With the way that 1999 was seeing releases for Britney Spears, various kids’ cartoons, and even the WWE, it shouldn’t have come as a total surprise when Bill & Ted’s record label announced to them that they'd asked CLEO to produce Wyld Stallyns-themed Valentine’s Day cards along with the rest of this year's selection of acquired licenses, but it still felt a little weird when their agent specifically requested that “that Grim Reaper guy and those cute little Station puppets” be at the photoshoot.
Station, of course, was way too busy of an alien creature dude to show up for something like that and especially when he’s not actually an official part of the band. Death, however, was absolutely elated to come up to Earth for a couple hours to vamp and twirl his bass around for the camera while the two normal human dudes posed with various romantic props in front of red and purple backdrops. He initially complained about potentially having to be a third wheel, but the second he was told he’d be getting his own card that said I’m dying to get to know you, Valentine, on top of joining the guys for group shots, he leapt at the chance to do it. His enthusiasm kept the duo entertained and distracted from the whispers behind the camera of what a waste this might be with only three men participating.
It’s not like Joanna and Elizabeth turned down the offer or anything; they just weren’t asked since they’re not the band anymore and that doesn’t mean the cards are gonna suck for it.
They most definitely don’t either with the input the guys get to have on the art design: Bill doesn’t listen to the complaint that a frame of roses on each card will be too frilly and Ted’s suggestion of a lightning bolt foil pattern gracing each card comes to pass. Every photo gets final approval from them and shots like cherub cupids aiming their arrows at both of them while they chat with their guitars are all in good fun. Ted’s personal favorite is the card that shows he and Bill splayed out on a zebra-patterned rug in the neon pink leather trousers and matching jackets that they wore for most of the shoot showing off heart-shaped boxes of chocolates with the caption, You are a most delectable Valentine’s treat!
The only battle they lose is the same people from CLEO who were nervous about the shoot demanding that the word “dickweed” be censored so Ted’s least favorite card ends up being the one where he and Bill hold up rose-shaped shields against a scythe-wielding Death that says, I’ll protect you from bogus dipsticks, Valentine! What keeps the band happy despite this, though, isn’t the fact that they’re projected to sell well at the end of the day, but that their two biggest fans in the entire world insist on their cards being the only ones they use for school.
And Ted’s so thrilled that it’s he and Bill’s week with the girls that the day they’ll be addressing their cards to hand out to their classmates falls on.
The princesses leaving the band also came with them leaving their husbands, but neither were done under ugly pretenses. It was a unanimous decision that Joanna and Elizabeth felt better away from music and instead in the fashion industry like their growing hobby of altering clothes that they picked up from their dear friends clandestinely thrust them into, just like it was unanimous that Bill would move back in with Ted and Elizabeth would live with her sister again. Since they lived next door to each other, it was just convenient that their daughters went between houses each week and while neither Billie or Thea chose favorites between each pair of parents, they were always over the moon for Daddy Week. Since all four of them were still in their late 20s, it was easy for them all to keep up with the energy of two active six year olds, but their dads were even more game for it.
Nearly a year’s passed since the divorce so they’ve got the routine down by now: the girls arrive Sunday evening for dinner and a movie (or a board game if the girls asked for one instead) before going to bed with the rest of the week being filled with school, playtime, and sitting in on songwriting sessions. Their weeks with Moms played out mostly the same with songwriting being switched out for sewing, but while their weekends are usually reserved for trips to Disneyland, Waterloop or wherever else the girls ask to go, this week’s is way more homebound. While Ted planned to take the girls to buy their Valentine’s supplies this morning on Saturday while Bill got the kitchen cleaned up to make them a decent workspace, Billie and Thea announced over breakfast Friday morning that he was to take them right after school so they had plenty of time to work today. Unlike his own father, Ted’s always found it impossible to tell the girls no so he impulsively agreed the second they asked and got a kick out of the way that they insisted on him actively buying their own boxes of Wyld Stallyns cards instead of buying a different brand or using any of the free ones they had at home on top of the kid-friendly pairs of scissors, sticker packs, construction paper, and every other art supply they requested.
