baby.
"All done!" Marlie said, popping up from her seat and taking the dishes to the sink. Jack stood up as well, wetting a wash cloth before wiping her face off and cleaning her hands off before tossing it into the sink.
"Alright, let's go get your shoes on and then we'll head out." Jack said, following the dark haired girl as she bounced from the kitchen and into the living room, her hair flying out behind her.
"Hey Uncle Jack?" Marlie asked, looking up at him as he tied her shoes for her. Jack slid his eyes up to meet her's, arching a brow as he waited.
"Hmm?" he asked, finishing tieing one shoe and moving to the next.
"Why does Daddy call you fairy?" she asked innocently, her head tilted to the side as she watched him with wide, innocently nieve eyes. Jack paused in tieing her other shoe as he thought, trying to think of what to actually tell her. Then he shrugged and went back to tieing her shoe, a smile in his voice when he spoke.
"'Cause your daddy is under the impression that i like men." he answered, smirking up at the little girl. Confusion crossed her features, her slim little brows pushed together as she frowned.
"Like Uncle Jerry and Camilla like each other?" she asked, sounding utterly confused. Jack chuckled, nodding as he finished lacing up her shoe and stood up, standing up and pulling her up as well.
"Yep. Just like Uncle Jerry and Camilla like each other." Jack answered, grabbing her jack and helping her into it before zipping it up and placing the purple beanie Jack had gotten her on her head and shrugging into his own leather jacket.
"But you're not with a boy like that." Marlie said, grabbing Jack's hand as they walked out of the house and down the sidewalk. Jack laughed.
"No, I'm not. But your Daddy thinks its funny to tease me. Now, what are you planning to do once we get to that park?" he asked, looking down at the girl as she skipped along beside him. Babysitting wasnt such a bad job. Especially not when it was a child as well behaved and upbeat as Marlie.
"Swing!" she said happily, a grin on her face. Jack grinned down at her, making a thoughtful noise in the back of his throat.
"Sounds fun. What about the slides? Do you like those?" he asked. Marlie nodded.
"But the swings are first." she stated in a stern tone, that same smile on her lips. Jack laughed, nodding in agreement as they headed towards the park.
The sound of the front door opening had Marlie's head snapping up from her coloring book, the crayon halting on the page, her head tilting to the side some. Heavy footsteps sounding from the front door into the kitchen had Marlie popping up from the floor with a gasp before she ran towards the kitchen. When she saw the familiar man standing by the fridge, rummaging through it and his brown leather jacket drapped over the chair, she grinned.
"Daddy!" she shouted happily, running towards him. Bobby grinned as he shut the fridge door and spun around, bending down and holding his arms out in time to have Marlie's small body smash into him. He stood up and hugged her to him, laughing as her small arms wound around his neck.
"Hey munchkin." Bobby greeted, pressing a kiss to her cheek before pulling back some to look at her. "How was your day with Uncle Jack, did he stay out of trouble?" Bobby asked, arching his brows. Marlie nodded her head quickly, smiling from ear to ear.
"Mmhmm. He took me to the park, and then we uh, we colored, and then Uncle Angel came over an- hey Daddy?" Marlie broke off from her quick speech as she looked at him quizzically.
"Hmm?" Bobby asked, trying hard not to laugh as his daughter switched topics quickly.
"What does bumping uglies mean?" she asked, her voice innocent and curious. Bobby's urge to laugh disappeared rather quickly as the words his daughter spoke registered in his mind, and his smile dropped. Marlie seemed unaware of his sudden mood change as she continued to twirl her fingers through his hair at the back of his neck.
"Where'd you hear that from baby?" he asked, keeping his voice calm and level. He already had a pretty good idea, and he was going to kick his ass into next week. But he wanted Marlie to tell him who. Just to make sure he didn't go off on the wrong brother.
"Uncle Angel. He was having a conversation with Uncle Jack about something and said that Uncle Jack liked bumping uglies with the red head from the ice cream shop." Marlie said. Bobby arched his brows even higher, a genuine smile stretching across his lips.
"They gave you more ice cream today?" he asked. Marlie nodded.
"Mmhmm. This time it was cookies'n'cream. Uncle Angel paid for it." she said, sounding extremely proud. Bobby chuckled and placed a kiss on her forehead before setting her on her own feet.
"They're gonna ruin your dinner." he said, straightening up. He ruffled up her curls before stepping around her and heading towards the stairs. "Why dont you go finish coloring with Uncle Jackie before dinner while i go talk to jarhead?" he asked, walking into the living room. Jack was passed out on the couch, his long legs hanging over the arm rest. Bobby smacked them as he walked past, Marlie following behind him. Jack jolted awake, running a hand quickly through his hair.
"Yo, where's Angel?" Bobby asked, all business. Jack gave a sleepy grin as he sat up on the couch, scratching his head as he looked down at Marlie, who was standing beside her father humming softly to herself.
"I told Angel he was gonna get in trouble for that one. He's outside talkin' to the neighbor's." Jack said, looking back up at Bobby as he said the last part. Bobby nodded and patted Marlie on the head once more.
"You stay inside with Cracker Jack alright? I'll be in shortly." Bobby said, heading towards the door. Jack reached forward and scooped the small girl up into his arms and sat her down on the couch beside him, grabbing the remote in his other hand and flipping through the channels randomly.
"Hey turn it back!" Marlie shouted suddenly, her voice sharp and excited. "That was a hockey game!" Marlie shouted more excitedly as she tried to pry the remote out of Jack's hands. Jack heard the distant sound of Bobby yelling at Angel outside, mentioning something about not wanting him to mention anything like bumping uglies in front of his daughter. He chuckled and flipped back a few channels, finding the game Marlie was talking about. Sure enough, on the sports channel during second quarter, was a hockey game with the Red Wings.
"Imma be a hockey player when i get older. Daddy said he'd teach how to play good. Like he did when he was younger." Marlie stated, her eyes trained on the tv and the skating players. Jack just grinned widely, shaking his head some as he sat the remote down on the couch and watched the little girl beside him. She was so much like Bobby, that sometimes it was frightening...
"Hey baby girl, who's winning?" Bobby asked, walking back into the house and sitting beside Marlie on the couch. Jack could tell by just one glance that Bobby had in fact won that argument, and that Angel probably got a good smacking around too.
"Red Wings." Marlie answered quickly, eyes not straying from the tv. Bobby grinned and glanced over at Jack, who just shook his head and grinned.
"I'm tellin' ya Bobby, it's frightening sometimes." Jack said, earning a proud grin from Bobby as he looked back at the tv.