A/N: Yeah, I know I should be working on the latest in the tattoo series. But I just felt like something a little more homey at the moment. I actually started writing this a year ago and have it like ten chapters in. I just have to type them up from the damned notebook… Ah, well, read and review and tell me what you think.
Note: Despite the title, this story is not fantasy. The title is in reference to Vasili and what he performs in the library. This story is, however, a gay romance, so if you're not digging it, then leave.
"Sukie! Go help your brother find his shoe," Jake Summers ordered, his tone showing his frustration as he helped his youngest with her own shoes. "Hurry up!" he hollered, "We're going to be late as it is!"
"Daddy, I don't like these shoes! Can I wear the purple ones with Tink on 'em?" Little Ree said, toeing off her left shoe no sooner than her dad finished putting it on her.
Jake sighed and put her shoe back on her, "Sweetie, we don't have time to chan-"
"Daddy! Tanner threw his shoe at me!" Sukie screamed, running into the living room, her brother on her heels.
"Tanner! Stop trying to hurt your sister – and please get ready!" Jake said, ready to pull his hair out. Every morning he had to go up on wall and down the other just to get the kids ready and this morning was no different. He had had to drag the twins from their beds and carry them into the kitchen for breakfast and still manage to give Ree a bath at the same time. Not too out of the ordinary but he had put the kids to bed early the night before and had gotten them up at five – a full three and a half hours before school started! And they were still late.
"Come on, come on. Get a move on, kids," he ushered them from the house after they were finally all dressed then locked the door behind them. He didn't even bother to ask the kids if they had everything, having taken their backpacks to the car the night before after they had completed their school work just to avoid any 'forgetfulness'.
Checking the children's safety belts, he pulled from the driveway and hastily made his way to the elementary school. Parking at the entrance doors, he distributed lunch money and promptly received three wet kisses to his cheek. A sweet gesture he appreciated but even that didn't keep the sigh of relief from escaping his lips when the kids exited the car and made way to one of the many teachers standing outside ready to take the kids off the parents hands. He sat still a moment longer, despite the horns sounding behind him and waited to see the kids enter the building, a small price for his peace of mind. Sure the kids were safely inside, he pulled off and headed straight to work.
Jake Summers was 28-years-old with two six-year-old twins and one five-year-old. His wife had left him four and a half years ago and had sent divorce papers through the mail. That was it. No letter, no thank you, no fuck you, no nothing. Just the sole custody rights to three children. His children, which he wouldn't trade for the world. But three children he definitely could have used a little help with.
He had never envisioned himself as a 'single father' and had been forced to learn so many things just to see to his kids properly. He had never imagined there would come a day when he would be required to give every moment of his time to three other people, three little extensions of himself. And Lord, he was so exhausted he just didn't know what to do.
"God bless day care," he grumbled to himself, turning the wheel sharp to pull into a parking lot. Locking up his car, he made his way up the few steps to the small building that housed his landscaping business he had inherited from his deceased uncle seven years before. The business actually allowed him to bring home a decent paycheck, even if he did have to physically work his ass off along side ten other men. But the work was good and constant so he didn't have too many worries that his business might tank in a failing economy. And the contract with the county on present and future workings with the park and schools did hurt.
All the same, three kids and a mortgage wasn't cheap and he was often forced to hire a babysitter and do side jobs just to make it. But at least he was making ends meat, barely, but still making it.
But then, money wasn't his real issue at this point in time and neither was the hectic life his kids had him living. Nope, nowadays the only real issue was his lack of adult companionship. Hell, he hadn't gotten laid in over a year, much less had an actual relationship. Women saw his kids and ran, that was all there was to it.
Oh, Jake was an attractive man. Standing at six foot two inches with a broad shouldered, solid body that was kept up more from his constant work load than any real work out. His skin was tanned just past golden from days spend sweating in the sun and he held a thick head of dirty blonde hair that was chopped off just above his ears. All that on top of his baby blues and he was a damned attractive man. But as mentioned before, with three nearly identical children, dates were far and few between. Not that Jake was sad when they went. He had a firm standing on children first and his kids definitely came before some fleeing piece of ass.
"Hey there, boss!" Remi Hass called out, his deeply southern accent ringing out. Remi had been working at Summer' Landscaping for almost fifteen years now and seemed to love every bit of it. "Look a little ragged there, pal. Brats givin' ya trouble?"
This was said with a grin and Jake knew not to take offense. "How many kids you got?"
"Then you have no idea," he laughed, grabbing his graph and outlines for their present project, "Boys out back?"
"Sure are, waitin' in the work truck for ya."
