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Birthday Girl

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Serena’s Apartment, the Fens, Freedom City

Saturday, August 17, 2019 (Serena’s birthday)

Evening

 

“Jenna, honey, I’m back with dinner,” Serena said as she muscled into her apartment, carrying a big bucket of fried chicken. She hadn’t been feeling like cooking, lately, not that she ever really did, and it was hard to figure out what the latest arrival to her home was into. Ever since she had taken Jenna in, it had all been touch and go.

 

She flipped on the light to her apartment to see that no one was there. Then, she remembered. Jenna was over with Lester for the weekend to spend time with her little brother. Looking down at the bucket of chicken in her arms, she groaned. Well, I guess I’m having chicken for breakfast tomorrow, she thought to herself. Sighing, she tossed her keys onto the tiny kitchen counter, and wandered towards the fridge. Seeing the six-pack of Coors she had stored in there, she picked it up by the ring and flopped onto her couch, turning on the TV.

 

 

Time passed pretty quickly. Serena’s pants were gone, she was on her tenth piece of chicken and her fourth can of beer. The lights were back off, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force was flickering on the screen. She giggled dumbly to herself at the stupid gags, eyes fixed to the screen. The fact that she was going to the Moon in 3 days was now far from her mind as she focused on the show instead.

 

Raising the can of beer to her lips, she saw a small reflection in the glossy cover of the can. She blinked, and then turned around to see the person who had entered her house. Lynn? She looked down, seeing that she was in a grease-stained t-shirt, crummy zip-up hoodie and her underpants and flopped down off the couch.

 

“AAAAaaaaaa how did you get into my apartment?”

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Mia had made an unexpected visit to Silberman's Books earlier that day, which she did from time to time. Not that Lynn objected; she was a cool kid, and their powers were similar enough that the older heroine could give her a few pointers now and then. But this time, the awkward teen had a very specific mission: that her mother not be alone on her birthday. She produced a key to the apartment and placed it on the counter, and warned the changeling to be prepared for anything. 

 

Which turned out to be painfully accurate.

 

"Ah, vintage Adult Swim," said the shapeshifter with a sigh, like a wine aficionado savoring a rare cabernet. "You have excellent taste." Lynn was dressed fairly casually (though not quite as casually as Serena) in a pair of loose jeans, Teva sandals and a faded Princess Jasmine T-shirt. Over one shoulder was an overdized canvas bag, and she carried a plastic bag filled with delicious-smelling Chinese food. Her curly brown hair was up, revealing her pointed ears and graceful neck.

 

"A little bird stopped by the shop today," she began as found her way to the kitchen and began unpacking things onto the small kitchen table. "Well, more of a great blue heron, really. Anyway, said bird informed me that a woman of her acquaintance was going to be spending her birthday alone, getting drunk and eating junk food. We both agreed this was unacceptable, and I was provided with a key in the hope that I might rectify that."

 

Lynn came back into the living room with a plate piled high with egg fu yung, mushroom fried rice and veggie egg rolls, as well as a bottle of Maker's Mark and two glasses. "May I sit?"

Edited by Heritage

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Serena scowled up at the sky. Mia had insisted on doing birthday stuff with her yesterday, even though Serena had never really been one to celebrate her own birthday. Partially it was because she wanted to save the money to spend on Mia’s birthday, and partially because birthdays had never really been a happy thing for her growing up. Serena was, in some ways, a birthday Grinch, and her daughter knew that.

 

She sighed, and hurriedly yanked on her jeans, looking at Lynn over her shoulder. “Yeah, sure, why not,” she said. She looked down at her grease-stained shirt, wondering if she should change more, but decided against it. She placed the cardboard lid back on top of her bucket of chicken, and sat up straight so Lynn could take a seat.

 

“If I had known you were coming I would have dressed up a little more,” she said glumly. “Or, you know, been wearing pants.”

 

From out of her bedroom came a massive orange and black cat, a Maine Coon, which was both fat and had a face like Ron Perlman. It waddled through the room, before immediately leaping up onto Lynn the moment she sat down. It was not a comfortable experience, given that the cat was at least 28 lbs, but he was already rubbing himself against her and purring.

 

“Hey, this is Beelzebub, my cat. He was… one of Wu’s projects. He’s about… 25 years old? I don’t know. He’s one of Wu’s first attempts at slowed ageing and it seems like he’s probably just immortal.”

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"If you knew I was coming, you would've barred the frickin' door,Lynn said with a chuckle as she took a seat, placing her food and the booze on the crummy Ikea coffee table before her. Then Beelzebub made his dramatic entrance. "Oof! Well, at last we meet, Beelzie! I've been smelling you on your mom so long, it's like I already know you!" She extended her claws and oh so gently scritched the big old cat behind the ears, and like most cats he practically melted. "Yeah, he likes that!"

 

"So, she stated matter of factly as she poured them both two fingers of bourbon. "Other than getting wasted, what should we do?"

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Serena nodded at the door statement. She very much would have done that. But now that Lynn was here, she was okay with giving up the fight for now and just letting things progress as they would. She did smile as Beelzie gave Lynn his love. The cat wanted to be everyone's friend.

 

"Well, look, Lynn. I don't really... Do birthday stuff. It always sucked at the foster homes and after Mia was born I wanted to save money to spend on her birthday instead since it's so close to mine. And, and, and it's like... We're going to the Moon in three days and I am stressed out and I am worried about taking Jenna in and how Mia is just sort of pretending she doesn't exist and..."