They also got dinner and ice cream at their local diner with enough to bring home for Bill, but he didn’t need any prodding from the girls for that.
So now it’s the next morning after Thea was the first one in the house to get up and sneak into Bill’s bed to wake him up and Billie bounced on her feet waiting for Ted to come out of his own bedroom once he heard the rest of the house stirring, the four of them now in full Valentine’s mode after a quick breakfast. Bill’s sat at the table with Thea surrounded by their branded cards and her paint set since, just like her dad before her, Thea’s been heavily into arts and crafts lately and plans to make a little portrait for each one of her closest friends. As she explained to Ted yesterday, everything that isn’t their store-bought cards going to their mandatory class gift exchange on Monday will be made by hand for their closest friends to be given at recess.
Billie, meanwhile, is happier making patterns out of stickers on her own pink sheets of construction paper where she sits next to Ted at their kitchen island across from the other pair currently in the middle of making a card for her second best friend, Gigi, since the kid taking the top spot is none other than her cousin. “What do you think of this one, Dadder?”
The sound of her voice and the way she gently tugs on his sleeve pulls him away from the sight of an enraptured Bill listening to his daughter tell him all about her artistic process. He looks down to see that she’s made a sparkling mermaid tail out of gold stars that comes down to curve under the words 4 Gigi <3 Billie and grins over how clever she is . “It looks most glamorous, little dude!”
“Do you think she’ll like it?”
“Of course she will,” he says, leaning forward to kiss her temple and ruffling her hair when she giggles over it. “What else are you gonna do with it?”
He points out all the extra space she left even as she’s already folded it, making her hold it up excitedly and draw out the shape of a star with her finger on the front. “Gigi really likes space so I’m gonna make it look like this,” she explains as she traces. “But she loves mermaids the most and would be one if she could, so after I do that, I’m gonna write inside about how she’s just as pretty as one.”
Billie’s voice grows soft towards the end and it’s easy for Ted to pick up on the fact that she’s got a little crush since the other valentine she’s made so far for her friend Lily isn’t nearly as complimentary. Instead of asking any prying questions so she doesn’t feel scared about it, he looks down at the box of stamp markers she put in their cart yesterday and points at the seashells scattering the front with the rest of the shapes on display and says, “That’s why you wanted me to get this pack, huh?”
She nods with a happy little, “Mhm,” before grabbing her pencil and lining out her star. “It has to be perfect.”
“But you’re making it,” Ted assures as he pushes a few of her curls behind her ear so she can see better. “It’s already perfect.”
Billie laughs and shakes her head as she says, “But it’s Gigi , Dadder. She has to have the best one so that way she doesn’t want a Valentine from anybody else. She’s special and I lo- I like her a lot.”
The slip makes Ted lean over to kiss the top of her head this time, a silent acknowledgement of what he heard that says it’s okay. He knows that he, Bill, and the princesses wouldn’t have made her doubt herself like that, so he hopes Billie just wants to keep her puppy love a secret for silly kid reasons and not because she’s afraid he’ll get mad at her. Ted looks up to watch the way Bill gives Thea suggestions for what colors to put together, Thea in Bill’s Kiss shirt with the Destroyer cover on it that makes her look even smaller than she is in case she gets any paint on her, and it makes him so damn fond of the other man. He knows Bill will think whatever she chooses will be beautiful and it makes him think about when they were the girls’ age and his mom said the same for him.
