Thank you for moving over into the new story, and I hope you enjoy this as much. Like always, if you have questions, I'm more than happy to answer them. I greatly appreciate the considerate reviews you guys gave me last time, and I enjoy seeing how many views and visitors I receive, so thank you, and enjoy.
"So for tomorrow, we should, um, go to dinner or something like that," Bastion announced, getting pots and pans out of the cupboard. "My treat, though, because that's my birthday wish! I would say we could go down to the beach, but November doesn't usually have warm water."
I smirked, already having all of his birthday planned. In fact, I had been working on it for weeks. No matter how busy I was with my job, Bastion always came first and foremost, and I was confident that he was going to love his gift: an Irish fold cat.
"I already have everything planned, honey," I assured, kissing his cheek. "Everything is under control." I was cooking for him, then I would take him out for gourmet desserts, then come back to have him greet his cat, and if he was up for it, birthday sex, one of my personal favorite things.
Bastion laughed, satisfied. "I should have known that you had something worked out already. You always plan ahead! I wish I could." He kissed my neck before moving over to the fridge to get out the pack of chicken breasts for our dinner. "So, you know what I really, really want for my birthday?" he asked, and the way he looked at me made me wary.
"What would you like, Bastion?" I asked, already knowing what he was going to request. I tried not to sound bothered by it, but it was one of those things that I couldn't help but to feel bad for.
He shoved some of his hair back from his face, suddenly looking awkward. "Um, c-can you please tell me how you feel…really?" His eyes darted to the tray of caramel apples we had made earlier, avoiding the saddened gaze I was giving him.
He didn't understand how much it pained me to not be sure of my feelings for him. Every day, it was an internal battle with myself, not sure of what to tell him before I went to bed or left to work, other than a "good night" or "good bye". There was nothing emotional added into any of it. He knew I cared about him, but even I didn't know if I loved him.
Thinking of something to say, I stood there, my lips trying to form words without anything coming out. "Bastion, I can't….I don't know. I need more time." I didn't want to be wrong in my feelings, but at the same time, I would have been an idiot to think that I didn't absolutely adore him.
"Yeah, definitely," he said, and although he tried hiding it, he sounded so upset, which I couldn't blame him for. Perking right back up, though, or at least feigning to, he grinned at me. "Hey, guess how old I'll be tomorrow. Not in human years because that's too easy." He seasoned the chicken, smiling the whole time.
It didn't matter to him that we had been together for six months, he still had never told me his actual age. As far as anyone knew, he was twenty-one, but his real age could have been eight times that.
"You'll be….One million years old!" I exclaimed, making him laugh and stop his work. It was a lovely laugh, something I never wanted to go away. Even though I tended to be a bit serious, I liked making him laugh, so I had to be a bit eccentric at times.
Washing his hands in the sink, Bastion shook his head. "Oh, baby, you're adorable. I'll be nowhere near a million." He turned to kiss me on my forehead. "I'll be younger than one thousand, and older than twenty. There's a small chance that you'll get it right." He went back to work on the chicken, slicing it for our alfredo.
"Does that mean you'll tell me?" I asked, leaning my back against the counter so that he could get to the oven to bake the poultry.
"Oh, ha, yeah right," he chortled, his hands now on his hips and a teasing smile on his face. "What would be the fun?" He grabbed one of the small pots and began heating it over the stove. "So I saw that the place across from us was being rented. The sign on the door was gone, so unless somebody took the sign, we'll be having a new neighbor."
"That's exciting," I said, getting cream cheese and butter from the fridge. "I love Nina, but having a new neighbor will be great. You didn't see any furniture sitting outside?"
Bastion shook his head, then kissed me on the cheek as he grabbed the ingredients from me. "Not a thing. Nobody was moving anything in or anything like that. From what I could tell, there was no sound in there, either." He shrugged, then pointed his finger at the ingredients, making them rise and go to the pot on their own. "I hope they have kids or pets. That'd be great!"
