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Author's Chapter Notes:
Back from my convention, and of course my computer would start giving me a hard time, argh!! Well, here's the update. I'm glad people are enjoying this story, and to all the people who have reviewed, thank you!!

August 22nd, 1991

“Happy birthday to you… happy birthday to you… happy birthday dear Howard… happy birthday to you.”

“Close your eyes, make a wish and blow out your candles.” Paula whispered into Howard’s ear from behind.

Howard closed his eyes and sat there for the longest, reciting his wish silently to himself within his mind.

“Oh, c’mon now. You’re gonna have a burnt cake if you don’t blow out them candles.” John joked.

Howard finally opened his eyes and took a deep breath in and blew his candles out, practically blowing the candles right out of the cake. He sat there and pulled out each candle, one by one, stopping every once in a while to lick the frosting of the colored wax stick. “Mmm… this is really good cake mom.”

“I’m glad you like it sweetheart.” Paula said as she placed a stack of plates, a bunch of forks and a container of ice cream down on the table. “I made your favorite.”

“I know.” Howard replied with a smile as he swiped his finger through a glob of frosting on the side of the cake. As soon as he moved to lick it off, he received a light tap to the back of the head. “What was that for?” he asked as he turned to the culprit, which was John.

“For putting your finger in the cake and contaminating it. I also want to show you something, so c’mon kiddo.”

“Can’t it wait?”

“Depends… it’s your birthday present, so I suppose it can.”

“Mom, can I be excused for a moment?”

Paula glanced between her son and the dining table. “Howard, I set this all out only for you to ask me to be excused.” she said with a groan.

“I’m sorry mom. It’ll be real quick.”

Paula stood there, as if contemplating it over. She knew the gift John had for Howard and honestly couldn’t wait for him to see what it was. “Well… I guess it’s okay.” she said with a smile.

Howard jumped up from the table and had followed his brother out of the house. “Where are we going?” he asked when he noticed that John was now making his way to his car.

“Jump in and you’ll see.” John replied as he jumped into the driver’s side of the car.

Howard jumped into the passenger side and sat there quietly as John pulled out and away from the house. “So… how far is this place you’re taking me?”

“Don’t worry about it man… you’ll see when we get there.”

Howard simply stared at his brother and smiled. They rode in silence all the way, and John finally pulled the car into an air field. The smile on Howard’s face began to grow, “Johnny… did you buy me a private jet?”

John rolled his eyes as he shut his car off, “Sure, I also brought you a house and a car while I was at it.”

Howard purposely giggled, “Oh Johnny, you’re the best brother anyone could ask for!”

“Shutup dude.” John laughed as he gently pushed Howard to get out of the car. “For all you know, I could be taking you out here to stare up at the sky for your birthday present.”

“You would not drive me all the way out here just to stare up at the sky.” Howard said as he got out of the car and made his way around to John.

“And how would you know?” John laughed as he began walking towards the hangar, Howard in tow. Once inside, they were greeted by an elder male who was decked out in an Air Force uniform.

“Johnny!” the man exclaimed as he made his way over towards the pair.

John immediately stopped and saluted him, “Sergeant Briggs.”

The man rolled his eyes as he playfully pushed John out of his stance. “Shutup dude, you know you ain’t gotta do that to me.”

John laughed as he moved to the side, no longer standing in front of Howard. “Jesse, I’d like you to meet my younger brother Howard. Howard, this is First Sergeant Jesse Briggs.”

Howard, who wanted to greet the man like his brother had, stood in the same stance he did and saluted him. Jesse smiled, “At ease civilian.” he held out his hand for Howard to shake, “Nice to finally meet you Howard… your brother has told me a lot about you.”

Howard grasped the outstretched hand and began to shake it. “It’s nice to meet you too Sergeant Briggs.”

“Please, call me Jesse.”

Howard smiled, “Yes sir.”

“So…” Jesse started as he turned to walk towards a table that was near an aircraft, which was parked in the hangar. “Your brother has told me that you’re interested in aeronautics.”

Howard slowly trailed behind Jesse, “Well, I’d like to say that I’m more interested in flying than the dynamics of flight.”

