Lena keeps looking at her watch. He’s late. She can’t remember being this nervous before. She knows that if this doesn’t work, all that they have fought so hard for could be undone. She looks at her own hands. When did they became so full of wrinkles, she asks herself.
She checks her watch again. Even though the lump in her stomach is the size of a football, she smiles slightly remembering Jude always telling her what a relic she was for still wearing a watch and not checking the time on her phone like everyone else.
The smile doesn’t last long. She looks down on the metal box on the booth sofa beside her. Inside of it lays their last desperate chance to save him.
Lena starts thinking back to times past. She thinks about one of the strongest memories she has. A memory reminding her what she’s doing here, reminding her of what she’s fighting for. A memory of a night some twenty years ago that she’s thought about many many times before.
“Honey... honey wake up.”
Stef watches her wife as she slowly awakes. She doesn’t like doing this. Lena has had great difficulties sleeping after the trial against Adam that ended a month or so ago. Lena had been there when Jude’s written statement had been read out loud, describing what had been done to him. She’d heard and seen it all. Per Jude’s request Lena had not shared what she had learned, not even with her wife.
So, Stef doesn’t like doing this but she finds it necessary. Lena is needed and Stef can’t fill her role.
“Wh-what?” The dark haired woman looks confused. She was apparently in a, much needed, deep sleep.
Stef gives her wife a few moments before she speaks.
“He’s in the bathroom.”
Lena doesn’t make a sound and yes, her wife is right. She can hear the water running through the pipes.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Stef asks even if she already knows the answer.
Lena sniffles before shaking her head. Stef understands.
“I’m sorry.”, Lena says.
“Don’t be. He needs you.”
Lena nods slowly and gets up from the bed. She puts on her robe before opening the door to their bedroom. Stef wishes she could help. Some small part of her is a bit hurt that she’s not the one that can help him now but she does understand. Lena had cried more from the time the trial began until now than she had done for as long as Stef had known her. She didn’t envy what she must have learned during the trial but she would share her pain in a heartbeat if she could.
As Lena approaches the closed bathroom door at the other end of the hallway separating their bedroom and Jude’s she can hear him. He tries to muffle the sounds and the running water drowns some of it out but still, she can hear him.
Lena closes her eyes and sniffles again. She takes a deep breath and opens the bathroom door.
It takes a few moments before Jude realizes he’s not alone. During these moments Lena witnesses Jude frantically trying to scrub his sheets under the running water. He’s got a towel wrapped around his waist and is wearing an oversized t-shirt. His hands are shaking, making it harder for him, and he’s sobbing with his mouth closed.
Lena closes the door behind her, startling Jude. When the initial shock passes Jude starts crying and he starts whispering while whimpering.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
Jude’s legs cave in and by instinct Lena moves towards him.
“Shhh sweetheart.” Lena sits down on the floor next to him and tries to reach for him but he shrugs. Physical contact not welcomed right now. Even though Jude had lived in her house for well over a year, Lena can count the number of times she’s been allowed to touch Jude on one hand.
The water is still running in the sink so Lena reaches up and turns it off.
Jude puts his arms around his legs that are pressed against his chest. He rocks front and back while sobbing.
“I’m so-sorry. It w-w-w-won’t happen again.”
Lena tries to speak but Jude continues to talk while his sobs are getting louder and louder.
“Pl-please don’t send me away. It w-won’t happen again.”
Jude repeats that he’s sorry several times per second. Lena has to intervene.
“Sweetheart. Jude. Shh. Don’t cry.”
Nothing seem to help.
“Jude, please. Yo-you got nothing to be sorry about.”
Jude hides his face in his hands. He’s having trouble taking regular breaths. Lena tries to speak with a soft voice to calm him down.
“Jude… sweetheart. You’re not in trouble. You’re safe. We love you. Stef loves you. I love you. Connor loves you.”
The mention of Connor does seem to work as Jude’s almost-hyper-ventilating ceases. Jude puts down his hands and put his arms around his legs again, his cheeks are red and tears are smeared all over his face. He can’t look Lena in the eyes.
Lena tries to come up with something to say.
“Jude… you are safe. You got nothing to be sorry about.”
Jude sniffles while fixating his gaze upon a spot on the floor. Lena is just being nice, he reasons. The two of them sits on the bathroom floor for a few minutes. Jude finally speaks.
