Chris smiled at the sleeping little boy in the backseat of the car. He’d barely woken up when the plane had landed and had drifted right back to sleep as soon as he was buckled into his seat. He was great on the plane. Better than Chris had expected since it was his first time flying. Jim had held tightly to his hand until they’d boarded the plane and taken their seats. The five year old had gripped his stuffed bat as the plane started moving and Chris had smiled and taken his hand. Jim had been fine from that point on.
Once they’d gotten in the air Jim had been glued to the window. He’d stared out at the stars until he’d fallen asleep. Chris couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face when he’d lifted the boy into his arms.
The porch light was on as he approached the house and the front door opened as he pulled into the driveway. Leaving the bags in the car he gathered Jim and his bat and carried them up the steps and into the house. Carefully going up the stairs to the guest room he laid the boy in the bed and pulled a blanket over him. Jim shifted in the bed and Chris held his breath hoping he would stay asleep. The tiny boy in the too big bed only sprawled out and pulled his stuffed bat closer.
Chris shook his head and headed back downstairs to properly greet his husband only to find him standing in the doorway behind him. Phil smiled and wrapped his arms around him, “It was sweet of you to offer to let him stay with us.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t have anything to do with this. You wanted him to come as much as I did.”
Phil pressed a kiss to Chris’ jaw, “How’d he do?”
“He was an angel.”
“Winona called about a half hour ago. I told her you’d be getting in soon and I’d text her to let her know.”
“You do that while I get the bags?”
Phil nodded and after another quick kiss he headed into the bedroom. Grabbing the bags from the trunk Chris carried them up the stairs and dropped them just inside the bedroom door. Flopping down on the bed beside Phil he buried his face in his pillow and sighed. The last thing he remembered before drifting off to sleep was the feeling of Phil’s hand rubbing his back.
Something woke him before the sun was up. Turning over in the bed he frowned and stared into the darkness. It took him a minute to realize there was a small blonde haired child standing beside the bed. “Jimmy? What are you doing out of bed?” he asked groggily.
“I had a nightmare uncle Chris.”
Behind him Phil shifted and sat up to look over his husband. “Chris?”
“Go back to sleep Phil, I’ll take care of this.” Chris mumbled as he untangled himself from the blankets. Stumbling out of the bed he scooped Jim up into his arms and as he headed down the hall the little boy laid his head on Chris’ shoulder. Nudging the door shut with his foot he carried the boy back over to the bed and laid him down. Those crystal blue eyes of his stared up at him and he knew if he didn’t stay until Jim was asleep that Jim would just follow him back to his room. Sighing he slipped under the covers beside him and settled in. Before he knew it Jim had snuggled up against him and reached a hand out to pet Chris’ cheek.
When Chris didn’t return to bed Phil slipped down the hall to check on them. Pushing the door open and peering into the room he smiled when he saw them both sound asleep, Jim’s hand still on Chris’ cheek. “Sleep well boys.” he whispered into the darkness before pulling the door closed.
The next morning Chris opened his eyes and groaned. He was not in his own bed and he could tell. It took a few minutes for his brain to catch up and him to roll over and look for the sleeping child. Only Jim wasn’t there. Throwing the blanket off he fell out of the bed with a thud and scrambled to his feet. He rushed down the hall to his and Phil’s bedroom only to find the bed empty and made. Carefully making his way down the stairs he rushed to the kitchen and skidded to a halt when he saw the blonde haired boy sitting at the table happily eating pancakes.
“Uncle Phil, Uncle Chris is up now can we go to the beach yet?”
Phil looked up from the paper and grinned at his frazzled husband. “I think uncle Chris could do with a cup of coffee first, and maybe some breakfast?”
Chris sat down at the table and groaned as he dropped his head on his arms. Setting the paper aside Phil stood and rubbed a hand across his husband’s upper back. “Hurt anything when you fell?” he asked quietly.
Shaking his head Chris sat up, “Not really. How long has he been up?”
