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Room Enough To Love

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Jason made his way across town to pick up his clothes and head back to the hospital. He’d taken the quiet time to call his mom and catch her up on what had been going on in his life and to find out if there was anything she needed. His sisters kept an eye out for her since they lived close by, and he made sure she was comfortable as best he could by slipping money into her account and keeping in regular contact.

His thoughts turned to Steven thinking over the way his life had shifted since finding the kid in the woods. He didn’t typically shy away from self-analyzation and he saw no reason to start now. There just hadn’t been a lot of time to do so, with nurses and doctors coming and going, his near constant vigilance, and Steven becoming more coherent over the last few days. Jason knew his reactions had been way out of his normal baseline even before he’d gotten the curious and contemplative glances of his friends and co-workers. He felt deeply about the people they protected, had done so since he was in the military, but since working in the center detail it had become more personal. However, the way he felt about Steven’s protection was something else entirely.

He'd pulled the feeling out of the box he’d put it in when the hour was late, and the only sounds in the room were the quiet beeping of different machines that Steven was still hooked to. They were soothing in their own way, letting him know that the kid wasn’t in any pain and that there were no hidden concerns in the boy’s physical recovery. Jason was having a difficult time putting a name to it. It was stronger than what he felt for his co-workers and friends, closer to how he felt for his family, but not quite the same thing. It wasn’t any less deep, but he wasn’t sure if it was because there was a new entity in his life or if the feeling itself was new.

He sighed as he pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and shut the engine off. Leaning his head back and closing his eyes he tried to make sense of it all. After a few minutes he gave up and slid out of his truck. He’d been gone long enough; Alex was needed back at the center, and he’d been getting jumpier the longer he’d been away from Steven. It wasn’t that Alex couldn’t protect the kid, but he didn’t like that it wasn’t him. Jason sighed again, lovely, a whole other thing to try to figure out.
*****

By the time Jared made it home it was well past the kids’ bedtime, he pulled into the garage and just sat for a minute decompressing. He was startled out of his daze by the light flipping on and the door opening. Jensen stood in the doorway waiting for him with a cup held between his hands looking adorably rumpled.

He pulled himself out of the car smiling. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Jensen answered, leaning up to give him a slow kiss.

“What are you doing up?” Jared asked as he shut and locked the door, dropping his laptop and bag on the counter.

“I dozed off on the couch after I got the kids down and woke up a little while ago to pee as usual,” Jensen grumbled.

Jared leaned down and kissed the top of his head smiling. “Well, why don’t you go on up and get settled, I’ll be up in a minute.”

Jensen frowned and moved into the kitchen. “Why don’t I fix you a cup of hot chocolate and you can tell me what you’re worried about instead.”

Jared sighed, knowing he wasn’t going anywhere until he talked to his husband. Which was probably a good thing since he didn’t think he’d be able to go to sleep with everything banging around in his head.

“All right, but I’m going to run upstairs and change while you make the hot chocolate.”

Jensen stuck a couple of their favorite muffins that Sophia had brought over in the microwave to warm while he made Jared’s drink. He was sitting at the table when his husband made it back down.

“Check on the kids?”

“Yeah, still sleeping, saw Xavier managed to make it back to the bedroom with Brayden this time.” Jared slid into a seat and picked up his muffin.

“He was a little bit down tonight, so I made sure that if he woke up, he’d be with his sister. “

Jared nodded, taking a sip of his drink. “Do you know why?"

“No, it wasn’t like something triggered it, I don’t think. He was fine all day long; Sophia came over for a while and we ate and did projects. I think he’s just starting to feel safe and maybe some of those feelings he’s been pushing aside are starting to come out.”

“Have you been able to find a therapist yet?”

“I think so. I just need to do some checks before we decide and then I’ll get them set up with an appointment. Now how about tell me what’s got you sitting in the car and staring off into space.”

Jared sighed. “I had a visit today from Jason.”

Jensen set his cup down looking puzzled. “Really? What did he want?”

“He had a proposition for me?”

“Oh really!” Jensen arched an eyebrow and grinned at his husband.

“Not that kind!” Jared rolled his eyes.

“Then what exactly?”

“The boy he found in the woods the day you caught the kids, is getting ready to get out of the hospital. He wants to bring him here to recuperate.”

“Why not the center?” Jensen asked, propping his chin on his hand.

“Well, it’s two-fold really. Jason said that Steven doesn’t do well with women, he doesn’t think the kid will be able to relax there right now.”

“Chris said they thought it was his mom that did that to him.”

“Yeah, and he’s offered to stay here and help out while Steven is recuperating.”

“Does he think Steven’s mom will come after him, or show up here?” Jensen frowned, pushing the offer of help to the backburner.

“He said it’s not really something he thinks will happen, but he’d be much happier if he were around just in case.”

Jensen nodded, he thought the chance was slim himself, since Steven’s discovery hadn’t been a big story on the news. The center had managed to keep it off the radar as much as possible because they hadn’t wanted to alert the person responsible that the kid wasn’t dead in hopes that it would keep him safe.

“So, what did you tell him?” Jensen asked, already contemplating how to rework the household to accommodate two more people.

“I told him I’d talk to you about it, but that there would be some things that need to be ironed out if we agreed.”

“What kinds of things?”

“The kinds of things that you aren’t supposed to be doing.” Jared stated, watching his husband's jaw set and waiting for the argument he could see brewing, and Jensen didn’t disappoint.

“I’m pregnant Jared, not an invalid. I’m capable of taking care of the kids and helping take care of someone that’s recuperating! I realize you’re worried, but I’m not some wilting violet that can’t deal with a little pressure,” Jensen argued.

“Jensen, I’m well aware of how much you can handle.” Jared reached out and took Jensen’s hand in his squeezing lightly. “You just keep forgetting that you don’t have to do everything, and certainly not by yourself. We have too much going on in our lives to add more to it without help. Jason is offering that help short term while he takes care of Steven. You can’t physically pull under a 19-year-old kid that has a broken arm and leg right now.” Jared reasoned.

Jensen scowled, but knew his husband was right, his balance had been precarious when he was pregnant with Avery, the twins though had made it even harder not to list to one side or the other at any given time. Jensen knew Jared would tell Jason it was a no go if he even thought there was a chance that he would overdo it.

