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The Fallen Belle

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It was a dreary afternoon. The bus was almost empty, save for a handful of people. Anduin was sitting at the front, one leg crossed over the over, staring out of the window as the rain dribbled down.

“Oh yeah, Dad? I got a job today.”

He had been so excited to tell him. Of course, Varian had been supportive, probably thankful that his quiet son was finally trying to dive into the world of other people.

“You did? Oh Anduin, that’s great! Where is it?”

“A small coffee shop, it’s about twenty minutes from my place. I can get there on the same bus I take to uni.”

“That sounds amazing! I’m really proud of you. I know how big of a step this is…”

Anduin couldn’t stop himself from smiling at the memory of his proud father. The prospect of working alongside complete strangers was intimidating, yes. But he could do it, he knew he could. As the bus rolled to a halt, he stood up and made his way to the door, thanking the driver before leaving. He stepped out onto the pavement and hurried down the pavement. The rain wasn’t heavy, but it was pretty consistent. It hadn’t stopped falling since it started three days ago.

Eventually he arrived at the “The Fallen Belle”, a small coffee shop tucked in the middle of a busy street. After a moment’s pause Anduin pushed open the door he stepped inside. The shop was warm and welcoming, filled with the bitter yet comforting smell of coffee beans and the soft background hum of mugs clinking together as the customers chatted away. He approached the counter and nervously introduced himself to the barista, a young woman with short hazel hair and a cheery grin.

“Oh excellent, the new guy! I’m Tess, you probably won’t see me much. I work the day shifts with Lorna-”

She waved her hand towards a young girl talking to a customer. She had long dark hair, flowing over her shoulders in sweeping curls, with a small red rose delicately woven into it.

“You’ll be working nights with Nathanos. He can be a little grumpy, but he means well."

As if on queue, the door opened with a chime and in walked Nathanos. He took off his hat and looked between the pair, frowning.

“...and who is this?”

With a sigh, Tess placed her hand on Anduin’s shoulder and addressed the grumpy barista.

“This is Anduin, he’s our new co-worker. I expect you’ll take good care of him?”

Nervous though he was, Anduin tried to flash a warm smile at his new colleague. It didn’t seem to work, if the man scowling back was any indication.

“Great, a new dead weight to lug around. He better keep up.”

With that said, he marched behind the counter and into the staff room, slamming the door behind him.

“I am so sorry, Anduin. He’s really fun when you get to know him, I promise!”

The young boy tried his best reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, I can manage it.”

Tess nodded in thanks. “I appreciate it, really. We lost one of our best workers a couple months back - she used to do the nights - and ever since me and Lorna have had to work extra shifts that we don’t really have the time for.”

Lorna returned from the table carrying an empty tray in one hand. She laid her free arm across Tess’ shoulders.

“Ah, is this the new guy?”

“Yup! This is Anduin, he’ll be working with Nathanos.”

Lorna winced. “Good luck with that. Let us know if he's rude to you, okay? We’ll beat him up.” She finished with a friendly wink.

Anduin was starting to relax now. Even if one of his new coworkers was a bit… difficult, the rest were as pleasant and supportive as could be. He could do this.




In the staff room, Nathanos was changing into his work clothes, muttering under his breath as he did. “Don’t need anyone else, things are going fine…  just a waste of space, only good for getting in the way…”

The door opening silenced him. He walked in, with that stupid eager-to-please expression on his face.

“Hi, I’m Anduin.” The boy held his hand out for Nathanos to shake. Instead of responding, he turned and grabbed an apron from the cupboard, throwing it towards him.

“Here. This is your uniform. Be ready in two minutes.”

Having said all he needed, Nathanos walked back out into the shop, door slamming behind him. He was greeted by two stern faces.

“Be nice to him. Or else.”

“We don’t need another barista, we were doing fine…” He grumbled.

“What, with me and Lorna working overtime every day? No, right now we need all the help we can get. This guy seems nice, so don’t scare him away, okay?”

With a sigh, Nathanos relented. “...fine. But only until he proves how useless he is.”




"Have you ever worked as a barista before?" 

"Not really, but I used to make my dad a coffee every morning, and he always said it was good!" 

Nathanos couldn't make his eyes roll any heavier.

Anduin had changed into his uniform - the clothes that arrived in, but with an apron on top -  and tied his long blonde hair into a messy bun. Now they were both standing in front of the coffee machine, starting Anduin's first shift with a lesson. 

