“Here’s your salad, boys,” Carole says with a smile. “There’s three kinds of dressing.”
“And none of them make it not taste like grass,” Finn says. “The carrot parts are good, at least.” He picks up the bottle of ranch dressing and dumps as much on there as he can get away with without his mom giving him the look about it.
“I like the peppers,” Puck says. “What kind of dressing is that?” He points to the third bottle, sitting next to Carole’s plate.
“That’s blue cheese,” Carole answers.
“Can I try it?”
“Of course, Noah.”
“Watch out,” Finn says. “It’s lumpy and the lumps taste like feet.”
Puck shrugs and makes a face, pouring some of the lumpy cheese dressing onto his salad, before trying a bite. “Hey it really does taste like cheese!”
“Yeah, foot cheese.” Finn makes a face and eats a big bite of his ranchy carrots.
“I like cheese. Usually my mom doesn’t buy a lot of cheese, and sometimes Dad eats all of it right after she gets home from Ray’s, and then she sighs and doesn’t buy any for weeks,” Puck says like he’s reading from a book report.
“Mr. Z really likes cheese,” Finn says, bits of salad spraying everywhere when he talks. His mom gives him the look and he shrugs his shoulders a little. “Sorry, mom.”
“It does sound that way,” Carole says, in her really calm voice. “Does your mom not like cheese, Noah?”
“She does, but she says she never gets to eat it, so why bother?” Puck shrugs. “I like mac ’n’ cheese even more than plain cheese, but this cheese dressing is cool.”
“If you like to lick feet,” Finn adds.
“I could lick your feet!” Puck says. “And tell you if this cheese tastes like your feet.”
“Oh yeah?” Finn says, and he lifts his foot, dirty sock still on it, up near Puck’s face. “Bet it does taste just like that dressing.”
Puck pulls off the dirty sock and wrinkles his nose just a little before grinning. “I bet you taste worse.”
“I bet my foot tastes awesome. You should totally lick it,” Finn says, shoving his foot in Puck’s face. “Go on. Lick my foot! Dare you!”
Puck has his tongue out, laughing, when Carole starts talking. “Boys!” she says in the voice.
“What?” Finn asks. “My foot’s not really that dirty, mom.”
“That isn’t appropriate, Finn. You need to put your foot down now.”
Finn frowns, but he doesn’t argue, because probably she’s right. No feet allowed on the table is one of the important dinner rules, and his foot is awfully close to the table, so probably that counts. “Ok, mom. Sorry.”
Carole smiles at him then. “I know you are, sweetie. Do you two want some dessert?”
“Did you get the ice cream I asked for?” Finn asks. “The chocolate kind with the chocolate stuff in it?”
“I did,” Carole nods, looking a little confused. “I still got some of your cookie dough ice cream, though, Finn.”
“Chocolate with chocolate?” Puck grins. “That sounds awesome, Mrs. H!”
“I like the chocolate kind ok, mom,” Finn says. “You didn’t have to get two kinds. Anyway, Puck likes chocolate best and he’s our guest, right?”
“Oh, well, that’s very thoughtful of you, sweetie,” Carole says, and she smiles, but her smile’s a little weird, like something’s bothering her. Finn’s kinda used to her making weird faces, though; maybe it’s just a mom thing. Either way, he and Puck both get a really big bowl of chocolate ice cream, then they go and fling themselves onto the sofa to watch Lilo & Stitch, which is one of Finn’s favorite movies, even if his mom says he might be a little too old for it.
“That’s you and me,” Finn says, after Lilo takes Stitch home with her, and he’s sniffing all around her stuff and smashing it up and everything.
“I don’t smash your stuff up!” Puck says, nudging Finn’s side with his elbow.
“You do a little bit,” Finn says, shrugging. “Anyway, I kinda adopted you and brought you home, and now you’re ohana and I’m stuck with you, right?”
“’Cept I didn’t come from a spaceship,” Puck says with a grin, elbowing Finn again and moving closer to Finn in the process. Finn elbows him back, digging the sharp point of his elbow into Puck’s ribs until he laughs.
“You might have! I don’t know that for sure!”
“You can ask my mom!” Puck laughs harder. “Or my dad, but he’d probably try to tell you I came from a spaceship and that he did too!”
“I bet you did and he did, too,” Finn says, and then he just takes all his fingers and tickles Puck on both of his sides. Puck wiggles and squeals before tickling Finn back, still laughing.
“Stop!” Puck whines. “Finnnnnn.”
“This is what we do to aliens at my house!” Finn says, tickling Puck harder. “You like it!”
“I don’t!” Puck says, but it’s pretty silly to say that, because he’s laughing and grinning at Finn, tickling right back.
“Boys.” Carole sighs loudly. “Boys, are you going to watch the movie? There’s plenty of room on the couch for both of you.”
