It has been ONE MILLION YEARS
just under a year since I last wrote the words Thursday Thousand, and I am hella excited to be here.
In February of 2019, I began a short project where I had to post a short story every week, on Thor’s Day, that had only one parameter: it had to be, at minimum, 1000 words long. It could be any genre, any length beyond that, and could even contain mild cliffhangers!
Why? Because some of those definitely turned into novels, let’s be honest here. It was in an effort to get myself working, and, suffice to say, it worked. Two of my last posts for the project were first chapters of finished novels that Thursday Thousand helped me get back to. I’ve come back to it occasionally for different reasons–Halloween spooky stories, hoping to flesh out a new novel idea, and, now, for Pride.
Last year, I tried my hand at maybe reviving Thursday Thousand for a little bit, a sporadic once a month kind of thing, but the first story I wrote was for the researcher & the librarian, which turned into a full duology, and that was about where the short stories ended. However, as we’re finally embarking on one of the best months of the year, I thought it’d be fun to bring back these short stories for a quick four-week celebration. Each week will feature characters I already know and love across the queer spectrum, and I am so excited to share these stories with you.
First up, we’ve got some serious OGs in the house. Several of my readers once told me that if I killed off Finn in sister witches, they would stop reading, and I am here to tell you that Finn 100% survives the SW trilogy. There was zero chance I was killing him off anyway, he wasn’t even a contender, but I’m glad to report that my psycho ways didn’t destroy those nonexistent chances. Theodore is also most of my readers favorite character, which, like–yeah, hard same. I love these idiots together even more, and I had so much damn fun just writing them the fluffiest possible story. Enjoy!
Some background: sister witches is about three witches who accidentally summon a demon (Theodore) into the heart of Salem. A couple years and a lot of chaotic battles later, they’re all best friends, and Theodore is in it for the long haul with Finn, a lower demon that is an actual ray of sunshine.
Three years ago, if someone had told Theodore that he was someday going to sigh witheringly at the sunshine barista from Jaho not out of spite, but out of fondness, Theodore wouldn’t have just laughed at them. He would have tripped them straight into the nearest trash barrel and accused them of spreading gross propaganda. And yet, here he was, watching Finn be utterly oblivious to the fact that he was having his pants nearly flirted straight off. He was so well-mannered that Finn rarely ever saw the worst in people, and only finally peeled back his rose-colored glasses when someone with a little rage in their bones pointed it out.
It wasn’t the first time that this customer had been in, either, and as Theodore watched Finn smile politely and nod along, the customer’s own expression brightened. Finn’s level of politeness was where normal people hung out at actually happy, and it was like being blinded by the sun when he shifted out of polite and into exuberance. Theodore loved seeing people finally witness that shift and realize they weren’t special when Finn smiled at them.
This one seemed to either be outright ignoring the politeness of Finn’s smile or was just that dumb, but Theodore didn’t often see the best in people, and he was pretty sold on the first one. The guy had dropped his elbows on the counter and was chatting amicably with Finn, who had finally stepped away from him and was busy making his drink. Theodore had half a mind to do something possessive—his animal form was a cat for a reason—when, like some kind of bizarre avenging angel, Ashley tripped over literally nothing and would have gone face first into a neat line of iced coffees Finn was making if all of them weren’t completely immune to Ashley’s clumsiness anymore. Instead, Finn caught Ashley by the forearm, gave him a light push, and Ashley had his feet under him by the time he reached the register.
“Are you all set?” Ashley asked, giving the customer a thousand watt smile that made him falter a little, his attention flickering back to where Finn firmly had his back turned now, before he gave a curt nod and stepped off to the side to wait.
Back in the day, when Ashley had first started, he’d bumbled his way around Finn enough times that when a searing hot jug of milk spilled all over the floor, Finn cornered Ashley and told him that, even if Theodore randomly dropped dead, nothing was ever going to happen between them unless Ashley made Finn drop something again, and then something would happen, but none of them would be happy about it. Ashley, in the strangest about face Theodore had ever seen, decided that meant he was going to be not just Finn’s friend, but his protector, as well. If anyone even remotely hinted at flirting with Finn, there was Ashley in all his psycho glory.
Theodore begrudgingly liked Ashley now, even if he felt like he was getting indigestion if he talked to him for too long. There was only so much positivity that Theodore could withstand at a time, and Finn just about topped off his well simply by existing.