"Well come on then, if we're lucky we can finish this yard up today and just send Casey and Mac back for safety precautions tomorrow."
"You're the boss."
"What? She stole your wallet?" Jake didn't even realize he was shouting, he was so surprised.
"Mr. Summers, this is nothing to shut about," The day care director said, he eyes sharp on the man.
"How did she do it?"
"I'm not sure," she admitted, "I had my purse on my shoulder and, well, didn't even realize it was missing until she was discovered with it." The older woman's voice was clipped. "Mr. Summers, while we do appreciate your business, we simply cannot have these things happening. Should they occur again, I am sorry to say that you will have to find another place for them."
Jake was taken aback by that. First of all, he couldn't afford to change, this was the only daycare center that kept the children until 7pm giving him time to finish up work six or so and come get them. Second of all, Ree was five and while she shouldn't have done it, it wasn't like she killed anyone.
Smiling tightly, he kept his opinion to himself and apologized, "I am sorry, ma'am, and I promise you that this will not happen again. Was Sukie and Tanner okay?" Hell, he halfway dreaded the answer.
"They were just fine. Now, I do have to close up," she said, her voice as stiff as her spine. "I will see you children tomorrow. Mr. Summers, good day."
Jake gave her a nod and helped his kids up into his Liberty. Pulling away from the center, he was well into driving before he gave in and asked, "When did Ree take Mrs. Mullen's wallet?"
"When we first got there," Tanner answered, the kid seemed swollen up and mad that his sister got in trouble. "She made Ree stay in time out all afternoon! She couldn't even have her snack!"
The young father frowned at that. "How did she get caught?"
It was Sukie's turn to answer this time, "Ms. Berry saw it next to Ree. Then she just said Ree took it! But I don't think she did."
"Me neither!" Tanner chirped in.
Pausing at a stoplight, he glanced back at a sniffling Ree and asked, "Did you take it, Ree?" At the girl's negative response, he tried, "You promise?" He sighed when she nodded again and shook his head.
He knew Ree and his baby girl just didn't have it in her to do something like that and, from what the twins said, there was no proof and Ree was found guilty by default. And even without all that, it pissed him off that she had had to sit in a corner for three damned hours.
Trying to lighten the mood, he asked, "You guys want to eat up town tonight?" The twins automatically shouted an affirmative but a pouty Ree didn't open her mouth.
A few turns and they were parked in front of a nearby pizza place. Getting the kids out, he locked the doors and ushered them inside. Giving each of the kids a few dollars for tokens, he let them loose on the arcade/playground on the other side of the building.
Catching Ree before she could disappear, he squatted down. "I'm trusting you. If you said you didn't take Mrs. Mullen's wallet, I believe you."
Ree smiled, "I don't have to be in time-out anymore?"
"Nope and Mrs. Mullen's and I are going to have some words about that," the last was said more to himself than her as he pulled her into a hug. Releasing her, he watched as she scurried over to her brother and sister. He then turned to a lingering waitress and ordered the drinks and pizza. Sitting down at a nearby empty table where he could still see the kids, he glanced at his watch.
The crew had finished the project and needed only a safety I inspection before true completion. But work was never done and he had a meeting the very next day with another client and he just had to be on time. As it was only seven now, he was able to give the kids another hour before taking them home. He knew he was pushing their bed time, but they were generally good kids and needed a break every now and again just like he did. Still, he wasn't looking forward to pulling Sukie from her bed when she complained about how tired she was the next morning.
"Here you go, sir," the waitress smiled, placing the large pie in the center of the table.
Jake thanked her and gave the pizza a minute to cool before trudging through the dozens of kids to find his own three. Spotting them, he made his way over, "Pizza," he said in hopes of hurrying them along. When they didn't him, he tried another approach, "Sukie! Tanner! Ree!" Each turned as their names were called and smiled. "Pizza, brats," he said fondly and led them back to the table.
They were nearly finished eating when Ree asked, her mouth full of half chewed food, "Can we go see the wizard tomorrow?"
"Don't talk with your mouth full," he scolded before asking, "What do you know about any wizard?"
"Beatrice says there is a wizard in the library on Fridays," Ree relayed matter-of-factly.
The children knew their daddy picked them up from school every Friday afternoon, it usually being just a meeting day for him at work. And on the weekends, while he was at home, he was usually doing sketch-work for present landscaping projects. So they knew they anything they wanted to do on a Friday was normally a go.
Jake was wondering who the hell would name their kid 'Beatrice' in this day and age. "What time?"
"Six!" She said it loudly, excited that she might be able to go.
"What about the twins? Do you guys want to go?"