“Fine,” he agreed sullenly, unwilling to leave someone that needed help without any.

Jared smiled, kissing Jensen on the forehead. His husband was still frowning when he drained the last dregs of his hot chocolate.

“So, what exactly is Jason going to be helping us with?

“He’s going to help with the chores, cooking, taking care of Steven and if the kids are comfortable with him, then watch them anytime you need to go to the gallery.”

“Does he know how to cook?” Jensen asked, perking up a little.

“He says he does, and I’m assuming with a mom and three sisters one of them was bound to be good at it and teach him so he wouldn’t starve.”

Jensen nodded hopefully, they both could cook, but neither one of them had the time to do anything outside the basics. They tried to make sure each meal was balanced, and Cassandra kept the freezer loaded with pre-made dinners that all they had to do was follow directions to heat up, so they didn’t wind up getting delivery every night. He couldn’t help but hope that maybe Jason had some pointers that he could pick up while he was there.

“I don’t think we should expect Jason to watch the kids, he’s going to have his hands full with Steven’s recovery from the sounds of it. Besides, does he have any experience with kids outside of the center?”

“He said Steven is sleeping a lot, probably a mix of the painkillers and emotional exhaustion as much as physical. I think he’s going to have plenty of down time for a while, he’s planning on taking off about three months, minus what he can work on the weekends if I’m home.”

“Good grief, why does he have so much time?”

Jared shrugged, “I get the impression that he doesn’t take a lot of time off, and what he does he spends it with his family. I think he’ll be able to hold his own with the kids though, he has eight nieces and nephews and yes, he’s kept them all at one time.”

Jensen knew his eyes were huge, five kids were going to be a handful, but just thinking about keeping eight kids entertained for an undetermined amount of time made him shudder. “We’ll have to play that one by ear, see how the kids react.”

“Agreed,” Jared stood and gathered up the dishes and took them to the dishwasher. “What are you planning on doing tomorrow?”

“I’m going to go by the center and see if I can keep Chris and Steve from having a panic attack and then we’re going to stop by the gallery and the kids are going to spend some time looking around while I try to get the books back up to date. Natalie and everyone else have been covering the days I’ve been gone, but no one has had time to do the paperwork.”

“What time are the guys leaving to pick up Aaron?” Jared asked, flipping off the kitchen lights and waiting for Jensen to start up the steps.

“11:00 and then they’re going to take the next week off. I think it’s the first time they’ve taken time off since they started the center.” Jensen mused, pushing their door open and shuffling to the bed.
“So, you’ll be at the gallery by 12:00?” Jared asked, pulling his shirt off and throwing it on one of the chairs in the room.

“Maybe, it depends on if we eat at the center or not. Might be a little later though. What do you and Chad have going on?”

“We have several meetings scheduled and some postproduction work.” Jared slid into the bed, snuggling up to his husband and smoothing his hand over their growing children.

“I think I’ll call Jason tomorrow, talk to him about what Steven might need.” Jensen mumbled halfway to sleep already.

Jared smiled to himself; this was one of the many reasons he loved Jensen.
******

Jason made his way through the hospital composing and discarding ways to start the conversation with Steven about convalescing at Jared and Jensen’s house. He slid into the hospital room quietly, thankful that Alex had texted him to tell him Steven had dozed off just a little while ago.

“Hey, how’s he been?”

“A little quiet, but he’s been awake more. He may be worrying about where he’s going to go since the doctor mentioned releasing him next week.” Alex answered, straightening up in his seat to get more comfortable. “Did you get your plans worked out?”

“Well, I had a meeting with Jared today. I’m supposed to hear something tomorrow after he talks to Jensen. Hopefully, it’ll be early enough that I can give Steven some answers and he can relax some.”
“What did you meet with Jared about?”

“I offered a barter of sorts. If I can move Steven to their guest room, I’ll stay there with him just in case his mom decides to come looking for him. I’ll also be helping around the house with the kids if they’re comfortable with me.” Jason explained.

“You’re going to take vacation?” Alex asked.

“I’m going to talk to Cliff about it. I’ll probably need to take two or three weeks until he can move around more and then I’ll see about working around Jared’s schedule to fill in the gaps with Cliff.” Jason leaned back and sighed as his body let go of some of the tension he'd been carrying around all day.

“So why the barter? It’s not like Jared and Jensen can’t afford to hire help?”

“Oh, that’s definitely not the issue. Jensen is the issue.” Jason laughed at the confusion on Alex’s face.

“All right I’m missing something here.”

“Yeah, well it’s not mentioned unless someone wants to go toe to toe with Jensen and as nice as he is, he’s stubborn as fuck.”

Alex nodded; he’d figured that out for himself, not to mention sneaky when he thought the occasion called for it. At least he knew better now, not that he’d probably done things much differently. Jensen had a way of metaphorically slipping past barriers before you even realized he’d moved.

“Jared has been trying to get Jensen to let him hire some help for the last two years. When he started working on a plan to open his business, and when Jared expanded his, he tried again but Jensen dug his heels in. Jared took on a partner in Chad, and Natalie helps Jensen with the gallery but it’s still a lot with just Avery and helping at the center.”

“Okay, makes sense so why doesn’t he want to? He knows Cliff would do a thorough background search and run down all the references.” Alex stated.

“Oh, it’s not the security issue, they know that would be done. No one at the center or the firm would entrust Avery to anyone that could hurt her. It’s possible no one would apply though because the checks and interview process would terrify me, much less a nanny and for the love of all that’s holy never use that word in Jensen’s hearing either.”

“What? Nanny?”

“Yeah, it’s part of the whole issue. He doesn’t want someone else raising their kids, he thinks he can do it all himself with help from Jared, which he could probably even manage with five kids, the businesses, and the center. He really needs help with day-to-day things like chores, cooking and miscellaneous tasks.” Jason explained.

“I thought they had help?”

“They do to an extent. Cassandra comes in two or three times a week, does some light cleaning, and fixes them balanced meals and freezes them so all they have to do is heat them up if no one has time to cook. Jared has been pushing to hire someone to come in five days a week and do the cleaning, cooking and errands so that it frees them up to spend time with each other and Avery.”

“Do you think he’s worried about putting Cassandra out of a job?” Alex asked.

