Happy Birthday, Sunshine!

    In celebration of Kalim’s birthday!!! This sweet boy... I’m only halfway through Chapter 4...

    Pardon any characterization inaccuracies! Oh and warning: Mention of drinking

    In the blissful silence of morning, the sun set itself prettily upon the vast horizon, ushering away the chill of night as the stars faded, welcoming a brand new day.

    Throughout the halls of Scarabia, not a sound could be heard apart from the occasional snore of the slumbering students, locked in a dreamscape that to anyone else, might’ve seemed like a second gate to heaven.

    All was quiet, except for the room where the bubbly Kalim Al-Asim resided, a loud crash temporarily penetrating through the thick door leading into the area, before settling comfortably over the dormitory once again.

    Inside, quite the scene was to behold. Kalim lay on the floor, partly dazed and twisted within his covers as he stared at the ornately carved ceiling, a tender breeze drifting in from the open walls, sunlight streaming in despite the ungodly hour. As fast as he fell, Kalim shot upright, wrestling against his awkward bindings, flailing his arms as his ruby eyes widened to be the size of dinner plates, a blush tinting his sun tanned cheeks and a grin spreading over his lips.

    No way, no way! It can’t be that day already!” He thought, untangling himself from his expensively plush sheets.

    Tossing them onto the expansive mattress he slept on every passing night, Kalim reached for his smartphone, rarely used, but still owned nonetheless. Swiping through page after page of randomly downloaded apps, he opened the calendar, tracking down the day and nearly squealing like a little girl out of excitement.

    “It is! It’s finally that day!” He whisper-shouted, falling back onto his bed soundly. Barely a second passed before he darted right back up again, a hand pressed to his unclothed forehead as a fleeting idea flitted through his sleep-emptied brain.

    “Looks like I need to get to work!”

    No spare minute was wasted before he hopped up from his seated spot, nearly tripping over the rug spread on the otherwise barren floorboards. Scrolling through Magicam and opening almost every contact he had, he prewrote messages to be sent out later that day, as the sun had only just begun to ascend in the great sky.

    Completing his morning routine was a more than comfortably admitted struggle, and as Kalim stared at himself in the mirror, he instantly regretted never having previously learned how to keep up with his flashy clothing choices. He messed around with his togan, tying and untying it, readjusting and rewrapping it about a hundred times before he eventually gave up, settling with loosely throwing it around his head as he moved on to makeup.

    He knew all too well that his skill wasn’t comparable to Jamil’s, but that much he could do on his own. After the overblot, Kalim had been attempting to watch his actions, limiting how much he relied on his former friend’s aid, and doing his best to censor himself, however little that may be.

    It wasn’t long before his makeup was finished, slightly smudged, and only marginally off kilter, but generally meeting expectations. With both uniform and cosmetics semi-successfully handled, he took a seat at his dark desk, pulling out a slip of paper and his magical pen, writing a list of events and activities.

    Barely halfway through his racing ideas, a soft knock was heard from his heavy door, an exasperated but familiar voice leaking through.

    “Kalim, I’m coming in,” Jamil sighed, pushing it open as Kalim spun in his swivel chair, list briefly forgotten as the vice dorm leader walked inside, eyes speaking tomes that he’d never say, “get up, we have a lot to do today—e-eh?!”

    Jamil stared in disbelief at the awoken heir, partially believing he was still asleep himself. Kalim had risen before he did? Not in a million years did Jamil think that possible.

    A blithe smile split Kalim’s face as he waved, eyes shut out of joy. “Ah, Jamil! Good morning!” He singsonged, returning to his list.

    “Kalim, why are you awake? Did something happen?” Jamil asked skeptically, crossing his arms as he glared at the shorter, who fought the look with a light chuckle.

    “Ah ha ha! Of course not! Today’s just really important to me, so I wanted to make sure I got up to properly prepare for it!”

    “Hah? What would that be?”

    Kalim froze for a millisecond, hurt at the words but stubborn enough to refuse expressing it. As equals, it wasn’t fair for him to shove all the work onto Jamil, so he’d have to do it alone. “Hmm, nothing that concerns you!” Kalim laughed, waving him off.

