The Difficulty of Growing Up

Chapter 13

On the morning of his birthday, Blake woke up pretty early to find yet another note on his night stand.. From Carl.. How was he getting into his room at night without the alarms going off? It's really sweet of him to be doing this but every day? He picked it up and read the single sentence on the piece of paper, this one earned a smile from him very easily. Yes, it was nice to see that Carl cares this much to be right determined to be sticking with this each day. Blake got out of bed and gathered all the little notes and arranged them side by side in order on the floor before sitting in front of them… Just staring at them as he started to think about the past few weeks. There was around ten notes in all… All numbered and he wasn't allowed to write back until he gathered them all, He wasn't even sure how many he should be expecting. So far they were just a string of really nice and sometimes funny compliments.

'You have perfect bone structure.'

'I adore your polite mannerisms'

'You are incredibly charming.'

And most recently...

'You are one of the rare few that know how to cheer me up.'

Just to list a few... Blake sighed to himself with happiness… He couldn't deny that these notes are building up his ego a bit. That's never a bad thing. He looked out the window seeing the fresh snow on the window sill. He hoped Carl didn't get caught in the snow just to deliver the note last night. The last thing he wanted was for Carl to get sick because of him. He stared at the spread of notes and smiled. He couldn't help it. Carl definitely knew how to make a person feel extraordinary.


Carl was curled up in bed upon awakening… So warm. He looked out the window across the way from him and it was covered in frost making the room extremely bright. Made sense... It was starting to snow when he was going back home from completing that small task late last night. He was running out of ways to present these notes and he only got through ten of them. No harm in repetition, though.

He got up and out of bed to get ready to go to Blake's birthday party which was supposed to start at around four in the afternoon but he was going to show up early to assist in the set up and/or keep Blake company.. He seemed to have slept in until ten in the morning. The tonsils were already packaged inside a gift bag with tissue paper, all he needed to do was pick up the bike on the way there. Hoodsey was going to meet him there so he could hide it somewhere good with his assistance. Carl found this pretty exciting, His plan… The gifts… Everything seemed to be working out so far. Blake hasn't talked to him about the notes, just like he anticipated but he could see Blake glowing since he started them up. He smiles more often and can take a joke just as frequently. Unlike he was years ago, being serious all the time. The small changes in his personality was quite satisfying. This meant he was doing his job well. There is no way he was going to let Blake do that on his own.

After he was all washed up and dressed he went down to the kitchen to fix up a bowl of cereal and go through today's plan mentally. In the middle of his breakfast, Ginger dragged herself in also dressed for the day.

"You look nice. Where you going?" She asked in her sleepy haze as she made up a bowl of cereal as well.

"Blake's Birthday party." Carl said with a mouthful of food.

"Oooh, right." Ginger said remembering the short conversation about it last night at dinner. "That's nice! Should be fun. Do you need a ride home afterwards? Better let me know now before I make plans."

"Nah. I think I will be fine. Thanks though." Carl said before slurping the remainder of the milk down in one go.

"Alright. Just be home by curfew or mom will have a fit." Ginger reminded him as he put his bowl in the sink to rinse before heading back up to his room.

"Oh, I will.. I always am." Carl said nonchalantly before leaving the kitchen and rushing up to his room. He messily made his bed and plopped himself on it looking up at the ceiling. What to do to pass time? He had no homework this weekend. He didn't want to play any games. He just wanted to grab the bike and go but it was still much too early. He just stayed where he was and let thoughts run through his mind. He was just reflecting on the past year. So many things happened and changed. He remembered last year at this time he was with Hoodsey planning to crash Blake's party and sneak into his bathroom to place dye in his terribly expensive shampoo and write 'Happy Birthday' on the mirror so when it was steamed you could see it perfectly. That trick was so epic. The next day, he showed up to Carl's place with red and purple hair underneath his snow hat. He remembered the verbal fight very vaguely. Ultimately after Blake stormed out of the house, he probably called over the family stylist to get his hair back to normal. That was really interesting. At that time, He was only trying to get under Blake's skin on a daily basis because it was fun making him mad. Especially when he started the physical fighting, only because he knew Blake couldn't take him down no matter how hard he tried to. At the moment, He didn't even understand why Blake started doing that. He just started pushing him in either the sixth or seventh grade when they disagreed and/or played games, fulfilled dares, ect... That agitated him the first few times but then it started to amuse him. He understands somewhat now. Blake was probably working on pushing him away because he liked him and it scared him. Blake is not a tough person at all and that was probably the only thing he could think of to distance himself. A year ago, he wouldn't have even considered the things that happened this year. He probably would have laughed at the possibility. He was never the one to be closed-minded but he never considered this happening to him at all. He was somewhat glad it has though. He hasn't been this happy since he accidentally acquired Blake's tonsils from the Histology lab in the hospital and that is definitely saying something.