"This is the grinder. We put the beans in it and grind them into the holder when we need them. The holder goes in here -” he moved the device into place and locked it in “-and you press this button to set it off.”

Anduin watched him move around the area, a slight frown on his face as he tried to focus on remembering what was being said.

“Our machine doesn’t turn off automatically, so don’t let it flood. Next, we have the milk…”

And so they went around the counter, Nathanos explaining every step and procedure they came across without pause, and Anduin trying his best to retain the information rapidly being flung at him. Eventually the barrage came to an end, and Anduin was faced with a question.

“Is there anything else or can we start the shift?”

“I think I got it all. I can ask you for a reminder if I need it though, right?”

The older barista sighed in exasperation. “If you must…”

The door chimed, signalling the arrival of two new customers. They approached the counter and began to read the blackboard on the back wall.

“Ah, here is your first test. Have fun.” And with that, Nathanos turned on his heel and swept away, walking out from behind the counter with a cloth and a spray and heading towards a recently cleared table. Anduin felt his heart drop. Left alone already? By the light, he wasn’t ready for this…

“Hi, can we get two decaf cappuccinos? To go, please.”

“Yeah, uh, coming right up!”

Deep breaths Anduin, you can do this. Just remember what he said and you’ll be fine. He turned to face the beans. Oh god. How did he do decaf? As if on command, a voice shouted out from across the room.

“Decaf beans on the left, use a clean holder!”

Anduin winced and shakily shouted his response. “Thanks!”




As the last customer left the shop, Anduin let out a sigh of relief.

“So, you’ve survived day one. Not too bad.”

He turned around to face Nathanos, who was holding out the younger man’s coat.

“Oh, uh, thanks!” He smiled.

“Now hand in your apron.”

Shock flickered across Anduin’s face. "Wait, what? But I only just started, you can’t fire me y-”

“I’m offering to put it in the staff room, you buffoon. Now go home. I’ll close up.”

“Oh, right. Thanks.” He untied the apron and passed it over with an embarrassed smile. In the low light of the evening, the glow from the streetlights danced through the shop windows and lit up the older man’s face. Anduin had been too distracted all day to notice, but now that the calm of evening was upon them and the coffee shop empty, Nathanos’ face had a distinct beauty to it. The sharpness of his dark beard, the narrow edge of his jaw - even his moody scowl held a hidden charm.

Stern eyes locked with his. A tense moment passed.

“You can leave now.”

Dragged out of his stupor by the gravelly voice, Anduin shook his head to clear it, cheeks reddening as the realisation of his thoughts dawned on him.

“...goodnight.” His voice was meek and unstable. He turned and stumbled out of the door, dashing away into the evening to catch his bus.

Nathanos was left alone and confused in the dim lighting of the shop. What had just happened? Why had the boy looked so unsettled, so ashamed? More importantly, why did he feel compelled to run after him?

With a sigh, he sat down on a stool, laying the abandoned jacket across his lap. Something felt strange about Anduin - being around him made him more unnerved than he should. It was… concerning.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and typed out a message.


nate: hey. you up?

syl: its nine in the evening, why would i be asleep?

nate: whatever. new guy started at work today.

syl: oh is he good?

nate: he’s useless. please come back lol

syl: don't be a dick nathan

nate: dont call me that, window syl

syl: window syl? that was the best you could do?

nate: shut it im distracted

syl: aw, new guy too cute for you?

nate: he’s not my type. too innocent.

syl: i thought you liked corrupting the innocent guys

nate: maybe dont make me sound like a freak lol

syl: maybe dont act like one then LOL


Nathanos sighed and shoved the phone back into his pocket. That hadn’t cleared up anything.




“So how was it, the big first day?”

“It was really good dad, thanks!”

Anduin laid back in his seat as the bus rolled steadily along the quiet night roads, phone pressed to his ear.

“Awesome, I knew you could rock it.”

“I don’t know if people ‘rock it’ anymore,” Anduin laughed, “but I appreciate the sentiment.”

Ignoring his son’s commentary on outdated slang, Varian pushed for more details. “So who are your colleagues, what are they like? Do they treat you well?”

“Well there’s Tess and Lorna, who work the day shifts, they’re lovely. Really friendly, giving me all the help I need. I think they might be dating...”

