Author's Notes: If you think this is quick? I actually finished it the day after the challenge was posted... *ducks* Nothing else to say really. Somewhat ranting fluff... In other words, yet another example of my all but patented style... *pause* of sorts... Narrated by Chris. Self beta'd. Enjoy. *g*
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear loser
Happy birthday to you
Or should that be dear *pathetic* loser?
Whatever. It doesn't matter. It's just another crap day in the never ending stream of crap days that make up my life.
My life that is crap for so many reasons. Being the only person on the entire planet that knows today is my birthday feels like the final straw.
Watch out crippled camel, here I come.
Actually, no. That's not right. In fact, it's over crediting myself. At least the RSPCA would care about a camel with a broken back. As for me? Nah. I don't think so. I'm not worth caring about.
Yeah, probably. But what of it? Huh?
It's my birthday and if I want to wallow in self pity then I have every damn right to.
Hell. I'm not saying I still harbour a childish love for my birthday. I don't. The older you get, the less fascinating your birthday gets. It's an inescapable fact of life. From the wonderful and copious toys of your childhood, to the clothes that you wouldn't be seen dead in as a teenager, to the... to the unwanted junk you get as a young adult (oh, yet another electric toothbrush, you really shouldn't have), birthdays are on an unstoppable downhill slide.
Not only that, but you get older without the thrill of having something to look forward to. Being able to drive, being able to drink, now *they're* goals. What joys have I got ahead of me now? Spotting my first grey hair? Woo-hoo. I can hardly wait. Discovering that I too will fall prey to the Keel family tradition of arthritis? Fabulous. Look forward to it.
Let's face it. Birthday's suck. Another year older, another year closer to death. Another wasted year. You're not getting any younger you know. Is your will up-to-date? Have you got a life insurance policy? A living will? Have you considered a pre-paid funeral? You're getting too old for this.
Waking up on the morning of your birthday is like finding yourself in bed with the Grim Reaper.
"Morning sucker, see you shortly."
Okay. So I'm not fond of birthdays. Deal with it I hear you say. You hate them, got it, so what's your fucking problem? Why do you look as though you've got the weight of the world on your ancient shoulders?
Because no-one remembered!
Remember that old saying? Misery loves company. Mmm...
Whingeing to yourself is about as entertaining as banging your head against a wall. It's boring, and it serves no purpose. Complaining to others, however, when done right, is apt to result in -- if nothing else -- company. Company is good. It saves you from yourself. It also usually keeps you topped up with alcohol and this, in turn, allows you to forget your birthday. See? A win win situation.
No-one at CI5 remembered my birthday.
Not a single fucking solitary person.
Talk about feeling unloved.
I'm not saying I wanted presents, or even cards. A simple 'happy birthday' would have been nice. Knowing how I feel about my own birthday, I always make a point of remembering the birth dates of those I work closest with. A card, a chocolate bar. It doesn't have to be anything big. Believe it or not, it *is* the thought that counts.
And I put an extra special amount of thought into Sam's birthday. Deciding against tying a large bow around my neck and hoping for the best (contrary to the opinion of some, I do actually possess a degree of control), I spent the better part of an afternoon in Harrods choosing a pen for him. I think he liked it. Considering what it cost (solid gold nib? At that price I should fucking well think so), it's a shame that it ended up in the neck of some scumbag or another. Still, as presents go, it served one hell of a purpose.
Call me delusional, but I honestly thought Sam would have remembered. We've been partners for ten months now. We spent Christmas getting drunk in Turkey together. We've both paced anxiously up and down hospital corridors as the other caused doctors to have heart palpitations over his injuries. We've both disobeyed direct orders, and risked life and limb, to secure the safety of the other.
I thought I meant something to him.
Oh God, I *want* to mean something to him. Something more than a partner and, hopefully, friend. Never being one to aim low, I want to be his lover. I don't think that's too much to ask. Whether it's hallucinations brought on by too much alcohol or not, I sometimes kid myself that he might even be interested. Lingering looks that can in no way be described as casual, physical contact when, really, there's no need for it.