Ted remembers sitting on her lap in the kitchen in an eerily similar way to now while he addressed each card from the box of Muppets-branded valentines, giggling when she bounced her knee every so often. The single valentine that was a most necessary exception was a secret second card for Bill which Ted went wild with, crafting what was to six year old him an elaborate portrait of the two of them holding hands surrounded by hearts and music notes. They were onstage in front of a huge crowd with guitars slung over their shoulders and pink glitter surrounding them with the words For My Best Friend above them. Ted was so careful folding was what actually a drawing of two stick figures surrounded by blobs pretending to be people in a card he cut up to be heart-shaped, but he was still so excited to give it to him at school the next day that he didn’t think about why his mom told him that it wouldn’t be a good idea to show his dad. It just made sense to him to give one to Bill no matter what Dad thought since she said that valentines were meant for the people you love.
He did have to think about the way a few boys laughed over the idea of giving valentines to other boys during lunch, though, so devastated at the thought that Bill might feel the same that he kept his gift for him in his backpack when it was time to pass out their valentines. Ted didn’t take it back out until he got home where it was promptly shoved under his bed and he never tried it again. The older he got, the more he found himself getting cards from girls just like Bill did, but the two of them just laughed about it and ate whatever candy or chocolate came with them while they hung out instead of pursuing any potential suitor. In fact, the only time Ted actively had a valentine was after meeting Elizabeth, but every Valentine’s Day date ended up being a double date with Joanna and Bill.
Maybe, he’s realizing as he smiles over the way Bill does an air guitar with Thea to celebrate her finishing her first special valentine, there’s a reason that Bill was always adamant that the other couple join them for what should’ve been a quiet romantic evening out for dinner.
“These are bogus!”
The way Billie’s huffing over her attempt to cut out her star recaptures his attention, looking back to see how she’s struggling to cut a perfect line with her kiddie scissors. Ted frowns and motions for her to pass them over to him so he can try, scoffing when he can feel just how minimal the pressure is under his fingertips. “Most definitely bogus,” he agrees as he pulls them up to examine closely. “I thought these were gonna be way better than the ones I had when I was little - sorry, Billie.”
Billie shrugs, a sweet little smile on her face while she picks up one of the band’s cards to look at even as she sighs out, “It’s okay. You didn’t make them.”
“But I can make this if you want me to,” he says before holding up her construction paper. “Just let me get a real pair first, okay?”
“Okay,” Billie says before laughing and pointing down at the shot of the band pretending to perform with the caption, We could make beautiful music together, Valentine! underneath them. “Did Uncle Death try to play the super long version of Too Pale To Cry again?”
Ted laughs and shakes his head, too struck by the idea he gets looking at it to tell her that it was actually the 20-minute rendition of I'll Never Be Loved he tried for this time. He grabs a copy of their chocolates card and after taking Billie’s pencil writes, She’s already really good at that, you’re a most excellent teacher, inside. It’s a bit of a tight fit, but he makes it work and folds it before taping it shut with one of the stickers shaped like their two-headed horse logo before he hands it to his daughter with, “Will you give that to Bill while I get my scissors?”
She nods and takes it from him before hopping off her stool and sprinting around the island and across the kitchen while Ted gets up to rifle through their cabinets. The pair of standard scissors they own is in the drawer that holds other basic handy tools so it’s a quick find, but he does take the time to discreetly look over his shoulder to see Billie raise up on her tippy toes and slide the card onto the table with a small, “Here, Uncle Bill.”
Ted has to try so hard not to get too giddy at how sweet it is when Bill immediately lights up and asks her, “Whoa, little dude, did you make that for me?”
“Nope,” she says before running back to the island just as Ted’s sat down and started on her star.
While he makes careful work of cutting her pattern out, Ted goes back and forth between paying attention to it, the way Billie starts filling out a couple of her own stock cards to pass the time until he’s done, and how Thea beams at Bill before he gets up to set her card out to dry. He’s not surprised that Bill hasn’t said anything since he’s obviously a little preoccupied, but he does feel like a little kid with how much he wishes he would as he finishes up and lightly taps Billie’s shoulder with one point of the star. “How does this look?”
