I am getting the completely insane idea to turn this into an actual multi-chaptered story rather than a five-shot, or whatever the hell I had originally planned for this thing to be. Someone stop me before I lose my f'ing mind.


Chapter III

Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

.

After dropping Finn off at school, Beck makes the drive to his office for work. Hard as he tries not to worry, his son's comments from this morning are really getting to him.

What would he do if Finn really doesn't want Jade in his life? Would Finn ever be okay with Beck dating? And, most pressingly, what will it take for him to convince his son that he'll never let another woman like Leslie into his life again?

Beck realizes that Finn's only impression of a woman-in-a-motherly-figure is his own mom, who set a terrible example for what a mother should be like. But he hadn't known that that would scare his son into never wanting another mom.

Over the next several days, Beck and Jade rarely break conversation. She comes by to bring him lunch at his office on Friday, and—in just the month that he's known her—he's learned to love and look forward to the moments he gets to talk to or see her.

As soon as she opens the door, Beck drops his pencil and looks up to see her. "Hi," he says, getting up from his chair. She leans over his desk to kiss him, and he wonders when she got the ability to make his whole day better with just one action. "How's your day?"

"Busy; I've had three shoots just this morning." She sets their take-out on his now cleared desk and walks to where Ezra is sitting in his bouncer. She gently scratches his little chest and smiles at him, and Beck wishes he could see her do that all the time.

After work that day, he decides to call Andre to ask for a favor. Luckily, his best friend picks up on the first ring.

"Hey man, what's up?"

"Hey, I was wondering if maybe you could do something for me."

"Sure. What's going on?"

"Things have been going well with Jade, you know. And I was talking to Finn a few days ago about what he thought about having her around more, and he didn't really like the idea. I'm sure it's because of Leslie, but I really want some more details about how he's feeling. Do you think you could talk to him?"

"Of course. I'd be happy to. How about I pick him up from school today?"

"That sounds great. Thanks so much, Andre."

"Anything for my best friend. I'll drop him off later."

"Perfect."

True to his word, Andre arrives at Breckenridge Elementary in time to pick Finn up from school. The kindergartener, who is doubly excited about the fact that it's Friday and that his uncle is here to get him, hops into the back seat of the car.

"Hey, bud! How was school today?"

"It was good," he answers. "I drew my letters really good today and I played kickball at recess."

"That's awesome! You up for some ice cream?"

Finn gasps. "Really?!"

"Yeah!"

"Yes, yes! Yes, please!"

Andre chuckles and pulls shortly after into the parking lot for an old fashioned diner. After getting seated in a booth, they order their sundaes and Andre gets started on what he knows he has to talk about.

"So, how'd you like the festival this year?"

"I loved it," the five-year-old answers. "I won so much stuff, and I even won two goldfish that Dad said we can take care of! And then I played in the moon bounce for a really long time."

"The food was pretty good, too."

"Uh-huh."

"Did you like having lunch with me, Aunt Tori, your dad, and Jade?"

"I guess so. But I don't really know Jade."

"She's my friend. I think she's really nice."

"Dad said that, too. She's okay, I guess."

"So, say all of us were to go to dinner again. Would you be okay if she came?"

Finn shrugs his shoulders. "I would like it better if she didn't."

"How come?" The waitress sets their ice cream in front of them and neither of them waits to dig in. Finn, however, uses it as an excuse to avoid his uncle's question. "Why do you think don't you want Jade around?" Andre probes, hoping to get a response.

Finn takes a few minutes to reply, but it's worth Andre's patience. "Because she's gonna make Dad sad."

Andre nods his head. "What makes you think that?"

"Well, the last girl that Dad liked was my mom. And she made him sad." Finn takes a bite of his ice cream, but he won't meet Andre's eyes. "She would cry a lot and she was never home. And she yelled at me and Dad a lot."

"Yeah. I'm still sorry about that, buddy."

"It's okay." He finally looks up at Andre with his big, green eyes. "I don't like my mom. But I love Dad, and I don't want anyone to make him sad again."

