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Happy Birthday, Rhia!

My best friend's birthday is today. I wrote this for her, because she's not conventional in any way, shape, or form, so this isn't your conventional birthday story. I hope she likes it, as well as others.

***

She walks into the room to see balloons, streamers, and a 'Happy Birthday' banner. She doesn't even get a chance to school her expression into something that would be deemed appropriate before they jump out and yell surprise. She gives a small shy smile and says, "Thank you." Her voice is a higher pitch than normal, and her palms are sweating slightly. She doesn't wipe her hands on her dark jeans, but she wants to.

One of the many people in the room--who aren't exactly strangers, but might as well be for all that they really know her--walks over and wraps an arm around her shoulder. "Come on, join the party."

She doesn't like physical contact, but she can deal with it when forced. "Sure, just give me a minute to go freshen up." She hates the words the moment that they're out of her mouth. She isn't that type of girl, after all, but it seems to be enough to get the boy--and make no mistake, in his 20s or not, he is a boy--to unwrap his arm from around her, so that she can flee...er...walk over to the bathroom. The moment that the door shuts she locks it, and sits on the side of the bathtub.

She knows that she should be grateful. They went to a lot off effort for this party, but she doesn't want it...never wanted it. Some girls tell people, when asked what they want for their birthday, that they want nothing and really mean...well, exactly what she has in the other room. Other girls, on the other hand, say nothing and mean nothing. She's one of them. She doesn't want to make anyone feel bad, and she doesn't want to make them feel like she doesn't appreciate all of the work that they put into this party, but she doesn't want it. She just wanted to pretend that this day was just like any other day. It doesn't matter that she knew that that wasn't going to be possible. It doesn't matter that she knows that they're trying to show her a 'normal' time, because she's not normal, and she doesn't want to be either.

If this party was downgraded to two people--a certain two people--and a cake she'd be fine with that, but the banner, the balloons, the store bought cake, the fucking streamers...it's all just too much. Too much from people who don't really know her at all, because those two people--two certain people who she wishes could be here and knows that they can't--they know her. They get her. They understand that sometimes the best present of all is the one that involves silence, alone time, and maybe some chocolate, and an invite to just sit quietly together watching a movie that they can all mock in good fun. But this? This isn't that. This isn't anything even remotely close to that, and soon she knows that she's going to have to go out there, smile, and act like this is all that she's ever wanted...even though it's the furthest thing from what she wants.

She knows that she can't have what she wants, and she's not just talking about those two people, a quite room, and maybe some sleep. She's talking about just getting out of here, walking around, calling one of those two people, and just having what she considers a normal day. She wishes that that party out there was for someone else, because then it wouldn't be such a big deal that she wants to slip away, find some place quiet, and just exist in a way few of the people out there could really ever understand.

She glances at her watch. She can't actually stay in here much longer without raising far more questions than she's willing to deal with, so she stands, washes her hands, splashes some water on her face, and tries to find an expression that fits. She manages to find something that's a cross between how she actually feels and what they want to see. She doesn't know if it'll work, but it's not like she has many other options.

She walks out of the bathroom, and mingles with the less obnoxious people in the room. She dutifully eats a piece of her cake, and listens to the pathetic banter of the people around her. Some of which comment on the irony (which isn't even the proper word for it, and is one of the most misused words in the English language, or so her best friend has told her) of the fact that instead of a piece of cake with a rose on it to go with her plant fetish (which isn't even accurate either, because she likes house plants and isn't so big on flowers) she's eating a piece of cake that just says Rhia. The piece of cake made her smile because it reminded her of a name that a certain friend uses, although she's not sure if he pronounces it correctly, which only makes her smile more. It's a real smile, but not one for anyone in this room.

The time passes slowly, and a part of her can't wait until she has a reasonable excuse to leave this disaster of a time. It isn't a bad party overall, but it's still boring, and it's still keeping her from what she actually wants to be doing right now. She isn't sure how much longer she can take listening to her roommate fail at just being around other people, which is really just sad considering the fact that she's the one sitting here begging for the fire alarm to go off just so that she can get away, get lost in a crowd, and take a really long time finding her way back. It's almost enough to make her want to slip out into the hallway, and pull the damn thing herself...almost.

The thought makes her laugh to herself, because she's pretty sure that if her best friend was here right now she could convince her best friend to pull the damn fire alarm. Although, knowing her best friend she'd probably just set a fire that way it wasn't technically a crime. Now, she's really snickering to herself quite obviously, and she knows that she needs to stop that before someone in this room catches her and she has to explain that if her best friend was here they would probably all be in danger, or soaked, because her best friend would probably also find some place that has those old time sprinklers, and then set the fire. Not in the room, of course. Her best friend would never hurt her poor computer. After all, the poor computer has enough problems...it's a Dell, after all.

There's suddenly a group of people beside her, and someone mentions the words night and wing within the same sentence, and she's not at all sure what their discussing, but she looks up and says, "What about Nightwing?" They look at her oddly for a moment, and she realizes that she had actually just said that out loud, even though she had meant to just think about it. She looks down for a moment. "Um, sorry. I think I need to go kill my best friend. Be right back." She's up and heading towards the door before anyone can respond.

She's laughing to herself again, because had she thought of that earlier she could have been out of here hours ago. Before she can exit the room her roommate stops her with a sad look. "Where are you going?"

She stops laughing immediately, and there's a stream of curses going off in her head that would make a drunken sailor blush. She can't do this right now. She just found an out and she isn't going to let her annoying roommate get in the way of that. She mutters some lame excuse about forgotten laundry, and hopes that no one notices or remembers that she never got a chance to do her laundry....mainly due to the girl standing in front of her right now. Before the annoying roommate can make a retort she sidesteps her, and practically runs out of the room to find a place where she can call her best friend and yell at her for every Nightwing moment that she's ever caused, which is surprisingly far more than she, herself, is willing to admit to.

The End