Ruth Reader USUALLY dealt with special needs families and placements. But when Dwight Inkson fumbled the ball in the case of Vincent DiAntoni, Ruth was sent in. She assumed that it was because she was good at calming people. There was a note in the file reporting that the applicant Darcy Lynch was a lesbian … which of course had nothing to do with anything. The woman had a steady, secure, full time job, as well as having glowing references. She was a shoe in. It should have been a done deal by now, even with the papers she carried on the passenger set of her car as she drove off of the ferry onto Alexandra Island.
The island was beautiful in the late afternoon sunshine. She had made the appointment for after school so she could see the two of them interact. That would probably mean that they had been cleaning the place up and polishing it for her to see and judge. At least that is how it was whenever a social worker visited HER house when she was a child. Followed up with prayers to any gods I the 'verse that her brother would not melt down all over said social worker and ruin everything.
No wonder everyone hated social workers.
Ruth had vowed that she would be different. And so far she had been, she thought as she parked her car car in the lot between the island clinic and its pharmacy gathered up the file and her soft and casual looking briefcase and walked to the building in which they lived. She took the elevator to the 10th floor and walked to apartment 1004 and knocked softly.
Darcy had switched a shift so she was off for the social worker's visit. She had done some last minute straightening up, not that Vincent left her much, and had baked chocolate chip cookies so the apartment smelled homey. She was dressed nicely but not dressed up. She had on a newer pair of dark blue jeans and a flowered button up shirt. Darcy heard the knock and took a slow deep breath before answering with a pleasant smile "Ms. Reader, hello. Come on in."
Ruth smiled when the door opens. "Hello Ms Lynch." she moves to shake the woman's hand while shifting her file folder from one arm to the other, knocking it down and dropping her briefcase. "Yikes!" she PG curses and drops to her knees, scooping the fan of papers back into the folder and standing. "I'm so sorry about that."she apologies, moving to walk in an stumbling through the door. "Eep." she stands herself precariously tottering on her heels, then recovering to slip out of them. "Um .. yes .. good to meet you." she stands securely on two stocking feet.
Darcy had reached out to shake but retracted to let the woman get her bearings, oddly more relaxed around her after the fumbles. She smiles and waits patiently "Call me Darcy and don't worry. Heels are barbaric. Shall we try again?" She offers out her hand to shake on round two.
Ruth nods. "Let's." she mockingly stomps, as if preparing to be tackled and shakes the proffered hand. "Good to meet you, Darcy. I'm Ruth. Please." her shake is firm but not overbearing, nor is it soft, like grabbing a handful of softened butter. "And I agree one hundred percent about the shoes, but they make me look professional." she sighs in frustration at that fact. She moves in a bit and looks around. "Oh this is a lovely home. Look at that VIEW!" she smiles out the windows and returns her attention to the rest of the place. "Now I know I am a few minutes early but I was hoping to just do the quick look at the apartment before Vincent got home." she explains. "I've found it is easier without the minor present."
Darcy nods "I understand. You have paperwork so we can sit at the table. Would you like a cup of tea? I have mint in the teapot but I can make others...and I have cookies." She grins and places a plate of them on the table, gesturing to a chair after.
Ruth smiles. "That would be wonderful thank you. And mint tea?" she chuckles a little bit. "With cookies? Yea. That'll tide me over as I add my own name to the adoption form." she laughs a little and makes it to the table setting down the file and opening it. ""As I reorganize all this .. mess." she sighs and begins to reshuffle the papers and finally get a little writing in.
Darcy laughs and then goes to pour two cups, taking one out for Vincent as well for when he's home. She brings the cups and sits, holding hers after setting the other in front of Ruth. She knows questions are coming.
Ruth goes through the paper, offering a slightly distracted. "Thank you." when the tea is set in front of her. "All ... right .... " she begins. "Now where did Dwight Inkson leave off?" she asks, glancing between the sheets and Darcy. "That was a cope of weeks ago, so I may have it all here."
Vincent comes in and close the door behind him. "Am I too late?" he asks dropping his bag and dropping to one knee to undo his boots. "Is he." he finally looks up and sees a woman. "Oh. Um. Hi." he stammers immediately tensing up.
