With Heather gone once again, Seamus finally put his foot down and accepted the help Nick and Le had been offering for so long
Unfortunately, his life is no fairy tale, and the authorities have a say in the matter as well
My fingertips really burn from the constant nail biting during class today
Crap I wish the cop wouldn´t have known Nick, maybe another one would not have called CPS, maybe...
I stop dead right behind the front door when I realize there is someone standing at the counter
"Hi Nick... what´s that?"
He shuffles his feet with a slightly apologetic expression on is face
" Eh... I thought you guys would be, kinda, hungry coming home from school, and I ain´t no celebrity chef... so I made some sandwiches?"
"I reckon you don´t like the stuff, then?"
Sandwiches. He made sandwiches. For us.
I can´t even remember the last time I came home to find food on the table that was no leftover from breakfast. Jeeze! This is so...
"Nope man, I love sandwiches. Twins, too- common, let´s have some"
We dig in the food in hungry silence. Man it´s so weird to have company beside the pixies... wonder if Nick is thinking about his alone time right now, too
"You sure you wanna clear the table and all that? No homework today?"
"Yeah got some, but it´s ok. I got a lot of practice washing dishes, I am pretty fast"
"`Kayes then, I´ll be upstairs. Just call me"
Call him. Call him when the hag from CPS comes over
Crap I really wish she´d just stay away. I mean really, all is good now, right? Nobody cared enough to stop by while we still lived with Mom, so why can´t they just leave us alone now
Then again, they could hardly show up on our doorstep without any info...
How the hell am I supposed to concentrate on this stupid homework when I am stressing about real life stuff
The doorbell is beeping
I grit my teeth and get up to answer
The woman outside slightly tilts her head
Crap. Seems I could have been more friendly
"Good afternoon. I am Ms. Hudson, CPS- I came to talk to Mr. West?"
"... he´s upstairs. Come on I´ll show you the way... M´am"
She just nods a microscopic nod and steps back as I walk out of the door
"I suppose you are Seamus?"
God I just hate her
With a sinking feeling I lead the way. This is not going well at all
In the attic, Nick is storing away some more books. With a little surprise I note that most of them are for children, wonder where he got those from? Probably Le... she has a total zillion of books at her place... Jay will love that, he´s such a bookworm...
"Eh, hey Nick... the woman from CPS is here, wants to talk to you"
He turns around to greet her with a smile plastered to his lips
"Good afternoon, Ms....? Nice to meet you- glad you could fit us into your schedule on such short notice"
"Good afternoon and nice to meet you, too, Mr. West. The name is Hudson, Cherie Hudson"
Nice, nice, nice? I don´t trust you hag
"But let´s get down to business, if you don´t mind? So this is where the boys will be staying? All three of them?"
"Well, yes. Two beds for the twins on this side, one for Seam on the far side..."
I knew it! How the hell can Nick keep his calm like that?!?
"And that´s perfectly ok!" I blurt out
Nick looks a bit unsettled now
"Is that so?"
Oh crap. The rising of the eyebrow, again- when will I ever learn to keep my big mouth shut
Crap crap crap
"Eh, yeah, because, yanno, we have been sharing a room, between the three of us, like, always... oh, was that the door? I believe it was, must be the twins, I´ll better go downstairs and check..." I stutter
"Good idea, you do that. We´ll join you in a minute, huh?"
"`Kayes, seeya in a ... minute"
I mumble and leg it
Oh yeah sure, now `we´ is Nick and HER all out of a sudden, eh? Great, just great!
I stomp down the stairs
"He has a lot of anger built up inside of him, Mr. West... how´s he doing at school?"
"It´s an uphill battle. He´s struggling hard to catch up on all that stuff he´s been missing out on over the last years... but he´s making good progress, M´am"
Ms. Hudson laughs softly at that
"Mr. West, I think you understood me quiet well, but I can rephrase the question... I´d like to know if Seamus is getting into fights a lot. Does he?"
Gee she´s a bright one
"No, M´am. Not at all. He sticks with his older half brother and his friends most of the time. They kids bother nobody and keep to themselves"
She pulls out a notepad and starts to scribble away
"Hm alright then... time for the standard procedure, I guess..."
"You are going to write a report on us?!"
"Mr. West, come on now. Seriously? You did not really expect me to walk into your home, take a look around and walk away, did you? I have to deliver a report to the department. A court might be forced to make a decision based on this report- and THIS is MY responsibility""
"Well I suppose I just didn´t think that far, sorry. Just carry on"
So she takes pictures of the room
And notes on the overall impression
This takes longer as Nick expected, but in the end she is done
"So much for the bureaucratic part. Is there anything that you would like to dicuss before we join the boys downstairs, Mr. West?"
Seems like Nick´s unhappy expression did not go unnoticed. He swallows hard
"Eh... yes. Not sure if Sergeant O´Bregon already told you, but I think you´d better know- I .... I did four years for theft in Egypt, some ten years ago. So if that means the boys can´t stay with me, please tell me right away"
The social worker smiles a little now. God only knows how many times she has been about that subject before
"I won´t lie to you, if you would apply for a job as a foster parent, your past would most likely disqualify you. But as you are, well, only informing the authorities that you as an uncle are taking your nephews in... and did not break any laws eversince... Mr. West I am not making any promises, but I for my part have no objections so far. I will still need to talk to the boys, of course"
"Of course. Thanks for your candor"
Meanwhile, Jay and Kay are doing their homework, as usual with some help from their big brother
"Seamus, can we have a word?"
Why is she still here, pretending to care?
"What do you want? I am busy, can´t you see the twins need my help with their homework?"
"All in all I the only thing I want is the answer to one question at the moment... and this is, DO you want to stay here with your uncle, Seamus?"
