Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Never will. But I love writing it.


"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear Charlie. Happy Birthday to you!" sang the entire Eppes family to their youngest member, the proud 4 year-old Charlie Eppes who was all grown up because this year, he got to blow out all of his candles by himself. Charlie took a deep breath and blew out the candles on his cake. Alan, Margaret and Don clapped enthusiastically.

"Did you make a wish?" his mom asked him.

Charlie's eyes widened, "Oh, I forgot. Light them again."

Margaret smiled, "It's okay, Charlie. Just do it now and wish extra hard."

Charlie cocked his head to the side, "Is that really going to work?"

Margaret nodded. Charlie closed his eyes and scrunched up until he started shaking a bit. Then he released all the tension and looked up at everyone.

"Okay. I done," he announced.

"Time for presents," Margaret called and went into the closet. She grabbed a box wrapped in blue wrapping paper.

"Here you go," she said and placed the gift in front of Charlie. He tore open the paper on the sides. He watched how the paper made jagged lines and patterns as torn from the sides, across the front, down the other side and to the back. He tore the paper again, trying to see what kind of other lines and shapes it would make.

"Mom, you see these shapes! Aren't they cool?" Charlie said excited as he kept on ripping the paper off of the present.

"I think the present is inside the wrapping paper, Buddy," a 9-year old Don commented, giving his father a sidelong glance. Alan just shrugged.

"A train set! Wow!" Charlie cheered, excitedly picking up the box.

"And you can put together yourself," Margaret stated.

"Really?"

"Umhm, the tracks, the town, everything."

"You mean I can be a city planner like Dad?" Charlie asked excitedly.

Alan smiled and nodded at his little boy, "Yeah, something like than. And what planner would be complete without this?"

Alan pulled out a hard hat and placed it on Charlie's head. It sank over his eyes and covered his head of dark curls. Charlie tipped the hat up so he could see and smiled bright and wide.

"How do I look?" he asked.

"Stupid," Don replied immediately.

"Donnie!" Alan chastised.

Don held his hands up, "I was joking. Just joking. You're fine, Chuck."

Charlie pouted, folded his arms and glared at his big brother. Don smiled and grabbed his present from under the table. He handed it out to Charlie, but Charlie just narrowed his eyes at him. Don sighed and shook the present, encouraging his brother to take it. Charlie rolled his eyes and grabbed it. Charlie ripped the wrapping paper to reveal a 11" by 14" black rectangle with a wooden border.

"What is it?" Charlie asked.

"A chalkboard, genius. Here," Don said and walked over to his brother. He turned over the chalkboard and opened a small compartment that held two pieces of white chalk and an eraser. Don grabbed one piece and the eraser. He closed the compartment and drew a smiley face on the board.

"See?" he asked, " You can draw or write anything on this and erase it…"

He erased the smile and drew a frown, "And make something else."

Charlie smiled and faced his brother, "Thanks, Don."

Don shrugged, "No problem. Now you can stop writing all over my homework."

"Can I still read it?" Charlie asked.

"Knock yourself out," Don replied and erased the face on the chalkboard. He then wrote something very quickly.

"What are you doing?" Charlie inquired.

"You'll see," Don said and turned over the chalkboard. He handed the board, the chalk and the eraser to his brother.

The board read:

Happy Birthday, Charlie

Love, Don


A/N: And so began the life long relationship between a boy and his chalkboard. Or at least this is one version of how things could have happened. Hope you reading it.

-OMA