The looked at the clock and he still had an hour for the earliest arrival time he could allow himself. Suppose he could walk to the store then to Blake's house in that amount of time. He grabbed the walkie talkie from his nightstand, "Carl to Hoodsey..."

The handheld device crackled for a second then fizzled out, "Hey Carl. What's up?"

"Not much, I'm just letting you know that I will be leaving soon to get the thing from the store, I should be at Blake's in about an hour tops, depending on store congestion levels." Carl quickly briefed as he got up and pulled on his coat and scarf.

"So I should head over to Blake's soon?" Hoodsey asked.

"Affirmative, that is if you are still helping me hide it."

"Of course I am, Carl."

"Awesome. I will meet you in his back yard in an hour then."

"Okay. One hour. Got it." Hoodsey repeated to himself mostly.

"See ya." Carl said as he set the device down on his bed and took the other present in his hand.

"Bye."

Carl quickly left his room and went down to the foyer, pulling his boots on swiftly and leaving the house just as fast. He did anticipate the store being pretty packed, that was a total understatement. It was nearly filled beyond capacity. Damn last minute holiday shoppers. People don't seem to get that you’re supposed to complete holiday shopping in November.. He dodged people as they tried running him over when he tried to make his way to the back of the store where the customer service desk was located, sadly that was filled to the brim as well so he just stood in line quietly as he listened to rumble of chatter going on around him. Eventually, he made it to an open desk and it was the same guy he made the deal with.

"How may I help you?" The clerk asked quickly, obviously rushing.

"I'm just here for a pick up. Here's the ticket and last payment." Carl said, not wasting any time. The Clerk took the ticket, scanned over it before nodding.

"I've been waiting for you, I will be right back with your item." He said nicely before disappearing into the back room. Carl waited a moment silently before the clerk came back out with the brand new bike. "You were smart to put this one away, we sold out of the entire inventory of these last week." He wheeled it out to Carl around the desk. Carl smiled at him and took the handlebars in his grasp. The bike was a pretty simple, yet sturdy mountain bike the design was a theme of gray, blue, and a little bit of black zigzags. It was something he could see Blake riding on a daily basis.

"Do you think I could get a bow or something to put on this?" Carl asked politely.

"Of course." The clerk said as he turned around to the gift wrapping table and he manufactured a large, dark blue bow from hand and he came around the desk and tied it on for him.

"Thank you for your hard work in protecting this little beauty… In the payment, there is an extra twenty in there. Keep it. You deserve it." Carl said in a hushed tone before the clerk went back to his spot behind the desk. The clerk nicely waved good bye to Carl before he quickly left the store as fast as he could just to get out of the large crowd. Who could stand that for a large amount of time? It was just crazy insane. Carl looped the bag that had the tonsils in it around a handlebar before pedaling off toward the Gripling residence.

Once Carl arrived, He quietly met Hoodsey out by the tree house. Everyone else was preoccupied with unloading the trucks outside to even notice him pass by into the yard.

"Blake has a large closet in his craft room up in the tree house here. That's where we hid our presents to you. The bike should fit in pretty easily." Hoodsey said quietly.

"He isn't in there is he?" Carl asked before moving it in.

"He is helping the DJ set up. So, no."

"Good, the last thing I need is for him to find out early." Carl said as he started his way up the small staircase into the tree house. It was nice and warm inside, surprisingly. Carl assumed Blake had installed floor heaters for this type of weather. Once they were in, Hoodsey led the way to the closet and thankfully it was empty with the exception of a lone, wooden easel in the back corner. It fit in nicely. Carl quickly taped his card to the seat of the bike before closing the door on it.

"Should I bring this inside or hide it here too?" He asked, holding the bag up in his right hand as he walked into the main room of the tree house.

"Put it with mine, next to the sofa. The bike will be a surprise. He won't know about a second present until you say so." Hoodsey said as he took the bag and placed it next to Hoodsey's slightly larger bag.

