The soft breeze that start to blow makes me come back to the real world. After a few seconds I remember why my chest hurts so much. I said to myself it doesn´t matter, everything will be over soon.
An ambulance siren wakes me up again, taking me out from the center of my mind. I look around me, realizing how much I have been walking. I am standing in the middle of Coronado Bridge, San Diego Bay in front of me.
Another air stream, this one, stronger and colder than the last one gives me back the awareness over my own body, tears falling on my cheeks. I touch my face and a prick of pain hits me like the fist who stroke me before on my face. I don´t remember when I started crying, I only know it will be over soon. A shiver travel my whole body, because the clothes I am wearing is not prepared for this time of the year. I repeat to myself, it doesn´t matter, it will be over soon.
I look around and I see next to my feet the sports bag with clothes I have bring from the university. I turn down the idea of pick up a sweatshirt, I don´t need it for what I am going to do.
I put again my eyes on the Bay again, one of the few memories I shared with him who could turn me away of what I need to do, it is a shame the list of reasons why I am here in first place is longer than the good memores.
I think in leaving a note, I reject it soon since I don´t have paper nor pen. I could record a video on my phone but explaining all the causes why I am in the middle of a bridge on december 19th will spent a few hours to tell everything and what I have to do it must not delay. The train of thought takes me to the next option, send a message to a friend. It is a shame I have no one. I have acquaintances in class, even some team mate who could talk to, but it is better to leave them alone. They don´t know me enough to care about me. I don´t spend enough time with people to know me. I don´t do parties. I don´t take part on conversations. I am there, but not really. A presence, without disturbing, without interacting. It is easier for what I need to do.
The last reasonable and logical option would be search help on him, but this only make the tears keep flowing. He who must love me, he who must protect me, the one I only feel afraid when I think about him. I knew the result, I knew since years ago and even then I grasp into a thread of hope. Hope he still loved me like I am truly are, protected me. Instead of that he hits me, beats me up and kicks me out of his house. I can´t even say my house. I never feel it like a safe place. Just a route of passage.
So I guess I don´t have anything left, the end is here. My name is Connor Stevens and I came to the Coronado Bridge to kill myself.
With a last look to my hometown I give it a silent goodbye. It´s the only thing I need to do. When I am not here nobody will miss me. I say to myself that it is the best.
Slow but safe, what an irony from the point of view of what I am going to do, I climb the edge protection. Why make it carefully if in the end I am going to kill myself?. I am amazed of the idea of having sense of humor in this moments.
With the edge protection at my back, the feet between the bars and holding the handrail, I close my eyes and deep breath. A voice in my head says something, I can´t identify the sounds. The first thought is that I am crazy. I am alone, I shouldn´t hear voices. But I hear it again, and this time I know it´s not in my head.
"I said beautiful view."
I turn my head to the right and I see a police officer leaning on the handrail, her arms crossed looking at the bay.
I am astonished but I see a police car park a few meters from the officer. Another one, a man, look from the inside, a stern look on his face. I figure their turn is over and instead of going home they need to stop and take care of an suicidal teenager.
"My name is Stef, what´s yours, honey?."
I turn away from the man I look at her, her eyes tell me she is tired. But her look is not so threatening like his. Instead of answering I turn back to look at the officer inside the car.
"Don´t worry about Mike, he doesn´t bite. He is not happy for other reasons."
I look at her again and I see something that I lost long time ago. Concern. This woman is concerned about me and she doesn´t even know me. She calls me honey without barely know me. If she truly knew me, if she knew me she surely push me off the bridge.
"Do you have a name, honey?."
I keep looking at her, without saying anything. I expect the same reaction I have been knowing since I was little. Hard look, frown, commanding voice. She will demand that I told her my name, force me to speak, she will yell at me, she will insult me.
But nothing I am expecting happen. She doesn´t yell. She doesn´t force me to anything. Her eyes are still full of concern.
"Don´t you like that I call you honey?, does it bother you?."
And for the first time she make me talk, "I find it strange."
"You don´t know me, if you know me you won´t call me that."
"Oh, I don´t know and I don´t know your name, but I have the habit of calling my children like that, so for me it´s natural."
Concern. And not only that, but the concern of a mother, and this woman is concerned about me. It´s a shame it´s not going to last. It´s a shame I don´t deserve it.
"Why do you care about a stranger?."
"I am a mother."
"That´s not an answer."
"You don´t know anything about me but you care, why?."
"You remind me my children."
"You are not telling what you truly want to say." The officer smiles. Not an officer. Stef, Stef smiles. I am right, but I don´t know what she want to tell me. "That´s not the answer you want to give me."
"Do you want to know what I am keeping?."
After a few seconds I say, "Yes."
"But first you need to tell me your name."
"Telling you my name doesn´t guarantee that you will tell me."
"What I am keeping it´s not a secret, only something that I will tell you in due time."
"My name is Connor."
Stef smiles. And her eyes have something I never saw. Affection. Understanding. Empathy.
"Are you going to tell me what are you not telling me now, Stef?."
"Not yet, Connor."
"Are you not going to ask me, Stef?."
Her eyes lose the affection, the understanding. The smile is still in there, but not so strong.
"Ask you what, Connor?."
"Why I am climbing outside the edge protection, for example."
"I could make that question, but I am going to make another. How do you arrive here?. There is no car parked except mine."
"Aren´t you cold?." There it is again, a mother´s concern. "You are trembling."
"Don´t you have a hoodie on the duffle bag?" says meanwhile point at the bag next to me.
"I don´t need it."
Because everything will end soon.
"Why, Connor?." With only two words she show me something I miss so much. Concern. Attention. Consternation. She care about my well-being. It´s a shame she is late. I don´t have salvation. I don´t deserve to be saved.
"Why do you came to the bridge, Connor?."
I turn my face to her, and the wind reminds me that my tears are still falling.
"I came to the bridge to end it all, Stef. And you? Why do you came? Why are you trying to save me?."
"I can´t let you go, Connor."
"You don´t know me, even if we talk, you only are delaying the unavoidable."
"Your mother is not in your life and you have a problem with your father."
I look at her incredulously. He saw all of me. I try to remember in the short conversation we had when I said something about my mother. Nothing. I said nothing, but Stef has figured out. Or almost everything.
"Do you want to know why I know?."
"Are you going to tell me now or in due time?" said harshly.
"A mother always calls his children with nicknames, always. You finding it strange only means that your mother is not in your life. Probably a divorce. And because of that you will live with your father, and the problem you have with him."
"I don´t have any problem with him. I am the problem."
"You are not a problem, Connor. Anything your father told you is wrong."
"Why should I believe you? Why I shouldn´t believe him?."
"You are incapable of calling him father. Deep inside you know he is not right."
"Whatever I think doesn´t matter."
"Whatever you think always matter. Connor, talk to me. I can help you."
"Help me? You still doesn´t know why I am in this side of the bridge, do you want to know?."
"I confessed to him that I am gay. He beat me up and told me not to came back, that he has no son."
After say it out loud for the first time make the pain in my heart leave. A little. If like my heart is broken in a thousand pieces and having said it will help me to assemble my heart. I turn to Stef.
"Do you hate me now?."
She wide her eyes. "Why should I hate you?."
"I´m gay. I´m not normal. I deserve nothing. I don´t deserve to live. I have nothing to live for. The world is better without me."
"You can come to my house."
I look at her surprised. She is not yelling at me. She doesn´t push me off the bridge like he would do. She doesn´t hate me and keeps me looking with the same eyes. Maybe more concerned than before. "Why would you do that?."
"You need a family, Connor. And mine can be your new family. You deserve to live, you deserve to be happy."
"And my place in the world is with your family?."
"I don´t know, but we can try."
I nod slowly, and Stef helps me get back to the bridge. When my feet hit the bridge she hugs me.
"You are a brave kid, Connor. I feel so proud of you."
I don´t know why but the hug and her words comfort me. After a moment she breaks the hug and I feel to hug her again. I push away the feeling, I don´t want to be a burden. She puts a hand on my back, comforting me with few motions of her hand on my back. She took my bag and walk me to the car. She motions me to the seat behind the driver.
From the inside Mike gives her a blanket. Stef unfolds it and cover me with it. The warmth of this woman has show me in the few time I know her that maybe she is right.
Now the three seating in the car, Stef looks at Mike and without a word he lends her a note. Stef turns around to look me in the eyes.
"Before going home I need to stop by two places. You trust me?."
I notice how she said home. She doesn´t said her home. She said home like if I already belong in there. With her and her family.
I don´t even need to think about it. It´s true, I trust her. Stef turns around again y starts the car. I´m so deep the vortex of my mind that I only think what happened in the bridge. A warm hand in my shoulder make me come back to the surface."
"Connor, Mike and I are going to leave the car. Trust me."
When I turn my head to the window, the fear comes back to me. Stef has parked in front of the house I thought until today was my home. The place I grow up. The place I should think to come back when I am far away. We are parked in front of the house of Adam Stevens."
Stef has brought me back to my childhood home. The first thought in my head is run away. Run. Escape. Open the car door and don´t look back. My vision is blurred. Tears start to flew again.
A hand in my shoulder brings me back to reality.
"Connor!" I stop looking the house and look at Stef instead. She is worried. "You are not going back to this house, you hear me?." The only thing I could do is changing looks between Stef and the house.
"Mike and I are leaving the car. And you are going to wait here. We talk to him and come back to the car. We leave and you too. Ok?. I am not going to force you to come back to than house and I am not thinking in leaving you. You are coming with me."
Her words should comfort me. But my head only thinks in running away. Only thinks to end it all. But I must trust Stef. I know I must. So I nod my head, I know my words are not going out my mouth.
Stef smiles at me. She doesn´t make me talk. "We come back soon."
She keeps her hand on my shoulder a few more seconds. I miss her touch. I don´t want her to talk to him. But I don´t have strenght to tell her. I only want to be far away. But I am not running away. She promised me she is going to help me, so I am going to trust her.
Mike and Stef leave the car. I watch them walk to the house. Anxiety starts to oppress my chest. Mike calls the doorbell and wait. And wait. Mike calls again and then punch the door. I can see how he opens the door. My heart wants to come off my chest. I want to know what they are talking about, what they tell him.
They keep talking. It´s obvious I am the topic of conversation but I already know what he thinks about me. Stef looks back at me, I can sense her frustation. It´s a feeling I know very well. Every time I try to reach him. Every time I tried to make him know how I am.
For two seconds, Stef holds my look. She knows I am scared and that I am not going to be able to stay much more time so close this house. Stef release a breath and calms down and turn over to him. She removes her badge, her gun and gives it to Mike. She takes off her shirt and gives it to Mike too. I know she is talking. He doesn´t talk, only listens. Inmediately Stef´s fist connects to his stomach. Before he has time to bend over himself Stef inflicts a second punch in his face. After telling something else they come back to the car. Stef uses her to breath to calm down.
"Does your hand hurt?" I ask her softly.
Stef opens and closes the hand a few times. Move the fingers, flexes them and close the hand again in a fist. "No".
A few moments later, Stef turns around and look me in the eyes. "Let´s go home". I didn´t know how much time I have been waiting to hear that words.
And here is the new update. I hope I will be able to continue updating this fic. My head is full of Jonnor and I need to put it out.
Like Stef promised they make a stop before they go to her house. She bring Mike to his house. Before he leaves the car, he look Connor and tell him "See you, kid." Connor can see tiredness in his eyes. He doesn´t look scary at all.
Connor doesn´t say anything. Only stares. There is something he doesn´t get. Why is he going to see him again? Stef tells him what he doesn´t guess.
"Mike is my ex-husband. He and his son AJ will come in a few days to celebrate Christmas.
Connor frowns, because he doesn´t understand why they gather. Why are they celebrating the holidays?
"You know it´s Christmas, right?"
Connor shrugs his shoulder and answers her with another question. "So?"
"He doesn´t celebrate holidays. I inherited a indifference for the celebrations."
"So, you don´t have Christmas spirit?"
Again, he shrugs. Stef stops looking at him and starts the car. "We will need to change that."
After ten minutes they arrived at a house. Big. Two story. Front yard lawn in neat perfect state. This house settles a sensation Connor doesn´t recognize.
Before getting off the car he starts removing the blanket to leaving at his place. Stef stops him. "Don´t remove it, get warm first."
