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Operation Birthday

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"Are you nearly finished, Miss Xiao Long?"

"Yup!" Yang called out, opening one last drawer and sticking a file in at random. No one could prove she was the one who did everything out of order, right?

That was the hope...otherwise Professor Goodwitch would be mad. And then Yang would be sentenced to even more detention, with even more filing. On the plus side, she'd get to spend more time with all these dusty files that served zero purpose other than punishment! 'Death by papercut' wasn't exactly a thrilling way to go, but at least it was unique.

While shoving the file drawer closed, her eyes caught a familiar word - 'Bella.' Shooting a glance towards Professor Goodwitch and finding the woman's back temporarily turned, Yang pulled out the file and let it fall open in front of her.

Whoops. Total mistake. But now that it was open, might as well take a look…

The word stuck out to her because 'Bella' meant one - and only one - thing.

Ok, it meant a lot of things, but in her mind, it meant only one thing. One person, to be exact - Blake Belladonna, AKA Yang's partner.

AKA Miss Mysterious.

AKA Ninja-Extraordinaire.

AKA the person whose Beacon application Yang was looking at right now!

"No way…" she breathed out, her eyes widening at the discovery. She'd always assumed Beacon had zero information on Blake, but the professors were too embarrassed to admit that to each other. So they just kept teaching her, never asking but always wondering where Blake came from.

That was wrong! Here was tangible proof in Blake's own handwriting!

Knowing she didn't have much time, Yang read the details on the form as fast as possible, committing it to memory before Professor Goodwitch came over to check on her.

Name, address, parents, schooling, birthdate -

Wait a second. Birthdate?

Hearing Professor Goodwitch's heels click closer, Yang memorized the date, flipped the file closed, and shoved it back in place.

"Done!" she declared, pushing the drawer closed and giving her professor a grin. "Have anything else for me?"

One of the best ways to deflect suspicion was by offering help. At least, that was Yang's thinking! And it worked like a charm. Even though Professor Goodwitch looked vaguely suspicious, she shook her head and gestured towards the door of the office.

"That's all for today. You may leave, but please exercise better judgment next time."

"No more pranks in the cafeteria - got it!" Backing towards the door, Yang gave Professor Goodwitch a thumbs up before hurrying out of the hall of records, breathing a sigh of relief as she left the stale room behind.

As soon as she rounded the corner - free for the afternoon - her unintended discovery took over her thoughts. Blake's birthday! She hadn't realized until just a few minutes ago that she didn't know Blake's birthday. Now she did - and what good timing, considering it was in a couple weeks!

But...why hadn't Blake mentioned it?

Off the top of her head, Yang could think of two reasons. One - Blake didn't want it to be a big deal. Two - Blake didn't want anyone else to know for reasons.

By now, Yang stopped asking for reasons and just accepted that Blake liked things a particular way. There was nothing wrong with that - they were different people, after all!

Blake probably had reasons...and Yang wished she could let it go, but it was like the date had burned into the back of her eyelids. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw it as if the paper was hovering in the air in front of her.

Blake's birthday was coming up, and birthdays were a time of celebration. They didn't need to have a party, and it didn't need to be a big deal, but Yang needed to do something for her partner - give a gift or token of appreciation or something.

If she hadn't known about it, she'd be ok letting the day pass without anything happening. But she did know. And Yang Xiao Long did not...not celebrate birthdays.

They were different people, after all…

Over the course of the next couple weeks, a low-key plan developed while Yang kept a watchful eye on her partner. If Blake brought up the special day, Yang would jump on the opportunity like fresh pancakes. But she didn't want to force Blake into divulging the information, so she sat back and not-so-patiently waited - searching for clues or hints or any word that was remotely birthday related.

The closer the day drew with no birthday mentions being made, the less likely it seemed that Blake would bring it up on her own. But Yang would wait and give Blake every opportunity to tell them.

Of course, waiting for Blake to freely offer personal information seemed pretty doomed from the start. But Yang would wait! In the meantime, she would keep her mouth shut and plan a teeny, tiny, mini celebration that no one else needed to know about. She didn't have much experience planning tiny surprise parties, but she'd figure it out for Blake.

And what birthday was complete without a gift?

Using her expert gift-giving skills, Yang thought of the perfect gift - not that Blake was hard to think of ideas for. There was a new book she mentioned a while ago, but they hadn't had time to get away from Beacon so she could buy it.

Fortunately, Blake wasn't the only avid reader at Beacon.

After asking around for a couple days, Yang found a copy already on campus. Luckily enough, Velvet had just finished reading it and was willing to sell it to Yang for the reasonable price of...twice what she bought it for.

Ok, Velvet was willing to give it away for free, but when Yang insisted on paying something it was Coco who fleeced her. But it was totally worth it!

Armed with a gift and a plan, Yang watched the day of Blake's birthday arrive with zero fanfare. Everyone woke up, like normal, and got ready for the day, like normal. She held out hope that Blake would mention something - a quick and completely unexpected 'by the way, it's my birthday' (Blake did like the shock factor…) - but no dice.

Time to launch Operation Birthday.

While Blake was in the bathroom getting ready, and Weiss went across the hall to give Team JNPR a nice, frosty wake-up call (seriously, how could they sleep through so many alarms?), Yang caught Ruby's attention as she flew across the room.

"Hey Ruby," Yang said, motioning her sister over. "l need you and Weiss to take a hike."

"But we just went on a hike last week!" Ruby whined. Raising a finger to her lips, Yang shushed the complaint before explaining in a softer voice.

"Not an actual hike. Just stay out of the room for a while."

"Oh," Ruby replied, immediately losing her pout. "Uh, ok. We can work on that project - collecting some plants from the forest?"