"Alright, we should go greet the birthday boy then." Carl said dismissively before the two of them left the tree house. Hoodsey took notice of the tire tracks in the snow, He took a small branch and quickly covered them up along with their foot prints before tossing the branch away. "Good thinking, Hoods. Snow is always a tattle-tale." Hoodsey just smiled in response before knocking on the door. A few seconds passed and the door opens revealing a cheerful looking Winston.

"Good afternoon. Here to see Master Blake, I presume?" Winston asked lightly.

"Right you are, Winston. Is he about?" Carl asked nicely.

"Of course, of course. Come in. He will be absolutely pleased to see you! Poor boy has been talking of boredom all morning." Winston answered letting the two of them into the foyer. "He had just excused himself to have tea with his parents, I am sure they would all like to have you join them. Sit tight, I shall be back." Carl himself was a little bit weary about invading this event, especially when he was working on getting Blake to go back with him. Within seconds, Winston came back with a pleasant smile. "They are all happy your here. Let me take your coats and I'll see you to the library."

Carl and Hoodsey took off their coats and Winston placed them in the closet next to them before leading the way down the hall away from the foyer. The entire family was sitting in the middle of the library on large couches next to the fireplace. The walls were all lined with tall bookcases filled up with large books. Blake waved at them nicely before the other family members noticed their presence.

"Hey you two, Come sit. Make yourself at home." Blake said patting the large, spacious couch beneath him. They made their way to Blake and sat next to him before being passed teacups with freshly brewed cinnamon tea, from the scent of it. "Cream and sugar?"

"Yes please." Carl and Hoodsey said in unison, Blake just smiled and suited their teas the way he learned they liked.

"So nice to see you two once more." Prescott greeted as they got settled. "We were just listening to one of Courtney's school stories... Dear, please do continue." Courtney winked at Carl, who instantly rolled his eyes slowly at her, before going on about some girl at school being awarded a full scholarship for a science based school in California.

"She is a really nice girl, I suppose.. She keeps to herself a lot so not many people know her but when it was announced that she was awarded this spectacular scholarship, she's the new celebrity!" Courtney said as her parents mindlessly listened in between pages of the newspaper or some kind of book. Carl observed this and just couldn't comprehend how parents could do this to their own child. This kind of annoyed him a bit. No wonder why Blake feels all ignored and stuff around those lines. By the end of tea, Carl was itching to get away from the Gripling family. They were nice, yes, but their mannerisms and them not even trying to listen to their kids. What if they have something serious to talk about? What's the use of having tea or bonding time if they aren't even trying? Blake took Carl and Hoodsey back into the foyer where the party planners were putting together the decorations and DJ stage, the laborers were hauling in the speakers and other equipment.

"Wow." Hoodsey muttered. "It's pretty busy in here."

"I agree." Blake said. "How about we hang out for a little bit up in my quarters, at least until the hustle has slowed down a bit before the actual party starts up." The two agreed and raced up the stairs, to his room. Once everyone was settled, Blake poked the fire a bit making the room a bit warmer. "So, when is this Christmas party of yours, Carl?"

"The first week of winter vacation. That Wednesday." Carl answered calmly, He has told Blake this fact last week. He was feeling a bit on edge due to the fact he couldn't wait until he could finally give Blake the bike. "The invitation still stands, even though you already verbally turned it down twice last week."

"..Well, who knows.. I might make an appearance." He turned to Hoodsey who was quietly fixing his hood over his head. "Have you talked to Ms. Lightfoot at all since the sleepover?" Blake said as he took a seat on the chair next the sofa where Carl and Hoodsey usually sat.

Hoodsey fiddled with his hoodie strings a bit before answering simply, "Not really.. I ran into her a few times but nothing past the usual greeting.. She has been busy. College applications and everything.."

"I see. I do hope you won't back away from conversing with her."

"I..I dunno about the whole thing you guys.. She deserves better than me.. I'm not that special." Hoodsey said keeping his gaze away from his friends.

"Oh, stop it with the whole cold feet routine." Carl said rolling his eyes. "You are going to talk to her even if I have to introduce you to her myself, Hoods. You are going to talk to her. Who knows, you might hit it off!"