He opens and closes it for her before waving it around in a way that makes her sticker tail shimmer in the light and she claps with, “Excellent, thank you!”
“You are most welcome, daughter of mine,” he says as he hands it to her before making sure she has her stamp markers ready and turning in his seat to set those scissors on the sink counter behind them at a safe distance. He’s ready to ask her about her next special card meant for her friend from second grade named Lydia who she only sees at recess, but finds himself interrupted when he hears a rush of tiny footsteps headed his way.
“Hi, Uncle Ted,” Thea says excitedly, the messy bun that Bill put her hair in bouncing behind her head as she comes to a stop next to him and holds up one of the band’s cards. “This is for you.”
Ted’s eyes shift towards Bill with his cheek resting on his fist, catching him in the act of watching them before he looks down at the glass of water Thea’s been using for her paintbrush and swirls it around. Ted bites his lips to keep from laughing at how obvious the other man’s being before smiling down at her and saying, “Most appreciated, little T!”
Thea kisses his cheek when he leans down to take it from her before she thanks him and sprints away, high-fiving Bill once she’s back at the table.
That display and the fact that Bill chose the dipstick card to give him makes Ted hide behind his bangs to disguise his chuckle after he opens it to see that Bill’s written, She was really happy to hear that, dude. Billie has your outstanding creative genius too, inside. "An outstanding creative genius" is exactly what he called him when he suggested the foil pattern and the sticker choice, something that he felt a little silly blushing over then and only sort of does now weeks later.
“Is that from Bill, Daddy?”
Ted looks down to see Billie looking up curiously at him from where she was in the middle of making a heart around her message for Gigi with her seashell stamp marker. “Yeah it is, B. Grownups can give each other valentines too, y’know.”
Billie smiles and sticks her tongue out at him when he playfully bumps his arm against her shoulder before going back to her heart. “I know that - just didn’t know you had a valentine, that’s all.”
She doesn’t sound sad when she says it so Ted doesn’t have to worry about her being depressed that he and Elizabeth aren’t going on anymore Valentine’s Day dates, but her voice has the same soft quality it did while talking about her feelings for Gigi. The idea that he might be making his daughter feel better about them by letting himself finally give Bill some sort of card encourages him to take a second one from her pile of unused Wyld Stallyns cards. It’s one of the ones that the label insisted on with a phonebooth that doesn’t look nearly as cool as the one they used to save the day from De Nomolos years ago, the two of them stepping into it while holding up shaka brahs with the extremely obvious caption of, Call me!
As he writes a message for Bill recanting what she’s just told him, Ted shrugs and waits until she looks finished with her card before handing his own to her with, “I guess I do, huh?”
Billie knows what to do without being told, Ted pretending not to pay attention as she sets it in front of Bill as he looks down at Thea’s sketchbook as she explains her ideas for her next card. She heads back to the island before Bill can ask her about it, but Ted still feels satisfied when he hears him laugh over it. He’s relieved for something else to focus on when Billie immediately gets to work on Lydia’s card like nothing happened, pulling out the sticker sheet covered in kittens from the set she selected with, “This one’s gonna have cats all around it. She loves cats even if she’s allergic.”
Ted snorts. “Well now she can have a bunch in a non-heinous way.”
“Yeah, dude,” she chirps before starting to line out her rectangle frame.
Her care in making sure that her friend still gets what makes her happy even if it’s inaccessible reminds Ted of one rousing trip to the arcade when he and Bill were 10 after Bill’s father refused to get him a fish tank despite a solid month of begging for one. Even if Mr. Preston wasn’t nearly as dismissive of their intelligence like Capt. Logan was, he was still convinced that Bill wouldn’t be as responsible as he swore he would be so it never came. That’s why Ted dedicated himself to getting the highest scores he could on Burger Time, Q*Bert, and Super Pac-Man during their day when he and Bill weren’t on one of the multi-player cabinets together so he had enough tickets to win the large plastic pufferfish sat among the arcade’s offered prizes for him. Watching the way Bill gasped and held it fondly once he realized it was for him made the fact that Ted was completely out of coins by the time they left to head back to Bill’s house totally worth it just like it did when he immediately had his dad nail a hook to the ceiling so he could hang it up in front of his closet where it stayed until he moved out.
