Bday My Valentine


cesar_icon.gif cooper_icon.gif dirk_icon.gif emily_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif lance_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif

Scene Title B-Day My Valentine
Synopsis A birthday celebration and high stakes cupcakes at the SESA office.
Date February 14, 2020

Fort Jay, Governor’s Island

New York City Safe Zone

Friday, February 14, 2020

9:24 AM

There are so many things Agent Cesar Diaz could be doing on a Friday morning, but such has not been the habit of a man whose devoted life thus far to a career with the Fed. Like several other field agents, the dubious honors of digitizing archival paperwork have befallen him as evidenced by the stack of case files and other papers sitting in the stereotypical “IN” box sat on the corner of his desk.

But really, it’s better this way.

Better, because a little over a week and a half ago, Cesar had been field agent’ing his way into a cargo ship in the middle of the Atlantic to break up an underground (over-sea?) Evo fighting ring. Gruesome and disturbing details aside, one minor note in the case report was the injuries sustained to the man. Hidden underneath the loose fit button-down and stiff posture is the bandage wrap around the man’s upper torso. The burn cream at least is fragrance-free, otherwise he’d probably have to switch desks. Or not. He’s owning it.

What he’s not owning is the mundane task of typing in records, double checking them against the paper copy, and filing things away. They can keep him from the field until he’s healed up, but they can’t keep him from being unoccupied. It’s better this way, he admits to himself. Every little movement that shifts his healing skin sends a tiny sting. Just wait til the itching starts.

Cesar frowns down at the thought, and at the poorly handwritten notes on the paper he’s staring at. Five? Or ‘S’? Hm.

The good news is that Cesar being deskbound means he's a lot easier to find and spring a trap on. Emily had threatened to bring in a cupcake to commemorate his birthday. Something small … uninvasive.

At least, that had been the plan.

Then she told Geneva she was going to do some baking, and one thing turned into another, and… well…

Emily looks back to her friend wearing a visitor's lanyard, one corner of her mouth pulled back into either a grimace or a smile. Even odds. "Oh, god, this is really happening," she breathes to herself. With a small shake of her head, she laughs under her breath, wiping the look off her face clean. She glances back at Geneva, ripping the lighter in her hand to spark the candles on the cake's top. It might be unnecessary with the heat at her fingertips, but this was more delicate on the frosting. Lighting them one by one, she asks, "Ready?" Once they're lit, she looks out the kitchenette and to where Cesar is sitting on the floor.

This is really happening.

This had never been in question, because Geneva Rae Stevenson is not known to do small or uninvasive. Not even in the case of this stranger whom she’s met a grand total of once, and that during a drug-induced haze of rage which had culminated in the destruction of both his shirt and the finest set of pecs she had ever seen and then forgotten about later.


That complete nonsense aside, by far the largest acquiescence she had made today was to allow Emily to light these candles with her piddly little plastic lighter, instead of trusting the expert to it. Please!

As 'ready' trails off, Gene is already kicking aside the mostly-opened break room door more to the side so she has more room for the massive load she is bearing in her arms, striding out onto the floor a mere second after she does.


Probably a five. Probably. Maybe? Cesar's finger reaches to tap the key when the breakroom door busts open to spill out two young ladies and a candle-lit cupcake. "Gah-rrgh!" The agent startles upright in his seat, jaw clenching both with a brief sting from literally jumping in his own skin to the whirl of a look in the direction of the pair.

"Coño, Epstein, what the heck you tryin'a do to me?" Cesar isn't sure where to focus first, but when he takes it all in from the enticing decorated desserts to intern to Geneva, he finds where to land the look - the heat generator of a lady. Recognition apparent, at least he doesn't look fearful of her.

Cesar pushes back from his desk, turning, standing as the women close distance. "What's all this for?" he questions, tone carrying his amusement replacing the waning initial surprise. Oh, he knows what it's for. But it's more fun teasing it out of the normally serious intern, seeing as she's gone to some effort.

The moment that Cesar gets scared out of his skin is the moment that Emily thinks she loses her nerve. A smile comes over her unbidden anyway, as awkward as it is apologetic. Happy birthday, Geneva bids, cutting straight to the chase. Emily steps to the side after clearing the doorway, revealing that she's not brought with her the promised cupcake, but rather a full-sized chocolate-frosted, cocoa-dusted cake. Surprise, Cesar. Geneva Stevenson sends her regards.