"I don't have cold feet.." Hoodsey groaned. "I just think-"

"Sounds like cold feet to me." Blake interrupted with a grin. "The least you could do is try. She's single. Your single.. Do something before someone else changes that." Hoodsey sat in silence as if he was mulling the possibility of that happening. The possibility was incredibly high and they all knew it.

"We have been planning this for a month, Hoods.." Carl said softly.

"I know.. but-"

"It's happening. I am not going to allow you to just sit and admire her from a distance like you have been for a good amount of years." Carl urged further.

"But-"

"It is well overdue, Hoodsey." Blake agreed. "And it can only get worse if you just sit back and watch."

"GUYS... I know.. I will try but I can barely talk to her like a normal person anymore.. I get near her and I feel like my insides turned to mush and I can’t even form sentences!" Hoodsey explained. "When I do I sound like a broken record."

Carl just grinned at him because he knew all too well when those symptoms meant, "That's a good thing, Hoods."

"How is any of that good? Tell me how!" Hoodsey asked feverishly. He was slightly freaking out. "I am going to make myself out like a plain fool, Carl.."

"It's good because your starting to develop deeper feelings for her.. You can get use to her being around but you have to try first. Just hold your ground and you will be fine."

"She'll laugh at me again.. I just know it.." Hoodsey muttered.

"Like I said. She probably thinks it's cute or something." Carl repeated when he remembered why Hoodsey might be hesitant in the first place. "Just don't worry about it."

"I wish I knew what she was thinking…" Hoodsey said simply. "It's really hard to not think about everything as I attempt to talk to her. My brain shorts out or something."

"Everyone goes through all of this at some point." Blake said simply with a shrug before resting his chin on his hand, which was propped up on the arm of the chair. Carl stared at him for a second before remembering his own past problems similar to Hoodsey's. That all seemed like it happened a long time ago but in reality it only happened a few months ago.

"We are here to help you if you need it." Carl said reassuringly.

"I know… Okay, I will try! But I am pretty sure that I'm going to mess it up." Hoodsey said in defeat. Blake offered him a smile before a soft knock interrupted their conversation. The door was pushed fully open to reveal a curious looking Courtney Gripling, This slightly confused Carl and by the looks of it, Hoodsey as well. Blake just looked slightly annoyed.

"Yes?" Blake asked.

"Oh, I was just bored so I figured I would drop in before going off to my own affairs."

"If you have your own affairs to attend then why are you bored in the first place?" Blake asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well that's a silly question, Blake. I have a schedule, you know this. I just happen to have a window of free time. So how are you Carl? um.. and Robert?"

"Fine thanks." Carl answered in a short tone.

"All is normal." Hoodsey continued.

"Oh is it now." Courtney said thoughtfully. "Nothing new?" They shook their heads.

"Surprisingly, no." Carl said softly earning a glimmering, knowing smile. Carl resisted rolling his eyes once more.

"Should I call for some refreshments before I leave?" Courtney asked as she turned away from the group.

"No thank you, we were just about to head down for the start of my party. Seeing that it is almost fifteen minutes till." Blake answered calmly as he looked at his watch.

"I see, well… enjoy. Don't do anything I wouldn't do myself. Happy birthday, little brother." She said as she walked out of the room as slowly as she entered. Courtney was definitely something. She hasn't ever come into Blake's room while He and Hoodsey were over. She definitely seemed like she was fishing for info.

"Speaking of which, where do your parents disappear to when you throw these parties?" Carl asked when the oldest Gripling sibling disappeared from view. "I haven't seen them around at my party so I'm curious."

Blake thought for a second, "They would usually go off to the country club for dinner and tea... I believe they would take Courtney shopping or something as well since she wouldn't want to stay around for my party.. They believe that I will learn to be a perfect host through personal practice."

"But they stay for Courtney's parties, right?" Hoodsey asked softly.

"Not even presumptive." Blake snorted with an eye roll before standing up from the chair and walking himself to the mirror on the other side of the room, checking to see if he was presentable. "They usually do the same thing, go to the country club but her parties always go on later than mine do so they end up coming home while her party is still at full blast." Blake fiddled with his hair a bit placing a strand here and there. He doesn't need to do that at all, He is always presentable. Carl stared at him when he turned his back to them. He seemed to care more about how he looks now a days. Perhaps he has improved upon his esteem in the past weeks because when Blake turned to face his guests, he was glowing once again. This made Carl smile inwardly before getting up and following Blake out of the room and down the grand staircase, into the very well decorated foyer. The music was playing on a medium volume until more guests arrived. The kitchen staff were arranging refreshments on the table and Winston was by the door to welcome all guest that show up at the door.