Immediately Connor uses it again to wrap himself. Stef signs him to follow her. She takes his duffel bag and when they arrive to the front door she uses the key to open it.
"My partner is not home yet. Must be at the airport picking up our kids."
She lets him space to enter into the house. Stef puts her keys in a bowl next to the door and Connor´s bag near the door.
"Are you hungry or thirsty?"
"A glass of water, please"
Connor follows Stef till the place he thinks is the kitchen. With a sign she tells him to sit on a stool. The kitchen is big and spacious. Next to the stove there is a table with a lot of stools. Connor takes sit near the back door. Stef doesn´t comment anything by that, but she lets him. She gives him a glass of water and he thanks her.
In a few seconds he downs the glass, he doesn´t felt thirsty, but now he can´t stop. Stef refills his glass again and put the jar in the table. The second glass lasts the same as the first.
Before any of them could say a word the front door opens and they hear voices and steps. Stef smiles. "That´s my family. Wanna meet them?"
Connor shrugs his shoulder.
Connor can see as five people cross the same entrance he came through. Stef´s kids look young, but he is sure they are older than him. And a woman, tall, beautiful with light dark skin. The moment they see Connor they stop talking. Connor feels intimidated. At university he is always surrounded by people but he is not comfortable being the center of attention.
The woman gets close to Stef and they kiss, in the mouth. Connor doesn´t know what must he look to the boy with tan skin. He looks tense, ready to attack.
For the first time since Stef´s family came into the house Connor tells her, "you didn´t tell me your partner is a woman."
"Any problem with that, friend" says the young boy with the tan skin, letting clear the sarcasm in the word friend.
"Easy, Jesus" says Stef to his kid, "would you ever believe me if a told you in the bridge I am homosexual?" says to Connor.
The family start looking between them, Connor and Stef. Clearly they didn´t get the reference.
"Probably I wouldn´t believe you and I would fell from the bridge."
Now all the family is fixed their eyes on Connor. Shocked by the conversation. Everyone frowning. Connor supposes is better to tell them directly.
"My name is Connor, a few hours ago I confessed him I am gay. And his answer was beat me and kicking me of his house. Also he told me he didn´t have a son anymore."
When Connor stops talking Stef´s wife and the girl with tan skin, who looks a lot like Jesus stare widely at Connor. The others look at Connor like he is going to break or explode like a bomb.
"I don´t know how long I have been walking, until I realized I was at Coronado´s bridge perch outside the rail bar ready to kill myself. That´s the moment Stef found me and convinced me to not jump."
Stef looks at Connor and smiles, "I suppose is better telling them at the same time, if you talk one by one it will be a waste of time and everyone will ask questions. This way you have all people prepared to watch me and try to not make it another time" says Connor staring at Stef.
The coldness with Connor speaks about himself let everybody in shock. Connor never remembers causing this reaction in anyone. And he never remembers talking so much before.
Connor can hear the back door open with a key and someone enters into the house. The moment he is inside he starts talking and moving, "Hey, guys. How are you?, how about the flights?" Connor only knows is a boy from the voice, but can´t fully see him walking behind the family. The new boy opens the fridge and pick a soda. "What happened?, why are you so quiet?" he asks them again.
Keeps walking until being near the back door. And finally he sees Connor.
In front of Connor there is a boy. Eyes like chocolate color. Tall. Hair slightly long and nice styled. His eyes doesn´t let Connor look away. Connor wants to see this eyes at every moment. He wants those eyes to never let them being unseen.
"Oh, hi, I am Jude" says with a smile. Connor thought his eyes were beautiful but that smile connected to those eyes makes Connor´s knees weak. At least he is sitting.
Why I am feeling this? Why someone I don´t ever met make these reactions in me? Nobody make me feel whatever I am feeling right now.
"Are you Mariana´s new boyfriend?"
With a shake of his head Connor tells Jude no. Connor thinks he is not going to be able to talk at this moment.
"Oh. Are you Jesus´ new boyfriend?"
Connor only shakes his head again, and decides to explain.
"I am Connor, your mother Stef, found me when I tried to commit suicide, because my father beat me and kicked me out of his house when I confessed him I am gay."
For few seconds Jude just stares. But he doesn´t look like to be in shock likes his brothers, because immediately his eyes changed, and Connor can see concern. Today is the second time somebody else gets concerned about Connor. This boy doesn´t know him and he cares about him.
Jude looks at his family. The others look stiff as statues. Jude moves and he stay beside Connor. He spins Connor in the stool so he can see him in the eyes. Is this boy so strong?, or is it me, that I lost all my strength?
Puts his hands in Connor´ shoulders and look him in the eyes. "You are going to be ok, Connor, now you are safe."
"I´m fine" Connor tries to say but his voice doesn´t cooperate.
"You are going to be fine, Connor" repeats Jude again, this time putting pressure in his shoulders, trying to say something Connor doesn´t know.
"I am fine" repeats, but his voice breaking only tells Jude the truth. Connor´s sight begins covering in tears, in any moment he knows he will start crying.
"You are going to be safe, here. Now you are going to be fine."
"I AM FINE, OK!?" yells Connor. All the people, but Jude, get startled. "I DON´T FEEL ANYTHING FOR MY FATHER, OK!? I AM NOT SORRY HE KICKED ME OUT OF HIS HOUSE!. I AM NOT SORRY FOR TELLING HIM I AM GAY!" continues Connor.
"Why doesn´t he love me? What I did wrong? Why I can´t be normal?" mumble Connor.
"You are normal, Connor. You did nothing wrong" says Jude looking in his eyes. And his eyes tell Connor he is not lying. "You are going to be fine."
In that moment he cannot longer try to stop and Connor starts crying. And hold Jude and hugs him. He hugs hum so hard he think he is going to break something. If he hurts him, Jude doesn´t tell him. If he wants to stop, he doesn´t say it. Jude only gives back the hug, with the same strength Connor is putting in the hug.
And doesn´t stop whispering in his ear, "you are going to be fine, you are here safe". Again and again. Jude´s hands in his back. Moving, never stopping. And Connor thinks how a boy he never met is comforting him like he knew him all his life.
And Connor knows he doesn´t want to be in any other place.
Finally Connor can stop crying, and can see how he soaked Jude´s shirt. But the other boy doesn´t seem bothered.
"You don´t have to apologize, it was me who push you up a little."
When Connor looks at his face he can see the smile. Also he is offering a tissue. In front of them in the kitchen table there is a tissue box. They went there before, and also Jude´s family is not with them. They are alone in the kitchen.
Connor takes it and start cleaning his face of all the tears. When the tissue touch his right cheek it sends a prick of pain, reminding him the punch he received few hours early. Now that life seems far away.
"Wait, let me" says Jude picking up another tissue and cleaning the punched cheek. He´s doing it as kindness as almost he is doing nothing. Now his eyes are worrying, and Connor doesn´t like that look, doesn´t want to Jude worries about him. He wants to see his smile again.
Jude smiles at him. And there it is. The smile.
"I´m not hurting you, am I?."
Connor shooks his head.
"Do you feel a little better, Connor?."
This time he nods his head. Jude takes his hand and without words ask him to follow him. From his hand Connor gets something he never felt before. Something travelling over all his body. Connor gets off the stool and together they come back to the living room, where all the family is gathered. When the boys enter in the room all the atention is in them. Some of them see their hands, but don´t say a thing. The girl who looks like Jude stares at Connor like he is the devil and wants to kick his ass.
"Hey, boys" says Stef. "How do you feel, Connor?."
"I´m going to be fine" answers. A squeeze in his hand reminds him Jude is still holding his hand. Cursiva Why is he still holding my hand?. But deep down Connor doesn´t want Jude to let it go. Stef only smiles when he says that, but Connor knows she was the first seeing their grasping hands, but she is not saying anything about it.
"Well, Connor, it´s time to meet the family. You already met Jude. This is Lena, my wife. The boy over there sitting in the armchair is Brandon."
"He is Mike´s son" Connor state.
Brandon look at Connor frowning. "You have his eyes, I met him at the bridge."
"The girl sit in the other side is Callie."
"Jude´s biological sister" interrumps Connor again. Callie is the one looking at him now.
"You look at him in a overprotective way."
"I don´t look at him..." start saying, but stop when Jude look at her with scepticism. "I only care about you, Jude. That´s all."
"Sitting right there, Jesus and Mariana."
"They are twins."
"You are a very perceptive boy, Connor" says Lena.
"I have to be all my life" says Connor in a sinister way. Lena and Stef look at each other. Connor´s answer didn´t go unnoticed. They talk without words.
Jude grips his hand hard. Jude also take notice about his answer. Now is Jude who changes the conversation.
"Did you talk about where is Connor sleeping?"
"You and Connor are going to sleep in your and Jesus´ room." tells them Lena.
"And Jesus is ok with that?" sass Jude. Connor look at him shocked. This is not the Jude who hold him in the kitchen while was crying. And that only makes Connor wish to meet all the different Judes that exist.
"We have been talking and seeing how Connor trusts you it´s better to be close" mention Stef.
Connor looks at Jesus and can see how the tall boy is looking serious. It´s obvious that he doesn´t like the idea of not sleeping in his room.
"Sorry for kicking you out of your room, Jesus" Connor tells him.
"Don´t worry, dude. I don´t want to hear you crying again."
"Jesus!" reprimands Lena at the same time that Mariana smacks Jesus at his head. Connor only smiles, he is going to take his space, he can´t feel bad for the comment.
"Well, Jude" says Stef, "show Connor where he is going to sleep from now on."
Jude grasps lightly his hand. Till that moment they didn´t stop holding hands. With a little tug Jude tells him to follow him. When they walk near Connor´s duffelbag, Jude takes it and they go upstairs, walking right in front of the second door on the right.
"This is going to be our room." tells him with a smile, keeping looking at him for a while. Connor starts to get uncomfortable, because he doesn´t know what Jude wants. "You can open the door or give back my hand."
Connor lows his eyes and sees how they are still holding hands and in the other Jude is carrying his bag. Wanting his hand for a little while Connor opens the door, and lets Jude go into his room.
Finally Connor lets go Jude´s hand, and regrets it immediately. The only thing Connor wants is hold his hand, and never let it go.
"The bed in front of the door is mine. You are using Jesus, next to the window" tells him passing him his bag. Connor throws the bag next to the bed. When he looks back at Jude he looks at him funny.
"I don´t have anything fragile in the bag."
"I guess you are hungry."
Is in that moment that Connor´s stomach decides to grunt.
"Come on" Jude tells him holding his hand, "let see what the family is thinking."
After eating pizza, Jude takes Connor back to his room. Says goodnight for both of them, he knows Connor´s had a horrible day, and he must rest. In their room, he lends him a Jesus´ pajama and a spare toothbrush. Using first the bathroom, Connor can´t stop to think about his day, changes his clothes and came back to the room. Jude has already changed and is waiting his turn in the bathroom.
Connor waits until Jude come back sitting in Jesus´ bed. He observes the room, many things to see, many memories, a lot of stories. Doesn´t even realize Jude is back in the room until he grabs his shoulders.
"Are you ok, Connor? You looked miles away."
"Sorry, I was thinking."
"I think it´s better to sleep. You had a long day."
He told Connor they needed to sleep, but he is here. One AM, with a book in his hands. A habit he took in the university, thanks to the fact of having class in the afternoon. Even then, he doesn´t sleep late so he can make the most of the mornings.
A noise of sheets takes him away from the book. He looks at the sleeping figure in the other side of the room. Listen how his breathing speed up and start making little whimpers. Jude would recognize the signs in any situation. Connor is having a nightmare. Jude puts the book in the night stand, and turn off the light. Gets up and get close to him before the nightmare progress.
"Connor" whispers, "wake up, you are dreaming."
The boy wakes up panting and sitting right straight in the bed. He looks lost, looking around. Jude knows he doesn´t recognize the place and needs time to remember.
Finally Connor looks at him. "Sorry for waking you, Jude" says whispering, ashamed.
"You don´t have to be sorry. And I was reading. Go back to sleep."
Jude starts moving but Connor hold his wrist. Jude looks at him but Connor is not looking at him. Instead he sit in the bed until Connor is ready to talk. When he starts talking he doesn´t look at him.
"Jude, can you... can you...?"
"Do you want me to sleep next to you?"
Connor nods, still without looking Jude in the eye. In that moment, the only thing Jude wants is to hold him, hug him and protect him.