“I’m so sorry… I didn’t mean to. I-I don’t know why…”
Lena considers if she should tell him that she and Stef knows he’s done it before and that of course it doesn’t matter to them but she decides against it.
“You think… perhaps it’s because of what happened earlier today?”
Jude’s still stubbornly looking at the fixed point. He dries his nose with his arm and his eyes start to sting again.
“I don’t regret not go-going.”
Lena nods, hoping Jude sees her movements in the corner of his eye.
“Ok… I believe you.”
Jude breathes through his nose. He bites on his lip and tries to fight the tears. After another minute or so of silence Jude speaks again, still looking down.
“I can’t believe she’s really gone.”
Lena waits. Jude hasn’t mentioned his sister’s passing a single time, every time anyone tries to talk to him about it he leaves the room. Caroline Jacob had been buried earlier today. Jude had not wanted to attend.
For the first time since Lena entered the bathroom, her eyes are met by Jude’s brown ones. They look so sad that Lena has to make an effort not to let it show how much it affects her.
“Do you think she’s happy now?”
Lena forces down saliva in order to speak without a broken voice.
“I… I think she’s in a better place, yes.”
Jude sniffles again. He bites down hard on his lower lip. A tear escapes his eye and he nods slowly while looking at Lena.
“Di-did she suffer?”
Lena hesitates, not really knowing what Jude means.
“I mean did she… instantly?”
“Yeah, she… she didn’t suffer.”
Jude nods again and dries his eyes with his arm.
Jude looks down again.
”The place that she… that she did it, was it the bridge near La Mesa?”
Lena furrows her brow. They had not mentioned any details regarding Callie’s suicide and it had been left out in the papers.
“Umm… yes. How did you know?”
No response from Jude. Lena almost finds it eerie, the way Jude asked while at the same time he seemed almost certain what the answer would be.
After a few moments of silence, Lena is about to repeat her question when Jude continues. He speaks in a low voice, fidgeting with his hands while looking down at the bathroom floor.
“I didn’t want her to die.”
“I know you didn’t-”, Lena responds but is interrupted by Jude’s voice that cracks as he starts to sob.
“Ju-just because I didn’t want to go to her f-funeral doesn’t mean I wanted her to die.”
“I know sweetheart. We all know that, Jude.”
Jude keeps going from seeming to be deeply upset to being quite calm. Lena has seen this a few times before. Jude has several copying mechanisms and when he gets too upset he has some sort of ability to shut himself down. Lena had gotten to know the hard way why Jude had to learn that skill. She had learned it by sitting in that courtroom listening to Jude’s own written words, describing how humanity had failed him severely.
Lena and Jude sits in silence. Jude needs the time and Lena’s mind starts to wander.
Lena gets frustrated. She doesn’t know what to tell him and she’s not allowed to touch him. When it came to her other kids, the ones that had moved out years ago, she always knew what to say. When she didn’t find the words she could comfort them by hugging them.
Jude Jacob is another story completely and Lena worries over Jude. A lot.
Lena worries what would happen if Jude’s secret ever came out.
Lena worries what will happen when Roy dies. Roy being the last person alive from Jude’s past and old life. She knows he’s important Jude. Him probably being the only person Jude had told things that not even Connor knows.
Connor. The boy that Lena can never thank enough for everything. It’s almost two years ago that she first saw the name Connor Michael Stevens on a transfer application. Never ever could she imagine how big an impact him moving to San Diego would have. Connor. The young man that had learned Jude’s secret on his own and, at age 16, had never even considered giving up on the boy he loved. Lena makes a mental to note to hug Connor extra hard the next time she sees him.
Sometimes though, Lena even worries about Connor. Well not about Connor per se, but more how dependent Jude is of Connor. Jude would not survive without Connor, Lena had not a single doubt about that. Luckily, the two of them were destined for each other, anyone could tell. However, Lena worried about how young they were. Jude’s 17 for another month and Connor had turned 18 not three months ago. Jude and Connor could not be attached to the hip forever and sometimes Lena worries how Jude would fare. How Jude would cope with stressful situations. How he would do in the real world and not in the world he and Connor sometimes spends time in.