In about ten minutes time, a crowd of at least twenty-five classmates showed up at once and were talking around the refreshment table as the DJ took his place on stage, working the disk board with music at full volume now. The sudden change of pace surprised Carl slightly but Blake looked as though he were used to this as everyone individually wished him a happy birthday. Carl could distinctly see the fake mask he showed to everyone appose to his normal demeanor when he is just around Hoods and him. That was interesting to say the least. After about twenty more minutes passed, The door was no longer revealing guests and the foyer was filled with about maybe thirty people by the looks of it. The room was almost resembling a night club with neon lights and a fog machine going off to the energy of the music pumping through the numerous speakers around the room. Carl had no idea that this was what Blake had planned, He didn't seem the type to like the club scene at all.

Learn something new every day with him.. Carl thought to himself almost successfully with the amount of decibels going on in the room. Carl watched his classmates gather in the middle of the room and dance to the music in amusement. From the looks of it, Blake seemed bored so Carl snuck behind him and pushed his shoulders forward to move him to the dance floor.

"What?.. Carl!" Blake said pushing against his force but Carl just kept marching forward.

"You are bored, so let's dance." Carl said loudly as they joined up with the mindless crowd.

"You definitely have a humorous way of asking me!" Blake said trying to seem bothered when Carl stopped pushing him.

"Just do it." Carl said with a grin before dancing to the music himself. He wasn't a good dancer and he knew this but looking at the others around him, he wasn't that bad compared to others. Blake stood there for a second before joining himself. This music choice was a mix of techno and upbeat rock music. It wasn't Carl's personal liking but he didn't mind humoring Blake for a while.

After about three songs passed, The DJ stopped the music and brought the mic to his face.

"Alright, Alright. Everybody having a good time?!" He asked loudly only to be answered by a large rumble of cheering from the crowd. He made a strained face at everyone behind his dark sunglasses. "You know what, I couldn't hear you so since you all are obviously hard of hearing I will ask once more. Are. You. Having a good time?!" He was once again answered by a much larger rumble of cheers and screams, he basked in the noise by raising a fist into the air and nodding in agreement. Carl was pretty much astounded by the amount of hype this guy could get. Did he do this before his entrance at his party? "Awesome, awesome! You know this good time wouldn't be possible if my closest friend, Blake Gripling here wasn't brought into this world." The crowd around him parted a bit to show where he was, Blake sighed and rolled his eyes in amusement. "So to thank him for being here I would like for each and every one of you to give him the best birthday wishes you can muster, Got it? On the count of three!... One... Two... Three!"

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BLAKE GRIPLING!" The crowd cheered, Carl clapped with everyone being highly amused at the crowd and the DJ. Blake grinned at everyone before he waved a hand at everyone to let them know he appreciated it.

"That was fantasical! So let's really get this party a-rolling, now shall we?" The overly hyper DJ yelled only to be answered once more by a large cheer from the crowd before he tossed on a crazy, Just as hyper, bass-pumping number and everyone started dancing once again with the fog machine filling the floor with smoke. Carl could now see why Blake's parties are pretty famous around school. Oh the hype, it was definitely something he hasn't seen before. Even at his own party. Carl and Blake left the floor somewhere around the time when the bubble machine started up. This party was full of interesting effects.

Carl pulled Hoodsey off the floor when he followed Blake to the stair case where he sat down after climbing half way up, He was gazing down at the energetic crowd below. Carl did the same for a second as he slowly caught his breath.

"Please tell me you are enjoying yourself." Carl said after clearing his throat.

"These big parties get rather tiring year after year." Blake commented after a moments passing. "Nothing against your party, Carl. Yours was much better than mine."

"Are you insane?" Carl asked with a raised eyebrow, Blake just blinked at him. "No really, are you insane?" Carl asked quickly with a small laugh. "Mine was nothing compared to… this! I sense a little bit of antisocial behavior."

"It's not that I'm antisocial" Blake laughed. "I just get use to this insanity.. You know, When my family wasn't as wealthy as they were.. We had small get-togethers.. Private parties. I actually enjoyed that. My parents actually celebrated with me... or at least mother did."

"Really." Carl said feeling interested. "I thought you wouldn't have liked any of that... at the moment anyway."

