It took several moments for Chris to get his mind and blush under control. He couldn’t stop trying to figure out if Jared actually was flirting or if Chris was just imagining the double meaning and misinterpreted Jared’s teasing. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had no time or available space in his mind to stress over something so trivial. His only priority was his angel.
Chris grabbed Jared’s shirt from the back of the chair where he had left it before he helped Thalia and quickly tugged it on as he went after the two. He found them in the kitchen. Thalia was seated on Jared’s lap as the cop fed her forkfuls of scrambled egg. It was a sight that Chris wasn’t sure how to feel about so he ignored the jump in his heart and the buzzing in his stomach.
Jared looked up and nodded to one of the glasses of water, “Drink up.”
“Thank you,” Chris mumbled as he grabbed the glass. He hadn’t realized how parched he was until the first of the cool drink passed his lips and wet his throat. He chugged down the glass and looked to Jared, silently asking if he could get more.
Jared chuckled, “You don’t need to ask.”
Chris nodded and shuffled to the sink and filled his glass, this time drinking slower as he felt Jared’s gaze on him. When he finished, he set the glass in the sink next to the other one and his and Jared’s plates.
“Daddy,” Thalia called to him. “Jaywed make food good!”
Chris smiled but raised a brow, “I know you can say that properly, princess.”
Thalia pouted but reiterated with a concentrated frown, “Jaywed made good food. Ish yummy. Taste!”
Chris walked over to the two, not reminding Thalia that he had already eaten. His smile faltered when he saw that Thalia wasn’t the only one holding the fork of egg. Thalia had her much smaller hand placed over Jared’s. Jared was looking up at him blankly.
“I promise is-it’s yummy,” Thalia said when Chris didn’t move.
Chris bent down shakily and kept his eyes from looking at Jared’s face as he opened his mouth and wrapped his lips around the fork, pulling back and quickly standing up straight as he chewed. Jared hadn’t stopped staring at him.
“Y-yeah, it’s really good,” Chris stuttered once he swallowed the egg and his heart.
Thalia beamed, completely oblivious to the growing tension. Or maybe Chris was the only one feeling the pressure. Jared simply went on feeding Thalia until she cleared her plate.
“Thalia, why don’t you go into the living room and watch some TV for a bit?” Jared said as he set Thalia on her feet.
Thalia frowned before biting her lip and looking down at her shifting feet. “I dunno how use TV.”
“I’ll help you then. What do you like to watch?” Jared got up and grabbed Thalia’s hand, leading the way out of the kitchen to the main room. Chris followed behind slowly.
Jared grabbed a remote from the coffee table as Thalia sat down on the couch and shook her head, “Never watch.”
Jared turned around and raised a brow to Chris but didn’t comment. Instead he turned on the TV with a push of a button and pressed some more buttons until the woman in a suit reading from some papers switched out into a cartoon where one of the characters had an orange tuft of hair and a triangular head.
“This should be okay for you. Sit tight while your daddy and I talk for a bit, okay? After that, we’ll head out to go shopping,” Jared told Thalia before he set the remote back down on the coffee table and crooked a finger to Chris to follow him into the room on the opposite side of where Chris and Thalia had spent the night.
Jared opened the door for Chris and made him enter first. It was Jared’s bedroom. Although larger than the guestroom Chris had spent the night in, Jared’s room was practically empty. It only contained the largest bed Chris had ever seen pressed up against the opposing wall framed by a side table on either side. To the left were two doors, Chris presumed the bathroom and closet. But that was it.
“I don’t spend a lot of time holed up in my room,” Jared explained as he closed the door behind them. The lock clicked and Chris’ heart froze.
Chris jumped when a large, warm hand landed on his upper back and slight pressure pushed him towards the bed. He managed to move his feet to avoid falling face first.
The hand left Chris’ back when they were stood right in front of the foot of the bed. Jared took a seat, turning his body so one leg was on the floor while the other was bent under him so he could face Chris.
“Take a seat,” Jared ordered. Chris obeyed after a second of hesitation. His legs were pressed together, spine hunched, hands clasped tightly on his lap, and head bent down.
Chris could feel Jared’s stare but he couldn’t bring himself to open his mouth. He felt like he was about to cry and nothing had happened yet.
Jared sighed, “Ease up, Chris. I’m not going to bite your arm off. Let’s start off simple. What’s your full name?”
Chris could do that. He took a deep breath and tried to relax his nerves. He didn’t manage to, but forced his mouth open and words to come out. “Christopher Lennon. I don’t have a middle name.”
“Do you know anything about your parents, family?” Jared asked next.
Chris shook his head, “I’ve been orphaned since birth. I don’t have any idea about my parents or any other family. Thalia’s the only family I have.”
“What about Thalia’s mother?”
It was a simple question but Chris froze. He knew Jared would ask about who birthed Thalia, but Chris was still completely unprepared.
When Chris remained silent, Jared asked, “Is Thalia your daughter?”
Chris’s head snapped up, eyes blazing in rage, “Of course she is! She’s my flesh and blood. She’s my baby.”
Jared held his hands up in defense, “I was just asking, Chris. She looks just like you but I was double-checking. I need to get as much accurate information as I can about you two.”
Chris tried to take control breaths but each inhale was choked and each exhale was shaky.
“Why can’t you tell me about Thalia’s mother?” Jared asked gently. “What happened to you?”
Repressed memories bubbled up in Chris’ mind, bringing with them the feeling of nausea and spiders crawling along his skin. His mind pulled him deep into memories he had vague recollections of, memories he wanted to completely forget. Hands, voices, heat, air, skin, liquid, fabric, light, darkness.
Chris found himself pressed into a firm, warm surface that pounded rhythmically and moved in and out evenly. As he slowly came to his senses, he realized that he was shaking violently. A large hand rubbed his back in circles, spreading warmth into his body. Chris blinked and took a shuddering breath. His mind told himself to pull away but his body had other ideas and sagged into what he realized was a chest. Jared’s chest, but Chris didn’t care.
As Jared’s hands smoothed up Chris’ back and Chris breathed in the woodsy, clean smell of Jared, he broke down into tortured sobs.