Mostly, Lena worries about Jude breaking. That his mind and spirit finally one day will say that enough is enough. She knows he hasn’t processed it all. Not by a longshot. After the trial she knows why, it will probably take Jude’s entire life to process it. A chill goes through Lena’s body as pictures shown at the trial flashes before her eyes.
“Are you ok…?”
A soft voice brings her back to the bathroom. She looks at Jude and is met by the sight of a young man with worry written all over his face.
Lena clears her throat. She looks down on her hand that’s resting palm down on the bathroom floor she and Jude are sitting on. Jude’s put his small hand on top of hers. Lena fights hard to keep her emotions in check.
“Yes. I’m ok.”
She forces a smile.
“You’re crying.” Jude still looks worried.
”What? No…” Lena touches her face with her free hand. Jude was right. She hadn’t even noticed.
Lena laughs softly at herself.
“Oh god, you’d think after raising three kids I’d be better at this comforting thing, huh?”
Jude eyes shift from being worried to a warmer tone as he gives her a slight smile.
A few drops of water make a noise as they hit the sink still filled with water. Jude’s smile disappears again and he looks down.
“Jude, please. Jude, look at me.”
Jude doesn’t obey.
”It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You think it’s the first time someone’s wet their bed in this house? We were thinking of getting the twins plastic matrasses for a while.”
Lena had hoped her semi-jokingly tone would help Jude, but it didn’t.
Jude sniffles and speaks with such a low voice that Lena has to make an effort to hear him.
“I’m almost 18… Pretty sure Jesus and Mariana weren’t 18 when they did…”
“No… no, they weren’t. But they… they hadn’t been through… what you’ve been through.”
Jude lets Lena’s words sink in for a moment before he goes on.
“I’ve done it before… I’m sorry.”
“I know Jude, and I keep telling you, you got nothing to be sorry about.”
Jude looks up, his lips are pressed together and he looks both scared and sad.
Lena nods and tries to give him a comforting smile.
“Yes. We heard you being in the bathroom one night and the next morning you had changed your sheets. Please Jude, don’t worry about it.”
“I understand, but you don’t have to feel embarrassed in this house. Ever.”
“I don’t know why I do it…”
“You don’t? I think the last time was December, am I right?”
Jude thinks for a moment before he nods.
“And it happened exactly one year after…” Lena trails off.
Jude doesn’t say anything.
“Does Connor know?”
“No. I think he’s been understanding enough without knowing that.”
“He wouldn’t mind Jude. You must know that?”
Jude clams up again. Seeing that the topic is a bit too uncomfortable for Jude, Lena changes the subject towards the reason they are sitting on the floor right now.
“You think you want to visit her someday?”
At first, Jude doesn’t seem to have any reaction at all. After a while his jaw starts to tremble and he whispers something that Lena doesn’t hear.
Jude doesn’t say anything but his mind is working fast. He wants to talk to Lena so badly. He wants to tell her. For the first time he doesn’t want to keep it all to himself anymore. He’s about to, but he stops himself at the last moment.
Before the trial Jude had asked of Lena not to talk about his written testimony. Not with him, not with anyone. Lena had of course obeyed Jude’s wish, even if it caused her great stress not being able to include Stef. Jude knew that this pained both Stef and Lena but he just wasn’t ready.
“I think… I think I’m gonna try to get some sleep.” Jude finally says.
Jude nods even if he’s not sure about anything right now.
Jude stands up and goes back to washing his sheets in the sink.
“I’ll just put them in the dryer Jude, don’t worry about it.”
Jude doesn’t say anything, he just nods again at Lena. Lena doesn’t like the way he looks when leaving the bathroom. He’s shut down for some reason, Lena knows there’s no point in pushing him. For a second there she almost thought he was about to open up, but then he shut down again.
With an uneasy mind Lena finishes up in the bathroom before going back to the bedroom. Stef is sitting up in their bed when she comes back, wide awake. She looks worried. A common look in the Adams Foster house this night.
“How is he?”
Lena sighs deeply before laying down again in their bed.
“I… I don’t know. He’s not letting me in.”
“He’s ashamed about wetting the bed.”
“But, didn’t you tell him-.”
“Yes… yes, of course I did, not sure he listened.”
Lena looks over at her wife.
“I’ll do anything for him.”