“They sound nice. Who else is there?”

“There’s this guy called Nathanos. He’s… a little rough around the edges, and doesn’t have the friendliest of attitudes.”

 “And is he who you’re working with most of the time?” Concern started to come through in Varian’s voice.

“I think he’s who I’ll be with mostly, yeah. But he’s not that b-”

“Can you ask your manager to move him onto another shift?”

Anduin sighed softly down the phone. “Dad, I’ve only been there one day. He’s not as bad as he sounds, really. I can cope.”

“I know you can Anduin, but that doesn’t mean you should have to. If he says anything, you report him straight away, okay?”

The bus came to a halt, doors hissing open and letting in the cool nighttime air. Anduin stood up and walked down the aisle, nodding his thanks to the driver before stepping out onto the pavement.

“I will Dad, promise. Gotta go, I’m almost home.”

“Alright, stay safe Anduin. Miss you lots.”

“Miss you too dad.”




It had been three weeks since Anduin had started working at “The Fallen Belle”, and he was starting to think that he was getting the hang of things. Sure, there had been moments of doubt - for instance, that time when he did an entire order with the wrong type of roast - but Nathanos had been on hand to help him clear up that mess, quickly taking control and telling Anduin exactly what to do to help remake the order as quickly as possible. They had begun to work well together, understanding how the other worked and more importantly, how to move around the small counter area without bumping into each other.

God, that had really thrown Anduin off during his first week. The first time it happened, he had turned around with a full jug of freshly steamed milk and slammed straight into Nathanos’ side, throwing its contents all over them both. The sudden contact with the older man had stunned Anduin to silence; he stood frozen, staring at the floor with a look of pure embarrassment on his face. Nathanos hurriedly finished off the order before dragging them both into the staff room.

“You idiot, you could’ve burned us both.”

“S-sorry, I didn’t realise…”

Taking a deep breath, Nathanos tried to calm down.

“...don’t worry about it. Just get changed.”

He turned to a locker and opened it, sorting through a neat pile of clothes and passing some of them to the younger boy.

“This is as close to your size as I have. Wash them and bring them back tomorrow.”

After finding his own clothes, Nathanos pulled off his shirt and trousers. He turned around to throw the milk-stained garments into a basket in the corner, only to be greeted by a bright red Anduin, wearing only a pair of boxer briefs. They were plain white with blue stripes, quite short in the leg, and - by the gods - exceptionally tight fitting. The boy turned sideways, holding out the pair of jeans he had been given to examine, unintentionally granting his colleague a perfect view of his small yet firm backside.

In a rare moment, Nathanos found himself blushing. The blood rushed to his cheeks as he turned away, confused yet undeniably aroused by what he had seen. Anduin was attractive enough, he supposed, but not in that way, right? Unbeknownst to him, in turning around he had gifted Anduin with a similar opportunity to enjoy the pleasant view presented before him.





The coffee shop had been quiet for the last hour, and the boredom was starting to sink in.

“What is it now?”

“Why is this place called ‘The Fallen Belle’?”

The older barista sighed, before speaking with a voice dripping with sarcasm. “A long time ago, there was a young french lady who lived here. She died falling from the rooftop after a terrible argument with her lover, and her ghost still haunts us to this day. Thus, the fallen belle.”

His voice returned to its usual moody tone. “If you believe all that nonsense anyhow.”

Anduin clearly did. His body had gone stiff and his face slightly pale, as he looked around the empty building with wary eyes.

“Oh come on now,” Nathanos said, rolling his eyes, “that’s a load of rubbish. You aren’t actually scared by it, are you?”

“Maybe a little bit.”

“Hmph. I guess I was mistaken.”

Anduin raised a confused brow. “About what?”

“You’re clearly not as brave as I presumed you were.”

“Hey, I can be brave if I need to be!”

Nathanos spat out his next two words with the smug confidence of a man issuing a challenge he knew none could beat.

“Prove it.”

Perhaps it was the boredom of the last few hours, or maybe the double espresso he had not long ago, but those two words fueled Anduin like dry wood to a dying fire. He stood up tall and turned to face his colleague head on.

“You're on.”

The older barista grinned; the cat who had caught the overly eager mouse. “Wait here.” He commanded, before walking into the staff room and returning with a thin black scarf. Approaching Anduin from behind, his taller body towered over the boy’s smaller, slender frame. He pressed his waist ever so slightly against the other, just enough to provoke slight discomfort.

