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Story Notes:
Again a big thank you to clair_de_lune for invaluable encouragement and the beta. And the 'other' character is Derek Sweeney; is it me or is he not listed in the cast of characters?
Author's Chapter Notes:
This is what it's like to have a big brother who takes care of you when bad things happen.
It was December and the snow lay thick on the Loyola Campus as Michael gazed out of the window, his hands wrapped around a steaming mug of hot chocolate. It took him back in time to a winter before the lives of Christina Rose Scofield’s sons had changed so dramatically. He’d trudged home cold, shivering and thoroughly miserable after his fellow classmates had held him down in the snow and pushed snowballs down inside his clothes, all the while making cruel jibes about the class nerd acing yet another test. When he’d finally got away from his tormentors, they had pursued him for a while with some well-aimed snowballs until even they became tired of the chase.

Lincoln, Derek and a couple of their buddies were having a snowball fight on the wasteground behind the apartment block when Lincoln spotted the sorrowful figure of his little brother heading for the entrance. Lincoln could tell by the way the kid had his arms wrapped around his skinny body that something wasn’t right and he started to jog over to intercept him. He turned back to Derek and growled when a snowy missile whistled past his ear and hit Michael coldly in the face.

Ignoring his buddies, Lincoln fell into step with his brother, using his icily stiff glove to wipe the snow from Michael’s cold face, but it served only to make matters worse so, wordlessly draping a comforting arm around his brother’s shoulders, he guided him up the stairs to their small apartment. Their mother wouldn’t be home from her second job for another hour so Lincoln ran a hot bath for Michael to warm him before dressing him in his PJs and wrapping him in a blanket in front of the gas fire. Sitting snugly on the worn old sofa in their living room, Michael smiled up at his brother as Lincoln placed a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows in his hands.

Both boys had no idea what the future held but for now Michael was warm, cheered up and loved.