2 Weeks Later, November 16th
Hope and Trevor walked up the bleachers of the Stronghold stadium to find their friends. Rena waved her hand to signal them. She was sitting with Sor and Garret already. Hope plopped down next to Rena, “Did you know that today was Bart’s birthday?”
“He mentioned he had a November birthday but I never knew what day.” Rena replies shrug.
“November 16th.” Garret said calmly. “We really bonded over the fact that we both have November birthdays.”
While Bart’s birthday landed on the sixteenth, Garrett’s was on the eighteenth. Having close birthdays was one of the only things the boys shared in common.
The group stared at Garret. Finally Trevor spoke what they were all thinking. “Garret, have you ever actually had a one on one conversation with Bart?”
Garrett’s expression was blank. “No, why?”
Rena stared at Garrett in confusion for a few moments before turning her attention to Hope “Well I think we should do something for him, a little party of some sort, who knows how long it’s been since Bart actually celebrated his birthday.”
“I agree!” Hope said excitedly. “And we should celebrate yours too Garrett since it’s so close.”
Garrett shrugged “As long as the cake isn’t red velvet.”
Trevor sighed pinching the bridge of his nose. “This is exactly why he didn’t tell you because he knew you would make a big deal about it. He’s gonna kill me.”
“He can get over it.” Rena says with a wave of her hand.
“Hey where’s Ali, I didn’t think he’d miss the Brutes get their butts kicked.” Trevor asks with a raised eyebrow.
Rena glanced around before spotting him amongst a group of giggling mage girls, a flirtatious smile on his face as he leaned against the railing. “There he is.” She points out with a roll of her eyes.
“There has to be something mentally wrong with those girls right?” Hope shook her head. Trevor shook his head in approval towards Ali’s direction.
“Hey, O’Malley are you sitting with us or not?” Rena called out trying to get his attention only to be ignored.
“I think he has selective hearing.” Hope said rolling her eyes. “And by selective I mean he’s selecting to only hear the obnoxious giggles of those girls.”
Sor felt annoyance flare through her at the sight of Ali flirting with the group of Mages. She found the way that one of the girls stood there twirling a piece of her hair around her fingers especially irritating and found it more so when Ali leaned closer to say whisper in her ear. The girl giggled and swatted his arm playfully.
She huffed and brought her attention away from the scene hating the feeling of jealously that suddenly washed over her. Why was she feeling this way? Ali wasn't hers, they were just friends and this was just a stupid crush that will eventually go away.
The whistle blew indicating the start of the game.
“Okay so we need to set up after Stronghold so it’s ready by tonight. I expect everybody.” She turned and glared at her brother. “To bring presents for both Garrett and Bart. Sor could you use your mage stuff set up the basement?”
Ali finished up his conversations and swaggered over to the section his friends were sitting in. “I’m sorry that took so long. I hate to disappoint people, aye?” he said giving Trevor a fist bump before plopping down by Garrett. “So what have I missed? Anything?”
“Today is Bart’s birthday. We’re celebrating it and Garrett’s tonight. Bring presents for both of them.” Her voice was stern and disapproving. Ali opened his mouth to reply. “And no your presence is not a good enough present. I was just asking Sor if she could set up the basement. You can help her.”
“Awww Hopey, that’s his present over there!” He said, pointing at the group of girls with a mischievous grin. “Third years...what incredible creatures. Bart would have the best birtDON’T HIT ME I’M KIDDING” he sputtered out as Hope turned around with a playfully cocked fist. Rena and Trevor let out a laugh as Ali shielded his face from Hope.
Ali laughed and leaned up in his seat. “Alright, bean, how are we gonna set this party up?? Tell me all your ideas!” He looked at Sor and spoke in the same tone as he did with the Mage girls, as if he couldn’t, or didn’t, turn it off.
A loud “OOOOH” was heard from the crowd. The group turned towards the stronghold live feeds. “Bart Winchester: 10 points.” The announcer said with a booming voice.