When the line of iced coffees were done, Finn started calling out names, dropping them onto the far end of the counter as he did, smiling when people came to collect. Ashley went by him, whispered something that made Finn’s eyebrows skyrocket, and then Ashley was coming around the counter to offer the flirting customer his drink. Finn was right behind him, and Theodore saw the moment where a move was finally going to be made just in time for Finn to duck to the side, scoop Theodore’s elbow, and drag him bodily off his stool.
Theodore let out a delighted crow of laughter as they banged out of the coffee shop, even let himself be frog marched down the street until they’d looped the corner at the edge of the shops on the Wharf, and Finn shoved him against the wall. “Jesus fucking Christ,” Finn said before he was there—wide shoulders stretching beneath a burnt orange shirt as his inhale went sharp, blonde hair rifled and limned in gold, mouth warm and bitter, a heady mixture of anger and coffee that snipped at the edges of Theodore’s anxiety and rooted him firmly in the solid press of Finn against him. He wasn’t good at being touched in general, but in public was always worse, particularly outside where he wasn’t sure about any situational dangers that might blossom to life. But Finn was familiar in so many different ways that Theodore folded beneath the steady curl of Finn’s hands around Theodore’s biceps, the anger that fizzled in half a heartbeat into slow warmth, the sigh that drifted between them when Finn released him only to drop their foreheads together. His blue eyes were closed, and there were spots of color high in his cheeks that made Theodore want to bite them off like apples.
“He’s been in every godsdamn day this week,” Finn muttered, still close enough that his mouth brushed Theodore’s when he spoke.
“I am more than willing to light him on fire,” Theodore offered, and Finn laughed, tipping forward to kiss Theodore again in something that’d gone so gentle and full of wonder that Theodore was definitely going to need to tease him endlessly about it later. But right now, with Finn’s shoulders easing and the strange hard edges of him going soft again, Theodore let his own fury dissipate. They’d come a long way in the last few years, and it wasn’t jealousy that burned up Theodore’s spine when he watched people flirt with Finn, but rage. He’d spent so long thinking that Finn wasn’t an option that to imagine someone else trying to step between them made Theodore want to destroy things.
“Okay,” Finn said suddenly, there and then gone. He held out his hand, already peeking around the corner to see if there was a line at Jaho in his absence, and it was that blind faith, that Theodore would take his hand without stressing about it first, that gave Theodore the courage to do exactly that. He could still remember when Finn had first reached out to him, bare weeks into dating, as they were crossing the street to get donuts, and he’d practically had to drag Theodore over the crosswalk. Sometimes, Theodore almost wished he could whisper into the past that, someday, miraculously, this sunshine idiot was going to kiss him in broad daylight just to prove a point and that Theodore was going to bully him down the street, their hands twined between them, until Finn was laughing as they walked back into Jaho.
Theodore grabbed his stool again, settling into his usual spot, as Finn looped an arm around Ashley’s shoulders and gave him a hearty shake. “You’re my favorite,” Finn said, and Ashley snorted in such utter disbelief that a couple regulars waiting for their drinks laughed.
And that should have been it—Finn back to his polite smiles behind the counter, Ashley with two left feet, and Theodore slouched against the warm front window of Jaho, but even as he settled, Theodore remembered what was waiting for them at home. They’d been through a lot in the last three years—the slowest burn ever because Theodore refused to date a human on a strict Edward Cullen policy that Finn absolutely smashed to smithereens when they were attacked by demons, and Finn came out swinging, his edges wicked in ash and fire burning along his bones; the attempted utter destruction of Salem that had, somehow, brought Finn to Theodore’s childhood home in Ireland and whispered words of love between them; and, finally, the abandonment of Finn’s old apartment so that he could move in with Theodore. All of it should have meant that the gaping suitcase Theodore had left on their bed was no big deal, but they were never just Theodore and Finn. They were always surrounded by this chaotic city, by their revolving door of friends, by things and events in a way that meant, though Theodore had finally left behind anxiety at them in a general sense, there was a whole wealth of anxiety waiting for him at the idea of them alone.
“Vacation,” Finn had said a few weeks ago. “It’s been a year since everything, and I’m exhausted. I want to go somewhere absurd where we don’t know anyone and where I don’t have to pretend that people’s douchey coffee orders are anything but dumbass sugar bombs.” Theodore hadn’t hesitated then, not really realizing yet what vacation meant, and, now that it was here, that old terror that had crept over him and made him cold with uncertainty when all Finn was doing was holding his hand as they crossed the street was suddenly back with a vengeance.
