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Room Enough To Love

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It had been two weeks and Jared was positive that Jensen had made more lists in that time than he’d made in his whole lifetime. He had lists for the kids, lists for the building projects, lists for work and lists for his lists. He’d figured if that helped his husband feel in control then he’d keep his mouth shut and let Jensen happily make all the lists he wanted. It was just unusual since Jensen, up to this point, had pretty much been the king of winging it and random. He’d always blamed it on his artistic brain, Jared had always blamed it on his total lack of wanting to be constrained by the real world.

Either way Jared would sit down with him each night and they’d check off the things that had been accomplished and add any new items that needed to be addressed. He smiled thinking about his husband bent over the notebook he kept his lists in mumbling to himself as he added another number and the small smile each time, he was able to mark something off.

Jensen had a doctor’s appointment in a couple of days, and they were debating taking the kids since it would be a sonogram visit as well. Avery had been wearing them out about seeing the babies. Brayden seemed nervously interested and worried, while Xavier was caught between being excited and concerned about getting a shot.

They explained it was an appointment for Jensen only and he didn’t need to be worried about getting a shot from anyone. Jared noticed Brayden had been quiet throughout their explanation to Xavier and had disappeared shortly after. Jensen started to get up from the couch, but Jared waved him back and went in search of the missing girl.

He found her in the library with a book in her hands, but she was staring off into space worry painted across her face. Jared had a feeling he knew what the problem was; he just needed her to tell him so he could make it better. He took a seat in the chair across from her and settled back waiting until she relaxed a little before he broke the silence.

“Brayden, are you okay?”

“Yes sir.” She answered, never looking up from her hands.

“All right, let me rephrase that. Will you tell me what’s bothering you?” Jared asked, waiting patiently for however long it would take for the little girl to tell him.

 

It took thirty minutes, and he could see her struggling to find the right words several times before she finally sighed and asked. “Once the babies come, there really won’t be room for me and Xavier. Will we have to find somewhere else?”

Jared leaned forward in his chair and waited for her to look at him. “As far as me and Jensen are concerned you and Xavier never have to leave. The babies didn’t change anything when we found you and it’s not going to change anything when they’re born.”

Brayden had relaxed a little but still seemed to have something on her mind.

“Is there anything else you’re worried about?” Jared asked, when it didn’t seem like the little girl was going to ask any more questions.

 

“Where’s everyone going to stay? Won’t you run out of rooms for everybody? I mean me and Xavier can share it’s not a problem.” She rushed to add.

“Everyone will have their own space; you don’t have to share. I know you’re more comfortable with Xavier being close to you right now, but I’d imagine you’ll want some privacy at some point. We’ve been talking about building onto the house ever since we found out that we were having twins. There will be several more rooms added so that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about, okay.”

Brayden appeared a little shocked by the news even though she’d heard them talk about expanding, but she apparently hadn’t understood why. “Okay.” She exhaled a long breath and gave Jared a small smile.

“Do you feel a little better now?” Jared asked, standing and stretching to work the kinks out of his back from sitting still so long.

“Yes, thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.” Jared smiled and ran a hand over the top of her head as he walked past. He figured she’d need a few minutes to herself.

When he walked back into the living room, Xavier and Avery were brushing the dogs. Jensen looked up with a worried expression on his face.

“Everything is just fine.” Jared answered the unspoken question, leaning down to kiss the top of his husband's head as he walked by. “Who wants popcorn?”

The kids clambered to their feet yelling “I do!” and ran to help him find the popcorn bowl.

******

 

Chad was waiting for him the next morning in his office and didn’t appear to be prepared to budge until he got some answers. They had been crossing paths in the last several weeks in their attempts to get as much done as possible before the babies came.

“So how are things going?” Chad asked, as Jared collapsed into his chair.

“They’re actually going well, the kids are getting along, and Jensen is trying to behave.”

“Then why do you look like you could sleep for a week and still need a day at the spa?”

Jared grinned, “Would you like the abridged version or the entire list?”

Chad sat back and got comfortable, he’d made sure everyone was on task before he’d sat down and waited for his friend to get there.