One of the screens had Bart standing over an unconscious Brute next to a large rust-colored boulder. It would seem that Bart had hit the Brutes head into the boulder. Bart picked his bow of the ground and continued to advance. Ali turned back to Sor waiting for an answer
Sor blushed and closed her book resting it on her lap looking deep in thought before speaking “I’d say a classic birthday set up. Streamers, balloons, obnoxious signs the whole nine yards” She smiled brightly.
Ali waved his arm like he was shooing a fly. “Nooo no nonono! This has to be the best party ever!” He stopped for a second, and put on his signature smile. “Guys...Bart is 17. As in, you only turn 17 once!.”
Sor rolled her eyes trying her hide her smile “Then what do you suggest we do?”
“We all pretend like we are his biggest fans! We ask for autographs! We make a replica of his Stronghold jersey! We adorn the basement in...hunter shite? Okay nevermind, balloons will work.”
Sor giggled “We’ll figure everything out later, for now, let’s plan to meet for set up after the mage vs Grim match, don’t forget O’Malley I don’t want to have to set up alone.” She threatens playfully before turning to Hope “Think you can keep Bart away from the basement long enough for us to get everything ready?”
“Trevor can. I something I need to do.” She looked expectantly at her twin.
“You want me to get him a present AND keep him busy?” Hope’s eyes narrowed daring him to question her.
“Okay fine. Fine. But you owe me.”
“I don’t owe you anything. He’s your friend and he would do the same for you Dog-breath.”
“Oh boy.” Garrett said looking at the game. Bart was boulder hopping through atop a large rocky hill. Behind him, in pursuit, was a giant orangutan with a battle-ax in his hands
“Check it out! Bart is gonna embarrass that boy!” Ali was on his feet watching with pure elation at the chase
The ape was gaining on him. He jumped onto a boulder and pulled an arrow out to shoot. The arrow embedded into the large boulder in front. He jumped, grabbed the arrow and used it to pull himself on top the large boulder but just he was about to make it over his ankle was grabbed by the ape and he was yanked back down slamming into the ground.
“Oh man I felt that from here.” Trevor’s back arched as if something hit him.
Sor grimaced watching the scene before her, Ian was obviously showing no mercy today. “Better get the salve ready.” She sighed out loud.
Bart groaned in pain. But he didn’t have time to recover, Ian jumped down and would have landed straight on Bart if he hadn’t rolled out of the way.
Bart jumped to his feet and nocked an arrow but Ian was faster. With one swipe of his hand, he swatted Bart 15 feet. Bart went sliding across the gravel straight into a rock and hit his head. He didn’t get up. The scoreboard changed. Brutes score went from 30 to 40.
“What the hell Ian?!” Rena cried out angrily getting to her feet “Come on Bart you gotta get up!”
Hope was standing now as well, a look of worry on her face as she stared at Bart’s unmoving body.
“Where are the UTs at?! Revive that boy! He’s your best weapon!” Ali noticed that each of the group were up on their feet by this point.
Two Brute attackers - a cheetah and a falcon - zoomed passed Ian. They were followed by 3 hunter defenders but Ian stepped in their path letting out a roar while pounding his chest. The hunter hesitated but it was too late.
The whistle blew as Brute attackers ran back to their side and placed the Hunter’s treasure next to theirs.
“Brutes win.” Trevor smirked.
Hope glared at him, but only for a second, her eyes instantly went back to Bart’s screen. He stirred. He slowly sat up, holding his head.
The live feed had no sound but Ian has turned back into human form and was laughing and mocking Bart. Bart said words back that made Ian just laugh. He kicked dirt at Bart on the ground. Bart got to his feet and hit Ian in the face. Ian turned and swung but Bart ducked before Ian tackled him.
“Oh for the love of-” Rena threw her hands up in the air in frustration watching the boys fight “Somebody stop them!”
