A Different Kind of Reputation

With thirty minutes and school work separating Talia and Jason apart from each other, they have to figure out ways to be the best they can be for their baby. From being the school bad boy back in high school, to being the football star daddy in college, Jason has to figure out ways to fit back in with the crowd and keep his reputation as a father. From being the school nerd to the scholar mommy, Natalia has to figure out ways to let loose and have fun while keeping her reputation as a mother. Find out what goes on in this crazy life of Jason and Natalia in the second book, A Different Kind of Reputation.

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5. Chapter Five

So, if you all remember when Jackson left for the Army, I had you listen to the song, Brothers, by Dean Brody. This is more or less the second part of that song. So, also, for this chapter, you can listen to Brothers or One Hell of An Amen by Brantley Gilbert

Jason's POV

"I came as fast as I could." I spoke, as I tried to catch my breath. Talia threw her arms around my neck, pulling me close to her body. Amber's shaky breaths could be heard from where I was standing across the room. "Did they say anything about what's going on?" 

After Addison called me saying Jackson was hurt, and in the hospital, I dropped everything. I was in conditioning when I got the call about him. Coach yelled at me for leaving practice, but luckily, Matt knew about what happened, since he heard the conversation. And because he answered my phone. So, Matt told coach what was going on. 

"No one came out yet." Jackson's dad, Phil said. Phil is just a little taller than I am, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. He came into Jackson's life when he was maybe, twelve, after his mom and dad got a divorce. Right after. Jackson's biological dad, Jackson, sat across from his ex-wife, Amanda. 

"You okay?" I looked down to Talia, whose arms held me tightly. She nodded, not saying any words. "Is Em not here?" 

"She's with the doctors. She got a job here, son." Phil replied, walking over to me. I took a deep breath and nodded. Seeing more of my best friend's family in this small, cramped room is not how I wanted to spend my weekday. I have homework and tests to study for, practice to go over, lifting. 

"Do you know what happened?" I asked, finally sitting down. Amber put her head in my chest, as Talia intertwined our fingers. I rested my arm on Amber's back, showing my support for her. I hate how she has to go through this, Talia, too, but more of Amber. She's never been through this before, no one in her family ever died, or even been in the hospital with anything major. 

"Come outside with me, Jason?" Amanda asked, standing up. I nodded, standing up. 

"I'll be right back." I said, kissing the top of Talia's head, and letting her hand go. I know this is hard on Talia, she and Jackson were like siblings, and now she has to sit in a hospital room, once again. It seems like everyone she's ever known has been in a hospital for bad reasons. Even her. 

"Jackson is going to have a really rough time over the next couple of weeks. He's gonna need a lot of help. He's gonna need his friends here for him, honey." Amanda said. 

"What happened out there?" 

"There was an explosion near his camp. Amber, poor girl, was on the phone with him when it happened. He just made it back to his camp and right outside by the fire they had... something triggered it. His whole camp is gone and his whole team is gone." 

"Jesus." 

"I don't know what condition he's in. His tent was further away. He was lucky enough to be inside the tent, where his team was outside starting the fire. Some lost limbs, some just went along with the camp. He was one of the lucky ones." 

"How are you holding up?" I asked. I'm worrying about everyone else in this room, but myself. If I worry about myself, I'll end up breaking down. I'm the man, I'm supposed to keep the girls happy, and I'm supposed to keep them hoping, and if I break down, their hope will go extremely low. 

"Worry about yourself for once, Jason. You need to take a break from worrying about everyone else in your life, and sit back and worry about how you're holding up. I see it in your eyes, you're hurting. You need to let it out." 

"You know me, Mrs. Grayson. I'm not one to 'let it out'"

"I know. Just like your mom was, but you need to. I'm here, Jason. I've known you your whole life. You can trust me, my husband, my daughter, Jackson's father. We know who you are." I nodded, and looked down. "Jason, I'm a Psychologist, I know when someone is hurting." 

I looked up, with tears blurring my vision. "Honey." She sighed, pulling me into her. I dipped my head down to her shoulder, let my hands fall to her back, and squeezed tightly. "It'll be alright." She whispered, rubbing my back up and down.

+++

Natalia's POV

"Wow, I must be in heaven. I wake up to two beautiful faces in front of me." Jackson said. I laughed and shook my head. "What's on my head?" My smile turned into a frown, as I took in his appearance. White gauze wrapped around his head and ear. A cast on his arm and leg, and his other arm bruised up to the max. 

