Title: Moving In Blues
Summary: Deke moves in with the McCord's and all of them have a little adjusting to do especially after Deke destroys the washer and hot words fly between him and Que.
A/N: Walker, Texas Ranger characters appear.
A/N 2: This is written right after 'President's Man'.
"Good morning, Deke," Joshua said.
Deke mumbled something intelligible in response and Joshua had to smile. Deke was not a morning person and sleeping on the couch probably didn't help any.
"Coffee," Joshua offered. Deke nodded and Joshua poured himself and Deke a cup.
Deke took a drink and then said, "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Joshua sat down at the kitchen table across from Deke.
"Good morning, lazy bums," Que said as she entered the kitchen.
"Nice to see you too, Que," Deke said sarcastically.
"When are you going to find to a place to stay?" Que asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee.
Joshua almost choked on his coffee. He saw hurt and then a grin flash across Deke's face.
"I don't know, Que. How much money are you willing to give me to get an apartment?"
"I'm not giving you any money, Slater. I thought the army paid you a lot," Que sat down at the table after giving Joshua a good-morning kiss.
"They did but a friend of mine needed some money and that pretty much wiped me out," Deke said.
"Let me guess, a girlfriend?"
"Somehow I don't think Gage would appreciate you calling him that but no it wasn't a girlfriend," Deke took another sip of his coffee and wrinkled his nose.
"Seriously, Deke, are you short of cash?" Joshua asked. He wasn't all that rich but he could loan Deke some money if necessary.
"No, Joshua, I'm not short of cash. I'm going to call one of my friends and see if he'll let me crash at his place until I find my own apartment since I'm bothering Que." Deke glared at Que and Joshua sighed.
He did not need Deke and Que at each other's throats this early in the morning.
"I can see I obviously forgot to mention something when you started working with me, Deke," he said.
"What's that?" Deke asked.
"You are more than welcome to move in with us," Joshua heard Que gasp and continued, "you can move in with us but you do have to pay rent. $200 every month and that includes meals and utilities. I know that's a little steep but it's a lot cheaper than paying $1,000 for an apartment. You do have to do your own laundry but Que will show you how to use the washer and dryer if you don't know how to."
"Do I have to sleep on the couch?" Deke asked with a worried look on his face.
"The basement doesn't have any furniture in it and is in good condition. The two of us can split the cost of the furniture and Que and I will help you move all of your stuff in."
"We will?" Que seemed to have sufficiently recovered her power of speech.
"Yes we will," Joshua said, shooting her a look. "What do you say, Deke?"
"I say yes," Deke smiled. "And thanks."
2 Days Later
Joshua sat his box down with a thump and pressed a hand to his back. He would never have thought that Deke would have so much stuff and they weren't even through unpacking the vehicles yet! The furniture had already been picked out and delivered (only by Joshua bribing the deliverymen since he was tired of Que complaining about Deke sleeping on the couch in his shorts and snoring).
"Coming through," Que appeared a second later. Her normally bouncy hair was now matted with sweat and stuck to her head. Sweat also covered her arms and legs.
"Move, Que," Que sat down her box and moved out of the way just as Deke appeared in the doorway.
Somehow Deke had managed not to even break a sweat. Joshua envied the younger man and fondly remembered when he had been that way. But, then again, he hadn't been moving boxes filled with who-knows-what. All he had been doing was jumping off 20-foot buildings and shooting a gun at the same time.
"That's the last of the boxes. Thanks for helping me move, guys."
"You're welcome," Joshua said. "Do you need any help unpacking the boxes?"
"No thanks," Deke said. "I can get it from here."
"Thank goodness," Que murmured.
Three months later Joshua decided that the three of them might be able to survive in one house. It had been a little tough at first but it seemed to working out. True, the toaster and the coffee maker had stopped working for no apparent reason and the microwave had started speaking in Portuguese but other than that it was all right. That is until he arrived home from work one day to find Deke and Que standing in the front yard. A van that read Drake's Plumbing Services was parked in the driveway.
"What happened?" Joshua asked, getting out of his black car.
Deke lowered his head while Que's black eyes shot sparks. "Deke destroyed the washer!" she said.
"It was an accident," Deke protested, raising his head to look at Que.
"I thought Que was going to show you how to work it," Joshua said.
"He said he knew how to use it," Que accused.
"I said I knew how to use the washing machine at the coin laundry," Deke started.
"That explains the dinginess of your clothes," Que muttered.
Deke just ignored her and continued, "And she said I should be able to figure out your washing machine from that."
"I thought you were smart to figure it out but obviously you're too dumb to know how to do anything!" Que yelled.