    Jamil growled lowly, pinching the bridge of his nose as he stalked closer. For a second, Kalim could’ve convinced himself he saw him grin, but within an instant, any trace of amusement was wiped from his face, taking Kalim’s togan cloth and fixing it around his white hair. “Come get me if you can’t do this yourself,” was all Jamil said, before trying to peep over Kalim’s shoulder, to which he brushed it away with a bracelet-adorned hand, “now let’s go.”

    “A-ah... right...” Kalim lost his signature optimism as Jamil sauntered out of the room, practically radiating contempt.

    Folding the paper and tucking it into a deep pocket, he followed after Jamil, gripping his magical pen tightly. Jamil... didn’t really forget, right?” He glumly thought, a hand on his chin as the smell of breakfast wafted through the corridors. “No, he’s probably just messing around! There’s no way he’d forget about today!” Kalim decided, speed walking to join the rest of his peers in the dorm lounge.

    As soon as he set foot into the wide space, dozens of heads turned to look at him, cheering out the same greeting in unison. “Good morning, Kalim-sama!”

    “Mornin’ everyone!” He smiled, allowing them to continue their leisurely conversations.

    Breakfast went just as it always did; Kalim stuffing his cheeks with the assortment of foods available to him, sharing idle talk and drifting in and out of his swimming thoughts. It wasn’t until students began exiting the lounge, full from their hearty meal, that he stumbled upon an idea that nearly made him jump up out of exhilaration.

    A party! I’ll throw the grandest party the school has ever seen to celebrate!” He boomed internally, eyes igniting with a determination some would envy. And all too soon, that determination was smothered by reality. “...But a party means food, and I can’t make food... I don’t think I could do something so big without Jamil’s help...” Kalim finished off the rest of his bowl in the midst of his meddling, setting the dirtied dishes aside.

    “Kalim. Let’s go, class starts soon.” The vice leader reeled him in from his suffocatingly complex mind, knocking him upside the head.

    “Ow! Alright, alright! I’m coming!” Kalim pouted, standing and yet again following his friend oddly silently.

    Pulling out the list one last time, he he sighed, doing what he could to improvise and create a satisfactory plan.

    He wanted, more like needed, today to be perfect.

    After all, it was his eighteenth birthday.

    <————>

    Since break had ended, classes had been strikingly lax.

    Kalim, for once, found himself with extra time, allowing him the freedom to scheme the imaginary proceedings for his party. He kept adding and crossing things off the list, until soon enough, the page was covered in writing, indecipherable to anyone but the creator. Several times, Kalim opened and closed Magicam, feeling strangely nervous as he reread his premade text messages.

    Sure, he could contact everyone he knew and alert them of his extravagant project, but what if they saw it as a waste of time, and ignored it? What if he failed to finish the prep and blew it? What if it was boring?

    This back and forth struggle didn’t ease until his fourth period of the day, the one he shared with Riddle Rosehearts and Ruggie Bucchi.

    Slumping into his regular seat, positioned just above everyone else for the clearest view he could manage with his height, he instantly brightened up as he saw the pair walk in, one with more stride than the other. Waving the fellow second years over, he noticed how they shared an unreadable expression, sitting not too far away.

    “Riddle-kun! Ruggie-kun!” He beamed, twirling his pen.

    “Good afternoon, Kalim.”

    “Heya, Kalim!” They replied respectively.

    “What’s with the face? Somethin’ good happen?” Ruggie prompted, leaning on a fist.

    “Well, uh, kinda! It’s just really important to me, is all.”

    “Oh really? Must be something pretty special then.” Riddle politely added, grey eyes carrying only a hint of joy.

    “Ah ha ha! Speaking of, are you guys free later today? If you are, I’d love it if you joined me in Scarabia after classes end!” Kalim encouraged, almost surprised at how easily the invitation rolled off his tongue.

    Much to Kalim’s confusion, Ruggie’s ears flattened against his head while Riddle went rigid, both once again glancing back at each other. “U-Uh, Kalim, that sounds great, but...” Riddle began, the six and a half words already working to dampen Kalim’s mood. “...unfortunately, I’m very busy. I must keep a close eye over Heartslabyul, as no one else upholds the rules of the Queen of Hearts as I do.”

    “Ahaha... I’m booked too. Leona-san can’t do anything by himself, and only accepts my help. Sorry ‘bout that!” Ruggie agreed, scratching the back of his head awkwardly.