He stood beside me, and from his position, he waved his hand towards the utensil drawer, having it open on its own. A wooden spoon levitated above the drawer, then darted into the sauce to begin stirring by itself. Bastion smirked, happy to be using his magic.
"Either way, I'm excited. I think I'll even bake them a pie," he said, then kissed the top of my head while I nodded, approving his idea.
I was up the next morning before Bastion, which played favorably in my part. We had stayed up until midnight so that I could wish him a happy birthday, then promptly went to bed since I had to get up for work.
What Bastion didn't know, though, was that I had to get up even earlier in order to decorate the apartment. Balloons, streamers, signs, and even a breakfast of pancakes and cereal, Frank-n-Berry, of course.
Sliding out of bed, I silently headed into the living room, hoping my feet didn't make sound on the wooden and tile floors. I thankfully made it without making a peep, then went to the coat closet where I had hidden the materials to Bastion's surprise.
It took me a while to blow up thirty balloons, but I finally got it, albeit feeling lightheaded, then tied them with ribbon and plotted them around the living room, filling up every space that I could. Quietly, I hung up the streamers and pinned a Happy Birthday poster above my TV so that it was the first thing he saw when he came out of the bedroom.
When I was finished, it looked like a party for a ten year old, but I knew Bastion would love it. He enjoyed going to parties, even small ones, and always admired the decorations that were there. He would say how he respected the person who took the time to put everything up and deal with the hassle of organizing how it would look.
Frankly, thinking of how adorable he was when he got excited about decorations made me smile like an idiot, and I had to stop because I felt silly, grinning and blushing in the middle of my living room.
I hurriedly made his pancakes, decorating them with a whipped-cream and chocolate syrup smiley face, like I knew he'd enjoy. I found chocolate chips in the baking pantry, then sprinkled them on top. Bananas were cut into the cereal and as a side to the pancakes, and it was all ready for my sleeping wizard.
I set the food on a little tray and tip-toed back to my room, glad to have about an hour and a half before I had to be to work. I was able to spend a little time with my baby, which thrilled me since I wouldn't be getting off of work until five, plus I had to go pick up his cat from a local breeder I had contacted.
I set the tray down on the nightstand. "Bastion, honey. Happy Birthday. I made you a little surprise," I cooed, leaning close to my darling's ear. He groaned and turned over onto his stomach, burrowing his face into the pillow. I silenced a laugh and shook his shoulder. "Baby, come on. I made your favorite: pancakes and cereal."
There was a mumble, and it took me a moment to realize what he said. "What kinda cereal?"
Now I had his interest.
"Frank-n-Berry. I picked up a box from the store because they were about to take it off the shelves since Halloween was last week. There's bananas in it, too," I purred, my lips grazing his neck. I saw the goose bumps on his bare arms from my action, and I continued to do it, loving to tease him. If it's anything that he had taught me, it was that teasing was much more exciting than people gave it credit for.
"And pancakes, you said?" Bastion inquired, turning his face towards me. His green eyes were still closed, but he had a remnant of a smile on his face. "This is already shaping up to be the greatest birthday ever, and I've not even been up." Finally, he opened his eyes, and I kissed his forehead. "Good morning, babe. How are you?"
"I'm perfectly fine, honey. Now sit up and eat. I have to start getting ready for work soon, but I can spend a little bit of time with you," I swore, grabbing the tray and sitting beside Bastion. I put the food in his lap after he sat up, and he grabbed the fork for his pancakes. "I hope you like them. I used the Aunt Jemima batter, like you like."
He was smiling while he ate the pancakes, getting a dribble of chocolate on the corner of his mouth, like usual. Honestly, I was beginning to suspect that he did this on purpose because he knew I would always lick it off of him.
"So, what should I be getting myself prepared for today?" he asked between a mouthful of breakfast. His eyes were big and full of excitement, and if he wasn't too busy eating, I'm sure he would have been grinning and giggling.