"Yeah, make me room."
Connor moves to one side of the tiny bed, and Jude lays right next to the edge. But Connor seems to have other plans. Holding Jude he puts him like a rag doll in the middle of the bed. Connor looked strong, but this only makes it real, Jude thinks. Connor lays down, putting his head in Jude´s chest. Right above his heart. His hand in Jude´s shoulder where he grasps tightly his shirt.
The moment he realizes what he is doing he moves away.
"I´m sorry, Jude, I don´t know why I did it..."
Jude stops him, holding his hand, putting it back in his shoulder. And Jude puts his other arm in Connor´s back.
"Don´t worry. If you need me, I´m here. I´m not going anywhere."
"Thank you, Jude" says sleepily. Jude´s eyelids start to fall. His hand draws circles in Connor´s back. Jude stops thinking about how he is touching Connor´s skin. Connor´s light breathe, his weight in Jude´s chest and his warm body makes Jude to fall asleep too.
"Do you think is safe bringing a strange at our home? I don´t know how you can let him sleep in Jude´s room" says Lena meanwhile walking around their room.
Stef is already lying in bed, seeing her wife. But is much relaxed than Lena.
"I think we already had this conversation."
Lena looks at her wife. "That was different."
"You´re saying the same I said when you brought Callie."
"And I am saying the same you said when you brought AJ."
"And, don´t you think everything end well?."
"You know is not the same, Stef."
"Of course. This time we haven´t been called dykes."
Lena laughs remembering what happened with Callie and AJ. "You know it´s still not the same, Stef" Lena reiterates.
"Why not? Connor needs help."
"Yes, he needs help. Professional help."
"And, what would it be this professional help?."
"He would be force to be hospitalize in a psychiatric clinic" Lena says sighing.
"He would be constrain to the bed for preventing self-harm."
"He would be sedated."
Lena knows already she has lost, but keeps going. "They would call his father" says while rubbing her face with her hand.
"And what would it be the final result of this so called professional help?."
Defeated Lena sighs. "Two weeks until he would be found, hanging with a sheet around his neck, or overdosed in pills."
Stef doesn´t says anything, but Lena knows she was thinking the same.
"Why do you think Jude is going to be able to help him? How do you know if Connor wants to be saved?."
"Everybody want to be saved. But sometimes people don´t ask for help. Remember Callie. She doesn´t ask for help to save Jude from their last foster father. And you have been there since Connor chose Jude to save him."
Confused Lena tries to remember what happened in the kitchen.
"When I was in the bridge with Connor and then when he told you his story he didn´t open, not to me, not to us. I only could deduce what he wanted to tell me. But in the moment he saw Jude, there were no walls, there were no barriers. He trusted him since the first moment. Since the moment Connor put his eyes on Jude.
"When he mentioned his father" affirm Lena remembering the exact moment.
"The only time he mentioned his father was to Jude. And since that moment it looks like only Jude existed. From the beginning when I started talking to Connor at the bridge I knew only Jude could make him open to him. Connor has chosen Jude to saved him."
"Because Jude looks like me me, and Connor looks like you".
"And Jude already chose to save Connor. You saw what happened in the kitchen. A little push and all the walls Connor built for years have fallen."
"Do you think Jude is going to be able to save him in fourteen days? And then, when Connor comes back to the university? Alone?."
"Connor has to remember or rather learn what it means to have a home, and when he comes back to the university we will care about that."
Someone calls to their door. Two knocks strongs. Lena and Stef look at each other, they already know who is outside.
"Come in, Callie."
Callie opens the door and closes behind her. Walks near the bed and cross her arms. The two women wait until she is ready. They know her. They know how she is about Jude.
"I don´t trust him."
Stef y Lena are not surprised. They imagined they were going to have this conversation.
"Jude volunteer himself to spend time with Connor, Callie. He is already an adult and knows what he is doing."
"After what happened with Jack and then with Noah how can you say he knows what he is doing."
Lena sighs. "The mistakes he made in the past will help him now."
"Jude was crashed after Jack was killed. He doesn´t need another ghost and another ashes in a urn."
"Connor is not going to try anything, and he is not going to hurt Jude."
"How are you so sure?"
"Because Jude is going to be there helping him."
The two mothers can see Callie trying to look for more arguments to try to convinced them that Connor must leave the house.
"You didn´t do anything when Connor told us his father beat him" Stef reproachs her.
Callie looks at her surprised. She didn´t imagina she use that against her.
"If Jude told any of us someone beat him, you would be the first at his side. That´s what Jude learned from you."
Callie lowers her eyes. She knows her arguments are weak, but that doesn´t mean she like to lose.
Without another word Callie leaves the room. They know she is not convinced, but now they have to be careful about her.
They decide to stop talking for the day, they need rest because they have a full house with six young people.
December 20th 2019.
The light coming from the outside starts awakening Jude. "Jesus, close the curtains!" grunts Jude to the empty room. Turns away and buries his face in the pillow, hugging it. Many things starts flowing in his head. First, in all the years since he was adopted by Lena and Stef he doesn´t remember this many light awake him. Second, there is something that evades his mind, something that has been forgotten. He can´t remember, but he miss something. What is it. It´s like I forgot about something. Jude takes a deep breath buried in the pillow. And this scent? I never smell it before. It´s new. What I have forgotten? He can remember some bits from last night, thinks maybe it was a dream. A voice asking him to sleep with, a voice telling him not to abandon him, a face full of running tears. Whom I have forgotten?
"Do you want me to sleep with you?"
What is missing.
"I´m not going anywhere."
Jude jumps off the bed and take a look around him. He slept in Jesus´ bed, that´s why the light wake him up. Connor is not in the room. He is not in Jude´s bed. Neither in the bathroom. Jude can´t see Connor´s duffelbag. On the desk he can see the pajama folded he lent Connor last night. At first he was worried, now he is panicking.
Connor is gone.
Jude leaves his room and go downstairs. The dining room is empty. In the living room Jesus is snoring in the sofa. In the kitchen... in the kitchen is Connor.
Jude takes a deep breath. He doesn´t know when I started to hold it. Connor is not gone. He is still here.
"Good morning" says Connor when he sees Jude enter the kitchen, he smiles but doesn´t reach his eyes.
"Good morning" says Jude while collapse in one of the stools. Rubbing his face to try and hold his nerves of losing Connor and could breathe again.
Opening his eyes can see Connor setting the table, the stove on and multiple pans working.
"You don´t have to make breakfast, Connor" says looking at him and realizing the other boy is wearing an apron, a gift for Lena a few years ago. He knows it because it was his gift to her momma.
"I wanted to say thank you for what you did to me" says lowering his head, he saw Jude looking at the apron, "I only found this". The apron is fully pink and has on the front the words `Best Mother in the World´.
"It suits you" Jude says, and the smile he see takes his breath away. All the kitchen gets warm with this smile. Jude´s heart gets warm with this smile. And this time Connor´s smile reach his eyes.
But it doesn´t last long, because Connor remembers why is he in this house. He stops smiling and moves to the stove to continue making breakfast.
And in that moment Jude realizes Connor is not wearing the pajama. Last night, Connor put the pajamas on. But when he awoke from the nightmare he wasn´t wearing the top pajama. Thanks to the apron Jude can see Connor´s back in all its glory. And Hello, Muscles!. Jude knows the other boy has a body, but one thing is knowing it, and other seeing it. Cursiva Wait... last night when I hold him he wasn´t wearing the top. And Jude lowers his eyes seeing Connor´s back and makes a little mistake.
Jesus´ pajamas who Connor was wearing last night is upstairs. On the desk. Both pieces. Including the pants.
Jude is able to see Connor in almost all his glory. Thank God he is wearing underwear. Thank God. He wouldn´t have survived seeing Connor naked. But is meaningless, because the underwear is so tight, it fits Connor perfectly sculpted... coughing.
A voice coughs in front of Jude and is what he needed to stop staring at Connor´s... back.
"Jude, I thought I taught you to not chew with your mouth open."
Jude turns his head and see Stef in the same place Connor was before. Cursiva When has she arrived? How long have I been staring at Connor? How long do I have been with my mouth open? Cursiva
Jude closes his mouth and his cheeks turn red a little too fast. Stef is in front of him drinking from her favourite mug, trying to hide her grin with her coffee.
Stef catch him, but Connor doesn´t seem to notice. Cursiva Phew. Jude is brave enough to take a look, but only shoulders to head. He decides not risking it again. So he turns his head again and starts rubbing his face. But not being able to see Connor or Stef he remembers what he felt before finding Connor, thinking he left.
Meanwhile cooking Connor is wondering why Stef told that to Jude. There is no food on the table, yet. What did she mean?
"Connor, sweetie" says Stef.
"Yes?" ask Connor turning around to face Stef, he can see Jude is rubbing his face, thinking about he may be tired.
"I know you must be comfortable but it would be better if you are wearing more clothes, we usually don´t go around in underwear" says Stef smiling at him.
Connor looks at himself and realizes he is only wearing boxers under the apron.
"Oh, sorry. Normally I sleep naked" tells Connor at the same time Jude grunts, only hearing it Stef, "so I was unaware I was naked" keeps saying Connor turning off the stove and removing the apron.
Without it Jude and Stef can see the last proof of seeing Adam. Many bruises in the chest and some in the back.
Connor puts the apron hanging from a kitchen shelf and goes upstairs to Jude´s room to put clothes on himself.
"Oh, God" whispers Jude seeing Connor removing the apron. The bruises in his skin makes Jude´s blood boil, remembering why Connor came to his house.
When Connor is going upstairs, Jude turns his head and can see Stef raising an eyebrow at him. But any of them could say a word when a scream rumble through the house.
"Madre del Amor Hermoso y de mi Corazón!!!"*
Jude removes completely his hands from his face and Stef can see his son with tears in his eyes. But she can´t make any question because Jude starts talking.
"I thought he left."
Stef doesn´t need to ask who he is talking about.
"When I woke up, I didn´t see his bag, Jesus´ pajama was on the desk and for a second I thought he left."
Stef gives his son a little smile. "Connor couldn´t have left the house, Jude. Every night we locked the house."
Jude start thinking about his mother´s words and even being a relief is also a way in that Connor can´t choose to leave.
"You locked Connor in so he couldn´t leave!" whispers yelling.
"Every night we locked up every door and window. Connor being here doesn´t mean that we would make the opposite we do every night."
Jude turns his head to see the back door heading to the garden and can see how the key usually resting in the lock is missing."
"You remove the key so Connor couldn´t leave."
Stef blushes a little because she was caught.
"Anyway, as you can see Connor didn´t leave. He was making breakfast."
Looking at his face, Stef recognizes why Jude is so concerned about Connor. "You like Connor."
Jude blushes. Stef has caught him.
"So, when are you going to ask him on a date."
"Connor doesn´t need a boyfriend."
But Stef can´t keep the conversation cause Mariana come into the kitchen. She doesn´t any other think than ask Jude why he think that, but Stef knows that with Mariana in the kitchen this conversation won´t be private, and all the family will know in less than ten minutes.
Stef can see Mariana fanning herself with a fashion magazine, and she knows is not because the temperature. She doesn´t need to ask what happens. The scream from moments before is all she needs to know.
"You seem heated, Mariana, are you ok?, you didn´t sleep well?" asks Stef, even knowing what happened.
"Not as good as Jude, as I could see" says smirking looking at Jude.
"Mariana" warns her trying looking serious, even knowing how red must be his face, Jude knows he is losing this stare constest.
"Oh, come on, Judicorn. Don´t be mad."
"Judicorn?" repeat Connor returning into the kitchen, going to the stove again and turning it on. At least he put some clothes.
Connor puts again the apron, muscles of his back flexing and being completely visibles in a t-shirt Jude could swear is two sizes smaller for Connor. At least his shorts are baggy, and Jude is a little safe.
Jude feels a shiver and he knows he get caught again. Turning away his eyes from Connor can see Stef and Mariana in front of him, both of them drinking coffee and with the same smirking face. Jude buries his hands in his face wanting anything than disappear.
Jude grunts with his face still hiding.
"Sorry, Jude. I said it without thinking" says Mariana apologetic, but Jude doesn´t need to her face to know that she is not sorry. The damage is done.
"It suits you, you know?" says Connor, Jude finally removing his hands and looking at him, seeing how Connor have a little smile in his face while putting full plates in the table.
