Stowaway, 112

Pax woke up thinking that he should cut his hair today. It was brushing his eyelids, which meant it was too long as it could obscure his vision during critical moments, and then everyone might die and it would be all his fault.

He should get Manuel to do it, he’d taken to doing people’s hair for them and it would look nicer that way than if Pax did it himself. He could do that and then wax himself as well all in one day. A day of hair removal.

As Pax thought all of that, he opened his eyes, trying to sit up without waking Matthias, who was holding him from behind, his body tight against Pax’s. Not waking Matthias was a lost cause since nobody in Pax’s family was a heavy sleeper, but if he was gentle enough, Matthias would just roll over and go back to sleep. He’d had nightmares last night.

Daddy’s Boy

“You’re going to be fine, baby,” Erik said, rubbing a circle on John’s back.

John took a deep breath, then exhaled. Erik wasn’t dumb. ‘Baby’ wasn’t just a pet name for him. It centered him, made him feel okay even when he wasn’t. It made it easy for him to do things that were hard. It was a strong word for John.

Calling Edwin ‘little brother’ had used to have a similar effect. Erik didn’t know if it still would, even if they did manage to patch things up and get back together. The swim meet had gone well, which was a good sign.

But Edwin couldn’t be the only thing Erik worried about anymore. John needed his help too. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for coming with me.”

Stowaway, 109

Pax was going to get a neck injury if he didn’t stop going back and forth between all these weddings and wedding parties.

First had been Jade and Pig’s very touching and fast wedding with little in the way of formal rituals. Then, scarcely two days later, Pax had gone with Denver and Louis, who were going with Alse and his delegation, to attend Princess Gabrielle and Prince Franz’s royal wedding in the Dolovin capital, and that had been extremely lengthy and also quite moving, if far more ritualized. That had been followed by an equally lengthy and somewhat staid party at the castle, which Pax had enjoyed. Now, he’d come back and they were on an island having a shirtless wedding party for Pig and Jade and he was pretty sure Nate was drunk, which was unfortunate because Nate was using his body to drink.

Admittedly, that was only two weddings and two wedding parties, so perhaps characterizing what had been a series of objectively happy moments as ‘all these weddings’ had been unfair both from an emotional-supportive and numerical standpoint.

“Uh, okay,” said the shirtless boy serving drinks at the party. “So do you want another one?”

Stowaway, 106

“If you ask me,” said Pax, whom nobody had asked, “the Clan of Kozna’s plan had too many steps, was unnecessarily complicated and was poorly explained overall.”

“Since we’re still here to talk about it,” Jacob said, cleaning one of his knives. “I guess so.”

“I know so.” Pax did know. “Why did they summon their god in the tower using a sacrifice ritual that was powered by deaths occurring in the harbour? Why was there a second ritual to bind the god to this world, which was taking place underneath a church a half kilometre away from both those places? All of these different rituals could easily have been one ritual that took place in one place.”

“Maybe they thought splitting it up would make it harder for people to stop?” Cyrus asked. He’d been writing something for a few minutes, which Pax supposed was probably a letter to Klaus. This seemed wholly unnecessary since Klaus was doubtless present in Narwhal Junction, being that he was omnipresent and Narwhal Junction was included in the realm of omni, which was the name of a large jellyfish that had long ago consumed the world, including its northernmost continent.