Unintended Consequences

Summary: Rough-housing, wrestling and the occasionally half-serious punch are nothing new in the Mercer household, but when Bobby shoves Jerry, Jack is the one to get hurt.

Rating: PG-13 for swearing and I suppose, given the premise, a tiny bit of violence.

Timeline: Pre-movie… Jack is 11, Angel is 16, Jerry is 18 and Bobby is 21.

Disclaimer: The boys are not mine.

Reviews are love!




"Bobby, are you even listening to yourself, man?" Jerry asked, half-incredulous and half-pissed. Jack rolled his eyes, as if Bobby didn't hear what he was saying differently than other people did. As far as he was concerned, giving Jerry shit for choosing to meet Camille's grandparents, something they'd been planning for a month, over Bobby's sudden, desperate need to practice on the ice now that he'd gotten word that his suspension was coming to a quicker-than-hoped-for end was really all Jerry should have expected.

In Bobby's world, Bobby's needs reigned supreme. That wasn't quite true, Jack knew, because he'd seen Bobby sacrifice and do all sorts of things for them, but those were extraordinary circumstances. When the shit wasn't hitting the fan, Bobby was usually Bobby's only concern.

"So what, I'm home a couple of weeks and you can't even bother to hang out with me?" Bobby asked. If Evelyn had been there, she'd say that Jewish mothers had nothing on Bobby Mercer.

Jack knew that if Angel was around, he would be snickering and cheering them both on just to up the ante. He was usually always spoiling for a fight. Jack figured he'd never really feel okay enough to do that. He knew that they weren't mad at him, they weren't even really mad at each other and that no one was really going to get hurt (and weren't those hard won realizations?) but he still wasn't going to egg anyone on. It made something inside of him tense up, still sort of waiting for them to scream at him.

He didn't leave the room though even though he kind of wanted to (pussy) but he kept the option in reserve, because one of them would eventually realize and the focus would shift from hockey and girlfriends to scared little Jackie. He hated it and secretly loved it, even if he felt like a stupid, fucked-up baby all the while.

Luckily, he didn't think he'd need to call it in. They didn't look too angry and soon Jerry would offer up some compromise that would end it. Bobby was selfish, but even he could see that Jerry was really getting serious about Camille. She wasn't even so bad, Jack decided. Better than Bobby's old girlfriend Elle, who smirked like she knew everyone's secrets or Angel's sometimes girlfriend Sofi, who cooed over him no matter what he did. Once, he'd called her a bitch to her face, thinking it would disgust her and make her ignore him like most of the other adults he'd encountered did, but all it did was get Ma upset and make Sofi smile at him sadly as though she thought he was a tragic little boy.

"I bet Jack would help me out, wouldn't you Jack?" Bobby asked, bringing Jack's attention back to his brothers. Bobby didn't wait for a response, "Of course he would, because Jack's got loyalty!"

"So if I've got loyalty to anyone else, it's like I'm screwing you over, then, right?" Jeremiah asked, glaring a little.

Bobby shrugged with an infuriatingly innocent look on his face. It made even Jack a little annoyed at him. "I don't know. I just think that brotherhood is important, even if the ones I'm loyal to don't agree…"

Jack quietly slipped out of his chair and headed to the stairs. He wasn't going to leave the room, but maybe if he was out of sight, they wouldn't drag him into it. One of Bobby's favorite things to do was to have Jack judge issues, and he didn't want to get into it. Sure, he was on Jerry's side, and would say so if Bobby asked and actually waited to hear what he thought, but he didn't want to hurt Bobby or hear him moan about it for weeks.

"Look man, I love Camille. What's important to her is important to me. Meeting her family is important. I'm not going to be late just because you want to practice for a hockey team that you're just going to get thrown off of again in a few weeks!" Jerry practically yelled. Uh-oh, Jack thought, Jerry was definitely taking this more seriously than he usually did.

"What the fuck does that mean?" Bobby growled, taking a step close to Jerry. Jack stopped dead in his tracks beside them, not even halfway to the stairs.

Couldn't Jerry have just offered something even better than an hour on the rink right then? Bobby would have agreed and Jack wouldn't have been eyeing Mom's new vase, the one she expressly forbade them from fighting around.

What happened next Jack wasn't entirely sure of. Either Jerry took a step towards Bobby or Bobby yanked Jerry, but either way they were suddenly throwing punches.