Darcy gives Vincent a reassuring look "You're fine. We're just getting started. This is Ruth Reader. She took over for the other guy. I left a cup by the teapot if you want, and there are cookies...." She emphasizes the word cookies and then smiles at Ruth.
Ruth can almost feel the tension from across the open concept area. "Hi!" she moves her hand to wave and nearly upsets her cup, which she grabs. "I'm Ruth. Nice to meet you." she smiles back at Darcy. "I was going to have some tea and some cookies and figure out where we are in this whole process." she motions to the papers in the file. "And then I will be out of your life forever. Deal?"
Vincent watches the lady, who seems clumsy, but it adds a humanness to her. He straightens and toes out of his boots. "Nice to meet you too." he says a little slowly. He moves to pour himself some tea. "Smells like chocolate." he offers, moving to the table and sitting. "I might spoil my appetite." he warns.
Ruth looks at Vincent. "At your age? I doubt it." she replies casually. "Besides. Social workers get enough of a bad rap as it is. The LEAST I can do it go home happy you got to have dessert FIRST. Now THAT is doing some good in the world."
Vincent surprises himself by laughing. "Yea. Good point, Ruth." but he sits .. taking a cookie and trying to look somehow healthy and clean and like he deserves to be left exactly where he is. In Darcy's home.
Darcy smiles back "Deal, but you're hardly the type of social worker that people feel that way about...I can tell. In my line of work, I've met a fair few." She gives Vincent a little wink as he starts to eat, letting him know she really does feel good about this person and scenario "I don't think it's possible to spoil your appetite Vincent, even with half the plate of those..." she jokes but she also...knows him.
Ruth laughs. "Oh my God, I know, right?" she shakes her head. "Mostly stuffy and judgmental. Hate their job, hate the people. I don't understand why anyone would stay in it." she pauses. "But I only do this part time. For exactly that reason. And, as a kid, I had my own experiences with social workers. See, my brother was autistic. He would melt down and the neighbors would call the police, who would call a social worker. Or he'd melt down and my father couldn't handle it and lashed out .. mostly with yelling, mind you ... but still. Neighbors called the police and police called the social worker." she sighs and shakes her head. She smiles at the cookies and reaches for one. "I will help as I can." she bites and chews with her eyes closed.
Vincent nods in agreement with Darcy even before Ruth speaks. "Wow." he breathes. "I mean ... I dealt with social workers sometimes. When my mother got sick and my Dad ... you know .. couldn't handle it and lashed out." he trails off. Surely this woman already knows every gory detail.
Darcy looks sympathetically at Ruth. Thank the gods, she's human, but with her own sadness-es. She puts a hand lightly on Vincent's arm when he talk about his Dad. "People say the same about cops...and military....but you can choose to help shake off the stereotypes and make a difference in any profession......except maybe dentists...they're simply evil..." she jokes "Anyone who wants to scrap other people's mouths and drill into their teeth......there's gotta be a psyche study on that desire....'
Ruth laughs. "Yes. Cops and military people are all violent sociopaths wannabes." she confirms once she's swallowed. Then she points to Darcy. "Oh, I absolutely agree. Little Shop of Horrors hit that nail squarely on the head and hid it in a comedy." she shudders. She looks at Vincent and nods. "Yes, but now those days are over for you. It's only a matter now of where you will live." she smiles and looks between them. "This is probably the final interview, now that all the paperwork is in. Dwight Inkson got the final paperwork the day he came to visit you. I only confirmed it with the Toronto PD is all."
Vincent nods about the dentists and then looks confused. "Paperwork?" he looks at Darcy. Had she not told him something?
Darcy looks confused "OK so why didn't he finish the paperwork again? I'm sorry to ask...and I'm glad you're here...." She reassures, and then looks at Vincent "Adoption papers.....if yous till want that?" She has a hopeful yet slightly teasing grin because she's pretty sure he does.
Ruth blinks. "Well, officially he had no GOOD reason." she smiles. "I'm glad they gave it to me, too." she admits and looks at them. "Yes. Inkson wrote a note that Gino DiAntoni may still want to fight for custody, despite the papers he signed. But now that he HAS .... it's just a matter of the final visit and the judges signature."