"Connor, you didn´t need to cook, you are the guest" says Lena coming into the kitchen, looking all the food Connor make.
"I don´t want to be a burden."
"You´re not a burden, Connor" tells him.
Connor leaves more plates on the table. Not fixing his eyes in anyone. Shy by the things Lena told him, he goes back to the stove. It looks like he is making pancakes.
"I hope I didn´t make a lot of food. I didn´t want to get short but you are seven and I don´t know if it will be enough food."
"Eight, Connor" says Lena holding Stef´s hand, "there are eight people in this house."
Jude looks at Connor. Can see how he rubs his face with his forearm. He doesn´t expected Lena to say that. Like he is part of this house. Jude can see how his moms look at him. He knows what they are thinking, he already knows they talked about Connor´s situation.
Jude has less than two weeks to make Connor stop thinking about the thoughts he is trying to avoid. Two weeks before he will come back to his university. And he doesn´t know which one. But before he can ask someone comes into the kitchen yelling.
"Oh, food!" yells Jesus, sitting at the table and filling his plate. "How I miss your food, momma. It´s not the same living alone in LA."
"Then you need to thank Connor, he is the one cooking" says Lena.
"Oh, hey, dude, I don´t care you stole my bedroom if you keep making breakfast like this" says Jesus with a mouth full.
"Jesus!" Mariana reproaches him.
"What?. I didn´t said anything bad" replies Jesus still with a mouth full.
"Swallow before speaking, honey" tells him Lena from the other side of the table, "we don´t need to see what are you eating."
After joining them Brandon and Callie and devouring all the breakfast prepared by Connor, mugs, plates, glasses and dirty pans start to stack up in the sink. Without saying anything Connor gets up from the table to wash everything.
"Leave that, Connor" says Stef finishing her coffee. "Brandon and Jesus offered themselves as volunteers to wash the dishes."
"We what" ask both brothers at the same time. Stef looks at them with a face and they feel helpless.
"Don´t worry, Connor. We will do it." tells him Brandon.
"I don´t mind doing the dishes" says Connor.
Brandon y Jesus look at each other hoping they will be save from the task. Seeing Stef rising a single eyebrow they lose all hope. This time Jesus finish the argument, "we´ll do it, dude."
Connor sits down again at the table, not knowing what to do. Callie and Mariana leave the kitchen, and then Stef and Lena too.
Jude still sitting at the table look at Connor, with his shoulder hunched and looking at the table. Trying to cheer him up he asks, "hey, Connor, you want to play videogames?"
Connor looks at him and with a shy smile he nods. "Come on."
After two hours of videogames and no talking, Jesus and Brandon come into the living room and fall into the sofa panting.
"If I wash another plate, I swear I will throw myself from a bridge" cries Jesus.
A flying cushion impacts into Brandon´s face. "Shit, Brandon. Sorry, that was for Jesus."
"I suppose it, Jude" says while he hit Jesus in the face with the cushion.
"Hey, why did you hit me" complains Jesus looking at his brothers. When he sees Connor hunching his shoulders and looking at the floor he says, "sorry, dude. Some times I don´t think what I say."
After an uncomfortable silence the women arrive hands full of boxes.
Seeing the boxes, Connor looks at panic and ask to Stef, "are you going to move out?"
The whole family stare in shock at Connor. Jude´s brother doesn´t understand his question. But Jude, Stef and Lena know about what he is feeling. Connor is thinking the family is leaving, and then, he may leave the house.
"Connor, sweetie, this are christmas decoration" Stef says gently.
Connor stares down ashamed and run to the kitchen. He is ashamed for believing they are moving out when Lena and Stef´s children just came to be together in holidays.
He doesn´t know how much time has passed sitting at a stool. Eyes locked in the table. Connor can hear someone coming into the kitchen.
He knows it´s Jude. Doesn´t know why. But he is certain it´s Jude. Something inside him says him to trust Jude. And he already trusts him. The little time he spent with him is the only proof.
Connor doesn´t stop looking at the table, but he knows Jude is sitting next to him. He is giving him time, he just knows.
"I am sorry, I am a stupid."
"Stop, Connor, you don´t need to say anything, ok?"
Connor doesn´t look at him. He is scared of the look in his face, afraid of finding disapproval in those eyes, like when he talk to him, in the other house. He is afraid to find the same look in Jude´s eyes.
"Connor, please, look at me."
Connor can´t prevent to lift his head. He realizes he would do anything Jude ask him. Any thing Jude tells Connor to do, he will do it without a doubt. Without asking why. He just will do it. And he is not afraid.
When Connor sees Jude, can see a light in his eyes. He doesn´t see pity like he saw in Jude´s brothers. He doesn´t see compassion. Jude looks at him like he is not broken. But they both know he is, but Jude decides that is not a valid reason to treat him differently.
Jude smiles at him.
"Want to help me to carry the christmas tree from the garage?" asks him while offering a hand.
Connor returns him the smile. Even when they know the smile is not real. Connor knows he can trust Jude.
Jude moves a pair of boxes from in front of the tree to reach it. He stares at it, thinking how they are going to carry it. To Jude it looks like heavy.
Connor without thinking twice gets in front of the tree and lifts it. When he sees Jude can see how he has a surprise face.
"What´s wrong? I did something wrong'?"
Jude shakes his head quickly. "No, no. It´s just that I thought it would be more complicated to move. Look like you are a little strong, Connor."
Connor blushes furiously. He knows how he looks under his clothes. It´s what happen when you try to spend the minimal time in his previous home. Being in that home, the less time possible, spending time outside playing sports or being at the gym.
That´s why, between the two, even Connor is the one carrying it, Jude helps him opening the doors. They are able to take the tree to the living room.
Inside there are only Lena and Stef, so Connor feel a little relief. He doesn´t know what Jude´ siblings think about his stupid question. He only knows he doesn´t want to see their pity faces.
Stef passes Connor a box, "you want to decorate the tree, Connor?"
Connor spend a moment looking at the box. It´s full of things he doesn´t even know the name. Stef turns around again and can see him rigid and uncomfortable.
"What happen, Connor?"
Without looking at Stef he says whispering, "I never decorate a christmas tree, Stef. I told you when you find me."
Jude and Lena look at each other after Connor´s confession. Both can fill the blanks, Cursiva when you find me in the bridge meant Connor. They also doesn´t understand how anyone never decorated a christmas tree, but both know that is better not to make uncomfortable questions.
Jude moves close to Connor and asks him, "do you want help?"
Connor gives him a little smile and nods his head. So Jude teaches him how to put christmas decorations on a tree for the first time.
No one was paying attention so they couldn´t see Callie looking angry at Connor when she pass walking to the kitchen.
"Madre del Amor Hermoso y de mi Corazón!!!" means Holy Mother of Love and my Heart. Original from spanish.
December 21st. 00:00h.
Jude is catching up reading the books he needs for his studies. Having Connor by his side all day takes away all the chances to do homework. I doesn´t need to read now but is a little habit he acquired in the few months since he started college.
A noise of sheets and a breathing speeding up tells him Connor is having a bad dream, again. He puts the book in the shelf, turns off the light and gets close to the young man.
Connor startled awake, Jude can see tears in his eyes. For a few moments Connor is bewildered looking around him.
"Nothing happens, Connor. You were having a bad dream."
Connor diverts his gaze. Jude doesn´t need to read his mind to know what he is thinking.
"You didn´t wake me. I was reading."
Connor nods his head. But Jude knows he needs company, like yesterday.
"You want me to sleep next to you?"
Connor nods again but doesn´t look at him. "Sorry."
"Don´t worry. Make me room."
Connor scoots close to the wall. Jude like yesterday lies near the edge. But Connor doesn´t want him far. Connor looks at his face and put him in the middle of the bed and hugs Jude. Connor clings to Jude as if his life depended on it. Jude feels like his heart crash because in a way, it is. Connor needs an anchor right now. Needs something anchoring to this world. Jude hopes to live up to that responsibility
Jude hugs him back and notices he removed his pajamas. The blush in his cheeks is huge but at least in the darkness of his room he couldn´t lead Connor to discomfort with his little crush.
Connor grasps at Jude and sighs. "Thank you."
"You don´t have to thank me. Sleep, I am not going anywhere." In a few seconds Jude feels how Connor´s breathing change.
In Jesus´ bed, in his room, Jude doesn´t take time to join Connor in the dream world.
21 de Diciembre. 07:00h.
Connor wakes up early again. Sleeping hugging Jude has proven to be the best way to rest he had. It´s been years he didn´t sleep placidly and without bad dreams. He gets up so rested he needs to do something to stop thinking in bad things.
So he gets up and starts making breakfast. He can´t help it, he needs to stay occupied and the kitchen is something that relax him and keep him busy. Mechanical tasks, repetitive and attention. For a while is able to not think in him. But is so miles away that he doesn´t realize another person comes into the kitchen.
"Good morning, Connor."
Connor turns around and can see Lena coming into the kitchen. Connor trusts her but could see the doubt the first day Stef brought him to their house. "Good morning" whispers Connor. Afraid of doing something he shouldn´t do and told him to leave. Connor knows Lena is a good person but knows people hide things. Himself has been hiding for years. He knows about the subject.
Connor doesn´t know what she means until he looks down and see he is only wearing underwear under the apron. And he knows he would be wearing clothes. Yesterday Stef already told him and he should have learn.
When Connor turns around, Lena can see him crying.
"Sorry, I´m sorry, I will put clothes on, Stef told me yesterday, sorry, sorry..."
Lena gets close to Connor but doesn´t know where to get close before he gets scared.
"Breathe, Connor, breathe" says kindly, "I´m not mad and you did nothing wrong.
Connor shakes his head.
"Yesterday, Stef already told me yesterday that I need to be dressed, I´m sorry, I´m sorry."
"Relax, Connor. You did nothing wrong" says again with a smile in her face. Connor seeing Lena is not yelling at him o punching starts to relax. But Lena is still able to see how edgy is the boy. Almost trying to be invisible.
"The only thing I see of you forgetting to put clothes is that you feel safe with us. Being in this house you feel safe enough to wear only you underwear."
Connor finally starts breathing slow and Lena can see in his eyes, tears falling down.
"I want to give you a hug, Connor. May I hug you?"
To her question, Connor gets in front of her and grasps her. He starts crying again but Lena knows he needs to vent off. So she lets him cry, she murmuring over and over he did nothing wrong, telling him he is a good kid.
With time, Connor finally stops crying and starts to relax, but keeps hugging Lena. For a moment she begins to worry, because she recognizes the symptoms, Connor seems to not have contact with another person for a while. She is afraid to ask him when was the last time someone touch him.
Connor starts to move away and takes two steps back, "sorry" says without looking at her eyes. And Lena just wants to hug him again. Now she can see why Stef brought him home. She saw the vulnerability the boy shows when he opens to people around him. Connor is not a threat, not for him, not for the people around him. She doesn´t know how anyone is able to even think hurting someone as pure as Connor.
"Don´t worry, Connor."
"I am going to put some clothes and then I will continue making breakfast."
"If you want I can finish it."
Connor shakes his head. "I don´t mind." The boy goes upstairs to the room he is been sleeping the last two days. Jude is still out for the world in Jesus´ bed. Connor can´t avoid look at the boy who feels more connected to, like any other person before.
Jude starts stirring in the bed. Connor moves to grab clothes from his bag before he realizes he was been watched by a stalker.
"Connor, come back to bed." Connor paralizes picking up a shirt. "It´s too early to be out of the bed."
Connor smiles at the sleepy boy and takes a sit in the bed. "I´m preparing breakfast." Jude moves and hugs the pillow Connor should be using at this moment.
"Give me a minute and I get up and help you" mumbles a sleepy Jude. Connor gets up from the bed but Jude pick up his arm. "Don´t go."
Connor gets surprised with how differente is Jude when he is half asleep. Jude tugs at his arm to get back to the bed but Connor needs to make breakfast.
"You don´t need to get up, keep sleeping" and without thinking kiss Jude in the head. Finally Jude releases him. Connor moves and gets dressed and goes back to the kitchen. Turn the stove on and for a second he gets stunned.
You kissed Jude. It has been an innocent kiss. But you kissed him. They will probably kick you out.
Connor decides to stop thinking. He has done it and can´t take it back. But deep inside him he doesn´t want to leave this house.