    “O-Oh, I see...” Kalim said quietly, fiddling with his thumbs, “okay, then! Maybe next time!”

    “Yeah, next time...” Ruggie hesitated, looking away with flattened ears while Riddle copied the movement, Kalim doing his best to remain positive.

    The period passed all too slowly, and Kalim practically flew out the doors as the bell rang, leading to lunch. It wasn’t often he was turned down, so this unpleasantly cold feeling fluttering about inside his chest was both unwelcome and unwanted.

    As he took his seat at his usual table with the rest of his Scarabia peers, he looked around for Jamil. It didn’t take much to notice him standing in a corner, deep in conversation with someone from Heartslabyul.

    More specifically, Trey Clover from Heartslabyul.

    Thanks to the distance, he couldn’t hear a word they exchanged, only briefly making eye contact with Jamil as he parted from the taller.

    “Hey, Jamil! What was that with—“ Kalim started as his vice approached, arms crossed as usual.

    “I’ll be eating elsewhere with Trey and few other students. Stay here, I’ll be back to get you at the end of lunch.” Jamil clipped, pulling his hood over his head as he stalked off.

    “Ah wait! —and he’s gone.” Kalim watched as he left the room, a few familiar faces joining him.

    He sat back at the table, a couple Scarabia boys helping to cheer him up as they ate, a sickening sourness making his eye twitch. He didn’t pay it much mind, masking it with a smile in hopes that the feeling would fade.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t.

    Even after lunch hour had ended, even after Jamil walked him to his next class, even as the day progressed. His optimism gradually faded until the last bell of school day reverberated off the walls, sheer panic setting into his veins.

    “Not one person accepted my invitations... did I do something?” Kalim thought aloud, arms crossed defensively over his chest. “Maybe everyone really is busy today... it’s just a coincidence, right...?”

    He pulled the list from his pocket, now crumpled and barely intelligible. “My first birthday alone... ha, who would’ve guessed?” He bitterly laughed. “Maybe I can scrape together some Scarabia guys...”

    “Kaaalim~!”

    The white haired leader spun on his heels, haphazardly tucking the sheet away as he grinned at the oncoming duo; Lilia Vanrouge and Cater Diamond. “Hey guys! What’s up?” He asked coolly, comforted by the mere presence of another soul.

    “Come on, we have to go practice!” Cater exclaimed, smartphone clutched in one hand as he took Kalim’s arm with the other.

    “Practice...? I thought we weren’t supposed to meet until tomorrow—“

    “Nope! No questions, let’s just get to the music room.” Lilia mysteriously laughed, grabbing onto Kalim’s free arm.

    “Okayyy then!” Kalim agreed, mostly due to his friends tugging him along.

    They sped off to the music room, and for the first time that day, Kalim didn’t feel so alone on his special occasion.

    <————>

    Kalim wasn’t sure how much time had passed since they arrived. It could’ve been thirty minutes, it could’ve been three hours. All he knew was that this was a much needed distraction from the negativity of being ignored on his birthday.

    Finishing the last chords of the upbeat song written by Lilia, Cater whistled, clapping as he set his guitar down. “That was a nice run! I should record a video to post on Magicam later!”

    “And that thought only came to you now?” Lilia scolded, folding his arms as the three laughed, Kalim dropping his drum sticks.

    “I am exhausted! I think that’s the most I’ve ever put into a practice before!” He yawned, stretching his arms above his head.

    “Yeah, same here! It’ll totally pay off tomorrow!” Cater fist pumped, pulling up his phone camera. “Smile~!”

    Kalim threw up a piece sign, Lilia making a face as Cater winked, making for an eventful photo as the camera snapped the shot. He hadn’t even shut down the app when both his and Lilia’s phone dinged, alerting them of incoming messages.

    “Eh? Oh, Lilia-san, looks like it’s time!”

    “Huh? Time for what?” Kalim asked, looking between the two upperclassmen.

    “Indeed, Cater,” the short third year smiled mischievously, a hand on his chin, “it was fun, Kalim! But hurry back to your dorm, Jamil will be missing you.”

    Kalim almost laughed, but it came out as a half-scoff on accident. “Miss me? He’s probably thankful for the break!”