For Anduin, that soft touch was enough to send sparks flying. His whole body lit up, waves of fear pulsing through him, blood rushing through panicked veins, thudding heart leaping into his ever tightening throat.

Instinctively, he closed his eyes as the scarf began to block out his vision. Once, twice it was wrapped around his head, before being tied loosely at the back. Nathanos once again set off fireworks, this time with the simple act of placing his hands upon Anduin’s shoulders. He guided the boy past the counter and into the middle of the seating area. They stopped. Anduin felt the hands leave him, replaced by a desperate emptiness.

“If you can stand here, alone, in the same building where the young belle died, for thirty minutes…”

Nathanos stepped close, breathing into the boy’s ear.

“I’ll give you a prize.” His dark voice dripped with suggestion and seduction. A crazed urge rushed through him, telling him to tear off the blindfold and give in to his most primal of desires. Anduin gave a silent nod. Nathanos turned on his heel and slowly walked away, each step echoing around the room and reverberating deep within Anduin’s body. Light, every noise this man made somehow both scared and turned him on.




Nathanos frowned to himself. He wasn’t sure why he had done that. For someone normally in control of their actions such as he, this was confusing. The idea was childish initially - teasing the young barista about his fears.  But somehow the mood had taken a turn, and now Nathanos had to deal with that pressing hard against his tight jeans.

In an effort to distract himself, he prepared Anduin’s first obstacle. Moving behind the counter, he found two empty metal tins and, after a few minutes of silence had passed, began to ever so gently scrape them against each other. The noise started small, barely a whisper, but it swiftly grew louder and louder until - BANG, he slammed them into one another. The tense build up accompanied by a sharp shock had the desired effect on Anduin, who jumped at the loud clang and let out a shaky laugh.

“Nice try Nathanos.”

Even the way he spoke his name unsettled the older man. It was as though it was a forbidden word, his true name, something dark and secretive that only he should know. The power this boy had over him was revolting. And intoxicating.

He began a slow, silent walk across the room. Every footstep was an effort, trying to prevent noise as much as he could. Eventually he was within arms reach of Anduin, and thus ready to employ the second obstacle. Nathanos held his breath and leaned forward, bringing his mouth as close to the boy’s neck as he dared. He opened wide, scraping a canine very gently down the soft, shivering skin, and letting out a chilling breath. The rough shudder that jolted through Anduin’s body was harsh and unexpected. Nathanos almost became concerned that he had gone too far, that the boy was too susceptible to the effects of his deprived senses.

There was a silent moment of pause, before both parties relaxed again.

Nathanos returned to his spot behind the counter and began to wrack his brains for something big, something grand to terrify Anduin. His thoughts however, were not cooperating. Perhaps the lights? No, his sight was already taken by the blindfold. It was Nathanos’ favourite scarf. It looked good wrapped around Anduin’s head.

What about something forceful, like a shove? Yes, he could just imaging throwing himself against the smaller boy, feeling their bodies collide and collapse to the floor together, becoming entangled in a mass of limbs, unable to remove themselves from one another, pulsing and twisting against-

No, something else. Think of something else.

Maybe he could find an audio file online, something haunting to play through the sound system. That could work - Nathanos could just imagine the look of terror on poor Anduin’s face. Those thin, delicate lips opened in shock; his soft, supple cheeks blushing a deep rouge; his raised, elegant cheekbones…

No! Damn that distracting boy, he had to think-

A sharp beep came from Nathanos’ pocket. Followed by another. Then another. The timer. Thirty minutes had passed.




Anduin handed the scarf back to its owner.

“It’s a lovely scarf, by the way. I was tempted to steal it.” He chuckled, cheeks rosy from the thrill of the last half hour.

“...keep it as your ‘prize’.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t. We were just joking around-”

“I insist. Keep it.”

Anduin raised an eyebrow. Nathanos was acting deeply unsettled. Was it really just because he had lost? He watched as the older barista turned away from him and walked towards the staff room.

“It’s too quiet, I’ll close up early. You should go home.”





Another lonely bus ride. Anduin hadn’t realised how lonely certain things could be until he started working at ‘The Fallen Belle’. The setting sun had cast an auburn haze across the city, illuminating everything in a fiery orange glow.

