Birthday parties always came off as stupid to him. They always came off as a way to glamorize the reminder that soon, one will be dead.
Yet here he was, looking at the rows of sad-looking teddy bears. Had he known their expressions would soon be relevant?
No, not really.
But then again, he wasn’t one to care for other people. He still wasn’t. Shark just happened to bring out what little good there was in him.
Even so, Sinbad wanted quite badly to make a choice, and get the hell out of the toy aisle.
In the end, he picked out the one that looked the least gaudy and ran towards the register.
“Sinbad!” Shark looked happy as ever, despite the gloomy cloud of divorce proceedings figuratively hanging over the mansion as of late.
“Hey, man. Happy Birthday.” Sinbad pulled out the poorly-wrapped ensemble and handed it to the brunette. “Sorry I ain’t staying, but you know parties ain’t my thing.”
Sinbad glanced over toward the early bird party-goers, hoping none of them would try to persuade him to stay. He then directed his sight back to Shark, who had opened his gift and was chuckling at it.
“Bit kiddy, don’t you think?” In a move of sudden shame, Sinbad scratched his head in embarrassment.
“Well, it was either that, or a set of cock rings,” he said in a slightly blunt manner, seemingly disregarding Shark’s father being in earshot.
Now it was Shark’s turn to obtain a blush. “That would’ve worked too.”
The redhead then wrapped his arms in a quick hug. “Just call me when it’s over.”
Shark returned the hug as best he could, then nodded and said his goodbyes. Sinbad then watched as he and Dennis headed toward the backyard, and then made his own way home.
-some time later-
Inexplicably, Goodwin had become a no-show shortly after Sinbad returned to their house. He was nowhere to be found when the redhead looked into his room.
“Yo, Blondie! You home?” No answer. Either Sinbad was the only one home, or Goodwin was uncharacteristically spiting him by remaining silent.
Unbeknownst to him, Goodwin had snuck out to the house across the street. He hadn’t even the decency to leave a note.
So for the next few hours, Sinbad settled in and watched random cheesy-assed films and anything off of Pay-per-view. By the time Sinbad had maxed out Goodwin’s credit card, the phone rang.
“Y’ello?” Glancing out the window, the redhead realized it was becoming nightfall. Strangely, he didn’t notice his half-naked roommate dangling off the roof of the house across the street.
“Oh, good! You’re home, Mister Rotter. I know you’re not fond of the noise-making shindigs that birthday parties can be, so I thought to wait until later to call.”
“Hm?” Sinbad didn’t think he was going to like where this was headed.
A few hours ago, the house held the promise of a lavish celebration. It now looked similar to a recently-used battlefield. The smell of booze hung in the air, and it was eerily quiet. Something in the next room over looked to be on fire.
“Boss? You here?” He heard someone shushing, and caught sight of Dennis at the top of the stairs. Dennis then motioned for him to come up and follow him.
“I don’t suppose I need to elaborate on what transpired here?” Dennis kept his voice down as he and Sinbad navigated through the wreckage.
“Can you give me the short version?” The redhead made sure not to stumble over broken pictures and the occasional passed out relative.
“The short version? Well…When I went to pick up Silver from rehab some time ago, she promised to never again touch any alcohol. Well…”
Dennis stopped at what Sinbad knew to be Shark’s usual bedroom. He could just barely make out what sounded like sniffling.
“What you’re seeing around you is what happens when she broke that promise. Let’s just say words were exchanged, then fists, and before you know it, the entire thing was pandemonium.”
The two men looked at the carnage behind them. Sinbad then pressed his ear against the door.
“So what happened to the missus?” Listening in on such a sad noise actually made his chest hurt.
“Oh, she got carted away in a squad car shortly before I called you. I suppose having an older brother in the police force turned out to be a blessing after all. Not that I’d ever admit it to his face, but still.”
Slowly, Dennis reached over and began to open the door. “I do think seeing you after all this would do him some good.”
It was hard to tell whether or not Shark was actually sleeping. His back was turned, hiding most of his face.
For whatever reason, he’d taken most of his clothes off, as if in preparation for bedtime. He was shivering, though he couldn’t possibly be cold.
“Shark. You awake, man?” Hearing his voice almost seemed to make Shark curl into himself. Something seemed to keep him from doing so entirely.
Looking over revealed to Sinbad that the teddy bear he’d bought almost on impulse was being held tightly in Shark’s arms. The brunette was in fact holding on to it as if his life depended on it.
The bear’s head was partially obscured by Shark’s tear-stained face, but retained its solemn expression. Sinbad was amazed that his boyfriend kept it, considering the earlier comment that it was ‘kiddy’.
“Dude, hey. It’s me,” Sinbad tried to awaken him, to no avail. Only by gently shaking him by the shoulder was he successful.
Shark looked to be confused by the sudden awakening. Sitting up, he stared at his feet before looking over at Sinbad.
“Was I dreaming all that happened?” His expression showed he just didn’t want to accept the facts.
“Uh…” Sinbad really didn’t want to admit the truth to him. “Given what I saw on the way here, I’m gonna say no.”
Shark looked like he was going to cry again. “She said she wasn’t going to drink again.”
“Yeah, well, saying and doing are completely different, man.” Sinbad watched as Shark held the teddy bear even tighter. “And breaking an addiction ain’t easy. You think I was all sunshine and rainbows and all that happy shit when I tried to quit smoking?”
“I…No, you weren’t. I just wished she could at least have stayed sober today.” Now Shark began to show a look of anger. “Some birthday this was.” He then flopped onto his back, kicking his legs up into the air.
“Any way this day can be salvaged or something? Or you want me to just stay here and help clean up the house?”
At this point, Shark shrugged. “You’re here. Right now, that’s about all I want. But…I can get dressed and be up for anything you had in mind.”
The diner stunk. The tables and chairs were sticky, the room temperature was likely above normal, and the occupants of the neighboring booth were arguing about what color the dress was.
But Shark didn’t mind. Instead, he sat and ate his cheeseburger, with a little smile. He glanced down at the little cake that was waiting for him.
Sinbad, who had already consumed his meal, patiently waited for him to finish. He then rolled his eyes at what Shark had included on the ride:
“Did you really have to bring that thing along?”
Shark realized he was talking about the teddy bear, and nodded. He then swallowed what was in his mouth.
“Well, yeah! I had it with me the whole time at the party. Mom tried to take it from me, but I didn’t let her. And…”
Shark put his burger down and set the toy into his lap. “Well, kiddy or not, I love it. I guess it’s because it’s from you.”
Sinbad smirked at hearing this. “Oh, nice! Someone’s gift I didn’t completely screw up.” He chuckled at seeing Shark play with the bear a little, then added, “Happy Birthday, Shark.”