A ref ran into the shot and grabbed Ian and yanked him off of Bart. Ian’s lip was now swollen and bleeding. The ref was yelling at both of them. Bart turned and walked off the fields while Ian yelled something after him which caused the ref to turn towards him and give him an ear full
“Yeah, that’ll be a suspension.” Ali threw a hand up in a still wave towards Bart.
“At least we know he’s not hurt.” Hope said trying to be positive
Rena shook her head and grabbed her things “Come on, let’s go find him, I’m sure he’s off brooding somewhere.”
Bart was sitting on a brick wall outside of the stadium. He was clutching the back of his head where it had hit the rock.
Rena was the first to reach him as the group followed behind her “Hey, you alright?” She asks plopping next to him “Looks like Ian got you pretty good.”
“Yeah well, people say I have a hard head but I think he really put it to the test.” He brought his hand down next to his other one, there was a little blood on the top of his fingers. “I imagine this is what a hangover feels like, my head is pounding.”
Sor reached into her bag and pulled out a small jar of aloe Vera and arnica salve “Here Bart, smear some of this on your head. It should heal it up in a few hours and help with that headache. And don’t worry, there’s no lavender in this one.” She grinned over mischievously at Ali.
Ali made a face back at her. “You played a great match, lad. The Brutes were dirty as ever.”
“Yeah, thanks. I slept enough in the field.” He said grimly. “Thanks, Ali, That Stupid monkey came straight for me after he saw me. Left the attacker he was fighting and everything.l
“Say the word, and we’re decking him on sight! Right, Garrett?”
“Nah don’t worry about it. Sucks that we lost though.” Bart reassured with a smirk.
Hope, Trevor, and Sor decided that they need to do “something” before the mage game. Ali had to and prepare for his game so that left Rena, Garrett, and Bart to find something to do. “So...” Bart started suspiciously. “What’s so important that the other 3 had to rush off all of a sudden?
Garrett shrugged his shoulders saying nothing while Rena picked at her nails looking bored “I dunno Winchester, I know as much as you do.”
“But tell me,” she asks with a curious look, quickly changing the subject “What did Ian say that got you riled up? You looked pretty mad out there.”
Bart looked at them suspiciously. He decided to drop it. “I’m guessing you mean beside him kicking dirt into my face?” Bart thought for a moment. “He told me that if it was you on the field, you wouldn’t be getting up.”
Rena snorted unaffected by the threat “Empty threats from a child.” She bumped her shoulder against his “Hey, don’t worry about me Bart, I can hold my own, especially against ape head.” She smirked and stood to her feet “Now come on, I want to get really good seats for the next match.”
Sor glanced over at the clock once for what felt like that thousandth time that night, it had been well over an hour since the last stronghold match had ended and Ali was nowhere to be found. She had managed to mostly get everything set up herself, thanks to her magic. With a sigh and a wave of her hand, streamers were strung along the top of the wall. She smiled in satisfaction admiring her work, it was all coming together perfectly.
“So....” Bart set his bag down on his bed. “You just decided that you didn’t like going to the dorm alone huh?” Bart said suspiciously.
“I mean, it’s better if we don’t right? With the vampire and all.” Trevor tries his best to be nonchalant. If there was one thing true about Bart, it was that he was very suspicious and paranoid, though for a good reason.
If he could help it, he had to act normal.
“Sure man. Whatever you say. So have you gotten the courage to ask Rena to the dance yet?”
Trevor turned a little pink and shifted nervously. “I don’t know man. I probably shouldn’t. I think she likes that Kaiden guy anyway.” It seemed true, Rena seemed so interested in Kaiden. Why would she give all her attention to him when he was around? It was obvious. At least that’s what he keeps telling himself.
Bart snorted a laugh. “You and I both know that Kaiden would not last 5 minutes in any sort of romantic situation with a girl like Rena. Try again.”
Trevor sighed. “Look, I just don’t think she would go with a guy like me.”