Forget being a baby, he and Mom's vase were making a break for it.

Without bothering to track the fight's progress, Jack darted past the two of them. He'd intended to grab the vase off of the sidetable, but the second he felt the bruising force of something smash right into him, his frantic lunge worked against him.

The corner of the table surged up to meet him and Jack fell, immediately and mercifully, unconscious.


The second that Bobby shoved Jerry again he'd known it was a mistake. If he'd of kept his cool, or at least kept his eye on Jack, then none of it would have happened.

But he hadn't and now he was getting to watch the slow-mo of Jerry, lanky but solid and definitely bigger than Jack, falling right into their little brother, who was still a skinny little thing that nurses shook their heads at. Even worse, it was easy to see that Jack was not only about to get flattened by his bigger brother, he was going to get thrown right into the hard side table.

The solid thump of skull-on-wood, a sound that Bobby should be used to because skull-on-anything sounded all pretty much the same and he'd certainly had and caused more than his fair share of skull-on-ice, made him wince with an echoing pain in his own head. This wasn't some punk in skates, this was Jack.

Jerry rolled away instantly, falling hard a wrist to try and keep himself from completely flattening Jack. Bobby barely spared him a glance as he dove down on his knees next to Jack. He pulled the fallen end table up off of Jack and took in the scene in front of him.

Jack was out cold, a cut on his head bleeding profusely, and he was surrounded by tiny shards of glass, some of it even in his hair.

"Help me lift him up," Bobby directed to Jerry, glancing behind him. He took in Jerry's guilty eyes (not Jerry's fault, he'd deal with that later) and the way he held his wrist. "Can you?"

"Of course." Jerry said roughly, standing up and carefully sliding his hands under Jack's legs. Any one of them could carry him by themselves easily, the kid was skinnier than the average anorexic girl, but it was going to be careful going if Bobby was going to get him up without any more cuts.

They worked together quickly, with Jack still completely unaware, and moved their little brother over to the couch.

"Towels." Jerry said, the minute Jack was down. He sprinted up the stairs and out of sight. Bobby didn't pay him any mind.

"Jackie?" Bobby asked, voice soft. He had a pretty bad feeling, a fucking awful feeling, that Jack was going to wake up freaked out. Getting hit at home, not their home but other homes that were supposed to be safe but hadn't been, was more of what Jack was used to. They'd had to work so fucking hard to get him to believe that getting hit in this home, his first real home, wasn't something that was going to happen anymore. Bobby felt a sick tightening in his gut, because he'd broken that streak in the one place that Jack finally trusted.

He carefully picked out the shards of glass in Jack's hair, trying not to cause any more damage. Jerry thundered down the stairs, and passed Bobby a damp towel that he immediately pressed against Jack's bleeding cut. "Jack, come on little brother, time to wake up. You're okay…"

"He's not okay, Bobby." Jerry said, face grim.

"Do I look like I'm fucking blind and dumb, you idiot?" Bobby hissed. "Get some scissors so I can cut him out of this shirt. Shit's covered in glass."

Jerry was off again, taking his cloud of little brother frightening negativity with him. "Don't listen to him, Jackie. You're going to be fine, just open your eyes for me, kid."

Jack didn't so much as twitch. Bobby frowned, pulling the washcloth away from the cut to see just what they were working with. He'd definitely seen worse, but that was on grown men, or even just teenagers. Jack was small for eleven, a little shrimp, and the fact that he was still out was worrying. The cut looked shallow enough, though, so Bobby figured the kid might get away with no stitches. Evelyn would have to be the final judge, when he got up the balls to call her. He could make Jerry do it, but it was his fault that their fight had gotten out of hand and that Jack had gotten in the middle, so he'd be the one to call their mother. Jerry could call Angel… all he was risking there was getting to hear that crazy bitch Sofi moan like she was trying out for a fucking porno.

Though, with the way that Jack was still out, maybe that final judge thing would have to go to a doctor…

"Shit, man. That's gonna bruise." Jerry said from behind him. Bobby didn't glance back.

"Probably." He said, but really, it was definitely. Jack had really gotten smashed.

"Come on, Cracker Jack. Time to wake up." Bobby coaxed again as Jerry started carefully cutting a glass splinter filled shirt off of Jack. Between the two of them, they got the shirt out from underneath Jack. Bobby held Jack up while Jerry ran his hand along the couch cushion to feel for any left behind splinters.