“You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill,” Henley said flatly, and Theodore had to employ a whole wealth of willpower that he didn’t really have a hold on right now not to pillow her to death. She was sprawled across his bed, bare brown legs spread to either side, arms flopped out, and eyes closed. Luciana, her girlfriend, had the AC running in their bedroom, and it was, more often than not, the bane of Henley’s existence. She hated the shivery feeling it gave her when she came out of the room to the rest of the house, which was generally a comfortable temperature. Theodore was of the same mind, and though he’d always enjoyed the central air in Finn’s apartment, he’d much rather an open window to needing to layer up in the summer.
Henley was in a pair of black and white striped shorts that were neatly folded along the hem, a cropped black shirt that said the future is lesbian in metallic silver script across the front, and her braids were piled messily above her head, looped out from beneath her neck and splayed across his duvet when she first laid down. She peeled one eye open at him when he continued to pack silently, and the sigh she lobbed at him was enough that Theodore finally abandoned the suitcase and flopped directly on top of her.
Henley made a delighted noise at the attention, flinging her arms around him as Theodore buried his face in her neck and tried to exhale all of his anxiety out. “Come on,” Henley said, reaching down one hand to pat his hip until he brought his knees up, bridging them on either side of Henley’s ribs. She threaded one hand through his red hair, and the other splayed across his spine. Her breaths weren’t loud, but they swelled up through her body in a way that was easy to match. Theodore closed his eyes to the familiar weight of her grounding him with magic drenched in shadows and strength, and it should have been hilarious, that seven hundred years ago, another witch had done the same thing for him, day after day, until it was something that he didn’t know how to exist without now. He hadn’t known what his mother was doing then, but he often sought out that comfort now, and it was like being shoved into Adelaide’s sweatshirt pocket when he was feeling grumpy and settled into his cat form. He just needed to know that he wasn’t going to fling apart at the seams, and the combined weight of Henley’s magic and her body caging him in was a reminder of that.
“Is it being alone, or being away?” she whispered, and Theodore felt like he might start choking on another wave of anxiety, so he dug his hands underneath her and held on tight.
It’d been three years since he first met Henley, and he was never going to forget those first seconds. She was terrified, but ready to do anything necessary to protect her witches, and when she’d half-blinded him with the flashlight on her phone, he hadn’t expected anything but an immediate banishing spell. Instead, her fear had wavered as she watched him, as Adelaide and Margot argued over how, exactly, to get rid of him. And, in the end, it’d been Henley that stuck her hand out and agreed to a year’s contract, Henley that had seen everything he was running from in his face and decided he was worth fighting for, Henley that had first hugged him like this, fierce and unforgettable, and whispered, “Whatever it is, we’ll help you.”
“I know that Salem isn’t going anywhere,” Theodore finally said, his voice muffled against a mishmash of Henley’s shoulder and neck and the bed beneath her. “I know that you’re not going anywhere. But rational thinking is for normals. And I’ve never been alone with that idiot for more than twenty-four hours.”
Henley gave Theodore a solid squeeze, hard enough to make even his anxiety give an indignant squeak, and said, “I’ve got an idea.” And then she was jostling him with more strength than anyone ever gave her credit for, and Theodore nearly ended up on the floor as Henley shoved him off and flung herself off the bed. She was out the door before he’d done more than not pitch sideways into a graceless heap, and he’d only managed to sit up and frown at the open door in confusion before she was back, a thin line of red string between her teeth and hands in her hair as she gathered up her braids. Once it was looped up in a precarious bun, Henley dropped onto her knees on the bed and held out the string. Instinctually, Theodore grabbed up the opposite end, and Henley offered him a steady, brilliant smile.
“Where are you going again?” she asked even though she knew.
“Greece. Andrew owns an island? I’m still not convinced, but he claims it’s called Spetses, and there’s a private beach involved.” Of all the truly insane things that’d happened to them in the last three years, befriending an ancient vampire that the entire community called their king was—well, frankly, should have been at the top of the list, but Theodore had seen Andrew manhandled by his partner before in such a familiar way that they all mostly forgot about the important bits.
“Hey Siri!” Henley called out blindly into the apartment, trusting that a device somewhere would hear her. “How far away is Spetses, Greece? We’re definitely butchering it,” she added in a whisper.
“The island Spetses is 4,616 miles away from Massachusetts,” Siri replied dutifully from the kitchen.