Crap I am such an idiot
"I guessed that much. So how about you tell me... in your own words... why exactly you think that staying with Mr. West will improve your situation... come on kid, fire away, I am all ears" she smiles reassuringly
So I start to tell her
And then, somehow, I can´t seem to stop
I tell her all.
About Mom. Carella. Wright. School. Le. Nick. The Lizard. Sheila. Mac. The guys
"... and then she walked out on us, and she just did not come back, again. And somehow... I don´t know, I just couldn´t... so I thought, hell with it, Nick is good now, why shouldn´t we do it? Why should we not move to his place, would make things easier for all of us? So... here we are now"
Slowy she puts away her notepad
"Oh my... Seamus why on earth did you not contact us any earlier, we might have been able to help before things turned out so nasty"
I hesitate for a bit, but I guess she really wants to know
"Nick was hardly able to look after himself for, like, ages. And Mom always said if we were to tell anybody at all, we´d be put into separate foster homes and never see each other again... now look me straight in the eye and tell me she was lying about that, too"
Ms. Hudson studies my face for a long time before replying
"No. She was probably right- back then. If your uncle would not be ready to take care of you, it would have been very likely. But today, things are very different, fortunately."
She then examines the whole house
She talks to Kaine; briefly because he´s so shy when it comes to talking to strangers
And she listens to Jared, who, by the looks of it, tells her his view on things in elaborate detail
Then he calls me over
"Hey Seam, we´re done talking... Cherie says, you can go now"
Nick seems about as alarmed as I feel
Automatically he makes a small step to shield me
"Go? Where do you want to take him, M´am?"
"To his mother´s apartment, Mr. West. I need to verify the information I got here so far... Seamus and I have talked about this already, and he agreed to let me in. This is way easier as getting a search warrant, you see"
"All right then. Seam, if there is any trouble... you know what I mean... call me, I´ll be there in no time"
I guess I should have told him straight away, it´s clear to see that he doesn´t like the idea one bit... I shuffle my feet and mumble
Ms. Hudson is with car, so we drive over. Hard to believe, but her´s is even smaller than Le´s
Then it hits me
We´re heading home
Mom might be home by now
"So... are you ready, Seamus?"
I tried pretty hard not to let it show, but she must have noticed anyway
"Sure, I am good. Let´s go"
So I enter the hallway, once again
I know she is watching me, so I straighten my back and stride on
Inwardly, I feel like screaming and running away
Old habits die hard
I open the door with caution and call out
Ohmygodthankyou... she is not here
Ms. Hudson doesn´t comment while she gives me a moment to pull it together
Quietly, she takes out her wretched notepad and starts to check out the place
Nervously I watch her taking notes in the kitchen.... I wonder what she is writing? I tried so hard to keep the place clean...
She takes a look into the fridge, too... well, I used the last food in there before we left
Then, suddenly, she takes out a camera
Somehow, it makes a difference to know that there will be more than words in her report
"Eh, Ms. Hudson... do you really have to, you know, take... pictures?"
"I am afraid so, Seamus. Don´t worry, it´s not like we hand the files around, it´s only evidence. And I will soon be done, too"
True to her word, she takes some final notes and is ready to go
I itch so much to get out of here, it´s sick
I almost run out of the lift and out of the building
She is going to laugh at me any second, I just know it. The grin is already lurking in the corners of her mouth
"My my, what´s gotten into you? Are you really so keen on getting back to your brothers?"
I can hardly hold it together anymore
"Please... stop playing around, just tell me, are you going to separate us?"
Now she seems to be taken aback
How can she be such an actress? She must know by now, or not?
"Seamus, relax! For all I have seen today, and heard, I can see no reason why you boys should not stay with your uncle! But I still have to defend my report to my superiour to make the decision official, so..."
Talk talk talk nothing but talk
I can´t listen anymore
I fight back the tears
How could I almost trust her?!
"I guess we better get back in the car now. I think I need to talk to Mr. West"
All in vain. For nothing
She does not try to talk to me, either
I am a little surprised when she adresses me after dropping me off at Nick´s place
"Seamus, I want you to stay right here while I talk to your uncle if that´s ok with you"
Nick practically darts out of the building as soon as she touches the doorbell
Looking from me to her and back, seems like he senses something is off right away and furrows his brow
I can´t talk, my tongue is tied
As I do not speak up, she does
"Well, Mr. West, for some reason Seamus it utterly convinced that he and his brothers will be sent to separate foster families. I, on the other hand hereby assure you that I will not let that happen by any means!
But I need one more thing from you"
What?! What the hell is she talking about?!
"I´d do anything, M´am. Anything you want"
"Excellent. Sign here"
And this is when she pulls out that stupid pad again, and a pen, and presents it to Nick
"I... I beg your pardon?!"
"My report suggests that the boys should be left in your care until further notice, and should not be returned to the mother even if she should surface shortly. It also states that you are completely willing to take sole custody- all it takes right now is your signature"
And then, he signed
"Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. West. I will send you the confirmed papers shortly, most likely next week, and will stop by again next month. In the meantime, please keep in mind that you can call me any time, night and day, on the emergency number I gave you. Even if it´s not an emergency and you just need advice on something concerning the boys- just call"
I still don´t get it
"We have to thank you, M´am. And trust me, I will not hesitate to use that number when something goes wrong"
And then, she walks away and drives off
And then it finally sinks in
"She- we- we can stay? Here? With you, and Le, and all?!"
"Eh, yeah, that´s what she said"
"We can stay! We don´t have to go back! We can stay! Omygawd NICK!! WE CAN STAY!!"
"Yeah. You guys can stay here"
Nick gently pulls me into a hug as I finally loose it and start to cry my heart out
"And we´ll stick together, you, me, the twins and Le... it´s all over now, Seam. It´s over"
Today´s the day