While the kid was shirtless and in the air, he shivered a little and shifted uncomfortably in Bobby's arms. "Shh, Jack," Bobby soothed quietly. "We'll get you a blanket, just wake up a minute for me."

Bobby carefully set Jack back down on the couch and Jerry grabbed the afghan draped over the back of it to pull around Jack's lightly shivering body. Jack scrunched his face up and groaned quietly. "I know, kid, I know." Jerry said, pushing the edges of the blanket in around Jack.

Bobby watched Jack's face intently, waiting for his eyes to flutter open. In the meantime, he carefully dabbed at the cut that was still sluggishly bleeding. "It's Bobby and Jerry, Jack. Nobody here is mad at you." He promised, figuring it could be a bad thing to remind Jack of. He still did it when he woke Jack up from nightmares and this was definitely a goddamned nightmare.

Jack's eyes opened, but he scrunched them shut again after barely a second. "Bobby? Hurts…"

"I know, Jackie, you cracked your head pretty good." Bobby said. Jack's words didn't sound slurred, but then he'd only said two of them, so it was hard to tell. "Can you open your eyes again, Jack? Just for a second?"

It took a long minute before Jack did what he asked, sniffing once before opening his eyes and carefully not looking at Bobby. The kids eyes were watery with tears, one of which slipped out the corner of his eye and trailed down until Bobby wiped it away with his thumb without comment. Macho pride was something that Jack way too fucking young for, but Bobby would let him have it because the alternative was that he was afraid of what Bobby would say if he caught Jack crying and that was way worse.

With the hand already on Jack's cheek, Bobby tried to gently turn the kid's head his way so he could get a look at the way his pupils were reacting to light. He let himself relax just a bit when they seemed to react evenly. He was no doctor, though, so his diagnosis meant shit.

Ma was going to take one look at Jack and that kid would be in the emergency room faster than he could blink. They could make the real decision there.

His attention was pulled back to Jack the boy instead of Jack, the possible coma patient when the kid mumbled something under his breath. "What is it, Jackie? Do you want Mom? I'm going to call her as soon as this loser gets me the phone." Bobby said.

Jerry stopped rubbing his hand down Jack's blanket covered side and got up to get the phone without a word in return.

Jack didn't answer him right away, he just let one of his hands drift up to the towel on his forehead hesitantly, like he was trying to work out what the hell was going on.

"Do you remember what happened?" Bobby asked, pulling Jack's hand away and holding it in his own. It felt cold, so he gripped it tight.

Jack mumbled again, and it sounded at least close to whatever Bobby hadn't been able to make out before. "Vase? Did I get it?"

Bobby wasn't sure what the hell that was supposed to mean. "What do you mean, Jackie?"

"Tried to save it, since she likes it so much." Jack said, a little louder that time.

"You were trying to get Ma's vase out of the way?" Jerry said, sliding back into position next to them.

Jack nodded a little miserably. "Did I get it?"

"Aww, kid, it's in a million pieces, but that's our fault, not yours." Bobby said.

Jack looked like he wanted to cry again and he didn't even have that look on his face that he usually got on the rare occasion he cried; the look that he sort of hated himself for the weakness, even though he was a kid who was allowed it. If that didn't prove just how out of it the kid was, Bobby wasn't sure what could.

With a nod to Jerry, Bobby stepped away. In a second, Jerry was sliding down on his knees next to Jack in his place. He couldn't hear what Jerry was saying, just his low even tone, but then they'd already kind of figured out that when Jack wasn't really with it, that was almost better than the actual words, so Bobby didn't try to hear them.

Instead, he dialed Evelyn's work number and waited. She picked right up, like she always did because at a job like hers and with sons like them, there was a really good chance that she was getting an emergency call. He figured she got them so often that telemarketers were actually a welcome change of pace, and wasn't that just fucking sad?

"Evelyn Mercer."

"Ma," Bobby said, not really bothering to say who it was. She'd know. "Jack cracked his head on an end table and Jerry and I are going to take him to the emergency room. He's awake, but he was out for a couple of minutes." He heard Evelyn's sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. Guilt welled up in him, like only Evelyn could make him feel. "He's okay," He offered, kind of lamely. It wasn't really his style to beat around the bush, but maybe he should have eased her into it...