Emily lifts her hands before her, taking in a breath. Somehow, she finds her nerve again, and her hands clap together as she lifts her voice at first in soft, shy tones that grow as she realizes no one will appreciate what day it is unless she sings with more volume.

"Feliz cumpleaños a ti…"

She doesn't speak this language.

"Feliz cumpleaños a ti…"

So she had to specifically learn the words just for this occasion.

"Feliz cumpleaños a Cesar," Emily sings with a smile, her cheeks flushed red with the embarrassment of standing out in this moment. She steadies her voice to finish without faltering either in pronunciation or tone. "Feliz cumpleaños a ti." She lifts her hands a little higher, applauding. There's scattered echoes of it from other desks, hums of amusement and appreciation threaded in it before

Still redfaced for her pride, Emily lets her hands fall to her side. She comes single step closer and then fidgets her hands into a loose clasp before her. She lets out an exhale. "It's part apology," she explains in a muted voice, with a tip of her head in Geneva's direction. "And part payback… for all the cafecito." Her gaze flickers in equal parts apology and amusement, remnants of her discomfort plain and lingering.


The song’s echoed in English from across the floor, as Lance leaps up to his feet from his own place on the floor to join in with cheerful and enthusiastic vocalization, grinning from ear to ear in that irrepressible manner that he has. As the song ends, he brings his own hands together, applauding vigorously for the song, the cake, and the arrival.

What, you didn’t think he’d let himself be left out of something like this, did you?

"It's all apology, from me. Look. I'm. Bad with the apologies, but fuckin', I really needed to apologize for the whole you know." Geneva unhooks one of her forearms from supporting the bottom of the cake just long enough to do a straight, all-encompassing gesture towards the whole area of Cesar's chest.

Meanwhile, the look on Gene's face couldn't be more deadpan if she tried, her blue eyes piercing and her head stoically tilted in contrast to Emily practically squirming beside her— and also in contrast to Lance over on her other side grinning like a fool. Before returning her hand to the cake finally, she uses it to brush away a stray blonde wisp that had managed to liberate itself from the messy bun high on her head.

"That probably wasn't the best first impression. I do better ones when I haven't been abducted and drugged up by some evil fight club, I swear." So here she is: back in black, with a wholeass cake.

Feliz cumpleaños!!!!!!!!!!

Cesar's smile widens to genuine appreciation of the cake and the effort to learn the birthday song. More, to sing it. Is that a tear forming? No, but color the man impressed and full of gratitude. It's sweet (literally) relief for the tedium that is desk duty. Aforementioned singed chest lifts and falls as he looses a short sigh and breathless laugh. "Interns," the agent says with a mild shaking of his head at the other SESA staff warbling along. And for Lance's youthful enthusiasm.

"If this is your bad apology and payback, I'd surely want to see what happens when you're in full form," says Cesar as he motions the young women to close distance and set the chocolate cake burden upon his desk top. The case files cluttering up space cleared, he might be moving stiffly but the stings are nothing now when his heart is so warmed.

A moment taken, silent wishes made. Candles snuffed with a soft puff of air.

Grinning, Cesar announces, "Anybody else who sang gets cake first." Mild lie, it's really first come first serve. Geneva's deadpan delivery countered by Cesar's more jovial, non-offended expression earns her and Emily a more curious query, "But damn, this looks good. You make it yourselves?" Lance gets waved over to help with cake slice distributions. Obligatory office etiquette!

When they're closer together, he adds in quieter conspiratorial tone before others arrive for cake, "Y'know what though? Choi's birthday's next month."

"I don't sing for just anybody," Emily shares in a deadpan aside, interested in not having that turn into a thing. She frowns as she looks down at the cake. "But we could do a cupcake for her. An actual one. Anybody know her favorite flavor?" She has to glance over at social butterfly Lance for a potential answer there, and then she's looking back to the cake to observe and by observing ensure insane portion sizes and shapes are not occurring by the SESA agent's hand.