 

She sighed and took the glass of whiskey, taking a strong gulp of it before setting the glass down and holding her head between her hands, staring down at the carpet, which definitely needed a good cleaning.

 

"I don't know what I am doing anymore."

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"Hey now," Lynn said in a comforting voice as she put an arm around Serena's shoulder. "That's the great thing about being a parent; nobody knows what the f### they're doing!" She took a sip of her drink and winced. "Look, we're all making it up as we go along, right? The fact that you're worrying so much about all this, that your stomach's all twisted up in knots? That shows you care. You're going to make mistakes, and you're going to agonize over them. The ones who're convinced they're great parents? Ninety-five percent of them are f###ing their kids' lives up; I guarantee it."

 

She sighed as she rolled her glass back and forth between her palms. "Bill and I made so many mistakes with our kids; I was the indulgent parent while he was the strict one. Jewish mother, right? I'm always going to pamper my little noodles. They were constantly getting mixed messages from us, plus my daughter kinda hated me for years because I looked so frickin' perfect all the time. I never thought about the impact looking like that all the time would have on my daughter; I was just being vain and selfish."

 

Lynn set her glass down and sighed.

 

"This thing with Mia and Jenna, it's going to be rough for a while, no question. Jenna needs a good role model now, but on the other hand, how can Mia not feel weird about it? You're going to have to give them both some time to sort it all out. Thank God it sounds like Mia's got some good friends at Claremont she can lean on for a while when it gets tough; Jenna doesn't really have that yet."

 

And here she gave Serena an affectionate shoulder shake.

 

"And remember, you're not alone in this; you've always got me to talk to, am I right?"

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Serena nodded, feeling weirdly nice about having Lynn's arm around her shoulder. She understood everything Lynn was saying. This was a weird situation for all of them, and it would pass eventually. Though probably not without work on Serena's part. For that, she was going to try and be the best about it as she possibly could. After all, both girls were going to need her in different ways.

 

"I'm... glad you're a friend, Lynn," she said with a small smile. "Why you keep doing so much for a screw-up like me, I will never understand but I really appreciate just... having you around."

 

She chewed her lip for a moment, then looked over at Lynn. "I really wish you hadn't seen me like this, like this messy... I don't know. It's embarrassing, you know?"

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"Feh! It's your day, be as comfortable as you want." Lynn waved a hand dismissively, and her jeans melted into a pair of men's boxers and her sandals disappeared. She then slid down on the sofa and balanced her plate on her belly.

 

"All of us, and I mean all of us, spend too much time worrying about what other people think of us. Now, I'm not saying that means we should be a##holes, but I do think taking the occasional break from obsessing over our appearances is valid."

 

The beautiful changeling scooped a big spoonful of mushroom fried rice up and completely missed her mouth, getting greasy rice and soy sauce all over Princess Jasmine.

Edited by Heritage

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Serena rolled her eyes. "Oh my God, you are just the most theatric," Serena said with a smirk. "And I guess, but I care what you think of me. I mean, you're my friend and I know you wouldn't judge me, but... You know. I don't want you to see me like that."

 

Serena leaned forward and picked up a plate of chinese food for herself. She looked over at Lynn for a moment, then koo began to stuff her face with egg rolls to try and distract herself. Who even gets a crush on their boss, anyway? Serena thought to herself. Then she realized. Wait, I am 41 years old. Why am I doing this teenage stuff?

 

"Lynn, I gotta be honest with you. I am probably attracted to you. I meant, not probably. I am. And um... I just need to be honest with you about that. I'm sorry to make this weird, but like... I'm 41 today, and that's just... I don't want to wast any time hiding that fact."

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Despite herself, Lynn stiffened a bit. "Ah." Her boxers discretely shifted into a pair of pajama pants that slid down her legs, as she sat up and ran nervous fingers through her hair. "I, uh...s###; this happens a lot, actually." She winced and shook her head. "Not 'a lot' a lot, I mean not...recently. Gah!"

 

The changeling rolled her eyes, took a deep breath, and then turned to face Serena, holding one hand out to count off her points. Her voice was awkward and stilted, filled with a mixture of both humor and frustration.

 

"One: Thank you for the complement! It is nice to hear! Two: I find you attractive as well - yay! Three: I am your boss! This makes things complicated! Four: I have slept with an employee before! Her name was Gretchen! Five: I'm not always a good person! Sometimes I do things that are wrong!"

 

Then she flopped back down on the couch and covered her face with her hand, and sighed a long sigh.

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Serena frowned at Lynn's response, and felt the need to clarify this situation. "Look, it's just... We're going to the Moon in three days to fight my insane ex-best friend and the man who used me. And, and it's, it's like... This is all crazy. Even just going to the Moon is probably the most dangerous thing I have ever done. I hadn't even left the United States until I went to Bosnia two years ago," she said, sighing.

 

"And it means you're doing something dangerous for me that you didn't have to do. Hell, twice now, considering that Heather sicced her kids on us just a few weeks ago. And... I guess... Ugh. Okay, so, what I mean to say is that first, I am sort of motivated because like, come on, the MOON? There are just so many dangers up there and I don't want to... Yeah... And the second is that I don't believe in good people or bad people, I believe in people that do good and bad things and you've done a lot of good for me when you didn't have to," she said.

 

She frowned in thought, trying to salvage this on you. "I am sorry for springing this on you. I just... Even if nothing came of it, I hate lying about how I feel... And I understand if I messed things up and you have to let me go. I can find something elsewhere if you'd prefer it."

 

 

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