"How did this happen?" She asked. He could hear her moving things on her desk and he could just picture her packing up her purse, getting ready to fly down to the emergency room, even though it was probably going to take an hour plus with all of Detroit's wonderful fucking traffic.

He hesitated, then regretted it. As if she wasn't going to hear that and translate it out immediately to Bobby fucked up!


There it was.

"Jerry and I were fighting. I thought he was in the corner by the dining room, but apparently he was trying to get himself and your vase up the stairs. I didn't see him until I'd already shoved Jerry." Bobby admitted.

There was a long pause.

"I'm on my way out," She said finally. The rest went unsaid, I'm disappointed. We'll talk about this later. Take care of your brothers until I get there.

"Okay." He said, instead of answering any the rest of it. She knew he'd heard it, whether he said anything about it or not. She was fucking psychic or telepathic or some other bullshit that got him in trouble more often than it saved his sorry ass.

"I love you. Tell Jack I'll be there soon."

He knew all that too, but she never let those things be unsaid. "Okay." He just repeated. She got it.

The line clicked and Bobby took the second to grab his keys, jacket and wallet before going back over to Jerry and Jack. He tossed the keys at Jerry's head and they hit his ear. "Go start the car."

"No uh…" He glanced at Jack, who was still kind of crying and probably really upset. "Calling for a ride?"

At least he hadn't actually said ambulance. "Nah, we got this, right Jackie? We'll just take a quick ride and get your head looked at. Mom is going to meet us there."

Jerry got the message. He gently patted Jack's stomach and grabbed the fallen keys. He was out the door right after and as Bobby leaned down to sit with Jack, he could hear the car engine starting up in the cold.

They'd have to wait a few minutes for Jerry to really get the heat cranking. Jack didn't like to be cold even when he wasn't wearing a shirt or bleeding out the head.

"How you feeling, little brother?" Bobby asked. He kept his voice pitched low, just in case Jack wasn't with it or noise was making the kid's head throb.

Jack sniffled a little, like he was trying really hard not to burst into real sobs. Head wounds sucked, so he couldn't really fault the kid for it.

"It's okay." He said, quietly.

"You gotta be straight with me, Cracker Jack, okay? It's real important." Bobby said. He pulled the towel away and saw Jack's cut was still bleeding. He tried not to be real worried about that, because any cut on your scalp bled like a bitch and looked way worse than it was, but with Jack being the one bleeding it was kind of no use.

Jack's face crumpled a little, "It hurts."

"Aww, Jack." Bobby said. He hated pushing, or at least, he hated doing it right then. "Like it throbs or it hurts so you can't think right?"

"Throbs… stings." Jack answered. He bit his lip, but not hard enough to break the skin like he sometimes did when he was real upset, so Bobby didn't stop him. Instead, he reached under the blanket and held Jack's hand, to give the kid something to squeeze if it really did hurt enough where he'd need to gnaw on his lip.

"Where are we?" He asked. He figured Jerry had done the concussion run down, because he'd of mentioned it if Jack seemed off, but it never hurt to do it again.

"Home." Jack answered easily enough.

"What did you learn at school today?" Bobby asked, watching the kid carefully.

Jack looked confused, but for the right reasons, "Snow day." He said, glancing up at Bobby.

"Right, buddy, just checking." He moved the curtains and glanced out the window. The car windows seemed to be fogging up with what Jerry better hope was a shit ton of hot air. "I'm going to carry you to the car now, okay, Jackie?"

"I-I can walk…" Jack offered, as if his head wasn't bleeding and his whole body wasn't kind of shaking.

Bobby didn't say anything to the offer. He hoped Jack was just saying it, not really meaning it or expecting Bobby to take him up on it. He wasn't going to ask. Instead, he carefully scooped Jack up like he was a baby, blanket and all, and headed outside. Jerry was there in a second, closing the front door and opening the backdoor of the car. Bobby sat down quick, a rush of heat meeting them and Jack seemed to melt into it. The door slammed and Jerry went around the car to slide into his seat.

"Don't drive like a grandmother, but if you hit more than two potholes I'm gonna pound you into one." Bobby said.

He heard Jerry mutter something like "It's Detroit in winter, fuckhead…" But he let it go. Jerry would be careful, for Jack's sake.