    “I forgot about the scuffle that happened over break...” Cater scratched his cheek, smiling stiffly, “...anyways! We have places to be, so it’s time for you to get back to your dorm!” The flashy ginger shooed him off, basically chasing him out.

    “But what about my—“

    “We’ll put your drums away. Just go, Kalim!” Lilia’s smile never left his lips, even as his expression darkened to show his irritation.

    “And be quick!” Cater lastly said, shutting the door behind Kalim as soon as he remived him from the club room.

    “Huff... thrown out again. Later, you two~!” Kalim cooed, fanning out his elbows as he interlocked his fingers behind his head.

    He trekked down the silent halls of the school, an invading sense of loneliness he didn’t feel he was capable of owning washing through him like water to cloth. Quietly, so that no eavesdropping ghosts could hear, be began humming to himself, fighting so valiantly against the storm brewing in his head, drenching him in frigid dubiety.

    “Happy birthday to me...” Kalim looked outside, watching as the day fell, bringing the birth of the night, “...Happy birthday to me... happy birthday dear—“ he cut himself off with a groan, running a clammy hand over his face, throat burning.

    “This is pathetic. Really. I should just deal with it, maybe I’ll take the carpet out later...” Kalim sighed at last, finding his way to the mirror that led back to Scarabia. “I’m sure the birds will enjoy some company. Ha, to think the company on my eighteenth birthday would be animals!”

    Kalim threw his arms into the air as he passed through the portal, laughing coldly at his own dry humor. Just as he expected, when he emerged on the other side, he was met with— nothing.

    No grand welcoming, no party poppers or warm smiles. Just the moist humidity, slowly ebbing away with the fall of the sun. Kalim huffed; what did he expect?

    Plodding down the main entrance, he briefly wondered where the residents were. Surely, he hadn’t been away for that long. Perhaps they were in the lounge, feasting away on whatever meal Jamil had deigned to create.

    So lost in thought, Kalim nearly had a heart attack as his vice dorm leader emerged from the shadows with his hood pulled over his decorated hair. “J-Jamil! How long have you been there?” Kalim sputtered, recovering from his fright.

    Speak of the devil and he shall come...” Kalim thought, grinning.

    “Longer than I would’ve liked. Come with me, you’ve certainly kept us waiting.” Jamil instructed, pulling Kalim by his wrist.

    “What does that—wait, us?” For half a second, Kalim’s eyes glittered with hope, lips parted as he met Jamil’s pace.

    “Yes, doofus. Us.” Jamil snickered, the sound muffled but still more than appreciated. It’d been so long.

    The magic carpet greeted Kalim warmly, wrapping around his body and giving him a tight squeeze before releasing, making Kalim laugh loudly. Boarding it and helping Jamil on, the two sped off, into the boundless starry night. The last inklings of daylight seeped away atop the carpet, and gliding through clouds and along the breeze was enough to get both Kalim and Jamil whooping in exhilaration, a spike of adrenaline brightening the dark.

    “Kalim, for this part, you’re going to have to close your eyes.” Jamil shouted, barely a whisper above the screaming wind.

    “Huh? Why?”

    “Oh, because I said so, that’s why,” Jamil ordered.

    “Ah, alright!” Kalim beamed, covering his eyes obediently with his hands, which were shaking thanks to the adrenaline and hope searing away any leftover doubt. With his vision obscured, a new sense of excitement had him giggling like a lovesick schoolboy as the carpet dove downwards, not a single ounce of fear evident in his smile.

    And, just as soon as the feeling had arrived, the carpet was brought to a complete halt, throwing Kalim for a loop as he flinched. “Are we here?” He asked a little too loudly, ears ringing from the trip.

    “Not yet,” Jamil answered, tugging Kalim by his elbow.

    He’d only taken a few steps when he asked again. “Now?”

    “Almost,”

    “...N—“

    “If you ask again, I’m marching you back to the dorms.”

    Kalim stayed silent, though he couldn’t help but bite back a toothy grin. He adored surprises, and the excitement of trying new things. He wasn’t sure what exactly Jamil had planned, but he’d be a dirty liar if he said he didn’t have a clue.

    “On the count of three, open your eyes.” Jamil stopped, standing beside Kalim.

    “Okay,”

    “One... two... three!”

    As soon as the last syllable was spoken, Kalim threw his hands up, eyes widening as he was flooded with a wave of light.

