"So..." Jack began, casually leaning on the table top as he waited for the water to boil once again, his eyes fixed on Mark. "You never told me your Ma was such an old hag."

Mark's head snapped up to his face, giving him a rather intense warning look. "Watch it. She's still my Mom, Jack."

The green haired boy rolled his eyes. "I bet she has nothing good to say about me so I'll say whatever I want. What's her problem anyway? It's like she's trying to stab me to death with her eyes."

Mark snorted, a smile tugging at the edges of his mouth. "Yeah, not gonna lie she hates your guts." Suddenly he lowered his head, almost in shame. "I'm really sorry for bringing her here. It was a terrible idea. I should've just brought Dad, at least he's a little more civilised."

The kettle let off a low gurgling noise, indicating it was boiled and Jack lazily poured it into his cup before opening a cupboard for another mug. He spoke as he worked. "Maybe. But that brings me to my next question," He paused in his movements to look Mark dead in the eyes. "What the fuck are you even doing here? Can you not go a day without seeing my beautiful face or something?"

Mark sighed, ignoring the sarcastic comment and keeping his eyes glued to the dirty floorboards. "Look, it wasn't my idea, alright? My parents were planning on kicking me to the curb but then Officer Carter somehow made them agree to let me stay. On one condition."

Of course there was one condition, Jack thought, mentally rolling his eyes. You shouldn't have to make a deal just to look after your own child.

Mark was playing with his sleeve again, Jack noticed idly. How was that thing not in tatters by now? It seemed like he did nothing else. He raised an eyebrow at the other boy, patiently waiting for him to gather the words to continue.

"Look, my mom thinks you're a terrible person, Jack. That's putting it pretty blunt, but it's true. She refuses to believe anything I tell her. But Carter convinced her that if she just met you, you could prove you were a good." Mark took a deep breath. "I know she's going to treat you like dirt, and I am so sorry for that, but I have nowhere else to go and I'm out of options. Please, Jack, help me out here. If you can keep her happy just for today, I'll fucking pay you if it comes to it."

The green haired boy bit his lip, running through the words in his head, slowly debating what he should do. It would be so easy to just let rip at a woman who represented every single thing Jack hated about the people of this town, this country even. He could practically smell the snobby aura that rolled off her like perfume; sickeningly sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Yet, no matter how much he wanted it, he couldn't. Because Mark was his friend, and friends don't abandon each other when they're in need.

Finally he let out a quiet sigh, looking away to throw in a teabag and pour the boiling hot water into the chipped cup, grabbing a tea spoon to stir the mixture thoughtfully. "Fine, I'll play angel for a bit if it keeps you in house and home, but don't come near me with your money, I don't want it."

Mark's face burst into a shining grin. "Fantastic! Thank you so much Jack, I promise you won't regret it!" He moved forward and wrapped his arms around his friend, pulling him into a tight hug that lasted just a few seconds too long before Jack gave him a playful shove, a grin growing on his tired features.

"Yeah, yeah, get off. I'm gonna spill the tea." Jack said softly, giving his friend a smile.

Mark raised an eyebrow. "I thought Mom asked for coffee?"

"Yeah well, I've only got so much coffee in this house and I'm not wasting a single drop on that bitch." Jack said calmly, removing the teabag from the cup and pouring in some milk as Mark disguised his laugh as a harsh cough. "She can live with it."

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