There's no point subjecting myself to indepth analyses of my feelings. I live with them every waking moment. In bed, in the shower, driving, pretending to be interested in whatever some suit (and this, more or often than not, includes Malone) is dribbling on about, throwing caution to the winds and venturing into a supermarket on pension day, listlessly channel surfing, it's all the same. Thinking about Sam is as natural as breathing. There hasn't been a fantasy I haven't entertained. You name it and I've daydreamed about it. I don't even try to work out why, but there's just *something* he does for me.
Not that I've... ah... exactly shared these feelings with Sam. Every time I even contemplate it a cat kidnaps my tongue and holds it ransom. Releasing it only when I'm alone again and lamenting my lack of nerves. Take on ten men armed with machine guns and machetes? Not a problem. Tell my partner how I feel about him? Not fucking likely. I'd rather delude myself that there's hope than have it shattered. Besides, if he laughed or asked for another partner, I'd want to crawl into a corner and die.
I just would.
There'd be no help for it.
So, for fear of rejection, I keep quiet. It's easier that way. I can deal with being a sad wanker (yeah, in every sense in the word) more than I could deal with the possibility of jeopardising our friendship.
Mind you, the fact that I want to jump my partner is irrelevant. The bastard forgot my birthday. Git. He can remember the top fifty bottles of wine he's ever had, but not the date of my birth. Good on him. Next year for his birthday I think I'll get him a pair of musical boxer shorts. That'll teach him. I can see the mortified expression on his face already. In fact, I think I'll make a point of handing them over in the middle of the office. Now that'll *really* show him.
Nothing going my way today -- having to liaise with the fucking Met for half a day on today of all days -- I get every red light on the way home. Every single one of the fuckers. Then, to add insult to injury, every second car on the road is either a learner, or a little old granny in a Morris Minor. The drive home from the office usually take thirty or so minutes but, oh-no, not today. Today it takes close to an hour. By the time I finally get home my frustration levels are at an all time high. I'm so wired that I really should have gone to the gym and beaten the crap out of a poor defenceless punching bag. It's too late for that now though. I'm home and I ain't going nowhere. To venture out into that traffic would be to risk indulging in a spot of road rage. And, call me boring, but I have no inclination to give myself a birthday present of a night in jail.
Slamming the car door shut behind me, I stalk up to the front door and, with quite unwarranted force, unlock it. My last lifeline of wishful thinking, that birthday cards might be scattered all over my floor, dies a quick death as I override the security system and glower at my mail. I don't even need to pick it up to know that I don't want to know. I can see it all clearly without having to get closer to it.
No I don't want a fucking Mastercard.
Or a new mobile phone.
Or double glazing.
Or my carpets steam cleaned.
And if I ever find out who signed me up to the Franklin Mint mailing list then I am going to kill them. Slowly.
Bill. 'Nother bill. Bank statement. Yet another bill.
Neighbourhood watch pamphlet. Yeah. Bring it on. If I can't look after myself then I'd love to know what the weedy accountant next door would be able to do to help me. "I've got a calculator and I'm not afraid to use it!" I can see it now. And it disturbs me. A lot.
Hang on. What's that? Toeing through the depressing waste of paper, I spy something that looks suspiciously like a birthday card. Hell, I'm so down that a computer generated card from my dentist would thrill me.
But no. It has an American stamp on it... And the address looks like a spider has ran through some ink and danced across the envelope...
The only person on the planet to remember my birthday is my Great Aunt Sarah... Who, at a rough estimation, is about one hundred and fifty years old. I tell you, she looked as though she was going to kick it at any minute when I was young. Honestly. One of my earliest memories would have to be asking my mother why her aunt smelt like lavender and what my friend Bobby's pet rat smelt like after its decomposing body was found stuffed down the back of the sofa. It's true. How someone can manage to smell like a funeral parlour is beyond me, but she did. I shudder to think about what she'd smell like now. Malicious as it is, formaldehyde springs all too readily to mind.
