"There's the bus," Bill announced. (Since Bill worked from home, he was well aware when the school bus came through the neighborhood every day.)
Derek got up and went outside, dreading meeting the kid.
Declan had walked from the end of the street, where the schoolbus had dropped him off.
Declan was NOT in a good mood.
"Hello, Declan," Derek greeted the boy. "I'm Derek. How was school?"
"It SUCKED!" Declan answered.
"Is this where I'm supposed to live now???" the boy demanded.
"Well," Derek answered slowly, "your mom asked me to take care of you for the time being, but just for tonight we're going across the street to my friend Bill's house."
"Are you gay???" Declan demanded rudely, as Bill came outside.
'Oh boy,' Derek thought.
The three walked across the street.
Since Derek hadn't managed to get a bed for Declan that same day, Regina and Bill had offered to put the boy up for the night in Dude's former bedroom.
"Declan, this is our friend Alice," Bill said. "She's making us all some dinner."
Declan wandered over to the stove. "Wow, you're hot!" he said.
Alice said nothing.
"Declan, let's sit at the table and do your homework," Derek said sternly.
"I HATE homework!" Declan complained, once he'd sat down.
"But homework is important, Declan," Derek. "Being good at school is what will get you a good job years from now."
"Who the fuck cares about that???" Declan responded angrily.
"Declan!" Derek reprimanded him. "Do NOT use that kind of language in my friends' house!"
"OR ANYWHERE!!!" he boomed.
"Let's eat," Alice said sweetly. In her view, there were few problems that a platter of Mac and Cheese couldn't make better.
"Wow, this is really good," Declan muttered.
"Is Mac and Cheese one of your favorites?" Alice asked gently.
"Dunno," Declan replied glumly. "My mom leaves me alone a lot, and I usually just eat cereal."
Regina had stayed outside, gardening, because the group didn't want to overwhelm Declan with a lot of new people at once.
"How's it going?" asked Regina, who was fertilizing their apple tree.
"That kid is the most unpleasant little shit I've ever met," Bill declared.
"Oh, Bill!" Regina chided him. "Maybe he's had a difficult life up to this point."
After dinner, Derek helped Declan finish his homework--although the kid complained throughout.
Derek then let the boy watch the Kids' Network on TV for a short while.
"Is that a baby?" Declan asked about the bassinet behind the sofa. " 'Cause I HATE babies."
"I'm pretty sure YOU were a baby once," Derek told him.
"Then I would have hated myself," Declan replied.
Derek put Declan to bed in Dude's former bedroom.
'I've got to get this kid some pajamas,' he thought. (Lana had not brought any extra clothes for her son when she had dumped him on Derek and Kelly's doorstep that morning.)
'Wow--this is the most comfortable bed I've ever been in,' Declan thought, as he drifted off to sleep and Derek turned off the lamp.
"I'll tell you ONE thing," Regina stated. "After I heard that kid say he hated babies--and given that both Alice and Dude are at work--we're putting Daedelus's bassinet in our bedroom tonight!"