“Ever thought about joining the Air Force?”

Howard fell silent, contemplating the question. The truth was, he has been thinking about joining the Air Force service, but hadn’t made his mind up yet. At the current moment, he simply wanted to be like his brother, who was studying to become a pilot. “I have thought about it, but haven’t came to a decision yet.”

Jesse nodded, “I hear you kid, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to the military. Me, I didn’t even think about it at all while I was growing up; I was drafted, but I must say that it was the best thing that’s happened to me. To serve and protect this country is a dangerous yet fulfilling task, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So, having that said… what are you looking to do?”

“Well… as of now I kind of wanted to learn how to fly, I’m aiming at becoming a pilot, just like John.”

Jesse nodded as he turned to grab something on the table. He turned back toward Howard, and had walked up to him. He grabbed the top part of Howard’s shirt, near the collar, and had clipped a pin to his shirt. Howard looked down and had seen that the pin was a set of wings with his name engraved in it.

Once Howard looked up, Jesse saluted him. “Welcome to flight school Howard.”

John walked up behind Howard and had grasped his shoulders, “Happy birthday bro.”

Still in shock, Howard finally turned around to address his brother and had grabbed him in the tightest hug he could muster. “I can’t believe you did this for me man… how on earth did you get the money to pay for this?”

“Man, I ain’t gonna tell you. It’s a birthday present… from the family. We knew this is something you were looking at doing and we wanted to support you in anyway we could. What better way of supporting you than to enroll you into a program where you’ll be a licensed commercial pilot in less than a year?”

Howard felt tears beginning to prick his eyes, but refused to let it fall. “Thank you.” he whispered before he turned to face Jesse again, who was standing there with a big smile on his face. “Thank you Jesse.”

“Don’t thank me son, it was all your family that made this possible. Briefing is tomorrow, so I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow morning.”

Howard saluted him once again, “Sir yes sir.”

John shook Jesse’s hand, “Alright, thanks for this bro.”

“No problem man. See you tomorrow.”

Both Howard and John began walking out the hangar in silence. Once outside, Howard turned to address John, “I can’t believe you guys did this for me.” he said as he began touching the pin that was still pinned to his shirt.

“Well, you better believe it and you better enjoy it. Most kids at the age of 18 are working on getting their driver’s license… you, on the other hand, are working on getting a license to fly an aircraft.”

“I will enjoy this.” Howard replied with a big smile.

“Speaking of 18... I just realized that you’re an old fart, and uh… if you and I were to race back to the car, I think I could totally beat you.”

“And this is coming from a person who’s older than me?”

“Hey, I’ve learned to deal and how to handle my oldness… I know my limits and what I can and can’t do, you are only beginning to learn how to handle your old age. What do you say?”

“I wouldn’t want you to pull something…”

“Ha-ha… very funny Howard. Just face it, you’re chicken because you know your older brother is gonna beat you, just admit it.”

“You really wanna race me?”

“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t.”

Howard laughed as he stopped walking. “Okay… I’ll give you a head start.”

“You’re gonna give me a head start, and still expect to beat me? You’re so on.”

They both got into a running stance. “I’ll give you a five second start. On the count of three, you’re off. One… two… three!”

Once Howard hit three, John began sprinting down the air field back towards the lonely car that was parked in the parking lot. Howard sat there, counting five seconds silently in his head. Once he reached five, he turned to look around, to see if anyone was near to witness what he was about to do.

Once he realized that he was alone, and John’s back was still facing him, he stared long and hard at the car that was at a distance, then closed his eyes. He felt his body thrust forward, and when he opened his eyes, he found himself in front of their car. He simply leaned against the hood and waited for his brother to join him.

John finally reached the car, turning around to find no one behind him. He smirked as he began walking towards the driver side of the car. His eyes widen when he saw Howard standing there, leaning against the front of the car.

“What took you so long?” Howard asked with a sly grin on his face.

“What… but how did you… you didn’t even… I want a rematch!”

Howard laughed as he began walking over towards the passenger side. “Maybe another time… and this time, I’ll be sure to collect money from you.”

Chapter End Notes:
Haha, had to edit the story a bit because I got my military rankings messed up. O.o