“No, Cass doesn’t need the job. She’s just been with Jared a long time and she keeps her eye on Jensen to make sure he’s not overdoing it. Her kids are grown, and Jared made sure she had a retirement plan set up so she can live comfortably no matter where she wants to move if she ever decides to. If she wants to keep working for longer, she could come in and cover for days off or possibly do the cooking. From what Jared said they’re going to do an extension and I don’t think she can handle cleaning that much space.”

“So, you figure if you sneak in the back door and take over the chores while taking care of Steven, then Jensen might decide it’s not a bad thing to have some help to do the routine jobs so that he’ll have more time to spend with the kids?” Alex asked, starting to see the bigger picture of Jason’s plan.

“Well, it’s helping me too, but yeah. I’ve watched Chris and Steve get these pinched expressions when Jensen takes on another task that someone else could do, but the man heard it mentioned in a conversation and decided he was going to help. Or when Jared grinds his teeth and closes his eyes to count to 100 because his husband is being extra stubborn about something, because he thinks he’s supposed to be able to do it all.”

Alex nodded, he’d seen the same looks, but hadn’t really had any background information to explain them, so he’d just kept his eyes and ears open waiting for some tidbit to open the door to understanding. “So how are you going to keep him from trying to take care of Steven then?”

“That’s up to Jared, which is why I have to wait for a phone call. I think Jared saw the possibilities, but he’s going to want to make sure Jensen knows he’s not going to be adding extra to his plate. The doctors put him on bed rest for a month with Avery, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to be on it again with the twins. He’s already high risk, twins just makes it even more dangerous. That’s another plus in everyone’s column, because it means Jensen will only be alone for short amounts of time and Jared can relax knowing that as well.”

Alex nodded, it was a well thought out plan, not that he expected anything less from Jason. He could see the clever way in which Jason could accomplish several objectives and possibly succeed where others had failed in getting Jensen to agree to help.

Alex stood stretching and grabbing his backpack. “Let me know if you need any help, or a stand in. If I’m free, I can fill in.” He offered, not quite willing to let Jason know he was intrigued by the relationships that crossed back and forth from working and friendship in the expanding group of people he was getting to know.

******

Jensen and the kids stopped at Sophia’s shop to eat breakfast first before making their way to the center. While Avery and Xavier were playing educational games on pads in their car seats, he was explaining the center to Brayden who had chosen to sit up front.

The only time they’d been there was for their appointments and neither of the kids were comfortable enough to ask questions and Jensen didn’t feel an explanation at the time would improve their situation. He’d been more concerned about what had happened to them while they were on their own than to concentrate on how to explain why some people were so vile to others.

“They live there?” Brayden asked.

“For a time, until they can make plans and find a permanent home.”

“But why are they there?” The little girl questioned.

“Some of them are there because they lost their jobs and homes, others because they ran away, like you and Xavier. Then there are the people that have been hurt by someone and they need somewhere safe to get better.” Jensen explained as best he could without getting into specifics.

“How did they get hurt?” Xavier piped up from the back seat.

Jensen just realized that the sounds of their games had cut out a while back. He sighed; they were going to see people in varying stages of healing at the center. Avery visited enough that it didn’t scare her. Jared and he had made sure when she had questions, they answered them. They’d tried to find a balance so that she understood the world wasn’t always an easy place to live, but that there were good people that did their best to help.

“Mean.” Avery put in her opinion, scowling out the window with her arms crossed over her chest.

“Not all people are nice to each other Xavier. That’s why we were so worried about you and Brayden being on your own.”

The little boy leaned back in his seat and frowned. “They should have had a sister, then nothing bad would have happened.” He stated resolutely.
Jensen glanced over at Brayden who was trying her best to sink into her coat. “I agree with you there Xavier.”

***************

Chris and Steve were out front waiting for them when they pulled up. Jensen had called ahead to let them know they were on the way. Steve had been there when the kids had their appointments, but he’d been dealing with several issues at the time and hadn’t been able to visit with them while they were waiting. Chris had been at the hospital checking on a couple of patients that would be staying at the center after they were released so this would be the first time they were getting to meet the kids.

Avery had escaped her seat and was struggling with the door before Jensen could even pull the keys out of the ignition. Chris opened her door and pulled her free, swinging her up and out of the car. She gave him a huge hug before launching herself over his shoulder at Steve.

“Avery, one of these days they’re going to miss and you’re going to break your neck.” Jensen admonished as Steve tickled her and she giggled hysterically.

“Boy you know darn well neither one of us is going to drop her.” Chris fussed.

“You’re not helping.” Jensen grumbled as he waited for the giggles to wind down.

Xavier and Brayden had slid closer to Jensen in the ensuing chaos and were watching the scene unfold in front of them with trepidation. Jensen placed a hand on their backs and waited for the screeching to end. When Steve finally set Avery on her feet, she grabbed his and Chris’ hand and drug them the few feet to introduce them to the new members of her family.

“Daddy! Say their names for me!” Avery instructed pulling at the leg of his jeans to get his attention.

Jensen smiled down at her before glancing back up at Chris and Steve. He put his hand on the little boy’s shoulder, “this is Xavier, and this is Brayden.” He introduced as he gently tousled the girl’s hair.
“They’re my new brother and sister!” Avery shouted while clapping her hands.

Chris looked up at Jensen, quirking his eyebrow. “Really? Your daddy is going to have to tell me all about this new development.”

Steve knelt and stuck his hand out. “Hey, I’m Steve, it’s nice to meet you.”

Xavier reached out tentatively and shook his hand, Brayden following his lead.

“Grumpy Gus up there is Chris.” Steve whispered loudly.

“I am not!” Chris scowled.

“See what I mean.” Steve ribbed him.

Avery rolled her eyes, which made Xavier giggle and Brayden smile. “Uncle Chris, will you get us a snack?” She asked with a sneaky grin pulling at the corners of her mouth.

“You know he doesn’t go in the kitchen.” Jensen told her.

“Why not?” Brayden asked.

“He’s scared of Ellen.” Steve told her laughing when Chris crossed his arms and pouted.

“Is she mean?” Xavier asked.

“No.” Avery piped up. “He’s a fraidy cat.”

Steve tried to hide his laugh behind a cough, and Chris glared at Jensen who just looked back at him with a serenely innocent face.