 

“Entire list it is,” Jared chuckled. “We’ve got several classes we have to take to fulfill the foster care requirements. We've been looking for a tutor for both the kids to get them caught up after we have testing done to see how far behind they are. We’re fielding calls from the kid’s social worker and the lawyer that we’ve hired to take care of the paperwork and hopeful adoption when we get to that step. Alona is trying to finalize a property purchase next door to ours and then we’ll be expanding the house to add several more rooms and developing the property with several agendas in mind. That’s what we have going on at home.”

Chad stared at him a minute with his mouth hanging open before Jared continued. “Here we have two movies in production and three in pre-production and one in post-production. Two of the ones in pre-production still need major rolls filled and the one in production should wrap up about the time you’ll be gone for daddy leave. “

“Damn! Is there anything I can help you do besides keep the list at work rolling?” Chad asked.

“Not really, just keep us on track here. Jensen has like four lists going for all the stuff at home. We’ve got to find someone that can watch the kids though when we both need to be out. Avery can go to daycare, and if Xavier and Brayden were in school it wouldn’t be an issue, but they aren’t ready for that. Jensen has been checking in at the studio and Natalie has been running everything from that end, as well as, covering his classes at the center, but you know he’s not going to let that ride long because he feels like he’s not pulling his weight.”

“Well, that’s just ridiculous!” Chad leaned back into his seat scowling.

“Yes, we all know that, but he’s stubborn.”

“I guess it’s a good thing Sophia is probably on her way there right now then.”

Jared frowned. “He didn’t say anything about her coming today. I wonder if he forgot?”

Chad grinned. “Nope, Jensen doesn’t know. She decided she wasn’t going to tell him and give him a reason to stress more or talk her out of it.”

“He’ll be glad to see her, but he’s going to be pissed that no one told him. You know he’s nearly as manic about her taking care of herself as you are.”

“Dude! I’m not manic, you’re the one that’s manic!” Chad stated vehemently.

“Okay so we’re both a little overprotective.” Jared agreed. “Let’s go get some work done, maybe we won’t be here till midnight.”

******

Stephen was still sleeping more often than not. He would wake up long enough to eat and answer the nurse’s questions before he dozed off again. The doctors didn’t seem overly concerned and explained to Jason that the body was doing what it needed to do in order to heal. It was also probably a defense mechanism due to the abuse the kid had suffered. He had shut down out of self-preservation, even if he was in a safe place, Steven just had never had any real experience with that.

Jason was in the process of coming up with a plan for Stephen’s release, which the doctor said would be in a few days. He’d noticed that Steven did not do well when women were around. The first few times he woke up with a nurse in the room he’d shrunk back, and his heart monitor would increase and several times it had alerted as his heart rate shot up.

The nurses had started making sure he was awake and would explain everything they were doing as they went about their work. If there was a male nurse on the floor for a shift, then he was assigned to Steven’s area to try and keep the kid’s stress down.

Jason had already taken leave from work; he had a ton of time saved since he never really took vacation. Outside of going home on occasion to visit his mom and sisters he didn’t really use his time. He knew that the center was probably not going to be an option for Steven since he didn’t do well being around females. He’d been mulling over an idea, but he wasn’t sure if it was a viable option. Jason sighed, all he could do was ask and if it didn’t work out, he’d go another route. Alex was going to stop by and stay with Steven while he left to take care of his errand.

He waited until the nurse had left after checking on Steven’s IV and notating his vitals. They’d talked a little during the last couple of weeks, but it typically revolved around whatever was on TV. Jason realized Steven was completely ignorant of any pop culture references that any other person his age would know about even in passing. He didn’t know why it surprised him, he knew the kid had been kept in a basement or locked inside a room with no interaction other than his abuser. Jason absolutely refused to call that woman his mother and had to consciously unclench his jaw every time he even thought about her.

Jason cleared his throat, waiting for Steven to focus on him. “I’m going to have to go run some errands, and it’s going to take me at least a couple of hours. I’ve called Alex and he’s going to come by and keep you company while I’m gone. Okay?”