Slightly abashed by my completely uncalled for tetchy thoughts, I retrieve the card from the floor and start up the stairs. Whatever I happen to think of her age and suspect body odour, at least Great Aunt Sarah remembered. Perhaps, when I'm in a better mood, I should write and thank her. Who knows, if I print it in font thirty she might even be able to read it...
Ooooooh! Am I in a vitriolic mood or what? Two unnecessarily spiteful thoughts in less than the space of a minute. Needless to say this doesn't exactly make me feel overly proud of myself and, opening the envelope, I make a mental note to lighten up on Great Aunt Sarah. Getting nasty, particularly without the excuse of alcohol to fall back on, is not called for. Pulling the card out, I literally have to bite my tongue in order to control the urge to roll my eyes and laugh hysterical.
I'm sorry, but...
If the wording hadn't already put me off then the big brown, soulful eyes of the badly drawn Labrador would have definitely done it. Out of the blue, I feel as though I've just turned six. Turning the card over, I find my suspicions verified. Hallmark. That explains it. No other company makes such nauseatingly soppy cards. It's an artform they've made their own. I wonder what drugs their designers are on. It'd be interesting to know. A hybrid of Valium and Ecstasy? Lotsa love and affection but muted under a cloud of lethargy.
Forcefully telling myself to think happy thoughts, I open the card and watch in bemusement as a dollar note falls out.
Being sarcastic is neither big nor clever.
It's the thought that counts.
Really. It is. I happen to firmly believe in this. I do.
Grinning inanely in a way that would likely disturb small children, I leave the note on the floor and wander over to the dining table. The inside of the card is decorated in the same shaky spidery script as the envelope. My name, as is proclaimed on my birth certificate, Christopher, starts at the top of the card and ends halfway through the printed Hallmark greeting. I don't bother reading what Hallmark have to say. I mean, does anyone? You get a card, look at the picture, read what's been hand written on it, and that's about it. Whatever the drug fucked designers have got to say is of extremely little interest. Then again, their words of apparent wisdom say all that Great Aunt Sarah wanted to say because she obviously didn't feel the need to add to them. Love and kisses, your loving Great Aunt... That's it. Well, I think that's what it says. I could be wrong, but it'll do. She remembered and she loves me. What a nice old dear. Stuff writing, I think I'll just send her flowers. Inter-Flora might share a bed in hell with Hallmark, but at least they'll brighten her room at the nursing home up.
Depositing the card on the table, I decide that the time has come to drown my sorrows and meander into the kitchen. Opening the fridge, I grab a bottle of Coke before kicking the door shut behind me and getting a glass out of the cupboard. My next point of call is the bottle of Jack Daniels that, for reasons I don't even know, lives next to the breakfast cereal. Essentials obtained, and not feeling the urge to mess around with ice, I mooch back to the dining table and plonk myself heavily in a chair.
Quickly mixing myself a bourbon and Coke, I can't even be bothered silently toasting my birthday and simply take a long gulp. It barely hits the sides. Resigning myself to a night of getting drunk alone, I refill my glass the exact second it's empty. To hell with doing anything constructive, I'm gonna get pissed. Then I'm going to go to bed and put today behind me. Tomorrow I'll be another day older, but that will be about it. I sulk, and I wallow in self induced misery, but never for long.
I'm halfway through mixing my third glass when the doorbell rings. Not wanting to know (if I'm sarcastic to myself then God alone knows what I might do to someone else), I ignore it. They'll go away... If they know what's good for them. The doorbell continues to chime. I make no move to answer it and calmly finish making my drink.
When I hear the tell-tale sound of a key being fitted in the lock, I fold my arms across the table and rest my head against them.
