“You know. When I first saw you, I didn’t actually expect you to be sixteen” Hank muttered as he drove. There’s a lot of things he expected. Disappointment. Heartbreak, but fostering a sixteen-year-old instead of a six year was not one.
“I was told someone didn’t press the one key when typing up my information sheet” Connor mumbled quietly “Sorry”
Hank glanced off the road to look at him confused “Why be sorry?”
Connor seemed to be hesitating for a long second before shrugging “You didn’t get a six year old?” He asked, looking out the window as he held his backpack close to his chest.
Hank glanced back to the road as he drove. He knew Connor must’ve felt guilty for not being what Hank wanted. It was obvious. Connor’s smile was wobbly as if he were trying to be happy, but he just couldn’t. Hank found it a little sad even though he just met the boy.
“So.. Is it okay if I ask a few questions?” Hank asked as he turned a street. Connor nearly fell out of his seat before sitting back up and buckling in. Hank laughed softly at that as he looked back on the road.
“..Do I have to answer all of them?” Connor looked up at Hank with wide and curious eyes.
Hank glanced at Connor before quickly looking back at the road “Of course not. If you don’t wanna then I’m not gonna force ya”
“Alright.. Twenty questions?”
“Alright” Hank nodded, thinking before slowly at a stop sign, “They said your birthday was between August and September. When is your birthday?”
Connor waited a few seconds before looking up at the road ahead of them “Pass.” he whispered.
Hank nodded. He pushed on the gas pedal as the light turned green “You seem nervous.. Have you been in foster homes before?”
Hank frowned as he looked ahead to see his house “Are you afraid of dogs?”
“I like dogs” Connor smiled for the first time in the car ride. Hank parked the car and smiled back at him.
“Good. I hope you don’t mind big dogs” He mumbled as he opened the door and got out. Connor stayed seated, only unbuckling as he held his backpack closer, examining the house “What are you waiting for?” Hank asked, opening Connor’s door “It’s your house too, now. I don’t have to tell you to come and go whenever”
“Oh” Connor whispered to himself as he stood up, putting his backpack on as he stood in the driveway. Hank watched him before shrugging it off and walking to the door, listening to Connor’s soft footsteps quietly behind him as he followed.
Hank smiled softly as he opened the door, glancing around before looking back at Connor “He’s around here somewhere”
Connor blinked as he carefully closed the door behind him to make sure it didn’t make any noise “He?” Connor mumbled, looking around. He didn’t quite expect this much of a mess. Beer bottles and bits and pieces of trash and dishes half cluttered in the sink. Surprisingly it wasn’t the worst he’s seen.
“Sumo” Hank smiled as he went to the kitchen, lightly kicking the dog’s food bowl to make it rattle. Connor waited next to the couch, watching a rather big dog come into the kitchen to bark at Hank “Sit” He commanded only for Sumo to walk over to Connor to smell him “..Good dog” he shrugged, turning away from Connor.
Connor looked down at him, holding his hands up high so he couldn’t bite him as Sumo smelled his leg before sticking his tongue out. Connor smiled, slowly reaching a hand down to pet the dog. So the place was a mess. At least Hank seemed interesting. And he had a dog. So it was pretty much okay at that point. He’s had worse after all, and even they didn’t have a dog.
Connor crouched down to mess with his ears before sitting on the floor with Sumo as Sumo leaned forward with his paws on Connor’s shoulders. He laughed softly, petting Sumo’s head as Sumo licked his face.
“Whoa” Hank smiled with his phone out.
Connor looked up at him before letting go of Sumo “Sorry” He mumbled as he moved to sit up.
“No, no, it’s okay” He reassured as Connor hesitantly sat back down “I’ve just never seen him warm up to a stranger so easily. Hell, he hates Gavin” Hank laughed “Barks and nearly bit him when he came over”
“Who’s Gavin?” Connor smiled as Sumo crawled over his lap, laying on his legs for Connor to scratch his stomach.
“Gavin’s..” Hank paused, staring at his phone “He’s another detective I work with”
“You’re a detective?” Connor asked, laying on the floor with Sumo on top of him.