Ted absolutely, positively, and undoubtedly didn’t know it was February 14th, 1982 when he did that, anyone who accused him of such being a most odious liar who-
The whisper and finger poking his side brings Ted back to the present to see Thea holding up another valentine. “This is yours,” she whispers with a playful grin.
“Thank you,” he whispers back to make her giggle which she does before heading back to Bill. Billie’s too focused on her stickers to notice the exchange so Ted doesn’t say anything about it while he runs his fingers over the foil gracing the band’s cupid shot once he opens it. He starts to feel very childish again with how his heart beats a little faster at Bill’s latest message, but he can’t deny the rush of feeling he gets over it.
I wouldn’t mind being yours if you want to be mine, dude. What do you say?
Ted glances up as his face gets warmer, Bill being even more obvious with how he’s watching for his reaction to the point where Thea has to nudge him to look back down at where she’s started painting. She laughs even brighter than she had a minute ago over how flustered he sounds when he says, “Sorry, little T, I’m looking,” and Ted feels so lucky to know he’s making Bill just as much of a little kid as he’s turning into. There’s a part of him that feels the doubts he did way back when, though, that makes him worry that this is all just play even as the tips of Bill’s ears are pink in the same way they get when he’s shy and embarrassed. It’s a tiny voice of doubt that pops up sometimes when he thinks about Bill in that most complicated way he does, but he refuses to let it ruin this special day with their daughters.
Especially when Billie pushes her card in front of him with an expectant little glance and a wave of her kiddie scissors. He’s got work to do, after all.
After he’s retrieved his own pair to cut off the excess construction paper for her, he waits out his next card to not seem too hopeful. Billie seems to be going in a different direction, though, shuffling through her pile of unfilled cards before she gasps softly and pulls out one to show him with, “Give Bill this one next, Daddy.”
He moves the card and scissors away from her to look and laughs softly when he realizes it’s the card featuring himself in his Battle of the Bands outfit holding out a bouquet to the camera that says, I’m delighTED to see you, Valentine. It’s meant to be a companion piece with the card featuring Bill in his own BOTB outfit shredding with a special pink heart-shaped guitar that says, You’re unBILLievable, Valentine, and both goofy captions made them laugh so hard while coming up with them that their agent gave them funny looks for it during that meeting. Still laughing about it months later, he nods and waits to take it from her until he’s done cutting and puts his scissors back before he ruffles her hair and says, “This is a most thoughtful choice, B. What should I say?”
“Whatever you think sounds the best,” she says with a shrug. “Valentines are supposed to be from your heart so you should listen to it.”
“Is that what you did for Gigi?”
Billie looks down shyly, but in a sweet way instead of a worried way. “Maybe.”
“Then that’s what I’ll do too,” he says before pulling her into a hug, his first instinct as to what to write being something that should’ve occurred to him years ago. “You’re an excellent valentine assistant, little one.”
“So are you, Dadder,” she says before bursting out into giggles when he repeatedly gives her little pecks on the cheek with exaggerated kissing sounds. “Stop it, we have to finish our cards!”
Ted thinks his daughter’s laughter is the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard right after the sound of Bill’s he can hear under her as he pulls back to tease, “Oh no, you’re right - let’s do it!”
They wiggle their fingers together before they look back at their work, Billie ready with her markers to write out a message for Lydia and Ted doing the same with his pencil for Bill. This one’s even longer than the first so he takes extra care to make sure his lettering is small enough to be legible while fitting in his allotted space. He waits until Billie’s done telling Lydia how cool she thinks she is and only has the final step of making a heart around that with her paw-print stamp marker left to hand his card to her. “Last one, I promise, and then you have my utmost attention for yours. Deal?”