"And you think Jade might make him sad?"

He shrugs. "I guess so."

"I understand that. Did Jade seem mean at all when you met her at lunch?" Finn shakes his head. "So maybe she's nice, right?"

"Yeah, maybe."

Beck isn't surprised to hear Andre's re-telling of the conversation later that day when he drops Finn off. He's disappointed, and certainly angry with Leslie, but he can't say he's shocked by his son's thoughts. He's determined to make Finn understand that he doesn't have to worry about any of that with Jade. But, more importantly and before he's able to do that, he wants to be beyond positive that his faith in Jade is well placed. He can't let down his son with something this big, or he might never forgive himself.

Another month passes by, and Beck is becoming increasingly sure that Jade is the girl he wants. She's not easy—they don't even get along all of the time or agree about anything—but they can always have fun together. She gets his sense of humor and she knows how to turn him on. She's gorgeous and talented and sensitive, and she's usually in denial of all three of those things. As scary as the idea seems, he knows that it's time to introduce her as more than a friend to Finn.

He calls her on Friday afternoon when he knows she'll be done with her last shoot for the day. "Hello?"

"Hi, beautiful."

"Ugh," he hears her feign annoyance. "I don't know if I can keep dating you if you're always so cheesy with me."

He chuckles. "How'd your shoot go?"

"It was cute, just a family doing pictures together. The kids were good, which made my life easier."

"Glad to hear it."

"What's up? How was Finn's dentist appointment?"

"The appointment was fine. The hour after the appointment was the interesting part. They gave him laughing gas while doing a little procedure in his mouth, so he didn't stop giggling for about forty-five minutes after we left. Ezra thought it was hilarious, and I did too, at first. But after a little while, I thought I was going to lose my mind."

Jade laughs and wishes she could have been there; she loves seeing (a rarely) impatient Beck. "Anyway, I was wondering if you had plans tomorrow morning?"

"Not any that are solid. Why?"

"Well, I was thinking maybe you could join our run? I'll have the boys in the stroller, and we run past your house anyways, so you could just come out and meet us. And then we could get lunch afterwards."

"Okay. Yeah, that sounds nice. What time?"

"Is ten okay?"

"Works for me."

"Oh, and, Jade?"

"Yes?"

"Tomorrow, at lunch, I want to tell Finn about us."

Jade pauses. "Tell him about us?"

"Yeah. He thinks that you're my friend, and nothing more. But I want him to know that we're dating. Is that okay with you?"

"Beck Oliver, are you asking if you can be my boyfriend?"

He can hear her smirk through the phone and he doesn't know how she knows how to drive him so crazy. "That depends. Is your answer yes?"

"I suppose that wouldn't be too bad," she says, and she's glad he can't see he huge smile on her face.

"So then I guess I'll be seeing my beautiful girlfriend tomorrow morning?"

Jade rolls her eyes, but the smile stays. "You will be."

"Can't wait. I'll see you then."

"Okay, have fun with the boys tonight."

"Thanks, I will." He ends the call, and he flips between nervous and excited for the rest of the night.

The following morning, he tells Finn while they're both tying their tennis shoes that someone else is going to come with them today. "Who?" He asks.

"Jade. I invited her to run with us, and then we can all get lunch together afterwards, okay?"

Finn sighs. "Does she have to come?"

"I really want her to, buddy. And I already asked her and she said yes, so she's coming. It's going to be fun, I promise."

Finn, despite his hesitation, nods his head and follows Beck into Ezra's room to get his younger brother. Beck changes his diaper and clothes quickly, and then straps both boys into the double stroller with a few snacks and their sippy cups.

As expected, Jade comes out of her house just after Beck makes it there. She's wearing yoga pants and a tank top with a jacket over it, and Beck thinks she's intentionally trying to kill him with how good she looks in her running gear. She says hi to Finn, who doesn't give much of a response, and tickles Ezra before walking to where Beck is standing behind the stroller.

