AN: Let me just say...it's a bitch and a half trying to get your shit to look the way you want when uploading on this site!
...That is all.
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday dear self, happy birthday to me.
"Hey Gus. ... Oh, thanks dude. ... I know. I can't believe I'm so old! ... Gus, thirty-one is like ancient. ... Yes, and you're ancient. I'm gonna start getting gray hair and stuff soon. ... Hey! I can worry. I'm totally capable of worrying. ... Hmm, nah. I'm actually not feeling up to partying or anything. ... Nah, you can give me my present at the office tomorrow and treat me to some Chinese. ... Yeah, it'll be like always. ... Well, I'm going to have lunch with my dad in a bit. ... I uh - I think I'm gonna go visit my mom. ... Yeah, I'll be fine Gus. ... Alright, talk to you later man."
Shawn flipped his phone closed and stared. Maybe he should take Gus up on his bar hopping offer? His birthday was the only time his friend ever even suggested going to a bar with him; it seemed like such a waste not to take Gus from his comfort zone. With the way he was feeling now though, Shawn knew he would probably end up a mopey drunk and ruin the whole night.
He rolled his head to the side and looked at his coo-coo clock. 11 o'clock and he was still just laying in bed, despite being awake for an hour. Not unusual for him actually, but Shawn really didn't feel like getting up and facing the day. Now that Gus had called and broken his meditative state, there was no going back and staring listlessly at his glow-in-the-dark star-covered ceiling. The only reason he answered, really, was because he didn't remember making Selena his cell's ring tone. It brought back memories of his mom teaching him to Cha-Cha when he was eleven.
Shawn met his dad at the same diner they'd go to every Sunday when he was a kid. He knew his dad knew it was the same diner, and he knew his dad knew that he knew it was the same diner. What he didn't know was, if this was suppose to add some kind of symbolism to the day. He was never one for tact so, unless they were lying or trying to hide something, Shawn had a hard time figuring out others' subtlety. When he walked in the small establishment, he was half expecting to see his dad in the third booth from the door on the left, the one that used to be unspokenly reserved for the Spencer men on Sundays. Instead he was sitting on a stool at the counter.
They started out with talking about the weather ("Living by the freaking ocean, you'd think we'd at least have some breeze!"), before moving on to Shawn's recent cases. Next came the reprimanding, which no talk with his father was complete without, while Shawn ignored Henry's roundabout way of saying he's proud of the work Shawn's done. After running out of robbery suspects and food to poke at, Henry reached over to the stool next to him and then handed him a wooden case. Shawn opened it and almost smiled at the paint set inside, but bit his lip just in time to catch it. It was one of Shawn's favorite hobbies, and his most hated by Henry because he'd picked it up from his mother.
"It's got some special paint or something, too. For you to do stuff with your bike."
That's all that had to be said, so that's all that was said. They both purposely avoided saying what else this day marked in their lives.
He turned and saw a bobbing yellow head trying to make its way through the crowd. Said yellow head ended up being Juliet, so he flashed her a bright smile as she walked up to him. "Hey Jules."
"Hey. What's up with the reclusion? It took quite a bit of stalking to finally catch up to you."
"Reclusion? Me?" Shawn put on a mock pained face and held a hand to his chest. "Are you saying I'm anti-social? I'm hurt Juliet! Deeply, deeply wounded!"
She kept a serious visage, but the twitch in her lips ruined her poker-face. "So I see. The knife in your back is so noticeable."
He leaned in and tried for a conspiracy voice, but he ended up with an Irish whisper because of the noise from the street. "Actually, I'm trying to lay low. The spirits predicted my imminent demise."
"Oh really?" She actually looked a little worried, and Shawn's wondering if Lassie's rubbing off on her and making his only other fun friend get a little too serious.
"Yup. Thus is why I must now become a hermit and live with the pineapple people in a cave."
"Well, at least you're not stuck on an island with a dead volleyball." Juliet was trying not to laugh now. Much better.
"Pfft. Dead volleyballs are so last year. Dead fruit's all the rage now."
"Oh!" She reached into her purse and pulls out a square ("Rectangle, Shawn!" the Gus-voice in his head screams) shaped object, wrapped in shiny blue paper. "Happy birthday Shawn."
"Aw, thanks Jules." He took the gift, already knowing it's a book, and gets a 'you're welcome', a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. Then she's walking backwards, saying good-bye and that he better stop by and see her tomorrow.
Shawn tore off the shiny blue paper and stopped when it's half-way unwrapped. It took a hard bump on the shoulder from a stranger to get him out of his trance. He stared at the book, and traced the gold title with his thumb. Stomach clenching half in nostalgia and half in disdain, Shawn threw the book in the nearest trash bin, still partly wrapped. It's not that he didn't like Stephen King, but the day had enough undertones already. Besides, he really didn't have much to relate to John Smith with, despite what Juliet believed.