He sat back in his seat and sighed. Normally he called his dad on the way home, but it was too early for that. Instead he was left alone with his thoughts. They kept turning back to Nathanos, no matter what he tried. The strange man had troubled him at first, but eventually he had grown to like him. His off-putting demeanor was hiding something, he knew that much. Some sort of inner sadness that he didn’t dare probe into.

There was also the matter of his attraction. It was most unexpected, for Anduin. Nathanos wasn’t even remotely his type, and yet every time he walked into the shop and saw that grumpy face glaring back at him, his heart leapt into his mouth. Every time he left work, leaving Nathanos alone in the coffee shop and embarking on the slow bus ride home, he felt as though part of him was staying behind. He wasn’t much older than Anduin - maybe three, four years at most? And yet his presence was so intimidating, so overpowering. It took his breath away just to stand near him.

And now Nathanos had given him his scarf. The one he wore to work nearly every day. How could he part with something so personal so easily? His urges getting the better of him for once, Anduin brought the fabric close to his face and breathed in deeply.

The bitter sting of coffee hit him first, followed by a dark and musky scent, one with somewhat sweet undertones. That must be his perfume. There was something about the smell that was distinctively Nathanos , in a way he simply couldn’t describe. It oozed of his stormy temperament.

Anduin gripped the scarf tightly, closing his eyes and letting out a desperate sigh of pure want .




“Good afternoon, this is the Fallen Belle, how can we help you?”

“Anduin? Is that you?”

“Tess? What’s up?” Anduin frowned. Her voice was filled with worry.

“It’s Nathanos, he’s just called me from home. He won’t be able to make it to work tonight.”

Now it was Anduin’s turn to sound worried. “I wondered where he was. Is he okay?”

“Apparently he was awake all night throwing up. Sounds pretty rough.”

“He never misses a shift…”

Tess’ concerned sigh echoed down the phone. “I know. Will you be alright tonight? It’s just, Lorna booked us this lovely hotel and-”

“I’ll be okay. I can manage.”

Anduin smiled at the phone. “Give Lorna my best, okay? And don’t worry about me.”

“Thanks Anduin. You’re the best.”

A short beep emitted from the phone, signalling that Tess had hung up. Anduin laid it down shakily. He had never worked an entire shift on his own. He didn’t even know how to close up, Nathanos always let him go early... Anduin walked into the staff room and turned to face a mirror, staring desperately into it and hoping for some sort of miracle. 

“Deep breaths, come on, you can do this.”

Tonight was going to be easy, he promised himself. It’ll probably be quiet - it’s rainy outside, so there won’t be too many people out. Yeah, a smooth, quiet evening. With one final deep breath out, he nodded reassuringly to himself, and walked back into the shop.




“Excuse me, I asked for soy milk, and this is clearly oat.”

Anduin jolted up from the floor behind the counter, where he was trying desperately to clean up spilled coffee beans before they were ground into the wood. A sour face greeted him.

“Oh- sorry! I’ll uh, I’ll make you a fresh one!”

The lady rolled her eyes before turning to walk out the door.

“Don’t bother.”

He felt his shoulders drop. He was half way into the shift and everything was falling apart. There were tables to clear, but he was busy making drinks, and he could only manage one at a time so the queue was building, making the customers even grumpier than normal, stressing him out and causing him to make mistakes, and those needed cleaning up after, but he didn’t have time for that so… Oh gods, if Nathanos was here he would know exactly what to do, he would-

Anduin’s thoughts were interrupted by the gentle trickle of water spilling onto the floor. He span around to face the noise and saw the spout of the coffee machine pouring dull brown water into an overflowing mug. The machine had flooded.

He ran over and slammed his finger onto the power button, before turning and disappearing into the staff room. He returned seconds later with a handful of towels and desperately threw them in a heap onto the soaking floor.

“Can I get two caramel slices, and a tea please.”

Anduin looked over to the counter, where a young girl was standing patiently. He smiled wearily at her, silently thanking her for not ordering a coffee, and left the mess on the floor to get to work on her order.




Finally, as nighttime arrived, the customers left and the shop was closed. Tables all across the seating area were covered in mugs, saucers, and glasses of all kinds. Napkins were strewn all over the floor, and the bathroom light was flickering on and off in the distance. Anduin slumped to the ground, leaning against the back of the counter and tucking his head into his arms. Tears began to slide down his cheeks as his body softly shook. Stuttered sobs echoed around the empty room.