Chris looked down when he felt a tug on his pants.

“I’ll hold your hand.” Xavier offered, holding his own out.

Brayden giggled at Chris’ panicked expression, waiting to see what Jensen’s friend would do.

Chris looked back down at the little boy and then back up at Steve, sighing he took Xavier’s hand. Hopefully Ellen wouldn’t dismember him and put him in the stew pot with kids there.
Avery pushed through the kitchen door in search of Ellen, Steve not far behind her. Ellen scooped her up and gave her three quick smooches to the cheek before setting her down to look over the rest of the group filing into her domain. Her eyebrows shot up when a little boy came through the door holding Chris’ hand, both looking nervous. Jensen and a little girl were the last in and the door as it swung shut behind them.

She glanced back down at Avery, “I suppose you want a snack?” She asked.

“Pleeease!!”

Ellen looked back over the group. “I’m going to assume you’d all like snacks.”

Steve laughed sliding into a seat at the table. Jensen grinned and pulled Brayden down beside him and waited to see what would happen. Xavier pulled on Chris’ hand before he could bolt, and the man shrugged sheepishly. Ellen snorted and turned towards the fridge to grab the bowl of cut fruit and a platter of cookies off the counter. She sat them down on the table before pulling out the container of milk, pouring the kids a cup and grabbing bottled water for the adults. She slid into the last seat in front of Chris and raised an eyebrow until he stopped gaping at her and ate a cookie.

Brayden and Xavier were a little reluctant to leave Jensen’s side, but Avery pulled them into the group of kids in the playground area and they slowly relaxed and set about the business of being kids with nothing to worry about but having fun.

Jensen took the opportunity to try and keep Christian from wearing a groove in the floor and Steve from chewing his fingers down to the knuckle. “So, what’s been going on with the kid that was found in the woods?” He asked, keeping Jason’s involvement out of the conversation at the moment.

“He’s set to be released soon. Jason has been providing security, so we’ve been getting most of our updates from him.” Steve answered.

Jensen lifted and eyebrow “Just Jason?”

“I think Alex has stayed a few times, but yeah, it’s been mostly Jason.” Christian answered.

“Don’t they usually do a rotation?”

“Typically, but for some reason Jason’s been pulling most of the duty at the hospital.” Steve shrugged.

“It’s odd, come to think about it.” Chris responded, frowning as he picked up his glass of tea.

“Maybe they already had the schedule made up and it was just easier for them not to move everyone else around.” Jensen suggested.

“Maybe.” Chris responded. “But he’s not said anything about Steven coming to the center when he gets out. Which is weird since we need to get things set up for him.”

Jensen shrugged noncommittally, he figured Jason would address the issue with them and Cliff once he got his plans in order.

“So, what’s this about Avery getting a new brother and sister?” Christian asked, pinning Jensen with raised eyebrow.

“Well, you know it’s a 50/50 shot.” He answered, waving his arm in front of his stomach.

Steve rolled his eyes and waited for Jensen to cave under the glare Christian was sending him.

“Fine. We’ve started the adoption process for Brayden and Xavier.”

Chris sat back and stared at Jensen with a raised eyebrow, but Jensen just stared back at him serenely.

“What does Jared think about adoption?” Steve asked, watching the stare off with equal parts concern and amusement.

Jensen’s eyebrow rose at Chris’ stubbornness, before he shifted his focus to Steve. “He’s the one that brought it up.”

“That’s because he knows you as well as we do, what makes you think he’s not just doing it to make you happy?” Chris asked gruffly.

“Because I asked him the same question. I wanted to make sure the adoption was what he wanted to do as well, not just me.”

“I’m assuming since you’ve started the process he agreed?” Steve put his hand on Chris’ arm when it looked like he was going to interrupt.

“Jared said it wasn’t anything he’d ever put any thought into before, but that when he saw the kids, he knew what I’d want to do and that he couldn’t see them with anyone else but us. He’d already called Misha and gotten a list of things that we needed to take care of and the documents we needed to fill out to get things moving.”

“So exactly how are you planning on working in an extra two kids to your already overflowing schedule, not to mention your impending delivery of twins?” Chris questioned.

“Same way everyone else does, just with a little less preparation time. We have a few months to get into a groove before the babies come.” He was sincerely glad he hadn’t mentioned Jason’s proposition. He didn’t need Chris blowing his top and Steve worrying even more than he already did.

“What about the house? Where are all these extra bodies going to go? I mean the house is huge but there’s not enough rooms for everybody or there is, but it doesn’t give you a guest room and I know how you both feel about having a spare room. Not to mention I’ve heard your thoughts on the kids not being on the same level as you and Jared.” Chris pointed out.

“We’re going to do an extension.” Jensen answered, putting his hand up to stave off the comments before he’d had a chance to explain. “We’ve been talking about it off and on for a year now, when we started talking about having more kids. There are some areas of the house that needed to be repurposed or expanded to accommodate all our stuff ever since we got married and had to combine our things.”

“Are you planning on getting some help in there, somewhere? Because no matter how organized you are there’s only 24 hours in a day and you can’t do it all. I know Jared is going to help, but he can’t do it all either and he’s not got a typical 9 to 5 job.” Steve cut in.

“Well, we’re still discussing that, but we have come to a temporary solution.” Jensen admitted grudgingly.

Before Chris could continue the interrogation Steve glanced down at his watch when the alarm beeped. “Hey, we need to get going so we’re not late picking up Aaron.”

Chris stood up so fast his chair tipped over, but Steve caught it before it could hit the floor. “Hey, it’s going to be okay.” Steven patted Christians’ arm as he stood and smiled at Jensen.

“Yeah, I’ll be glad when we’re at home though so I can stop feeling like the other shoe is going to drop.” Christian complained.

Jensen unfortunately knew exactly how he felt now, and it wasn’t a fun ride.

**********

Jared picked up the phone as soon as he got to his office and called Jason. “Hey, how are things going?”

“Good, the doctor just left. They’re going to release Steven at the end of the week once we have his physical therapy appointments worked out. They want him to see a therapist too, but I think we’re going to wait on that until I can get him settled though.” Jason glanced over at the young man who was trying to act like he wasn’t paying close attention to the phone call.