"We made this at my place last night. Hopefully it lives up to expectations." It wasn't exactly the homiest of homemade. But if you couldn't tell if it came from a box, did it make a difference?

“It’s true, she doesn’t. I think not having a good time is a superpower of hers, we should have one of the lab techs look into that,” is Lance’s tongue-in-cheek ribbing of the other junior agent, slipping past the desks to move and start collecting cake-on-plate to pass out, “And shit, uh, Choi? I have no idea. Maybe ask Varlane? She might know.”

A glance across the office, “Or he probably has a file on her that includes her cupcake favor. You know. That guy.”

He makes glasses circles with his fingers around his eyes. That guy.

"That guy?" Emily cuts in quizzically, not following. Eyes narrowing, she glances over in the direction of Choi's office, or more specifically, the desk stationed outside of it. "… You mean Dirk?" But Dirk doesn't wear glasses. Quizzically, she supplies a second guess of, "You mean Voss?"

She has doubts that man knows how to enjoy anything, personally.

“He means my partner,” Varlane clarifies as she seems to materialize from the sea of desks, a sunny smile on her face. That’s… practically uncharacteristic for her these days. “Good morning, everyone.” She lifts her coffee cup - a paper thing from Sheepshead Beans with the name Nicole scrawled on the side — and tips her head to Cesar. “Happy birthday, pal.”

To Lance’s supposition, Nicole shakes her head, looking at him from under the arch of dark brows. “He’s out of the office indefinitely, chasing a lead.” At least, Peter had fucking better be. “I don’t know about you, but sneaking into Bennet’s files to look up cupcake preferences isn’t worth what he’ll do to me if he finds out I’ve been rooting through his things.”

Her left hand lifts, a unicorn bandaid wrapped around the base of her ring finger, in a gesture of but just a moment,Probably funfetti, though. Chocolate fudge frosting. Rainbow sprinkles.” That hand is then held out expectantly to Lance. Cake, please.

“OooOoOoOooOOoo did I hear that it’s someone’s birthday?” The voice that just grates on the nerves but makes you love the man that carries it drifts into the room ahead of his petite figure. Dirk is decked out in holiday finery. It’s Valentine’s Day, so that means his office bland outfit is paired with a set of delightful, heart patterned, bright pink socks. “The lovely Agent Varlane is mostly right about Choi’s favorite kind of cake… but… she’s still wrong. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, Mamasita.”

He glides around the desk and places another stack of paperwork on Cesar’s desk. “Sorry buddy, you filled out the wrong forms on these, they’re supposed to be B35A not C35A. You can tell the difference because it’s in triplicate and not duplicate, plus you need a stamp on these before they can go upstairs.”

Then it’s his turn, hand out to Lance. Cake, please… but on a plate, not just in his hand.

“Someone say sprinkles?


Might not be the sort of sound you want to hear in the middle of a police precinct, especially coming from behind your back.

Worse is the glittering, shimmering, rainbow mess that descends upon Cesar, turning his coat and hair into something Liberace would envy.

“Welcome to the beginning of your next rotation around the sun, buddy!” Thomas Cooper slides into view, depositing a glazed cake donut as colorful, but not as fabulous as Cesar is.

A hand waves off a piece of cake, Cooper wasn't having any, “Thanks kid. But I'm on a diet.” His chair creaks as he drops down into it, retrieving a half eaten donut. A bit of glitter that has found itself onto the man’s tie is brushed at and then the bits attached to his pants. Worth it.

“Did I hear Choi and cake? Totally a red velvet lady,” Coop offers as his opinion before taking a bit of that donut. “Mysterious and alluring. Almost as good as this donut.” Which he holds up to compare.

Cesar lifts his brows at both juniors for the exchange. Which guy? He hasn't guessed yet - although mostly holds on to a snort of a laugh - when Emily guesses Voss. Luckily there's Nicole right there to supply another guess, and birthday wishes. "Thanks for the birthday wishes," he says to her whilst he doles out slice after slice to waiting plates to be distributed.

Or he is until Dirk plops a new stack of paperwork onto his inbox. "Dirk! Are you kiddin' me?" A rueful stare goes to the administrative staffer. On his birthday, Dirk! "This one gets his last, Gerken," Cesar asides to Lance, albeit not with any real weight behind the words. "Don't worry. You'll get yours, Dickson." Eventually. Or he can have the one Cooper refuses.