Bobby tried not to pay attention to how fast they were going. All it was gonna do was piss him off. He wanted Jack in a bed with a doctor looking him over… and if there happened to be a hot nurse impressed with how dedicated a brother he was, then that was cool too.

"Ma said to make sure I told you she loves you," Bobby said quietly to Jack. He hated passing along the mushy messages, but Jack was still sort of crying – Bobby figured he would be for quite a while, at least until some good drugs came his way – so he didn't mind so much.

Jack's face twisted, but he didn't say anything.

"What's wrong?" Bobby asked. Jack still didn't say anything, so he pressed, "Jackie? Tell me, bud. You think you're going to be sick?" He shoulda grabbed some plastic bags…

"N-no…" Jack said, hesitantly. It didn't sound too reassuring, but Bobby didn't want to get him really crying, so he laid off.

Instead, he just tried to rub his hand through Jack's hair and keep the kid close to him. It seemed to work okay, though he did get a little sliver of glass stuck in his thumb, but he picked it out easily enough.

"Almost there, Jack." Jerry called from the front seat. Bobby glanced out of the window he'd been ignoring. They were almost there, in pretty good time too. No major potholes either, who knew Jerry had it in him?

The rest of the way went easy. Jerry pulled alongside the emergency room doors and let Jack and Bobby out. The second they were through the doors to the emergency room, the nurses swarmed.

"Bobby Mercer, what is it this time?"

He grinned up at one of the more matronly nurses. Not really his favorite, but he flirted all the same. Right now though, all she got was a smile. Jack was still shaking in his arms and she shouldn't have even needed to fucking ask. Was she blind?

"Jackie took a header into an end table. Any way you could push him to the front of the line?" He asked.

A stretcher came over and Bobby started putting Jack down on it, but the kid wrapped a hand around his shirt and gripped so fucking hard Bobby was pretty sure he was close to ripping the thing.

"Is Evelyn on her way?"

"Yes, she is." Bobby answered, "Jackie, you gotta let me go. It's okay."

"No." Jack answered, his whole face screwed up like he was going to wail if he didn't get his way damned fast.

An emergency room doctor, who looked too fucking young to be taking care of anyone, let alone his little brother, wandered over and shared a few quick words with one of the other nurses. Then he went ahead and lifted up the towel to see the cut underneath. If possible, and he hadn't honestly thought it was, Jack's death grip on his shirt tightened even more.

"You boys are lucky we're slow right now. Enough snow that most people aren't venturing out yet." The nurse said. She directed her kind eyes to Jack, "Why don't you let go of your brother's shirt, honey? It would be awfully hard for him to walk with us that way. Hold his hand instead and he can stay with you until your mother comes."

Jack seemed okay with that, because he took Bobby's hand when he offered it. That damned nurse was going to make a liar out of him, though. He could just see on the doctor's face that there was a CAT scan or some other shit that involved Jack in a metal tube that Bobby couldn't go in too coming up. Great, just fucking great.

He wasn't going to say anything yet, though. So he just walked with the gurney as it sped down the hall and took a second to shout at one of the pretty nurses who was sweet on Angel (or Jerry? Who could fucking keep track?) "Jerry's on his way in, tell him to stay out here."

She nodded and grinned, so maybe it was Jerry she wanted to play a little naughty nurse with.

If Evelyn had been there, she'd of given him one of her looks. Not because the nurse liked Jerry, she was used to that kind of thing, but because he could just yell a name and not a description. They were in the hospital that often. Whatever, that was mostly her fault anyway. He wouldn't go nearly so often if Evelyn didn't force him with a mix of guilt and hard eyes.

Evelyn could have ruled Detroit if she wanted it… too bad she didn't either, the shithole that was Detroit could benefit from some tough love from Evelyn Mercer.

The exam for Jack was kind of a joke. They found a few more shards of glass and decided to change him into some hospital pajamas, so nobody got stuck with anymore of it. Then, they decided that he really did need a CAT scan or MRI or whichever of those was for your head. They talked about stitches and tried to determine if the kid had a concussion, as if he hadn't already told them twice that Jack wasn't confused or disoriented and that his pupils were reacting evenly to light. With the amount of times he graced them with his presence, they really should have just trusted his fucking word.

So a half an hour in and their plan of action was to change him out of glass clothes, decide if he needed stitches (no) and run him through a scan or two to see if his brain was broken or whatever. Bobby could have told them all that right in the beginning.