"Morning," he says, and wraps an arm around her waist to pull her in. He pecks her lips and his day is already better. "You ready?"

"Yeah, let's go."

Ten miles later, they finish at a cafe that they pick to have lunch at. Beck gets Ezra out of the stroller while Finn unstraps himself, and they're seated as soon as they walk into the restaurant. At the square-shaped table, Beck sits on the side between Jade and Finn. When the waiter brings the high chair and naturally sets it between Beck and Jade, neither of them says anything to prevent any awkwardness. Beck sets Ezra in the seat and the baby is happily babbling away.

"Finn, you remember Jade, right?"

The five-year-old nods his head. "How does Ezra know her?"

Beck is confused until he looks to the other side of him and sees his younger son grinning at Jade. Ezra is reaching for her, so Jade gives him her hand to play with. "Well," Beck explains, "you know how Ezra comes to work with me unless he's with Grandma?" Finn nods again. "Sometimes, Jade comes by the office to visit me. So your brother sees her a lot."

"Oh."

The waitress comes back to take their orders and Finn is noticeably less enthusiastic than usual when he orders his hamburger. Beck has known for a while now, though, that this would be a struggle with his older son—and he is determined to help Finn get past it. But when he asks to get up and go to the bathroom, Jade puts her hand over Beck's as soon as he's gone.

"Not today," she says quietly.

"What?"

"Don't do it today, babe. He's not comfortable. He's been awkward about this whole situation since you guys picked me up."

"But, I—"

"I know. But maybe tell him later, when it's just the two of you."

"You think so?"

"I really do. He doesn't want to hear what you have to say about us right now. Besides," she jokes, "at least one of your sons likes me." They both look at Ezra, who is still fascinated with Jade's other hand. Beck smiles and leans over to kiss her cheek.

"Okay. I won't mention it." Finn comes back a few minutes later, and when he still doesn't seem like himself, Beck is sure that Jade was right. "So, buddy, how about you tell us about your music class? You said you've been liking the piano, right?"

Again, Finn nods.

"You know, Jade plays the piano just like Uncle Andre. She's really good."

"Can you read music?" Finn's voice is small, but Beck is just thankful that he's speaking.

"Yeah, I can," Jade answers. "Have you guys been doing that in your music class?" Finn nods again. "Well that's good, because your dad can help you with your homework, right?" Beck laughs, and Finn shakes his head. "What's so funny?"

Her boyfriend shrugs. "I never learned music theory. I've always played by memory."

"What? Then how do you learn new pieces?"

"I hear it, and then I mimic it. Which is cool for me, but I guess it's a bummer for Finn." Beck smiles at his son. "But, you know, buddy, if you ever have any questions about it, I bet Jade would be a really good person to ask."

"I can ask Uncle Andre," is all Finn says, and Beck almost laughs at how curt the little boy's replies are today.

The rest of their lunch conversation follows the same suit, with Finn on edge the whole time. Ezra is giddy as ever, and pays more attention to Jade than he does to Beck, Finn, and his food combined. This makes Finn upset, but it puts Beck over the moon.

That night, after Ezra is asleep and Beck is in Finn's room to tuck him in, he reads his older son a story before bed. When they're done, Finn looks up at Beck with curious eyes. "Dad?"

"Yeah?"

"Why did Jade come on the run and to eat with us today?"

Beck sighs and pulls his son closer to him. "Well," he starts, "you know how Uncle Andre and Aunt Tori are best friends? And how they like to do stuff together and be around each other?"

"Yeah. And they kiss?"

"Yeah," Beck answers, stifling a laugh, "they kiss, too. That is, sort of, how me and Jade are. I like Jade as more than a friend, and she likes me like that, too."

"And you like to be together?"

"Yeah, we like to be together."

"Do you kiss, too?"

Beck should have seen that coming, and, if that's how his son puts a relationship into words, he wants to be honest. "Yeah, we kiss. But the thing is, buddy: Jade isn't the only one I like to be around. My favorite people in the whole world to be with are you and Ezra. So I don't want you to think that because I like Jade means that I love you boys any less. Does that make sense?"