Bart studied him for a minute before shrugging. “Yeah you’re probably right.”
Trevor obviously was not expecting this response based on the look he gave Bart.
“She probably wouldn’t go for the Trevor I’m talking to now. The timid and shy one that has no confidence. But you know who she would go with? A person that taught a the person they just met how to take apart his gun piece by piece and put it together. A person that has my back and chased down a vampire without hesitation sank his teeth into him. The Trevor that has enough confidence to actually ask her. That’s a person she’d probably be happy to go with.”
Trevor stares at him blankly. He didn’t know what to say. Was his friend right? Could Rena actually want to go with him of all people to the dance? Him, Trevor Johnson, be Irena Beasley’s date?
Bart patted him on the shoulder. “Now, can we get going? Or do you have to keep searching for random items you don’t need to keep me from whatever you guys are planning in that basement for me?”
Trevor sighed in defeat knowing he was caught red-handed. “Yeah okay.”
They headed for the door. “Oh real fast” Bart stopped. “Look, it was kind of rude of me to not ask you. Are you okay with me asking Hope to the dance?”
A small smirk came across Trevor’s face. “Dude listen, Hope has never really taken serious interests into anyone before. She’s very easy to get along with but she always kept her nose in a blueprint or an invention growing up. If you make her want to do other things, who am I to say no? I mean it was from the moment you walked through that door she took a genuine interest, I could tell. So we’re good man. Plus if I was to try to interfere she probably beat me up so it’s really about self-preservation.” Bart laughed and they headed out the door.
Rena, Garrett, and Hope entered the basement with presents in their hand and stared at the decorated room with glee. True to her word, Sor went with the traditional birthday party decor. There were streamers hanging from the ceiling, balloons were tied to the chairs of the dining room table, she even set out party hats for the group to wear.
“Wow Sor, this place looks great!” Hope says with a large smile on her face as she glanced around.
Rena nodded in agreement “Yeah good job, you really went all out.”
Sor smiled brightly standing on a tall stool “Thanks guys! Hey Gar can you give me a hand with this banner? I’m a little on the short side.”
Garrett chuckled and moved to help with the large ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ banner. It was a wonder how the tiny blonde was able to hang anything in the room.
“Okay, Trev just text me that they’re almost here. Is everything ready?”
Garrett helped Sor off the stool “Yep! We’re all set.” She turned around and admired her work hoping Bart liked it.
“Where the hell is O’Malley?” Rena asked with a raised eyebrow as she stuck a red party hat on her head “I thought he was supposed to be here to help you?”
“Oh I don’t know, I’m sure he just got caught up with stronghold or something.” Sor waved it off with a forced smile.
“Well he better get here soon.”
With that, the outside entrance to the basement flung open. Ali came sprinting in, still sweaty and dirty from his team’s match. “That...was wild...I’ve never played a longer match in my life. We had to...win by...knockout victory! And then we got to talking with those girlies from earlier and..” He panted out the words with his hands on his knees. When he came back up for air, he caught a glimpse of Sor’s expression. She was not amused. “Ahhh bean, I am so sorry. The place looks great!”
She turned away, annoyance evident on her face, and continued hanging the last decorations.
Ali was still catching his breath, but he was able to look up and exchange a look with Rena that conveyed what they were each thinking:
“You’re a dumbass.”
“Did you at least get a present?” Hope said irritably
“Believe you me, I did.” Ali pulled a small package out of his coat pocket. It was poorly wrapped and indistinguishable as an object.
“Okay they should be here any moment, is everything ready?” Hope asks.
Before anyone could reply there was a noise towards the door and Trevor came in followed by Bart
“Surpri-Wait why doesn’t he look surprised? Did you tell him Trevor?” Rena asks looking at Trevor accusingly.
“Oh wow guys. I was not expecting this.” Bart tried to sound as surprised as possible.
“No! I swear! I didn’t say anything.” Trevor looked panicky at Rena.