Shawn bought one geranium from a random flower shop on his way to the cemetery. It would soon be almost twelve years since he'd last been there, but the route was still clearly mapped out in his mind. The same route the herse he rode in took. And he could picture her headstone just as clearly. Fifteenth row, twenty-second headstone to the left. He took the dead, wilted flowers from the bronze vase and replaced them with the single geranium. Sitting down in the lush, green grass, right in front of the polished rock, Shawn's mind blanked as he stared at the engraved letters. Twelve years ago, he'd visited her grave almost every day for nearly two months. He'd had so much to say to her back then, and now, it was hard to get out a single word.
"Hey mom. I ...uh." Shawn opened his mouth and closed it, and stared at the grave site. He couldn't help thinking how he must look like a fish, but somehow, that didn't seem very funny right now. "I'm sorry. Sorry that I haven't been by to see you in so long. And um," He stopped to take a deep breath and rub his eyes. It wasn't because he was crying though; Spencer men never cry. He was just tired, that's all.
"I'm sorry I never forgave you. For, you know. For walking out on my birthday. I know that you didn't plan it or anything. It was just convenient that dad broke your last nerve that day. And, I know how guilty you always felt for leaving and how hard it must have been for you after. I was stupid when I was younger, we all know that. But I understand now, and I just wanted to say I'm sorry for how I blamed you before, and I do forgive you for doing what you had to do."
Shawn got up to leave, but stopped just as he turned. Hesitant, he faced the stone, leaned down and gently placed his lips on the top of the cool rock. "I love you mom."
His first birthday home since Anna Spencer died twelve years ago. Maybe next year will be better.
He wasn't one to get drunk when depressed, or depressed in general. Then again, he's normally drunk on his birthday before he has the time to get depressed. Which is what he was all set to do, when a knocking on the door kept him from beer number six. At first he attempted to ignore it, because he wasn't sure who would be coming over at almost nine at night without calling first. None of his Santa Barbara friends did that. After five minutes, the pounding finally stopped and Shawn thought the person had gone away. Wasn't the first time he'd been wrong though.
"Spencer. I know you're home. Open up."
'Oh boy.' Shawn thought as he got up to answer the door. 'I haven't done anything to warrant an arrest...right?'
A quick look out the peep hole confirmed that it had in fact been Carlton Lassiter pounding on his door. "Yes, Carlton?" Shawn ignored the slight slur in his voice and hoped the detective would too. Carlton seemed to stop short at the use of his first name coming from Shawn's lips and gaped for a moment. Eventually, Shawn realized it was up to him to get the ball rolling, because as fun as it was to turn Lassi into a large-mouthed bass (damn his father and those creepy fish trophies), Shawn really wanted to get back to being drunk. "I sense you are about to tell me why you're standing in my doorway," He said, lifting a hand to his temple and trying to keep his body steady as he closed his eyes.
The detective stood with his hands behind him, almost rocking back on his heels as he stared at the fake psychic. To Shawn, it seemed like he didn't quite remember what he'd come to say, before his mind clicked back into place. "You didn't come to the station today and you weren't at your office."
"Oh. Sorry to disappoint you, but I'll be back around tomorrow."
"But it's not normal for you to not be at either place, especially the station."
"I wasn't feeling well."
"You're not sick. Well, besides in the head." He muttered the last part under his breath, but Shawn still heard.
"Four out of five doctors agree with you, but that's beside the point."
"It's your birthday."
Shawn blinked. 'Well that came somewhere from left field.' "So? I wanted a day off to relax." He was hoping Carlton would stop pushing the conversation into this direction. But he was forever relentless.
"Then why'd you say it was because you were sick?" Shawn sighed and leaned his head against the wood of his doorway. He heard Carlton shuffle a bit, so he peeked one eye open and stared in shock for a moment. "It was the only thing I know you like."
A pineapple. No bow, no ribbon, no shiny paper. Just a pineapple. And it didn't remind him of his mom. The gift wasn't for a talent passed on by her, or a book by her favorite author. He didn't even remember if she liked pineapple. Shawn took the fruit silently and knew Carlton was probably becoming disturbed by the slow, easy smile spreading across his face, but he couldn't help it. For the past decade and a half it had been difficult to even think about himself, instead of his mother, on his birthday.
Carlton shifted from foot to foot as Shawn stared at the fruit. "So, happy birthday Spencer." He moved to walk back to his car before Shawn's voice had him stopping and turning back to the apartment door.
"You want to come in for a beer?"