Hey everyone! Just another little side-story I felt like writing. My birthday is on Wednesday cough cough Kelsey cough cough LOL and I just decided that Amber needed a birthday too. And we all know that with Amber, nothing is simple. This will be a two-parter! Enjoy!!

She heard the front door slam, and felt the rush of rage inside her, clawing its way up her neck until her face burned red with hate. She let the emotion burst through her lungs, and through her mouth, and shrieked so loud and for such a long time that she thought someone on the street might hear her, and rush into the house to see who was murdering her. There was, of course, no one else in the house with her, but that didn't matter. It felt like she'd been beaten with a baseball bat. Velma Von Tussle didn't know the definition of the word mild, and with everything she did, she took it to an extreme. It usually didn't bother Amber because, well, normally, it benefited her. Whether it was staging a contest or harassing someone until they gave her what she wanted, Amber had always seen the advantages of her mother's ruthlessness. Now that it was being used against her, she hated her for it.

She felt the sudden stinging in her cheek again, and made her way to the bathroom mirror, purposely knocking various things down in the hallway as she strode to her destination. She knew it wouldn't help to break any of her mother's prized antiques, but right now, she didn't care. She was filled with so much revulsion that she wanted to see her mother suffer, whether it was now or later. She pushed in through the bathroom door and glared at her reflection in the mirror. The long, red streaks of betrayal ran down her face, in two vertical lines that began just beneath her left eye and ended about an inch above her jawbone. She clenched her jaw, and studied the scratches. It had taken so little to receive them, and she was paying so dearly for it. Aside from the fact that it hurt worse than hell, her mother was infuriated over the simple marks, and the actions from which they had resulted.

She wet a washcloth and pressed gently against her cheek, knowing that by tomorrow that side of her face would be swollen. At least she didn't have school. Not that it meant much. Her mother would probably parade her around downtown just to humiliate her. She groaned gently as the pressure from the washcloth hit her wounds, and she flinched. She was filled with rage again suddenly at the thought of the girl who had done this to her. She wanted to punch the mirror, in retaliation, but knew that a broken hand had never helped anyone.

She felt tears of frustration burning in the crystal blue eyes that looked back at her from the mirror. She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling and let the tears reside before pulling the cloth away from her cheek. It looked, and felt, worse now than it had immediately after Shelley had raked her long, manicured nails down the side of her cheek. At that moment, Amber had been so passionately dedicated to hurting her that she hadn't felt the pain of her wound, or of her mother's hand entwined in her hair, pulling her from the stage floor and into the backstage area. Amber had still been in mid-swing, screaming and cursing at the other girl so fervently that she hadn't realized her mother had actually stepped onto the set itself, and entangled her bony, crooked fingers into the mess of hairspray and bobby pins at the base of her neck. It wasn't until after she had hurled her against one of the sturdy walls backstage that she realized she was no longer brawling with the redhead, and was, instead, screaming a mess of obscenities and slurs at her mother.

Even when Amber had realized she'd been dragged away from the catfight, she tried to push out of her mother's grasp and lunge at Shelley once again, who was now standing outside a confused cluster of her friends, nursing the swollen eye Amber had given her just moments before. The dancing had long stopped since Shelley's latest bad-tempered shove had sent Amber flying across the stage, and, in turn, back at her throat. And though the consequences had been damaging, Amber wouldn't take it back, if not for anything else but the look that crossed the other girl's face when she sent a fist smashing against one of the redhead's eyes. It had sent her stumbling back, but she'd recovered quickly and leaped towards Amber, her pointer and middle finger digging into the soft flesh of her cheek and dragging them down, while her other hand twisted the blonde's hair to keep her still. Amber had tried to fight her off then, but Shelley was stronger, and she would have done more if Velma hadn't dove between them at that moment. Corny, and the rest of the council kids, had seen the whole thing, and she knew what they were thinking. They were probably cheering Shelley on, encouraging her for finally clawing the hell out of Amber Von Tussle. She didn't need their help, anyway. Corny was enamored with his precious "smooth as silk" Shelley, and he hadn't needed to say anything to either of them to make it obvious who he had sided with during the fight.