Almost finished he can hear voices coming to the kitchen.
"How is Taylor, Jude? You haven´t talk about her" says Callie.
Connor stiffs. Callie is asking Jude about a girl. It´s been a while since the last time he feel the pressure in his chest. Jude has a girlfriend, stupid. You have been sleeping in the same bed with a straight boy. You kissed a straight boy. You are going to be kicked out.
"Taylor is fine, Callie. She is spending the holidays with his grandfathers."
"How is she having a distance relationship on holidays? Those are not easy to handle, Jude."
"I don´t want to talk about that, Callie" says Jude ending the conversation before coming into the kitchen.
"Connor you didn´t need to make breakfast again."
Jude has forgotten the talk they had before. Connor doesn´t know if he feels sorrow or relief that Jude don´t remember the kiss. But Jude has a relationship with a girl named Taylor, so Connor doesn´t have any chance.
Connor stop everything for a second, because for a moment he thought in the posibility of being with Jude. He chose Jude because he was the closer to his age. He chose him for the look in his eyes, for his words. Connor misleads himself telling him he chose him because he felt atracttion towards Jude.
The breakfast disappears in a blink and everything used is waiting to be washed, and this time is Jude´s turn to do the dishes. Without thinking Connor moves from the table and starts helping Jude. He doesn´t realize it until he is helping him.
"Connor, you made breakfast. You don´t need to do the dishes as well. Jude can be helped by Callie or Mariana" says Lena.
"I don´t mind to help" replies Connor without turning around. But if he turn around he could see Callie is not happy. She is angry because Connor orbits around Jude and she can´t spend time with his brother. Brandon and Jesus are grateful enough that is not their turn to wash up.
Almost without realizing it they finish all the work. Speaking of everything and nothing the time goes fly. He can remember how Jesus complained yesterday with how hard was to do the dishes.
Jude takes Connor and they go to the living room.
"Hey, guys, finished the dishes?" asks Stef. Jude only smiles and nods his head.
"Ok, todays is maraton movie" says Lena.
"Connor, what is for favorite Disney movie?" asks Stef.
Connor shrugs his shoulders.
"Come on, Connor there are lot to pick just one."
"I never saw any Disney movie."
And then all family turn to look at Connor.
Under all their looks Connor feels intimidated. "He said those movies would turn me soft. That it would turn me gay" says Connor shrinking more in himself.
"You know that´s not true, Connor."
Lena gets close to him and put her hands in his shoulders.
"Movies haven´t the power to change people. People already born being gay or straight. The only thing a movie can make you is questioning on your sexuality."
After that Connor looks at her. "That´s why I find out" says Lena smiling at him
"How about we put some movies and you catch up?"
Connor nods and smiles.
For the first two movies Connor has been sitting next to Jude. Feeling conscious in the fact that Jude has a girlfriend out there he sat a little far from Jude. Giving him space, or lying to himself that he needs the space to be away from Jude. But in the middle of the first movie he notices that the space between them has shortened. He doesn´t if it has been Jude or himself, but now they are sit together. With a contact from the shoulder, till the hips and knees. Connor can now feels Jude´s presence. Feels his strength, the same way he felt it when he wake up this morning hugged to Jude. And right now he wants to hug him. He doesn´t want anything else in the world, he wants the safety he doesn´t feel for a long time. Wants Jude to protect him. But he resigns himself with this. This little contact. He doesn´t dare to speak. He doesn´t dare to say his wish out loud. He doesn´t want to lose Jude, doesn´t want him to go away. Because if Jude leaves him he doesn´t know what he will do.
When the second movie ends Jude gets up from the couch. Immediately Connor stops himself from the whimper he was going to release after Jude left him in the couch. Those thoughts are dangerous and he doesn´t want to be kicked out from the house. Where he begins to feel safe. He doesn´t know if he had done something wrong to make Jude move away from him.
"I am going to make popcorn" says Jude walking to the kitchen.
Connor calms himself when he see he hasn´t do something wrong. "I´ll help you."
If Connor was more focused he could have see how Callie look at him angry. She doesn´t trust him and she can´t feel worried about her brother.
Walking into the kitchen Connor can see how Jude put some glasses and big bowls in the table. Is able to see how Jude put popcorn in the microwake, another packet in the stove and some grains of corn in a pan.
"What I can help you with?" asks Connor sheepishly.
"You can sit for a moment" replies Jude turning around and smiling at him. "Until the popcorn is not already made we won´t bring beverages."
Connor sitting in a stool can stop looking at Jude moving in the kitchen.
"Put some ice in the glasses, please."
Connor doesn´t lose time and goes right in to the business. Jude telling him what everyone drink and how much ice in each glass. With the help of a tray Connor brings all the beverages to the living room handing each glass to its owner, receiving smiles and thank yous from everyone but Callie, who only stares at him harshly, mumbling a little thanks, that feels more than a slap in the face.
Connor doesn´t waste time coming into the kitchen to get away from Callie. He is able to see the similarities between the siblings, but is not able to see the sympathy Jude has, in the eyes of Callie.
Back in the kitchen Jude is finishing serving the popcorn. Three of the four bowls already full.
"Ok, Connor. This bowl is for moms, this one for Mariana and Callie. This snacks are for Brandon and this bowl for Jesus" tells him pointing at the fullest bowl.
"Only for Jesus?" mumbles scowling seeing the size of the bowl almost overflowing.
"Haven´t you see him how he scarfs down food?" snorts Jude.
Connor goes back to the living room carrying the bowls. And receives again thank yous from everyone. When he gives the bowl meant for Mariana and Callie he gives the bowl to Mariana straightaway without looking at Callie, but can see how she look at him. Instead of tooking his place back waiting for Jude he hides in the kitchen.
"Don´t need to wait for me, Connor. I can bring our popcorn" says Jude giving him a smile.
Connor can feel his stomach turn around when seeing that smile. Oh, Connor stop thinking like that. Jude has a girlfriend. He is not going to out with you.
"I don´t mind. I prefer being here" whispers Connor. "Your sister scares me" says whispering to himself. But Jude hears it.
Jude turns around and whispers at him, "do you want me to speak to her and tell her to leave you alone?"
Connor freaks out because Jude heard him, but he doesn´t want to cause problems.
"No, no, don´t say anything. It´s only your sister is a little intense" mumbles Connor looking at Jude with a horrified expression.
"Ok, I won´t say anything. But if she bothers you, you tell me, ok?" says Jude looking him in the eyes.
Connor eases when he avoid Jude talking with his sister. The least he needs now is make problems between the siblings.
Jude decides not to push Connor and put his concentration in the popcorn. But from now on he will look after Callie so she can disturb Connor.
The two boys head back to the living room, Jude being the first in take a seat back where they were before. He is watching Callie, but she seems just to ignore Connor. When Connor sit again in the couch makes it possible to be far away from him.
Jude see it like distance so Callie couldn´t have anything against him, but Jude knows Callie hasn´t talked to Connor. Because all the time Connor has being in their house was with Jude.
Jude shortened the distance between them and gets close to him. Connor gives him a little smile, and Jude put the bowl in their thighs so they can eat from it.
Connor resolves that this is day is the best one from his life. Sitting next to Jude, sharing a popcorn bowl and seeing movies. It looks like they are on a date.
Shit, Connor! Stop saying nonsense. Jude is straight. He is not going to go out with you. But he hugs you when you sleep next to him in the same bed. He prefers to push aside both voices and enjoy the only thing he can have with Jude, when the third movie begins.
In the middle of the third movie Jude falls asleep. And little by little his head falls in Connor´s shoulder. Paralizing the boy. He doesn´t know what to do. When they have hug they were upstairs, in Jude´s room, alone, but now in the living room he doesn´t know what to do.
The most he is afraid for is that they wake up Jude and send him to sleep upstairs. Or that they tell him to stay away from Jude and kicking him out of their house. He doesn´t know what to do.
And Jude, by degrees he settles to Connor´s body and hugs him.
Stef turns her head and Connor stiffs his body. But she doesn´t say anything, she doesn´t wake up Jude, she doesn´t kick him out. She only smiles at him. She smiles and turns again to continue watching the film.
When Jude wakes up, he does it bit by bit. He is comfortable. Too comfortable. And it was the best sleep in his life. He doesn´t remember that the sofa was so comfortable, and Jude has been complaining the last days he has been sleeping in it.
But the sofa moves. Up and down, rhythmically. And the sofa is hugging him.
And reminds him himself that the sofas hasn´t got arms.
When he opens his eyes he see is lying in top of Connor. And he is watching him.
"Why didn´t you wake me?"
Connor only shrugs his shoulder. "You look like to be sleeping well and I let you. I think you needed it."
When Jude looks around can see the tv off and the glasses and bowls nowhere.
"How many time I have been sleeping?"
"You fell asleep in the third movie and we saw until the sixth before your family decided to move."
"How I have ended in top of you?"
Connor blushes and Jude thinks is the most beautiful thing he saw ever. "You started lying in top of me until we lie in the couch. Then Stef put a blanket over us so you won´t get cold."
"It wasn´t necessary to let me sleep. You could have wake me up."
"I don´t mind. The movies were fine."
Lifting himself from Connor, Jude fold the blanket they were using. He can see he is cold now, for not being next to Connor. But doesn´t say anything. And doesn´t know that Connor is thinking the same.
The two goes upstairs to Jude´s room.
Jude picks up his book but turn around when he hears.
Jude turns around to give him all his attention.
"We only saw six movies."
Jude frowns because he doesn´t understand what Connor means.
"We saw the favourite movies from your family, but yours."
Oh. Jude didn´t realize they didn´t see his movie, but that doesn´t suppose to trouble him. And he still doesn´t know what Connor wants.
"Can we see your favourite movie?"
Jude gets surprised about the question.
"Unless you need to finish that book for your classes" says Connor looking away. Jude hates that expression in Connor´s eyes, the disappointment. Anyways he goes ahead in his classes, he can afford himself free time.
Jude smiles at him. He told him to change clothes meanwhile he changes in the bathroom. Coming back to his room can see Connor is in his bed. The last nights they have been sleeping in Jesus´ bed but seeing Connor in his bed, his heart leaps.
Jude picks up the laptop y lies next to Connor.
Hitting play his favorite movie shows his roll credits. Jude doesn´t remember why Lilo & Stitch is his favourite. Never asks himself why. But the images, the colour, music and energy from the movie fills his heart with a warm feeling since the first time he saw it years ago.
But he remembers when his favourite scene gets close. And can´t avoid to go into panic. He is being a fool for forgetting it.
Ohana means family.
Jude moves the arm to stop the movie but Connor hold his wrist. "No, don´t stop it." When Jude look at him can see tears in the eyes of the blonde boy lying by his side. Seeing his hand is able to see how Connor changed his grasp from Jude´s wrist to his hand, so they are holding hands. Jude relaxes and let the movie go on.
Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
Jude feels how Connor grasps his hand. When he looks at him can see the tears falling. Jude moves close to Connor and grips back his hand.
After the movie ends Connor can´t stop crying. Jude puts the laptop in the shelf and hugs him fiercely. Connor buries his head in Jude´s chest and keeps crying.
Jude turns off the light.
Can feel how the blonde boy holds him. Even if he wants to move he knows he can´t. Connor is holding like he will evaporate. Like in any moment they will separate. Jude pushes away that thought. Doesn´t need to think about that right now.
More than hear him, he felt his name in his soul. Connor is still buried in Jude´s chest. Hiding from the world. Using him as a shield. Hugging him like he will disappear soon.
"Promise me we will be forever together."
A weight takes a place in his stomach. Knows that that promise is not going to end well and make a promise knowing is meant to be broken only will cause more pain. But doesn´t have a choice. Not making it will break the boy´s heart who is in his arms right now. And making it only will break the soul of the two boys a little.
"I´m going to be by your side always. I´m going to do all I can to always be there for you."
In that bed, in that room, the two young boys fall asleep with tears in their eyes and a promise between them that both know very well is not going to be possible.
Connor is happy. It´s been years since he could be himself, and these days with Jude and his family have been the best of his life. But he couldn´t imagine his happiness was meant to end soon.
Going downstairs from Jude´s room can´t avoid to ask himself where Jude will be. He knows he shouldn´t become obsessed with the boy but he can´t help it. Every time he thinks in the boy can´t make anything else but smile. Connor feels safe and secure. That´s what Jude means to him.
