In honor of father’s day, an update! And, more importantly, a new story.
With The Fairy Dealer off with our agency, we’ve turned out attention to revisions of our very first manuscript together. Star Boys was our first original project and our first love – and we realized, after a year without peeking at it, that a first love can be…sloppy. Still beautiful! Still lovable! But worth some fixing up.
As we hack and slash our way through Star Boys: Redux, frankly loving the rewrite process as we get the chance to revisit characters we know better than ever, we wanted to keep up the cadence of sharing short stories on here.
What better way to celebrate father’s day than with the tale of one of our hero’s magical upbringing? Magical is one way of putting it, anyway.
Content warnings: Mild language.
“Good?” Pidge asked, dropping the pan into the sink as Wes licked the last dregs of syrupy butter off his plate.
“Yeah, really good! Thanks for cooking.” The answer was, as ever, obvious, but if Pidge needed a steady stream of praise in exchange for providing Wes with delicious meals, a spotless house, and really hot sex then Wes considered it the least he could do. Put that way, it felt a little transactional and gross, so he added, “You’re the best boyfriend!” which had the added bonus of making Pidge’s ears twitch and his cheeks flush.
“Weren’t nothing,” he muttered, wiping his hands on the Kiss The Chef apron Wes had gotten him. And then, looking up at Wes from beneath dark eyelashes, “Notice anything different?”
“They were really fluffy today?” The only part of Pidge’s cooking Wes didn’t love was how easily upset he was if Wes didn’t praise him sufficiently, or praised the wrong thing. Searching the kitchen and his taste buds for the answer, Wes’s roving eyes lit on the jug of maple syrup on the table. The jug was newish, but Wes had duly complimented it when it first showed up, but that did bring his focus to the sweet, smokey flavor lingering on his tongue- “Syrup! You used new maple syrup!” he cried, delighted with himself for having enough of a palette to tell.
“Made it myself,” Pidge said smugly, relaxing back against the stove with the same sated langor he displayed after sex.
“Wow! I don’t even know how you do that,” Wes said, awed. “I used to think you could just drill a hole in a tree and it’d come running out but probably it doesn’t actually work that way?”
“Does for me, because I’m literally magic.” In illustration, Pidge flapped a hand at the sink and the brillo pad bustled into action scrubbing grease off Regan’s crepe pan. “And descended from a proud line of maple trees, so I got the knack.”
Wes opened his mouth, about to launch into a series of questions on gestation and chromosomal compatibility, and then slowly closed it again. “Is this like when you told me you lay eggs?”
Pidge smirked. “You get your bullshit detector calibrated? I in’t actually an ent. Though – and this bit’s actually true – I had a phase where I was convinced a tree in our backyard was my dad.”
‘Backyard’ seemed an insufficient term for the mazes, herb gardens and poison gardens, lakes and follies and acres of wild forest Wes had seen surrounding Thornhedge. When Wes’s parents told him stories of Manila, the balut stalls were as much a part of their landscape as hot dog stands were of his, but they never wanted to pretend they were the same thing like Pidge did whenever Faerie came up. “Howcomes?” Wes said carefully, hoping this had been a cute childhood thing they could bond over, like the time he’d read an encyclopedia entry on bears to his teddies to teach them about their family. He knew Faerie, though, and knew it wasn’t.
“I got dad vibes,” Pidge said blithely, and whistled through his teeth for the tea towel to flap over and dry the pan. “Not much good at catch but he was a good listener an’ I’ll take not throwing baseballs over actually throwing spears, which is something he had up on Lord Pip. ‘Course, that asshole Finch went’n chopped him down when I was eight, but we had some good times before then. Think Finch was jealous he didn’t have a strong father figure.”
Wes stared into the congealing butter on his plate, feeling the ache in his chest and wishing he were a good enough wizard to go back in time and give baby Pidge the hug he definitely needed. Wishing he’d taken enough semesters of Psych to say something helpful now. “That’s – Wow, Pidge, that’s really sad. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, waste of a good red maple, but what’re you gonna do?” Pidge scooped up his plate and slid it into the sink so the brillo pad could get to work. “Be glad you’re an only child, Westopher.”
“Mostly I’m glad my dad never lost his leaves in winter.” Wes slithered out of his seat and crossed the kitchen to wrap his arms around Pidge’s waist. “They were really good pancakes, Pidge. And syrup,” he said, burying his face in Pidge’s hair and smelling hot oil, sugar and weed. “Best you’ve ever made.”
“Sure were, but hey, no need to be sappy about it.” Pidge slid his hands into Wes’s back pockets and bit his ear, cheerfully oblivious. “Sappy. Hey, you get it?”