“I just had to find out if Puck was an alien, mom,” Finn says, but he stops tickling Puck and sits back up. Puck stares down at his hands, and the two of them sit there really quietly and watch the rest of the movie.
After the movie is over, they go to Finn’s room and put on their pajamas, then they brush their teeth, pushing each other out of the way of the mirror. Puck wins, because Finn lets him, so Finn stands next to Puck and brushes his teeth without looking in the mirror. He knows where all his teeth are, anyway.
“Teeth brushed and faces washed?” Carole says. “Time for busy tired third graders to be in bed!”
“I’m not tired!” Finn says. “Really, mom! I could watch a whole other movie!”
“You want to get up early enough for pancakes, don’t you?”
“Yeah, ok, I can go to bed for pancakes,” Finn says. “Come on, Puck. I’ll race you!”
Puck laughs again and chases Finn from the bathroom. “No fair! You started before me!”
Finn leaps onto his bed. “I just have longer legs. That’s not cheating!”
“It is too!” Puck crashes onto the bed next to Finn. “You didn’t count to three and say go!”
“You have too many rules,” Finn says, throwing one of his legs over Puck’s. “Races start when you start running.”
“Not if the other person doesn’t start too!” Puck sticks out his tongue at Finn. “You just knew I’d win.”
“You’re faster,” Finn says. “I’m better at knowing when the races start, though.”
“I am faster!” Puck grabs Finn’s pillow and sticks it under his head. “Faster to get your pillow.”
“Hey! We have extra pillows!” Finn shoves Puck sideways and puts his head on the pillow, too.
“But I like this one!”
“But this one is mine!”
“You two,” Carole says, shaking her head as she walks into Finn’s room and turns on the lamp. “You’re getting too big to share that bed, I think,” she adds as she turns off the overhead light in Finn’s room. “Such big boys!”
“No, look, mom!” Finn says, moving to the side so he and Puck both fit side by side on the bed. “We fit just fine.”
“Not for much longer.” Carole does that weird smile again. “I’m going to turn out the lights now, Finn. You and Noah try not to talk all night, okay?”
“We’ll always both fit,” Finn says, but he keeps his voice very quiet so only Puck can hear him. “Ok, mom. We’ll only talk for half the night, ok?”
Carole laughs for a minute. “Okay, sweetie.” She leans over and kisses Finn’s forehead, and pats Puck on the head. “Good night!” She closes the door behind her as she leaves the room.
“Moms are so weird,” Finn whispers to Puck. He whispers it because moms also have really good hearing and his mom might be right outside still.
Puck laughs really quietly, his hand covering his mouth. “I know,” he whispers back. “Why do they always kiss us on our foreheads at night?”
“Because they’re weird!” Finn wipes his hand across his forehead. “Maybe it’s the moms that are the aliens. Your mom’s kinda weird sometimes, too.”
“They are weird!” Puck agrees, wrinkling his nose. “But they know all kinds of stuff, too.”
“Mine always knows when I didn’t really wash my hair like I told her I did,” Finn says.
“Mine too!” Puck shakes his head hard and some of his curls hit Finn in the face. “Does it feel clean or dirty to you?”
“It feels like hair,” Finn says, spitting out a few strands of it. “Tastes like hair, too.”
Puck laughs again. “You weren’t supposed to eat it!”
“I wasn’t trying to! It just went there. It just... goes places, like, all the time, Puck.”
“My mom says I’d have to cut it really short for it not to be curly.”
“My mom says she’d have to glue mine down to keep it from sticking up,” Finn says, “but not really. I’m gonna grow it long and then it’ll stay where I put it.”
“That’s weird.” Puck wrinkles his nose.
“It’s not weird. It’s gonna look awesome!” Finn says. “I’m gonna have rock star hair for when I’m playing the drums.”
“You can’t be a rock star without a band, Finn!”
“You’re gonna be in my band.”
“Yeah? Am I gonna sing?”
“Sure, and maybe you can learn to play guitar or the saxophone or something,” Finn says. “Well, I guess you can’t play saxophone if you’re singing, so maybe just guitar.”
“Okay!” Puck agrees. “I’ll sing and play guitar, and you can play drums. But I’m not going to grow my hair long.”
“You don’t have to,” Finn says. “I like it how it is.”
“Oh, okay.” Puck sounds happy and then he turns over, their sides pressed together. “M’not tired. Really.”
“Me either,” Finn says, snuggling a little bit closer to Puck. “I could stay awake until midnight, probably.” He lets his eyes close, not because he’s tired, but because it’s dark and it’s not like he can see anything anyway. “But if you fall asleep, that’s ok. I can stay awake and watch out for aliens for us.”
“Okay. Don’t let them steal our pillow.”
“I won’t,” Finn says. “It’s safe.”