Finn nods his head, and, that night, Beck ends up staying in his room to sleep. A few days later, Beck is cooking dinner when he gets a phone call from Breckenridge Elementary. "Hello?"

"Hi, is this Mr. Oliver?"

"Yes it is," he says in a friendly voice. "Can I help you?"

"This is Deliah Penny," the kind woman informs him. He's always liked Finn's teacher.

"Oh, Deliah, how are you?"

"I'm great, and yourself?"

"Doing well, thanks."

"Good. I'm sorry to say that I'm calling you under not-so fortunate circumstances." Beck sets down the spoon he'd been using to stir the pasta with.

"Is everything okay with Finn?" He's glad that's his curious five-year-old is in his room, or else he's not sure how he would get the privacy for this conversation.

"Yes. It's nothing too urgent," Deliah promises. "But I was calling to see if you wouldn't mind coming in to meet with me sometime this week. I'm free tomorrow at noon, if that works for you. Otherwise, we can discuss another time."

"Tomorrow will do," he replies.

"Great. Thanks so much; I'll see you then."

Beck can barely sleep through the night, much less make it through his morning at work. His mom has Ezra for the day, so he goes to Finn's school empty-handed to meet Deliah Penny for their conference.

"Beck! It's great to see you."

"Good to see you too," he says, masking his nerves well behind a smile. He sits across from her desk and she folds her hands neatly in front of her.

"Finn has always been one of my best students. He's always prepared, he's kind, he's well-like by the other students, and he's very sweet."

"Thank you."

"Of course. The reason I called you in is that, lately, he has seemed a little off. He's not himself, and I wasn't sure if that was something that was just happening at school or if it was the same at home."

Beck runs his hand through his hair. He doesn't know if it's necessarily appropriate to explain his dating life—and the recent situation with Jade—but he's not sure how else to address the problem. Luckily, she speaks again before he does.

"If it helps explain anything, there's something I want to show you." She reaches into her desk and pulls out a piece of white construction paper. "I asked the kids to draw a picture of their family. This was Finn's."

When Beck looks at the drawing, he first sees his son's name at the top. Underneath, standing on little green lines of grass, are stick figures of the Oliver boys. Underneath each figure, he'd written "Dad," "Finn," and "Ezra." Beck smiles at the sight, but his heart sinks as soon as he looks off to the side.

Drawn inches away from his little family is another stick figure—one drawn in red. Even if Finn wouldn't have written her name underneath, the person's long, brown hair gives her away. Beck sighs and looks back up at Deliah, who's giving him a look of genuine sympathy.

"I recently started seeing someone," he begins. "A woman who I am completely confident is good for my sons. We'd been dating for a while when I decided to tell Finn about us. He had already met her several times at this point. He took it...decently...but he has been acting funny ever since."

"Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

"No, go ahead."

"Is...Finn's mother..." Deliah seems unsure of how to finish her sentence.

"She's not in the picture," Beck answers. "She left us a over a year ago, and she was never present even when she was his mother."

"I'm so sorry to hear that."

"Thank you. It's been a little rough on my own, that's for sure. Which is partially why I've been hoping that Finn will grow to feel more comfortable with me dating someone."

"Of course. Thank you for coming in, Beck. And if there's anything I can do to make things easier for Finn—or if you have any questions—please don't hesitate to call."

"Thank you. And thank you for your call," Beck says, rising from his chair with the drawing still in his hand. When he gets back to his office, he sets the picture on his desk and tries to think of anything he could possibly do to put his son at ease. He's so caught up in his thoughts that he completely forgets that Jade had texted that she was coming by to see him.

She walks into his office and he looks up to see her. "Hi," she says, shutting the door behind her. Beck grabs the paper as soon as she turns around, but she's facing him again quickly enough to see his oddly quick movement. "What was that?"