He had failed. The shop was a mess, there had been so many mistakes, so many complaints… Nathanos would hate him. The one night he couldn’t be here, Anduin had to mess up. His first job, the most fun and the best friends he had ever had in his life, and now it was gone...

Lost in his despair, Anduin didn’t hear the door slowly creak open or the gentle chime ringing.

Nathanos looked around the shop with bleary eyes. The lights were turned off, but in the dim moonlight he could see enough. He followed the sounds of crying and found Anduin curled up in a corner, surrounded by a mess of towels and spilled coffee. The boy looked so vulnerable, so hurt. Every instinct in Nathanos’ body was screaming to go and comfort him.

And so, he did.

Falling quietly to his knees, the older man leaned forward and embraced him, arms wrapping comfortingly around his shaking shoulders. Anduin jolted, shocked to feel another person, but too lost in his emotions to properly register what was happening. He collapsed into the other man, clinging tight to his waist while sobbing quietly into his chest.


Nathanos’ voice was dry and cracked, but it vibrated deep through Anduin, warming his soul. As he slowly but surely came to his senses, he leaned back and untangled his arms from the other. A confused look spread across his tear stained face.

“You’re supposed to be ill.”

Nathanos smiled apologetically at the boy.

“I remembered that I never taught you how to close up, so I dragged myself here.”

Anduin frowned sadly as his colleague leant back and went into a coughing fit, buckling slightly in pain.

“You should’ve stayed at home, I would’ve managed fine.”

Nathanos let out a short, pained laugh, smiling down at the boy’s rosy face. “Is that why you’re surrounded by coffee stained rags and puddles of murky water?”

Anduin chuckled softly, wiping the tears from his cheeks. “Yeah, I can explain that.”

“You don’t need to.”

Nathanos gazed into his colleague’s eyes. He had been denying it for too long, and maybe it was the painkillers talking, but right now his feelings were surging. The dim glow of the streetlights outside barely reached them behind the counter, but what little light there was shone upon Anduin’s face, highlighting the almost ethereal beauty the boy posessed. Nathanos was unable to look away, entranced by those delicate features, that small button nose...

In a movement that lasted a lifetime but was over in a flash, Nathanos leant forwards and carefully pressed his lips against Anduin’s. The boy’s eyes widened in shock, before closing to embrace the peaceful bliss.

A moment passed.

They seperated, leaning back and locking eyes. Nathanos’ face was lit up by the softest expression of wonder and amazement, while Anduin could do nothing but grin in euphoria. Unable to deny themselves this new feeling any more, they leaned in again and embraced, wrapping their arms tight around the other and holding on as if they could never let go.

“I d- didn’t know that you-” Anduin stammered.

“I didn’t either. Not until now…”

As the two lovers held each other close, a single tear of joy slid down the young boy’s face. 

What a wonderful end to a chaotic day.




“Hey Anduin, how was work today?”

“Really good dad, thanks. Me and Nathanos invented a new drink called ‘The Amer-wrynn-cano’. It’s basically a fancy black coffee, you’ll have to try it when you come visit!”

Varian chuckled down the phone.

“Sounds great Anduin. You and Nathanos seem pretty good friends these days, I’m glad to hear that.”

“Yeah, about that…”

A suddenly concerned voice echoed down the phone. “Is everything okay?”

“...would you be mad if I told you that I’d met someone? Y’know, in that way.”

A tense moment of silence passed.

“Not at all Anduin. Who is it?”

He took a deep breath. This was hard to say.

“It’s Nathanos. He kissed me last night and… dad, it felt amazing. I know he comes across as an idiot sometimes, but he really is a nice guy. He makes me feel so warm and safe...”

Varian’s grin was audible. “I couldn’t be happier for you, Anduin, really. My little boy is growing up! I might have to visit sooner then, and you can both make me a- what was it called?”

“Amer-wrynn-cano, don’t make me say it twice.” Anduin laughed. His body felt light and slightly shaky, but in a good way. The wide smile on his face would be hard pressed to leave anytime soon.

“You mean it dad?”

Varian spoke with sincerity. “I’m always going to be proud of you, you know that.”

“Thanks dad. I love you.”

“I love you too son.”