A/N - This short 'fic is not canon with my upcoming Foop-centric project Identity Theft, as the heart-shaped pendant has a different function in that story. Both 'fics are meant to coexist with show canon and my other works, but Identity Theft takes a serious approach while "Snips and Snails" takes a sillier one, so they can't co-exist.
Chapter 1 .:. Must Be 150K or Older To Order
Foop slammed the castle door behind him with the entirety of his 46-year-old might. It sounded like the squeak of a newborn spider. Completely ignoring the fact that he was a magical anti-fairy with a ba-ba capable of poofing his things instantaneously up to his room, he flung his schoolbag and lunchbox at the nearest statue of some elemental-based mythological figure he was probably supposed to care about, and probably really didn't.
The boy floated a moment in the entry hall, huffing and heaving, his tiny hands clenched into fists at the sides of his little square body. Then he cocked his head. Odd. No one immediately abandoned what they were doing and came rushing to comfort and coo over him. What was up with that?
The handle of the castle door clicked behind him. Foop spun around, fully prepared to launch into the endless rant he'd prepared the whole way home, when the figure stepped inside. His chest deflated. Sadly, in his rage over his inability to refill his sippy cup at the slushie bar today, he had completely forgotten the fact that he'd invited his only real friend home with him from school. You see, Foop was not much for entertaining company, and wouldn't be until he turned 677 and held the first birthday party of his life where his guests didn't run screaming in terror with their hair aflame, or fire ants crawling through the folds of their clothes, or circus monkeys pelting them with overripe chunks of avocado.
"Anti-Goldie," he said when he saw her, crossing his arms. His friend's name was Anti-Goldie (at least as far as you're concerned today), and she was just as small and square as he was.
"Hey," she said, dropping her textbooks on the floor. She didn't have a backpack. Unlike Foop's, the wings that spread from her ambiguously-located shoulders were dark and silky, with blotchy red spots coating both sides. Wearing a backpack would squash them flat, and then she wouldn't be able to fly at all. Anti-Goldie had just learned a few weeks ago that she liked to sew, and two hundred thousand years from now there will come a day when she perfects the design for a backpack that can be worn by moth-winged children everywhere. Sadly, that day is two hundred thousand years from now, so no one really cares.
Still floating in the air, Foop tapped his foot several times. "Tut tut, Anti-Goldie. I thought I was very clear. If you don't wish to be accidentally stabbed, scorched, squashed, stunned, scalded with acid, snot-rocketed, serenaded, or scarred for the rest of your childhood while wandering this castle, you must always knock on every door before you enter it. It's the only reliable way to disable the hex traps my mother puts up before they humiliate you. And hexes seem to be the only type of magic she can actually get right, so you really don't want to take your chances with them. She pours all her effort into those."
"Sorry, mate. Didn't occur to me that rule still applied after I'd seen ya stroll in like y'all owned the place."
Foop narrowed his eyes. "I'll own it someday. You just wait and see. Now, if I am to become High Count of the Anti-Fairies after my father someday, then every instruction I give you will need to be followed to exact specifications. Have you got that?"
Anti-Goldie gave him a thumbs up. "Locked and loaded, Nebula."
"Don't call me that. Only my grandnana calls me by my middle name. Mother!" Foop raised his voice even louder than before. This caused a sheet of dust to tumble down from the landing above them, as Foop's voice had already been fairly loud when he'd called for her the first time. His gaze darted between the staircase on his left and the statue-lined hallway just in front of him. To his right lay the smaller of the castle's two dining rooms. Fine. He'd start there. Foop demonstrated a proper knock for Anti-Goldie and opened its door.
But the dining room was empty. Only the fireplace hummed and crackled alone. Foop scratched behind the one tuft of curly black hair on his head. With a hmph, he slammed the door again and zipped off down the hallway. Anti-Goldie tailed him at a more relaxed place.
"Isn't it a bit empty in here today?" she asked, adjusting the crown floating above her head. Foop tried to glance back at her without turning his entire body around. This did not prove easy.
"What do you mean by that, exactly?"
Anti-Goldie shrugged. "Well, don't y'all normally have hundreds of anti-fairies crawling around the castle we could ask for help instead of having to go bother your parents?"
"Oh, that." Foop paused in front of the only statue in the corridor that ever caught his interest: The one at the very end. He liked it because it depicted himself standing between his parents. Well, mostly he just liked the part that was about him. In all honesty, Foop would have preferred a statue of himself pointing his magic bottle at their foreheads while they begged for his mercy from their knees, but whatever. All epic things to those who wait. He sniffed. "No, you won't find any other anti-fairies here today."
