How Green Becomes Wood

"Dark had the right idea changing his name to just two letters. Although the wrong idea in keeping them, 'G.M.,' it's too much fun to call him Jim," HE lit Alec's sparkler and then Xander's, "The real test will be if you can write your name backwards so I can get all of it in the picture with your name facing the right way round."

He took a few steps back, following his own safety rules, but didn't light one for himself. He would have, but he recognized he was the adult in this situation, and wanted to have his hands free just in case something went wrong, "Don't set the cat on fire either. There's a whole song about it."
Alec laughed and waved the sparkler around excitedly, creating lines of light in the darkness. The sparklers only "sparked" for perhaps foot or a little more for especially exuberant sparks, but most of them stayed close to the stick. He twirled, stopping himself when he got dizzy and just let the sparkler burn for a minute.

"I didn't figure out how to properly spell my name until the second grade," Xander admitted. "It didn't help that the teachers couldn't spell it. How had is Xander? It's not z-e-n-d-o-r for crying out loud!" He tried writing out his name, but he couldn't quite get passed the D.

"Wasn't that Mrs. Haas that did that?" Alec asked, waving his sparkler high over his head. "She insisted on spelling my name a-l-i-x. I think there was something a little off about her, but, then again, she was like a hundred years old, but no one at the school would ever correct her, so I guess it kind of got spread around."
"That's more of a reason not to have kids. Whatever you name them, you gotta think about if others will be able to spell it and pronounce it properly. And if it's easy to turn into an insult. Careful with it above your head, Alec, you don't want to set your hair ablaze," He cautioned them, even though it seemed an unlikely outcome. Was this how Dark and Daizi felt all the time? He couldn't believe they were still standing. And soon they'd have a new baby, too? They must have been made out of stronger stuff than he was. Cooger was convinced the only thing babies wanted to do was find a way to end their tiny, fragile lives.

"Two teenagers and a baby," Cooger whistled to himself. The two most stressful life stages to parent happening concurrently.
"Hair is more likely to singe and melt than to catch on fire," Alec told him, but he did move it away to wave in front of him instead. "If she hates it, she can always change it. Lots of people do."

"Yep, just like Jim," Xander said with great satisfaction as he tried to make a slowly rotating infinity sign. It was working a little better than spelling his name.
"I wasn't talking about her. Or him. Although if you knew what his original surname translated to, you'd laugh your ass off." It was true, but despite his love of roasting Dark, he'd never reveal it. Cooger know where the line was, and stayed firmly on his side of it.

He took a few more pictures of the twins with their sparklers, only occasionally getting ones where the images they traced could be seen, but he was by no means a photographer, "I never really care what people call me. Even when I was a kid, you know. Dark would fight for his honor, or for Tarot's, but I'd just fight for the hell of it. Or I guess for them--friends don't let friends fight alone, ya know? And I was on the wrestling team, so we were a good team. I kept trying to convince him to join, like, underground street matches. Big tattooed guy like him? Everyone would bet that he'd win, so if I bet against him and he threw the match, we'd make a killing. Then when everyone expects him to lose, I'd bet on him, and he'd fight for real. Dark never agreed, and it's probably for the best, but we would've made a lot of money fast."
"You know, I have been meaning to start lessons in Judo," Xander said thoughtfully.

Alec stopped and narrowed his eyes at Xander. "If you even think about doing that, I'll tell Daizi something you don't want her knowing so she can tease you about it."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Fiiinnneee."

Alec smiled and looked up at the sky. "Tonight would be a beautiful night to sing! Like a music video! We have the lake, the sparklers... it's perfect."

"Then why don't you?" Xander asked.

Alec shook his head. "No, thank you. I'd rather not." He hadn't properly sung since the Declan had made his presence known. Not properly. The sea shanty had been the first time, and it had taken Xander by surprise, but that had just been so natural. It was like he was almost afraid to let that joy out again.

Xander frowned at him. He then grinned and stood closer to Alec, careful to keep the sparkler away. Bobbing rhythmically, he started humming. Alec looked away, refusing to be baited until Xander started singing softly, keeping his voice low.

Yeah, I've met your demons, but they do not scare me
I know they'll be angels once they learn to fly
I've seen all your seasons, your cold February
I know you'll be blooming in a matter of time

Xander paused. "You're not going to make me sing the duet alone, are you? Come on."

What I'm saying is-

Alec suddenly joined in, bobbing along with Xander as he waved the sparkler.

