Pyroland was more sunny today than yesterday. The rainbows turned into double-rainbows, and the music that was always humming along was even more cheerful than usual.
Pyro hummed to that bubbly melody, skipping to the calendar on the wall. Miss Pauling gave Pyro that calendar. She once tried to say how old Pyro was, and on what day of the year Pyro’s birthday was, but the characters on the paper she held up started to dance around the paper. Pyro didn’t want to interrupt them by forcing them to sit still just so they were readable. So Miss Pauling decided to just give Pyro a calendar with a big circle on one day, and when that day came, it was Pyro’s very own special day.
And today was that day! Pyro grabbed Balloonicorn― because birthdays mean that friends can be with you all day― and headed to the common room for breakfast.
No one was smiling more than usual, or dancing into the room like Pyro was, but that was okay.
“What’s got you so worked up? Oh, do you gotta pee?” Scout asked, looking at Pyro boogying down to the fridge to get the French toast.
“Mmph mrh mmrphna!” Pyro replied, shaking the box of French toast excitedly. Pyro didn’t know why it was French toast because Spy didn’t have anything to do with it; it came in a box, and you took it out and put it in the oven, and then you watch it until Engie says “that’s enough,” and then it’s done. Spy didn’t make it or eat it! But it was delicious so that meant more for Pyro.
“Huh?” Scout said, taking a swig of orange juice.
“Mmph mrh mmrphna!” Pyro repeated, just as Engie entered the room.
“What’s that? Did ya say it’s your birthday, buddy?”
“Mmm-hmm!” Pyro nodded.
“Aw, well ‘happy birthday’ to ya, then.” Engie said, putting an arm around Pyro. “Say, how old are ya?”
Pyro went off on a long muffled tangent on how the numbers and letters on the file looked so happy that making them sit still would be mean.
“O-kay, then…” Engie said, scratching the side of his head.
The voice said the things that meant that Pyro would be going outside of the base and using all of the big toys that he wasn’t allowed to use inside the base. The best one had to be the big lollipop. Everyone ran away when they saw the big lollipop, but that was okay because Pyro was almost always able to catch up with them so they could try it at least once.
After the game was over, Pyro went to the lockers to put the big toys away and get out Balloonicorn― Balloonicorn was fine with being tucked away for a little bit, since absolutely everyone said that Balloonicorn should stay inside.
Pyro was going back to the common room to meet everyone else when Soldier came out and blocked the door. “Atten-shun!”
That meant Soldier wanted Pyro to stand up nice and straight and salute him. Gloved hand met mask and Pyro stood as tall as possible. Soldier smiled just a bit. Pyro knew it was because he actually got attention, and he never got attention.
“At ease, maggot! ” Soldier said, which meant that Pyro could go back to holding Balloonicorn with both hands. Some people got annoyed when Soldier called them “maggot,” but it was just because they couldn’t see it was Soldier’s version of how Engie said “buddy” or Demo said “laddie” or Spy said “gentlemen” .
Pyro moved towards the door.
“I did not say you could move, maggot! ”
Pyro was confused. Soldier said that was what “at ease” meant, but sometimes he changed his mind.
“Mppph…” Everyone was going to start having fun and Pyro was gonna be left out…
“Uh… Drop and give me twenty! Hundred! Twenty hundred! ” Soldier shouted.
Pyro was setting Balloonicorn to the side― Soldier really did like it when people trained with him, after all― when a voice popped up from behind him.
“That’s enough, lad!” Demo’s voice rang out.
Soldier moved. “Now, march! ” he said, pointing towards the doorway.
Pyro picked Balloonicorn up, glad that Soldier didn’t care about twenty hundred push-ups anymore, and walked the few short steps between the doorway and the common room.
There was a sudden round of clapping as Pyro entered the room. “Happy birthday, laddie,” Demo said, coming out of nowhere to put an arm around Pyro.
Scout raised a can of Bonk! Punch . “Yeah, man, check it out.”
Engie came in the room holding a cake― but what was most amazing was the candles: on the top, on the sides, anywhere there was room, there was a candle.
“Figured you’d like this, Pyro. Go ahead and light ‘em up.” he said, handing Pyro a an extremely tiny version of the flamethrower that wasn’t allowed inside. “All at once.” Engie was smiling.
Everyone moved out of the way as Pyro aimed the flamethrower. The entire cake was engulfed in flames for half a second, but the sheer number of candles made it impossible for the actual pastry itself to get burned.
Pyro gasped. The candles were sparklers, all lighting up. They kept burning even though Pyro turned off the flamethrower as soon as all of them were lit, and they were dazzling as they sparked bursts of white light.
“Happy birthday to youuu…” someone started singing, and the rest joined in. Pyro just stared at the stunning flames, as they launched fireworks in Pyroland.