"There would be too many of them around and then things would just get complicated, so they're not here today."
Anti-Goldie stopped just behind him. "That does not."
Ignoring her fragment of a reply, Foop drifted into the great hall. Its double doors were already open, so he didn't bother checking for traps this time. No dishes cluttered the tables, although the winter decorations had already been hung in every corner. Festive blue and brown centerpieces, holly leaves, and golden napkins lay on every dining table. Floor-to-ceiling windows let trickles of harsh red sunlight in from the outside world. The great hall was the largest room in the entire castle, so although it appeared empty, he felt it justified another scream: "Father!"
Again, no answer. Foop stuck out his lip and glared at the mural on the wall beside him. The castle was quite large, and if his search brought him into the Corridor of a Thousand Doors, he might never find his way out again.
Well. There was one more place he could try before searching his parents' bedroom. He'd made the mistake of poofing in unannounced once before, and although Foop wasn't normally one to learn from the past, that memory was bound to haunt him through his adolescent centuries. Seriously, who out there is so desperate to play "Real-Life Go Fish" in the middle of the night that they turn their floor into a lake overgrown with algae and forget to tell their son not to wander in unannounced when he can't find his pacifier? Were the shrieking alarms on the coastal guard rescue boat they'd steered over to him really necessary? Two words: Sensitive bat ears.
Foop moved to the back of the great hall and reached for the handle on a lone door behind the head table. "Hold up, mate," Anti-Goldie said, grabbing his wrist. "You forgot to knock on that one." It was only on rare occasions that she found the opportunity to flaunt her brains over his, so she took extra care to emphasize the word "Forgot."
"Well, this one goes to an inner hallway. It doesn't need to be knocked on."
"Yep." It did indeed lead to a hallway, with two doors on the left and not much else in sight. Foop stopped before the second door and spread his arms. "Well, here we are. My father's private office. A place where I am not normally allowed to go, but do not care, because I am alight with frustrations as of now. When I want attention, this has generally proved itself to be the best way to get it."
Anti-Goldie tapped on the vague area of his body that was usually referred to as his shoulder. "Aren't you gonna knock on the door to your father's office, which looks pretty much like it's not a hallway to me?"
Foop rolled his eyes. Poor, simple Anti-Goldie. "I don't really need to. It's my father's office. Mother wouldn't dare trap this one." Just to prove it, he grabbed the knob and thrust the door in.
"Let's try best 4 out of 7," she muttered.
"Stifling parental figureheads! Pay attention to me!"
To his absolute shock, the door didn't fly back into the wall. A hand caught it before it moved more than half a swing. Foop looked up to find himself facing a man much taller than he was. Which was sort of sad, since this particular man had a far-reaching reputation for being among the most puny of his species. His face was square, like Foop's own, but unlike Foop's head, this one was actually attached to a body with a distinct neck and torso. Rather than dress in blue and black like an anti-fairy, the pale figure wore gray, with dark shades that completely hid his eyes and sleek black hair that curled upwards in the front. A small pointed hat floated about a handspan above his head. A small, ugly pointed hat.
"Hello, Anti-Poof," monotoned the pixie, tightening his fingers around the edge of the door.
"Huh?" Foop was so startled to bump into a non-anti-fairy inside his father's castle that he didn't even bother correcting him on his name. He recognized Mr. Sanderson at once from that charming lunch his father had dragged him out to around Valentine's Day. And if the dull gray man was hanging around the castle, that must mean his blasted boss wasn't far behind. Foop bobbed over to the side, poking his head (well, body) around Mr. Sanderson's leg.
Sure enough, the Head Pixie himself floated by the honeycomb cubbyholes along the wall, with two maps of Fairy World and a take-out menu for Chinese food in his hands. The take-out menu was winning. It concealed most of his face, so Foop couldn't see much more of him than the gray of his hat and the thick arms of his glasses. The tips of his fingers were smudged with so much blue ink, they almost looked like an anti-fairy's.
The third figure in the room was one (of two) whom Foop had been scouring the castle for the entire afternoon. His father, High Count Anti-Cosmo, sat in the enormous padded chair behind his desk. The upper half of his body lay limply sprawled across yet another map. The rest of his desk was sprinkled with glass vials half-full of colorful chemicals, along with assorted papers and elaborate quill pens. His signature bowler hat still floated above his scruffy hair, but for some peculiar reason, his monocle wasn't in its usual place against his eye. The hairs on the back of Foop's body prickled up at the sight. He floated a smidgen backwards. His little wings skipped a beat, and then another.
