Yes, sorry, hi. I'm aware that it's been a little while... . I started the original chapter six, which got pushed back to being chapter seven, and so I wrote this... Mostly because I realized how close a certain character's birthday is to Astraia's... Anyway, it's a shorter chapter, but enjoy!
"Today is a very special day!" Cadfan announced, waltzing into the dining room with a wide grin spreading onto his face. "Anyone care to guess why?" He looked around at the few seated around the long table. "No one? She's baking a cake!"
Hubert leaned forward, "Who?"
"Fauna-Ellery Caryn!" Cadfan chuckled, rubbing his hands together.
"Why would she bake a cake?" Astraia asked, tilting her head, causing her long hair to sway to the side.
"You're joking, right? Nobody told you?" Cadfan gave her a hypocritical stare, widening his eyes enough that they appeared to bulge out of his head.
"Told me..?" Astraia trailed off, hoping for an answer.
"You really don't know, new girl? You should really learn to start listening to what's going on around you, otherwise you might not survive." Cadfan said.
"Um... Okay... But why would she bake a cake?" Astraia asked again.
"Guess that means that you didn't buy him anything." Astraia turned to see Megara enter the room, her long skirt sweeping the floor as she took a seat across from the blond. She dropped a small red gift bag on the table in front of her with a moderate look of triumph that she directed at Astraia.
"Him? Is it someone's birthday?"
At first, Megara just sighed and shook her head, but seeing the innocent expression from the younger girl, she eventually added a comment. "Poor Ezy, only two of the girls remembered his birthday! Three, if you count Caddy."
"Of course, you would count me." Cadfan said, rolling his eyes at the young woman's joke.
"Well, why wouldn't I? I mean, you only happened to remember Ezy's birthday! And you just sit so elegantly!" Megara's last comment was only drenched with enough sarcasm to knock down a pinata.
"Very funny. Are you suggesting that I should become a drag queen for Ezra's birthday?" Cadfan asked, nearly causing Hubert to snort out his drink.
"Don't insult drag queens just because you've probably slept with a cross-dresser without realizing it at the time." Megara spat, sparing Hubert half of a glance.
"If I slept with one, I would know it." A smart-ass smirk began to spread on Cadfan's face.
"Okay, but you didn't know at the time. I think that's what she was getting at, anyway." Hubert supplied, though he wore a smile similar in some ways to Cadfan's smirk. "So, how long as she been at it?"
"The baker girl."
"She'll kill you if she heard you call her that. -She said that it was almost done, but it needs to cool for at least an hour or two." Cadfan shrugged, "Said it like she's baked dozens of cakes. But this only the first cake I've seen her make. Everything else edible that she makes has been good, though..."
"Then shouldn't you just trust her?" Astraia asked.
"Actually, Caddy, just because you've never seen her baking a cake before, doesn't mean that she hasn't baked dozens of cakes." Megara paused, "Though usually, it's for me or her dad..."
"So, she is going to sleep with Ezra!" Cadfan mock-gasped.
Astraia frowned, "Is that woman's sex life all you think about?"
"That woman?" Megara replied, with a pointed expression.
Astraia shrugged her shoulders, "What, has she really been calling me anything better than that?"
"Well, it's better than being King Tut... I mean, I'm pretty sure that it means that the new stray looks like a mummy."
Fauna sighed as she paused from mixing a bowl of frosting to pull a cake out of the oven. The distinct scent of it had been hanging in the air for a while, especially in the kitchen and she smiled, seeing her soon to be complete masterpiece that was nearly scarlet in color. That being done, she then proceeded to wrap the bowl of frosting with a perfect square of plastic wrap, to be set aside for when the cake would be cool.
"What are you doing?"
"Ezy!" Fauna jumped, dropping the bladed box that she'd been about to put away. "I didn't expect you to be up so soon! Err, I mean, happy birthday!" She planted a smile on her face, attempting to hide a slight panic as Ezra slunk towards her.
"It's past ten, of course I'm up. -And I'm not blind, you know." As Fauna stepped back, Ezra caught her hand and raised it to his lips, managing to lick off some stray frosting before she tugged it away. "Delicious. Hope the cake is as good."
"Fuck... It was supposed to be a surprise!"
Ezra shrugged, "I'm surprised. Don't you have this rule about being nice to a person on their birthday?"
"...Why do you think I baked you a cake?!" Fauna quickly replied.
"True, but seeing as your little surprised was ruined, you could do something else to sate my appetite." He suggested, taking her hand a little more firmly this time.
"How come I have to do all the work when you're the one that ruined the surprise?!"
"Oh, you wouldn't be the only one to put their all into it."
Fauna shrunk back against the counter, "Ezy, stop. Just-"
"Fauna..." Ezra paused, taking a moment to lean over her and move her hair back to slyly graze his lips over the nape of her neck, leaving a trail of his warm breath. "Consider. Do you really want to say no?" One of his hands moved to rest on Fauna's hip, "Either way, you won't be a worse person tomorrow. You realize that don't you?"
"You can't... You can't possibly know that." She attempted to step back, but her foot hit the cabinet. "You don't know-"
"I know a lot more than you want me to, sweetheart."
"How would you know what I want? I mean, it's not like I care-"
"You say things about how you supposedly don't care, but I'm not falling for it." He said, his fingers finding their way under the hem of her skirt. "I've watched you for far too long to fall for that."
"I-" Fauna's breath hitched in the back of her throat for a short second, "I'm not going to fuck you just because you want me to!"
"No?" All too quickly, Fauna found herself being pulled far away from the kitchen, and all the way to the Clock Room. Ezra swiftly kicked the door shut behind them and pin her against the nearby wall. "You know that it's going to happen, sooner or later. It's going to happen because it's natural. So, why not go for it right now?"
