It was a well-established fact between everyone who knew Grell that the red-haired man had always wanted kids, but the same couldn't be said for his stoic partner. No; if William had ever changed his mind and said he wanted kids too, the world had gone crazy. William was a workaholic, and even towards his boyfriend, he was as cold as ice and near unforgiving. No one who knew the two could ever see the brunet settling down with a bunch of brats running around his home; it was just too… too… Too un-William, and it would never happen, not in a million years.
So when life found the unlikely lovers walking into one of the many, many orphanages London had to offer, people had to question what had happened to the real William, and what this imposter's ulterior motive was.
"Will, I'm so excited!" Grell's voice was high-pitched, and he made no attempt at quietening down; even he had no idea what had happened last night when the topic of adopting had once again been brought up and completely unexpected, received a hesitant okay in response. He wasn't complaining, but he had honestly thought that he was going to be nagging William for kids for the rest of his life. He squeezed his lover's hand tight in his as he then added on, "Thank you so much for agreeing!"
William remained silent, and he pulled his hand from Grell's grip almost instantly; why did the younger always have to forget how much he detested public affection? He muttered something under his breath as Grell kept rambling on, and it was when they were finally lead to the back of the orphanage and into what must have been the playroom did he finally feel his irritation build; why had he agreed? Had he just gotten sick of Grell constantly bringing it up? He was regretting saying yes, wasn't he? If he wasn't yet, he surely was soon as the yelling and squealing got on his nerves quicker than he could remember anything else accomplishing. This was why he had always said no…
"Which one should we pick, Will?!" The long-haired male was bouncing on the spot as he took in all of the children he had a choice of. "Will?!"
William pushed his glasses back up his nose. Icily, he muttered, "You want the kid; you choose."
The woman assisting them with the adoption frowned at the man's attitude, but Grell was unfazed; he simply looked over his frames at her and asked in a sweet manner, "Who would be good for first-time parents, honey?"
"Well, we have two sweet, well-mannered children playing in the corner together," the woman responded. She pointed to two girls playing with building blocks. "Almost all our children are well-behaved and wouldn't be difficult for new parents, but they would still need patience and understanding; being orphans, a lot of them have had… troubles, in the past."
Grell sighed. He knew all too well about how hard life could be, and he could sympathise; he really could. His eyes flicked through all the children, just wanting to observe them before he tried to make any decisions, and it was then he noticed the lone boy sitting in a dark corner of the room, with his knees pulled up to his chest as he hugged them tightly. His hair was oddly coloured, blond on the top and black on the bottom, and he smiled faintly; what a cute little boy he was.
The redhead grabbed the woman's attention as he pointed to the boy. "What's his name?"
The woman looked to see where Grell was pointing. She frowned. "…That's Ronald. However, I would not recommend him for you…"
The long-haired male shook his head; people once said the same about him… "What's wrong with him?"
"Our privacy laws state I can't go into too much detail at this point in time, but he never seems to last long with anyone; he always ends up back here. They say he's too much for them."
For the first time, William showed interest. "Health problems?"
"Not physically… Mentally."
In the most stoic, serious tone William had ever heard him use, Grell stated, "He's been abused."
"…Yes… He has… I cannot tell you anything about it unless you want to take him onboard, but as I said before, I really do not recommend it. We have plenty of other lovely children you can –"
"- We'll take him." Grell looked at his partner and then back to the woman. "I'm good with that kind of thing. I can help him."
"Ronald has been through more foster homes and adoptions than any other child currently or previously in care," the residential worker explained carefully. "I really cannot think you are ready to take on such a child after reading your profiles…"
Grell shook his head. "They used to call me a problem child as well. I went through homes like I do shoes today. I was abused as well. So I understand, even if none of the others did."
What could she say, really? She could see nothing was going to change Grell's mind, but was that a good thing? Was that what Ronald needed in his life? Someone who was prepared to shoulder his problems? She didn't know what kind of support he had received from any of the ex-fosters or adoptees, but she could hazard a guess at none.
She sighed. "If you're serious about this… You should introduce yourself to him and see how he feels about you."
Grell didn't protest. He followed complacently as he was led over to the corner Ronald was still tucked away in, and when he was close enough, he knelt so he could speak quietly to the boy. His smile was gentle as the residential worker introduced them all, but he couldn't help but take notice of how she kept her hands in the boy's view always; what was the reason for this? He shuddered to imagine…
"Ronald, this is Grell Sutcliff and William T. Spears," the woman introduced softly. "They're interested in adopting you."
Ronald's stunning green eyes widened as his lips formed a taut line. The fingers on his right hand twitched for several seconds before they slid under the sleeve on his left arm and the motion of him scratching himself up could be made out beneath the fabric. Grell wanted nothing more than to reach out and stop this action, but he knew better; there had to be trust between them first, and there was none.