I get you, get you
Nothing we can't get through
If I see you going down that road, then I won't let you
I'll catch you no matter how far you fall
'Cause the best of me loves the best of you
And all the rest, I can see right through
You trust in me and I'll trust you too
'Cause the best of me loves the best of you

They broke into the chorus of "ohs" like the song, dancing with each other as the sparklers sparked joyfully.
Cooger sat back and watched them, not knowing the words and not really feeling like it was his place to join in anyway. It was good to just watch, he wasn't eloquent like his friends were, at least not in his opinion, so he didn't know how to describe it any way but good. The last time he saw them was a day or two after that day, so seeing them so alive was comforting. And he knew it'd he comforting for Dark and Daizi, too, when he told them about how the day had gone.

When he had stopped by, everyone in the house looked so ashen, like all the colour and joy had been sucked out of the place. Even the dog seemed bothered. But watching them with the sparklers made him think they were past the worst of it all... It was a shame his friends couldn't be there to experience their sons' joy. Even a video wouldn't capture it. This time of night? But then again, maybe if they were all together, and didn't have that time apart, this reinvigoration wouldn't have happened. Hopefully something similar was happening at home with them, or had before the fireworks started. Dark and Daizi deserved to feel this lightness, too. 4th of July wishes weren't really a thing, and there was too much light to see the stars, so he couldn't hope to see one dart across the sky, but as he sat there watching these two teenagers, he nonetheless wished his own friends were doing better, too.
Alec sang, taking the part normally sung by the female:

You've seen my dark side and danced with my shadow
You never run from, run from a fight
Now I'll be your ally through all the battles
And I know, and I know, and I know it'll be alright

Xander joined him in:

What I'm saying is you know me, know me
Wrestled with the old me
Saved me at my lowest, all you had to do was hold me
Console me no matter how far I fall
'Cause the best of me loves the best of you
And all the rest, I can see right through
You trust in me and I'll trust you too
'Cause the best of me loves the best of you

Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh (yeah)
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Yeah, I've met your demons, but they do not scare me
I know they'll be angels once they learn to fly
Yeah, I'm telling you the best of me loves the best of you
And all the rest, I can see right through
You trust in me and I'll trust you too
'Cause the best of me loves the best of you

Oh, oh, oh (the best of me)
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh (the best of you)
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh (the best of you)
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Yes, I do, yes, I do

They danced together, having fun, goofing off like they hadn't in at least a month, enjoying their time together as they hammed it up and pretended to be on a music video. It might have been a sappy romantic song, but they meant it for their friendship, for their brotherhood, as silly as that sounded. What was broken was healing, bit by bit, and having this time alone together had, indeed helped it.

Finally, with sparklers burnt out and legs exhausted, they dropped down next to the fire, laughing at their own weirdness.
"Here, c'mon, put the sticks in the bucket," He advised them, after gladly clapping for the conclusion of their little performance. Then he handed them roasting sticks and a bag of marshmallows, "S'mores time, as promised. I almost forgot. Since I guess singing's that third S we talked about at the restaurant. Or maybe it was Steak. Or soda." He frowed, "Aw, it don't matter, the point is I promised y'all smores. You know how it's done, right? You stick it in the fire till it gets toasty, then you slap it on the graham cracker with the chocolate. Or, well, it's better I guess if you have the chocolate on the cracker in advance, just so you don't waste time. And some people like it better when they fully char the marshmallow."
"I've never actually done it before, but I know the basic concept," Alec said, his voice cracking a little and sounding a touch hoarse. He picked up the crackers and carefully lined them up with the chocolate on top like Cooger said. Then he put his marshmallow in the fire.

"I heard some people use, like, Reeses peanut butter cups to add peanut butter to the mix. It sounds a extra to me," Xander said. He got his marshmallow in the fire - or rather right next to it - first, and then he got the crackers and the chocolate ready.
"That sounds good, but nothing beats classic. Except, well, they make these marshmallows you find sometimes where the chocolate is inside of it, and those are nice because it's easier to get the chocolate melty. But besides that, some classics are better left untouched." He spoke almost solemnly about it, as if it mattered at all, and then as he began roasting his own marshmallow, he said, "Sounds like your voice is fixin' to get deeper, Alec. Good on ya, and good luck with that."
Alec blushed deeply and focused on the marshmallow. "Thank you, I think. Truth is, I'm a little worried about it. I still want to be able to hit the high notes."

Xander shrugged and took his marshmallow out of the fire to test it. "I bet you still will. I mean, seeing the sperm donor told us we don't have a history of super deep voices, so unless it's from our mum's side, you'll just need a bit of training."

Alec rubbed his face, going even redder. "I wish you wouldn't say things like that."