“I talked to Jensen last night.” Jared leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “I explained the situation and what you needed. He’s onboard, even with the restrictions that I slapped on his participation.”

“Do you think he’s going to listen to them?”

“No.” Jared sighed. “I’m trusting that you can work around him, so he doesn’t realize that he’s adhering to them without his knowledge.”

“Geesh, no pressure there.” Jason mumbled.

Jared grinned, “He’s planning on calling you sometime today.”

“Thanks for the warning.” Jason cringed, thinking about trying to run an avoidance pattern around Jensen.

Jared laughed, knowing exactly how hard the job he’d just handed down to Jason was going to be. “I’ve got to go, but I’ll call you tomorrow after Jensen has had time to talk to you. We’ll figure out what you’re going to need then.”

“Thanks, Jared. I really appreciate it.”

“Well, if it helps my cause in the long run then we’ll call it even.” Jared stated, laughing as he hung up. He couldn’t wait to see the battle of wills over the next few months. He just hoped they all survived the skirmishes.

“What are you laughing about?” Chad asked from where he’d been leaning against the door jamb listening to one side of the conversation.

“Jesus Christ Chad! Don’t do that!” Jared exclaimed clutching at his heart. “You scared the shit out of me.”

Chad ambled into the room and took a seat across from Jared’s desk. “That’s not an answer.” He stated placidly. “Does this have something to do with Jason’s visit yesterday?”

Jared sat back and shook his head. “I swear it’s like you’re a peeping Tom lurking about and watching everyone.”

“Nah, I just keep my eyes and ears open and draw my own conclusions based on the information presented. It’s not my fault that no one else pays attention to what goes on around them. Now how about the answer to the question.”

“Yes, he stopped by to ask a favor and offer his services.” Jared answered moving around the items on his desk.

“And…” Chad finally asked as he watched his friend dither while formulating a response.

Jared finally sighed and sat back. “Jason needs a place to bring Steven when he gets out of the hospital, and I need someone there to keep an eye on Jensen, so one, he doesn’t overdo it and two, so he’s not alone if something were to happen.

Chad’s eyebrows shot up. “Have you talked to Jensen about this yet?”

“Well, I talked to him about Steven recuperating at the house and Jason being there to help out.” Jared prevaricated.

“So how long exactly do you think it’ll take him to realize you’re pushing your own agenda.”

Jared sighed. “Not long enough man, not long enough.”

Chad grinned at Jared’s grimace. “Your funeral man.” He stood up stretching, before he made his way to the door. “For what it’s worth, it’s a good plan. I hope it works, Jensen is pushing himself too hard and so are you. Sofia was worn out when she came home, and she only spent a few hours at the house. I can’t imagine how tired Jensen must be at the end of the day.”

“Tell her not to get caught up in our insanity.”

“Oh, there’s no way I’m touching that one. I like all my bits where they’re supposed to be, but I think she’ll be pleased that y’all will be getting some help. She’s been worried about how much it was taking out of both of you.”

“I think once we get all the doctors, therapists and the school situation straight, we’ll be able to finally settle into a routine and it won’t be so overwhelming.”

“Maybe, but it won’t hurt to have some help. If Jason can pull off the impossible, then we’ll all owe him.” Chad conceded. “By the way, why is Jason so invested in this? I mean it’s not the first time he’s been involved in someone’s security at the center.”

“No, but I think it’s the first time he’s found someone in the situation Steven was in and it may have affected him stronger than those other occasions.

Chad hummed under his breath. “I guess we’ll see.”

*****

By the time Jensen had rounded up the kids and made it through the mid-afternoon traffic it was 1:30 and he was ready to go home and take a nap. He couldn’t though because he’d promised Natalie he’d come in and do the books. Jensen didn’t like to get behind and he was already two weeks or more late on balancing the books.

Natalie took one look at Jensen and shuffled the kids into the back shop where they could watch some of the painters work on their canvases. Once she was satisfied that no one was working on anything little eyes shouldn’t see, and the kids were enthralled with the painting she marched back to the office where she found her boss and friend going through the receipts.

“Why aren’t you at home taking a nap?” Natalie asked, hands on her hips and an unhappy expression on her face.

“I told you I was coming in this afternoon to get the books caught up.” Jensen huffed at the woman in front of him.

“Yes, you did, but you didn’t say you’d be coming in after running errands either. “She growled at him.

“I didn’t run errands. We stopped for breakfast and then went to the center to hang out for a little while. I was trying to keep Chris and Steve from having a panic attack. We ate lunch there and then we came here.” Jensen answered as he separated each receipt into the correct dates and piles.

“Well, it wasn’t coming straight here and then straight home either was it?” Natalie sighed, taking the seat next to him and helping him separate the stacks knowing he wouldn’t go home until he’d finished what he’d come to do.

It took two hours to update the books even with Natalie’s help. By the time Jensen gathered up all the kids and got them set to go home it was close to 4:30 and Jensen was officially exhausted. He called in an order to the local Italian restaurant; thankful they had runners to bring the food to the car. He didn’t think he had it in him to get all three kids in and out of the car again.

It took them almost an hour to get home, and when he pulled into the driveway, he wasn’t expecting to see Jared climbing out of his car. He figured his husband wouldn’t be there until much later with all the projects they were in the middle of. Someone had ratted him out he was sure of it, but at the moment he couldn’t have cared less.

******

Jared’s personal cell rang, as he was debating the next item to check off his to do list. “Hello.”

“Hey, Jared. It’s Natalie.”

“Is everything okay?” He asked as he headed to Chad’s office down the hall hoping he was still in it.

“Jensen just left, and he looks like he’s about to drop.” Natalie said, chewing on her fingernail.

“Is he going home?” Jared rounded the corner and stared at Chad until he finished up his call. “Hold on a second Natalie.”

“Is Jensen okay?” Chad asked, standing up.

Jared held up a finger. “All right. Was he going home Natalie?”

“He said something about grabbing food first. I think you might want to get there as soon as you can though. I mean he didn’t act like anything was hurting him, he just looked exhausted.”

“Thanks, Natalie. I appreciate it. I’m headed out now.” Jared hung up and growled.

“What’s going on?”

“Jensen just left the gallery and Natalie says he looks exhausted. I’m going to try and beat him home. Can you handle the close down tonight.”

