Ellie vs. the Birthday

Author: brandywine00

Chapter rating: PG

Written for jellie_rayneluv: Happy Birthday, Evil Brain Twin! And thanks for the beta!

Disclaimer: I own nothing Chuck-related, no infringement intended. My first Jellie ship fic, so please be gentle, but honest. Please review! Author's note: This is pre-The Ring episode, Ellie and Awesome are engaged, and Chuck does not have the Intersect 2.0 yet, but still has the old one. Comments and constructive critiques appreciated!

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It was hands-down, officially, without rival, the worst birthday.

Ever.

Eleanor Faye Bartowski, M.D., let her weary scrub-clad body collapse onto the sofa in her shared apartment, unable to summon the strength or the motivation to prop her aching feet up on the coffee table. Anyway, it would have required cleaning off said table – again – from the mess left – again – by one or both of her co-habitants. And she just didn't have the energy to do that – again – especially on her own damned birthday.

Pulling long shifts was nothing new for her, nor was the sudden rush of emergency patients just a half hour before her shift was scheduled to end. Resting her elbows on her knees, Ellie dropped her face into her hands, letting a long sigh escape. Another followed, catching halfway in her throat. The third one broke half-way through into a small sob. Heedless of the hot tears washing into her trembling palms, she allowed herself the small luxury of a pity party, something she'd rarely ever done, but it was her damned birthday. Happy Birthday to Me… she sang softly, almost silently, into her tears.

Neither of them would be here to help her celebrate. Chuck had gone off for the weekend with Sarah, something about skiing. Sarah was good for Chuck, got him out of the house doing more, trying new things. Ellie winced when he'd announced the romantic getaway, wondering what new bruises her brother would come home sporting. Not the most coordinated guy, if the bumps and scrapes he now carried regularly were any indication. Sarah was apparently into more physically demanding hobbies.

And then there's Devon… It was hard to say whether he'd started getting pre-wedding cold feet or if his sudden white-water adventure weekend with the boys – on her damned birthday weekend – was just a product of the two of them being together so long… taking me for granted…

Ellie snuffled back the tears, and pulled herself away from the longest bout of self-pity that she'd indulged in since her mother had disappeared and left Ellie to finish raising herself and younger brother. After all, ten minutes to wallow in her own misery wasn't too much to ask for every dozen years or so, was it? But she was the practical one. Always had been. Always will be... The one everyone depended on. Leaned on. Crapped on… she let herself think spitefully, but only for a moment.

It wasn't their fault, not really. Chuck and Devon tried to help out, but they relied on her to handle the running of the house. While she could honestly admit that much of the time she preferred it that way, there were times when she really just wanted – oh all right, needed – somebody else to handle things. Pick up the slack. Pick up their dirty dishes…

"Stop it, Eleanor, this is getting you nowhere!" Ellie chastised herself, pushing herself up off the couch and hauling an armful of dishes from the coffee table to the kitchen. She dumped the assorted plates, glasses and cutlery into the sink, promising herself she'd do them first thing in the morning, and headed for a much needed shower. Get scrubbed down, watch a little television… and no one to change the channel to sports or a replay of the Star Wars marathon… maybe a nice, soothing glass of wine and off to bed.

"Wow, I sure know how to celebrate," she sighed as she pulled her hair free from its ponytail.

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To be continued….