There's only one person other than myself that has keys to my apartment.
Do I want this?
Yes... No... I don't know!
Yes I want to see him -- I *always* want to see him -- but, no, not when I'm in a mood like this.
First the bastard forgets my birthday and now he's rocked up, uninvited, to no doubt check up on me.
Maybe if I ignore him he really will go away.
Or, knowing Sam, probably not.
He'll sit here, looking inscrutable like only he can, until I tell him. *Then* he'll leave me. He'll either leave because he's got what he wanted out of me, or because I'm too pathetic to be around.
"Is this a private mope or is anyone allowed to join in?" a gloriously familiar voice calls out softly, heralding Sam's arrival.
Without lifting my head, I grunt and give every impression of being ensnared in the grips of a good sulk.
Reaching the table, Sam takes a seat at the end and sighs. "You've been in a strop all day. Are you going to tell me why?"
I half heartedly shrug. "I'm fine," I murmur into my arms.
"And I'm having an affair with Malone," Sam replies drily.
"You are? Lucky you," I mutter, falling straight back into the realm of sarcasm. "No wonder he's been smiling more lately."
"Ooooh, you really *are* in a strop, aren't you," he responds, still managing to sound completely cool, calm and collected. "Here I am, going out of my way to see if you're okay, and here you are using me to sharpen your claws. I'm glad I come."
"Didn't ask you to," I state querulously, still talking to my arms. "I'm perfectly capable of getting drunk on my own."
"So I can see," Sam comments blandly. "Are you going to offer me one?"
Reluctantly looking up, I slide the bottle of JD across the table, unintentionally knocking the birthday card towards Sam in the process. "Here. Knock yourself out."
Ignoring, not surprisingly, I don't think I've ever seen Sam drink bourbon, the bottle, he reaches instead for the card. Turning a blind eye to the less than wonderful cover, he opens it up and reads it. Blinking, a flicker of some unknown emotion crossing his face, Sam puts the card down and looks across at me. "She's early," he mutters. "Doesn't she trust the post or something?"
Snatching the card back, I scowl. "Crap she's early," I drawl. "In fact, she's bang on time."
"What do you mean?" Sam replies, sounding vaguely surprised. "Your birthday isn't until next month."
My scowl deepens. Glowering malevolently had nothing on it. "Oh, so you know my birthday and I don't?"
"Um... I... ah... I thought your birthday was the sixth of July," Sam stutters, looking, for reasons I can't work out, flustered. "I... I looked it up on your personnel file. The one you filled out."
My expression softening as curiosity works its way through my body, I shake my head. "My birthday's today," I reply quietly, "The seventh of June. The same day it's always been."
"The seventh of June," Sam repeats slowly, pausing before exclaiming loudly, "Shit! I know what I did! It's that stupid American way of writing the date... I didn't even think to correct it in my mind."
For a moment I don't understand what he's saying. Then it hits home. The American way of writing the month before the day. That's what confused him. Meaning... Meaning he'd cared enough to take note of my birthday...
Wow. Cool. A brilliantly shiny silver lining to my day.
Cautiously happy, I feel the first ghost of a smile to cross over my face for the day.
"I'm sorry," Sam continues conciliatorily. "Why didn't you say something?"
"No point," I murmur, shrugging. "If people don't remember then having me bleat at them isn't going to help things."
"So you're happier to sulk?"
"I'll be over it in the morning," I reply. "I'm just upset today. It won't last."
"You still should have said something. To me at least," Sam sighs. "I wanted to do something for your birthday and now it's ruined."
I don't respond, mentally crossing my fingers that Sam carries on with this suddenly interesting topic. The fact that I'm sulking - *boring*. The fact that Sam had been planning to do something for my birthday - *very* interesting.
Having no choice but to accept my silence as an indication that I wish for him to go on, Sam glances at me and actually blushes. I stare, transfixed, at the delicate pink tinge staining his cheeks and my fingers twitch with the desire to stroke them. It's too much. It's nothing and it's too much. Feeling myself blushing, I have to look away.
