This fic is the result of a challenge I put out to several friends of Josef to come up with some ways of celebrating Josef's b

I--Introduction

2 a.m. Josef stretched in sybaritic pleasure and settled his long frame even more comfortably on the couch, his deep midnight blue silk sleep pants sliding on the leather upholstery with a quiet whisper even as the cool bare skin of his upper body moved easily against the satin-clad thigh of one of his most favored freshies. He closed his eyes as Faction softly stroked his temples, her small fingers twining in his hair.

Allara sat on the floor, leaning her back against the couch, quietly turning the pages of her math textbook. Josef rested his left hand lightly on her shoulder, his fingers moving absently to caress her throat. She was concentrating on her studies, but every once in a while, tilted her head a bit, stretching her neck in response, exposing the delicate white skin to the heat of his half-lidded gaze.

Lucky held his feet in her lap, resting on the border between the satin of her nightgown and her bare legs, her pale capable hands massaging his feet, steadily moving, kneading, bending. The end of her long red braid swayed over her shoulder in counterpoint to the controlled, rhythmic movements of her hands. As she worked, dragging her knuckles up and down the sole of one foot even as her other thumb ran firmly along his Achilles tendon. Between the warmth of her hands, and the gentle heat of her lap, Josef could feel some of the tension leaving his entire body. He was rarely as relaxed anywhere as in the company of his freshies.

Even the newest addition to the group, Eris, who was sitting nearby tapping away on her laptop, added to his sense of comfort. She might not be as "touchy-feely" as the others, not as prone to hang on him in the midst of the others, but he could hear the sound of her heart, and her scent conveyed her contentment at being a part of the group.

Josef groaned happily when Lucky found a particularly sensitive spot on his heel. "Damn, that feels good, doll," he said. "Don't stop."

"Of course, Josef," Lucky replied soothingly. "I can't believe you've never requested a foot rub before."

He snorted softly, then frowned, his eyebrows drawing together above his almost-closed eyes. "Now, I seem to recall, Lucky, something about you still being allowed to give Mick footrubs?" he said.

Lucky shrugged without interrupting the movements of her hands. "There was a stipulation to that effect," she said carefully, "but it's not been—taken advantage of. Ever."

Josef felt the stirrings of his territorial instincts at the discovery of a new facet of one of his freshies. Mick was a friend, but when it came down to it, he hated sharing. He raised his head from Faction's lap to look at her, and responded a little shortly, "In that case, how about we take that possibility off the table, as of now?"

Lucky only smiled at him. "Yes, Josef," she answered.

He settled his head back down, but Faction could feel some of the tension returning to his shoulders. She cast around in her mind for something, anything, to drag the subject elsewhere. Finally, a thought occurred. "Josef," she said, "I don't think you've ever told us when your birthday is."

Josef twisted his head around to look up at her. "Birthday?"

Allara shifted to look at him as well, marking the place in her book with one thumb. "Yeah," she said, "when is it, Josef?"

Eris looked up sharply as well, smiling to herself as she took in the group dynamic. It was interesting to her to see how the other three women worked together around their vampire. She could see Josef relax almost visibly in their expert hands. She wasn't quite sure, yet, how she fit into this tight-knit group, but she expected she'd find her way.

Josef smiled indulgently. "There's no way around this discussion, is there?" he asked.

Lucky provided the demure reply. "No, Josef."

"What if I told you I don't know?"

Eris decided to throw in a comment at that point. "My guess is that they won't believe it, Josef." Lucky looked up and gave her a wry, but approving, look.

The vampire lifted his right hand in a gesture of mock-exasperation. "It's true. When I was born, people didn't keep track of those things much. Records were not kept. And by the time it became a topic of interest, I had no idea."

"You must have a birthdate listed on your passport," Eris said reasonably. "And there have to be other documents with something listed. We could always use that."

Lucky nodded. "It's arbitrary, but at least it would give us a day to work with."

"Come on, Josef," Allara added, bouncing against the couch. "Throw us a bone here."

Josef smiled, but his words ended the discussion. "Settle down, Turbo," he said. "Girls, I appreciate it, but after missing this many, it just doesn't matter much to me."

And that was that, for the evening.

The next day, knowing that Josef was safely incommunicado in his freezer, Lucky called the other three freshies together. "I've got an idea," she said. "If he won't pick a birthday, we can pick one for him…or better yet, we can each pick a different day—"

Allara interrupted "--and each surprise him with a special event, or gift or something, right?"

Faction and Eris exchanged amused looks. "Think it could work?" Faction asked. "We could be catching up on several missed birthdays a year this way."

Eris shrugged. "Don't look at me—I'm new around here. But it sounds fun." She already had a wicked gleam in her eye, formulating a few plans.

Lucky nodded. "So—you want to draw straws to see what order we go in?" The others gathered around, and schedule was set quickly. A few minutes later, they went their separate ways, each smiling at the possibilities.