“Yeah man, get out of here and go take care of the family.”

Jared ate up the distance to his office to grab his keys and shut everything down. He exited the building close to a run intent on getting to his husband as fast as he could. He knew Jensen would have called him if there were any complications, but he didn’t like that his husband was so tired that he was getting calls from friends to warn him.

He heaved a sigh as he turned into the driveway and the garage door lifted to show an empty garage. He had just gotten out of the car when he heard the front gate open and saw Jensen’s SUV pulling in. Jared leaned against the car and waited for Jensen to park and the kids to tumble out, grabbing their backpacks and games from the backseat.

Jared opened Jensen’s door and waited for his husband to gather the energy to get out of the car, he grabbed the bags of food before Jensen could get them from the back and ushered everyone into the house.

“Kids go upstairs and take your stuff with you and get washed up for supper. I’m going to take the dogs out really quick while the oven heats up.” Jared waited for the kids to head upstairs and then turned and looked at his husband. “And you go take a seat on the couch and don’t move until supper is warmed up.”

“I can get the oven preheated and the food put in while you’re taking the dogs out.” Jensen argued.

“You sure could if you hadn’t been gone all day and didn’t get a nap, but since you were and you didn’t, you’re going to sit right there on that couch and relax.” Jared pointed to the couch until his husband heaved a sigh and took a seat.

Jared flipped the oven on low and then whistled for the dogs who had followed the kids upstairs. He clipped their leashes on and moved towards the door but paused and looked over at Jensen to tell him to stay put, but his husband had already dozed off.

Jared slid the lasagna and bread into the oven being as quiet as possible. He’d wanted to move Jensen to a more comfortable position than the one he fell asleep in, but he knew if he had his husband wouldn’t have gone back to sleep. He contented himself with watching Jensen slumber while the food heated and decompressing from the day and his rush to get home.

Brayden quietly made her way into the living room, careful not to wake Jensen up. She’d seen how tired he looked when they left the store, and she was worried.

Jared turned to look at the young girl that had appeared at his elbow. “Is he going to be, okay?”

“Yeah, he’ll be fine, he just wore himself out today.” Jared smiled down at her. “He wasn’t home to take a nap, and he’s been missing them for the last few days too. It’s just all catching up with him.”

“Because of us?” Brayden asked tremulously.

“Because of a lot of things sweetheart. He did the same thing when he was pregnant with Avery.”

“I can help more if you need me to. I don’t mind.” Brayden offered.

“Thank you, but we’d like you to go back to being an almost teenager. You only get to do it once and we want you to relax after the last few months. I think we’ll be getting some help next week, so don’t worry about it.” Jared gently rubbed the top of her head, tousling her hair some.

“What kind of help?” The young girl asked curiously.

“Well, I’m not sure Jensen had a chance to make the phone call he was going to today, but we should be able to explain it to you tomorrow.”

“I hate waiting.” Brayden mumbled under her breath.

“Jensen’s not too fond of it either.” Jared laughed. “Why don’t you go and tell Xavier and Avery to get washed up and come downstairs, the food should be ready in a couple of minutes.”

“Sure.” Brayden answered, giving Jared a grumpy look.

Jared snorted as the girl made her way back upstairs to wrangle the other two. “Well, you may not be ours by birth, but you certainly are by personality.

“What are you grinning about?” A sleepy voice asked from the couch.

“I’ll tell you later.” Jared said, laughing outright when Jensen glowered at him.

The kids scrambling down the stairs headed for the kitchen derailed any comment Jensen was going to make. Jensen pulled the salad out of the fridge while Jared brought the lasagna and bread to the table.

“Did you make that call you were going to make today.” Jared asked quietly as the kids were shoveling food into their mouths.

“No, I’ll do it as soon as we finish supper. I had planned to call this afternoon, but doing the books took longer than I had anticipated.”

“I’ll clean up the kitchen while the kids are getting into their pajamas. Why don’t you go upstairs and start the bathwater and you can make your call while you’re soaking.”

“I’ll help you clean up the kitchen before I go up. It’ll take less time that way.”

“No, I think you did enough today, loading the dishwasher won’t take long and everything else just needs to be thrown away.” Jared looked down at the touch to his arm.

“I’d like to help.” Brayden offered quietly.

Jared sighed and glanced over at Jensen who shrugged. “Okay, why don’t you scrape the plates off in the trash and set them on the counter by the dishwasher.”

“We want to help too.” Avery climbed down from her chair, followed by Xavier.

Jensen bite his lip trying not to laugh at Jared’s panicked look. His husband shot him a dirty look then turned his attention to his other helpers.

“All right. Xavier why don’t you collect all the trash and I’ll show you how to separate it. Avery once everything is off the table, daddy can show you how to wipe the table down.” He handed the little girl the sponge and towel.

Brayden started working on the plates and cups while Jared showed Xavier the different bins for the recycling and food disposal.

“If you’re not sure about where something goes just ask us and we’ll tell you. It won’t take you long before you have it all figured out.” Jared told the little boy.

Avery waited patiently for everything to be off the table and then Jensen showed her how to wipe the table down. Brayden brought over one of the empty lasagna containers and held it under the lip of the table so she could wipe the crumbs and other food that had made it onto the table while they ate.

Jared loaded the dishwasher and started it, he thanked each of them before sending them up the stairs to change into their pajamas. “I’m going to take the dogs out. Why don’t you go on upstairs and get your bath started and make that call while I’m taking care of them.”

“I’m going to make the call first in case I need to write something down. Pregnancy brain has started, and I won’t remember it by the time I get out of the bath.” Jensen complained, standing, and wincing at the pain in his back.

“Back hurting?” Jared asked as he grabbed the leashes.

“Yeah, hunching over the receipts all afternoon made it very unhappy.” Jensen groaned, stretching to try and relieve the stiffness.

“I’ll be up in a few minutes to get your water started.” Jared kissed him on the forehead and headed out the door with the dogs.

Once Jensen was upstairs and settled on the bed with all the pillows shoved behind his back he scrolled through his contacts until he found Jason’s, dialing the number and leaning his head back with a sigh.

“Hey, Jensen.” Jason answered after a couple of rings. “Let me just step into the hallway, give me just a second.”

