I want to say happy birthday to four special people.
First is the most wonderful rikes. Now Rikes is wonderfully funny, gives great comments, has a delicious kinky side, appreciates a good badfic and is just all around awesome. The second is jae_w, who writes amazingly great stories, and is just all round cool. Third, ihearthings_ii who's gorgeous and lovely and one of my favourite people ever, and finally zombeezle who's awesome at art, has great taste in men, and is perfect to squee with. *mwah* I hope you all have a great day.
Now, Chris ficlet time, because it's Chris month day 5!
Usual warnings apply.
The crate arrives on Chris’ doorstep early on a Monday morning. He circles it, hair wild and bleary-eyed, looking for a label to explain why it’s there. There’s nothing, and after spending five minutes looking for air holes --because Chris mightn’t be as famous now, but he still has fans -- he gives up and heads inside.
Breakfast is toast and orange juice and a series of phone calls, all skirting around the question of someone sending him a gift that requires a huge crate. No one has, or else they aren’t admitting having done so. Baffled, Chris chews slowly on a limp slice of toast, and goes cold when he suddenly remembers a night on the town. One that continued with beer and vodka at home, and hours spent surfing EBay, laughing hysterically with each new accepted bid. He remembers winning marionettes that he sent to Nick Carter, fake fur pants for JC, and apparently something for himself that comes complete with a huge crate.
Swallowing, Chris stands, automatically rinsing his glass and plate. The memories of that night are foggy, but he can’t have bought something too bad. At least it isn’t alive, which is cold comfort when he remembers what he’s looked at before. Olds bikes, a unicycle, a stuffed cow. Chris cringes at the last; he knows his friends and a stuffed cow is just too easy.
It takes a while, but finally he goes back outside. The crate is still there, huge and squat and when Chris bends down he can smell that faintest trace of oil. That’s not reassuring at all, except in the way it can’t be a cow. Unless it’s an anatromic cow with moving parts, and Chris hates Joey for sending him that link to www.fuckingplushies.com.
After spending time just looking, Chris eventually approaches the crate, vowing to face the contents like the manly man he is.
He hooks his fingers at the join, and winces when a splinter of wood jabs into his hand. Sucking at his palm, Chris frowns, and revises his plan. Within minutes he’s back with a crowbar, and he slips it into the join, then pushes down. The lid pops upwards, and Chris barely jumps out of the way when one side of the crate crashes to the ground, just missing his toes.
Heart racing, he looks inside, surprised, and okay, a little disappointed to see another box. Much smaller, this one is lined with rose printed fabric, and nestled inside are carefully packaged metal parts and components, a pink envelope resting on the top.
Chris goes back inside then. He though it would be something cool, or stupid, or just wrong. This is none of those, just boring, and to Chris that’s the worst thing of all.
It’s three days later, when he’s sick of walking around the crate to get inside, that Chris hauls out the second box. Sitting on a low wall, he looks at the contents, wondering what processed him to buy such crap. Not that it cost much, that was one of the first things he checked.
Chris picks up the envelope, the scent of flowers and strangely, scorched metal wafting around him as he sets it to one side. He sorts through the parts then, carefully laying out battered side panels and wheels, meters of wire and circuit breakers, and best of all, what looks like a laser attached to a slim metal tube.
It’s a mess of metal and wire, but what Chris has is time.
It takes him days, hour upon hour of pain staking work, his friends telling him to come out already. But Chris finds it relaxing to solder wire, to carefully polish panels until they gleam. He couldn’t have done it before, would have been itching to move, but now he enjoys sitting in the sunshine, piecing together and crafting something that grows before his eyes.
It’s when he finds two radar ears and a stubby metal tail that he realises he’s making a K9. For all of ten seconds he’s tempted to stop, because he doesn’t want some tin dog and even if he did, all he had to do was pick up the phone, and one would arrive pristine and fully formed. Then Chris snaps an ear into the correct hole, and spends thirty minutes tightening the bolt. The sun against his back, the warm wind brushing against his skin, and he realises it doesn’t matter what he’s making, just that he is, putting his heart into each carefully assembled piece.
A month later, and Chris is kneeling, polishing K9s side. He’s taking his time, rubbing in the metal polish with careful measured strokes. When he’s finally finished he sits back, rubs his aching fingers, all of them covered in tiny cuts and grazes, and feels a heady rush of pride.
He’d built this. Connected wires and struggled with circuit boards until K9 stands looking perfect, another dog that Chris is beginning to love.
Feeling lost now his project is finally finished, Chris settles back on the ground, tucks up his legs and reaches for the envelope that’s been weighted under a flowerpot all this time. Paper rips as he uses his finger to slice inside, then he’s looking at the sheet of plain white paper. A letter from Sarah Jane, telling how it's dangerous now, and K9 needed someone with money for repairs, but more importantly, someone who would love him, would look beyond the battered remains and see the potential that was there.
She says how fate is amazing sometimes, making Chris bid when she was so close to despair that she was prepared to find a new owner in any way, never mind how implausible. But stranger things have happened, she writes, like a loved one returning after so many years.
Chris doesn’t get that, not really, but he does understand he’s been gifted something special. Especially when K9 suddenly trundles forward, then spins, his eyes lighting up as his ears twist.
Chris grins wide, runs his hand along a shining metal side when K9 butts up against him and says, ‘hello, master.”