A/N: I wrote this pretty random oneshot for my friend Debbie! Happy Birthday, Debbie! I love ya! Please read and review if you like Wind on Fire...especially Mumpo. It's gonna seem sort of sad at first, but it gets happy...and it seems sort of slashy, but it gets less slashy later. Uh...just read it, please.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEBBIE!
Mumpo sighed, depressed. This was his first birthday in the Homeland…and his first birthday since…she…had died. He realized that the day of his birth was something that should be celebrated, as did, annoyingly enough, everyone else in the town. They had been making a big to-do about his birthday, but truthfully, Mumpo would rather have been left alone to sulk in his sorrow.
Unfortunately for his plans, Pinto came rushing into his tent-home.
"Mumpo!" she giggled knowingly, "There's a surprise for you outside!"
She laughed some more, unable to contain her excitement, nor the secret of the "surprise" any longer, and scurried out of his tent.
Mumpo couldn't help but smile at Pinto's poor attempts to hide a surprise. He blinked once and made sure he looked at least semi-happy, and left his home.
He opened the flap of the tent and peered outside, trying to see where everyone was. He squinted very hard, but couldn't see anyone. Perhaps it was just his eyesight, but he literally could not make out one person in the entire town. Where had Pinto gone?
Then he saw, at his feet, some delectable-looking, sweet gumdrops. His mouth watered at the sight and bit carefully into the chewy, grainy skin. He closed his eyes, enraptured in the taste of this lemon-flavored gumdrop. Perhaps that meant it was a lemon drop? Whatever it was, it tasted positively scrumptious and he just had to have another.
Lucky for him, there was and entire trail of sweet, vaguely juicy gumdrops leading to who knew where. Thinking nothing of it (being of a simple, yet sound, mind), Mumpo began to slowly follow the trail of gumdrops, picking them up along his way and stuffing them into a pouch he had made by curving up the bottom of his shirt, and occasionally enjoying one right then.
He had been staring at the ground the entire time he followed the trail, so when he got to a point where no more gumdrops could be seen, he merely frowned and pursed his lips in irritation. Where had all the magical gumdrops gone?
At last he looked up from his wonderings and was astonished to see what looked like the entire town sitting around a fire and smiling at him expectantly.
"SURPRISE!" they yelled, as if on perfect cue and then laughed in unison.
Mumpo was too surprised to laugh or even comprehend what was going on. You see, he had forgotten all about his birthday surprise on his quest to follow the never-ending gumdrop trail. He had just been having fun following the colorful delights and paying no mind to the rest of his thoughts…some of them, after all, were too painful to bear.
Seeing the look of utter astonishment on Mumpo's face, Bowman quit laughing heartily and his face softened as he walked up to his friend who stood stock still.
"Are you all right, mate?" Bowman asked seriously.
Mumpo blinked rapidly at the sudden conversation. He hadn't even noticed Bowman walk over to him.
"Uh…yeah. Yeah, I'm fine, Bo. Just…" he tried to think of a kind way to put it, "…surprised."
Bowman smiled uneasily, sensing Mumpo's awkward feelings, "Okay, then. What say we start with your party, eh?"
"That sounds good!" Mumpo attempted enthusiasm and gave Bowman a small smile.
"You know, the gumdrops were actually Kestrel's idea," Bowman said, trying to lighten the mood.
"Really?" Mumpo asked, trying to hide the lump in his throat. It only saddened him more to think that she was thinking of him and he couldn't see her. "Tell her thanks for me."
Bowman frowned, sensing Mumpo's overflow of painful emotions and immediately regretted bringing up his sister. At least now he knew why Mumpo was depressed. He reached into his mind and told Kess that Mumpo appreciated her thinking of him, to which she replied, I'm right here, Bo. I can see just as well as you what's going on. Stop treating me like a worm in your brain!
Bowman tried to hide the smile at his sister's humor, so as not to make Mumpo feel as though Bowman was laughing at him for being so silly to be depressed on his birthday about a girl who had never loved him in the first place.
"PRESENTS, PRESENTS, PRESENTS!" cried Pinto. Apparently, she wanted to open presents.
Bowman laughed. "Alright, alright, Pin. We'll do presents. Who wants to go first?" he asked needlessly.