He could see Steven’s whole body stiffen and his hands had started shaking against the blankets that covered his good leg. Jason really wanted to tell the kid never mind and that he’d stay, but he had to go by his house and wash some clothes and he needed to find out if he was going to have a place to take Steven when he got out of the hospital. His apartment, while nice, was not built for a person with broken bones in mind.

“Hey, I’m just going to run home and wash some clothes and then I have to make some arrangements. Alex is a great guy; I work with him. I wouldn’t ask him to come sit with you if I didn’t trust him.” Jason reassured as he stood and moved closer to the bed. He waited patiently for Steven to start to relax, relieved when the boy’s hands unclenched, and he sunk back against the pillows.

“Will you be here when he gets here?” Steven asked quietly.

“I won’t leave until you’re comfortable with him. Okay?”

Steven nodded before glancing away and mumbling. “Sorry.”

Jason reached out gently placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder and squeezing gently. “There’s nothing to be sorry for. Maybe you can get him to talk some, he doesn’t do a lot of that since I’ve known him.”

Steven looked a little curious despite his reluctance. “Why?”

“None of us really knows why. I imagine it has to do with his time in the service.” Jason confided his thoughts on the matter.

“Okay.”

******

Jensen had just finished asking the kids what they wanted for lunch when he heard the security gate alarm beep letting him know someone with a code was coming down the drive. He frowned trying to figure out who it could be. Martino wasn’t due until tomorrow, and Cassandra wouldn’t be there for another couple of days. He knew it wasn’t Jared, he’d been working longer hours than normal and none of his friends had said anything about stopping in.

He shrugged and started pulling out the makings for grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids and ham and cheese for him while he waited for whoever it was to make it up to the house. When they knocked on the garage door he was surprised to see Sophia standing there with a goodie basket.

“Hey! What are you doing here?” Jensen asked leaning down to kiss her on the cheek before taking the basket from her so she could take off her coat.

“I figured I’d given you enough time to settle into the new routine of three kids and I’ve missed you. Plus, I wanted to get a leg up on Chad and buy my way into their good graces with goodies.” She smiled, hip checking him at the counter so he’d move over, and she could help. “What are we making?”

“Grilled cheese for the kids, and whatever meat product and cheese we want,” he answered, reaching into the fridge to grab the turkey, lettuce and tomatoes.

Sophia hummed and grabbed the mustard and mayonnaise. “So where are the kids?”

“Upstairs causing chaos, with the help of the dogs I’m sure, since they aren’t down here trying to lick you to death.”

“How are things going? Chad said the introductions went well.”

“Yeah, it’s been fairly anticlimactic in that respect. I took them all shopping, and they saw Lindsey at the center. They’ll be going to the same ones Avery goes to from now on, but I wanted them checked out as soon as possible so I didn’t want to wait for an appointment.”

“Anything bad show up at the doctors? I know Chad said they were underweight, but not too bad.” Sophia pulled two large skillets out and set the heat on low.

“No not so far, there’s been no signs anything horrific happened and Avery said as much. I want to get them into a therapist, just to make sure and because I think it’ll help them deal with their parent’s death and their time on their own.”

Sophia nodded as she added the sandwiches to the pan and turned around to study him. “You look tired. Are you getting enough sleep?”

“I’m pregnant with twins, of course I’m not getting enough sleep, there’s no such thing as enough sleep.”

Sophia giggled. “Yeah, I know, but you haven’t been napping either have you?”

“No.” Jensen sighed. “I trust Brayden to keep them both out of trouble if I fall asleep on the couch, but she shouldn’t have too. She’s a kid too and she deserves to be one.” Jensen answered as he worked on cutting the tomatoes and separating the lettuce to make their sandwiches.

“Are you going to make soup?” Sophia asked, checking the cabinets. “I should have thought to bring some.”

“We have some leftover potato soup, but I doubt the kids want that. I’ll throw some chicken noodle and vegetable beef in the microwave.”

Sophia scowled, but nodded and didn’t comment.

“You’re such a food snob.” Jensen laughed when he caught the scowl.

She shrugged and grabbed several bags of chips and set them on the table, before flipping the sandwiches. “So, what can I help you with?”