Stef smiles at her wife, she feels the same way.
“I know, honey. Me too. We just have to show him over and over again that we love him. He’ll let us in, sooner or later.”
As Lena tells her wife about her and Jude’s conversation in the bathroom, sooner proves to come before later.
A soft knock on the door to their bedroom. Both Stef and Lena looks at each other as if to check with the other to see if they are imagining it.
“Come in.” Stef says.
The door opens slowly. The room is dimly lit but they can see Jude wrapped in his comforter.
A broken voice is heard.
“Ca-can I sleep with you?”
Lena nearly gasps but refrains. Stef answers him immediately.
“Of course, Bubba. Come here.”
As Jude gets closer to the bed, and with that the bedside table lamp, Stef and Lena can see that Jude’s been crying.
Stef and Lena makes room for Jude in-between them in their king size bed. Jude leaves his comforter on the floor before he gets under Stef's and Lena’s and lays down on his back.
The two women don’t know what to say or do. They’re not in shock but they certainly didn’t expect this.
Jude’s breathing is irregular. He’s emotional over something.
Jude’s small voice breaks the heavy sound of silence in the room. He starts to cry.
“She hated me…”
Lena and Stef were caught off guard, it takes a moment before Lena responds.
“I don’t thin-.”, Lena’s interrupted as Jude speaks again.
“She hated me.”
The women move close to Jude without touching him, not knowing if it’s welcomed or not.
Lena and Stef looks at each other. They don’t know what to say. Jude has his eyes closed and he’s crying, silently at first.
“Why did she hate me, mom?” Jude opens his eyes and looks at Lena. Lena’s scared. Jude’s eyes are pleading.
Jude turns towards Stef, still crying.
“I ju-just wanted her to love me, mom.”
Stef and Lena don’t know what to think. He’s never called them by anything but their names before.
“I-I think she did. In her way.”
Jude shakes his head. He closes his eyes again in an attempt to hinder more tears from running down his cheeks.
“Sh-she didn’t. “
Stef can’t take it anymore. She acts without thinking but she can’t let Jude just lay there crying and saying the things he’s saying. She puts her arm around him and shifts closer, hugging him tightly. Lena is terrified for a second before she sees Jude turning so he lays on his side, hugging Stef back while crying into her chest.
Stef reaches for Lena and pulls her closer. Stef and Lena holds Jude tightly, Lena holding him from behind. This action makes Jude’s walls come down for the first time in their presence. Jude starts talking.
“Mom… mom, she did things to me. It-it wasn’t just him.”
Stef and Lena continues holding him. They are both having their eyes closed, feeling too emotional not to. Neither one of them have any idea how to handle the fact that Jude refers to them as ‘mom’.
Lena whispers in Jude’s ear.
“I know… I know, sweetheart.”
They have a hard time hearing him as Jude is crying into Stef’s chest.
“Are you sure?”
“They showed us… pictures. Pictures the police found. Pictures that… he… had taken.”
Lena takes a much needed moment before continuing.
“And she… she was in some of the pictures…”
Jude’s practically bawling in-between the two women. Stef and Lena looks at each other. Both have tears in their eyes.
Stef and Lena never breaks eye-contact as Jude tells them things that they understand he probably has never told anyone before. He breaks both their hearts when he tells them how he got the bruises on his inner thighs that Lena had seen in a picture during the trial. The picture had left little to the imagination what had been done to him. Everyone, including the judge had been so deeply affected by it that a break was ordered and sessions weren’t continued until the following day.
They can tell that he’s not his usual self. Jude always weighs his words. He never speaks without thinking, but now the words are practically pouring out.
Sometimes it’s incoherent and sometimes his choice of words doesn’t make sense to them but they let him continue all the same.
Jude stops talking for a while. When he continues Lena can’t help herself, she begins to sob when being reminded once again how damaged Jude is.
“I love you, mom. I miss you. I need you… I need you to come back.”
The two of them can’t make themselves tell Jude that she’s not here. If this is the place his mind needs to go, tonight they will let it.
Stef and Lena keeps looking at each other. They both know what the other one is thinking. Connor will need all the help he can get putting Jude back together.
Finally, Jude falls asleep in their arms. The last thing he mumbles not anything they will forget anytime soon.
“I miss you, mom.”