Phil crossed over to the coffee pot and pour a mug of the steaming brown liquid. “Came in and crawled in bed with me about six this morning. Fell back asleep and we got up about a half hour ago.”
Chris nodded and lifted the mug to his lips. Phil smiled and sat down beside him. “Jim wants to go down to the beach. Told him he’d have to wait for you.”
Chris looked over at the little boy squirming in his chair as he ate his pancakes and nodded. Once he’d finished his coffee and eaten his bacon and eggs he headed upstairs with Jim to get ready for the beach. Changing into their swim trunks and grabbing the mesh bag off the front porch the three of them headed down to the beach.
Phil laid out a blanket and slathered sunscreen on both Jim and his husband before releasing them to frolic in the waves. Sitting back on the blanket Phil watched Jim running in and out of the water as the wave lapped at the shore, Chris never far away from him. The giggles from the little boy carried across the empty beach and Phil smiled. He could already tell it was going to be a good summer.
Four weeks of near daily beach visits later and several evenings spent making s’mores and watching the stars, the three of them headed out to lunch with a friend. Laura picked the restaurant and the boys agreed to meet her once Jim was cleaned up from his morning visit to the beach. Walking in they spotted her in a table by the window. She stood and hugged the boys while Jim stood back behind Chris. She smiled and crouched down to his level. “You must be Jim. I’ve heard a lot about you from your uncle Chris.”
Jim looked up at Chris and then back to Laura before stepping forward and holding out his hand. “Hi.”
Laura grinned and shook his hand. “Have you been having fun with your uncles?”
Jim nodded and reached for Chris’ hand. “We went to the beach.”
Chris led Jim to his seat and slid in shaking his head, “He means we’ve lived on the beach.”
Laughing Laura slid in and Phil sat down beside her. Chris helped Jim unfold his little paper menu and set the crayons on the table. He immediately set to work coloring in the little mascot while Chris and Phil talked to Laura. A few minutes later the waiter came over and took their order.
Jim was still coloring, but with Chris’ help, by the time the food arrived. The paper and crayons were set aside as the plates were set down and Jim grabbed a fry shoving it in his mouth. Phil shook his head, “Would you like some ketchup Jimmy?”
Chris grabbed the bottle and squirted some on the side of Jim’s plate before picking up his fork and spearing one of the shrimp on top of his steak. Jim watched him while he ate his fries. Chris was halfway done with his steak before he noticed the crystal blue eyes watching his every move. Glancing over at Jim he smiled. “Can I help you son?”
Jim shifted and sat on his knees on the seat and pointed at one of the shrimp on Chris’ plate. “What’s that?”
“Its shrimp. Seafood.”
Shaking his head Chris picked one up on his fork. “Would you like to try one?”
Jim thought for a minute and nodded, “Please.”
Handing the fork to Jim he watched him eat the small buttery shrimp. Chris took the fork back from him and had barely taken another bite before Jim was coughing. Phil looked over at him and glanced at Chris. “You okay there Jimmy?”
Jim frowned and coughed a couple more times before he started wheezing. Chris opened his mouth to say something but didn’t get the chance as Phil jumped from his seat and knelt beside Jim. Jim’s face was turning red and his wheezing was getting worse, Chris looked from Jim to Phil, “What’s going on? Is he okay? Why is he wheezing? Phil?”
Reaching over Phil grabbed his bag and pulled the front flap up before unzipping the top and grabbing something out of it. Chris watched as he pulled the top off and looked at Jim. “This might hurt a little but it should help you breathe.” he said calmly. Jim reached for Chris’ hand and gripped it tightly as Phil pressed the device to Jim’s thigh and pushed a button.
After he replaced it in his bag and zipped it shut he stood to his feet and picked Jim up. “I’m sorry to cut lunch short but…”
“Go. I’ll take care of this.”
“Thank you. We’ll call you.”