Now that he's covered in party favor, Cesar blows some of the plastic strands from his eyeline, but he's (perhaps surprisingly) tolerant of the sudden glam. The added cake donut gets a glance, then he spears it through with the slicing knife and sets it down on a recently vacated part of the cake sheet. Thus it is claimed, so it is silently decreed. "Funfetti or red velvet's good guesses, but I like to think the Executive Director's more versatile, but practical. I'm saying yellow. You could do just about anything with a good yellow cake, make it whatever flavor with choice of icing," continues the agent as if this is normal SESA work discussion. That's right, Geneva, this is your taxpayer dollars hard at work.

"But, know what we really need is hard proof. Need to test the theory. We need…" Gaze shifting back to Emily, Cesar smiles wickedly, plan formulating, "Cupcakes."

The question who the fuck are you all even is forming in the confused scowl on Geneva's face, but she somehow has the grace not to say anything as she observes each new face popping into the room.

For now, she refocuses all her priorities towards also getting her hands on some of this cake she had helped to make, her gaze clearing up somewhat with the amusement of seeing Cesar's glitter-laden form on its way over to Lance. Once it's there, she waggles her curled fingers in a palm-out 'gimme' gesture at him before she actually sticks her hand out.

There were only a few reasons she was here. This is #2 on the list.

Melt his shoelaces or something, Lance’s hands flicker after he hands off a plate with cake into Geneva’s hands, his eyes darting over in Dirk’s direction but his smile never faltering. “Don’t worry, Mister Dicks On— “ he says cheerfully as he gathers another piece to hand on to the next person, “There’ll be plenty for everyone.”

Fingers snap, and he points at Nicole, “And yeah! Agent Bennett. That guy.” She gets a piece of cake next, as a reward for guessing what he was talking about correctly.

Emily blinks as she notices Cooper too late to warn Cesar about the impending glittering about to be showered under, giving a small start anyway at the pop for all that it was expected. She freezes for a brief moment in time, expecting something to go wrong in the moment…

But it doesn't. Same as with the presentation of the surprise cake in general.

A surprised laugh escapes her, accompanied with a half-smile as she looks back up to Cooper. For a moment she forgets everything else weighing her down, becoming intensely invested in the Great Cake Debate. "If we're going with cupcakes, I'm going first. If she doesn't go head over heels for a chocolate chocolate-chip bundtini…" Emily shakes her head instead of providing an end to that statement. She's gonna win.

"We starting a pool?" she asks all-too-seriously. "We going for glory or for actual prizes?"

“Oh, glory. Easy,” Nicole responds to Emily’s question, after a brief nod of gratitude to Lance. She sticks her fork into the cake and brings a small piece to her mouth. “Oh wow,” she hums appreciatively. “Did you make this yourself, Ep— Emily? This is satisfying a craving I didn’t even realize I had.”

Color flushes her cheeks a little after she says that, seemingly embarrassed about having admitted to that weakness for sweets there. “I’m pretty sure I could just eat a container of this frosting.” She’s committing to it, though.

Looking over Cesar’s be-glittered form, her brows furrow in sympathy. “I’ll come by with a roll of packing tape later. See if we can, ah… mitigate some of that mess. So you can bring less of it home with you. I’m sure you bring enough work home as it is.” The reproachful look that Cooper earns from Nicole is heavily laced with good humor. “You’re lucky you didn’t try that at my birthday.” Cesar doesn’t emit an electrostatic shock when he’s startled.

Glitter! Dirk loves glitter and everything that's involved with glitter. Sometimes it's Tuesday night wings with Cooper, sometimes it's playing ponies with Pippa. Either way, good times. He doesn't even bother brushing it off his shoulders and sleeves.

"Instead of a prize, why doesn't everyone just throw one sweet thing into a pot and the winner takes all?" Dirk suggests, prizes are so… last season. Besides, then you have to have first second third and participation trophies, kids these days needing praise for everything. Not this time, this is one pass the rest fail and Dirk is willing to put his money where his mouth is. "I'll start… I will do the winner's paperwork for one day. So if you have a stack saved that's a week overdue, just slide it right onto mine and all you'll have to worry about is the signatures."