This is not going well, Joshua thought with a sigh. His feeling proved itself true a few seconds later.
"I said I was sorry, okay? I didn't mean to destroy your washer!" Deke yelled back.
"The same way you didn't mean to break the coffee maker, toaster, and microwave?"
"They were all accidents," Deke protested.
"You know what, Deke? You're destructive. Everything around you gets destroyed. No wonder your parents abandoned you!"
Stunned silence filled the air as Que's angry words hung in the air. "Que!" Joshua gasped in horror.
"That was a low blow, Que McCord, and you know it," Deke said through clenched teeth and blinked away the tears that threatened to cloud his vision. He looked at Joshua and saw the horrified look on the older man's face. Unable to face the pitying glance he turned and ran into the house ignoring the plumbers who stared at him and down the stairs to his room in the basement. He slammed the door and fell face down on the bed, sobbing.
Joshua watched as Deke ran into the house and turned his angry gaze upon his daughter. Seeing the fury in Joshua's gaze Que backed up until she was standing with her back to Joshua's car.
"Que McCord, that was the meanest thing you've ever said in your entire life. I can't believe you just said that to Deke. On second thought I can believe it. That was extremely, mean, cruel, and hurtful. How could you say that to him, Que? I know you don't like him but that's still no excuse for saying that."
"I'm sorry, Dad," Que said softly.
"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to."
"I'll go apologize to him," Que started for the house but Joshua grabbed her arm.
"I think you should wait a while and let me talk to him first," Joshua said. Que merely nodded and stepped back as Joshua let go of her arm.
Two hours later the plumbing crew left and the house was empty except for the two of them and Deke.
Joshua went down the basement stairs and knocked on the door. "Deke, its Joshua. Can I come in?"
"I guess," Deke's voice sounded muffled.
Joshua pushed open the door and surveyed the room. Messy would have been the understatement of the year. Clothes were draped over the back of the chair and there was a stack of clothes and books in the corner.
Deke was sitting on the bed reading a book titled 20 Ways To Get Back At Someone Who's Hurt You. His eyes were red-rimmed and Joshua suspected that he had spent quite a while crying.
"I'm sorry about what Que said," Joshua began but Deke interrupted him.
"Don't go apologizing for her, Joshua. She's right you know. I do destroy everything I come in contact with. I destroyed my first car; a stray dog, I single handedly blew up my college laboratory, my high school laboratory, killed one of my best friends, and lost three of my men while I was still in the military. I just destroy everything."
"No you don't, Deke," Joshua argued.
"I screwed up the first mission you sent me on," Deke shook his head. "Que's right."
"So what if you destroy some stuff? Everybody destroys something sometime or another."
"Not like me," Deke said softly.
Joshua saw the look on Deke's face and knew it was useless to argue with the younger man. He obviously wasn't going to budge.
"Fine. Will you at least let Que apologize to you?"
"She can apologize all she wants but I'm not going to forgive her."
"No, Joshua. I'm sorry but I honestly can't forgive Que right now."
Joshua just shook his head and left, closing the door behind him. Why did Que and Deke have to act like a bunch of children?
3 Days Later
Deke and Que still weren't talking to each other and Joshua was fixing to go nuts. He knew Que shouldn't have said that but Deke was carrying on just a little too far but at least he had paid for a new washing machine.
"Okay I have eight dollars and twenty-eight cents worth of change," Texas Ranger Francis Gage said as he re-counted the stack of change on his desk.
"That makes one hundred and ninety-eight dollars and ninety-nine cents," Deke said looking worried. He was two dollars and one cent short of paying his rent that month.
"Oops," Gage said as one of the quarters fell off the table and started rolling toward the door. Gage and Deke dove after it and Gage grabbed it just as the door opened and Texas Rangers Cordell Walker and James Trivette entered.
"Gage, aren't you a little too old to be rolling around on the floor for a quarter?" Walker asked.
"No, sir," Gage said as he and Deke stood up. "Besides the quarter belongs to him," he jerked a thumb at Deke. "By the way; can I borrow two dollars and one cent from you?"
"I suppose," Walker said with a sigh as he got the money out of his pocket and handed it to Gage who handed it to Deke.
"Thanks, Gage, I owe you one," Deke took the money and disappeared.
"I'll pay you back on payday," Gage told Walker.
"I wasn't real worried," Walker said as he sat down at his desk.
"He still won't talk to me," Que complained.
Joshua looked up from his book and said, "Que, you normally complain because he does talk! Make up your mind already!"
Que merely sighed and left the room, leaving Joshua to his book. His peace lasted for all of two seconds when Deke appeared and placed a pile of wadded-up bills and change on the desk.