He leaned into her a bit more, "You don't want the kindness that a real lover would offer, right?" He asked.
Fauna stiffened, glancing downwards. "I don't want to get carried away by any illusions. People aren't capable of being committed, anyway."
"So, at the end of the day it's best if I just treat you as I please and do exactly what I want." There was a short silence, "Right?"
"Well..." Fauna bit down on her lower lip, "If you do exactly what you want, you'd be forgetting to lock the door, first. We can't have that, can we, Ezy?"
"Fair point. But if I locked the door..?"
"Hmm... It is your birthday... Anything could happen, I suppose."
"Hey, Doctor?" Anders strolled into the dining room, approaching the end of the table where Cadfan was seated with a chessboard set between him and Dugan. He glanced down at the discarded chess pieces and noticed that there were a considerable amount of black pieces discarded. "You're losing?"
Cadfan shook his head, "Don't worry, it just means that we need to kill more white people." He said, taking out a white piece. "What do you want?"
"I was just wondering if you'd seen Fauna anywhere. Have you?"
Cadfan glanced up at Anders, "Why?"
"She's not in the kitchen anymore."
Cadfan rolled his eyes, "Obviously. Why are you looking for her? You're not falling for her, are you?"
"No, I am not-I mean... She's attractive, but I haven't fallen for her. I just haven't seen her around in over an hour." Anders rubbed the back of his neck, as Dugan moved one of the white chess pieces. "And Ezra hasn't shown his face yet."
"Kind of early to accuse Ezra of kidnapping her, don't you think? I mean, he could just be sleeping. Or he could be sleeping with her. Huh." Cadfan paused, "I see why you suspect him."
"How many times do I have to say it? I'm not going to sleep with him, just because he wants me to." Anders turned at the sound of Fauna's voice, while Cadfan and Dugan only glanced at her.
Fauna was wearing a short velvet red dress, that was fitted at the waist and flared out through the skirt. The short sleeves fell off of her shoulders, with a scalloped edge across the slightly low neckline. A dark navy pinstriped vest was loosely worn over the dress, matching the Mary-Jane style heels she wore. Her hair, which had been left down when he'd seen her earlier in the day, was now slightly damp and tied up in a high ponytail, beginning to twist into natural curls.
"You changed clothes. And your hair is wet. Did you take a shower?" Anders asked, as he finished taking in her visage.
"I did indeed. I baked Ezy a birthday cake, I looked and smelled like a mess. So, I took a shower and put on some fresh clothes while the cake was cooling. Is there some reason why you're eying me with so much suspicion?"
"It's just that no one I asked knew where you went for a little while." Anders shrugged, "And I hadn't seen Ezra, either."
Fauna tutted, "No one ever knows where Ezy is. But you were looking for me. Why?"
"No real reason... I mean, it wasn't that important."
"Hmmkay, well..." Fauna motioned for Anders to approach, "I need to borrow your body." A moment passed while Anders tried to figure out what she meant. "I still need to frost the cake, but then you can carry it for me."
"Oh. Sure..." Anders nodded.
Fauna pointed to the resident therapist, "And Caddy, when you're done thinking about my chest, you can tell Ezy to be up here in fifteen minutes. Hmmkay? Great! Let's all get to it!"
Everyone gathered in the upstairs dining room shortly after fifteen minutes had passed, the round red velvet cake centered on the long table and now coated with an even layer of bright white cream cheese frosting. Ezra was the last to arrive, not appearing to be in any hurry. He eyed Fauna like an old dog as he entered the room, outlining the curves of her figure. She absently drew her vest to a close, her carefree smile beginning to flicker.
"No time to straighten your hair, I see." He commented.
"Well, yeah... I figured that you would be up soon, and I didn't want you finding the cake on your own. Happy birthday." Fauna said, barely managing to keep her tone even.
"I almost forgot. You really survive by your little rules, don't you?" He barely seemed to notice the others in the room with them.
"Holy crap, he's talking! Why would he start drinking this early in the day?" Hubert spoke up, mostly directing the comment at Cadfan. "I mean, it wouldn't surprise me."
Ezra shrugged, "I can drink whenever I want. I'm only twenty-two... And that red velvet looks delicious."
"How did you know that it was red velvet?" Astraia questioned.
Ezra blinked, not sparing a glance at the eighteen year old. "Oh. You didn't think I was talking about the cake, did you? Though, the cake looking delicious is a given, as well..."
Megara cleared her throat, picking up the small gift bag in front of her only to drop it back onto the table. "Ezy, just open your present."
Ezra turned his attention to Megara, then to the bright red bag that had glittery black tissue paper erupting from it. "You? You bought me a gift?"
Megara nodded, "You see, if I didn't... Well, I'd be on the same level as everyone else."
"In other words, she just wanted to 1-up Caddy." Fauna interjected, "Now, open your present while Louis gets the ice cream!"
"Wait, why would he get ice cream if there's cake?" Astraia asked with a pointed look at the freshly baked centerpiece.
"Because you have to have ice cream smashed on top of your cake! It's a family tradition!" Samuel told her, as he stood from his seat.
"No smashing!" Fauna objected, waving a reprimanding finger. "I worked hard on that cake! It needs to look nice! Now, go!" She said, shooing the older gentleman away with the same affect as a mother.
By this time, Ezra had already taken the present from Megara and had begun to pluck out several pieces of tissue paper. "How much of this stuff did you use..?"
Megara shared a quick look with Fauna before replying, "It had to be pretty."
"Tch! Well," Finally, he removed a small object from its nest of tissue paper. It was tall, slender, bright pink, and in miniature plastic form. "It's a flamingo? Why is it a flamingo?"
A small smile started to grow on Megara's features, "If I told you, it wouldn't be as funny."