Where there is reluctant adjusting, an admirable ear, and a broken window.
"I said I'm not doing dishes and I'm not gonna do dishes!" Oliver hollered loudly, feeling rather cornered as he stood with hackles raised in the kitchen, Sirius facing him and standing square in the middle of the entrance to the kitchen looking firm. Like he had any right to be firm. Oliver was so sick of people pretending they cared. "And don't give me shit about how this family all helps out. I'm not your family, so get that through your head, all right? You're fags, you can't even have kids!"
Sirius took a deep breath.
"Oliver. This is your home now," he said for what felt like the millionth time in the last few months since the adoption had been made official. Before that Oliver had been sulky and had spent more time hiding, not attempting to make so much as friends with he or Remus. Despite his reluctance to adapt to Sirius and Remus' life, they'd both seen something in him; potential, a desperate need of a stable home life, and of love and attention. "We love you, and we expect you to do your share. I'm not being unfair, here."
"You love me?" Oliver replied incredulously, taking a confrontational step forward. "You think you love me? You don't... you don't even know me! What are you, fucking stupid? Get away from me."
"No," Sirius replied smoothly, stepping forward himself.
"Get out of my fucking face!" Oliver shouted, hands balled at his side. He took a breath and tilted his chin up to try and show he wasn't scared of Sirius. "I don't care if you think you love me or not, because I hate you anyway."
"No you don't," Sirius said, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow. "And I'm not going anywhere. I'll get in as much of your 'fucking' face as I like."
"Shut up and stop looking at me like that! You don't know me! You don't know shit about me!" Oliver yelled. He grabbed the nearest thing--which happened to be the half full cold kitchen kettle--and spun as he lobbed it as hard as he could at the big living room window nearest the kitchen. It shattered and glass fell everywhere. The noise was gratifying to Oli and he turned back to Sirius with a sneer, snarling, "Fetch, and leave me alone."
Sirius blinked incredulously at the window and then looked at Oliver. His voice raised slightly he said, "Is that how you treat people, Oliver? You throw their things and break their windows and scream and yell at them? That's not how the world works. Count yourself lucky you are where you are, kid. I know all about you. My father used to beat the shit out of me on a weekly basis for something as simple as losing a button off of my coat." Sirius could see that this was just another in a long line of tests to see if he and Remus wouldn't just write him off the same as every other adult in his young life.
"You're not going anywhere. You're going to pay for that window out of your allowance."
Oliver stared at him for a moment, brain spinning with anger. "So that's it, huh? Boo hoo, you know what it's like to have a crap family. You're lucky your dad stopped at beating the shit out of you. You're lucky he--" He choked up then, and trailed off, turning his back on Sirius and taking some deep breaths as the tears came to his eyes. He scrubbed them away so fast and so hard it hurt, so hard he hoped it left him bruised, but the tears kept coming. "You don't know anything."
Sirius bent so he was bending at the knees and balancing on his heels. "Oliver, we want to give you love and a good, happy life. But you've got to let us, son."
"Fuck off," Oliver said, keeping his back to Sirius and still rubbing at his eyes, now trying not to sniffle as well. He was only nine, but he hated feeling out of control and he hated crying and he felt vulnerable and prickly and he wanted to be left alone. "I don't have to let you do nothin'."
"No. But I would hope you'd want to let us, Oliver," Sirius said kindly, voice still firm. "You have to trust us. We're not sending you back. You're here for keeps, I promise."
"Fuck off, you fag!" Oliver screamed, turning around and shoving Sirius. He hated this. People didn't love him, or if they did, they only did until it got hard and then they left him alone for two weeks when he was only six and he had to cook for himself, or when he was seven and his father committed the ultimate betrayal. He'd had a family, a real family, and even they didn't keep on loving him. How could two guys who'd only met him a few months ago think they loved him? How could they expect him to believe that when it was obviously bollocks?
Sirius toppled back onto his arse. "What would you rather, Oliver?" he asked calmly, masking his complete and utter frustration with the boy and desperately wishing that Remus would come home. "Would you like me to lie to you and say mean and hateful things? Call you names? Make you uncomfortable and sad, and to make you feel worthless in your own home?"
"This isn't my home!" Oli replied, his young voice distraught as he dropped to sit in the corner, hiding his face in his arms. His next soft words were muffled both by his arms and by sobs that shook his shoulders even as he tried to stifle them, but they were still audible as he said, "And at least I'm used to that."
"This is your home, Oliver," Sirius reaffirmed desperately, clamouring on his knees and shuffling over to Oliver. "We don't want to hurt you, or make you feel bad. We want to love you and make you happy."
"Just leave me alone," Oliver pleaded through another sob, leaning away from Sirius as he felt him moving closer.
"No," Sirius insisted.
Oli kicked out with one leg in the general direction of where Sirius was without looking up and cried, "Go away!"
"No!" Sirius said forcefully, and reached forward, pulling Oliver into a tight hug.
"Let me go," Oliver said, writhing in Sirius' grasp. The tears bubbled up more rapidly and Oliver just wanted to run for it. "Get off!"
Sirius held onto Oliver for dear life. "I love you, Oliver," he insisted.
"Don't... don't!" Oli sobbed, still struggling against Sirius. It had been years since anyone but a doctor had touched him in a gentle way, and he didn't trust it. "Lemme g-go!"
"No. I'm not letting go," Sirius said, shifting slightly so he could tighten his grip. "I love you." he repeated.
"Get off," Oliver said again, but the struggling had relaxed and the angry hands that had been trying to push Sirius away now only put a half-hearted pressure on Sirius' shoulders. The anger too had left his voice as he protested, "No one loves me."