"I wouldn't have let you know that, Carl." Blake said in a low tone. "I had a reputation. I still do. Of course that would be why I can't stop these parties from being planned."

Carl remained quiet for a second until he thought about earlier, "I kinda realized that you felt that way. You are really bad at acting, Blake."

"Acting?" Blake said with interest.

"Yeah, that mask you wear for the public is almost transparent." Carl explained further, Blake just grinned at him.

"I would like to think that would be because you hang around me more." Blake said. "It wasn't as transparent, as you say, years ago or even months ago for that matter.. for we weren't technically friends at all until the beginning of this school year." Blake reasoned.

"I guess so." Carl shrugged. "But the bottom line is.. you are really bad at acting."

"Sure, Carl." Blake said with an eye roll. Carl glanced at him in amusement.

"I can't even count how many times you have done that today." Carl teased.

"Done what, pray tell?" Blake asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Roll your eyes like that." Carl said waving his hand in a rewinding motion.

"Ah, right back at you, my friend." Blake grinned with a small laugh. Carl smirked at him. The music suddenly changed into a fancy rendition of the birthday song as the dining room door opened and the lights dimmed down. "Cake time, I suppose." Blake stood up and climbed down the stairs to meet the rather large layered cake being wheeled out near the refreshment table, the large crowd started singing along to the song when Carl and Hoodsey followed Blake down singing along as well. Blake smiled at everyone around him, at Carl in particular before blowing the candles out in one huff. Everyone cheered before the lights turned one again. Blake stood to the side as the kitchen staff started cutting and serving the cake piece by piece. Everyone took the time to socialize as they ate, the DJ was on intermission and had a playlist going at medium volume in the background. Carl snuck his way to the closet taking out his, Hoodsey's and Blake's coats and tossing them at his friends before pulling on his own. Blake took his in his hands and gave Carl a weird look before staring at Hoodsey who was pulling his on as well.

"Come on, Blake. Let take a break in the tree house." Carl said, urging him to put his coat on so they could get away out the backdoor.

"It's cold out though." Blake said unconvincingly.

"That why I threw you a coat, duh." Carl said grabbing Blake's hood and pulling him towards the backdoor when he only had his coat half on, struggling to get the other half on while being pulled.

"Carl! Honestly!" Blake said before pulling his arm through the remaining coat sleeve. "What's the rush!?"

"Just hurry before the snow starts coming down again." Carl said in false annoyance. He let go of Blake's hood and ran out the door with Hoodsey at his heels, soon followed by Blake. Once inside the tree house, Carl sat Blake down on the sofa where he once was not too long ago. Blake just raised an eyebrow at his two friends who were staring down at him.

"Well-" Blake started but Carl startled him by moving quickly to the side of the sofa, pulling the two bags into view, making Blake go silent. Carl handed Hoodsey his bag and they sat on each side of Blake on the sofa. "You really didn't need to-"

"Oh shush.." Hoodsey said cutting him off.

"Just enjoy your gifts, Blakey-boy." Carl said before Hoodsey handed Blake his gift. "It's your birthday so you deserve to." Blake took Hoodsey's bag in his lap before allowing himself to grin a little bit at it. He hesitated a little before opening the bag and gently shifting through the tissue paper, pulling out the item when he found it. It looked like a slightly larger Rubik’s cube only instead of colors on each side, there were pictures of each of them and group pictures of the three of them together. Carl and Blake stared at it with interest.

"It's like.. one of those puzzle cubes you solved at Carl's place only the sides are pictures, not colors." Hoodsey explained quietly.

"This is really cool, Hoodsey." Blake said with a smile as he flipped each side over to look at the pictures. "It's quite amazing actually. I didn't know these existed." Hoodsey grinned in a proud manner.

"How do you find these awesome gifts, Hoods?" Carl asked wide eyed.

"Catalogs, Carl." Hoodsey said definitely. "You should know about how many catalogs have these weird items in them." Carl nodded and shrugged. He almost forgot about all the strange catalogs there are in the world. When Blake put the cube back in the bag and set it in front of him on the floor, Carl handed him his bag, feeling way too excited to see Blake's reaction. Blake took the bag and placed it on his lap like the first one. He shifted through the massive amount of tissue paper that Carl placed in it on purpose hoping to confuse Blake before actually getting to the gift. Carl watched as Blake plucked the tissue paper out of the bag and wanted to laugh when he saw Blake's eyebrows furrow slightly with each bit of tissue paper he took out, but when he made contact with the actual gift his eye grew before pulling out the jar that held his tonsils. That look in itself was overly satisfying. Blake's jaw dropped for a second before retracting back to its original place just staring at the infected glands as they danced in the formaldehyde. Blake turned his gaze towards Carl who smirked at him instantly.

