... Yeah. It's not my fault. Someone on del.icio.us linked to a story in oxoniensis's Hugs, Cuddles and Kisses multi-fandom, commentfic, prompt challenge. And I went and looked at the prompts, and there were a bunch that I said, "oh, maybe!" about, and then this is what I wound up writing. I have no idea.
written April 9,2007, posted May 30, 2007
Bert swallowed nervously and stared at himself in the mirror. It was now or never, and it couldn't be never, because then Ernie would think he didn't care about him.
Everyone else had given Ernie presents at the party earlier -- a new yo-yo from Big Bird, and a bright yellow balloon from Bob that Ernie had kept tied to his wrist all day, and new crayons and special drawing paper from Maria, and a shiny red fire truck from Grover, and all kinds of things.
So it had to be now. He nodded firmly to himself, then brushed his teeth, careful not to drip any toothpaste on his nice clean pajamas.
He walked into the bedroom where Ernie was carefully tying his birthday balloon to the chair so it wouldn't fly away during the night. "Good night, birthday balloon!" Ernie said cheerfully, patting the balloon lightly and making it sway and dip like it thought it was soaring on a breezy day.
"Listen, Ernie, about your birthday --"
"Oh, Bert, wasn't it a great day?" Ernie said, grinning happily. "Everyone was so nice, and gave me so many great toys and games to play with!"
"I know, Ernie, but I didn't want you thinking I'd forgotten about you --"
Ernie patted him on the arm as he walked past Bert toward the bathroom to brush his own teeth. "Are you kidding? You threw that great party, with the cake and the ice cream and the hats!"
Bert nodded. It really had been a good party, and he'd worked very hard to make sure everyone would have a good time, with Ernie's favorite cake and two kinds of ice cream and party hats for everyone, even Mr. Snuffleupagus.
But that wasn't the same as a present.
"But that's not the same as a present," he said loudly, over the sounds of splashing water.
Ernie emerged, damp and clean, still smiling. "I don't need a present from you, Bert, you're my best friend."
"Yeah, but you're my best friend, and I do have a present for you. I just couldn't give it to you till now."
"What is it, Bert?"
Now or never. Bert took a deep breath. "Get in bed, I'll bring it to you."
"Is it a new pillow?" Ernie wondered. "I do love my pillow, but --"
"It's not a new pillow." Bert reached behind his own pillow and pulled out Ernie's present. "Oh, I'm sorry, the bow got a little smushed," he said, frowning unhappily and fluffing it back up as best he could as he moved to Ernie's side.
"It's got character," Ernie said firmly.
Bert smiled at him and held out the box. "Happy birthday, Ernie."
"You really didn't have to, Bert," Ernie said, but took it and unwrapped it eagerly. He blinked. "It's cookies."
"But I'm in bed, Bert."
Bert nodded jerkily. "Yes. They're for you to eat in bed."
Ernie stared at him, then smiled so brilliantly Bert thought his heart would break. "Thank you, Bert," he said softly, and opened the box. He studied the cookies for a moment, then looked up at Bert. "It's not as much fun eating cookies in bed alone," he said, hope bright in his dark eyes.
Bert took a breath and slid in next to Ernie, who wriggled over to make room for him.
Ernie held out the box of cookies, beaming from ear to ear when Bert took one and manfully bit into it, ignoring the spray of crumbs across his pajama jacket, and the blankets, and the pillow, and... Bert shut his eyes and chewed, swallowing in surprise when Ernie's warm weight moved in closer to snuggle right up to him.
"This is the best birthday ever, Bert," Ernie said happily. He took another cookie out of the box and took a bite, then held it to Bert's lips.
Bert wrapped his arm around Ernie's shoulders, pulling him in even tighter, and bit.
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