Steven had glanced over when Jason’s phone had started to ring and lifted an eyebrow in curiosity when Jason told him he was going to step out into the hall. Jason typically took whatever calls he had in the room. This was the first time the man had walked out of the room to talk on the phone. Well Steven thought it was the first time, he guessed he could have done it when he was napping.

“Okay, sorry. I’ve not discussed anything with Steven yet, until I knew what scenario we were looking at.”

Jensen rolled his eyes at Jason’s inability not to have back up plans for his back up plans. “Sorry I meant to call earlier, but the day just seemed to slip away before I even realized it.”

“No man, I know your life is hectic as hell right now. It’s not a problem, Jared told me you’d be calling sometime today.”

“So, what do you think you’re going to need to get Steven set up?” Jensen reached over and grabbed the notebook he’d started to keep beside the bed. It never failed that as soon as he got comfortable, he’d remember something he needed to do and would have to get up and find something to write it on, so he didn’t forget.

“Well, nothing as far as medical gear. He’s going to be on crutches and then probably a cane for a while. Bad thing is his broken leg and arm are on opposite sides, not that he’s even really been out of the bed. They’re going to unhook him from some of the stuff tomorrow, so he’ll be able to move around a little.”

“Okay, but he’s got nothing right? No clothes, no anything?” Jensen asked, already making a list of just basics. Hell, it’s not like he hadn’t just done the same things for the kids, so it didn’t take too long to make.

“Can you find out what sizes he wears?”

“Jensen nothing, he had even fit him. He was either drowning in it or it was so tight and threadbare he must have had it for years. His damn shoes were falling apart and were at least two sizes too small.” Jason explained, trying to keep the frustration out of his voice, at the whole situation this kid had lived through.

“So, let’s take it one step at a time then. Tell me what size you wear in shirts and pants, then
we’ll work from there.” Jensen’s voice dropped a little and took on a quiet note. It was the same voice he used when he dealt with Avery’s frustrated temper.

Jason took a deep breath and let it out slowly, knowing he was letting his emotions get in the way of what needed to be done. “Yeah, sorry. It’s just overwhelming sometimes. I usually wear a large in shirts, but it’s because medium’s cut off the circulation in my arms. He’s underweight but he’s not going to be doing a lot of moving around and he’s going to start eating proper meals, so I’d say medium.”

Jensen walked Jason through the different items he needed sizes for until they got to the shoe issue. He suggested using Jason’s shoe to measure Steven’s foot, so he’d have some idea of range.

“Just put it up to his foot and take a picture, then send me one of his feet, so I can see if he needs a wide or regular.” Jensen explained.

Jared walked in and gave him an odd look, before heading to the bathroom to start the bath water.

“You’re not planning on doing this shopping by yourself, right?” Jason asked as it suddenly dawned on him that he’d given Jensen a whole lot of information and nothing to reign him in with.

“Yep, but I promise to do it sitting in bed right from my computer. You’ve heard of that new
thing where you can shop at home and never have to change out of your pajamas.” Jensen laughed, when Jason growled over the phone.

“Is there anything he likes to do? Puzzles, read, color?”

“Color?” Jason asked perplexed. “He’s nineteen years old.”

“I don’t mean with crayons Jason. I mean colored pencils and it’s a stress reliever for some people, just like puzzles, books, and movies. Not to mention if he’s never had anything he may not even know what he likes.” Jensen told him patiently.

“Oh. Umm I honestly don’t know he’s been in and out of sleep so much for most of it that I really don’t know. I’m not even sure if he can read, or if he can at what level.”

“Okay, well we have to make an appointment with a tutor for the kids, we don’t know where they’re at either before they can get set back up in school. I’ll just make sure whomever we choose can take care of working with Steven.”

“Jensen, seriously you don’t need to do that. You and Jared are doing plenty just by letting him recover there.”

“Jason, we already have to have the tutor come in, just like the kids will be seeing a therapist as soon as we settle on one. I’m assuming that Steven is going to need to see one as well?”

“Well yeah, he’s going to have physical therapy too, but I kind of wanted to get him settled before throwing that at him.”

“I understand that, but maybe once he settles in and gets to know the kids then he may find it easier so go with them to start with instead of having to go by himself.”

Jason thought about it for a few minutes, before nodding his head forgetting that Jensen couldn’t see him.

“Jason?”

“Oh sorry, I was thinking it through. It might not be a bad plan, but he has an aversion to women.”

“Rightfully so, from what I hear. Okay, I think I have enough information to get started, I may call you back if I think of anything else. Do you know when they’re going to release him?”

“No but I might know tomorrow. I’ll call you or Jared and tell you as soon as I find out.” Jason promised.

Jensen hung up, looking over his list while he chewed on the end of the pen. Making notations as things came to him.

“Feet?” Jared asked, pushing off the doorframe, moving to Jensen’s side of the bed. “You develop a fetish that I don’t know about?”

Jensen snorted and rolled his eyes. “For shoes Jared.”

“Ahhh.” Jared reached out and pulled the pen out of Jensen’s mouth and the notepad out of his hands laying them on the table. He reached his hands out so that his husband could use them as leverage to wiggle his way off the bed.

“I’m going to get you settled in the bath and then I’m going to go read the kids a story. If you get out before I’m done be careful.”

Jensen slid into the warm water and sighed, while his husband set the tray across the tub and secured the sides. Jared leaned down and kissed the top of his head before he put Jensen’s phone on the tray, a bottle of water and washcloth before leaving to take care of the kids.

***********

Jason walked back into the room surprised to see Steven still awake. “Hey, how are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.” Steven answered quietly. “Was that your work?”

“No, it was one of my friends. I met him and his husband a couple of years ago.” Jason answered, taking a seat in the chair next to the bed. “I need to talk to you about some things.”

Steven tried to shift into a more upright position, grateful when Jason stood and helped him by surrounding him with pillows so he wouldn’t lean to one side or the other.

Once Steven was settled, Jason took his seat again, so he’d be able to watch the boy's face to see how uncomfortable he’d be with the plan.

“Alex said he thought you were working on something for when the doctors let me leave. Is this why you had to go run errands?” Steven asked.

“Part of it, I really did need to do laundry and clean out my fridge. I’ll have to go by the house again before you get out, so whenever Alex is free to come by, I’ll do it then. You don’t mind Alex sitting with you, do you?”