Sukie and Tanner gave him a look that made him feel stupid before Sukie answered, "You said we could sleep over Bette and Brian's house!"
He raised his hands in surrender, "So I did. Sorry, I forgot." He gave them a sheepish smile before turning back to Ree. "Well, baby girl, it looks like it's just you,, me and your wizard."
Had he really just said that out loud? No wonder he hadn't been laid in a year…
Vasili made a face at himself in the mirror as he plopped his wizard hat on before abruptly bursting into laughter. His dark green eyes sparkling - well, he liked to think of them as sparkling anyway - as he looked himself over in the ridiculous outfit he was wearing. A bright green robe with different fairytale symbols sewn all over it accompanied by pointed shoes and a hat to match. He really did look like an idiot and he couldn't help but find the humor in that small fact.
Being a part-time children's author, he often found small things humorous. He just loved to laugh, as cliché as it sounded. Oh, he wasn't happy-go-lucky ever moment but figured if you could experience even a part of a fairytale, why hold back? After all, if you believed in them, happy endings did come true.
"Maybe I should lay off the Disney," he laughed at himself once more. Rising and preparing himself to go out into the open-floor of the library and bring his books to life. He had been doing this for 3 weeks now and it hadn't even begun to bore him. No, to him, this was fun.
He smiled as he stepped before the children, all sitting cross-legged in a semi circle before him, their parents occupying a few tables behind them. "Hello, my little magicians!"
"Hello!" Most of the crowd replied.
"Now before we start, we have to exercise out magic fingers. We do want out magic to work, right?" he asked, raising his hands into the air and wriggling his fingers frantically, laughing as the children did the same. And then, "Yikes!" he froze, his mouth dropping open comically as he stared at his fingers that he now held awkwardly askew.
The children gasped, a few asking, "What happened?"
Vasili stared at his hand, "I guess my magic fingers got bent out of shape!" Tapping his chin with the fingers from his 'good hand', he thought aloud, "Maybe…" he pulled a bent finger straight. "Yech!" The children laughed, as intended. "Any ideas, guys?"
A small girl raised her hand and then blurted out, "Sit on it and smash it!"
The wizard snapped his fingers, "Could it work?" He moved to sit in his 'wizard chair' that was decorated much the same as himself. Making a show of placing his hand in the chair, he plopped down on his hand. "How long does it take?" he asked the girl.
The little blonde girl was pleased at the attention and giggled out, "You have to say your ABC's!"
"Then it works?"
"Yep! I'll even help you." A series of 'me too went around.
"Okay Here we go! A… B… C…" he continued on with the children until, "X… Y… Z!" He quickly yanked his hand, now healed, out from beneath him. "It works! You must be a super smart magician. now, how about a story?"
Jake watched the silly wizard, a grin finding his face. This really was ridiculous but Ree seemed to behaving the time of her life telling the man what to do and besides, it was rather comedic. He watched as the story began and the man included the children having them wiggle their 'magic fingers' when he needed extra 'magic help'. The fellow brought out fake swords and dragons, selecting a few children to growl while others helped him in defeating the dragon.
Hell, he was halfway amused and actually enjoying himself. It wasn't until another parent stared at him like he was an idiot did he realize he was also wiggling his own 'magic fingers' and immediately stopped. A little embarrassment never hurt anybody, he told himself, flushing a bit.
The show was soon over and Ree immediately ran up to the young wizard. Jake stood and quickly made his way through the leaving children to get his daughter. Ree was latched onto the man's waist, refusing to let go and, as expected, the man looked a little lost in how to get her off. Jake saved him the trouble by coming up behind her and tickling her sides then scooping her up when she giggled.
"Sorry 'bout that," he told the shorter man with a grin.
Vasili smiled, "No harm done. I'm glad she enjoyed herself."
"I promise you she did. You made her night by doing what she told said," Jake laughed, looking down at the fellow, an odd feeling creeping up his gut. "Thanks for the show."
"Wait!" The wizard stopped him as he turned. "What's her name?"
"Very pretty," he gushed expectantly, turning to dig through a large chest. Finding what he sought, he plopped it on her head. "I'm glad you came up. I wouldn't have thought to give you your magic hat if you didn't."
Jake laughed at Ree's awed expression. She looked like the man had just given her a pony.
He had seen all the other children wearing the silly things and was going to, if Ree wanted to return, ask where he could get one. Looks like he didn't have that problem anymore. "Thanks a lot, I guess we'll see you next week."
"Bye!" Ree squealed loudly, waving frantically before turning to her daddy. "You mean it? We can come back?"
Casting a glance back at the wizard, Jake nodded, "Sure thing, kiddo."