Before going into the living room the voice of Callie make him stop.
"I´m sick of Connor. I can´t spend time with my brother because he is always following like a lost puppy everywhere or is already stick next to him."
Connor knew Callie didn´t like him, but he couldn´t imagine he was doing something wrong.
"Jude is my brother and I am the one who has protected him since he was little. What has he done for him?"
Callie´s words hurt. But they are the thruth. He has been stick to Jude since Stef saved him.
"I´m tired of hearing his complaints, and he is always in the way. He is a burden."
Connor can´t stand one more second hearing her and goes back upstairs quietly. All his insecurities inside him get control of his head thanks to Callie´ speech.
Well done, Connor. You have all the family against you. . No, Stef and Lena aren´t like Callie. They get me. Ah, and how long they have been spending time with you. You only have spent time with Jude and it´s obvious he is sick and tired of you. . No, not Jude. He would have said something. Jude wouldn´t said nothing like Callie did. But he sure thinks about it. Jude is too good to tell you to leave him alone. He knows he has to let you make whatever you like because you could threaten to kill yourself. It would be so easy. But I have done nothing wrong. You just came into their lives and disturb them.
Connor feels something pouring down his face. Tears. He didn´t realize he start crying.
That´s right, Connor. You know what you have to do. You know where to go. Leave them alone, because they will be better without you.
Connor picks up his bag from under Jesus´ bed. This house is not your home. This is not your room. This is not your bed. This is not your family.
In silence he walks down stairs. He can still hear Callie talking, but he is not focusing on her voice. He is only focusing in sneaking away. The front door is impossible to reach without getting caught, so he will use the back door to the backyard.
Connor opens the kitchen door to the backyard and closes it. Without making a noise. Not even a click. Nothing.
This is a really short chapter but the next one will posted soon.
It´s a promise.
Connor breathes for a second. His hand still holding the knob door. But he knows he must leave.
"Hey, Connor. There you are. What do want to do today?"
Connor just comes to a standstill. He didn´t expect Jude to be here outside. He never been before, but Connor supposes because he was on the way. This will be Jude´s secret place, and there is no place for Connor in it.
"Are you ok?"
Jude is behind him and Connor still hasn´t said a word. And Jude is already intuiting something is wrong.
"Connor, please, look at me."
That voice hurts him. If Jude is tired of him, why is using that voice like he is concerned about him. Why he didn´t let him leave?.
"Connor, look at me" his voice trembling like he is holding his tears.
For a tiny moment, Connor thinks Jude care about him. That all the bad thoughts about him are false. Jude is a good person. He doesn´t have any evilness in his body.
Connor turns around bit by bit. He turns around but doesn´t look Jude in the eyes. He is looking at the floor because the moment he looks at him he will lose the battle.
"Why are you carrying your duffel bag? Why did you snuck out like you were running away?"
And Connor doesn´t look at him. Because that´s exactly what he is doing.
"I´ve already bothered you too much. I have abused your hospitality. It´s better that I leave you alone." Connor doesn´t recognize himself when he speaks. His voice has not sounded doubtful. Does not sound like he is going to cry. Doesn´t know who has talk. But Connor knows it wasn´t him.
Jude stands up and the only thing Connor wants is run to his arms. Fall and let him rise him. But he can´t. He has to go, he has to leave him alone before Jude gets tired of him.
"What are you talking about, Connor. Where are you going." Jude doesn´t ask, but Connor knows he has to do it.
"Don´t worry, I will rent a motel room until university start again." Both know Connor is lying.
"You don´t have to leave, Connor. You are welcome here."
"I´ve only been a nuisance, Jude. I´m only complaining. I´m always on the way and I am a burden."
Jude doesn´t talk. Connor thinks finally he has convince him to let him leave.
"Callie said that to you?"
Connor looks at Jude for the first time since he tried to snuck out. Through the tears in his eyes can see Jude. He is angry. And It´s your fault he is angry. Congratulations, you already got the ticket to leave.
Jude approaches Connor. And the blonde boy can´t avoid shaking. He knows Jude will never do nothing to hurt him but he doesn´t know what will Jude is going to do.
In his eyes can see fury. Couldn´t imagine Jude, the most sensitive person he has met, the person he gives his soul to everyone can have such a hateful look.
Jude stands in front of Connor. And he can´t avoid shaking more.
Jude opens the door to the kitchen. And he takes the bag from Connor´s hand. Connor does not prevent it, doesn´t know why but it´s like Jude´s anger is not focused on him.
With his other hand Jude takes Connor´s hand, twining their fingers. Opposed to the harshness in his eyes is his touch from his hand. Light as a feather. As if he expected Connor to run away. Because that´s what he was trying to do. He picks up his hand with tender love and care, opposite to the annoyance in his eyes. Jude´s hand tells him the anger is not because of him.
Jude squeezes his hand and his eyes come back to the caring Jude, the one he saw the movie with, the one he help to decorate the christmas tree, the same one he met the first time when Stef brought him to her house.
Jude squeezes his hand again, "Do you really want to go? Are you sure?"
And Connor knows if he says he wants to go, Jude will let him go. He will hand back his bag and will watch him leave. But both boys know Connor is not going to a motel. Both know where he was going when he try to sneak out from the house. Jude won´t tell he can´t leave. He won´t force him to get in the house. Won´t make him. That´s how Jude is.
"No. I don´t want to go" whispers Connor, his eyes completely fogged.
Jude nods, and his eyes harden. The fire in his eyes is back but this time Connor knows is not aimed to him.
"Don´t say anything, please. Pretend like nothing happened. I don´t want to cause problems.
"I´m sorry, but that´s a promise I can not keep."
Jude tugs gently from Connor´s hand and they get in the house. Connor doesn´t want to, but let himself be carried away.
They get in the living room and only Mariana, Jesus and Brandon are able to see them. When Mariana sees Connor, immediately knows what happened, her face can´t help to show the guilt of what Callie said. But Jude is not looking at her.
Jude lifts Connor´s duffel bag over his head and let it fall. From his siblings Callie is the only one who doesn´t shrink when they hear the bag hitting the floor. And Callie is the only one not facing them.
"How do you dare to talk about Connor like that?"
Connor is surprised again. Jude is showing a facet he didn´t see before. This is different from the annoyance. Has a voice tone that would freeze hell. When Connor looks at his eyes feels himself shrink from the angry look.
"Jude, we didn´t tell him anything and..."
"I´m talking to Callie, Mariana" says Jude without stop looking at his sister´s back.
"How could you said he is an annoyance, a burden, that he complains" Jude starts rising his voice gradually, "I thought you would be able to identify what Connor has suffered in his life" keeps shouting with all his might, "DO I NEED TO REMIND YOU THE TIMES PEOPLE HAS FAILED US. DO I NEED TO REMIND YOU EVERY FOSTER HOME AND EVERY BEATING WE SUFFERED IN EVERY HOME. AND REMEMBER WHAT WE WISHED FOR EVERY NIGHT. EH, CALLIE? REMEMBER ALL THE TIMES WE WISHED TO FIND A FAMILY?."
After yelling all his frustration to Callie, Jude doesn´t wait to listen her excuses. He drags Connor back to the kitchen and walks to the backyard. Brings Connor to the sofa he was sitting before.
Jude makes him sit down. Connor expects to Jude to sit behind him but startles when Jude straddles in his lap. He notices that Jude seems to be there, in his lap, like he belongs in there. And hugs him, and Jude hugs him back. Can feel how Jude starts trembling, and doesn´t know why.
"Sorry" whispers Jude, so, so low he only hear it because he is too close.
"I shouldn´t have made you hear that."
"If you hadn´t held my hand, I wouldn´t have been here." And Jude couldn´t help but hug Connor harder after hearing that.
He doesn´t know how much time they spend in there together, sitting. Minutes. Hours. Connor just doesn´t know. Tears fall from their eyes, but neither seems concerned. Sitting there, Jude in his lap he feels calm. Remembering Jude´s words, Connor realizes he has found his family. Jude is his family.
They hear steps in the kitchen. Are able to see whispers and more steps, but they doesn´t move.
From the kitchen door, Lena and Stef go outside. Connor prays not to be kicked out from this house. Even if Jude denies it, he is a burden, is in the way and now has made the siblings to fight
"Please, don´t kick me out" and Jude clings to Connor stronger.
"Don´t worry, Connor. We are never going to kick you out from this house. You did nothing wrong, ok?" says Stef.
Connor nods but only because Jude is in his arms feels safe.
"Are you fine, Connor? We heard Jude before" asks Lena.
"Yes, we hear Jude and we were in the attic" says Stef.
Connor looks at the women and he waits them to say anything, say that Jude stops sitting in his lap, or say to Connor to stop touching him. Something. But they only watch them and smile.
"Do you feel like going to the mall for a walk and clear our heads, boys" asks Lena.
Without stop hugging him, Jude asks, "What do you say?"
"All the family will go, Jude" Stef reminds him.
Connor nods his head and Jude gets up from his lap. Connor has to use all his willpower to not pick up Jude and making sitting him again in his lap.
"Lets go wash our faces and change our t-shirts. We cry enough to go with the ones we are wearing" says Jude holding his hand for Connor. And he doesn´t hesitate taking it.
The boys wash their faces in the bathroom upstairs, although there are two sinks, Jude keeps Connor close and he keeps close himself when Connor washes his face.
After changing his t-shirts, Jude picks up Connor´s hand and head downstairs to the front door.
Passing the living room Jude tells his brothers without looking at them, "Connor and I are going in mom´s car." Connor looks down, he doesn´t have strength to look at Callie.
In the curb, Jude makes Connor to lean against the car and hugs him. Connor is surprised, but gives back the hug and remembers what they talk about in the backyard.
"I´m not running away, Jude."
"I would rather hold you."
"And I want you to not let me go."
For a moment Connor feels complete. With Jude holding him. His mind betrays him at the next moment reminding him that Jude has a girlfriend. But now Jude is hugging him and Connor is going to enjoy every single minute he gets to spend with Jude.
The noise of the car unblocking the doors startle them. Jude releases Connor and make them get in the car. Connor sitting in the middle seat and Jude behind the driver. Seconds later Stef and Lena get in and they drive to the mall.
Connor doesn´t notice anything and suddenly they arrived. With Stef turning off the car, and Brandon parking his car, Jude picks Connor´s hand up, and start walking away. Going together as a family to the mall doesn´t mean that they need to stick together.
Stef gets out the car and sighs when the two boys walk ahead without waiting them. She turns around to his daughter, watching her getting out of Brandon´s car and gives her the mother look.
Jude drags Connor for every hallway in the mall. Looking stores, shop windows and more Christmas decoration. Jude is trying to distract Connor from the events of today.
After watching the whole mall two times, Jude turns around to Connor, "Hey, I need to go and buy Stef a present. Do you want to tag along or want to wait here?"
Connor knows Jude is lying, but prefers not to mention it.
"I will wait next to the videogame store" asks Connor smiling.
"Do you promise?" says Jude looking at him.
Connor is catch by surprise by the question, but he knows he can wait for him. Knows he will wait for him, because Jude will come back looking for him.
"Ok, I will be right back. Wait me here."
Connor can see Jude distancing from himself. He stays in the middle of the wallway, looking at Jude until the people surrounding him moves and blocks his view. But he is not worrying. Jude has put his trust in Connor and he is going to fulfill it. Connor is sure he will come back. Because it´s Jude.
The same Jude he would have lost if he would have run away from that house, only an hour ago. If he would have run away he doesn´t know where he would be in that moment, or even if he would be in this world yet. If Jude would have realized he has run away, he would look for him?.
Standing there, in the middle of the hallway without realizing a figure is getting close to him. Until someone speaks to him.
"Well, well, Connor. It´s been a long time."
And Connor tightens all his body. Knows very well that voice. He has heard it all his life. He turns around and can see his father. In front of him is Adam Stevens.
His father is sufficiently far away to be able to escape. But is sufficiently close to smell the alcohol in his breath. One bag in his hands. Beer and whisky. Is a brown paper bag but Connor is sure that´s what is inside.
"The police woman who did this to me has abandoned you" says Adam pointing at his nose. It seems like Stef in the end broke his hose.
Connor can´t move, can´t talk. Can only stand there, trembling. Wants to call Jude, but he just can´t.