"ME! ME! ME!" Pinto cried. Everyone laughed as they all gathered around in a circle, with Mumpo sitting in the middle. He felt uncomfortable as the center of attention, but knew it was expected, so he complied.
"Mumpo," Pinto said, blushing profusely, "I picked this especially for you."
She held out a beautiful white and red flower. It had five petals and each was about four inches long. Mumpo was surprised at such a gift.
"Uh…thanks, Pinto. But…why did you get me a flower?" he asked confusedly.
Pinto's blush deepened and she giggled a little nervously. "I was hoping that you would maybe want to date me sometime…when I'm older. And flowers mean that you love somebody and…well, I do love you…as a friend right now, of course, but—" she paused, knowing she was only worsening the situation.
Mumpo chuckled appreciatively. "Thanks, Pin. I get it. Maybe someday…when you're older."
Then, he gave her a peck on the cheek and she couldn't have been more red if the sun had come and stood straight in front of her.
"Who's next?" she asked quickly, wanting to divert attention away from her and her beet-red face.
"I'll go!" Sisi said cheerily.
She pulled out a long, deformed line of brown string.
She grinned apprehensively. "This is a scarf. I'm sorry it's so ruffled up. I just learned and…well, I'm not used to working with this kind of stuff. I hope it keeps you warm, anyway," she said, cautiously holding it out to him.
As Mumpo took it in his hands, he noticed that it was very soft. Upon inspection, he noticed a few holes here and there where her stitching had faltered, but when he put it around his neck, he didn't notice.
"It certainly does keep me warm, and it's lovely, Sisi. Thanks," Mumpo said warmly.
Sisi merely nodded.
"Anyone else have a gift?" Bowman asked.
"I do!" said Creoth. The old man stumbled forward clumsily before stopping right in front of Mumpo in the middle of the circle.
"I've brought you some of my most prized possessions," he said, holding out a container.
Mumpo gently took the box from Creoth and opened it gingerly, thinking it was something invaluable and breakable. But what he, in fact, found were…
"Um, I, uh…thank you, sir," Mumpo said discreetly.
Creoth beamed at him. "Oh, I just knew you'd love 'em! Straight from the cow over yonder. I made them myself…don't know if they're any good or not, but I certainly did enjoy a good chocolate button in my day!" he said, eyeing the candy he had just handed over hungrily.
Mumpo noticed this and sighed, "Would you like to try the first one?"
Creoth gasped in surprise. "Are you sure? I mean…it won't offend you that anyone else should eat your chocolate."
"No. Of course not," Mumpo answered.
"Well…alright. If you insist," Creoth said quickly, dipping his hand into the container and popping a button into his mouth. He chewed for a few seconds before closing his eyes in ecstasy and smiling as he ate.
Mumpo eyed him suspiciously. Hopefully these buttons were not drugged with anything but sugar, he thought worriedly. Perhaps he would save those for a much later time.
"Thank you," he said politely, not enthusiastically.
"Oh, may I go next?" asked the plump woman known as Lunki.
"Of course," Bowman answered.
She waddled up to Mumpo and presented him with a large loaf of sweet-smelling bread.
At first, Mumpo couldn't help but be…under-whelmed, to say the least. But then he realized how much food meant to Lunki and therefore how great a sacrifice it would be to give him food for his birthday.
She waited patiently for his reply to her offering, wringing her hands nervously and smiling.
"Thanks very much, Lunki. I really appreciate it," he said truthfully. Well, at least he wouldn't have to worry about starving after this birthday…
"You're welcome!" Lunki said excitedly and scuffled off to sit back in the circle that surrounded him.
Bowman looked around for anymore volunteers. "Is it my turn?"
Mumpo looked as well and, seeing no one else, answered, "I suppose."
Bowman stood up and walked a little awkwardly to the middle of the circle. Neither of the boys liked too much attention and this was a little nerve-wracking.
He put down a brown bag in front of Mumpo and mumbled, "I hope you like it. Took forever to find…" with the implication that he hadn't actually found it, but made it. Bowman never was very good at hiding his emotions.
Mumpo took the gift (with an equal amount of awkward embarrassment) and began to tear open the package.