“No, it was a little scary at first, but we talked a little bit, so it wasn’t as bad then.”

“Okay, so the plan is, when the doctor’s release you, we’re going to go and hang out at Jensen and Jared’s house. They have a big place and a bedroom on the ground floor unlike my apartment that has a split level and wouldn’t work with a wheelchair or crutches.”

“You’re going to come too?” Steven asked his good hand fisting in the blankets.

“Yep, because I’m going to be helping Jensen at the same time.”

“How?”

“Well Jared and Jensen both have businesses they run, so they’re busy. They also have Avery who is three and they just took in two kids, that rumor has it they’re planning on adopting. Xavier is seven and Brayden is eleven. On top of all that craziness, Jensen is pregnant with twins, and he doesn’t know when to slow down.” Jason explained and waited for Steven to assimilate the new information he’d been given.

“Boys can get pregnant?” Steven asked wide eyed.

“It’s not as often as women do, but yeah they can.”

“Are there any girls at the house?” Steven bit his lip and dropped his eyes away from Jason’s.

“Avery and Brayden are both girls, but I thought maybe it wouldn’t bother you too much since they’re just kids. They won’t hurt you Steven I promise, and I’ll be there too.”

“Okay.” Steven’s voice wavered but he looked back up at Jason and nodded. “I might scare them.” He glanced down at the bruises still littering his body.

Jason clenched his teeth at the anger that seethed under his skin as he took in the deep bruising, literally everywhere. The bruises so deep that they were still dark as if they’d just been put there, they hadn’t even started turning the green and lighter purple hues that came with healing. Still a mass of ugly black and deep dark purple that made him wish he could do the same to the person that had put them on the kid throughout his nineteen years of life.

“No, you won’t. Jensen and Jared do a lot of volunteer work and Avery has seen people healing at many different stages. Brayden and Xavier may be a little shy at first, they don’t know very many people here either, but they won’t be scared of you.”

Steven thought back over the things Jason had told him and his brow furrowed. “What do you mean your friend doesn’t know how to slow down? Is he running somewhere?”

Jason laughed. “You’d think his pants were on fire sometimes because he can’t seem to sit still and let other people help him. Jared calls him a fixer; Jensen will run himself to death trying to do everything himself instead of letting his friends help him.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s stubborn,” Jason sighed, explaining the reasons Jensen didn’t want to hire anyone.

“So how are you going to help?”

“Well, I can cook, for one thing, and babysit. I’m also going to be around to try and put the brakes on Jensen’s enthusiasm. While male pregnancy isn’t rare, it’s still classified as high risk, and Jensen had to be put on bed rest for a month with Avery.”

Steven paled a little bit. “So, because there’s two, he may have to do that again?”

“Oh, we’re all betting on it. Jared knows this too, and he’s hedging his bets with me there that nothing catastrophic will happen, and he won’t have to worry quite so much.

“Isn’t that kind of sneaky?” Steven asked, biting his lip again in worry.

“A little bit, but once you have a chance to meet Jensen you’ll understand. Sneaky is sometimes the only way to help, you can’t really go through him, you have to figure out how to go around him to accomplish the same goal.”

They talked for a little longer before Steven started yawning. Jason dropped his bed back down to a semi reclining position and helped the kid get comfortable. It didn’t take too long after that for Steven to drop off to sleep and Jason wasn’t too far behind him.

******

Jared walked into the bedroom stripping out of his shirt and headed to the bathroom to take a quick
shower. All the kids were down for the night, the dogs had been dealt with and Jensen was tucked safely in bed. He sighed as the hot water hit his neck and shoulders, and he dropped his head against the wall, trying to keep from dozing off where he was standing.

“You’re going to turn into a prune.” Jensen’s voice made him jump and he looked over to where his husband was standing by the shower arms crossed and brow furrowed.

“Better a prune than a raisin.”

Jensen wrinkled his nose and scowled at him. “Come to bed, so we can talk a few minutes before we both fall asleep like old people.”

Jared grinned and shuffled out of the shower, drying quickly so he could climb into bed with his husband.

“So, what did you and Jason talk about besides feet?” Jared sighed as he sank into the mattress, wrapping his arm around Jensen and dragging him closer.

Jensen hummed, snuggling into the warmth of Jared’s body. “You smell good.”

“Don’t get sidetracked, you know neither one of us has the energy to follow through tonight.” Jared scolded softly, letting Jensen’s soft hair slide between his fingers.

“I asked him what size he thought Steven was wearing, and what kinds of things he might like to do while he got better.”

“And?” Jared asked, burying his nose in the nape of Jensen’s neck.

“I think we have the sizes figured out; I’m going to go with my gut on things a nineteen-year-old kid that’s never been allowed anything might like.” Jensen’s voice was thick with emotion.

“Are we going to be adopting this one too?” Jared asked, trying to pull his husband back to the here and
now and not some basement dungeon that the kid had survived.

“I think that boat has sailed.” Jensen answered and Jared could hear the smile in it.

“But you really, really want to.” Jared teased.

“Maybe if he was younger.” Jensen acknowledged. “I’ll be happy if we can help to get him standing on his own and know that he’s not going to be hurt by anyone who's here to help him do that.”

“I don’t think anyone would survive hurting him now honestly. Jason was strangely intense when he stopped by the office to talk to me.”

“He seemed a little lost tonight. Like he’d gotten over the major hurdle of where to put Steven while he healed but hadn’t quite thought about the minute details.”

“I hope you’re not planning on going out tomorrow shopping.”

“Nope, I know I overdid it today. I’m going to be flexing my fingers on the web tomorrow.”

“Oh goodie.” Jared grumbled, but there was no heat behind it.

“It’s like the kids all over again. He’s got nothing, literally nothing but whatever scrubs they send him home in.” Jensen fussed quietly.

“Jason can get him something that will work with his casts to get him here. By then I’m sure you’ll have the closet and dresser fully stocked with anything he could possibly need.” Jared mumbled, scooting a little closer to Jensen and kissed the back of his neck.

Jensen shivered, but he was so tired he didn’t think he’d be able to stay awake if Jared was giving him a lap dance. He fell asleep between one breath and the next with a smile tugging at his lips.