“He didn’t tell me.” Bart said.” Thank you guys. But before we begin, I have one thing to address.” Everyone looked at Bart confused. “First off, just because I am not an architect that doesn’t mean that I’m stupid. You guys were OBVIOUS. Second off, Alister and Sor had no idea it was my birthday, Rena didn’t know what day it was, and Garrett knew but he says like 4 words a day.”
Garrett shrugged in agreement. “So that means that only one person could’ve told you Hope.”
He turned towards Trevor. “So, as payback for divulging my secret. Trevor’s favorite musical is My Fair Lady.” Trevor’s mouth dropped.
“My Fair Lady!?” Rena doubled over laughing
Sor did her best to hide her laughter but failed miserably.
Ali shook his head viciously. “I take back every fist bump. This is a complete betrayal of trust!”
Trevor’s head hung low. “Okay Bart, That was fair.”
Rena wiped the tears from her eyes “Oh man that’s great. Now that’s over with, let’s get on with this party. Sor worked hard getting everything together.”
“I can see that. Thank you Sor, it’s very nice. You definitely didn’t have to do this. I didn’t want to make a big deal. He raised his eyebrow at Hope who suddenly found the floor interesting
“Yeah well too bad Winchester, we’re making it a big deal.” Rena says with a roll of her eyes and sticking a party hat on his head “There, now the birthday boy can enjoy the festivities.” She smirked and pushed him towards the living space where gifts, games, and snacks were set out. The group followed behind laughing.
“Oh awesome dude!” Bart had a big bag of chocolates that he unwrapped from Garrett. “Yeah, well I ate the rest of you lady bag so I figured I should probably replace it. “Bart eyes widened. “I knew someone did!! I told you that I don’t eat chocolate in my sleep Trevor.”
Sor grinned and held her gift for Bart in her arms “Open mine next!” She bouncing in her seat from excitement.
Bart laughed as Sor shoved it into his hands. He opened it up and found a medium-size pot with a plant in it. It was about the size where it could fit on a desk. The plant was moving and swaying. It was a Venus flytrap, except it was bright blue. “Oh wow. Thanks, Sor, this is really cool.” Bart tried to sound as sincere as possible
“It’s a Neptune Fly Trap!” She exclaimed, unable to contain her excitement. “It’s not your typical Venus Fly Trap. This little guy is so cool. Here let me show you!” Sor took the plant from his hand and set it down. She grabbed a pencil from a nearby desk and held it up in demonstration “Watch this!” Her green eyes lit up in excitement as she brought the pencil close to the plant’s small mouth.
“Sor I don’t thin-” Rena didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence as the plant had gripped the pencil and was now swallowing it whole, it’s small form growing to the size of the object before shrinking down to normal.
“Not only does it eat bugs and whatnot, it can eat ANYTHING!” She grinned brightly holding the plant up proudly for the group to see “I’ve fed one pencils, bugs, even a notebook once.” She turned her gaze to Bart’s stunned face “Do you like it?”
Trevor’s eyes widened as he scooted away from the plant. Bart carefully set it on the side table as if it were a bomb. He gave Sor a small smile. “I mean, who wouldn’t? Thanks, Sor.” This seemed to satisfy her. She smiled happily to herself as she sat back down
The gifts went by quickly after that, Garrett received a matte black cauldron from Sor, a dark magic set from Ali, and a spellbook from Rena. Bart received an archer’s glove from Rena, a totem from Al, magical headphones from Trev, and a custom knife sheath from Hope.
There was an intricate design snitched into the dark leather with a large scripted ‘W’ in the center. “I hope you like it.” Hope says shyly down at her gift.
Bart stared at the sheath in admiration, like it? Of course, he liked it, he loved it. Although he didn't want to make a big deal out of his birthday, he was thankful for his friends who went out of their way to celebrate him.
He put his hand on top of hers with a grin “I love it.”
Hope blushed but smiled widely back at him. This was the best birthday’s he’s had in years.