"Foop." Anti-Cosmo leaned farther forward, concealing even more of the map from his puzzled son. "Now is not a good time for hysterics."
"Hysterics?" Foop snapped to attention. His chest swelled. Pushing Sanderson aside (by a full quarter of an inch), he floated up to his father's desk. Anti-Cosmo's hands shifted to cover a particular spot on the map. If Foop were a smarter boy, he might have paused for a moment and tried to figure out where it was, since Anti-Cosmo had left the rest of the map exposed and it really wouldn't have been hard.
But the fact of the matter was that while Foop was widely acknowledged to be a genius baby, he had inherited his inability to focus on more than one item at a time from his woefully foolish mother, Anti-Wanda. Largely because of this, Anti-Fairy society as a whole often agreed he would make a pretty poor successor to his father someday. This topic was frequently discussed during book club meetings when one thoughtless guest was foolish enough to mention politics, until the arguments broke out and the poor hostess would be forced to upend social convention by bringing out dessert early in an attempt at saving the night. Foop did not know any of this, of course, which is fortunate for us all seeing as if he had, he would have been gallivanting across the cloudlands to threaten his critics into silence rather than bothering with his father here today, and then we wouldn't have much of a story left to tell.
It is equally unfortunate (for Anti-Cosmo, at least) that he chose to hide what he did from Foop, since while Foop and Anti-Goldie are off on a quest of their own, Anti-Cosmo and the Head Pixie will be venturing up the highest mountains of Fairy World until they reach a hexed door that Foop just happens to know how to disable from a page he'd read in his textbook today while he wasn't paying attention to his actual lesson, and without Foop to warn them about the griffins, the pair will be driven off in a screaming panic until they collapse beside the nearest lake and subsequently find themselves face to face with a herd of flesh-eating kelpie, and they'll never get to enjoy that kung pao chicken they had planned to order. Anti-Cosmo will be surprisingly fine with this as he is a raging vegetarian and will take any excuse to criticize the Head Pixie from the security of a separate cell block in the Fairy World jail anyway.
"Hysterics?" Foop screeched again. He slammed both hands down on the desk, thrusting his nose into Anti-Cosmo's face. "Do I appear hysterical to you, Father? I'll have you know that the matter I'm about to discuss with you happens to be even less hysterical than the minds of these pixies you've brought in here. Would you care to make a guess at where I've just come from?"
Anti-Cosmo's eyes swept up and down his trembling form. "From your infantile behavior, I would assume a Diaper Wetters Anonymous meeting."
Foop pounded again on the desk, rattling the potion vials in their stands (Why Anti-Cosmo even had potions in his office today was a mystery we may never know the answer to, since just as Foop was widely considered to be a foolish child in spite of his genius, Anti-Cosmo was widely considered to be a dunce in all matters of potioncraft). "The lengthy history of my bladder-control issues are beside the point, Father! Listen up now. On the way home from school, Anti-Goldie and I hopped off the bus a dozen stops early so I could drop by Vladivine's and have them refill my sippy cup with scrumptious strawberry watermelon slushie. When Mother took me last week, they promised that if I came back, they'd refill it entirely for half-off. And do you know what the clerk there said to me today?"
"What did she say to you?" Anti-Cosmo asked, in the same flat voice Mr. Sanderson had used at the door.
"She said I had to have a" - Foop made excessive air quotes, even for this dire of a situation - "responsible adult with me in order to reap the benefit of a half-price refill. Me! Prince of the Anti-Fairies! Heir to the High Count seat! And then when I wanted to buy a pinch of brown sugar for the white matter polarization experiment I've been working on down in my lab, that pretentious poser behind the counter said she was only permitted to sell straight sugar to adults as well. Really, the only two things in that lousy side-of-the-road station I actually wanted." As he spoke, Foop waved his hands about to mime the events of his story. His eyebrows scrunched together. "Then it turned out that I didn't even have enough money to even buy an energy bar, after I'd waited for an hour in line to do so. And by then-"
"I am so sorry," Anti-Cosmo mouthed to the Head Pixie.
