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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7. Chapter Seven

So, in this chapter, you'll be able to see just how much Talia and Jackson care for each other, and how much Talia loves Jackson. You more or less get a taste of what Jackson is like when he feels useless, which, in all honesty, I think is a great thing, because all we saw so far was a caring, loving, friendly Jackson, we never saw him be rude or mean. 

Natalia's POV

"Welcome home!" I exclaimed, wheeling Jackson's wheel chair into the house. He didn't say anything back, just a small grumble and some incoherent words, some mumbles, and some curses. He isn't happy with this idea. At all. He wants to go back into the Army, back to his team and his camp. He was never told his camp nor team made it through the explosion. He believes they're still alive, and it'll remain that way until he can take the news. 

"I don't like this idea. You shouldn't have agreed to this. Who's idea was it anyways? Probably Amber's right?"

"I didn't agree with it, everyone else did, considering it was my idea." No one told Jackson whose idea it was for this plan, and no one wanted to. He isn't exactly the type of person to go along with getting help from other people, even in a wheelchair. 

"Why would you do this? You should be at school, living your life. Not taking care of some injured pathetic excuse of a soldier." This was how the whole ride home was. One hour of complete lies. This isn't the first time the whole 'pathetic excuse of a soldier' came up. The whole way home, that's all he said. 

"I'm doing this because I want to, and because you're my family. I'd do anything for my family, Jackson, you know that. And stop saying you're a pathetic excuse, because you're not. You got injured, there's nothing else you can do about it. And it wasn't even your fault. You didn't know."

"I don't need help from no one." And here we go. Stubborn Jackson at his finest. I'm not playing this game with him, not anymore. He's hurt, he needs help, I'm here for him. That's final. 

"Fine, do you want me to take you to your apartment? With four flights of stairs? Because I sure as hell will, if you're gonna have this attitude. But just remember who gave their life away for you." With that, he dismissed himself from the foyer and wheeled himself to the guest room, his new room for a long time. 

I picked Tommy out of his car seat and held him tightly. "Change of plans, baby. Uncle Jack isn't in the mood to play right now." Not knowing any words I just spoke, he put his head on my shoulder. I felt his pacifier move on my shoulder, each time he sucked on the end of it. 

Macey came walking down the stairs in her Dora pajamas, with her thumb in her mouth. "What did I tell you about sucking on your thumb?"

"It'll make my teeth crazy." I nodded, and pulled the finger out of her mouth. "I'm feeling better. Can you make me soup?" I walked to the kitchen, with Macey trailing me, and behind her, a speedy Tommy. 

"Go into the guest room and ask Jackson if he wants soup. If he doesn't want any, just leave him alone, alright?" I asked. Macey nodded, hopped off the stool, and made her way to the guest bedroom down the hall. 

She came back a couple seconds later, with no Jackson behind her. "He said he's not hungry." 

"Can you watch Tommy for me?" She nodded, as I walked to the guest bedroom myself. The door remained closed, shut off from all life. Only a couple grunts sounded from behind the door, meaning Jackson was up to something. 

Opening the door, Jackson sat on the bed, with his good leg bent, his bad leg propped up on the bed, and his bad arm without the sling. "What did the doctor tell you about the sling? You have to keep it on for at least two weeks." 

"I don't care about no doctor." Stubborn.

"Well, guess what? I do. Either put the sling back on, or I'll do it for you. Your choice." He grumbled a couple incoherent words before finally grabbing the sling next to him. "When was the last time you ate?"

"Does it matter? I'm not hungry." 

"Do you know how many times I said that in my life, and ended up in the hospital? You were the one who had to bring me three out of the six times. So, answer my question. When was the last time you ate?" 

"Last week. Hospital food is gross. I found a hair in my pudding. I don't even eat pudding. I don't even like it." 

"You're eating. Now." 

"No, I'm not. I'm not hungry." 

"Jackson, I swear to God, if you don't eat, I'll shove food down your damn throat. Come into the kitchen and eat a bowl of soup with my little sister and my child, before I force hot soup down your God damn throat. You can yell at me when I don't eat, well I can yell at you when you don't eat."  