    Happy birthday, Kalim!” Came the unison cry of, well... everyone.

    His dorm, the six other dorm leaders, under and upperclassmen alike, everyone stood before the refilled oasis, tables of food set about as the trees were decorated in twinkling fairy lights, some gathered near, some gathered by the water, but all looking at him with endearment.

    Kalim’s hands flew to his mouth as he hopped up and down in place, almost to the point of tears. “Jamil, you guys...! How did you even—?” It was hard to form words.

    “All it took was a little planning. Cater and Lilia agreed to keep you busy while we set it up.” Silver smirked, yawning.

    “Uh-huh! Sorry about ignoring you all this time, we wanted to get a genuine reaction, and since some people around here like to blab their big mouths, we had to take some precautions.” Ruggie commented, glaring daggers at literally all the invited Pomefiore students.

    “This is so sweet, you guys didn’t have to!” Kalim humbled.

    “Ugh, don’t talk like that. I remember my eighteenth, was like a dream come true. Or, it would’ve been, had I been away from my torturous family.” Leona sighed, shrugging nonchalantly.

    “They even went through the trouble of dragging me and Idia out! Malleus too! ...No offense.” Ortho exulted, sweat dropping when he looked to the dark faerie.

    “None taken. It was quite the surprise when I was actually invited to something.” He responded, smiling.

    Commence the bubbly chatter amongst peers. They formed their own cliques, though still mingled with each other. The food was finally put to use, starved guests heaping it onto their dishes as Kalim looked to Jamil.

    Taking his bigger hands into his own, Kalim balanced out Jamil’s vaguely amused simper with his own true laugh. “Thank you. Thank you for not forgetting. Thank you for going through all of this.”

    “...Of course. It’s my job.” Jamil deflected.

    “No, it’s not. Not while your here.”

    “Kalim, you know full well that’s not—“

    “We are equals, I refuse to believe otherwise. And as an equal, I’m giving you a choice. Do you want to come with me?”

    Jamil felt a dark blush tint his cheeks, much to his proven embarrassment. “It doesn’t matter what I want.”

    “It does to me. Consider this my birthday wish, Jamil. I wish for you to be free, if only for tonight. Free to make your own decisions, and free to be whoever you desire. What do you want to do?”

    For the first time since the overblot, and long since before, Jamil was caught speechless. He had no words to express his gratitude for Kalim’s persistence. He may not be ready to forgive him, and he may never be, but for tonight, he was alright with that. For tonight, he would be himself.

    “I want... to get down in that party and have some fun.” Jamil admitted, crossing his arms and laughing into the night.

    “Then what are you waiting for?!” Kalim took Jamil by the arm pulling him into the fray, letting all sense of seriousness go.

    <————>

    That birthday would be one to save in the history books. To the attendees, anyways.

    It was a little slow at the beginning, but as soon as Jamil and Kalim entered the equation, the notch went straight up to eleven. Idia and Ortho had found a way to project out music, the kind that with any other occasion would’ve seemed distasteful or ear numbing, but at the moment, it seemed to complete the celebration.

    They danced and danced, the crowd joining in. They danced until someone fell into the oasis, starting a pool parth that eventually led to the Leech twins transforming and drenching everyone in water.

    Trey later revealed a grand three tier cake elegantly decorated, vastly out of place in the chaos around them. That was when Jamil told Kalim the reason behind his lunchtime disappearance; he was busy baking, frosting, and wheeling this monstrosity of a good to Scarabia, to which he barely made it back in time. Much to Cater, Riddle, and probably a lot of other students’ dismay, the cake was pure sugar. Vanilla, rose, fruit, almond, there were too many flavors exploding on Kalim’s tastebuds, it felt like they were going into overload.

    And that was before Leona brought out his little secret... booze.

    That was when things started to get out of control. Jamil stayed extra close to Kalim, keeping him from having any of the liquid courage, while others went ballistic.

    There were the moderate and safe drinkers, like Azul, Malleus, and Lilia, who had a glass or two for the sake of trying it, and kept it at that. Then there were the lightweights; Vil, Riddle, Ace, Deuce, and Cater, who barely managed half a glass before they were red in the face and hysterically laughing, or crying. Finally, in a category all by themselves, were the full on drunks; Leona, Floyd, and Rook. They were the three that downed nearly a full bottle each, creating quite the show.