“You’re helping me with lunch?” Jensen reminded her, grinning when Sophia gave him the glare of death.

“You know exactly what I mean?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. I have so many lists going right now just to keep my head on straight that sometimes I feel like I’m spinning. Besides you have enough going on with the shop and the pregnancy. You don’t need to add my insanity to your stress levels either.

“Well, we’ll take a look at them after lunch.” Sophia stated, ignoring the stubborn expression on Jensen’s face.

Before he could argue the sound of kids stomping down the stairs interrupted. “Slow down!” Jensen called, raising his voice to be heard over the noise.

The descent slowed, but not by much. It didn’t take but a few seconds for everything to ground to a halt when faced with unexpected company.

“SOPHIA!!!” Avery screeched. Flinging herself forward as the dogs started barking.
Sophia had pulled the sandwiches off the heat and turned around, so she’d be prepared for the invasion of mini people. Avery did not disappoint; she was always boisterous when any of her favorite people showed up. There were times she didn’t know if she’d get her husband back when they started rough housing. She stooped down and caught the little girl in a hug, smooching all over her face just to hear her giggle.

When she looked up, she saw the little girl and boy hovering by the door watching the reunion. She kissed the little girl on the forehead and stood up moving closer to where the other two children were hanging back. She squatted down in front of them and stuck her hand out. “Hey, my name is Sophia, and I’m friends with Jensen.”

The little boy glanced back at his sister before taking her hand and introducing himself. Brayden did the same as she smiled at both. She really just wanted to squish them to her and kiss their heads but knew they wouldn’t be comfortable with a display of affection from someone they just met. She stood up and brushed off her jeans.

“Are you having a baby too?” Xavier asked, looking at her stomach.

Sophia laughed. “Yes, I am.” She slid the sandwiches onto a plate while Jensen was pulling the soup out of the microwave.

The kids had all taken seats at the table and dug into the sandwiches once Sophia had cut them into halves as Jensen placed the bowls in front of each kid. “Blow on it before you put it in your mouth, it’s hot.” He warned.

“We’re going to see the babies soon.” Brayden offered quietly.

“It’s really cool.” Sophia told her. “Although sometimes it’s hard to tell what you’re looking at.”

“Why?” Xavier asked, crunching on a chip.

“Because they’re so small, and they’re all scrunched up inside. Sometimes the pictures aren’t very clear either.”

“How come?” Brayden asked.

“Well, think about it as taking a picture of an orange through a pillowcase. You see the shape and know what it’s supposed to be, but it’s hard to make out because it’s not very clear.” Jensen explained.

“Weird.” Xavier said.

“I agree.” Sophia responded laughing.

They spent the rest of the afternoon herding kids between different projects to keep them entertained and going through Jensen’s lists even though he tried to redirect Sophia’s attention.

******

Alex showed up around ten, knocking gently on the door before pushing it open to find Jason watching the entrance for any threat. He relaxed when he realized who it was and glanced over at Steven who had just started stirring from another nap.

“Come on in, I’ll introduce you once he’s up and coherent.” Jason gestured to the other chair.

“Is he going to be okay with me staying?” Alex asked, watching the kid shift to a more comfortable position, still not quite awake.

“Yeah, I think so. I told him you’d be coming to sit while I ran out for a little bit. He’s nervous, but I think he’ll be fine.”

“So exactly what are you going to be doing, besides taking a shower and washing clothes.” Alex sniffed dramatically. “Because I can tell you’ve been showering somewhere even if it does smell like iodine, and you’ve been shaving. I know Derek has been doing clothes drop offs, but I imagine even, you run out of clothes, I’ll give you the washing.”

Jason smiled and leaned back; it was always fun working with the guys in their group because everyone got called on their bullshit. “I’m working on somewhere to take Steven when they release him.”

“Why not the center? That’s what they’re there for and we’re pretty positive she’s not going to show up there.” Alex asked, referencing Steven’s mother without giving the bitch a moniker she didn’t deserve.

