Julian undid the straps and lifted Fergus gingerly out of the buggy.
“Hey, guys. Look.” He said to the three children playing on the floor. Bonnie, Mitchell and Eleanor looked up.
Eleanor giggled as Julian put Fergus on the couch, where he fell asleep quickly.
“This is Fergus. He’ll be staying with us until tomorrow. Maybe longer.” Julian said, half-excitedly.
“Why?” Mitchell demanded. For a six year old, he could be very rude sometimes; Julian was still trying to make him drop the attitude.
“Because he doesn’t have a mommy. Ms Gibbons, remember her? She might take him tomorrow.” Julian looked down at the toys scattered all over the carpet in the sitting room. “And don’t say it in that tone, mister.” He raised his eyebrows at the boy now sitting cross legged on the couch at Fergus’ head.
Mitchell bowed his head to look at the sleeping baby.
“Can we play?” Four-year old Bonnie asked Fergus, expecting a response.
“No, Bon. He’s only a few weeks old. He’s too young to play with you.” Julian lowered his voice from fear of waking Fergus up.
Bonnie went grumpily back to sitting on the carpet, which was stained with multiple juices from the past two years. Julian chuckled gently at her. As she went back to what she was doing, Mitchell and Eleanor followed her.
Julian picked up Fergus as he began to wake and took him to a bedroom up the stairs. The stairs creaked as he gingerly stepped up them. He was sure not to go too fast as to not wake Fergus.
It was decorated for a baby. The walls were baby-blue and the cot was a sherbet-lemon colour. Julian placed Fergus gently inside the cot and secured the lock.
The room had not been used in a few months, seeing as Eleanor felt she was a big girl and wanted a different room, without a cot. She had the room next door now and Mitchell had the room after that and Bonnie's room was next to Mitchells, other than those rooms, even Julian himself had no idea how many rooms there were.
The house used to be some sort of Hostel for travellers and the people he had bought it from (who seemed strangely happy to be rid of it) didn’t tell him how many rooms there were. Well, they probably did, but Julian was twenty-two when he bought it so he might not have been paying attention at that precise moment. Now he was thirty-one and wishing he knew how many rooms there were.
“We’d better get you some clothes... and more food.” Julian found himself talking to the gurgling baby.
He had kept all of Eleanor’s things he had bought her for when she was small.
“This’ll do for now.” He pulled out a small all-in-one. It looked a bit big for Fergus, but he could easily buy more clothes for him if he were to stay. He put it on Fergus as he slept. Somehow, Julian avoided waking him as he slid the light green all-in-one over his body after changing his diaper.
Julian placed Fergus inside the cot once more and watched him sleep as he sat on the unnaturally big windowsill. Finally, he woke up again. Julian immediately went to the microwave in the corner of the room and pressed Start. Inside, the milk whirled around being warmed in the bottle.
“Just a few more seconds.” Julian whispered as Fergus began to cry again. He took the milk out, lightening fast and attached the rubber teat. He tested it on his skin and hand-fed Fergus.
After he had finished, Julian put Fergus back into the cot for more sleep.
A thought suddenly struck Julian: What was going on downstairs?
He had left Bonnie, Mitchell and Eleanor downstairs alone!
Julian sprinted down the stairs to the sitting room. He found them all sitting watching the 50 inch plasma television. Tikabilla was on and they all seemed to enjoy it, except for Mitchell, who was singing to himself loudly.
“Julian! Make Mitch stop singing!” Eleanor wailed as Julian came into the room and sat down on the couch with them.
“Mitch. Mitch. Listen to me. Mitch. Can you stop singing, please? Mitch?” Julian tried to catch Mitchell’s attention but it wasn’t working. Julian was sitting next to him and Eleanor and Bonnie next to Mitchell. Bonnie tried to shut Mitchell up.
“Mitchy! Listen to Julian!” Bonnie shouted in his ear. Mitchell was silent and folded his arms, crossly.
Bonnie was the only one who could tell Mitchell what to do.
“Eleanor, you don’t mind if Fergus has your old room for today, do you?” Julian always talked to her as if she were an adult. She liked to be talked to this way; it made her feel important and older than Bonnie and Mitchell.
She kept her eyes on the screen and shook her head. Julian smiled and ruffled her hair.
“Thanks.” He said to her and she gave a small smile, eyes still glued to the screen showing a purple dragon. Julian wondered if this dragon was a boy or girl. He would probably never know. Why or how would he find out? His mind thought about all this automatically without him actually trying to think about it. He trailed off into his own world, until Bonnie got off the couch and went to the kitchen.
“Bon! What are you doing in there? Bon?” Julian called from the couch, getting up.
“Drink!” She yelled back. He heard the fridge door open.
“Wait, you can’t reach. I’ll get it.” Julian jumped into the kitchen, ever since he had the kids in his house, he had learnt how to get to places inside the house fast.
“Come away, Bon.” Julian smiled as he got a juice carton down from the fridge which was packed high with them and other kiddie foodstuffs.
He shut the door carefully and led Bonnie back. He suddenly heard a crash as they were crossing the hall.
He sprinted with Bonnie near his heels to the sitting room.
“Julian!” Eleanor bellowed, tears streaming.
“What's the matter, Ellie?” He turned to Mitchell. “Mitchell. What did you do?”Mitchell could tell Julian was angry when he used his full name.
“Go to your room.” Julian ordered. Mitchell sulked off upstairs. “I’ll talk to you later.” He turned back to Eleanor, who still had tears running down her pink cheeks. “What did he do?”
“He hit me!” She cried harder than before.
“Oh dear. Come on. Lets sit down, don’t worry, I’ll talk to him after he’s had good time to think about it. Yeah? Cheer up.” Julian began singing to her as she sat on his lap on the couch. His voice soothed her crying and soon she was asleep in his lap. Bonnie leant against Julian, feeling safe and she, too, drifted to sleep.