    It got to the point where Leona and Vil were frantically screaming at each other, the beauty queen’s makeup smeared and hair frizzed, Floyd was chasing around other partygoers while Jade attempted to restrain him, and Cater, poor Cater. He was so out of it that he was posting random garbled pictures and such on Magicam, cheeks red and eyes glassy.

    After a while, a few people dropped out. Azul and Jade, who successfully managed to handle Floyd, had to carry the drunken twin on the combined strength of their brooms, speeding off into the night shakily. Trey had his hands full rangling the rest of his Heartslabyul members, Riddle whining as Ace and Deuce ran away, Cater completely unconscious. Epel had to mother Rook and Vil back to their dorm, Rook’s ear pinched tightly in his small hand as he guided Vil with the other.

    Though it was messy, and a little tumultuous, Kalim still had the time of his life. He could officially say that he’d had the best party one could have.

    And it wasn’t because of the booze, or the food, or even any of the boisterous shenanigans caused by his friends.

    No. It was because he finally got to see Jamil let loose.

    Kalim spent a good amount of his time staring at Jamil, watching intently as he laughed and joked, showing off his athleticism, or breakdancing, or whatever it is he was doing.

    To Kalim, that was the only present he could’ve asked for.

    He knew, he knew that the source of his suffering was him. If it weren’t for his damn family and their damn money, Jamil would’ve been able to grow into someone different. Someone... Someone he could be proud of.

    Still, to see Jamil so carefree... it was all Kalim wanted.

    As he fell back into his bed, delirious with sleep, and maybe a little bit of alcohol, he made a vow to himself.

    He promised to treat Jamil better. He promised to show him the kindness that had always been in his life. He promised to make these upcoming years the best he manage.

    Consider it his first decision as an adult.

    I don’t think my heart can take this boy’s tears... Anyways, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

    Stay lovely!

    tips to get your life back on track after a breakdown

  • sleep. your body needs to rest. the average panic attack takes as much energy as running a half-marathon. let yourself rest. take a 20 minute nap. any longer and you’ll hit your REM cycle, and you’ll wake up worse off. after, you’ll feel so much better.
  • clean something. literally anything. a plate, a drawer, the whole mf bathroom. it doesn’t matter how much or how little. it’ll make you feel more in control, and it’ll make your surroundings more appropriate for recovery.
  • get some fresh air. even just opening your window for a few hours will help. if you feel up to it, take a walk. take your dog. pick some flowers. cloudgaze. even just sit in your garden for a bit. your body will thrive off of non-stale air. 
  • eat and drink. I know for some people, myself included, this is Hard. it’s alright if all you can manage is a granola bar, or some cereal. anything is progress and will fuel your body. drink water if you can, but anything apart from alcohol will hydrate you.
  • take a shower. I have clinical depression. have done since I was 12. I know how hard it is to take a shower. but it fucking helps. if you don’t do anything else off this list, do this. it’ll help more than you know.
  • talk to someone. I can’t stress this enough. humans are social creatures! we crave interaction. even the most introverted introvert needs to talk to someone. call your mom. text a buddy. skype your brother. chat to your local cashier. anything !! you’ll feel less alone, and hopefully get some good serotontitty flowing.
  • do something fun! same as above, it’ll make u feel so much bette, and provide a distraction. some good options are writing, drawing, watching a movie, dancing - anything you enjoy!
  • be kind to yourself. it’s okay if you relapsed, or if you had a bad day, or anything else. treat yourself gently. you wouldn’t so harsh to a friend in your situation. it’s gonna be okay.
  • if you can’t do all of these, it’s okay. there are better days ahead. this, too, will pass.

    i know everyone is worried about physical health right now, but make sure you're taking care of your mental health too, especially if you're self-isolating. some ways to do so that i've found useful:

  • make sure you're eating (at least two meals per day, preferably three)
  • call a friend! me and my best friend have been calling every day and watching some tv via a website called kast
  • stay hydrated
  • take your mind off things: study / read / watch a movie / etc
  • try to keep off the news / social media as much as possible
  • focus on yourself, and practice mindfulness / meditation
  • spend time with any animals in your life
  • stay as safe as you can. things will seem brighter soon.