Cooper points at Dirk with the half-eaten donut in hand. “Agreed. That is an excellent idea. We can call it Choi’s Choice Cupcake Championship. Whoever’s cupcakes she likes best takes all.” Of course Dirk is laying down a bet, while Cooper takes a bite of the donut. He looks at the and… yes with a full mouth… throws down his own wager.

“A full dozen of those really good gourmet donuts from Rings of Juniper, to the winner.”

He was one of Juniper's biggest customers and has been since he once dated her mom, Gillian. The man knows donuts. He looks at the others to see if they were going to throw in.

Once the cake has been doled out in adequate numbers and to most satisfaction, Cesar finally takes for himself a slice. It might have some glitter still on it, or some that gets onto the frosting, but oh well. "Would you? Hell, I didn't think this stuff was ever truly gone," he replies to Nicole's offer, rolling his shimmery shoulders. And the flavor debate rages on. He pops a forkful in… and then the ante grows. And grows. Cesar shakes his head. "Nuh uh, nope. It's my birthday, so I go last. And keep in mind there's a civilian witness here." A knuckle gestures over to Geneva, and he slides a light smile to the heat-generator.

Given that Geneva is busy being a passive(ly disgruntled) spectator as opposed to an active conversant like the rest of the room, she picks right up on Lance's surreptitious hand-sign.

Which is why, right at the moment Cesar waves a knuckle in her direction, Gene is busy staring crosswise at Dirk's shoes with a too-carefully blank expression. "…Hunh?" she mutters when she hears the phrase 'civilian witness,' her head snapping back up after a notable delay. But, her eyes are already widening on the faces of those around her with renewed focus: her attention has been completely redirected to the current topic.

"Shit, civilian my ass. With a prize like that, and me being here already, I'll be damned if you all ain't letting me enter. Hell, I'll throw another dozen of those fancy-ass cupcakes into the pot." Never mind that Gene doesn't know the first thing about who the hell Choi is. This does not seem relevant.

The offer of those donuts don’t sway Lance very much, because Juniper’s basically a sibling and he just steals them from her anyway. She knows, of course. As he hands over the next slice of cake, though, the offer from Dirk does catch his interest.

“Who’s gonna collect the bets,” he inquires, eyebrows raising a little, “And keep track of things?”

Emily arches up an eyebrow as well, pausing with a forkful of cake in her mouth. Seems like Nicole's the fish out of water here; everyone's going for the big leagues in terms of these bets. She slowly slides the tines free— momentarily relieved in the back of her mind that the cake turned out all right— and then gestures loosely with the fork. "I'll keep track. I feel a little obligated, so it's only right." One shoulder pops up in a shrug as she looks between them all. The fork is restabbed into her slice of cake so she can gather her phone from the pocket of her skirt and start better keeping track of everything that's been bet on so far.

"Unless Choi's out of town or on vacation or something, heck, we can even start next week," Emily murmurs to herself, the gears already turning. With all of them here, if they tried a new cake flavor each Friday…

“Oh, no thank you. Knowledge that I’m right is all the prize I need,” is Nicole’s ways of bowing out of the betting pool. “Call me a coward all you like, but I do not have time to do a mountain of someone else’s paperwork in the off-chance that I’m wrong. I will offer no prize of my own and accept no winnings if it turns out I’m right.”

Nicole lifts her chin in an up-nod. “Thanks for the cake, Ems. Happy birthday, Cesar. I gotta get back to it.” With a wave of her fork after popping another bite of cake into her mouth, Nicole heads off in the direction of her office. As she does, she holds out her left hand and inspects the colorful bandage around her finger with a rueful shake of her head before the office door glides shut behind her.

Ohoho. Geneva's double dozen donuts throwdown takes Cesar by surprise, and with a waving of his fork he calls, "Alright ladies and gents that's it, that's the end, no more bets placed, booth's closed. For everybody's waistline's sakes." At that end, the onlookers file off back to their respective desks with respective desserts. Cesar turns back to the junior agents and friend, and quirks a smile at them. "Don't worry Gerken. With this much at stake, nobody's going to forget what's in the pot. Now, grab yourselves some extra pieces while nobody's looking."

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