"We just can't do it, Kitty." Red's voice could travel, even from upstairs (upstairs from the basement anyway). "It's not logical, and even if it was, we couldn't afford it."
"But, Red!" If Red's voice could travel, Kitty's could sprint. "He's already here! We've had him for nearly half a year now!"
Hyde sighed. Well, this was it. He knew he couldn't live with Eric's family forever. It had been nice, even if his life had done a complete 180, but in a good way. It had been strange at first-having to eat meals at the table, and with no television program to pretend to watch. It was also strange to have one adult to fawn all over him and another to yell at him practically everytime he took a breath, but in that strange same way, he preferred things that way.
He would never tell anybody, not even Eric, but talking to a teacher about his improving grades, Steven had replied, "My parents" when asked who'd been helping him with his homework. Ms. Maples had been so thrilled to write a B on his essay that she'd called Kitty at home and Red at work to tell them. She went on and on (in front of Steven awkwardly standing at her desk) about what wonderful parents they were. She never paused in her praise-fest, and Hyde knew it was because neither of them had corrected her on the other end of the phone. It made him feel all warm and fuzzy, and not the way weed did.
"Kitty, listen," Red continued, not as loud. "Steven's almost grown."
"I know, but still..." Kitty sighed, and Hyde could almost see her fidgiting, putting on her pouting face.
He waited a few more moments, and when the silence became too unbearable, he sauntered upstairs and hung around in the kitchen, watching Kitty prepare dinner. It smelled nice, and he was glad she was making meat loaf-his favorite. At least if he was going to leave, he'd leave with a full stomach. He waited until he noticed her, and when she jumped a little, startled by his presence, he grinned and waved.
"Hey," he said.
"Oh, Steven." She put a hand to her chest. "You startled me."
"You seem troubled," she noted. "What's the matter, sweetie? Did you do alright on your biology quiz?"
"I got an A-," he replied. "I missed two of the answers, but Mr. Brole said I'll probably ace the test this Friday."
Kitty gave him a one-armed hug and stood on her tiptoes to kiss his forehead. "Oh, Steven! That's wonderful!"
She began to busy herself again, making gravy on the stove, and Steven leaned against the doorframe, running his hands up and down the thighs of his jeans. "Um, Mrs. Foreman?"
"Yes, Steven?" Her back was turned to him as she stirred, shaking in some salt and pepper.
"When do you and Red want me out? Can I wait until tomorrow morning? Just until it stops snowing?"
She turned around. "What?"
"It's okay," he assured her, holding up a hand. "I'm going to be eighteen in a couple of months-"
"Ten months, Steven," Kitty corrected him. "Not a couple." Her face saddened. "And what do you mean 'want you out'? What makes you think we want that?"
"Well, I heard you guys earlier, and I completely understand. I mean, it's cool-"
"You pinhead." Red entered the kitchen and approached the stove to sample the gravy. "Tastes great, Sweetheart," he told his wife. To Steven, "We weren't talking about kicking you out. Kitty wanted to adopt you."
" 'Adopt' me?" Steven's brows furrowed. "...Wha...What do you mean?" He couldn't help but smile a little. It sounded so unrealistic it was almost funny.
"Well..." Kitty cleared her throat. "Steven, Red and I both agreed you're like another son to us, and we love having you in our family." She laughed a little. "I just thought it'd be nice to legally make you part of our family."
"Which is stupid because by the time all the paperwork cleared, you'd already be eighteen and I'd be putting you and Eric out on the street anyway," Red said, popping open a beer.
"And I'm not family," The boy pointed out, using his finger for emphasis.
"Like hell you aren't," Red said. "Don't think you're excluded from chores, or Kitty's arts and craft saturday, or my foot in your ass when you screw up."
Steven turned to Kitty. "So you really wanted to adopt me?"
"I did," Kitty nodded. "If I could, I would."
During dinner, the phone rang and Red answered it. His brows furrowed. "How did you get this number? Well, of course your house is locked. Because it's not yours anymore-you stopped paying rent!"
"Red?" Kitty eyed him curiously. "Sweetie, who is it?"
"Steven's mother," Red said, covering the mouth piece. "Well, listen, we're eating dinner-"
"Can I talk to her?" Steven asked.
Red handed him the phone. "Make it quick. She's calling from out of state."
"Mom?" Steven spoke. He really didn't want an audience, but what choice did he have?
"Steven," his mother spoke quickly. "Great news, Baby! I'm coming home! We're going to be living with Chaz for a while, but he's a great man and you'll love him ten times more than your real father-"
"Who the hell is Chaz?" Hyde demanded.
"Steven," Kitty warned, sipping her tea. "Language."
"He's my new boyfriend," his mother replied. "You're going to love him! We should be in Point Place within the next few days, so get your things together-"
"Mom," Steven interuppted. He covered the mouth piece and turned to face the dinner table. "Can I use the kitchen phone?"
"Yes," Red sighed. "But like I said, make it snappy. I'm not paying any Vegas phone bills."
Steven moved into the kitchen and picked up the other phone. "Listen, Mom. I'm not moving back in with you, but if you want to do something for me, you can."
The kids were gone, and it was just Red and Kitty at home. It was a quiet night, not as cold as the previous days had been, and the knocking at the door nearly startled them. It was Steven's mother, and some sleazy man standing beside her.
"Edna?" Kitty made a face. "What are you doing here?"
"I can't stay long," the other woman replied, making her way inside. "Chaz and I have to get going." She looked around. "Nice place."
"Steven isn't here," Red said.
"Oh, I figured he wouldn't be," Edna said, digging through her purse. "Anyway, he said he left some papers here for me to sign? He said to tell you they'd be on the kitchen table?"
Red and Kitty exchanged confused looks and Red left to the kitchen. Sure enough, on the breakfast table were some half-folded sheets of notebook paper held down by the chicken-shaped pepper shaker. He picked them up and took them back to the living room. Kitty looked at him and he only shrugged as he handed them to Edna.
"Got a pen?" She asked, seeming uninterested by any of it.
"We usually sign Steven's school papers," Kitty explained as she retrieved a pen from the coffee table. "Field trip permission slips...homework assignments..."
"Here." Edna signed her name a few times and handed the pen and papers back to Kitty. "Thanks for doing this for me. I mean, as you know, I'm not very maternal."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Red asked. He leaned over as Kitty unfolded the papers. She covered her mouth with her hand.
Written in Steven's boyish block handwriting:
I,____________________, give full parental control to Red and Kitty Foreman. They now own my son, Steven James Hyde, until he is of age. He is legally their son, and under no circumstances can I take him back.
I,___________________, also give full maternal rights to Kitty Foreman. She is now the mother of Steven Hyde, and I will not fight her for these rights.
I,__________________, give full paternal rights to Red Foreman. He is now the father of Steven Hyde, and I will not fight him for these rights. I give him fully permission to put his foot in Steven's ass.
Please date here:
"Oh, Red..." Kitty said, tears forming in her eyes. "Oh, Red..."
"Dumbass," Red said quietly, shaking his head. He looked away so everybody couldn't see him smile. "The kid's a dumbass, Kitty."
"Well!" Edna smiled. "Chaz and I are off! Tell Steven I said hi, well, bye. You know...just tell him I was here."
"We'll do that."