"Gauze, babe. You got hurt." Amber said, holding his hand. 

"Who are you again?" Amber's whole demeanor dropped by those four words as if they just tore her apart. But they did. "Jesus, I'm kidding. You're... Jessica, right?" He smirked. 

"Stop it. It's not funny, Jackson. And the fact you think it is, proves you're a real asshole." Amber snapped. 

"What crawled up her ass?" Jackson asked once Amber left the room. 

"She has a point, Jack. You're sitting here with gauze around your whole head, and casts all over your body, and you make a joke like that. I see where she's coming from. It wasn't a good joke. At all." 

"Why are you here, T? You should be at school." 

"I came for you. I couldn't come. Amber called me up hysterical crying. She was the only one here for you, Jackson. I couldn't just leave her here by herself."

"You should be at school." He repeated. 

"Well, I'm not. I'm here, with you, for you."

The door opened slightly, before Jason slipped in the room with Tommy in his arms. "Little man wanted to see you. He practically crawled into the room." Jackson laughed and extended his one arm out to Jason. He set the baby in on his chest, but Jackson coughed. 

"No, it's okay. Let me hold him. Just pressure is all." Jackson said. Jason put the baby back on his chest, before stepping away. 

"I think we should let Jackson have some quality time with the baby," I suggested, looking up to Jason. He nodded, as he put his hand out for me to take. 

"We'll be back in soon. Your parents are here, so we'll tell them to come on in." Jason said. Jackson nodded, not paying attention. All his focus was to the baby laying on his chest, with his mouth wide open and the slobber falling onto his bare chest. But I don't think Jackson really cared. His first real interaction since he left home after graduation. 

"You guys should go in. But be aware, he's too focused on the baby." I smiled. His mom nodded, before standing up. She led Jackson's step dad, Phil, and her ex-husband, Jackson's dad, Jackson, to the room down the hall. 

"I wanted to talk to you for a second." I whispered. Amber's head landed on my lap, finding her first comfortable position since we came here, ten hours ago. Ten long hours since I showed up, since Jackson was in surgery, since I got the call about him. And it's been hell. Amber's been crying, sleeping, eating, sleeping more.

I ran my hand through her hair, before checking her pulse, making sure she was actually breathing. "About what?" Jason asked. 

"I know you're thinking this too because I can see it in your eyes. I'm thinking about online classes for the rest of the year." 

"Why? You're doing great in school." 

"Because I... I want to be here for the baby, and for my mom. I don't want to miss a thing in Tommy's life anymore. I missed it already when he started to crawl, and I don't want that anymore. And now with Jackson, I can help him out, he could even come to stay with me at the house. Online classes are so much easier, and better, and I could come see you at your games, and visit you more, and we could talk more." 

"Babe, your dream was to go to NYU." 

"I know, but my family comes first Jase. We knew this would happen, we even talked about it. I know you wouldn't do online classes since you have football, but I want to do this. I want to be here for my family." 

"I mean... if that's what you want, go for it. I can't take online classes. But you're right, we knew someone would have to sacrifice, and I hate that it's you. This was always your dream, but if it's what you want to do." 

"It is. I need to do this, Jase. I want to do this. And it'll only be for a year, then next year, I'll go back to NYU. I'll still have my dream, and I'll make it happen, I just need to be here for everyone."

"You know your Uncle is going to be pissed, right?" 

"Please, he's the least of my worries. I'm more worried about Tyler."

"Why?"

"Addison and I left him at a party." I laughed. 

"You went to a party?" 

"Addison was there. Hence the clothing options." I replied, pointing down to my thin sheet of clothing. 

"I just thought you dressed up for me." 

"You're gross. It's Ronnie's."

"Tell Ronnie I said thank you." 

"You're really gross. Here we are, sitting in a hospital waiting room, with our best friend in critical condition, and you're talking about this? What a nice person you are." 

"Well, you know, I am known for making out at hospitals."

"That was a year ago. And your mom made you do it." 

"She's not now. Do I get credit for that?" I leaned over and kissed his cheek. "That's it? Here I am, sitting patiently, and I get that?" 

"No, you'll get my hand up your ass if you don't shut up. Both of you." Amber said. Jason and I both laughed loudly, Jason, tumbling over in his seat, and me, shaking my legs, so I wouldn't fall on the ground. "You're so annoying. I'm going to see my boyfriend, who's in the hospital bed." 

"What crawled up her ass?" 

"Her hand." I laughed, before laughing again. 

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