I hummed, thinking of some way that I could get him even more excited. "Wear something nice," was all I said, then winked at him when he stopped eating to suck on his bottom lip, as usual. I could see his eyes searching around the room for any hint of what we were doing, but nothing gave him a clue. "Don't worry about it, Bastion. You'll see tonight." I grinned and kissed him hard on the mouth before removing myself from the bed. "I do need to get in the shower, though, baby. Enjoy your breakfast."
I spent the next forty-five minutes getting ready for work, making sure I looked nice for that evening. I wanted everything to be perfect, even down to the little touches of how my eyebrows looked.
Bastion sighed when I was finished smoothing out my wavy hair. "You always look so nice for work. I kinda wish I had a job so I could dress like you all the time." If he did have a job, it would be pointless. His inheritance was more than enough for the two of us, but I liked having my job, so I wasn't going to quit it.
Bastion got out of bed and met me at the mirror I was standing in front of. All he had on were a pair of boxers I had bought him, and they were extremely thin. As tempting as he was, though, I couldn't take him now.
"I'll make sure to keep the house clean while you're at work," Bastion promised, unaware that I didn't want him to clean due to the surprise waiting for him in the living room. "Have a great day at work, okay, baby? Thank you for making me breakfast. It was so sweet of you!" He squeezed me from behind and rested his chin on the top of my head. "I love you, Bry-Bry. This is a great birthday."
There is was again, that scared feeling of telling him how I felt. In the reflection, he looked anxious, hoping I was going to say it back, but I couldn't bring myself to say it.
"I-I….I have to go, Bastion," I said softly, slipping out from his grasp. I made my way to the bedroom door, not letting him out until I was gone so that he could see the living room on his own. "I'll see you after work. Stay safe, and Happy Birthday," I told him, and as I was about to turn and leave, I stopped myself and looked into the sad eyes of Bastion.
He looked like a puppy that had been scolded for not doing anything, and I really wanted to crawl back into bed and hold him all day.
"Bastion, you know that I care for you so much. I would never, and could never, replace you. I-I'm just…scared, is all," I muttered, ashamed at admitting the last part. There were so many different things I was terrified of, mainly finding out that he didn't love me after all.
Putting on a smile, Bastion took my hands in his. "It's fine, Bryan. I told you to tell me when you're ready," he said, his lips pressed to my forehead. He kissed my gently, taking my face in his hands, and I was about to turn into a pile of mush from his touch. When he pulled away, he ran his lower lip against my cheek. "But I'll always love you, even if you don't love me back."
Grinning, I kissed him again before heading out of the front door, leaving him to find the surprise on his own. As I was putting my keys back into my pocket, I heard the door across from me open, and I was sort of happy because I was able to greet the new neighbor.
When I locked eyes with her, I was surprised. The woman was just entering the apartment with a cup of coffee in her hands, and she had a coy smile. She had skin-tight jeans on and a low-cut shirt. Her dark hair fell in rivulets around her angled face.
She was not what I was expecting in a neighbor.
"Good morning," she greeted, and her voice was smooth with the tiniest accent that I couldn't place. "I'm your new neighbor, Talia. Nice to meet you." Her smile broadened and she had a twinkle in her brown eyes. She stuck her hand out for me to shake, and when I did, I had to refrain from letting my jaw drop.
"I-I'm Bryan," I announced, not letting my gaze drop from her. That warmth…. "Actually, I'm on my way to work, but I'll catch up with you later, Talia." Oh god. No. This wasn't right.
"You too, Bryan," she said, then entered her apartment, leaving a scented trail of coffee behind.
I swallowed hard as I darted out to my car, my heart pounding. I had to have been mistaken, but the only time I've felt that type of warmth on another person was from Bastion. His magic made him warmer, the same warmth my neighbor had.
"This is very bad," I mumbled slowly, sitting in my car. We didn't need another magical being in the apartment complex.