"-the school bus had apparently left, for some reason, so Anti-Goldie and I had to fly here from halfway across Anti-Fairy World, and then when we arrived here, we couldn't find anyone, even you, for longer than I think is acceptable." Foop inhaled through his nostrils, one hand in the air to symbolize two flying babies and one hand below to represent half of Anti-Fairy World. He looked at Anti-Cosmo again. Awaiting acknowledgment. "Well? Can you even believe that, Father? Now then, I order you to fly out to Vladivine's and force them to honor my refill cup and sell all their products to me at once. I'm their prince. When I'm happy, the people are happy. They should be begging for the chance to please me. It's my right, Father- I demand it!"
The Head Pixie tapped Foop on the head twice with his take-out menu, then passed it to him. "Here. You seem like you need this more than I do."
"Anti-Goldie and I don't want your garbage!" Foop crunched the menu up and threw it to the floor. "We want slushies. Strawberry watermelon ones with just a hint of lemon lime around the edges."
"And nutritiously organic energy bars," Anti-Goldie piped up timidly from Mr. Sanderson's other side. You may recall from earlier that Anti-Cosmo is strictly vegetarian. Anti-Goldie recalled this too. Although not terribly fond of energy bars herself, she hoped that bringing them up might soften her friend's father to their plight. You see, Anti-Goldie was known for being a bit of a butt-kiss.
Anti-Cosmo sighed. "Foop, absolutely nothing is preventing you from poofing up a slushie of your own here and now, or every day until the end of time."
"I'm not interested in a slushie that tastes like magic dust and smoke, Father, and besides that, you're missing the point."
The Head Pixie arched a brow. "Oh. There was a point."
"Being a child is such a constant bore! I'm not old enough to buy most of the ingredients I desire for my experiments, I can't stay out past my curfew, and most of all, I had to spend two decades in Abracatraz studying to be my own lawyer because no one else was willing to take on my case." Foop dropped his square rear end onto the edge of the desk, rattling the vials of colored chemicals and wrinkling the edge of Anti-Cosmo's map. He crossed his arms and began to kick his legs. "Well? You do realize you can stop my prattling at any time simply by using your grown-up magic to poof me into an adult like you, and then legally having my age altered that way permanently."
"Fooooop." Anti-Cosmo pressed his fingers through his hair. "As I've told you before and I assume I'll have to tell you again, you're being unreasonable about this. All magical babies go through this phase sooner or later-"
"It isn't a phase, by far!" Foop whirled around so fast, he nearly fell off the desk. "What's really unreasonable is the fact that you would prefer I waste my golden years in Spellementary School with a load of pathetic classmates who can hardly match their socks, and you won't let me enroll in high school where my brains and I belong. I long for my adolescence. This is who I am inside."
Sanderson floated closer to the Head Pixie and whispered, "I'm fairly sure this kid still uses diapers."
"Oh, bother. Adjusting one's age isn't as simple as flicking your bottle around, Foop. It's a class of magic all its own." Anti-Cosmo cupped his hand over the area on his map he didn't want Foop to get a good look at again. "You see, this sort of thing requires centuries of study to perfect. One needs to determine exactly which day of the year you wish to age forward to, and there are particular catches and caveats for every one. An inexperienced child such as yourself might attempt to alter their age a few millennia, and end up time traveling to the era of chimeras instead. Or worse, you could far too easily reverse your own birth and rebound back into existence with an entirely different set of genetics and personality."
"Which is a tragedy, apparently," the Head Pixie muttered.
Foop rolled his eyes. "Oh, please. I've managed complex, unstable magic before. Let's not forget, I did design a working portal to an alternate universe before I was even a year old."
Anti-Cosmo shook his head. "Foop, aging magic is strictly to be used for costume parties and amusement parks. What you're proposing here is that someone age you well beyond your years and leave you that way permanently. Age altering is difficult for even the most experienced magic users. Even I didn't try to study it at the Academy. Where would we even find someone licensed to oversee it all goes well?"
Mr. Sanderson pricked his ears. Reaching into his coat for the cell phone that functioned as his wand, he said, "I could do it for him. Age-jumping is my specialty. It's amazing how much that type of magic comes in handy when I'm working the complaints desk around the holidays."
"And I'm licensed to oversee the process," the Head Pixie mused. "We could age the kid forever, lock him in place, and have the paperwork official within the hour. If in return, it will shut him up for life. I wouldn't mind. No, I really wouldn't mind that at all."
Anti-Cosmo jabbed a finger the pixie's way. "Don't you dare. He's become a spoiled brat these days and you'll only encourage his whiny behavior."