"Like what? Deep voices?"

"No, the, the donor bit. It's so gross."

"I dunno what else to call him, but in other news, your marshmallow is on fire."

Alec jerked the marshmallow out of the fire and stared at the firey inferno. He tried waving it vaguely, and thankfully, it stayed stuck to the stick.
"I wouldn't worry about your range, kid. Dark can't hit high notes but he's still got a great voice. He just can't sing Take on Me. He doesn't even try, I like to joke that puberty actually raised his voice, it used to be so deep only trains could hear it. But you'll probably be one of those middle range fellas, I don't know the name."

Without a fuss or much noise, Cooger took the roasting stick from Alec and blew on it like a candle, making the fire go out. Then he handed it back to him, "If you don't like burnt marshmallows I'm sure one of us'll eat it. And 'Donor' is how Tarot and I refer to Dark's parents most of the time. It's what they say, you know? All children deserve parents but not all parents deserve children, and anyone can be a father, it takes a whole lotta work to be a dad."
Alec sighed as he looked at his burnt marshmallow, though it wasn't because of the marshmallow. "I just... really like singing the high parts. A lot. I usually take the girl parts because it's fun. But," he tried to cheer himself up, "there are lots of fun songs in the tenor and baritone ranges."

"As long as I don't sound like a steam train horn, I don't care," Xander said. He pulled out his crisp, golden brown treat and nodded in satisfaction. "First try." Then he smashed it on the chocolate piece and scraped it off. "I wonder if this would work with tongs?"

Alec slowly worked the sticky mush off his stick. "It might make things easier."
"I feel like even girls complain about not being able to sing as high as they like. But like Xander said, it's all about training. You could end up like whoever in Queen sang the 'Galileo' part in Bohemian Rhapsody. I always think it's best to just make the most of what you've got, though. Ever notice how people with straight hair always try to curl theirs, and people with curly hair always try to straighten it? Dark's got wavy hair and used to fry it with a straightener, smelled awful. I can't understand that, glad he eventually stopped. Tarot's got the right idea, making everyone adjust to her and not the other way around."

He pulled his marshmallow off the stick and made his smore, "You're welcome to try it with tongs, but I don't know if I have ones that are both long enough to safely reach into the fire and small enough to hold the marshmallow."
"I guess I could tie sticks onto the tongs," Xander remarked. He took a bite of the cracker sandwich he'd made, marshmallows squishing everywhere. "Hot! Good! Hot! Chocolate!"

Alec eyed Xander still trying to eat the s'more even while it was toasting his mouth and decided to wait a minute. "Where did the name 's'more' come from?" he asked, stalling.
"Because you want some more. S'more, it just pushes the words together. Don't burn your mouth, kiddo, it ain't worth it." He took a bite of his and glanced up at the sky, "The show's starting, look."

Above them, a few fireworks appeared above the trees in brilliant blues and greens. Their sound was quieter where they were, but still audible, and frightening enough that all the cats except Hank went inside, and Millie honked a bit. But Cooger just watched, perfectly content.
Alec and Xander turned away from the fire and watched in silence as the colors exploded. They were so beautiful! So beautiful. Neither one said anything or took their eyes from the display. Perhaps they were a way to symbolize battle originally, but at least for these two kids, they were just pretty lights and nothing else. They leaned shoulder to shoulder, watching and eating s'mores and being grateful to be alive and together.
Cooger leaned back and watched, the fire occasionally crackling in front of him. Hank settled into his lap, and he gave the old man some affectionate scritches. Nothing, it seemed, frightened Hank. Everything, more or less, fell away in favor of the display up in the sky. He was only drawn out of the peaceful reverie when a particularly loud or prolonged firework went off, and the sound reminded him of who was at home, but that was a standard, yearly response he had. But who was at home was well taken care of, and he had long been told not to let himself stress to death over it, so he didn't.

He allowed the fire to die down as they watched, knowing that not too long after the show ended, he'd be taking them home, and when it did, he quietly doused the embers, and after making sure they were fully extinguished said, "Well, you're welcome to stay as long as you like, but I'm not sure there's anything we can do to top that."
"That was beautiful," Alec said. He moved around and gave Cooger a careful hug, trying not to disturb Hank too much. "Thank you, Cooger. This was one of the best days I've had in a long time."

Xander didn't say anything, but he did give a quiet nod, still looking up where the fireworks had been. That was truly the topper on a fantastic day. He stretched out and began slowly picking things up and making certain everything got put where it was supposed to. He'd get his backpack in a minute. There was no need to hurry, but he was slowly meandering toward the house.