Henley settled onto her heels, string held aloft between them, and waited for Theodore to do the same. Like echoes of each other, they started to knot the string. “With knot of one, I create a tether. With knot of two, I bind you to Salem. With knot of three, I hold your heart to mine. With knot of four, I release you to Greece.”
They were not rehearsed words or even ones that they might have called up from research. They were words directly from Henley’s heart, and as Theodore started knotting, he found that he didn’t have to think about what he might say. The words were just there, waiting. “With knot of one, I create a tether. With knot of two, I dig roots in Salem. With knot of three, I know that family is not blood. With knot of four, I hear your heart calling to mine. With knot of five, I leave this soil. With knot of six, some piece of me stays behind.”
“With knot of one, I am yours, and you are mine,” Henley promised.
“With knot of one, I am free to leave. With knot of two, I will return. With knot of three, I will find nothing changed when I return. With knot of four, I will remember that love has no distance. With knot of five, I will not stress about being alone. With knot of six, the spell is done.” The string, grown shorter as they knotted it seventeen times, was a small bridge between them that Henley quickly looped around Theodore’s wrist, fused together with a bit of flashy magic, and then wrapped her hand fully around.
“That was really sappy,” she said.
“I hated it,” Theodore agreed, but he felt lighter when Henley drew back her hand and let him go entirely.
“Your packing is dismal,” Henley said as she looked past him, so Theodore bullied her into helping him. When Finn arrived, Theodore was still nervous, but there was a small bubble of excitement that hadn’t been there before, and he nearly suggested leaving then and there. He wanted one last night in his bed in the girls’ apartment in the city that felt like home now, though, hoping against all odds that he would still feel ready in the morning.
The first night Theodore ever spent at Finn’s, he couldn’t settle until he finally gave up and texted the girls to tell them that he was kind of freaking out without them just down the hall. For centuries, he’d been alone but for the calm torture that his father so loved, and to have found a family that not only wanted him, but were willing to fight for him, was a hard thing to let go of, even if for only a night. He’d slowly gotten better at being away from them, and he’d even figured out how to spend two or three nights at a time over Finn’s, but he never quite relaxed.
When they got to Spetses by way of portal—Finn had argued that he wanted to do it old school, fly on a plane, arrive bleary and a little jetlagged, sleep for too many hours and then eat breakfast at a weird time, but everyone agreed it was a gross waste of money, and he was overruled, thank Satan—it was so much of a shock that Theodore didn’t have time to entertain any nervousness. “Holy shit, he really wasn’t kidding,” Finn mumbled in disbelief as they gaped down at the island. In lieu of a plane, Andrew said they should open a portal above the island to get the full effect like flying in did, and then reopen it on the ground, and even though Theodore wasn’t a fan of any of that, he knew it would make Finn giddy. Granted, it was grossly easy to excite Finn, but half the fun was watching his entire face light up with wonder.
The island wasn’t large, but it was very clearly unpopulated aside from a sprawling house in the dead center, which Theodore was glad to set eyes on. He was fairly confident that their portal onto the actual island wouldn’t open into the ocean, but given the size of it, he felt better knowing exactly where they were going.
And now, here they were, Finn’s high energy translated into unpacking, opening every door possible, and dragging Theodore out to wander down to the beach. It had beautiful white sand, water blue and clear as the sky, and nothing for miles. Andrew hadn’t been back to Greece since the early 1900s, but one of his aunts came through frequently, and the house had not only been dust-free, but stocked up with food and amenities. It was, as far as Theodore could tell, truly just the two of them here.
“Did you know he was flirting with you?” Theodore asked on the way back to the house, hungry at a weird time anyway because portaling still meant jetlag happened.
“Oh my gods,” Finn groaned. “Pick a number between one and thirty for how many times he came into Jaho in one month.”
“Please tell me it’s over thirty.”
“Over thirty!” The house was cool and dark when they went in, most of the curtains still drawn because Finn had been moving at lightspeed to get them down to the beach earlier. “He came in twice on the weekends, which I thought was bad enough until he started coming in twice during the week, too. Not every day, mind you, but enough that even Henley was starting to get rude.” Henley was, strictly speaking, always rude, but, like Finn’s level of politeness being normal people’s level of joy, Henley’s rudeness was where most people operated at mildly annoyed. When she actually started to get rude was when other people would be spitting fire, and she rarely broke that out on a customer. “Tried to develop a fucking regular like I don’t serve eight-five million people during the morning rush, never mind holding onto that information for a full nine hours. You don’t even have a regular.”