"Just a few hundred thousand years," Foop begged, clasping his hands. His lashes fluttered as he made the attempt to widen his already enormous violet eyes. "You won't even notice I've grown. Why, think of how wonderful your life would be if you had another brilliant adult around the castle to play chess with and rant about Mother to."
"We already play chess together, and hardly a week goes by when I don't hear you berating your mum's intelligence in some manner or another as it is." Anti-Cosmo began to gather his map together, rolling it tight. "My answer, of course, stands at no. I most certainly won't authorize you to magically age yourself and skip out on several hundred crucial millennia of brain development. And since you are but a minor and I am your father, that will be the end of this decision as we know it."
He could sense the wheels beginning to turn in Foop's head.
"Ah-buh-buh! And don't even think about trying to fool your mother into signing a permission form for this type of thing either. A serious procedure such as this one would require signatures from both your guardians, and the pixies can confirm that Da Rules prevent handwriting from being forged to sign any sort of legal document."
The Head Pixie produced a business card suddenly between his fingers and handed this to Foop. "Here. Call me when you're older and need a better lawyer."
Despite what he often claimed, sarcasm was not actually a skill Foop had fine-tuned enough to recognize the threat behind the sentiment. In a huff, he yanked out a laser gun that had the words Baby's First Death Annihilator Ray scrawled across its side in a flowing gold script and pointed it his father's way- Much to Anti-Goldie's alarm, as she was still floating behind him. She had seen exactly where he shoved his hand in order to grab the laser gun, and was now seriously rethinking her decision to include 'Marry Foop and rule Anti-Fairy World as his devoted queen' on her bucket list. After a moment of thought, Anti-Goldie decided she would carry hand sanitizer in her back pocket for the rest of her life. Also, she decided to start wearing jeans that had back pockets.
In response to being threatened at blaster-point by his son's laser ray, Anti-Cosmo lifted just one eyebrow. His son could be a pain in the fanny, certainly, but Anti-Cosmo had been fried, crushed, spit on, and digested dozens of times now and was beginning to grow a little weary of the whole giving-into-Foop's-demands routine. Which was a shame, since this was a particularly powerful and painful laser, and would have granted Foop his wishes more often if he simply didn't try their patience with it on a regular basis. Being only 46 years old, Foop hadn't quite grasped the concept that if he stopped splurging his allowance on gadgets with blinky buttons and whirring power-up sounds, he would have been able to afford things like energy bars in the first place. Had he been able to make this connection, it's probable he would have been doing a lot better in life than he was, and perhaps then the local book clubs would be saved.
Foop lowered the blaster cannon again. "Well, here's what I think of you, Father." So saying, he kicked all the vials within his reach off Anti-Cosmo's desk. They crashed to the carpet, giving off small puffs of colorful smoke. Oftentimes, mindlessly plowing over glass containers filled with sketchy, bubbling liquids and explosive powders is considered to be a poorly thought-out decision. Multiple chemicals began to spark and boil on the floor, to the almost-amusement of the two pixies watching him.
Huffing, Foop turned back to Anti-Cosmo, who had straightened up, his lips pressed together very tightly and his claws curling into the wood of his desk. His wings folded and began to rustle at his back. This was a warning sign that every anti-fairy who frequented the castle had come to know well, but Foop ignored it.
"Oh, and you know what else?"
He snatched his father's prized crystal ball from its bejeweled stand on the desk's corner and hurled it on the floor. Being a magic crystal, it didn't shatter or even crack. Foop swooped down and kicked it for good measure. It rolled about four inches and bumped against the wall. He looked back at the grown-ups in the room, shoulders shaking, then threw his arms into the air.
"Ha! So… that."
When no one responded (apart from Anti-Cosmo dropping his forehead against his hand), Foop turned on his wingtips and stalked from his father's office, heading vaguely in the direction of the upstairs laboratory his parents had surprised him with on his birthday this year. Anti-Goldie followed him.
And with that, the young anti-fairy began to hatch a plan. It was a very diabolical plan to search out some sort of loophole in this mess that would allow him to age himself to the point where he could refill his sippy cup with affordably-priced strawberry watermelon slushies any time of day he wanted. After which, Foop planned to run away from home. Such a plan consisted mostly of Foop ignoring everything his father had said to him in the last five minutes, and completely disregarded the metaphorically nonexistent bounds of parental love which would prevent him from seceding from his family for very long.
It was far from being a very good plan.