"It's nothing," he lies, but he can see from the look on her face that she doesn't believe him. "It's nothing, I promise."

"If it's nothing, why are you hiding it?"

Beck notices that, even though he knows she's trying to convey the opposite, her expression is more hurt than angry. That upsets him more than any alternative. "Sit down," he says softly. "I promise I'll explain."

Jade does as he asks and pulls a chair up to sit next to him. "Finn's teacher called me yesterday and asked me to come in for a parent-teacher conference."

"I take it it didn't go well?"

Beck sighs. "They had to draw their families in class." He reluctantly shows her the picture and her face falls while her heart sinks. "Jade, I—"

"No, it's okay." She gets a sick feeling in her stomach and she hands him back the drawing. "Beck, I don't think that this is going to work." Jade's not sure if she hates the words she just said or the look on his face more.

"Jade, no. No, I know this is a lot, but we knew it would be hard. We knew he was a little uncomfortable with the idea, because of Leslie. But please, babe. Please don't do this." He's holding her hand tighter, now, and she has to close her eyes to prevent herself from making a decision just based on the look on his face.

"You can't ignore the fact that he doesn't like me, Beck. He just doesn't."

"I know. But he wouldn't like anyone. What am I supposed to do, Jade? Should I just let you walk out of this office and lose the only woman I've cared so much about that it actually scares me?"

Her heart is beating faster now and every sensible bone in her body tells her to get up and leave before her feelings get in the way.

"I'm willing to try," he says, "if you are, too."

"I don't want to push it, Beck."

"We'll take it slow. As slow as we can. I think we can do that, don't you? I mean, I waited three whole dates to kiss you." He grins. "You've got to give me some credit for that, right?"

When she finally gives him a hint of a smile, he leans in for a kiss and she doesn't have the gut to pull away from him. "Everything will be fine. Trust me." Beck pulls her onto his lap and they end up kissing until their lips are practically bruised and swollen.

"God," Jade says into his mouth, "what are we, horny teenagers?"

He kisses her again and her mind blurs and she's really, really glad she didn't leave. "Just horny," Beck jokes.

By the time he gets home that day, he's come up with a plan that might help make Finn feel more comfortable. That Friday, Beck tells his kindergartener that he'll be picking him up from school early.

"Why?"

"It's a surprise!"

"Are we going somewhere?"

"We are."

"Who's going?"

"Me, and you, and Ezra, and Jade." Finn sighs, and Beck reaches out to hold his hand in the back seat of the truck. "Buddy, I promise it's going to be fun, okay? You love this place."

"Okay."

"Okay. I love you. Have a good day, and I'll see you after lunch!"

"I love you too," Finn says before getting out of the car.

When Beck goes into the school office to sign his son out, he's greeted by all of the staff. Finn's teacher walks him in minutes later and says goodbye to Beck and her little student before returning to her classroom. "You ready to go?"

"Yeah," Finn answers, and takes his dad's hand to walk out to the car. When Beck opens the door for him to climb in, Finn sees Jade in the passenger's seat.

"Hi, Finn."

"Hi."

"Did your dad tell you where we're going?"

"No."

"I think you're going to like it," Jade tells him, but the five-year-old doesn't reply. Ezra shrieks and starts to babble from his car seat, and Finn is annoyed when Jade smiles at the baby. She wants to be bothered by how little Finn is even trying with her, but she reminds herself of all that he's been through and takes a few deep breaths to regain her patience. She actually impresses herself with how good she's gotten at it.

They make more small talk on the way there, but Finn is mostly quiet until he sees the sign with all of the animals drawn around it. "Are we going to the zoo?" He exclaims.

"Yep!" Beck grins and turns around to pat his son's leg. "Told you you'd like it!"

"Can we get hats again?"

"For sure," his dad promises. Once they've parked, Beck pulls the stroller out of the truck's bed and Jade gets Ezra out of his car seat. She buckles him into his side of the stroller and he fusses about not being in her arms until she hands him a bag of baby snacks to munch on. Finn decides to walk alongside his dad, opposite of the side Jade is on.

