Golden is Silent
Tara didn’t speak. Jon was sure she could; she just didn’t. Dawn, who was still thoroughly tickled that Tara was there, didn’t seem to think anything was odd about her continued silence. She’d babbled happily to compensate, at least until she’d grown too tired to continue. Then she’d collapsed onto the couch beside Connor, who curled around her and they both went to sleep. Jon wasn’t sure three-year-olds usually slept as much as these two but most three-year-olds didn’t dimension hop, either.
Jon shifted when Tara and Faith both turned to stare at him. His apartment was small, one bedroom, a living room/kitchen combo, and a bathroom. He’d argued that, with night falling, he needed to take the kids home but, now that they were here, he didn’t really have anywhere to put
Faith finally rolled her eyes and said, “Sleeping bags?”
And Jon felt a rush of relief. “That I can do.”
He dug through his catch all closet and finally came up with his camping gear. It was unorthodox, but he pitched his tent, laid out his sleep mat, and unrolled the sleeping bag. When he scooted back, Faith nodded, hands on her tiny hips. “Fuckin’ A, bub. That’s perfect.”
He thought about trying to police her language but decided against it as she scrambled in, the offensive tennis shoes flying back out, and she starfished across a good portion of the mat. The day had started really early for all of them and the stress of it plus her crying jag from earlier must have worn her out because as soon as she was still, her breathing evened out and her mouth even dropped open a little.
He looked at Tara and she ducked her head, pale gold hair swinging down to cover her face. She gathered the t-shirt she’d changed into delicately in her hands and carefully entered the tent, curling up at the entrance. He started to stand, happy to finally have them all situated, but Tara grabbed his hand, her grip surprisingly strong.
“S-stay?” she whispered, peeping at him through her hair.
He sat back down, turning his hand over to clasp hers. They sat there, staring at each other, until Jon decided this wasn’t going to work. He reached behind him and grabbed one of the extra blankets, balling it, then laying down and stuffing it under his head.
Then he started gently petting her hair out of her face with his free hand. “It’s gonna be okay. We’ll figure this out.”
She gathered the hand holding hers up and pressed her face to the back of it, her forehead rubbing against his knuckles when she nodded.
He kept petting her hair until she went lax but her grip on his fingers remained strong. He damned himself a little but he was pretty sure that was when he gave a little piece of his heart away to them. It was amazing what he could already tell about their personalities. Faith was willful and defiant; Connor was confused and defensive; Dawn was bubbly, lively, and occasionally cautious; and Tara was sweet but painfully shy. He knew they wanted, and maybe needed, to go back, but he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with himself if they left him.