Teeny little teaser chapter.

Could Episode 1011 have made me any happier? Am planning a whole new R/C fic based on it...


"Rachel Green... you've been keeping something from us!"

Rachel's head snapped up from her magazine, eyes widening in guilty shock. "W-what?"

"We didn't have time to get a cake... since somebody's so secretive..." Annie whipped a card out from behind her back. "But... we did get you a card, and we're gonna order pizza! Happy Birthday!"

"It's... it's not my birthday," Rachel insisted, accepting the pink envelope Annie shoved into her hands.

"Well, unless you lied on your application... a federal offense, by the way... I beg to differ! I didn't even notice until I sent our payroll numbers to accounting."

"But it's..." Rachel turned her desk calendar towards her and gasped softly. "Oh."

"Also, these came for you..." Bryce called from the hallway door, his arms full of roses.

"Oh... oh, wow," Rachel said helplessly, her heart sinking as Bryce set the heavy arrangement on her desk with a thud.

"Go on, go on, who are they from?" Annie chirped, fingering the small white envelope on its stick.

Two dozen roses? She knew who they were from. She plucked the envelope off of the bouquet, pulling out the card inside.

"To Rachel, on her special day... with the promise of a special night. Pick you up after work. Ross."

Oh god. Rachel pasted a smile on and turned sunnily to her co-workers. "You guys, this is so sweet! I really appreciate it."

"Mysterious again," Annie laughed, rolling her eyes at Bryce. "I'm gonna order that pizza. Pepperoni okay?"

"Pepperoni's fine," Rachel mumbled, turning the card over and over in her fingertips.

Bryce stood a moment, watching her curiously. "Rachel... everything okay?"

"Yeah! Yeah, sure, I... I just hate my birthday," Rachel stuck the card back into the envelope, skewering it back on the floral stick. "Getting older... approaching death... you know."

"Mmm," Bryce tapped her desk with his knuckles. "Cheerful! I'll leave you to it."

Crap. Crap. Crappity crap crap.

Rachel yanked her purse towards her, staring at the edge of the box just visible in its interior.

EPT Home Pregnancy Test. There were actually two of them in there... she'd bought them on the way to work. She'd planned to take them... well... after work. And then spend the evening flipping out. Y'know.

But... god. A 'special night' with Ross, and...

Rachel's eyes widened, and her fingers flew to her temples.

Monica never forgot birthdays. Never. For her not to have mentioned it meant one thing...

Surprise Party.

Surprise Party... planned by Monica.

Surprise Party with Overly Supervised Games, and some sort of poached fish entree, and weird gourmet cake.

Surprise Party with Chandler.

No-no, scratch that -- Surprise Party with Chandler and Kathy.

Rachel let out a little moan. She could barely handle today as it was -- adding attempted seduction by Ross, poached crap, Pictionary, and her baby's father and his girlfriend...

It was like some sort of intricately crafted, personalized torture.

How was she going to explain why she wasn't drinking? How was she going to handle watching Chandler and Kathy? How was she going to get Ross off of her? How was she not gonna spend the evening in tears?

Rachel blinked. She'd go to her parents! She'd say that they'd had a thing planned...

Your parents are in the middle of a divorce, stupid.

Amy? Jill? Hell, who even knew how to find them?

Face it, babe... it's poached stuff and pain. Happy Birthday!