Still, they had the advantage that he didn't. Well, two if you counted the actual equipment. No, what made them worth the whole fucking co-pay was the pain meds they gave Jack. They said they wouldn't give him any anti-anxiety meds or even just something to calm the kid down, because they were a little worried about his head injury, but still… a tired, hurting little kid gets pain meds and that kid is going down – hard.

So they sent him away to take Jack up for his scans and all he'd had to do was a quick little promise that he'd be back soon for Jack. The kid had blinked at him and let go of his hand. Seriously, it had been that easy. Fuckin' miracle drugs.

Jerry was out in the waiting room, pacing like Jack was his baby mama and she was about to blow.

"Would you sit down, you fucking idiot?"

"Dude, why aren't you with Jack?" Jerry asked.

Bobby sat down and when Jerry didn't, he stared hard at the seat across from him. Jeremiah finally got the hint and sat down, but he fidgeted so much Bobby kind of wanted to go find that nurse and get her to shove some Ritalin down his throat.

"They had to take him for some scans. I couldn't go in with him, obviously." He answered.

"They think he's that bad off?" Jerry asked, the guilt pretty obvious in his voice.

Bobby shrugged, "I think it's just a precaution. He's little, he's a Mercer…"

Jerry dropped his head into his hands. He looked like some tragic little asshole. "This is all my fault," He muttered.

"Would you calm the fuck down, you fucking drama queen." Bobby spat. "I shoved you, if I'm remembering this shit right? Huh? Should I get another doctor down here to check your head out?"

Jerry shot him a glare, but considering how sad little puppy he looked, it came off pretty pathetic. "I shouldn't have let you get to me."

Bobby turned away. He fucking hated this kind of thing. Still, what happened was more his fault than Jerry's, so… "Yeah, well, I shouldn't have pushed. You've only been talking about this dinner thing like a girl about to go on her first date for a month now."

Jerry stared at him, which kind of pissed Bobby off. He didn't admit he was wrong that fucking rarely. He didn't say anything else though, so that kind of made up for it. He didn't want to have Jerry start crying like a baby in the middle of the waiting room.

They sat quietly for a while after that, both of them trying not to look at the clock too much. It was kind of hard though, knowing that a doctor might be coming to give them bad news any moment, or a nurse coming to get them because Jack had freaked the fuck out and was cowering under some bed somewhere, wondering where Bobby had gone… Fuck.

Out of nowhere, Jerry jerked forward in his seat, "Aw, shit man. I forgot to call Angel." He said, standing up and glancing around for a payphone. He dug around in his pocket, "You got a quarter?"

He stuck his hand in his pocked and fished around. There was change there, but Jerry could find what he wanted. He dumped the whole handful of it in his brother's hand. Jerry didn't say anything, he just wandered over towards the payphone counting it as he went.

Bobby watched him from the other side of the room. Jerry dialed, then waited, then looked a little disgusted, then spoke and then winced. Pretty much exactly how he'd said it would go. Call, get to hear Sofi moaning like a fucking hooker, explain and then have Angel flip a shit. It was real easy to be the self-righteous brother when it wasn't Angel who'd done anything wrong… this time. He'd fucking bring up last month when Angel's clowning around had startled Jack so bad he'd dumped his cereal bowl all over himself and then instinctively hid under the fucking table because he was embarrassed and felt bad about wasting food. Angel hadn't been so holier-than-fucking-thou then, had he?

"You're Jack Mercer's brother, right? You brought him in?"

The doctor from before. "Well, let's see, we stood next to each other for like twenty fucking minutes, so no, definitely not Jack's brother. I'm the hobo who brought him in, got it?"

The doctor smiled faintly, though he seemed a little thrown. "The nurses told me about you."

He could practically hear Evelyn lecturing him. He didn't really care about being polite, he just wanted to hear about Jack. "How about you tell me about Jack?" He asked.

"There were no issues that came up in his CT scan and we don't think he'll need stitches for the cut to his scalp. He needs to keep it clean and dry for the next few days to aid with healing. We've bandaged it, but we'd prefer if it was left unbandaged for tomorrow. He is going to have quite the headache for the next couple of days. You can give him children's Tylenol for it. I'd keep him home from school for tomorrow, if it isn't cancelled as well." The doctor summed up. All in all, it wasn't so bad.