"Hi, sweetheart." Grell's smile widened. "How are you? My partner and I would be happy if you came home with us. Would you like that?"
"…" Ronald's scratching only increased as he diverted his gaze to stare anywhere but at Grell.
The redhead frowned. "Ronnie, I can't help but notice what you're doing to your arm. May I ask what's wrong?"
Ronald shook his head. He continued staring past Grell as his body became wracked by fearful quivers. His scratching became worse, and the blood that was now starting to dribble past the sleeves and onto his lap broke the man's heart.
"You don't need to be afraid of us, sweetie," Grell promised. "We aren't going to hurt you."
The boy's head shook again, but not a single word escaped his lips.
"Does he speak?" William adjusted his frames as he observed the boy stoically.
"No… Not very much at all… As I said, he needs a lot of love and patience."
"I can give him that. I really can."
William nodded in agreement; he knew better than anyone else just how much love Grell had.
The residential worker sighed. Hesitantly, she said, "If you'll follow me, I have all of the paperwork ready to be filled out."
Grell donned an excited grin as he wrapped his arms around William's neck and placed a kiss on the man's cheek. "I love you, Will~"
Before William could scold him for what he had just done, Grell was gone. He shook his head as he followed the other two, wondering what he had just gotten himself into.
"So what's wrong with Ronnie?" Grell signed his signature neatly next to William's. He dropped the pen and looked up so he could meet eyes with the woman.
She placed her fingertips together as a solemn expression crossed her face. "We have a file written up on him we will present you with when you leave, but many of his… carers were found to have abused him, in many ways… He usually carries around a stuffed cat as a method of self-soothing. We believe it was given to him shortly after one adoption. However that adoptee died in a car collision and Ronald was returned to our care. He has been very unfortunate, and he has suffered greatly in his ten years."
Grell nodded in understanding. "I've been placed in similar situations as he has; I know what he's going through."
The residential worker tapped her fingers against the desk. "He suffers from severe anxiety, and he is terrified of touch. I sincerely believe it will be in your best interests to avoid attempting to touch him until perhaps a little later in your relationship – if you decide to keep him, that is."
"He won't come back here; no matter how difficult he may be, I won't give up on him."
"We believe he also has insomnia, and he has been known for night terrors. He's going to greatly need patience more than anything else."
Grell turned to William. "Can you go and get Ronnie ready to leave, please? I just want to make sure I know everything I have to before we go."
William didn't protest; he stood up in silence and left to tend to Ronald.
The woman also stood up so she could retrieve Ronald's case notes from the filing cabinet behind her. When she had grabbed them, she slid them across the desk. "That contains everything you need to know about Ronald. It also has details of… incidents which you may or may not wish to read about. Do you have any more questions?"
"Does he have medical appointments or anything I should be aware of?"
"No, but between you and I, it might be worth finding him a regular doctor; someone he can trust to talk to."
"I will… I know someone he might feel safe with," Grell explained. He picked up the files and folded them so they would sit neatly in one of the pockets on the inside of his red coat. "Thank you for today; we'll look after him."
"Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions."
Grell was polite as he thanked her again and excused himself from the office. He checked the time on his wristwatch before he decided that William should have finished gathering Ronald and his belongings, and the first place he would check for them was their car. He was glad to have found the two outside, William strapping the child into the backseat with the boy's bag under his feet. That stuffed cat he had been told about caught his eye, and he couldn't help but smile as he noticed how tight Ronald was clutching it to his chest.
"What's your cat's name?" Grell knelt against the backseat as he smiled down at Ronald. The toy looked ragged, with frayed stitching and a missing eye highlighting its age. It was black with a white stripe from its mouth down its chest and stomach, and he could only imagine how much Ronald had clung to it for comfort over the years.
Ronald looked down. A frown was on his face, and Grell didn't miss the way he shifted the teddy in his arms so he could scratch at himself again. "…"
"We aren't bad people." The redhead's voice was so soft, even he surprised himself with his tenderness. Ronald's head lifted upwards ever so slightly. "I understand why you're scared; I used to be just like you. I didn't like being around other people, either."
The boy's grip on his stuffed toy tightened. "…"
Changing the subject, Grell brought the topic back to the cat. "Does your cat have a name?"
Finally, Ronald's head shook in response. It took everything Grell had to stay calm and quiet; he knew that if he were to express how joyful he was feeling at this, he would only scare the younger. Instead, he cleared his throat and said, "That's okay; I'm sure you can name him whenever you want to – if you want to, of course."
Ronald didn't respond in any form, and instead he curled up into a ball against the door. It broke Grell's heart to see him like this, but what could he do? Nothing, lest he scare the poor thing. The man sighed, and though he had reached out to touch the child, his wrist was grabbed by William.
"Leave him be." William's cold gaze flickered between the younger two. "He may find benefit in being left alone right now."
Grell couldn't help but nod in resignation. William was right; he was always right.