"C-Carl.." Blake said softly.

"Surprised ya, huh?" Carl asked earning a sigh from Blake before he just simply nodded in response.

"But.. They're yours." Blake said calmly.

"Not anymore. Has your name on them, see?" Carl said pointing to the aged label. "They weren't mine to begin with as they did come from you."

"I understand that but.. but.."

"Just accept them, Blake. Sheesh." Carl muttered as he got up he crossed his arms in false annoyance before stomping off to the craft room, out of view from Blake's eyes. Carl quickly took the bike out of the closet and set it a few feet from the doorway and stood behind it, leaning against the closet door.

"Carl!" Blake shouted from the main room.

"It's a gift Blake! I don't want them back!" Carl shouted back only to be followed by Blake running into the room, Looking upset but softened his expression when his eyes met the bike in front of him. Carl smirked at him once more.

"..You..." Blake muttered quietly as he walked towards the piece of equipment, touching a handlebar with a fingertip. Carl just chuckled a little. ".. Carl.."

"That's my name, don't wear it out just yet, Blake ol' boy." Carl said assertively. He reached over and took the card off the seat and flipped it in his hands. "This is for later." He stated before placing said card on Blake's clean work table.

"Just.. Thank you.." Blake muttered in a grateful tone before pulling Carl into a tight hug. This surprised him a little resulting in a slight lightheaded feeling but he bounced back from it in a second to place an arm around his waist, hugging back for a slight second. Carl looked at the door way where Hoodsey was just leaning against it and grinning at the sight in front of him. Blake released himself and ran a hand across the seat. "No more surprises, Right?" Carl and Hoodsey just simply nodded in reply. "Then.. let’s go finish up the party. Tea after?"

"I'm game." Carl shrugged, leaning against the closet door once more. Hoodsey on the other hand, shook his head.

"I actually gotta head home like.. right now.. The sun is setting so I have to.. Curfew." Hoodsey explained rubbing the back of his neck nervously. Carl raised an eyebrow at him. Hoodsey only did that while fibbing but Carl didn't say anything to him when he waved goodbye to Carl and Blake.

Blake waved back, "Thank you for coming and for the gift, Hoodsey."

"Don't mention it. See you at school." Hoodsey said as he let himself out of the tree house. Carl made a mental note to call him up for a little talk after getting home himself. Carl sighed and grinned at Blake.

"Wanna stay up here for a bit? The music is way too loud in there." Carl asked calmly.

Blake just laughed a little, slightly confusing him. "Music too loud for you, Carl Foutley? Oh, that is just simply laughable."

"I'm serious, I could barely hear myself think in there." Carl explained as he sat on the sofa in the main room, Blake followed but headed for his mini fridge instead of sitting.

"I believe that would be the point to parties. Not to think." Blake said pulling out two colas and tossing one at him before taking a seat on the sofa as well.

"I think that would contribute to the reason why I don't usually go to big bashes." Carl said thoughtfully as he opened and sipped his provided drink. Blake just grinned at him and shook his head in amusement. The two of them sat in silence for a few moments before Blake cleared his throat, pulling Carl out of his rambling thoughts.

"So, is it later yet?" Blake asked coyly, Carl assumed he was asking about the card. Carl thought for a while.

"Nah, I have to go home in order for it to be later. But if you want then I could just..." Carl shrugged and acted like he was going to get up and leave, only to be pulled back by Blake.

"No thank you. I would like for you to stay." Blake said when Carl bounced back down into sitting position. Carl just chuckled in response. "Come on, why can't you be around for once when I read something of yours?"

"Because I just get embarrassed easily." Carl teased.

"That is completely endearing." Blake grinned as he got up and headed for his craft room. He quickly came back out with the familiar envelope in his hands. He just smiled excitedly as he gently opened the envelope, pulling the white card out and silently read the front. Carl just sighed and leaned his head into his propped up hand. Blake smiled nicely at him before opening the card to read the inside where rather long paragraph waited to be read. His eyebrows shot up in surprise at how much writing there was, He glanced up at Carl before continuing.