“Deal,” she says, taking it and running even faster than she has for the last two cards where Bill’s in the middle of asking Thea about how she and her friend Perry, the recipient of her latest card, met. “Daddy made you another valentine!”
Ted doesn’t bother hiding his eager excitement for him to read it since his daughter isn’t trying to, laughing out loud when Bill blinks away the wide stare he gives over the news before saying, “Outstanding, little B!”
“Give him the guitar one back,” she whispers loudly before coming back to sit next to Ted and smiling up at him. “You’re welcome.”
He giggles out his thanks before letting himself watch the way Bill reads it and looks just as touched as he wanted him to. Before he can reach through Thea’s pile of cards, though, she huffs and lightly taps the back of his hand with her still wet paintbrush, smudging it with a glob of purple paint. “I need those for class, Daddy, don’t use them up.”
“I swear I won’t,” he says as he tucks a stray curl behind her ear. “I just wanna-”
“Just tell Uncle Ted you like-like him like Billie’s telling Gigi she like-likes her.”
Billie and Bill both say, “Hey!” at the same time in nearly the same way, making Ted and Thea both laugh before Bill shrugs at Ted with his own and pats Thea’s head. “Keep painting then, little dude, I’ll be right back,” he says as he gets up and heads towards the roll of paper towels sitting on the sink to wipe off the back of his hand. Once he’s cleaned up, he makes his way to the island where he leans forward and rests his arms against the surface to look over Billie’s work with, “Gigi’s gonna like that one.”
His words are filled with love, making Billie thank him while she makes her pattern even if she asks, “But did you like Daddy’s?”
He and Ted both laugh as they stare at each other. “Yeah, Bill,” Ted asks him. “Did you like it?”
Bill nods slowly. “You really want to go eat there again after - y’know? It’s not gonna be bogus for you or anything?”
“No. We go to Lucky Elephant every year, dude, why stop now?”
“Yeah, but with the princesses, dude,” Bill says with a frown. “Jo always thought it was just okay, but I always got the four of us a table every year after we first moved into our apartment because it was your favorite and- oh.”
Ted leans in closer with a smirk, knowing he'd guessed right about Bill's intentions. “And what?”
Bill smiles back before leaning in to kiss Ted on the cheek and holding up his latest card from him. “And I’m totally gonna take you this year while the girls are with their moms just like you asked me to, my most handsome valentine.”
“Then I’m totally gonna look forward to Monday night, my most dashing valentine,” Ted says before kissing Bill’s back. “Thanks, Bill.”
“You’re welcome, Ted.” Bill gives him one more before leaning back and joining Thea at the table again, but not before turning his head to look at Billie and say, “I was definitely gonna give him the guitar card before T stopped me, by the way.”
“Good,” Billie says as she folds her valentine for Lydia. “But you didn’t say it!”
“Billie’s right,” Thea says, looking up from her painting where her dad stands next to his chair. “You didn’t tell him you like-like him!”
“Oh yeah,” Bill says before turning back to Ted, embracing their second chance of professing the puppy love both clearly always meant to. “I am in deep, most adoring like-like with you, dude. Is that okay, Thea?”
Ted laughs louder than he has all day while feeling even more enamored than he has all day when Bill looks proud of the way Thea claps for him, both of their daughters giggling up a delighted storm as he says, “Yeah dude, because I have just as deep of a like-like for you too. How’s that, Billie?”
“Most non-heinous,” she says before shovelings her Wyld Stallyns-brand cards closer to her half the island. “But now you gotta make your own cards instead.”
“We will,” he and Bill both say as Bill finally sits down, the two of them still staring at each other in eager bliss anticipating how they’ll finally get to spend a proper Valentine’s Day together until their daughters have to pull them back to Earth again.