Vincent blinks. "Fight .... fight for ...." he looks at Darcy, nearly panic stricken. One thing he knew was biological family got first crack.
Darcy looks worried too "Oh no...is he fighting it?" She reaches to grab Vincent's hand "He's a horrible father and I will sure as hell fight back Ruth."
Ruth blinks again and looks at Darcy as she says she will fight back. "He didn't show you." she bites her lip and murmurs very softly. "Homophobic bastard." it is not meant to be overheard, but might be. She rifles through the papers and pulls one out, sending three fluttering to the floor. "I'm glad you would want to fight for him, but .... no need." she hands the paper to Darcy and then leans over to retrieve her fallen documents. "Gino DiAntoni is in Jail in Toronto ... being held on rape charges. He'll be going to prison and won't be in ANY position to fight for custody, although signing this suggests he hadn't planned to." and she finally sits up.
Vincent holds his breath, even though he hears the word homophobic, he isn't seeing the papers. All he hears is there is no need and that his father is in jail and staying there. He'd also heard Darcy say she'd fight for him and it warms him. But he finds himself gripping her hand, almost as if afraid he'll be pulled away from her.
Darcy frowns and then looks completely floored "Oh my god....no he didn't show me any of that......I'm not happy that woman had to go through that, but I am glad Gino is locked up...so both she and Vincent are safe...as well as the women in this town he assaulted." She squeezes Vincent's hand back and looks at him with tear filled eyes finally able to say "It's going to be OK kid...." and really mean it.
Ruth sighs deeply. "Yes. I think he was hoping to convince Mr. DiAntoni to." she makes air quotes. "Keep his family whole and pure." she drops her hands. "But he signed that. I don't know why, but ... it doesn't matter. He signed it."
Vincent is still frowning a bit. He can see the tears and hear the words. Still a little anxious about what his father has done, he reaches for the paper to see for himself. "Revocation of parental rights ..." he reads and swallows, looking between the two woman. "So .... he's .... like .... not my father now?" he bites his lip.
Ruth looks at him. "Something like that." she reports. "He has given up all the rights to be a father. Voluntarily. So for example, he has no say in where you go to school, and if you become famous or something as a minor, he has no rights to any money you make." she pauses and looks at his face. "You have to keep the DNA, but besides that ... " she thinks he will understand this.
Vincent's jaw tenses and he nods. "I get it .... He ... signed me away." he takes in a deep breath. "I'm not sorry."
Darcy rolls her eyes about the whole and pure thing and then scoots her chair closer to Vincent and hugs him "I think we're pretty damn whole here......and I'd like to sign to officially be your mom. No DNA, but love and kindness." She looks over his shoulder at Ruth "Can we do that today Ruth?"
Ruth watches them with a smile. She only worked part time, and so she could truly enjoy times like this one. The eye roll, she completely gets as well. She smiles and leans over to get papers out of her briefcase. Putting it on the table, she lays a pen on top of it. "We sure can. Sign at all the x's."
Vincent watches this, choking up. "I can .... drop .... drop the Darcy, Darcy Mom?" he blinks and swallows hard, his eyes filling even as he tries not to completely lose it in front of Ruth.
Darcy lets go of Vincent and signs as fast as she can and then hugs him again, hearing his emotion "I know I can never replace your mom....and I don't want to. But I'll do my best to be a good second one, and you decide what to call me OK? I'm just happy to have you in my life. I love you Vincent." She knows Ruth sees stuff like this all the time, hopefully the good situations like this come up as often as the bad ones.
