Jamie liked the night. When he opened his window and stuck his head outside, he could hear the sounds of crickets and rain in summer and spring, the wind in the trees in autumn, and watch the silencing fall of snow in winter. It was always quiet and peaceful, the perfect ends to usually busy and energetic days.

However. It was common knowledge that when one was expecting a visitor, and said visitor hadn't shown up by nightfall, they were generally classified as late. And normally it wouldn't bother Jamie when his visitor didn't show up until late, but as today had been his twelfth birthday, he was slightly miffed.

Around 11 PM, he decided to give up and go to bed. Jack was probably just late because he was caught up in the snow-making business elsewhere. He couldn't really fault the winter spirit for doing his job. With that thought in mind, Jamie switched his desk lamp off and climbed into bed, still listening for the familiar howling of wind and flurry of snowflakes that signaled the arrival of his friend.

He had just drifted off when there was a rather loud thump on the roof, and some muffled cursing that surely would have gotten the speaker put on the naughty list for a year if Santa were around to hear it. This being nothing unusual, Jamie, now fully awake, scrambled out of bed and ran to throw the window open. A few moments later, Jack came rushing in with a draft of cold.

He looked tired and disheveled, and when he shook his head, clumps of snow went flying. Nonetheless, he grinned cheerfully at Jamie and said, "Hey kiddo! Happy birthday!"

"You've only barely made it," Jamie replied, glancing at the clock. "It's nearly midnight."

"Ah, well..." Jack laughed and sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah, sorry I'm so late. I got caught up with some stuff in Siberia, and some autumn sprites in Germany who don't want to clear out for winter even though it's time... Basically, it's just—"

"Business," Jamie nodded. "I figured, don't worry. I'm not upset or anything."

Jack looked relieved, then worried again. "I didn't have time to get you anything, I had to hurry and get here before—"

"Seriously, I'm not bothered. I got enough stuff for today; I'm just glad you did show up."

Jamie did mean that. Jack took birthdays with uncharacteristic seriousness, more than any holiday, for some reason. He hated seeing his friend upset on days everyone should be happy. Which was every day, in his opinion, but birthdays were important to Jack and so he should be happy on them.

To his satisfaction, Jack visibly relaxed and dropped the depressing look. "Alright, if you say so. So tell me about it! What'd you do, what'd you get?"

The two piled on the bed with Jamie's armful of presents, the younger boy launching into a spiel about his day that included ice skating at the community center, then eating back at the Bennett house. He showed Jack some book series he got, a DVD set of Ancient Aliens (this bit involved actually showing the three-hundred-year-old how a DVD player worked), art supplies, and the like.

"Pretty good haul this year, huh?" Jack said appreciatively.

Jamie shrugged. "Yeah, I 'spose. I kinda just liked hanging out with everyone though."

"Sorry again I wasn't here sooner."

"It's really fine, Jack! We can do it next time."

They were silent for a long moment, then something seemed to click in Jamie's mind.

"Hey!" he exclaimed, making Jack jump. "When's your birthday? We could celebrate it and hang out then!"

The question obviously threw Jack for a loop.

"U-Um," he stuttered, "I, uh, w-we don't have to..." He coughed, then finished lamely, "Which one?"

"Which one?"

"W-Well yeah, there's the one where I was actually born, and then the one where... You know what? It's not important. We don't have to do it. Let's pick another day."

Jamie frowned. "Do you even have a birthday?"

"Of course I do!"

A pale blush was creeping up Jack's face. He was embarrassed about the uncertainty, and the fact that he didn't even know the dates. He'd stopped 'celebrating' the day he'd risen from the pond a while ago, and remembering his birthdate would involve going back to the cemetery to look at his headstone, passing by Rosie and his parents in the process. That would definitely not be fun, and he cursed himself for not paying more attention the first time he'd gone through.

"Just forget it. Once you get as old as me, you stop paying attention to that sort of thing."

He forced a laugh, which Jamie saw through right away. Something was bothering Jack and it had started when he'd asked about his birthday, obviously.

Jamie didn't like anything bothering Jack. He wanted to fix it, and he was already thinking of a way he could.


A/N:

Yooo. *dodges rotten tomatoes.

So remember last chapter when I briefly mentioned I was on a job hunt? Well for once I actually did something I said I was going to do and found a job! Only I work three to four nights a week and some late hours. That paired with school paired with NaNoWriMo this month leaves me with very little energy and free time, but I'll do my best to pick up the slack here.

Till next time!