"Here's my rent," he said. "I'm going to start looking for an apartment tomorrow."
"Deke, please. I don't want you to move out."
"I'm sorry, Joshua, but my mind's made up. You've been a really good friend and I hate to do this to you but I can't be your president's man anymore."
Joshua felt his world spin and motioned for Deke to sit. The young man did so and eyed the door warily, ready to make his escape.
"Why?" was the only thing Joshua could say.
"I don't want to be the one responsible if something goes wrong on a mission and I ruin everything."
Joshua resisted the urge to scream but found it very difficult. At the moment he wanted nothing more than to knock some sense into both Deke and Que but knew that would be an impossible task.
"If that's what you want then go for it."
"Thank you," Deke rose from his chair and headed toward the door.
"Deke," Deke turned to face Joshua, "you're always welcome here and if you ever need anything just let me know."
Deke swallowed and said, "Thanks, Joshua, I'll remember that." He left the office and sighed. He needed to do some thinking and he knew just the place to go.
3 a.m. Francis Gage's Apartment
At the sound of loud banging Gage rolled over and squinted at his clock. He groaned when he realized that it said 3 a.m.
"It better be an emergency," he grumbled as he got up and stumbled toward the door. He opened to find Deke Slater standing there.
"What?" Gage snarled.
"I need some advice," Deke said quietly.
Gage was about to say something but the look on Deke's face said it was important so he stepped back and let his friend in.
"I don't know what to do, Gage," Deke sighed as he slumped down on the couch.
"Tell me what the problem is and maybe I can help you out," Gage sat in a chair and waited. Knowing Deke it might take a while.
Deke let a deep breath and told Gage what happened. Gage listened thoughtfully then leaned forward.
"Deke, what's more important to you: Que or your feelings?"
"Que I guess," Deke mumbled as he looked down.
"Exactly. You've got a good friend in her and Joshua, Deke. Do you really want to lose them just because Que hurt your feelings?"
"I guess not," Deke said slowly.
"Plus, what if something happened to Joshua because you weren't there? He could get killed and then Que wouldn't have her dad anymore," Gage pointed out.
"You're just saying that because you actually miss your dad," Deke said.
"So what? The point is, Deke, this decision affects more people than just yourself. I know you're used to just looking out for yourself but you do need to start thinking about other people too. Plus, Joshua trusted you enough to ask you to become his replacement. That's not a job that just anybody can have. The guy even let you move in for crying out loud! Wake up and realize that you could be losing something important. The McCord's could be the family you're looking for and you're going to throw that away over a washing machine?!"
"Who said I wanted a family?" Deke demanded, "I can do just fine on my own."
Gage sighed and rested his head in his hands. "Deke, you weren't the only foster kid who snuck out after dark on Christmas Eve to watch the church service. I saw you hiding behind the bush."
"I was just making sure you weren't getting in any trouble," Deke replied but at Gage's skeptical look he reluctantly said, "okay maybe I do want a family and maybe it's a little dumb to throw that dream away over a washing machine."
"A little? Deke, I don't think even I'm that dumb!"
"Thanks, buddy," Deke stood up and so did Gage. "I need to go home."
Gage smiled broadly. Whether he knew it or not Deke had finally found his place in the world. He only hoped that Deke would stay.
Later that morning Joshua sat at the table eating his breakfast and reading the newspaper and Que was at the stove cooking scrambled eggs when Deke entered, looking exhausted.
"Good morning, Deke," Joshua said.
"Good morning, Joshua. Good morning, Que."
Joshua lowered his newspaper and Que turned to stare at Deke in shock.
"Good morning to you too," she said as she handed him a plate with bacon, sausage, and scrambled eggs.
"Looks delicious, thanks. Joshua, would you mind if I changed my mind about quitting?"
"Not at all," Joshua said with great relief. He had been dreading trying to find another replacement since he knew Deke was the only person who could do things to Joshua's liking and still have a mind of his own.
"Deke, may I apologize again?" Que asked.
"No you may not," Deke said. "I'm so tired of you apologizing to me every time I turn around that I'm going to forgive you but only if you'll knock it off." He stuck a very large forkful of food in his mouth and started chewing.
"Only if you stop bugging me," Deke said just as he finished swallowing a big mouthful.
"Don't talk with your mouth full," Que said.
"What are you? My foster mom?"
Joshua used the newspaper to cover his smile. It certainly seemed like things were getting back to normal. Unfortunately. He sighed as the arguing continued and grabbed the bottle of aspirin sitting on the counter. It was going to be a long day.