Ruth has seen both sides, but its the fantastic situations like this one that move her. She takes the signed papers and puts them on top of the pile in the file and then put them in her briefcase. It takes her a while, as she wants to avoid showing TOO much emotion of her own as well as to give this new family some private time. But she sniffs a few times before she sits straight again. "Now I will get the judge to sign this and then I will let you know as soon as possible." she reminds them it's not official YET. But she beams at them. She drinks down her tea. "Now. If you have any other questions, please call me." she slips a hand into her dress pocket and brings out a business card holder, from which she takes out two of her cards. "My numbers are on there. Don't hesitate." she is still smiling broadly. With another deep breath she places her hands on the table to stand. "I DO love seeing a beautiful family come together." she moves her hands in a circle on the table-top and nearly knocks her tea cup off the top. With almost practices ease, she manages to catch it before it hits the floor and chuckles to herself as she sets it right on the table again. "And I should be off to my next grace class." she rolls her eyes dramatically and stands. "I am so happy for you both." she tells them as she heads for the door to slip into her high heels again.
Vincent hugs Darcy hard, his throat tightening. He hears Ruth and glances up in time to see the near miss and grins. When she stands, he does as well, moving towards the door. "Thank you SO much, Ms Reader." he tries not to gush the thanks, but fails. The happiness and relief he feels is almost overwhelming.
Darcy walks Ruth to the door as well, reaching to shake her hand and then spontaneously hugging her "Sorry....you just made our week....month...year.... Thank you so much!" She smiles back at Vincent.
Ruth is a little surprised by the hug and blushes a little bit, even as she returns it. "It's OK. Really, it is. I understand." she gets herself settled to go and opens the door. "I wish you both the best of luck." she she walks out carefully, making her way down the hell to the elevators and out.
Vincent watches her leave and closes and locks the door behind him. Then he turns to Darcy. "More like she made my LIFE." he beams. He leans on the door a second. "I'm not even sure what to do now. This is like limbo but I know whats going to happen, right?" he seems a little stunned.
Darcy thanks Ruth and then smiles at Vincent "Let's go for ice cream. We've never gone for ice cream....I don't care how cold it is out. I think we're finally out of limbo." She reaches for her jacket "You can invite Fiona if you want."
Vincent beams. "Yea! That's a GREAT idea. Cookies and ice cream!" he fishes his phone out of his pocket and sends Fiona a text. "Social worker just left! Now judge has to sign! We're celebrating w ice cream. Can u come?"
Fiona is sprawled across her bed half reading a chapter from her social studies textbook when her phone buzzes and she glances at it and grins "YES! And yes! I'll start walking that way in a sec."
Darcy laughs as she pulls on a coat "It's a cookies and ice cream kinda day kid. Let me grab us a few for the road. I really baked to have the scent but they are good." She pulls a Ziploc bag from a kitchen drawer and puts a hand full of cookies into it. She slides it into her coat pocket before stepping into shoes and grabbing her keys from the hook. "Ready?"
Vincent looks at his phone and grins. "She's on her way." he tells Darcy. Then he looks at the Ziploc and smirks. "I really DO love how you think." and he nods. "Ready. Let's go!"
Darcy walks slowly, giving Fiona time to potentially match their time better. She drinks in the cool misty air. The hint of the ocean starts to creep into each breath as they get closer to it. This island was a random choice, based on a job posting and it had given her so much more. She smiles at Vincent, not needing to speak, just be. Behind her she hears the footfalls of someone jogging up to them and turns to see Fiona running and beaming with a huge grin, red hair flying behind her.
Fiona catches up and hugs them both at once. " Congratulations!" She exclaims breathlessly.
Vincent walks along, finding himself noticing the beginnings of spring. He smiles to himself, totally happy. It's like his mother made the choice of Alexandra to give him everything he needed once she was gone. When Fiona catches up and hugs them, he takes another hug, lifting her off the ground and turning in a circle in his joy.
Darcy steps back and smiles as Vincent lifts Fiona and spins her. She's just so happy.
Fiona hangs on to Vincent as she goes up and around and laughs. The joy is contagious and this is what she's been hoping for for him. She gives him a firm kiss on the lips as her feet find the ground again, firm but short enough for in front of his mom.
Vincent sets Fiona down and takes her hand as they watch. "Thanks and this social worker was REALLY nice." he chuckles. "She was a little clumsy, but nice. But she said something about she only did it part time. Maybe that's why she was so great?"
Darcy nods and starts to walk again "Probably.Super high burn out rate in that kind of job. But she was really awesome."
Fiona winds her fingers through Vincent's and keeps pace "Oh that's good. People are always so scared of them but there must be some nice ones. Mmmm Ice Goddess. I love that place."