Jackson moved his wheelchair back, so his leg slid off the seat. His leg dropped slowly, luckily, no pain was felt during the process. He turned the chair around so it was facing him, and he slid his body off the bed, onto the chair. His good arm picked himself up, but it wasn't enough strength. I joined him in his struggle, and sat him correctly in the chair. 

"Hi, Jackson." Macey smiled, once both Jackson and I came into view. He didn't say anything back, just wheeled himself over to the island. 

"Can I at least have a pillow to make me sit higher?" I clicked my tongue to the top of my mouth, before walking to the living room and retrieving a pillow. I agreed to have Jackson here because I thought it would be good for him to see actual life. If he didn't have a place to go, he would've had to stay in the hospital until he healed, or, go home to his apartment, with four flights up stairs to just get inside, and two flights inside the apartment. And I was not letting that happen. 

"Hey, Lia." Amber said, closing the back door behind her. I sighed in relief, before throwing my hands up. 

"Take him. Talk to him. I can't. I have a newborn, a five year old, I don't need another one." She scrunched her eyebrows together, completely unaware of what I was talking about. "He's not eating. He's not cooperating. He's being rude." 

"Lee, did you think this would be easy? He just got put into a situation where he can't walk. He's absolutely helpless to not only himself, but to you too. You need to give him a chance, and let him see that he can help you around here. Even if it's cleaning a plate, or something. He feels useless."

"What should I do then? Sit here and wait?" 

"No, you need to talk to him. Trust me, I tried this morning before you showed up with your mom's mini van. But he won't listen to me. Lia, he will listen to you, and it kills me to say this, but he loves you, I think, more than he loves me. If he hears how much this is hurting you, then he'll put a stop to this attitude he has." I took a deep breath and shook my head. 

+++

"Jackson." He looked to me, before reverting his eyes back to the flat screen on the wall opposite from the bed. "I wanted to talk. Can you at least listen?" There was a slight nod of his head, giving me the okay to enter the room more. I closed the door behind my body, and made my way to the bed where he was sprawled out. 

"I know this is hard on you, it's hard on me too. And I know you're mad at me for doing this, but it's just until you get better. Once you can walk again and regain your... whatever, I will go back to college. I already talked to the Dean, and he said with this circumstance, I am allowed to come back next year." He kept his eyes on the television, never once moving them. "You know that... I'm done." I stood up, grabbed the remote from the other side of the bed, and turn the power off to the television. 

"What the hell, T!" 

"I'm trying to talk to you, and you're not even paying attention! You don't want to talk to me, because you're mad, fine! You don't want to stay here, fine! I'll bring you right back to the hospital, if that's the case. They'll give you a nurse and hospital food. You want that, you tell me, and I'll make it happen. Or, you can sit here and listen to me." He crossed his arms over his chest, before turning his head to me. "Do I have your full attention?"

"Yes." 

"I wanted to do this, Jackson. I did. I wanted to take you into my home, and let you live here with me, because I love you. I wanted you to be happy with someone you love, and I decided to do this. It wasn't because I felt sorry for you, it's because I love you.

"I know what you're going through isn't easy, and I know you're struggling. It's only your first day with the wheelchair, and it's only gonna get harder. But I need you to trust me. I need you to let me help you. If you don't want my help, then there's no reason for me to be here with you." He looked down. 

"I'm not gonna play this game, Jackson. You want out, fine, I'll get you out. But I won't be in your game of stringing people along. You know me, and you know I don't do that. Seeing you like this, Jack, it hurts me. It does. And I want to make the pain go away, and I want to make you happy again, but I know I can't, because you won't let me in.

"If you want to help around the house, you can. I'm not stopping you. You want to get out of the house, go get Macey up the corner at the bus stop, she'd love that. Come with me to take Tommy to the park. Help me with Tommy, change him, feed him, bathe him, put him to bed. I want you to be happy, and I know Tommy makes you happy. I'm willing to let you do that for me. I want you to do that for me. You take care of him, I take care of you. Okay? Can we agree on that?" 

"You really want to take this on?" He asked, looking in my eyes. 

"If I didn't, I wouldn't be in here right now expressing myself to you." 

"Alright. I can do that. Under one circumstance." 

"Anything."

"No more of that soup, please. The food you make is so much better than your mom's." 

I laughed and nodded, "I can do that."

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