Author's Note: I wrote this a couple months ago for an Arrested Development swag sweepstakes over on tumblr! Have this while we continue to wait for season 5b.
Michael discovered his love of candy beans when he was six years old.
Green apple was his favorite then, and it remained his favorite through years of new flavor releases. There was something bright about it. Hopeful. And, as he got older, nostalgic. Every time he popped one in his mouth and bit down, it took him back to a time when things were simpler. When he didn't have to worry about maintaining his high GPA, or getting into a good college, or managing the banana stand before he was able to legally vote.
It made sense then that the best present he ever received came on his sixteenth birthday. He woke up to find a huge bag containing only green apple beans next to his alarm clock. Beyond them was his older brother Gob, passed out, fully clothed, sprawled across his own bed in the room they shared. No one else in their family would have gotten them, and since Gob had been nearly naked and asleep by the time Michael had hit the hay after a long night of studying, he could only assume they were from him.
His hunch was confirmed when he saw the note left underneath.
Happy birthday Mikey bet you cant eat all these at once
Michael smiled at the familiar scrawl. Part of him wanted to try, just to prove his brother wrong. Instead, he popped a couple in his mouth and tugged a blanket over Gob before getting ready for the day.
It became a tradition. Even when Gob left and Michael moved into his college dorm, every December, without fail, an entirely too large bag of his favorite candy bean found its way into his hands. Michael was hard pressed to admit how much he looked forward to it. Still, he always made sure to thank his brother, grinning to see or hear how pleased his appreciation made Gob.
Michael's last year of university was particularly brutal. He resorted to counting down the days until his favorite birthday treat for added motivation during mid-terms. His stress levels at that point weren't at all alleviated by having just moved into a new apartment with his wife and their unexpected, but beautiful, baby boy. Maybe that's what made the hurt sting sharper when the day finally dawned and nothing was waiting for him. Nothing still before he headed to class. And nothing when he returned.
Worst of all, there wasn't a single word from Gob.
He tried to keep up a smile when Tracey presented him with a large cupcake after dinner. If he hurried, he could pop by a store and find some candy beans on his own. No, that wouldn't be the same.
It was just before midnight as Michael was getting ready for bed that their apartment buzzer went off. He ran to it before it could wake George Michael.
"Michael, it's–it's me," came Gob's voice, hurried and a little out of breath.
"Gob? What are you–"
"Just let me in!"
Michael glanced down the hall toward their bedroom. "Hang tight, I'll be right down."
He found Gob pacing restlessly between the double doors leading outside, a sheen of sweat covering his face that Michael realized just before Gob enveloped him in a tight hug was actually a sheen of glitter.
"It's not midnight yet, is it?" Gob started chattering. "God, you wouldn't believe the day I had, like, I got you the beans last night but I must have gotten the wrong kind cause when I had a couple on the way here this morning I realized they weren't green apple at all, they were lime or, or grass or something, I dunno…" He let go of Michael to reach into a bag on the ground. "Anyway, I didn't have enough money left to buy the right ones so I had to wait until this gig I had tonight in order to get paid but all I got were dollar bills and– anyway, here."
Gob shoved the biggest bag of green candy beans yet into Michael's hands with a satisfied huff and a grin. "Happy birthday, man."
Michael blinked. Then a slow smile crept across his face. He clutched the bag tightly and said, "Thanks, Gob. This really means a lot. You know you didn't have to–"
"Sure I did." Gob shrugged as if to brush it off, glancing down to avoid his gaze.
A simple thank you suddenly didn't feel like enough, so Michael set down the bag carefully and stood on his toes, returning the hug from moments before and holding on tightly. Gob stiffened for a moment, then wrapped his arms around Michael's waist.
"I was worried you forgot," Michael admitted quietly.
Gob buried his face against Michael's neck. "I'd never forget. Love you, Mikey."
And just like that, Michael felt like he could overcome anything life decided to throw at him next.
"Love you, too, pal."