Darcy looks pointedly at Fiona "My treat ok? This is a celebration!"
Fiona looks like she might protest and then sighs "Thank you and probably a good idea. I need to find some more little evil minions to babysit to fund my world domination plans."
Vincent nods. "I've dealt with a couple of social workers, and they can be a NIGHTMARE!" he sighs, relaxing the tensions of those memories with the pleasant experience of Ruth. He grins then. "I love it too ... more so since I started dating one." he teases Fiona. Then he looks interested. "I don't know if I could babysit. I need to think of a job for the summer, though."
Fiona gives Vincent a cheeky little look about the ice goddess comment and then says "Well I guess I won't ask you to apply where I'm putting in my resume...because it's all kids all the time. I grabbed applications for being counselor's at Camp Chickadee from the community center after my Mom saw a poster. What about that 13 place? Course that would take you away a lot..." She pouts.
Darcy listens to them talk about jobs and elbows Vincent "You should be a camp counselor. It would be a good experience. I did it for years myself."
They get to the Ice Goddess and step into the line, still talking.
Vincent listens to them both, but looks at Darcy as if she may have lost her mind. "I ... could apply ....." he offers, although he plans to work on dead people for a living. "Now 13 is an option, but .... Giovanni is trying an experiment ..." he nods in the direction of the pier. "A hamburger joint. It's hardly a 5 star Italian restaurant, but he told me if I wanted work on the Island .. I could do something ..." he considers. "What exactly does a camp counselor DO?" he wonders. "Would it be better than cooking? Or even dish washing?"
Darcy regards Vincent and then stifles a giggle and looks at Fiona, queuing her to take this one.
"A burger joint might make you happier. You've never been to camp eh?" She explains "I've been to a few, music ones...but also girl guides and a sports one that was HORRIBLE. My parents both work full time so they had to find places for us in the summers. So it's it's sort of like babysitting.....but you have a dozen kids at a time to chase. Ideally they give you enough stuff to do with them that they don't murder you or each other within the first hour. If all else fails you can suggest there's a poltergeist in the finger paints that will flip them inside out if they use as amo. Inspiration from my favorite camp counselor."
Darcy laughs out loud now "Oh my god...." They reach the front of the line and the clerk looks at her "Hi, I'll have a mint chocolate chip in a cone, please....and whatever these two want..." She steps to the side so they can order.
Vincent stares at Fiona as she explains the job. "Suddenly, I am kind of glad my family couldn't afford summer camp." he laughs. "I always spent my summers in Uncle Vincent's kitchen. Oh! That reminds me!" he pulls out his phone and sends a quick message to his uncle and orders as soon as he's done. "Um .... hell ... chocolate chip cookie dough and bubblegum." he decides. "In a cup, please."
Fiona laughs a bit and then is distracted by ice cream flavours "Ooooh......salted caramel in a cup please...can you put hot fudge sauce on it? Thanks...and thanks Darcy...."
Darcy spots an open table and gestures to it "Let's grab that and come back when they call our orders out. So no rugrats with skinned knees for the kid...and scary 80s horror movie counselor Fiona. It works. all my camps were nature based, hiking, canoeing, orienteering....that sort of thing."
Vincent moves to the table on the inside. "Thank you ..." he starts in on the chocolate Chip cookie dough. "Yea .... I mean ... I want kids someday, but .. practicing with someone else's ...." he shrugs and then looks at Darcy. "CaWHOing?" he blinks. Fiona well knows how deep of an inner city child he is.
Fiona shoulder bumps Vincent lightly "Come on...you've seen a picture of a canoe in school at least? You know like those long skinny boats people sit low in and paddle? Aboriginal people made them from bark......my Grandpa had one that was aluminum. Owen somehow made it leak.....not sure how he can punch holes through metal. Maybe he was pretending to be the Hulk?"
Darcy laughs "Did he hit a big rock? Cause that'll do it. The fiberglass ones are pretty smooth on the water. My parents have a gorgeous old cedar one with a canvas outer. I don't think anyone's taken it out since I lived at home."