“That doesn’t count, you regularly draw dicks in my foam.”
He had to leave Finn keeling over with laughter in the living room as Theodore carried on into the kitchen, and it was a comforting sort of atmosphere that settled over the house—Finn’s loud joy, the hum of the refrigerator coming to life as Theodore opened it, and the quiet drifting of birdsong as Finn started opening curtains and windows. The fridge was packed, and Theodore spent a few minutes standing in front of its open doors, tapping on them as he thought about what to make. Pizza would be easy, but would take a while to let the dough rise properly, and now that they were here, Theodore wanted more than just easy. They’d crossed half the world and were alone for the first time in two years, and Theodore was finding that he wanted to sweep Finn off his damn feet. No matter what kind of anxiety tried to creep up in the dark hours, Theodore loved Finn something fierce, and he deserved to know that.
And so, he set to work on something that he knew would make Finn smile stupidly. It would take a bit of finagling with the chilies since they should be soaked overnight, and he was trying to argue his way around using something less impactful when he caught sight of a bowl of fresh chilies and wondered if someone was looking up at them. Finn wandered in, curious at the sight of Theodore in gloves, but his attention span was too short for Theodore to need to kick him out of the kitchen, and Finn was gone in a few minutes. He kept wandering around the house, breezing in and out of the kitchen as he went, talking the entire time. When, at long last, he finally settled at the marble island, Theodore set him on the bowl of lemons, handed out a pack of strawberries, and told him to start on lemonade. “Gloves and lemonade?” Finn asked knowingly.
“Shut up,” Theodore snapped at him, though it was half-hearted given the amount of attention the agoyin sauce required. Finn got in his way only long enough to make a simple syrup and inhale longingly over the simmering beans. Theodore was tipping past hungry and into something a little hangrier when the plantains finally started browning, and the combination of sugary strawberries and carmelizing brown sugar nearly did them both in. He plated the bowls carefully—an entire layer of warm, crispy plantains beneath sticky smashed beans that he patted out a hole to spoon the fiery sauce into—and, when Theodore set them on the island, it was worth it for the way Finn’s whole body went still.
He looked from the bowl of ewa agoyin to Theodore with something like awe in his face and said, “She only ever made this when I was little and being an absolute terror.”
“That seems like an adverse effect,” Theodore pointed out as he came around to sit next to Finn.
“No, it was genius,” Finn said, his stool twisting a little so that he was sitting at a diagonal, facing halfway toward Theodore. “I tried to test it a couple times, but there was a difference between asshole and terror.”
“Terror is usually the cause of something worse, something that ends in tears.”
“You can’t cry when your whole body feels like it’s on fire. What kind of chilies did you use in this?” Finn asked as he leaned forward to inhale deeply. Theodore hadn’t done that because he knew that his senses would rear back flashing danger signs, but Finn had been raised by a Yoruban witch whose entire world had become the tiny child demon sobbing in her kitchen when her daughter first brought him home. The daughter had argued that she couldn’t leave a child in the shadow realm, which was hilarious given how many of them were born there and never knew anything else, but Finn’s grandmother, his iya, had agreed immediately, and he’d been with her for four hundred years.
Finn laughed, his voice gone low and delighted, as he leaned back and reached for the pitcher of lemonade. “You’re gonna need more than this,” he said as he poured two glasses. He left Theodore after to grab one of the wrapped packages of pita bread he’d been nibbling on earlier, and they tucked in.
Theodore was proud of how high his spice tolerance was, given how little experience he’d had outside of standard Irish fare before he came to the human realm three years ago, but Finn was left cackling when Theodore started fanning himself. “You’re lying,” he wheezed when Finn scooped up a huge bite.
“This is my entire childhood,” Finn said pleasantly, and it should have been telling, how their evening would unfold, if it was starting with his sunshine demon this merry.
Truthfully, half the reason Theodore was sour about literally everything was that the other option was to just melt and go to pieces anytime he thought about how lucky he was. It wasn’t even just that his witches had accidentally summoned a demon and then kept him, or even that they’d freed him of the need for a contract entirely. And it definitely wasn’t just the private island around them and the ease with which Finn laughed here. It wasn’t the years behind them now and all the careful bridges they’d constructed together. When Theodore sat back, feigning death at the heat of the ewa agoyin, his brain did what it always did and thought back to exactly the moment everything had begun to change.
