Word Count: 345
A/N: another old gift for samenashi and also my first attempt at anything JE.
"Happy birthday," Ryo says, pushing the card at Ueda. For a second, Ueda looks surprised, but not in a bad way, and Ryo thinks that maybe he's succeeded at being civil for once.
Then Ueda looks at the card and then back at Ryo. "This isn't a birthday card." The lighthouse twinkles as if to illustrate his point.
"It's what I had lying around." Ryo gestures vaguely with his hand, not wanting to go through the trouble of explaining the hows and whys. "It's the thought that counts, right?"
"Oh," Ueda says. "Oh."
Ryo chances a grin and repeats, "Happy birthday," a little more hopefully this time, but Ueda looks like he's going to cry and hell, Ryo just can't win with this guy.
"Aren't … you going to say anything?" Ryo asks.
Ueda looks at the floor. He still looks like he's going to cry and Ryo wonders if maybe he can't help it, if maybe his face got stuck that way since the last time they talked. The idea makes Ryo want to laugh, but he doesn't, because he's trying, really trying to be nice.
"You could have bought a card," Ueda says, his voice a little higher than usual. "It's not like you're poor." The words are incredibly careful, as if Ueda had been using those seconds to stall and think up a good retort.
Ryo does laugh this time. "I said it was the thought that counts! You should be glad that I stopped by at all today. I could have just forgotten, you know." Then he pauses and looks around. "Where is everyone else anyway? Did they forget?"
Ueda glares at Ryo and then, as if on cue, the waterworks start. At least there are still some things Ryo knows he can count on. He feels a smug warmth rising in his cheeks and thinks that there's a reason Ueda doesn't react like this with everyone. Maybe he gave Ueda a pretty good birthday gift after all.
That is, until Ueda punches him. After that, Ryo mostly just feels pain.