It Takes One To Know One

Chapter 96

As Aaron heaved several heavily laden shopping bags up onto the kitchen table he called out, "Jackson, I'm back."

Jackson stepped into the kitchen and eyed the amount of goods with amusement, "So I see. You only went for a few things." They hadn't long since done a big shop, so had only needed to top up on essentials like milk and bread, but it seemed Aaron was preparing for a famine.

"Yeah I know, but then I thought if this kid eats like Cai and Russ do then we'd better stock up."

"Good luck finding room for all that."

"I'll fit it in somehow don't you worry. Did you get him... Bryn some stuff?" While he'd gone shopping for food stuff Jackson had been out buying some clothes, according to Gary, Bryn had a rucksack that contained a change of clothes, but that was all and so was in need of just about everything.

"Yes, all sorted. I'll help you put this lot away and then you can come see what I got." As Jackson unpacked the contents of the first bag he said, "I've been thinking, I'm pretty sure that Bryn is a Welsh name. You certainly don't hear it used around here, well I haven't anyway, he could be from there?"

"Yeah maybe? That's possible. But it might not be his real name, Gary doesn't think it is?"

"I'm thinking he's said the first thing that came into his head when asked, so it's one he's heard used, I mean it's not a name that would have popped into my head."

"Nor mine." Aaron agreed, maybe Jackson was onto something here, "Ok Sherlock, do you have any other theories?"

Jackson laughed and said, "Not as yet."

'"How do you think we should go about getting him to open up about himself? Gaining his trust could take forever and we need to know the facts before we can help him."

'"We play it by ear, it's worked before. We'll get there." Jackson insisted.

"Yeah," of course they would.

..

Gary had rang as they were putting the last of the shopping away. He'd wanted to let them know that the hospital were discharging Bryn a little earlier than expected and he was on his way to pick him up. That meant they only had an hour or so before they arrived, knowing that Jackson led the way upstairs and into the bedroom they had decided would be Bryn's.

"It's ok isn't it?" Aaron asked as he gazed around the room, these last few months they'd put a lot of effort into making it suitable for a teen, they'd even asked Russ to use his creative streak and make a feature of one of the walls. Russ had done them proud, turning it into a homage to all sport. Football, rugby, basketball... you name it and it had a spot on the wall. Still Aaron worried it wasn't quite the homely and safe retreat a teen might need.

"It's perfect. Now stop worrying and go look at the stuff I bought, I've left the labels on in case he doesn't like something or it doesn't fit. Remember I didn't buy it with a chav in mind, I bought it for a teen with a bit of taste."

Aaron rolled his eyes, he didn't dress like a chav anymore, but Jackson was for ever teasing him about the fact that he had done in the not so distant past. Holding up the various items of clothing Aaron nodded his approval, he felt certain Bryn would be happy with them. Hopefully the boy would see they were already trying to do right by him.

"Ok, lets go make us all some lunch and then we can chill a little , steady our nerves before they come."

"I am nervous." Aaron admitted making for the door, "But probably not half as nervous as Bryn is right now." The boy had to be anxious about living with strangers.

Twenty minutes later they had the table set, a salad made and ready to serve along with ham and wraps. Bryn was being discharged before lunch so Gary had asked if they could have something ready for him. They had decided to make enough for all four of them.

Now all that was left for them to do was wait. They'd moved into their living room and were sitting together on the sofa sipping on mugs of tea.

"How about curry for tea?" Jackson wanted to make something more substantial for their evening meal.

Aaron grimaced he'd just thought of something, "What if he's a vegan? "

Jackson was thrown for a second he hadn't thought of that," Ok... a vegetable curry then...and we'll just give him salad wraps. Now will you stop looking for problems."

Aaron knew that was exactly what he was doing, he was sitting there imagining all the things that could go wrong. "I just wish he'd get here, so we can get the awkward bit out of the way."

"Awkward bit?"

"Yeah you know, the meeting him bit. You know me I'm bound to say the wrong thing." Aaron knew he could be tactless at times, and worst still quick to overreact. Their first meeting with Russ hadn't gone all that well, the boy had been full of lip and Aaron hadn't been able to stop himself from biting back.

"Don't be daft. It's bound to be a bit awkward, meeting someone for the first time usually is. A smile usually helps break the ice so as long as you flash Bryn your pearly whites it'll be fine."

"I just... well I just want to make the right impression, get things off to a good start."

"And you will."

"I haven't got the gift of the gab like you." Aaron teased, "According to Pearl you're a 'charmer'."

"She's probably the only one who'd say so." Jackson grinned, he knew Pearl had a soft spot where he was concerned, "Oh that reminds me, I saw Pearl earlier, she wished us well and said not to forget to let her know when we have our house warming party. I think she was disappointed we had to cancel tonight."

"I bet she was, she likes a knees up."

"She's been so good with Russ and Cai, I hope she connects with Bryn as easily."

"I'm sure she'll want to play 'Nana' to him too, she wont be able to stop herself." Aaron could remember Pearl fussing over him, he'd pretended not to like it but he had of course, and he thought the world of her now. Funny how easy it was to get close to some people. He'd got real close to Paddy very early on, he hadn't realised just how much until his mum went off with Carl and Paddy threw him out. That had really hurt, he'd never felt so lost and alone. He could remember telling himself not to get that close to someone ever again, but Paddy had soon taken him back under his wing... and he'd been there ever since.

Jackson nodded in agreement, then turned his gaze towards the window hoping to see Gary's car pull up. He knew Aaron was a little anxious and that the longer they waited the more he would tie himself up in knots, Hoping a change in conversation would help, he said "The front garden's in need of a tidy, I noticed some weeds..."

"Jackson... You know what really scares me?"

Quickly meeting Aaron's gaze Jackson caught hold of his hand and squeezed it reassuringly "Tell me."

"Getting close to one of the kids we foster and then having to let them go. We haven't had to do that yet have we? Cai and Russ are part of the family now and Jon, well we didn't get that close to him and after what happened it..."

"We can't hold back because we're scared of letting go. We just have to prepare ourselves for any eventuality. I think as long as we know where they are going and that it's somewhere they'll be safe and happy and..."

"Yeah I know. I'm just being stupid..."

"Not stupid, you're just wary of getting hurt."

"Yeah but it shouldn't be about me!"

"When the time comes it wont be, it will be about what's best for the child."

"Yeah." Jackson's faith in him had once again given him a boost of confidence... and just in time too. Out of the corner of his eye he'd seen a flash of blue... Gary's Car. "They're here!"

TBC