"You might as well read it out loud, It would seem better than me sitting in silence here." Carl said nonchalantly.

"Um.. Are you certain?" Blake asked.

"I know what I wrote." Carl shrugged. "No one else is here, so go for it. Make it good!"

"Okay then.." Blake said uncertainly. He cleared his throat quietly. "um.. 'As usual, I woke up today thinking about you, just as I go to sleep with you in my thoughts. But today's a particularly bright and happy morning because it's your birthday, and the first thing I would like to do is to thank the Maker for putting you in this world and for being so healthy and intelligent.'.." Blake glanced up at him to meet Carl's gaze. Blake gulped and continued on. "..'You deserve all the best things life has to offer because you are the most caring person I know, you have grown into such a great guy, Blake. Accept my sincere wishes of a happy birthday. I wish you all the best and it pleases me to see you happy and enjoying yourself.'..." Blake grazed over the rest of the paragraph and meet Carl's gaze once again looking touched to say the least.

"Read the rest, Blakey." Carl said softly, looking serious.

Blake took in a deep breath before continuing on, "..'W-We are special together because we are the clearest definition of how opposites attract. That being said, I wish to say this in conclusion.. Please do not change.. ever... You are wonderful and magnificent as you are, I just hope you one day see yourself the way I see you every single day. Amazing in every way.'…" Carl smiled with satisfaction partially because he didn't realized he rhymed at the end but mostly because of Blake's reaction. He was flush and speechless. "I …have no words..." Blake said quietly.

"You don't have to say anything. Just understand what I am saying and mull over it." Carl said grabbing his hand gently, caressing the back of it with his thumb. "It’s all true and you need to see it for yourself. Let's go wrap up this party now, shall we?"

Blake just grinned at him, "We shall." He answered and Carl released his grasp and got up from the sofa, exiting the tree house with Blake close behind him. He took Blake's coat when they were inside, the party was still very much alive. After Carl took care of their coats, they danced and talked happily for the last half hour of the party until the DJ dismissed the party with an upbeat and very popular song. The place started to empty out during and after said song, Blake stood by the door receiving last birthday wishes while he and Carl talked idly about school and plenty of other random topics. After the place was empty, Blake and Carl helped the DJ pack his equipment.

"Ah, you guys really don't need to do this. Especially you Blake. It is your birthday." The DJ said kindly as he unplugged his disk board from the speakers.

"Don't be silly." Blake said as he unloaded the speakers from the stage, placing them into the middle of the foyer to be loaded into the truck. "I want to."

"You always want to, man."

"Exactly, I am one of your closest friends anyway." Blake said in a mocking tone, making the guy laugh.

"You know it, you know it. I've been DJ’ing here for how long? Let me hear it."

"Hmm we have had you around for approximately eight years..? and each year, counting my sister's and my parent's parties I would say you are usually here around seven times a year." Blake said while in thought.

"Just about." he agreed with a smile messing up Blake's hair as he passed him. Blake just laughed and fixed it instantly. When Carl and Blake were finally done with helping the DJ load his equipment into his truck, they had their late tea in Blake's room.

"You really are something else, Carl." Blake mentioned after spending a few moments staring in silence.

Carl smirked, "Why you say that?"

"Just because I wasn't really wanting to have this party in the first place, but you actually made it enjoyable."

"Well that's a good thing. You need to enjoy your birthday. It is your day."

"While this is true, I don't usually always enjoy it. You just make everything different. Completely opposite from what they usually are. I am very thankful for that."

"Well you are very welcome. I try." Carl laughed a little finishing his tea off and pushing the cup and saucer to the side a little.

"I can say that your efforts are not wasted." Blake said in response.

"It's the least I can do for all you have done for me." Carl said calmly and Blake just smiled at him. Sadly, He knew his curfew was dawning on his internal clock, "I gotta get home, Blakey-boy."

Blake just nodded slightly as Carl got up from the sofa leaving Blake on the sofa himself, Carl just couldn't leave without doing something now. He turned to Blake and gently grasped the back of his neck and bowed down, laying a light kiss on his forehead before taking his leave out of the room.

When he got home, He was happy with what happened. He did wish he had confirmation that Blake wanted him back, He didn't object to anything but he didn't talk about it either. One of these days, it will happen. He was certain of it.


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