"I love you. And Remus loves you. And if you let them, Uncle James and Aunt Lily will love you, and Harry, and little Madeline," Sirius said. "And your Grandmother and Grandfather Lupin. And everyone will. I promise, Oliver. There's lots and lots of love here for you."
Oliver stopped fighting altogether then and pressed his face into Sirius' chest. "What did your dad do to you? I-I-I... Meghan said I should talk about it with you. I don't want to. She just said."
"He did what my mother told him to do," Sirius explained quietly. "She wanted me and my brother to be afraid of them, and to do exactly what she wanted us to do. She wasn't a very good mom."
"My mom wasn't a good mom either," Oliver said nervously. He didn't like talking about himself, but he'd never met anyone whose parents had actually hurt them too. His voice dropped to a whisper as he added, "My dad was the worst though."
"Dad's can be, when they take advantage of being bigger then their kids," Sirius reflected. "You know, Oliver, I can't promise that I'm going to be the greatest dad in the world. But I'll really try."
"Why do you like me?" Oliver ask, feeling about half of his nine years old, and he squeezed his eyes shut so he wouldn't have to see himself acting so pathetic. He'd been taking care of himself since before he was even old enough to do it, because he'd always had to. "No one ever has."
"You're a good, wonderful boy, Oliver," Sirius said. "You're smart, and you have the potential to do something great with your life.
"I just threw the kettle through the window. Again," Oliver reminded him with a familiar, deviant tilt to his chin as he looked up at Sirius and managed a weak smirk.
"Well even smart people do bad things," Sirius said, smiling slightly. "I set my mother's porch railing on fire... six times? Don't get any ideas."
"Will you like me anyway even if I keep doing bad things?" Oliver asked, cheeks pinking as he asked for reassurance.
"Yes," Sirius insisted. "It's unconditional. Not matter what you do, I'm still going to love you. And so is Remus."
Just then, Remus stepped through the door, eyes somewhat wide as he held the broken remnants of the kettle in his hands. "What happened here? Goodness, another window bites the dust." He paused then as he saw Oliver scramble away from Sirius on the floor and wipe his face. Remus smiled and set the kettle down on the counter. "Am I interrupting?"
"No, nothing. Just a manly conversation about football, motorbikes and medium rare steak," Sirius said, climbing to his feet and giving Remus a look he hope conveyed I think I did something right.
Remus smiled brightly at Sirius, and then turned to Oliver. "I'll let the kettle slide for now as long as you don't tell me you want a motorbike too, Oliver. One in the family causes enough stress, even if you have a few years to go before you can drive."
"I won't tell you then," Oliver said, and made a good show of being cocky despite his red eyes. "But maybe I'll tell Sirius later. After I finish the dishes, I guess."
"I should probably go pick up a plate of glass and make James help me fix the window," Sirius said, thoughtfully, treading over the flecks of glass to inspect the hole.
"Or you could hire someone to do it like a normal person," Remus suggested wryly, leaning in to kiss Sirius on the cheek. Lingering close, he whispered, "Everything okay?"
"I'm not stupid. I know you're asking him about what happened and not just admiring his ear from close up," Oliver piped up. "I freaked out and Sirius... fixed it, I guess."
Sirius held back a laugh, and cleared his throat instead. "James and I are perfectly capable of fixing the window and saving the extra money it would cost to hire some jackass to do it for us. I mean. Some guy to do it. Pardon my French."
"Language," Remus said anyway, and then grinned. "But you're right. Why pay for one guy when you can have two for free?"
Oliver rolled his eyes and got to his feet. "Hey, so since I'm staying, can I have a dog? I always wanted one, but I was never allowed."
Sirius rolled his eyes at Remus' joke and still looking at him said to Oliver, "Are you going to train it and walk it and feed it and play with it everyday? Or is it going to be some novelty that wears off after a while and that falls back on your father and I?"
Oliver shrugged like he didn't care because it was more manly not to care, but he really wanted a dog. Dogs didn't judge like people did. They were a man's best friend, everyone said so. He thought he could talk to a dog because it wouldn't talk back. It wouldn't even understand, and Oliver could just have a simple friend he could get stuff out of his head with. "I don't know. I've never had one, how do I know if it's a novelty or whatever? But if it was mine, I'd never abandon it."
It broke Remus' heart, how fierce that last sentence was. A nine year old child should never know what abandonment felt like; he should never be scared of love. Nine year olds should still be completely innocent. Remus wanted to give him a dog too, and he was sure Sirius would love it. Sirius had wanted a dog too, and had never gotten one. "Sirius and I will have to talk about it."
"Mm hm. And dishes in the meantime. Moony, do you know where my measuring tape is?" Sirius asked.
"Yeah, yeah," Oliver grumbled and headed reluctantly towards the sink.
"Probably wherever you left it after you measured the big front window after our last kettle met a similar untimely end," Remus teased in response. "Oh, no. That would be the middle of the living room floor. Perhaps someone cleaned up after you."
"And where did that someone put my measuring tape?" Sirius questioned, grinning.
"Who knows. Perhaps in the hall closet with the rest of your fix it supplies," Remus replied with a smile. "Or maybe he put it somewhere less obvious so you'd think to pick up after yourself in the future."
"I think I'll go check in the hall closet," Sirius said, amused, and made a mental note to be more conscious of what he left lying around. "And if all else fails, under the sink in the downstairs loo. Is James working today?"
"If by 'working', you mean researching your next target for when you play at being guerrilla internet exposé artists, how should I know? Call him and ask," Remus said with a shrug. "What do you want for dinner?"
"Something with mashed potatoes," Sirius answered as he wandered into the hallway in the direction of the closet, grabbing the cordless phone of the charger as he passed it. "And peas!"
Chapter Seven <-- Chapter Eight --> Chapter Nine