Beck pays for their entry to the park, and they start at the monkey display. They see a few more animals before getting to the exotic birds. Ezra shouts to get out of his seat, so Beck pulls him out and holds him as they walk into the gated area of the bird exhibit. "Dad, look at the red one!" Finn says, pointing up at one of the animals.

"Yeah, he's a cool one! Look, buddy, put some food in your hand and they'll come over and eat it."

"Here, babe," Jade offers, holding out her arms for Ezra, "I'll take him." The one-year-old goes gladly into Jade's arms and Beck kisses her briefly. Both of them miss Finn's irritated expression, but Beck turns in time to help him get some food in his hand.

"Now just hold your hand out and wait right here, and they'll come over and get it," Beck explains. Just as he'd said, a colorful bird appears on Finn's arm and starts to peck at his hand. He giggles and turns around to face Beck and Jade. Beck pulls out his phone to take a picture, but just before he does, Finn shakes his arm wildly in the direction of Jade's body.

Jade's instincts kick in and she moves to the side immediately, but that doesn't stop Ezra from starting to cry. The bird flaps away from them quickly, and Beck turns to his son. "Finn, why did you do that? You scared your brother, buddy!"

Finn shrugs his shoulders and watches as Jade calms Ezra down. "I didn't mean to."

Beck puts his arm around Jade and rubs her shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she promises him, and continues bouncing Ezra until he stops crying.

"I'm so sorry, Jade. Finn, will you please apologize to Jade and your brother?"

Finn shrugs again. "Sorry."

Beck sighs and checks on Jade and Ezra again. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I promise." Beck looks down at his son, whose head is rested on Jade's shoulder as he clings to her arm. Beck rubs his back softly and kisses his little forehead, and the four of them leave the bird exhibit.

As they walk to the next area to see the flamingos, it's clear that everyone is still a bit on edge. Jade sets Ezra down so that he and Finn can take a picture in front of the animals, and Beck is opening his phone's camera app when Finn lets go of his little brother's hand and darts off in the opposite direction.

"Finn!" Beck yells, running after his son. "Finn, come back!" He swerves between people to catch up to the very fast five-year-old, and when he finally gets ahold of him he pulls Finn into his arms. "What was that for?"

Finn smiles. "I saw the ice cream truck and I wanted one!"

"Finn," Beck says in a chiding voice, "you know better than to run off from me! What if you had gotten lost? How would you find me again?"

"I don't want to find you."

This stuns Beck into speechlessness, and he sighs deeply before pulling out his phone again. He sends a quick text to Jade to apologize and ask if she minds watching Ezra while he talks to Finn for a bit. She replies for him not to worry, and Beck takes Finn's hand and walks with him over to a bench.

Jade, meanwhile, picks Ezra back up and pushes the stroller into the nearby exhibit. She walks into a tunnel made completely of glass, so that patrons can see the fish from every angle. Ezra kicks his feet and fusses to get out, so she lifts him out and holds him.

While the baby points to the animals and babbles, Jade wonders when on earth it started feeling so good to have him in her arms. She's not the boy's mother, and yet she feels comfortable holding him and treating him as if he were her own son. That thought is enough to scare her, and she remembers how she was supposed to tell Beck months ago that she didn't think she was the right girl to take care of his sons.

Ezra giggles at a nearby fish, shaking her from her thoughts and making her heart happy like only a few people ever have.

"Can we talk?" Beck's question comes in a soft voice, but Finn doesn't choose to answer. "Buddy, I'd really like to talk to you. You haven't been acting like yourself lately." Finn still stays quiet. "Hey," Beck says, nudging him gently, "who's my best friend?"

Finn lets out a small sigh. "Me."

"That's right. And don't best friends talk when one of them isn't okay?" The five-year-old nods his head. "So, let's talk. Tell me what's up. Why did you say you wouldn't want to find me?"