"That's it?" Bobby asked, "No major trauma?"

"That's it, essentially." Doc agreed. "If he seems confused or disoriented later, bring him back immediately. Also, watch out for marked nausea or dizziness. I've written down all of this for your mother, when she gets here."

Jerry suddenly appeared beside him, like he'd teleported over or some shit. "Jack okay?"

Doc nodded, "Your brother will fill you in, but yes, he'll be fine. We'll keep him until his mother arrives, though. You said she was on her way?" He said, glancing around as if Evelyn was going to just appear too.

Bobby tried to push aside the fact that they weren't willing to release Jack into his custody. He should probably be glad that they were being careful with his brother, or at least, he tried to tell himself that. "She should be here soon." He settled on. "And thanks," He finished with, half heartedly.

"You're very welcome. Jack's a cute kid," The doctor said, "He's up in recovery room 2." And with that, probably glad to get away from the less cute Mercers, he turned and left.

"'Cute kid'… fucking pedo." Bobby muttered.

Jerry shoved him, "Lay off, he's doing his job." He hissed back. He turned to the retreating doctor and raised his voice, "Thanks again, Doctor!"

"Kiss-ass." Bobby said. That time he didn't mutter. Let the nurses behold Jerry the Brown Noser.

Jerry fell into step beside him and didn't say anything else. Things between them were still a little tense. He'd say something about it, but he figured Jack was probably going to be awake and all guilty over things that weren't his fault, like he normally was. If he was going to have to have some girly cry-fest with the two of them, he'd rather do it once.

Jack's 'room' was pretty much a glorified cubicle, complete with those stupid sheet walls that weren't going to keep anyone's nasty ass germs from fucking wafting over if the dude next door had the plague.

The kid was awake though, sitting up in bed with some jello and watching the nurse with wary eyes.

"We got it from here, Nurse…" Bobby leaned in close to her name tag, conveniently placed right over her rack. "Carla. Thanks." He said, bringing his eyes back up to hers.

She rolled her eyes and left without a word. Fine by him, she wasn't really his type anyway.

"Dude," Jerry said, grinning.

"How you feeling, Jack?" Bobby asked, ignoring Jerry. He sat down on Jack's cot and looked the kid over. He looked better, less pale and upset, which was a good thing any day.

Still, the kid kept his focus on the jello, like it was actually any good. "I'm okay."

He waited a minute, hoping Jack was going to actually look at him on his own. He wasn't and that got pretty obvious pretty quick. "Hey now, you mad at me, Jackie?"

Jack looked startled and he darted a worried little glance up at Bobby. It didn't really count, though, because he looked away just as quickly. "No!"

Bobby ducked his head down so Jack had no choice but to look at him, "Then why are you staring at that jello so hard and not at me?"

Jack fidgeted, bit his lip and then looked up at Bobby properly. "Thought you might be mad at me."

"Why's that, Jack?" Jerry asked, "You didn't do anything wrong."

"Ran like a baby. Ma will probably be mad at you though, not me… so I'm gonna get you in trouble." Jack said. His eyes darted between the two of them. He didn't look scared so much as ashamed, but that was really only because they'd managed to convince him not to be scared. Honestly, what Bobby had been worried about even more than a concussion was the idea that maybe since he and Jerry had put him in the hospital that they might have broken that trust… that Jack might be scared of them again. He didn't seem to be, though, and Bobby felt like he'd dodged a bullet.

"I'm not going to lie, Jack, Ma is mad at us and we are going to get in trouble… but we deserve it, okay? Us, not you." Bobby said. That sure as shit got Jack's full attention. He stared at Bobby like he'd suddenly started spouting off some bizarre language. "She asked us not to fight around that vase and we're not even supposed to fight in the house anyway, not that we ever manage that one, right Jack?" Bobby said, nudging Jack in the arm gently.

The kid didn't crack a smile, but then that wasn't really Jack's way.

"Listen, Jack… we were mad at each other so we started a stupid fight. We shouldn't have and you had every right to leave, okay?" Jerry said.

Jack shrugged, but he looked a hell of a lot less tense and miserable, so Bobby figured that he was feeling a little better. Evelyn would take care of the rest, he was pretty damned sure. That was kind of her parenting method anyway. She liked to let them sort themselves out and have to get all emotional and shit. Then, she went in afterwards and polished it all up.