"Knowing how thorough you are in remembering everyone's birthday," Sam starts softly, "I'd wanted to do something special for you. Be it a present or a night out, I hadn't decided yet. I just knew I wanted to do something."
A warm fuzzy feeling threatens to settle over me. "Maybe next year," I murmur, catching Sam's eyes again.
"That's an entire year away," he replies, holding my gaze. "Far too long to wait."
"I can wait."
Excuse me? Did he just say what I think he said, or, in my old age, can I now feel the effect of alcohol after only drinks? Do I have to mention I hope, fervently, that it's the former?
"Sorry?" I whisper tentatively, needing the clarification. "What did you say?"
"I said I can't wait," Sam replies. "A year is too long and I can't wait."
"For?" I squeak, my voice not sounding like my own.
"For you. To tell you how I feel. I'd been going to wait until your birthday because I thought it might have added something to it, but now it's ruined," Sam murmurs, his eyes still searching mine. "And I can't wait any longer."
Okay. That's it. That ain't no ordinary bourbon. It's past it's use by date, or it's an off bottle, or it's been laced with hallucinogens. It *has* to be.
Or I'm dreaming. And when I see Dorothy I'm going to ask whether I can borrow her ruby slippers because, for the sake of my sanity, I'd really rather like to go home now.
"You can't," I finally manage to cough up by way of reply.
Sam raises an eyebrow. "I can't? I can't *what*?"
"Feel anything for me," I whisper dejectedly.
"And you've come to this conclusion, how *exactly*?" he queries, taking my stunned mullet expression in his stride. If he's fazed by my not exactly all singing, all dancing reaction, he's hiding it well.
Aw, fuck it.
What's the Latin phrase made famous by the movie 'Dead Poets Society'?
Ah, that's right.
Seize the day.
And why not. It's my birthday. I can do what I want.
"Because that would mean I've wasted a lot of time," I mutter cryptically.
Sam finally looks confused. "Huh?" he grunts. "I don't get it."
"If you feel something for me," I continue, grinning, "then it would mean that I've wasted a good many months fearing your reaction if I'd admitted how I feel for you."
It's now Sam's turn for his mind to catch up with what he's hearing. "You mean to say..."
"That we've apparently wasted all this time?" I interrupt. "Yeah. Yeah I do."
"I was building up to being able to tell you on your birthday..."
"... It's my birthday now..."
"So it is," Sam murmurs, pushing his chair back and standing up. "Which means I should give you a present," he adds softly.
"You mean I get to unwrap you?" I query in my best hopeful sounding voice, blinking innocently.
Sam blushes again. "Maybe later," he replies lightly, "If you're good... But, for now, come 'ere."
Immediately getting up -- I could no more ignore his request than I could cook a roast dinner -- I gravitate towards Sam as though I'm walking on air. Memories of earlier in the day melt and disappear as I get closer to my partner. He feels the same way about me as I do about him! Oh God! Forget every other feeling I've had all day, I'm the luckiest man on earth. Without a doubt. Watching me closely, as I near him, I'm touched by the gentle expression on his face. Whatever he has in mind, it's not overtly sexual. I can see that as clearly as I know Sam's meant everything he's said.
Reaching Sam, I've barely had time to come to a complete stop before he swiftly pulls me towards him. Effortlessly, we settle together. Our arms around each other's back, our bodies pressed tight against each other. Being so close to Sam, where I've longed to be for so long, every molecule of tension leaves my body. All I can feel is the warmth and comforting presence of my partner. Sensual rather than sexual, the moment is one that I know will stay with me.
As birthday presents go, I doubt it will ever be surpassed.
As birthday's go, although it got off to a dodgy start, this would have to be the best one I've ever had.
*Easily* the best. No question about it.
Summary: The following report is a response to the Chris' Birthday Challenge.