Finn stares at the ground. "It's not you that I don't want to find."

"It's Jade?"

"Yeah." He pauses, as if he's deciding whether or not to tell his dad something. "I thought if I was bad, she wouldn't like you anymore."

"Ah." Beck puts his arm around Finn and leans back on the bench. He contemplates telling him about Mrs. Penny showing him the family picture, but he doesn't want to embarrass his son when he knows he's already feeling vulnerable. "Do you want to tell me why you don't like Jade?" He asks instead. "Did she do something to hurt you or make you sad?"

"No. But I don't want you to be sad. I didn't like when you were sad."

"Yeah, I didn't like when I was sad either," Beck tells him. "Do you think I'm sad when I'm with Jade?"

"No."

"Are you sad when you're around Jade?"

Finn shakes his head. "But what if she leaves, Dad? Or what if she yells at me?"

His questions nearly break Beck's heart, and he pulls Finn in for a hug so that his son doesn't have to watch him fight tears. "Buddy," he says once they pull back, "I promise you: Jade is nothing like the person that you used to call your mom. Nothing at all."

"So...it's okay to like her?"

Beck smiles. "Yes, it's okay to like her."

"Sometimes I think I like her, but then I get scared."

"You don't have to be scared, Finn. I promise. I like her, and I don't seem sad, right?"

"Yeah."

"And Ezra likes her, and he doesn't seem sad, right?"

"Yeah."

"So it's okay if you want to like Jade, too. I think she likes you."

Finn looks up at Beck with the cutest confused expression he's ever seen. "Even after I pushed the bird at her?"

Beck laughs and hugs Finn again. "Even after that."

"Okay. Can we see her and Ezra now?"

"Yeah, we can," Beck says, grinning. "Want me to tell them to meet us at the bears?"

"Yeah, the bears!" Finn exclaims, and stands up on the bench. "Can I have a piggy back ride?"

"Always," Beck promises, and bends to let his son hop on. When they get to the black bear exhibit, Jade and Ezra are already there. While Finn runs over to see his little brother in the stroller, Beck walks straight to Jade and pulls her in for a hug. "I'm so sorry."

"You don't have to apologize," she tells him. "Is he okay?"

"Yeah, he's great. I think things will be better now." Beck kisses her lips, and then they turn towards the boys to lift them up so they can see the bears.

Later that evening, after Beck has put the boys to sleep, he calls Jade. He wishes she were here with him, to cuddle on the couch and then join him in his bed, but he knows that he has to take baby steps for Finn's sake. And while today proved to be signs of progress, Beck knows that Jade staying the night might be pushing the envelope too far for his five-year-old. He's just eternally grateful that Jade is so understanding of that.

"Hey."

He smiles as soon as he hears her voice. "Hi. I miss you."

"I know the feeling."

"I didn't get the chance to say thank you for today."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I want to thank you for how good you were with the boys today. Finn was basically out to get you, and it didn't send you running for the hills."

"No, it didn't."

"I was really scared that it would, Jade. I don't want to lose you." She doesn't say anything for a few seconds, so he keeps talking. "I'm sorry that comes off as too intense. I know we've only been dating for a few months, but I just... I really don't want to lose you. And when I saw how you were with Ezra today, it was like this kind of relief washed over me. I don't know if I can really explain it, but—"

"Beck—"

"I'm sorry. I know I'm rambling."

"It's okay. You're kind of sexy when you ramble."

Beck runs his hand through his hair. God, does he wish Jade was here with him now. Having her frequent his dreams just isn't as good as what he imagines sleeping beside her would be.

Less than a week later, Finn has off from school because the teachers have some kind of workshop. There's no way Beck can get out of work, but his parents are out of town and Tori and Andre are swamped with their own lives. Lucky for him, his girlfriend is able to rearrange her schedule to come over and stay with the boys for the day.

She walks in through the front door at eight in the morning, and the day that could either go so well or so terribly wrong begins.


Title is a song by James Taylor.

Thoughts?