“Yeah, Lieutenant” Hank smiled, staring at Connor as he took a drink of his beer, watching him and Sumo lay together “I’m surprised he’s warmed up to you so much. He really doesn’t like people” Hank laughed.
Connor sat up, moving Sumo off of him “I don’t know” Connor shrugged as he brushed the dog hair off his jeans and shirt before standing up completely “Your house is nice” Connor mumbled.
“Oh, I’m sorry about the mess. I kind of just.. Felt like having another kid around today. I’ve been thinking about it for a year or two” He shrugged, messing with his empty beer bottle. Connor noted Hank was an alcoholic. For an alcoholic, Hank was actually nice. Really nice. Connor would stay skeptical.
“May I ask why?” Connor mumbled, setting his bag on the couch before sitting on the arm of the couch, messing with a quarter in his hands.
Hank looked at him skeptically before shaking his head. Connor frowned, feeling a little awkward. Not even twenty minutes into a new foster home and he’s fucking up “Pass” Hank smirked a little as Connor’s jaw dropped. Connor smiled afterward, watching Hank turn his back to throw his bottle away.
“Touche, Hank” Connor laughed softly. Hank smiled at his small laugh, noticing he was slightly awkward.
They stood in awkward silence as Connor messed with his quarter, rolling it around in his fingers before flicking it to his other hand, catching it and dropping it as it made small noises. Hank leaned on the kitchen counter, watching him before sitting up to throw some random trash away. Hank continued as Connor stared at him. Hank’s small glances and glares made Connor think he was annoyed or angry at him. The last thing Connor needed. If Hank ever got sick of Connor it’d be easy to move him back into the orphanage or another family.
From Connor’s past experience, they all start off nice. They last a few months and then they show their true colors. Abusive, manipulative, mean and hurtful. Traumatizing. How the hell do all these people have fostering licenses?
“Connor” Hank snapped right in his face, making him reel back and stare at Hank in shock before carefully relaxing.
“I’m sorry” Connor whispered, looking down “I’ll listen more”
“What?” Hank mumbled, frowning “I was just worried.. You had this sad look on your face”
“Oh” Connor whispered, rubbing one of the knuckles with his free hand as the other held tightly on the quarter, moving it around in his hands “I’m sorry”
“There’s no need to apologize” Hank smiled, still giving him an anxious look “You know kid, Sometimes life gives you what you need instead of what you want.. Maybe I needed you instead of some toddler. I hope that makes you feel better” He mumbled softly, making his way down the hall, opening a door.
Connor smiled a little “It does, Lieutenant..” He whispered to himself, rolling the quarter in his fingers “It really does”
“Hey, uh..” Hank frowned “Since I thought I was gonna have a six-year-old I.. kind of made your room that way” He mumbled “You can sleep in my room while I redecorate it if you’d like” He smiled.
“You gave me a room..?” Connor whispered, “All by myself, no siblings or weird posters?”
Hank stared at him, hoping that didn’t have to do with any post foster homes “I mean it’s covered in dinosaurs and children’s toys, but.. Yeah” Hank smiled.
“Thank you” Connor smiled, leaning back on to the couch, “I think I’ll sleep here until we fix the room though” He laughed softly.
“Good idea” Hank laughed “Bathroom is the first door on the left if you wanna get changed or take a shower. I won’t stop you, but it’s fairly late so I’m gonna go to bed. Tomorrow is your first day in a new school. I might be gone before you wake up, but it’s easy to find, kids walk down this sidewalk every morning. So, good luck” Hank smiled before turning to his own bedroom.
“Thank you Lieutenant!” Connor called quickly as he watched Hank close his bedroom door. He stood for a second before taking his bag to the bathroom and got dressed. He glanced down at Sumo as he brushed his teeth, making a small growling sound that made Sumo pant and stand up. Connor smiled, washing his mouth out and putting his clothes back into the bag, leaving the bathroom. He glanced at Hank’s bedroom door before glancing into the room Hank had put together. True to his word, there were dinosaurs painted on the wall and children’s toys everywhere. Even a race car bed for a small child. Maybe he would be a good father to Connor.
Connor made a note to himself about Hank’s parenting so far and came back to the living room, dropping his bag as he laid on the couch, pulling the throw blanket over his body as he stared at the turned off TV. Maybe this home would be different.