Theo looked at the messages blowing up his phone and sighed. He finished his double-espresso, before fumbling around in his pocket and withdrawing a few crumpled bills and some accompanying loose change.
Setting the money down on the table, he got up and took his exit, though not before flashing a wink and a smile to the nice waitress who had not so discreetly written her number on the back of his receipt.
She wishes, he thought to himself as he strode out of the small café towards his truck with a smirk.
Looking down at the picture on his phone and then back up at the panicked face of Liam, Theo frowned.
“THIS is what was such an emergency?!” he demanded, holding the screen up with the blurry green panorama the other boy had sent him
“I uh, Theo look at my room!” Liam pleaded, gesturing to what had once been his desk, but was now completely overgrown. The plants were spread out across the entire surface and had long since passed over the top of the grow lights to where they now were just barely being contained by the ceiling above.
“I’m not the one who failed his class and had to retake biology over the summer just to graduate!” Theo said defensively, throwing his hands up
“But look at it!” Liam pleaded again, “this all your fault, using Dread Doctor leftovers to build my hydroponic project!”
“Hey, you wanted me to help” Theo stated nonchalantly, “so I helped”
“Now Amazon keeps recommending pot growing supplies, and the neighbors keep looking at me funny when I leave the house” the beta complained motioning towards the faint purple glow trickling out from the largely obfuscated grow lamps
Liam roared in frustration and swiped a claw extended hand through the nearest section of plants, sending a mess of leaves and stems to the floor.
The two of them watched as in near real-time the plants grew back, seemingly denser and thicker than before, like some sort of herbal Italian hydra.
“I’ve got an idea” the chimera mused, taking in the situation, “does your mom have a food processor we can borrow?”
Taking a second look at the overgrowth he paused before adding “or a woodchipper?”
Liam finished hauling in the last of the supplies from their quick grocery run. Theo suggested they’d be better off buying what they needed at the wholesale store where most of the local restaurants got their stock.
Theo was right.
Setting both of the gallon cans of olive oil he was carrying on the kitchen table next to the others, he paused for a moment to rest while the other boy was moving about the kitchen.
No, moving wasn’t quite right; it was almost like dancing.
Liam stared in fascination as the chimera moved so effortlessly about the room, his steps flowing like a waltz so perfectly in time with whatever unheard symphony was playing along in his head.
Liam also stared because Theo had decided that anything over the top of his tight-fitted, black, v-neck undershirt would just get in the way, save for the white dish-towel he had slung over one shoulder.
Theo engaged like this was so so focused? Such was his determination and concentration on their singular pursuit, that he seemed almost weightless when compared to his usual broody self.
“You gonna just stand there, or are you going help me clean up your mess?” the chimera barked
Still just as much of an asshole though
“Didn’t know they sold it in this size” Liam commented on the cans of olive oil
“The metal weighs less than glass, so it’s cheaper to ship at that volume” Theo explained “and before you ask, it makes a terrible lube” he added
“Not where I was going, but good to know” Liam replied awkwardly, “so how much basil do we need?” he asked, changing the subject
“Two cups for the base recipe, but I think in this case we’re going to have to scale this” Theo postulated, trying to do the mental conversions.
He shook his head; imperial cooking units were such a pain. Was basil dry volume? Liquid volume? Or did it go by weight?
“You know what, let’s just take everything that’s normally in cups, and do it in gallons and see what happens” he finally decided
“works for me” Liam shrugged. He walked over to the two five-gallon buckets they had used to collect the basil leaves when they were dismantling Liam’s biology project.
Carefully he scooped out enough basil leaves to fill up the cut-out milk jug he was using as a measuring cup.
“One” he counted aloud before repeating the process
“Two” he announced, dumping the second heaping of basil into the open food processor with the first
“Olive oil” Theo stated from memory, “half-cup, so half-gallon?” he guesstimated.
Measuring out a half-gallon of olive oil, he carefully poured it over the basil leaves and into the open maw of the food processor.
“We forgot the pine nuts, didn’t we?” he asked, realizing before the words left his mouth that he already knew the answer
Liam just looked at the shopping list on his phone, “you didn’t say pine nuts earlier”
“My bad” Theo sighed
This one was on him for a change, “go through the cupboard, see if your mom has any walnuts in her baking supplies”
Liam opened the closet and began to rummage through the various packages and cans on the shelf. Confectioners sugar? No. Flour? No. Chocolate syrup?
He paused for a moment before setting the bottle down.
“Got ‘em” he exclaimed, throwing the bag at the other boy.
Theo caught the bag of walnuts and set them on the kitchen island next to the food processor.
He then pulled a sharp chef’s knife from the block on the counter and began to walk toward Liam
The beta gulped as Theo drew nearer, knife playfully in hand.