“Yeah, I know, but I don’t think he’d be comfortable there right now.” Jason glanced back over at the bed, and the boys’ vitals before continuing. “He doesn’t do well with women; he’d probably be having a full-blown panic attack if he weren’t still on the happy juice.”

Alex winced and nodded. Hell, he got it, that’s why he’d tried to find a place that was interesting to work for and something he’d be good at without triggering his own demons.

“So how much time are you taking off?”

“Don’t know yet, I’ve got about 3 months carried over, so.” Jason shrugged.

Alex looked over at the kid in the bed and then back at Jason, who was still concentrating all his focus on Steven as he woke up. “You plan on using it all, because you’ve told us what happens when you don’t go home often enough.”

Jason huffed. “Well, they’ll just have to come visit me this time if I don’t have any left.”

Alex raised an eyebrow at that, but didn’t offer anything else. He wondered sometimes how he had gotten lucky enough to fall into the group of people that now took up space in his universe.
Jason finally left thirty minutes later once he was sure Steven was comfortable both physically and with Alex.

Alex didn’t really know how they were going to pass the time. Jason had told him Steven hadn’t really had any access to the outside world, so he wasn’t sure what to talk to him about. He wasn’t even sure the kid could read, the only reason they could come up with the boy had an ID was for whatever services his mom had leached out of the system for him.

He’d had his laptop open for a few minutes, but hadn’t started working on anything yet. Still trying to decide if he wanted to try and engage Steven in conversation. Jason said he’d kept the conversation light, not asking questions that would get the boy agitated, so he didn’t have anything of substance really to help give Alex a direction.

“Is that for your work?”

Alex looked up at Steven and saw he was pointing at the laptop.”

“Well, it’s for work and home actually. You can use it for both unless your company has a dedicated one for work. Ours are encrypted though so we can use it anytime.”

“What is it, you do, exactly?”

Alex wasn’t really sure what Jason had told him, but he’d assumed it wasn’t very detailed as the kid kept dozing off during most conversations according to his friend.

“We work for a private security agency. It does all kinds of things really, but Jason and I are assigned to the security detail that works for First Steps.”

“What’s that?” Steven asked shifting higher up in the bed and trying to get comfortable.

Alex thought about how to describe the center, it wasn’t like the typical institutionalized facility that states ran. Chris and Steve had worked hard to make it a home, even if it was a shared home.
“It’s a huge house that has several different wings for groups of people that have been abused, neglected or just need help. They have counselors and classes to help people work out how they feel, and how they’ve come to be there. The classes are for life skills that everyone needs to make a better life for themselves and their family.”

Steven thought about it for a little while. “Why do they need security? Are they mean sometimes?”

Alex sighed, “No, they’re not mean. People sometimes get upset when they’re talking about things that happened to them, but that’s what the counselors are for. The security detail is to keep everyone in the house safe. Sometimes when a person leaves a bad situation, sort of like yours, the other person isn’t happy, and they try to get the person that left back or hurt them more. We keep that from happening.”

Steven’s face paled, and he swallowed hard. “Would my mom try to get me back? Do I have to go?” He asked barley above a whisper.

“I honestly don’t know what she’s capable of doing, that’s why Jason didn’t want to leave you alone. To answer your other question, no you don’t have to ever go with her again. Your nineteen years old and can make your own decisions.”

“But I’ve got nowhere to go?” Steven mumbled.

“I think that’s what Jason is working on while he’s gone.” Alex confided. “I don’t think he wanted to get your hopes up until he had some plan in place. Jason likes to be prepared, well all of us do really, but Jason is all about not leaving anything to chance.”

Steven’s eyes widened at having a safe place to go to. He nodded his head and glanced out the window. He’d wanted to ask Jason, but he’d been afraid of the answer. Talking to someone that was different helped loosen the questions that had been clogging his throat for the past week.

He glanced back over at the man sitting patiently in the chair waiting to see if he had any more. Jason had said he didn’t talk much, but he had today. Maybe Jason meant he didn’t talk about himself. He’d noticed that there was an air of sadness around Alex when he woke up and saw him and Jason talking. Steven hadn’t missed the way the man would stretch his leg out and massage his knee either. He knew what it was like to have his bones ache and he wondered what had happened but didn’t think he’d get an answer to a direct question.

