Jason woke up as he usually did, alert and ready for the day. However, today he was a little nervous. He had a gift for Cameron and Jake and hoped they liked it. Actually, he knew they would love it. If he was honest with himself he would admit he was afraid the boys wouldn't be ready to spend time alone with him even though they spent a lot of time together with him and Elizabeth as a family in the last five months.
The week after he'd walked away from Elizabeth at the courthouse had been spent wondering what safe really meant and if being apart was actually the best thing.
By Christmas day Jason was at Elizabeth's front door with resolve, assurances and guards. They spent the day with the boys and talked late into the night. Jason had come with an engagement ring, an application for a marriage license, paperwork to change Jake's birth certificate and a request to have Monica and Edward come by so they could learn about Jake.
He could tell Elizabeth had felt the difference in him and believed him. They had considered waiting to get married because of the boys but decided they would be safer and stronger together. They were married two weeks after Christmas and now lived in her, their, house together. Jason spent time with the boys on his own but this gift would be a big project for awhile and long term quality time with his boys.
Jason had been so deep in his musings he hadn't realized his wife was awake until she wrapped her arm over his stomach and pulled herself to him.
"The boys are going to be so excited. Should we wake them up?"
He chuckled and kissed her temple.
"Elizabeth, it's only 6:30. We don't want them up yet."
"Must you be practical about it?"
"One of us should."
She just grinned at him. They talked quietly about the gift, the boys, their coming day, but it wasn't long before they heard the boys moving around.
"What are you doing up early?" Cameron just shrugged at his mom. "Maybe you just knew Jason has a surprise for you."
Cameron's eyes got big as did his smile as he looked at Jason. And then he yelled.
"Jake! Jake! Jason has a surprise for us!"
Jake came running and almost skidded past the doorway. He jumped for the bed and Jason helped him get the rest of the way up.
Jake clapped after his announcement.
"That's right, boys. Jason has a surprise for you so you need to get dressed and he'll show you." There was cheering from the boys. Jason relished the hugs they gave him before they ran from the room.
"Unless you want to take the boys outside in your underwear you should probably get moving. They'll be back soon." She took off for the closet as he lunged for her from the bed.
Jake and Cameron were very excited as they stood in front of Jason at the back door. Elizabeth was already in the backyard with the camera. The boys were trying to not fidget but it was difficult.
Two little heads bobbed up and down repeatedly. Jason opened the door and the boys ran past. They stopped, looked out at the trees and fenced in area, confused because it looked the same as always. Cameron and Jake looked at each other and then Cameron looked up at Jason.
Jake's excited yell interrupted Cameron. His eyes were huge before looking to the yard where the small bundle of fur was racing around. Cameron quickly followed Jake down the steps and ran to the dog. Neither boy could catch the speedy puppy, but if their giggles and squeals were any indication they didn't mind. They chased the puppy around the yard for an hour before the little dog got tired. Jason scooped up the puppy and brought him over to the water bowl Elizabeth set down. They boys followed. The puppy drank and the boys just chattered while petting him. Cameron suddenly leaned over and whispered to Jake. They both jumped up and threw themselves at Jason and hugged his neck.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
"You're welcome." They settled in his lap and continued to watch the puppy. "There are a few things we need to talk about." Two pairs of eyes looked up at him and waited. "I'm going to need your help. We'll have to feed him every day, give him water every day, play with him every day, teach him all kinds of commands and tricks, " The boys were nodding their heads in agreement. "Give him a name."
Elizabeth, Jason and Cameron all looked at Jake in surprise. Elizabeth spoke first.
"What about Lucky?"
Jake climbed out of Jason's lap and pointed at the dog.
Jason was highly amused, but kept it contained. Elizabeth was not fooled, but ignored him while talking to Jake.
"Jake, honey, don't you already know someone named Lucky?"
Jake shook his head no and crossed his arms. He was also doing a fairly good impression of his father's stance and his mother's stubborn expression. Elizabeth looked at Cameron.
"What do you think, Cam? Do you want to name him Lucky or do you have another name you like?"
Cameron got up and laid on his stomach in the grass in front of the puppy. He propped his elbows on the ground and looked intently at the small dog. The puppy looked back momentarily before licking Cameron all over his face. Elizabeth picked up the puppy so Cameron could catch his breath. He rolled onto his back still laughing and working on catching his breath. Jason reached out putting his hand on Cameron's belly.
"Yep." Cameron sat up and looked at his mom and step-dad. "I think Jake is right. His name is Lucky. He's lucky to have us take care of him and we are lucky to finally get a dog."
Jason couldn't argue with the five year old's logic. He looked at his wife who just shrugged.
"Lucky it is then."
The boys clapped and Jason and Elizabeth wondered how they would ever explain this to anyone else.
Later that night Jason was banned from the kitchen with only one statement from the boys to guide him.
"Surprise for you."
He could hear Elizabeth and the boys murmuring behind the closed door, but wondered what they were up to. He was getting ready to start a new chapter on Belgium when the kitchen door opened.
"Happy Father's Day!"
His shock turned to happiness when the boys came to him and Elizabeth was following with a tray. Cameron was explaining.
"We made you breakfast now instead of tomorrow because you get up before us and we're supposed to surprise you. We made omelets because mommy said you liked those." Cameron missed the tender look exchanged by the grown-ups as he continued to talk. "We picked out fruit and--"
"That's right, Jake. We made coffee with mommy's help because you drink it every day."
Jake helped again.
"Oh, yeah. We made these for you, too." Jason sat numb as a card was put in each hand. He opened the first card and read it. It was simple but made completely by his eldest. He thanked Cameron and hugged him. Jake's was mostly coloring with Elizabeth's handwriting outlining the holiday, but it was just as special to him and he hugged Jake, too. Cameron looked up at his mother who nodded and smiled in encouragement. He walked over and put his arm around Jake's shoulders.
"We want to be your kids so you can be a dad."
Jason's gaze flew to Elizabeth who was nodding at him. He looked back at the boys.
"Mommy explained that we can have two daddies if we wanted since she married you. We don't think it's fair we get two daddies, but you don't have any kids. So.....we want to be your kids." He paused. "Do you want us?"
Jason was almost too choked up to speak, but didn't want them to worry or wonder if he wanted to be their dad.
"Yes. I want you. I'd be" He had to swallow the lump in his throat, "honored to be your dad."
"We want to call you Daddy Jason so other people won't get confused which Dad we're talking to."
"That sounds like a good plan, boys."
"We just wanted you to know we love you, Jason." Cameron grinned. "Even before you got us the best surprise ever."
"You know what? You gave me the best surprise today, too."