An arm links with his and when he looks in that direction can see Mariana. Another pair of arms grabs him from behind and hugs him. By the height he bets is Jesus. On each side can see Brandon and Callie.
"Be strong, dude. Jude is running this way" says Jesus in his ear.
"And who are these people, Connor?" asks Adam.
"And who are you?" challenged Callie.
"I am his father and you are interrupting a private conversation."
Connor shifts his attention over Adam´s shoulder. Can see a figure running towards them. Can see Jude.
He feels how Mariana releases his arm and moves away from him. "Breathe out and hold your breath" says Jesus in his ear changing his grip for Connor.
He doesn´t understands why until Jude crashes into him and all his air is push out from him. "Told you" says Jesus, realizing he stayed to support them and don´t let them fall.
Jude put his hands in Connor´s face. "Are you ok? I shouldn´t leave you alone."
"I´m fine, and I wasn´t alone" says Connor looking at Jude´s siblings.
Jude looks at Callie, they need to talk a little more, but he knows now that Connor doesn´t need to avoid her anymore.
Jude puts himself next to Connor and holds his hand. "Is that him?"
Adam looks at the scene in front of him. Sees the hand holding Connor´s. "There is someone else who has to interrupt this family reunion? I would like to talk to my son."
"The only one interrupting here is you, Adam."
All of them look at the voice and can see Lena and Stef walking to them,
hand by hand.
"I called them" says Callie.
"If I´m not mistaken, Adam, the last thing you told Connor was that you hadn´t a son. And that was only four days ago."
Adam looks at their hands.
"Does your nose hurt, Adam? Or are more hurt by the fact that a woman hit you? Or that it was a lesbian."
Lena looks at Stef. "You didn´t tell me that you hit him."
Stef looks back at her for a moment and shrugs. "You didn´t ask."
Lena smiles at her. "I think you were easy on him."
Lena turns to look at Adam. "I wanted to say thank you, Adam. So, Thank you."
Lena turns to look at Adam. "I wanted to say thank you, Adam. So, Thank you."
Everybody look confused at Lena, but not Stef.
"When I saw Connor for the first time, I couldn´t trust him. Not as much as my wife", Connor trembles by this, but Jude holds his hand a little stronger, "but these days I have been knowing him, I have been able to see how he really is. And I am glad Stef brought him home. Connor is the most sensitive kid I met in my life. He is loving, adorable, kind, hard-working and warm-hearted. So, thank you, Adam."
Adam turns pale meanwhile hearing Lena.
"Thank you for raise Connor to be his own person. Thank you for not making Connor in a monster like you. Thank you for not turning him in a homophobe like you. Thank you for raising him so he doesn´t end like you."
Adam gets paralized after Lena talks.
Lena turns her head to her kids and looking at Connor she says, "Let´s go home."
Everybody get going and walk next to Adam. Nobody look at him, or talk to him.
Adam also says nothing. He is shocked by Lena´s words. After some time, doesn´t know how much time, Adam can move again. Without realizing it, he is next to his car and is putting his groceries in the trunk. But before he can close it he hears a laugh. A laugh he knows very well, a laugh it´s been years since the last time he heard it. Raising his vision see Connor, walking right in front of his car. With his new family, can see a smile in his face and can see all the people surrounding him also smiling.
Right where he is he can see without getting caught. Can see Connor laughing without concern.
He saw them pass, without being able to move. Until he is not longer able to see them, and can´t hear Connor´s laugh. Until he is inside his car he can move again and heading home. When he arrives he finds it dark, empty and dark.
The laugh he heard at the parking is tormenting him. Memories buried until now come back to him. Memories in the living room. In the kitchen. Small bits here and there. But remembers clearly one thing. Connor´s laugh. And the image of that smile. And can remember that laughter echoes in the house, pervading every corner. Filling every gap. It tells him Adam he lost something, but doesn´t dare to think about that.
In front of the bookshelf see many album photos piled. He doesn´t remember when was the last time he saw them. He picks up one and open it. The first thing he can see is Connor. Adam can´t remember how old is Connor in the picture. Doesn´t even remember that day. Thinks Connor is eight or nine years old. But the smile is exactly the same he just saw in the parking lot.
Looks through the album and can see Connor growing up. Some pictures he remembers it. But not the majority. In those pictures he took can see Connor´s smile being little bit by bit. Like he knew he has to behave in a certain way. Like he needed to stop being the person he was.
Picks up another album and the smile is going smaller. Until it fades away. The picture in front of him he remembers it very well. Connor´s fourteenth birthday. The same day his wife left them. He realizes she just doesn´t left their home. She abandoned Connor. She left him with him. She left him behind.
Flicks through the album, knowing Connor is the one who assembled it. Until his sixteenth birthday.
Then nothing, no more pictures. The pages of the album empty. No more memories. Adam tries to remember those last years but are blurred. Faded.
I love you, daddie. Connor at eight years old. Happy Father´s day, dad. Connor at thirteen. Father, I´m gay.
Adam can´t breathe. What has he done? How he has been so blind.
Before realizing it is in the kitchen with a beer in his hand and is opening it. With horror in his eyes because he doesn´t remember taking it.
On the kitchen counter the groceries he just bought. He is aware there is only alcohol. Goes to the fridge and opening it, sees it lacking of food. Only beer, licour and a bottle of vodka. What has he been done these last years? Looking at the stove can see Connor cooking and another image of Connor putting a plate in front of him at the table.
These visions are replaced by another more recent. Connor crying, asking him to stop. Adam runs to the sink and tries to throw up. But nothing goes out, because he has not drunk anything, he has not eaten anything.
Takes everything he bought, all he has in the fridge. Beer after beer open it and pour it in the sink. Nothing he does make him stop listening Connor yelling asking him to stop. Nor the bottles make him stop hearing the cries.
Going back to the living room picks up the album and goes upstair. Stopping at a door. A door it´s years since the last time he cross it.
Connor´s room. Adam opens the door and goes inside. The first he feels is Connor´s scent. The bed still made. The day Connor came back from the university didn´t even have time to sleep in his bedroom.
The next memory is of a blonde woman telling him Connor tried to kill himself.
Adam falls into the bed and holds his pillow.
He wonders how long has been since he lost his own son.
In that bedroom, he cried. Cried for hours, asking forgiveness to a empty bedroom, to a empty house. Begging for a forgiveness he knows he doesn´t deserve. An absolution he knows he is not going to receive. Because he lost his son. He lost his only child and now, by a chance of luck a family found him before it was too late.
After seeing Adam, Connor doesn´t know how he feels. When he first saw him he thought he was in a nightmare, he thought he was alone. But someone came to help him. Mariana and Jesus in each side. Hearing Jesus telling him Jude was running his way gave him strength. Brandon and Callie. Two different support, Callie saying she called Lena and Stef told him that she trusts in him. She told him sorry for the things she said.
Jude. Seeing Jude running toward him help him not to fall. He felt how Mariana move slightly and Jesus made a support wall. Without Jesus he would fell to the floor, Jude in top of him. But he wouldn´t care not a bit. Because that mean that Jude was with him.
In front of them was Adam, and he didn´t know what to do.
Until Lena and Stef arrived. They take care of Adam. They saved him. Stef saved him from Adam again, without a single punch this time. Even when he knows Lena would have hit him.
The words he remember the most are the ones Lena said when she look at him.
"Let´s go home."
And in that moment, with those words he knew Adam doesn´t have any control over him. He walked by his side. He didn´t look at him. He didn´t talk to him. Finally he was free.
He doesn´t remember much after seeing him, doesn´t remember where they walk. He remembers laughing at something in the parking lot at the mall. Thought for a moment someone was watching him, but didn´t pay attention. Because what he needed was next to him. Jude. A family. And Jude looking at him like he is the first thing that happen in his life.
In Stef´s car, going back home, Jude next to him, a song started in the radio.
A place to crash
I got you
No need to ask
I got you
Just get on the phone
I got you
Come and pick you up if I have to
What's weird about it
Is we're right at the end
And mad about it
Just figured it out in my head
I'm proud to say
I got you
A squeeze in his hand when he hear it again. Connor doesn´t remember how much time he is holding Jude´s hand.
Go ahead and say goodbye
I'll be alright
Go ahead and make me cry
I'll be alright
And when you need a place to run to
For better for worse
I got you
Ain't falling a part, or bitter
Let's be bigger than that and remember
The cooling outdoor when you're all alone
We'll go on surviving
No drama, no need for a show
Just wanna say
I got you
But hearing the song he knows that Jude is by his side. He knows that he is not alone.
I got you.
And can see in his eyes.
I got you.
Connor hopes the ghost of his past doesn´t fall again. Doesn´t want to be a burden.
Because for the first time he thinks in something good. Connor is going home.
Lena and Stef decide to leave the house themselves for a few hours. They have been locked up keeping an eye on Connor discreetly. They trust Jude. Know their little son would be capable taking care of Connor and they didn´t leave the house. Doing chores. Moving in the house. Watching. In case they were needed.
After the incident with Adam at the mall, their sons who didn´t trust Connor until that moment, how Callie distrust Connor at first, she helped him. They knew Jude wasn´t going to be the only one taking care of Connor.
Watching Connor trembling in the presence of his father. Seeing Adam, their sons could see how much Connor suffered. Looking at the cause Connor is the boy he is today, remembered all of them, that out there are people with little luck of having a good family. They know that Callie will give Connor an opportunity.
Trusting in them, that they could handle everything they decide to go out. Last minute shopping and run away from their sons. They love them insanely, but there is a limit to everything and even they are all out of home they need time to themselves.
Coming home they can see light in the living room. Brandon´s car parked. Everyone is at home.
Stepping through the front door they didn´t anything. Something in Stef´s head starts to tell her something is wrong. They didn´t hear arguing. The tv off. They didn´t hear anything. Stef´s instinct says her again something bad happen, but she decides not to believe it.
In the living room Jesus and Mariana are hugging each other. Brandon is looking at a blank space. Callie is biting her nails.
"Hey, boys, what´s up?"
A cold shiver run through Stef´s back. Since the moment she put a foot inside she knew something was wrong. The fact that only four out of six young ones are in the living room told her something is wrong.
Mariana turns to her and can see she has been crying. Stef knows her instinct was right.
"Mom, is Connor. Something happened."
Connor goes downstairs, Jude holding his hand. He doesn´t know what time is it. It´s breakfast time, lunch time? He doesn´t know how much time passed since the incident. Can´t avoid feeling guilty for taking Jude time to spent with him, instead of with his family.
A squeeze in his hand takes him out of his head. Next to him, Jude, with his hair still wet from the shower they just get, smiling at him.
He doesn´t know how Jude can read what goes through his mind. He didn´t leave his side since yesterday. Holding him while crying until falling asleep from exhaustion. Sleeping at least without bad dreams thanks to Jude´s presence next to him.
Jude squeezes his hand again. Now Connor must go out of his head. Needs to talk about what happened yesterday. He already told Jude, but the family deserves to know too.
The two boys step into the living room. All the family waiting for them. Jude´s sibling doesn´t know what to say, after what happened yesterday, they didn´t sleep well.
They stop in front of the sofa. After being in bed almost a full day neither of them are feel like to sit down.
"How are you, honey?" asks Stef. Using her normal voice, not a soft tone when you treat a breakable person. Connor is deeply grateful for that. For being treated like a normal person, not someone who is completely broken.
"I´m fine" says Connor, words scratching his throat. He didn´t drink, or eaten in the last hours but his stomach doesn´t let him for now. He knows he needs to talk about what happened yesterday to feel better.
"I´m so sorry."
"Connor, is not your fault" Lena told him.
Jude keeps holding his hand, squeezing firmer. Connor doesn´t know who is holding who. He knows what he must do. Jude give him strength.
"Yesterday I remembered a bad experience."
Another grip in his hand and can feel how trembles. But doesn´t know if it is Jude or himself the one trembling.
Connor doesn´t remember how happened this exact situation. Jude is soaked. From head till toes. He thinks it has been Jesus, if only by the yells he heard from Jude before seeing completely wet. Connor can´t stop watching. Jude´s t-shirt is sticking to his body. And what a body.
Connor can´t take his eyes from him. Or quite literally can´t stop staring. Every line of his body. The way in which the t-shirt sticks from his shoulders, how it falls turning in a second skin.
Knows Jude is talking, can hear him below all Jesus´ laughter. That should be a clear evidence that he is guilty of what just happened. But that´s not something like he would complain.