Chris slid out and grabbed Phil’s bag following behind him out to the car. Jim laid his head on Phil’s shoulder and whimpered. “It’s gonna be okay Jimmy. We’re going to take you to the doctor and get you feeling better soon.” He glanced up at Chris, “You okay to drive?”
“Yeah. Your hospital?”
“It’s closest and I know them so yeah.”
“I may be on leave but I’m pretty sure the guys wouldn’t fault me for speeding a little.”
“Safety first Christopher.” Phil said as he buckled Jim into his seat and settled in beside him. “Drop us at the ER and park the car, I’ll take him in.”
A few minutes later Jim was laying on a big white bed in one of the exam rooms with Phil holding his hand. A nurse came in and started talking to him telling him what a big boy he was and how brave he was being, until he caught sight of the needle in her hand. He pulled away from her and closer to Phil as the tears streamed down his face. Chris was shown in a minute later and Jim practically threw himself at him.
“Woah, easy there Jimmy.” he said rubbing his hand over Jim’s back.
“He needs an IV and another s-h-o-t.”
“Are we afraid of needles?” Chris asked quietly.
Jim nodded and sniffled a little.
“Would it help if I got one too?”
Pulling away a little Jim looked up at him and thought about it for a minute before nodding. Chris turned to the nurse and hopped up on the end of Jim’s bed. “Two IV’s please.”
She smiled, “I’ll have to grab a few more supplies. I’ll be back in a minute.”
By the time she returned Chris had moved and was laying on the bed beside Jim and Phil had taken a seat beside them. In a matter of minutes Chris had an IV taped to the back of his hand and the nurse was ready for Jim. Chris smiled at him and held his other hand while the nurse inserted the IV. Jim laid his head on Chris’s chest and reached up to stroke his cheek. Phil smiled and Chris rolled his eyes at his husband.
A couple hours later Laura called to check on them. Phil explained what was going on and that Jim was allergic to peanuts.
“They don’t use peanut oil there.”
“They don’t? Then what caused it?”
“Does he have any other allergies?”
Phil frowned and looked over at Chris who was half asleep in the bed with Jim still petting his face. “Chris? Does Jim have any other allergies?”
“Not that his mother told me.”
“Laura says they don’t use peanut oil. So it must’ve been something else.”
Chris frowned and a moment later the color drained from his face. “Phil…”
“Laura, I’ll have to call you back.” he said before hanging up and turning to his husband. “What is it Chris?”
“I…He’d never had…”
“What Chris? He’d never had what?”
Phil sighed and shook his head. “So he’s allergic to shellfish then…good to know.”
They spent that night at the hospital, Chris in the bed with Jim curled up against him with his hand on Chris’ face. Phil slept in the chair in Jim’s room for a few hours before getting up to work his regularly scheduled shift. Once Jim was awake and had been discharged Chris drove him back to the house and they spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch watching tv.
Phil had called Winona and let her know what had happened and that Jim had a new allergy to be aware of. She had been very understanding and appreciative of the both of them taking care of him like they had. When Phil got home that night he found Chris sitting on the edge of the bed staring at the floor. “Hey babe, Jim asleep?”
Chris nodded, “Yeah. He’s been in bed for about and hour. I sat with him for a little while.” he said quietly.
Sitting down on the bed beside him Phil put an arm around him. “He’s okay Chris.”
“I sent him to the hospital Phil.”
“You didn’t know. None of us did.”
“But I sent him to the hospital. I’m supposed to be taking care of him Phil…”
Phil reached over and put a hand on Chris’ cheek. “You did take care of him Chris. What else would you call getting an IV to make him feel better? Sleeping in that uncomfortable bed with him? Hanging out at home all day? You’re doing great Chris. That little boy in there really looks up to you.”
“And I let him down Phil…”
“Christopher Robert Pike! You did no such thing! Stop beating yourself up about this.”
“No. Get up and get your ass ready for bed. I will not sit here and listen to this anymore. You’re great with him and he adores you end of story.”