“Usually I only . . .” he trailed off teasingly, tracing a line up Liam’s chest with the dull side of the knife, his eyes twinkling mischievously
Liam stood still, fixing his gaze on where the blade was moving next
Keeping it flat against Liam’s chest, Theo leaned in close so that his head was over Liam’s shoulder,
“ . . . like to use 2 cloves of garlic” came the sultry whisper, the heat and moisture from his breath against his ear causing Liam to almost forget about the knife
Theo reached up and grabbed the garlic bulbs hanging in the basket in the pantry cabinet directly over Liam, he withdrew the knife, and then spinning on his heel, he walked back to his station at the kitchen island
“But I think we’ll just use two full heads instead of cloves” he finished completely normally as if nothing had happened
“we’re werewolves, not vampires, right?” he added with a laugh
Liam muttered before walking to the other side of the island
Theo just smirked with one eyebrow raised while he proceeded to expertly chop the heads of garlic before throwing them into the food processor alongside the handful of walnuts
“Cheese” he stated, well more demanded of his would-be sous-chef, “the real parmesan, not that sawdusty mix they sell in the green plastic cylinders” he added
Liam rolled his eyes; the chimera was always so particular about stuff. Opening the refrigerator, he withdrew the bowl with the parmesan cheese the two of them had hand-grated earlier and brought it over to the island.
Theo added the cheese to the processor before setting the bowl down and placing the lid back on top of the appliance, making sure it locked firmly in place
“That should be all of it, want to do the honors?” he offered gesturing to the ‘pulse’ button on the machine
Liam shrugged, “sure” he agreed.
Placing his finger on the button he pressed hard; immediately the machine came to life, and what was initially a high-pitched whir quickly turned into a dull, groaning chug
“Think we might have overfilled it?” Liam asked over the lugging noise
Theo leaned back against the counter behind him, arms folded across his chest, “probably” he shouted back
After several minutes, what had previously looked like a tightly packed salad had been turned into a bright green paste. Switching off the machine, Liam stepped back as he watched Theo take the lid off.
The smells of the garlic, parmesan, and basil filled the air.
“It looks like guac” Liam stated, unimpressed
Now it was Theo’s turn to roll his eyes, “it’s pesto Liam, it’s good, trust me” he tried unconvincingly while he fished for a spoon in the drawer in front of him
“What are you two doing to my clean kitchen?”, a very surprised but equally suspicious Jenna Geyer asked of the two boys standing in front of her, “and with my food processor too”
“uh, we uh” Liam fumbled for his words, he hated being caught off guard, and he was entirely distrustful of this sci-fi green paste they had spent their afternoon concocting
“Liam and I were just making some fresh pesto” Theo intervened, “would you like to try some Mrs. Geyer?” he offered sweetly
Jenna eyed the two of them suspiciously but stepped forward slowly nonetheless
Theo handed her a slice of baguette he had prepared earlier and offered a spoon brimming with the pesto to her.
Taking the offering in both hands, she proceeded to spread the mixture over the piece of bread, all the while managing to never break eye contact with the two boys before her.
Taking a bite, she paused.
Liam and Theo both held their breath for what seemed like forever
“You taught Liam how to make this?” she finally broke, after finishing her bite
Theo smiled and nodded affirmatively towards Liam
“Liam sweety, we’re keeping him!” she laughed
“this is amazing, great job boys!” she further applauded
You’re welcome Theo silently mouthed to his counterpart
“There’s plenty more where that came from Mrs. Geyer” Theo offered
“I can see that,” she said taking another bite, “Liam, have you tried any yet?” she asked, turning on the full unstoppable power of mom-guilt
“Give it a shot, don’t be such a pestomist” Theo chimed in, very content with his pun
Unable to resist the peer pressure, the beta gave in and accepted a slice of bread with the pesto spread across from the chimera across him.
He squinted at it, almost as if he expected it to move. Closing his eyes, he took a bite and was completely surprised.
“That’s what pesto tastes like?” he said, mouth full of food, crumbs and green bits falling out as he spoke
“What did you think it tasted like?” Theo challenged, himself finally grabbing some to enjoy
“I don’t know, green?” Liam tried, having no idea how to describe the previous assumptions about the substance he was now enjoying
The other two members of the room sighed and the three of them continued their light, afternoon summer snack.
After having packaged most of the pesto away into a half-dozen mason jars and cleaned up the kitchen; Theo brought a glass and a bottle of a nice Sauvignon-Blanc over to the counter where Liam and his mom were sitting enjoying the last of the pesto and baguette slices.
“Oh, why thank you Theo,” she said graciously, “that was so thoughtful”
“Happy to help Mrs. Geyer” he smiled, with words almost cloyingly saccharine
Suck up Liam muttered low enough so only Theo could hear it, as they both started to make their way out of the kitchen
“This doesn’t change the fact you two still owe me a new food processor” Liam’s mom added with a knowing look and sip from her glass
Liam just groaned. At least his room was finally free from the basil monster.