Jude turns around and Connor can´t remove his eyes from Jude´s back. And all gets worse when Jude takes off his t-shirt. Or get better, but Connor´s brain is suffering a little block. He has been sleeping in the bed with this boy for the last four days and he doesn´t remember his body look as athletic as he can see.
With the t-shirt completely drenched tries to dry all his hair and body, but even Connor knows there is too much. And he knows is rude keep watching. And he knows he should go and pick up a towel, but he can´t help right now.
Connor can hear Jude laughing. And with all he can see he knows he is going to remember this moment all his life, and doesn´t want to be anywhere else.
"Do you like what you see?"
Connor´s blood leaves his face and gets frozen in his veins. He knows the one who talk is Jude. He knows he is in Jude´s home. But right now he doesn´t feel like he is in that house. Connor is faw away from Jude, far, far away from his protection. Now Connor is in front of him.
Jude is annoyed. His brother Jesus, who was working out with decided that it was a good idea to soak him with the hose. So, right now he is completely drenched.
He felt like someone was staring at him and when he turn around he could see Connor, looking him with fascination. Jude remembered telling him something, but it was something automatic, without thinking. He is trying to dry with his t-shirt, hard task when it is as drenched as him when he hear a whimper.
Jude turns around again and can see Connor turning pale. Looking over Jude´s shoulder like he is seeing a ghost. His lips moving but whispering something, straining his ears to hear his blood turns to ice.
"I wasn´t looking, don´t hit me, please. I wasn´t looking."
Now that all his attention is in the boy in front of him can clearly hear how the words are whispered, again and again. Jude starts shaking and doesn´t know the reason. Wants to help Connor and without thinking takes a step to reach him and lifts his arm to try to touch Connor´s shoulder. But he doesn´t reach him.
Because Jude is late realising that what he said has triggered a nightmare in Connor, long time buried, and now Connor is locked in his own head. And Jude knows who is with him.
Connor falls to the ground, shielding his face, waiting for the moment until the beating begins.
"I wasn´t looking! Don´t hit me more, please! I wasn´t looking" Connor starts yelling. Jude´s sibling stay paralized looking at Connor. Jude puts again his soaked t-shirt and signs them to leave. Connor doesn´t need spectators and his siblings need to stay away.
Jude has been late recognising the beginning of the attack. His words the cause of it, without a single doubt, and his heart breaks in a thousand pieces and burning at the same time hating Connor´s father. It is most likely to think that Connor is confined in his head with him. So Jude sits on the floor, far away from reach, but near close to reach in the moment that Connor comes back. Jude knows he can´t reach right now. Knows he shouldn´t try to reach.
Jude doesn´t know how much time they spend on the floor. His screams lowering, as his whimpering. He is giving time to Connor to step away from the nightmare Jude put him in. Jude feels horrible. He told him he was going to be fine, and now he is the cause of him hurting. But he is going to help him. If Connor lets him.
Connor´s breathing starts slowing. Jude is able to see, but stays in place, doesn´t move an inch, can´t touch him, doesn´t know the damage he can make by touching now until Connor wants to be touched.
Connor moves his arm in front of his face, Jude can see him looking around him. Jude knows what he is trying to look at. Him. But he is not here, it was Jude who send him to that place.
"Jude" whispers Connor. Jude loses how much time has passed between Connor looking for the nightmare until he talks.
"I am here, Connor" says Jude but his voice trembling.
Connor can hear it and Jude is now able to recognize that look.
"You don´t have to say sorry, Connor" says to him, but Connor only shakes his head, he was right in the end. "I am the one who has to say sorry."
"You couldn´t know, Jude."
"I should have thought before talking."
"I prefer when people treat me like I am breakable, like I am a normal person. And that is the most important thing to me."
Jude´s heart breaks again after hearing this. Until a moment ago, sitting in the floor, didn´t know how much a few words can dig up a lot of pain. Now is capable to understand why his siblings keep a distance near Connor. Like he is going to break, like he said. They know they can´t act like Connor is normal. But Jude doesn´t want that. Now see why Connor prefer to stay with him instead of his siblings.
"Jude?" whispers Connor, so low that Jude thinks he imagine it. Connor can see his face now, but his eyes are full of pain. All his face drenched in his tears. Jude doesn´t dare to reach with his hand to dry his tears. Doesn´t know if Connor still trusts him.
But is Connor the first one moving his hand. He raises it, offering it to Jude. Asks for help. Asking him to save him from that place. And Jude knows what he must do.
Jude reach his hand slowly. Wants to give support. Wants to help him. Try to say that he is going to be there for him. And with all in his head holds his hand, and gives it a gentle pressure.
Jude loses again how much time they spend. Can´t tell how long they stay there, holding hands. But all he wants to do is look at Connor´s eyes. Those eyes that say more than all the words in the world. Until this moment Jude didn´t see his eyes thoroughly. But now can see that they are a master piece.
When Connor starts crying, Jude doesn´t know what to do. Doesn´t know what he has done wrong, doesn´t want to see him cry, wants to keep looking at those eyes until he can remember clearly every fleck of color.
Before he can ask what´s wrong Connor jumps on Jude and hangs onto him. Stronger than the first time he cried in the kitchen, hugging him the first day they met.
Jude knows what he can offer to Connor. Safety. Connor cries. Cries until everything is out. All the pain from all the years holding it and locked up inside him. Of not being able to control his life. Of not being able to be like the way he is. A shadow of himself. An image that looks like him, talks like him, but it´s not really him.
24 de Diciembre.
After telling the story, Connor is drained. The only thing he wants to do is going back to bed and sleep.
Jude´s siblings stand up, one by one and hug him. And Connor wants to cry. Jude always by his side, holding his hand, in every hug of his siblings.
And Jude hugs him, without releasing his hand. And Connor doesn´t want to be in any other place.
Stef and Lena stand up and hug them both. And Connor can´t stop the tears to fall. And with every sobbing they hug him stronger.
The first day he met Jude he told him he was fine. But now, surrounded by them starts to think that he is going to be fine.
Connor still have problems to believe that he deserves a place in the Adams Foster household. A family that has opened their arms and their hearts and taught him the meaning of being part of a family. But he can´t avoid the negative thoughts. In a few days he will come back to the university and he is going to be alone again. He knows he can called them. Lena and Stef assured him that their phone is going to be always available for him. They know also they have little time. Now exist the option of videocalling but that only the pain more acute. Being able to see them and talk to them, at the expense of the human contact.
Touch. In the last few days he received more hugs than in all his life. And that makes him sadden. Because he is going to miss it the most. Well, not that. He will miss Jude. When he goes back to the university and will be alone again.
And can feel how he is looking at him. Can see the concern in his eyes. He reads him like an open book. See the signs when Connor is in a place in his mind he shouldn´t be, thinking about stuff he must avoid. Jude wants Connor to be safe at all time.
But he doesn´t like that look in his eyes. And does the only thing he could do in that moment. Smile. He smiles because he knows still have a few days to be with him. A few days until they split up. And he smiles at him, to be able to see his smile. Knowing that smile is the only thing that will help him with the bad days. Even he knows he must not trick himself, since the moment he will far from Jude all his days are going to be bad days.
Around him can hear the rest of the family. He feels bad for not being in the conversation but he can´t stop it.
"Connor. Connor!" Mariana´s voice bring him back from the spell of Jude´s eyes. Although in reality it bring them back both, from the little bubble they were locked.
"I was asking you if you and Jude have a song."
Connor frowns and looking at Jude is able to see how he doesn´t know what´s going on.
Mariana shakes his head because she knows where the boys were. "Granpas were telling us every time they hear a song can bring back a good memory, and can feel it their bones, rememembering like it is happening again.
Connor looks at Jude. I got you.
And he knows they have a song. At least he will have another thing to help him against feeling lonely.
"Mariana" says Jude.
Connor looks between siblings. There is something he can´t catch and doesn´t know what it is.
"Come on, Jude. I only want to know your song."
"Mariana, stop" says Jude trying to tell her sister to leave the topic.
"Oh, don´t be like that, Jude. I don´t want to wait until your wedding to know the song."
Connor just freezes. Wedding?
"Mariana. Please, stop!" yells Jude leaving the table without looking and Connor. Moving upstairs. The people sitting at the table can hear the noise of the door closing with force. Stef reprimands her silently and she starts to feel remorseful.
Connor spends a few seconds analyzing what just happened. And can´t understand it.
"Why Jude and I are going to marry if he is straight?" asks Connor.
And in that moment he is able to hear the silence. Everybody in the table look at him like he just asked the weirdest thing of the world. But everyone is truly shocked to talk.
But Shannon like she is not intrigued by the question just says to him, "Connor, honey. Go upstairs and talk to Jude. I think you are the only one he is going to wanna talk to right now" told him with a smile in her face.
Connor can see Stef smiling at him and with a gesture tells him to go.
So, Connor rises from the table and walks to the stairs. Whatever he will find doesn´t know what it will be, but at least he hopes he is not the cause of Jude´s reaction.
Knocks at the door, so softly he doesn´t think Jude has listen to him.
"Come in, Connor" can hear behind the door.
The boys gets in the room and closes the door, staying close to it, leaning against it. Looking in front of him is Jude, sitting in his bed, curl up in himself hugging his knees. Wants to hide so nobody can look at him. Connor knows that feeling a little too much.
"Jude" whispers Connor. But Jude doesn´t raise his eyes, or move at all. Connor doesn´t like what he see. Is able to see something blonde stick out from Jude´s arms. The teddy bear. And Connor remember Christmas´ Day. One of the best days of his life. And a huge number of his best days have happened under this roof´s house.
"It´s for me?" asks Connor when Jude gives him a bag. Jude only answers with a smile and a nod.
"I can´t take it. I didn´t buy you anything."
"Please, take it. It´s yours. You don´t have to buy me anything."
Tears in Connor´s eyes want to come out but he tries to hold them.
Connor picks up the bag. Can´t believe Jude bought him something. This is his first Christmas present since his mother runaway from his life. He didn´t celebrate any holiday. Connor told him that holidays wasn´t relevant. Presents wasn´t important.
He opens the bag and can´t refrain to cry. The teddy bear Connor saw at the mall the same day he saw his father.
"I was´t sure you would like it, you look at it like you need it and I didn´t know if it was going to be a mistake giving it to you after what happened at the mall and then here at home."
Connor takes the bear out of the bag and hugs Jude with all he got, the bear inbetween them.
Connor watching Jude hugging the teddy bear makes his heart do a little twist. He didn´t tell Jude but every night they slept together in the same since Christmas night they slept with the stuffed animal. Connor could smell Jude in the fabric, so he wanted it to smell like Jude as much as possible when he returns to the university. I couldn´t have Jude but at least for a few time he could have a little piece of this boy who is so important to him.
"Don´t worry, Jude. Someday you will meet a girl and she will have the honor of being your girlfriend."
Jude frowns and look at him.
"One day you will make a girl so happy and will have what you deserve."
"What are you talking about, Connor?"
Can see confusion in his eyes, but he still doesn´t know what he is doing wrong.
"Mariana was messing with you. Don´t worry, out there is a girl just for you."
Jude gets up from the bed but doesn´t get close to him.
"Connor, I am gay."
Connor freezes. "But, Taylor..."
"What about her?"
"A few days ago you talked about her and a long distance relationship."
Jude is clearly thinking about what he said and Connor can see the gears in his head working.
"Taylor is a friend from high school, and she is in a relationship with a boy across the country."
Connor bit by bit gets to assemble all the pieces he was missing.
"You are gay."
Connor keeps thinking about all he thought he knew about Jude and all they shared in the last two weeks.
"Are you sure?"
Jude smiles, "Yes, Connor. I am sure."
Connor is still seeing all the pieces of the puzzle and turns his head, until he saw the bed he has been sharing with Jude since he was rescued.
"We slept in the same bed."
Jude lowers his head.
"You didn´t try to kiss me."
Jude looks at him again like he said the strangest thing in the world.
"I wasn´t going to take advantage of you."
And Connor finally see the last piece. The look in Jude´s eyes has never been pity. Has been affection. Because he cares about him. And he knows he would have stop trusting him if Jude would have kiss him. Although he doesn´t deny if would have kiss Jude since the first moment he saw him. And Connor knows what he should do.
"I am not going to ask you to be my boyfriend."