Justin and Alex followed Sarah downstairs and helped make the lunch in time for Martha's visit. Justin told his mom that Alex was going to be joining him on his run later. Martha arrived just as the food was coming out of the oven. They all made small talk while they ate their lunch. Justin was the first to finish, and said that he would go upstairs to give Alex some privacy to talk to Martha.
After they had given Justin enough time to get upstairs Martha started talking to Alex and Sarah about what she had been able to do earlier. "So far, I have had a few conversations with Dr Goodwin, and one very nasty conversation with your parents Alex. Let's do the easy one first. The calls with Dr Goodwin were about finding you a counsellor to help you talk through some of your problems, he recommended someone I was already thinking of and I set up an appointment for you for tomorrow afternoon. It's with a chap called David Boyland, I have dealt with him before and I think he could really help you. He is really good with the younger clients, I think that's because he's still quite young himself. Sorry about not checking with anyone before I made the appointment but I thought it would be best to start the ball rolling."
"I don't think that will be a problem, not for me anyway, Alex?" Sarah thought it might take a real genius to get Alex to come to terms with being gay so that he would stop hurting himself over it.
"I didn't have any plans, what happens if I don't like this David? Am I stuck seeing him?"
"No, the whole idea of a counsellor is that you are comfortable enough with them that you open up completely about your problems, if you don't like the person or trust them, then it is a waste of your time going. All I ask is that you go to the first appointment tomorrow and then if you're not happy we'll look for someone else, deal?"
"Ok, I'll give it a go."
Sarah was surprised at how quickly Alex had agreed. What she wasn't aware of was that Alex had decided, that as Sarah, Simon and Justin had been so good to him, he was going to do whatever he could to make them feel he appreciated everything they were doing for him.
"Unfortunately, my call to your parents, as I said earlier, went pretty badly at first, but I did make some progress with them. I had to threaten them with the courts, but they finally agreed to me going around and collecting your stuff. What I need you to do is make a list of the things you want or need and I will make sure I get them when I go around there later. I would prefer to take you with me, so at least you get everything you want in one trip but they made it clear you were not welcome there. I don't mean to upset you, but I think it is best that you know where you stand. When I go around there later, they will be signing documents making you a ward of the state; that just means that they will no longer be responsible for you. I have a few things in mind for a more permanent placement for you and"
"Excuse me for interrupting you Martha, but we'd like to know if it's possible for Alex to stay here on a permanent basis? I know it is what we would like."
"To be honest, I had considered that possibility, but I didn't know whether to bring it up in case it was something you were not comfortable doing. I didn't want to get Alex's hopes up for another fall. I certainly don't have any objections to it, especially seeing as Alex appears to be happy here. I noticed the banter between you and Justin over lunch. It would actually make things a lot easier for me. Are you sure you want to stay here Alex, I know Sarah has been good to you but if you would prefer I could find somewhere else?"
"I talked it over with Sarah this morning and a little bit with Justin as well. They have both made me realise that I was very lucky Sarah stopped to talk to me yesterday. I cannot begin to imagine where I would be right now if she hadn't. My only concern is that I cannot give them anything for living here. I realise it is going to mean extra expenses for them."
"Ah, part of the conversation I had with your parents was to do with their obligations towards you. When they sign the papers later they will no longer be responsible for you, however they have agreed to provide a sum of money each month to the family that agreed to take you in, rather than have me embarrass them in the papers. Ask Sarah, I can be really vicious and scary when I need to."
"It's true, she really went to town with one family, she had their names all over the local papers. Didn't they move away in the end?"
"I think they did, but they shouldn't have thought they could get away with it. I mean who in their right mind treats a seven year old that way." Alex was curious to know what this family had done but felt it wasn't really his place to ask. "Anyways we digress, so now you know that Sarah and Simon will be getting something for your upkeep, are you happy to stay?"
"Yes." Alex was starting to feel excited about living here after all, he did get on well with everyone. His face lit up when he started to smile.
"Well that was a lot easier than I was expecting. I will need both you and Simon to sign a different set of papers for me. That just means that this becomes Alex's foster home on a permanent basis, that gives you and Simon recognition as Alex's guardians. I think that is all, no, wait, I just remembered, I need that list from you Alex. Can you do it now?"
"What do you want me to write down? Do you want me to write clothes, or be more specific and say like one striped blue shirt?"
"Write down as much as you can, if you can add where in the bedroom you last saw things it might help as well." As Alex was writing down things as he thought of them, he was also thinking about whether his father had left his things alone or if he had decided to make a bonfire from them. "What happens if my father has started to destroy things? I know he was very angry yesterday."
"Why don't we see what I can collect, what is missing, and then we can sit down and work out what to do with the rest." With that Alex carried on writing down as much as he could remember. He knew he needed his school things as well as his clothes. He didn't have much else besides that, his bedroom wasn't like Justin's, he didn't have shelves full of DVDs or CDs, he didn't even have a PC or laptop. When he had finished he handed the list to Martha.
"Do you need me for anything else now, or can I go and tell Justin the news?"
"I've got all I need from you. I am going round to your parents when I finish work at four, with a bit of luck I should be back here just after." With that Alex left the kitchen and went upstairs to Justin's room.
"Do you want to bring those papers for me and Simon to sign at the same time and then you can stay for dinner? You don't have anything to rush home for do you?"
"No I don't and a family meal would be nice, thanks. What I'll do then is go home straight from work, feed the cat and get changed before I visit Alex's parents and then come straight here."
"Good. We'll make it a special meal to welcome Alex into the family."
"I better get back to the office or else my plans for leaving at four will be out the window. I'll see you around five." Sarah walked Martha out and went back to the kitchen to get a cup of tea and plan the meal she was going to do that evening.