“Do you like it?” Steven asked.

“Like what?”

“Working security at the center?”

“Yeah, I really do. I wasn’t sure I would, it's different from what I used to do. But I like the people I work with, and it makes me feel good to know that the people at the center are safe.”

“What did you do before?”

Alex cringed a little. He really didn’t want to talk about his time in the military, it’s not that he didn’t enjoy it or find it rewarding, but the reason he was no longer in the military was not something he wanted to get into right now or ever. He glanced over at the kid who was looking like he might try to crawl under the bed from anxiety. Trust was a hard thing to give, and he could say with assurance that went for both of them.

“I was in the military.”

“Is that how you hurt your leg?”

“Yeah, I hurt it on my last tour overseas. I wasn’t going to be able to pass the physicals anymore and I’m really not cut out for desk work, so I got out.”

Steven nodded, he wanted to ask what happened, but he could tell Alex was uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going. He was caught by a yawn before he could say anything else. It didn’t take long for sleep to claim him again.

Alex relaxed when he realized Steven wasn’t going to ask for details. A few minutes later the kid had nodded off again.

******

Jason had gone straight to his apartment and started a load of clothes before jumping in the shower. By the time he was dressed and ready to leave the first load was done and he started a second. He grabbed his cell phone, wallet and keys and headed to his next destination.

Chad had just passed by the door to the reception area when he stopped and frowned, backing up until he could see the man standing at the desk talking to the receptionist.

“Jason?” Chad asked, walking out into the sitting area.

“Hey Chad.” Jason shook the hand that was offered.

“What are you doing here?”

“I hoped Jared was in and I could talk to him for a few minutes.”

Chad eyebrows shot up in surprise. “He’s in, not sure where he is at the moment. Come on back and you can wait in his office. I’ll track him down. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything is fine. I just need to run something by him.”

Chad nodded at the receptionist to let her know he’d take care of it and then made his way down the hall to the elevator.

Jason followed, glancing around at his surroundings, he’d never been to Jared and Chad’s studio, and it was interesting to see where they worked. Chad ushered him into the office, and he took a seat on the couch and accepted a bottle of water.

“Jared’s on his way. It’ll probably take him about fifteen minutes to get here, he’s on the other side of the complex at the sound stage.” Chad explained as soon as he got a response to his text. “I’ve got to go put out a fire at the prop department, so I’ll just leave you to it. “

“Sure, no problem. I’ll see you around.”

It in fact took Jared about twenty minutes to make it to the office, but Jason was fine with that. He’d texted Alex to see how things were going with Steven, relaxing a little when Alex replied that things were fine, and Steven was taking another nap. He used the rest of the time to organize his thoughts so he could do this presentation without stumbling through it. He wasn’t necessarily nervous per se, he had back up plans, but this was the best option he thought.

“Jason?” Jared asked when he walked in. “Everything okay?”

Jason stood and shook Jared’s hand, sitting back down as Jared took the seat across from him. “Yeah, everything’s good. How’s things going at the house?”

“Relatively smooth. The kids have been getting along, we have a ton of things to get in order to get Brayden and Xavier caught up and back on track for school, but we have a plan at least. Jensen’s morning sickness has eased off, but he wears out quicker now.”

“But the babies are fine?”

“Oh yeah, the doctor’s happy with the progress. We have an appointment in a couple of days. We’re going to take the kids with us because it’s an ultrasound appointment too and Avery has been chomping at the bit to see them. I don’t think she gets that they’re not going to look like her baby dolls.”

Jason grinned. “No, kids typically have no idea that babies look like some form of alien when you’re trying to see it through another body.”

“You have experience with this?” Jared asked curiously.

“I have three older sisters.”

“Ahh. That must have been fun.”

“It wasn’t too bad. I learned to listen, helps me now with the job. “

“So, what brings you all the way out here?”

“I have a proposition for you.” Jason sat back and got comfortable. “I’m pretty sure you’ve heard why I wasn’t able to be there the night Jensen caught up to the kids.”