"Oh…Bo…" Mumpo said as he gently held up an intricate helmet and equally as elaborate armor. It reminded him suspiciously of the apparel he would don for the manaxa he had enjoyed so much.
Bowman cleared his throat, "Actually, it's not an oboe, it's armor."
Mumpo looked at him curiously, then realized what he had said previously and laughed.
"Oh, that's not what I meant! Thanks so much, Bo. I really appreciate it," he said thoughtfully.
"If you need a sparring partner, I might be willing to try. I could always make…I mean, find myself some armor and we could, you know, have little mock fights if you want to. I promise not to use any of my mind powers," Bowman smiled.
Mumpo smiled back at him. "But then the fighting wouldn't be fair and you would surely lose."
They both began to laugh and sat in content friendship.
"Really, though, thanks a lot," Mumpo said, tears threatening to spill from his eyes. "I just wish Kess was here," he said quietly.
"Um, yeah," Bowman said softly.
Suddenly, Bo looked up, as though a worm in his head had just bit him in the brain.
Oh, no. Don't even think about it.
Oh, please, Bo? Just once. I promise. Look how sad he is! And we have the power to make him happier.
Bowman blushed. YOU have the power…I have no part in this.
Except that it's YOUR body.
Which is exactly why I won't do it.
PLEASE?!? Please, please, please, please, please, please…
You're not gonna give up, are you?
Nope! Come on, Bo. Just let me take control for a little while. That's all I could manage to do, anyway. It won't take long.
For Mumpo, Bo?
Bowman huffed begrudgingly. Fine. For Mumpo.
Completely oblivious to the conversation taking place inside of Bowman's mind, Mumpo sat in silent lament, staring at the ground. He missed Kess more than he wished to share with anyone. He couldn't talk about it with his best friend, Bowman, because he didn't quite know how he felt. He was, in fact, jealous of his friend because he got to have conversations with Kess in his mind (just as he was, unbeknownst to him, right now) on a regular basis. And Pinto…she would always turn whatever he said into a flirting disaster. He wasn't really close to anyone else. It was times like this he wished he had parents.
Suddenly, Bowman stood straight up. Mumpo looked up at him in surprise and saw a look of fierce determination on his face, a look that Bowman almost never wore. Needless to say, his shock rose to an extreme level when Bowman strutted over to Mumpo, grabbed his face and planted a kiss smack dab on his lips.
Mumpo's eyes went wide, but his mind processed the information at an extremely fast speed and he realized what was going on just as Bowman (Kestrel) broke contact.
It was obvious that Bowman was now in complete control of his body because Mumpo had never seen anything more red than his friend's face.
All of the other party goers sat in equal horror. No one quite knew what to make of this little display, so no one said anything. Thus, everyone, including Mumpo, sat staring at Bowman confusedly.
"Um," Bowman said timidly, which didn't matter because in the silence left in the wake of his little excursion, you could hear a pin drop. "That-that was Kess."
After about 10 more seconds of quiet, everyone, as if on cue, started guffawing loudly. Bowman and Mumpo looked at each other and began to chuckle nervously.
Then, everyone, once their stomachs had settled from laughter and the tears had been wiped from their eyes, began to disperse, wishing Mumpo a happy birthday as they did so.
As soon as all of them, excluding Bowman and Mumpo, had gone, Bowman started to try to apologize.
"No, it's okay," Mumpo told him. "I knew it was Kess. I could tell. It wasn't…ya know…you. It was…different. Completely. Just…in your body."
Bowman turned tomato-red.
Mumpo laughed, "Really, it's alright, Bo. Tell Kess thanks for me."
As Bowman retreated back into his mind, he began to argue again.
You said just one time!
Pretty please, Bo? It'll only take 3 seconds. Promise. Cross your heart.
You'd better not be lying…
Then, Mumpo watched as Bowman changed once again and got that fierce look in his eyes. Bowman grabbed him and wrapped him in a big hug.
"Happy birthday, Mumpo. Happy birthday."
As he said it, Mumpo could tell it was coming from two voices at once. His two best friends in all the world: Bowman and Kestrel.
And even though she didn't really love him and she wasn't technically there, just by giving him a kiss and a sign she really cared about him, Kestrel had inadvertently given Mumpo the greatest day of his entire life…and Bowman the most dreadfully embarrassing of his.