Vincent laughs. "I've seen pictures, yes." he argues. Then he chuckles. "It's Owen." as if that explains it all. "I've never been in one. The closest to camping I've been is a big park." he shrugs. "All I know is there's no electricity or beds in the wilderness."
Darcy looks at Fiona "You were a girl guide? And you've been camping?"
Fiona nods with an almost evil smile at Vincent "Oh yes.....new summer goal.....teach the city slicker how to shit in the woods."
Darcy toasts with her ice cream cone "EXACTLY what I was thinking...." she gives Vincent a little wink.
Vincent had decided to simply enjoy his ice cream while they talked about nature when they suddenly began planning his summer. He chokes. "Wait! What?" he blinks. "We're talking about like ... movies all summer? Um ... Friday the 13th ... um .. Cabin in the Woods? Like that, right?" he looks a little alarmed. "Or just w nice walk out to the lighthouse without using the access road...."
Fiona just looks innocently at him and eats her ice cream "Mmhmm."
Darcy snickers "It'll be good for you kid, build character. Be glad we don't live in a province with mosquitoes, that REALLY builds character when you're camping."
Vincent blinks and stares for a long time, his mind trying to work around shitting in the woods in a province full of mosquitoes. He eats a little more ice cream. "As long as you guys are there to hold my hand in the dark, so I'm not scared." he quips ... half quips.
Fiona giggles "Yes Minstrel. We won't let the wilderness get you."
Darcy laughs "You're adorable Vincent. It'll be fine. You can cook over fire. That's a fun challenge."
Vincent chuckles a little bit. "I can cook over fire on a stove in an apartment or a house." he teases. "But it COULD be interesting to have no control over the heat." he strokes his chin, contemplating it. "And close to the fire the predators can't getcha." he winks.
Darcy smiles "See? I knew the cooking idea would help."
Fiona nods at Darcy "Good call Darcy mom."
Darcy beams at Fiona for using Vincent's sweet little name for her.
Vincent laughs aloud and, now done with the chocolate chip cookie dough, starts in on the bubble gum. "You guys know me too well. As long as I have a kitchen, I will apparently go anywhere." he smiles at Fiona. Good sigh, he figures.
Fiona happily finishes her ice cream and just sort of flop sprawls in her chair "That....was.....awesome!"
Darcy, still working on hers, smiles and then eeps "I almost forgot!" She pulls the little bag of cookies out and puts them on the table "These too!" She gestures to Fiona first since both she and Vincent have already had a few.
"Wow, thanks." Fiona reaches forward and takes one out.
Vincent works on his ice cream, tucking away the pieces of bubblegum in his cheek until he's got it all. Then he sits back and watches Fiona. "Food is love." he proclaims.
Fiona agrees "Yep.." Then she giggles at his growing cheek pouch and gives it a pinch before sliding the cookie bag to he and Darcy.
"Squirrel boy." Darcy teases and sneaks herself a cookie before he tries to stuff the other cheek for hibernation.
Vincent huffs in mock affront before he begins to chew the bubblegum he freed from the ice cream. He doesn't go for the cookies. "Man this place is great. Why haven't I been here more?" he nods to himself. "Oh right ... winter."
Fiona scoffs "I eat ice cream all winter. They don't know their market. They should have an indoor shop with couches and Netflix...seriously, they'd make a killing."
Darcy nods and gestures with her cookie "Now you're talking!"
Vincent laughs. "They have one table and four chairs inside. If they put in a couch and Netflix you'd live here instead of with your family." he teases. He looks between the women. "Both of you."
Fiona looks at Darcy and then Vincent "Tempting.....VERY tempting...." She jokes. "Too many brothers....." She laments.
Darcy laughs "Just come over and watch ours. But bring ice cream sometimes."
Fiona fist pumps in the air "YES!"
Vincent chews his little bit of bubble gum. The taste was awful, but he'd always loved it anyway. Considering the words the women speak, he strokes his chin. "More time eating ice cream and watching Netflix with my two favorite females...." he nods slowly. "I can do that ... oh .. yea ... I can do that." he sits back chewing and completely content. Moving across the country had been the best thing that had ever happened to him.