“A little bit, they said you’d found a kid in the woods, in pretty bad shape I heard. “

“Yeah, it looked like he’d been ten rounds in a cage match with no training. It was bad, scared the shit out of all of us. He’s going to be released from the hospital in a few days, and the center is not really an option for him.”

“Why not? Is he a minor?”

“No, he’s nineteen, but the reason he was in that shape was his mother.”

“Well shit.” Jared ran his hand through his hair. “So why can’t he go to the center?”

“He doesn’t do well with women. If he weren’t on pain medicine that made him groggy, he’d probably have had panic attacks when the nurses came in. As it is, his heart rate increases, and his blood pressure shoots up. They try to keep the male nurses on his rotation, but that’s not always possible.”

“So, what exactly can I do to help?”

“I’d like to move him to your house. I know you’re probably crunched for space, but I can sleep on a couch or bring a cot and put it in his room. In exchange I can help with the kids, and make sure Jensen isn’t overdoing it. I’m also fairly proficient in the kitchen.”

Jared frowned as he thought about it. “You have experience with kids?”

“I have eight nieces and nephews.” Jason grinned. “I’ve watched them all at once on more than one occasion.”

“How did you pull that duty?”

“Mothers Day, I gave them all vouchers for a spa day. The other times it was for various functions I had no desire to attend.”

“Braver man than me.” Jared replied. “Do you think his mom will be looking for him?”

“I’m not going to lie; I honestly don’t know. I wouldn’t think so, not with the total disregard she gave the kid. If she wants to try and reclaim her punching bag she might.”
“How likely do you think she does?

“Personally, I feel she’s on the other side of the country by now. I’d be surprised if she even bothered to watch the news to see if his body was found.”

“So why are you hanging so close?” Jared asked what everyone had been wondering for the last three weeks.

“I’m not big on taking chances with someone else’s life. So, I’m erring on the side of caution.”

Jared thought there was more to it than that, but he let it go. He thought through the logistics of two more people in the house. The room downstairs had an en-suite bathroom, the room was also big enough to put a cot or a futon in for Jason to sleep on.

It would certainly ease the stress of him worrying everyday about Jensen overdoing it at home. As well as give Jensen someone to talk to if he wound up on bed rest with this pregnancy, which was a high probability with multiples, his history notwithstanding.

“How long do you anticipate his recovery taking?”

“Stevens got a leg and arm in a cast, and he’s still covered in bruises and cuts. He’s going to have to go to physical therapy for a few months.”

“Do you have that much leave time?”

“I have three months saved, but when he’s a little more mobile and can-do things for himself I can work the weekends when you’re home to keep an eye out on the kids. That way it should stretch until Jensen has the babies. I know you plan on taking time off then and I hope with some therapy and slowly introducing him to different situations and people he’ll be able to either function at the center or I’ll figure something out.”

“Do you think he’ll have a problem with the girls?”

“I don’t think so, they’re kids. I’m pretty sure he’ll know they don’t pose a threat to him. What about the kids? Did anything happen to them that would make them leery of people, especially men?
“It doesn’t appear so, we’ve got to get them into therapy, but they don’t shy away from touch, not that we’ve been overly touchy just in case. The doctor didn’t see any sign of it when she checked them over at least. They’re shy around strangers until they get comfortable, but I dare say that’s most kids.”

Jason nodded, happy that the kids hadn’t experienced any more trauma than they had. He waited while Jared contemplated his proposition.

“I’ll have to talk to Jensen about it, but it sounds like a win-win situation for all concerned. I’ll give you a call tomorrow as long as he doesn’t crash after supper.”

Jason stood and let out a relieved breath. “Not a problem. I’ll be at the hospital, so if I don’t answer right away just leave me a message. I’ll give you a call back as soon as I can.”

Jared showed Jason the way out, before heading back across the complex, mulling over the conversation. He was listing pros and cons in his head as he went so he could cover his bases once he talked to Jensen. Jared was under no illusion that when he heard about Steven he’d want to help. He was going to make it crystal clear that Jason was there to help and not be a guest, because Jensen didn’t think guests should do anything but enjoy their stay and Jared was not going to let him add more work to his plate.