There was no more trouble at school. Lots of rumors, of course, and pretty much everybody steered clear of them, but that worked out fine all the way around as far as Kane could tell. He told Randolph they’d be at the park on Saturday, as long as he didn’t get into any more trouble. Randolph seemed pleased, said they were meeting at ten and not to worry about lunch because “Maggie will pack enough to feed the area. Including William.”
“Ah heard tha,” the husky voice growled. Devin cuddled into Kane, who slid an arm around him.
“I figured you did,” Randolph said, “seeing as how you are sitting next to me.” He glanced at Devin. “Don’t worry about William. He’s only dangerous if you bother Maggie.”
“True,” William agreed with a shrug. “Ah won’t let nobody mess with ya, neither. Don’t like bullies.” He looked at Kane, amber eyes serious. “Ah won’t bother him myself. Got my hands full with this one.” He nodded at Maggie, who was sitting across the table and chattering away to an empty chair.
“Peter says that’s not a nice thing to say,” she informed him. William rolled his eyes and told Kane in an aside, “Ah’ll be glad when the danged thing’s fixed. Stuffed rabbit her dad done give her as a baby. It’s in a toy hospital or some-such, getting re-stuffed and ah don’t know what-all. Since she ain’t got it she talks to it constant.” While still thick, his accent wasn’t that bad once you got used to it.
“Ya tell Peter to keep his danged paws to hisself,” William told Maggie. “Them’s my carrots and ah ain’t sharin!”
Maggie sighed. “He is a stuffed animal, Wills. He didn’t eat the carrots. I did.”
“Ya? Ya ate my carrots? What’d ya do tha for?”
“They’re always like this,” Randolph explained under William’s yelling. “And I do mean always.” He glanced at Devin who huddled closer to Kane. “William, cut it out. You’re scaring Devin.”
“Ah...oh, beg pardon. Ah get loud, don’t mean nothin’ by it.”
“It’s when he gets quiet you know he’s really upset,” Randolph explained.
“Won’t touch ya, Devin, my word on it.” William nodded again. “Nor let nobody else. Ah’ll back Kane up if’n he ever needs it, is all. But ah do get loud.”
“And the rest of us back Wills up,” Maggie told Devin “We won’t let anybody hurt Kane or you, okay? We like Kane, and we like you, and we know you don’t want to be bothered by anybody, so we won’t bother you, either, although I talk a lot and you might think I’m talking to you but you don’t have to listen because I’m going to talk either way.”
“I have to say,” Kane announced. “You guys are the weirdest group I’ve ever met. But you’re not boring. And as long as you leave Devin alone...”
“Do you draw, Devin? Wills is a good draw-er, even though he doesn’t believe me when I tell him. Because, if you like to draw, I know the best place to get good supplies that don’t cost a lot.”
Maggie pulled out pen and paper, scribbled something on the paper and pushed it across the table. “It’s a quiet little shop, not a lot of people go there, but they sell really good stuff. If you’re interested. If not...” She resumed talking to the empty chair.
Devin waited until everyone was talking again before reaching out and taking the piece of paper. Maggie’s handwriting was neat and precise, like his. He looked at what she had written and stuffed the paper into his pants pocket.
Maybe Kane would get him some more drawing stuff. He’d like that; he liked drawing. Kane never looked at his drawings unless Devin said he could, and never made fun of them. It was one thing he’d always done, even before Kane. Drawing was familiar. It had gotten him in trouble before, but he hadn’t stopped. It was too important to him.
Kane saw Devin take the paper. He would have to take Devin to that shop one day soon. Maybe get Steve to check it out first, or Albert. Not that he doubted Maggie, but it was always best to double-check stuff like that out. Especially if it had to do with Devin.
Saturday came. The weather was perfect. Kane and Devin walked to the park, located between their house and the school. They got there at ten o’clock and found Randolph and the others already playing a very strange game of tag. After settling Devin on a bench under a tree and ensuring that he didn’t want to do something else, Kane was greeted enthusiastically, the rule explained, and the game started anew.
They spent until nearly sundown at the park. Devin left his drawing and played on some of the equipment, shying from the others. True to Randolph’s word, however, nobody bothered him. A few times it looked as though somebody was heading for him. They were headed off by one of Randolph’s “gang” and redirected.
Kane didn’t know Andrea or Edward. Edward was not quite as shy as Devin, but kept to himself. Andrea was always too distracted at school for Kane to have a chance to talk to her. They were both good about keeping others away from Devin without making it.
At lunch, which was as large as Randolph had intimated and delicious, Randolph and Kane got into a discussion about what had happened in gym class. Kane asked him point blank what he wanted for covering for him to the principal. Randolph said he wanted nothing in return. Jessica had had it coming, and he was grateful Kane had made a move against her.
“If you hadn’t, William would have. And it would have been very, very nasty.” He leaned in to lower his voice even more.
“She made the mistake of trying to get a certain redhead out of the way so she could force herself on the blond menace over there. She’s lucky the redhead treated it like a game instead of getting upset. She’d be...well, she might have lived, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”
“I don’t get it,” Kane answered. “He sure don’t seem like the type to cause that much trouble.”
“Well, he is. He has an extremely short temper, and most of the time the only thing keeping him in check is her. He doesn’t understand why all the girls keep trying to throw themselves at him, why they won’t leave him alone. He doesn’t realize that he’s considered handsome and therefore the perfect boyfriend. He sees her, and that’s it.”
Maggie shrieked, jumped to her feet and took off running. Half a second later William was after her, shouting incomprehensibly. The others continued their lunch as if nothing had happened. Devin watched them, frightened. Kane pulled hm close.
“He won’t hurt her. Any more than I’d ever hurt you.”
Andrea snorted. “He beats hisself up if he even thinks she might get hurt.” She soundedas if she wasn’t sure whether to be amused or disgusted. “Acts like he thinks she’s made of glass or something.”
“Now, that’s not true. He wouldn’t chase her around and do things like that,” Edward argued, as William grabbed Maggie around the waist, spun and flopped onto the ground to start tickling her, “if he was treating her like glass. China, maybe. Glass…?” he shook his head.
“What is it, Devi?” Devin turned and put his mouth against Kane’s ear before speaking again.
“William yells a lot,” Devin started in a whisper, “but...but he’s almost nice as you. An’ Maggie...talks a lot...a very lot...but..she’s real, real nice too.” He hesitated. “Nobody...nobody’s gotten mad at me or...or...stuff. They...leave me alone. I like them.” Another hesitation. “Is...is it okay? For me to like them?”
Kane squeezed, turned his head so his mouth was against Devin’s ear.
“It’s fine to like them, Devi. Just fine. I like them, too.” He kissed the ear before pulling away to resume eating.
This was good. People they could both be around without Devin feeling threatened. People he could be rough with and not worry about scaring them off or something. They both benefited from meeting these kids, weird as they were. He wondered if they were going to work for the Agency as well when they grew up, but decided not to ask. It would be too hard to explain if they didn’t.