Jack opened his mouth, like there was one thing still bothering him, but he shut it and looked away. He looked angry, but it was that at-himself anger that kind of freaked Bobby out. The kid had a lot of self-loathing in him, all because of the fosters who screamed about how awful and worthless and stupid he was. Jack still kind of thought that way and the rest of them hated it.

"Tell me, Jack." Bobby commanded. Whatever it was, he'd rather have a girly moment over it than let Jack keep it inside to use against himself.

Jack glanced over at him and obviously saw how serious he was. He wasn't going to let it go, and he figured that Jack saw it. The kid just shrugged, like he was trying to make it seem less important to him than it was, so they wouldn't think poorly of him. He mumbled, nearly inabudibly. Something about being mad? Hadn't they just covered that shit?

"Nah, Jackie. I'm not mad at Bobby and he's not mad at me. Well, I'm mad because he owes me twenty bucks still and he's never gonna pay up, but other than that…" Jerry said with an easy grin. He knocked shoulders with Bobby.

Oh… Were they still mad at each other? That would be something that Jack would worry about.

He put on an matching grin, "Yeah, what he said. All of it." He answered.

Jerry shot him a look. So he'd caught the hint about that twenty bucks… good.

Bobby shifted over on the bed, laying down alongside Jack and cracking open the top to that disgusting looking jello for the kid. "Please don't tell me you're going dressed like that, Jerry."

Jerry looked confused and so did Jack. Idiots.

"What are you talkin' about, Bobby?" Jerry said, glancing down at his clothes. There were even a couple smears of Jack's blood on the sleeve of his sweatshirt.

Bobby ignored him in favor of pushing Jack towards the jello. It was a good idea for the kid to eat something, with all the bleeding he'd done. "Even Jack thinks that's a bad choice for dinner with the in-laws. They're gonna think you're homeless, Jerry."

"Dude.." Jerry said, staring at him open mouthed like a fucking idiot. Catching a hint was apparently not Jerry's stong point.

"Whataya say, Jackie? We good here until Ma comes? Let this asshole change into something better?" Bobby said.

Jack grinned, clearly pleased with how thing were ending up. Good. Half of it had been for him anyway. "Yeah. You better run before Angel sees you." Jack said quiet, but happy all the same.

Jerry laughed, because fuck was that true. Angel put in a good hour longer a day in his appearance than Jerry… but then Jerry put in more time than Bobby, so he'd get shoved if he said it and that would defeat the whole purpose of the conversation.

"You sure? I can stay if you want, Jack. Camille and her family would understand." Jerry offered.

Camille probably wouldn't mind, which was why she was the least awful of any girls that Jerry or Angel brought home, but still.

Jack glanced back at Bobby with a little grin that said he thought he was about to be hilarious. "Get the fuck out, Jerry." He said.

Jerry and Bobby laughed, way too hard if the way they were getting shushed on the other side of the curtain was anything to go on.

"Yeah, get the fuck out, Jerry." Bobby echoed, wiping away a tear from the corner of his eye.

A nurse poked her head in, "Boys, you need to be more quiet."

"I'm sorry, ma'am. My brothers are terrible men. They'll be quiet now," Jerry said, standing up. He reached over and squeezed Jack on the shoulder and left without another word to the two of them. Bobby could see the way his shoulders were still kind of shaking, so he figured Jerry couldn't look at them without laughing.

He forgot about Jerry when Jack leaned back against his side. "Mom said she was coming?"

"Yeah, she did. She'll be here soon. You know she knows all the shortcuts to the hospital." Bobby reassured the kid.

They were quiet for a while after that. Jack was tired and even if he'd been feeling up to talking to them, the kid was still kind of hurt and out of it. He stayed quiet, so Jack did too. He just leaned against Bobby and kind of dozed. Bobby let the feeling of Jack relaxing against him, trusting him and being okay, bleed out some of the guilt. He'd fucked up today and Jack had paid the price and that was honestly what Bobby's worst fear was made up of.

Still, the kid was going to be okay and things were okay between him, Jerry and Jack. He focused on that, at least while he was sitting with Jack because the last thing he wanted was for the kid to get upset.

By the time Evelyn showed up, her eyes worried but the rest of her face smiling and relieved, Bobby thought it was okay to say "It's okay," when he really meant "We're okay."

She got that though, just like she always did.




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