He’d been aggravated and exhausted and close to snapping when Finn sat down on the wall along the Wharf next to him. Finn was uncannily good at sneaking up on him in those early days, before Theodore knew he was also a demon, and he’d threatened Finn with certain death on several occasions for appearing out of thin air. He’d held out a travel cup of herbal tea like a peace offering, and his baby blue shirt made his eyes look absolutely surreal, and Theodore was never going to stop hearing Finn stumbling over asking him out and thinking that Theodore’s dismal reaction was because he somehow didn’t like Finn, which was just absurd. Theodore had liked Finn long before he knew he was a demon, and he thought it very likely everything would go to absolute shit if Finn ever left him. He’d never met someone like him—boisterous and excitable to the point of annoyance in a way that came across instead as endearing, kind to a fault, but still capable of centuries worth of pent up rage if stoked the right way, and utterly filthy. For all that Finn looked wholesome and adorable on the outside, his hair often went ash grey and his teeth sharpened into razors when Theodore was pressed flush against him, his control wavering as he swore six ways to Sunday and tried to haul Theodore closer. His ears flushed bright red when he was embarrassed, but he’d also once told Theodore to hold on for dear life when he was pissed off and needed to expel that furious energy somewhere. Theodore had had bruises for days, and it was amazing.
But that moment, with uncertainty strung between them, was the start of so much, and Theodore was never going to stop wondering at the luck of it all.
With dinner behind them and so much of the night still left ahead of them, Finn cleaned the dishes while Theodore went to scrounge in the bathroom to figure out what taking a shower looked like. Finn was clattering around the bedroom when Theodore got out, hair flat against his head and towel wrapped around his waist. The room was massive, a sprawl of space on either side of a huge bed draped in soft linen. “I was expecting silk,” Finn said from where he was tipped onto his front, face half-mashed into one of the pillows.
“Linen was probably more readily available in Andrew’s heyday,” Theodore said as he unlooped the towel and scrubbed it over his hair, drying it as much as he could in the space from door to bed.
“I’m not complaining,” Finn said, hands sliding along the bed and up to come under his head. He turned his head to the side, but his eyes were still closed when Theodore dropped a knee on the bed. “Thank you for this,” Finn said softly. “I know it’s stressing you out, being here, but I needed this.” Theodore set his other knee near Finn’s hip and leaned up to stretch out over him until he could lay a gentle kiss against Finn’s jaw.
“Did you just James Bond naked me?” Finn said, delight edging at the corner of his voice as he opened his eyes and looked back. “I’m going to die, Theodore.”
“Too much of a good thing will rot your teeth out,” Theodore agreed, and then Finn was laughing loudly as Theodore hooked an arm under him and neatly flung him around onto his back. When he dropped down to kiss Finn, it was with no small amount of joy. Finn was warm and brimming with energy still, and Theodore wanted to bite him.
Even with Finn’s laughter and Theodore’s generally good mood, it felt like nothing short of a miracle when Theodore woke up to find that the sun had already risen and was drenching the room in golden waves. The windows were still open, the curtains drawn away, and though there was a breeze stirring through the room, Finn was a solid, warm weight next to him. Theodore rolled, nose bumping against Finn’s ribs, and stayed there, one arm flung over his back and one leg crooked over Finn’s to drop between his thighs. The blankets were still yanked up near Finn’s shoulders, though one foot was stuck out and, like a true psycho, hanging off the bed. His blonde hair was wild, and his voice was sleepy when he hummed at the press of Theodore’s mouth against his side.
Theodore had not only slept through the night, but he’d slept well into the morning, and he still felt soft and slow when he closed his eyes and breathed in the buttery, spicy smell of his sunshine demon. “Finn,” Theodore murmured his name against his ribs, smiling when Finn hummed again. Theodore’s arm tightened across his back, his heart held within his hands. “I love you.”
There was a heartbeat of silence, and then Finn was jostling across the bed, disturbing their stillness in a way that made Theodore exhale amusement because Finn was definitely still mostly asleep, but he was also the most predictable person ever. He glommed onto Theodore, wrapping them together in a way that felt inevitable, and kissed him with all the accuracy of someone who refused to open their eyes, which meant he landed on Theodore’s eye and called it a day. “I love you,” Finn promised, tucking his head right under Theodore’s chin and dropping immediately back into sleep.
Theodore closed his eyes as he held on, allowing himself a once-a-year kind of smile—fond, safe, and happy. Salem might be his home now, but so was Finn.