Jared watched Chris run off with Thalia. The second the man and his daughter were out of sight, Jared slumped back in his chair with a groan. Why was it so hard to be objective? It really wasn’t fair, especially since Chris was absolutely beautiful. Jared had already known that Chris was attractive, but after seeing him freshly shaved and showered and swimming in Jared’s clothes, Jared’s wolf was more than a bit pleased with the sight. It didn’t help that Chris’ skin flushed easily or that he exuded an air of innocence despite his shoddy background that Jared was trying to piece together.
After he had carried Chris and Thalia out of the car and put them to bed in his guest room, he had gone to his office/library to do a bit of research. What he found was that the Christopher Lennon he picked up did not exist. Neither did Thalia Lennon.
Jared got up and went to quickly make a plate of food for Thalia as well as grab three glasses and filling them with water. He drank one glass and put it in the sink along with Chris’ plate and fork and put Thalia’s plate and the other two glasses on the table, placing a cover over Thalia’s eggs.
Jared walked out of the kitchen and went to the laundry room that was next to his bedroom. Inside, he had gone through Chris and Thalia’s backpack. The amount of belongings they had was depressing. Chris seemed to have no clothes other than the ones he had been wearing while Thalia had two other t-shirts, a pair of old jeans, and a flimsy jacket with a broken zipper. There was also a wristband that matched the one Thalia had been wearing, although green instead of red. It was old and fuzzy, one of those athletic wristbands made of cloth. There was also a notebook, some old pencils, scraps of used paper, and a box of matches with only four left, two of which were broken in uneven halves. The notebook both warmed and tugged at Jared’s heart. Chris had been doing his best to teach Thalia how to read and write. She was still a bit behind other children her age, but Jared was sure it had more to do with their living conditions than Thalia having any sort of disability.
Everything but the wristband and notebook were tossed. Jared had hung the backpack up on a hook and given the wristband a wash. It was mostly dry now so he grabbed it as well as the notebook and walked out of the laundry room, heading to the guest room where Chris and Thalia were.
Jared slowed to a stop as he entered the bedroom. The sound of the shower came from the slightly opened bathroom door, accompanying Thalia’s giggles and Chris’ attempts at calming the girl down long enough for him to help her shower.
“Thalia! Don’t put that in your mouth,” Chris scolded.
“But smell nice!” Thalia whined, making Jared shake his head with a smile.
“It smells nice,” Chris corrected. “But that doesn’t mean you can eat it. You’ll get sick. I’ll get you some food as soon as you finish showering. Can you wash your hair out while I clean your wristband?”
Thalia made an affirmative hum and Jared saw Chris move towards the sink through the small crack of the door.
“Where-Where’s green wrishband?”
“Is today a green day?” Chris asked.
“No. Jush wond-ring.”
“It’s probably in our bag,” Chris replied, although hesitantly. Jared moved from his position at the threshold of the bedroom and knocked on the bathroom door.
“Can I come in?” he asked, peeking through the crack.
Chris looked startled but nodded and Jared opened the door although despite asking, he didn’t step inside. His gaze fell on the two. Thalia was sitting on the floor of the shower stall, her hands in her hair, eyes closed as she washed out the shampoo, the bottle lying beside her. Chris had removed Jared’s shirt but the sweatpants had wet spots. He was leaning over the sink with Thalia’s red wristband under the water as he rubbed soap into it.
Jared forced his eyes away from Chris’ bare torso. He was getting meat on those bones if it was the last thing he did. He was going to fatten the both of them up. He was also going to find out about those injuries, even if most were faded and old.
“I went through your bag and tossed the old clothes and trash,” Jared informed. Chris opened his mouth, probably to argue, but Jared continued over him, “But I kept the notebook and wristband. We’ll go out and get you two whatever you need after Thalia eats and we have a long overdue chat.”
Chris nodded mutely and Thalia had her eyes opened and was staring at the two of them.
Jared held up the notebook and wristband, “I’ll leave these on the desk. Come back to the kitchen when you’re done.”
Jared turned to leave but Chris called out, “Wait!”
Jared halted and slowly turned around, eyes on Chris’ hand that had grabbed onto his upper arm. Chris flushed and quickly pulled his hand back, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Did you need something?” Jared asked when Chris didn’t say anything else.
“Oh, um, clothes,” Chris mumbled. “For Thalia. If you threw out the ones we had…”
“Oh, right. Sorry, I forgot that detail but don’t worry about it. I’ve got something that should fit her fine until we go shopping,” Jared smiled reassuringly and couldn’t hold back the urge to ruffle Chris’ hair. It was soft now, clean, and Jared could see streaks of a lighter brown running through the long, slightly wavy locks.
Chris remained bright red and Jared left the bedroom, heading to his own room on the other side of the house. He grinned when he heard Thalia ask Chris if he had eaten soap because he was so red.
Jared walked into his closet and pulled out the shopping bag he had gotten a week ago. Inside was a set of clothes for a toddler. It was meant for three year olds but Thalia was pretty small so they should fit fine. Jared would just have to go buy another present later.
He ripped the clothes out of the packaging, a pair of denim overalls, cotton trousers, and a red shirt. Hopefully Thalia would be fine going commando for a little while.
When Jared returned to the guest room, Chris was sitting on the edge of the bed as he towel dried Thalia. Thalia was squirming and Chris was grinning. He ruffled Thalia’s hair until it was an unruly mess, sticking out in every which way. Thalia was pouting.
“Jaywed! Daddy’s being meanie!” Thalia cried out when she saw Jared.
Jared raised a brow, “Really? Does daddy need to be punished?”
“What’s punished?” Thalia asked, tilting her head to the side as her face scrunched into confusion.
“It means he did something bad so he needs to scolded or taught a lesson,” Jared explained.
Thalia’s lips rounded into an ‘Oh’ and she nodded her head resolutely, “He being meanie.”
“And what did daddy do?” Jared asked, walking up to the two of them. He placed the clothes on the bed next to Chris who was biting his lip and refusing to look at Jared, a dark blush on his cheeks.
Thalia pointed to her hair in outrage, “Look!”
Jared nodded solemnly, “I see. Daddy’s been a bad boy, hasn’t he?”
“Yesh,” Thalia nodded firmly.
“What happens to bad boys?” Jared smirked down at Chris who was still not looking at him. If anyone was being mean, it was Jared in all honesty, even though he had no idea what he was doing. Well, he knew what, he just had no idea why.
Chris quickly got to his feet and wrapped the towel around Thalia tightly, preventing her from answering. “You’re going to get sick if you don’t put some clothes on,” he rushed. He hurriedly grabbed the clothes Jared had brought and worked them onto Thalia. The clothes fit her nicely, a little loose which was rather concerning, but fine as a temporary solution.
“How do you like it, sweetheart?” Jared asked.
“Ish so soft!” Thalia beamed. She sniffed the fabric and smiled up at Chris and Jared.
Chris urged, “What do you say, princess?” His face was still pleasantly flushed. Jared’s wolf loved the color and his effect on Chris.
Thalia looked up at Jared and grinned toothily, “Thank you very mush, Jaywed.”
Jared felt his heart warm as he knelt down and ruffled Thalia’s hair, “You’re very welcome, sweetheart. I’ll buy you some more clothes. All your choice.”
Thalia’s eyes widened, “Really?”
Jared nodded and stood up, grabbing hold of Thalia’s hand, “Yup. But first, let’s get some food in you.” He walked towards the door and turned his head over his shoulder to nod his head at Chris, saying, “C’mon,” before listening to Thalia tell him all about his bathroom on the way to the kitchen.