Even now, glaring at her hardened face in the mirror, she hadn't let herself cry over the pain, or what had happened. She couldn't let herself become a victim. That, even to Amber, was unacceptable. Instead, she grew angrier and angrier with each passing moment. On the car ride home from the studio, her mother had berated her until the veins in her neck were prominent and her eyes were bulging out of their sockets.

"How dare you," she had scolded her, "embarrass me like that, in front of everyone at the studio; in front of everyone watching that channel?" Of course, scolded wasn't the word Amber would use to describe the way her mother had spoken to her. She'd seen her treat the vermin on the streets better than the way she'd regarded her at the moment, and Amber hadn't even tried to explain herself. She knew that to Velma, there was no understanding why she had suddenly had enough of Shelley's stupid, smug attitude. Velma could never understand taking your anger out on a person at that moment; every fight she'd ever gotten into had taken months of planning, perpetration and back-stabbing. Amber didn't care about that; she'd just wanted to hurt the bitch.

Of course, with Velma Von Tussle, there was no such thing as a regular punishment. There was no "grounded for a week", or having her telephone or television privileges revoked. Anyway, with the strict dancing and dieting schedule her mother always enforced on her, there wasn't much time for either of those things in the first place. She couldn't remember the last time she'd talked to one of her girlfriends on the phone; they'd call, of course, but Amber was always in her room, and heard her mother strictly tell them not to bother calling back. Amber didn't have time to talk with the weight of her mother's world resting upon her shoulders.

That was why, this time, Amber had committed a cardinal sin. She hadn't failed an important test, or lied about where she'd been to sneak off with her friends; she had humiliated Velma, and that was something that no one could get away with, not even Amber. That was, in Velma's eyes, unforgivable. It meant that she was liable to punish Amber not for fighting, but for attempting to ruin everything she had built for them, and she intended to do just that. The defining moment of her mother's control over her life had come when Velma had told Amber that today, the day of her eighteenth birthday, was forgotten. She had taken her directly home from the studio, cancelled the dinner reservations they'd had that night, and informed her that she was to spend the remainder of her birthday in the house with no contact from the outside world. To further her point, Velma had arranged to go out that evening, which didn't break Amber's heart. If it was between being alone and being with her mother, she'd gladly spend her birthday by herself.

She sighed, dropping the wet cloth into the sink and making her way through the hall and back to her bedroom. As she collapsed onto her bed, she tried not to think about what she could be doing instead of wallowing in self pity and rehashing the fight that had left claw marks on her pretty face. Her stomach growled suddenly, and she felt foolish for wishing she was at that restaurant her mother had finally promised to take her to. She was sure that this wasn't just a temporary punishment; her mother would hold this over her head for years. That thought alone was enough to start searching the newspapers for apartments.

She let herself fall back against her pillows, and pulled one over her head, letting herself scream into it, releasing all of the air in her lungs. The satin of the pillow case brushed her scratches, and she cried out again, this time from pain, and fresh tears burned her eyes. She didn't bother to wipe them away this time, and let them slip down her face. They left small trails of moisture on her nose, and she sniffed, wiping her face angrily with one hand, careful to avoid the enflamed area on her cheek.

She heard the doorbell, and thought, for a moment, to let whoever it was leave. She wasn't expecting anyone, and unless it was Shelley coming to finish the fight, she knew no one cared that she was here alone, her birthday or not. Pushing herself from the bed, she walked to the front door and pulled it open, glaring sourly at the man on the other side.

Before looking at his face, she realized he was holding a small, covered pan and a small bouquet of yellow roses in his hand. She felt her stomach knot as her eyes fell upon his face.

She caught herself as she sniffed again, and looked up at him, knowing how horrible she must have looked at the moment. Her hair was mussed, her make-up was smeared, and she could literally feel the throbbing in her cheek. And yet, he smiled at her.

"Happy Birthday, Amber. May I come in?"