"Perfect. Make a day of it then?"

"Sure! But...why do we have to leave?"

"l can't tell you that now. But later!"

Ruby pursed her lips but nodded all the same. She was always willing to go along with Yang's ideas, even if that meant she wouldn't understand until later. That's what made her the perfect minion for pranks - if she got caught, her answers were so innocent that she hardly ever got in trouble.

Of course, that meant Yang got in twice as much trouble, but it was worth it! Usually.

Hearing the dorm door open, she nodded in that direction and moved out of Ruby's way.

"Hey Weiss!" Ruby said, hopping over to Weiss' side as soon as she re-entered the room. "Can we go collect those plants today? The ones for class?"

"If you want to -"

"And maybe we can bring some snacks and have a picnic in the woods!" Ruby added with a big smile. For a second, Weiss was confused by the suggestion, but eventually she shook her head and smiled.

"If that's what you want to do," she replied, emptying out Ruby's (already mostly empty) backpack before handing it over. Through that unspoken action, Ruby quickly opened the bag and began filling it with snacks from her overflowing 'snack drawer.'

While Ruby did that, Yang shook her head in disbelief at the mellow interaction. It was remarkable how willingly Weiss went along with Ruby's suggestions. If Yang floated that idea, it would be shot down in a blaze of burning fury. When Ruby made the suggestion, Weiss agreed and actually looked happy about it.

What did Ruby know that Yang didn't? Maybe she could teach Yang a thing or two...but first - Operation Birthday!

"See you later!" Yang said, waving Ruby and Weiss out of the room and closing the door behind them. Turning around, she looked at the empty room with a satisfied smile.

What better way to spend the day than in a quiet room, curled up in bed with a new book?

Yang could think of a lot of other ways she'd rather spend the day, but it wasn't her birthday. Instead, she tossed some magazines onto her bed so she'd have something to flip through (quietly) while Blake focused on her new book.

Hearing the bathroom door open, she turned and smiled as Blake walked into the room. Blake, however, looked around in confusion.

"Where'd they go?" she asked while walking to her bed.

"They went to work on Professor Oobleck's project," Yang replied with a grin as her excitement grew. She loved giving presents. "They'll be gone all morning, so we get the room to ourselves!"

The response caught Blake's full attention, her amber eyes fixating on Yang.

"Really?" she asked, and Yang heard the slightest bit of excitement in the response. Part one was a success - Blake was silently thrilled to have a quiet day for reading. Now for the best part...

"Yup!" Yang answered with a nod. "And, to make your day even better -" Opening her desk drawer and pulling out the hastily-wrapped book, she extended it to Blake with a smile. "This is for you."

It probably didn't look like a birthday gift since she'd used regular paper to wrap it (she found the book but no wrapping paper on Beacons grounds), but she drew cute purple hearts on it to make it more festive!

Or the hearts made it more confusing, because Blake turned the gift over in her hands several times before finally pulling at the paper to unwrap it. And, since Yang was such a good gift-wrapper, the paper fell away in one piece and left the book laying in Blake's hands.

"What?" was Blake's first response as she met Yang's gaze. "What's this for?"

One thing Yang failed to consider was if Blake had ever received birthday gifts - maybe that wasn't something Blake's family did? Or maybe she'd forgotten that people give gifts for birthdays? Yang knew the past few years hadn't been a walk in the park for Blake, and birthdays probably weren't a huge deal when living on the other side of the law, so maybe she'd forgotten the tradition?

"It's a present for your birthday!" Yang explained with a smile, but Blake continued to look confused.

"My birthday?"

"Yeah! I know you didn't want to make a big deal of it or anything, but I found your Beacon application when I had to file all that stuff and couldn't not do something to celebrate! So I got you this new book and an empty room to read it in." Pausing her hasty explanation, Yang waved a hand around the room before adding, "Well, almost empty room…"

Blake's gaze followed the path of Yang's hand before understanding dawned in her eyes. With a smile, she looked at Yang and shook her head.

"Today's not my birthday, Yang."

"Uh, but -"

"l made up almost everything on the application," Blake added, her amusement growing while Yang's confusion did. "I think only my name was correct."

While Blake patiently waited, Yang raced through about a thousand questions until finally stumbling over one.

"But why would you do that?"

"l don't know...because I didn't want someone snooping through files to find out everything about me?" Blake replied, looking fairly smug at how this had turned out. "Thank you though. This is very sweet of you," she added, holding up the book and smiling.

The compliment warmed Yang's cheeks, and she ran a hand through her hair before letting out a nervous chuckle.

"Oh, well...you're welcome," she replied, still not completely sure what had just happened but going with the flow. "I know Weiss tries to have that whole 'best partner' thing on lock, but I like to think I can give her a run for her money."

Yang hoped for a response - something to say she was doing ok as a partner. She really wanted to be doing ok, but it was hard to tell sometimes. She was either doing ok or royally messing up.

Instead of saying anything, Blake reached out and pulled Yang into a gentle hug - which was the best answer she could've ever hoped for.

"You're the best partner for me," Blake whispered before pulling away with another smile.

Yang smiled on cue, thrilled that her not-birthday birthday gift went over so well - and ecstatic that she wasn't failing miserably as a partner. They were still learning more about each other and finding new ways to work together, but she couldn't be happier with the person she was spending the next few years with.

"Wait," she said when a thought popped into her head. "When is your actual birthday?"

Blake's smile instantly turned into a smirk.

"Can't you find out?"

Blake's eyes dancing in delight while Yang scoffed at the subtle challenge.

"Of course I can," she replied, trying to sound confident even though she wasn't. Blake knew it too - she gave Yang one of those looks before sitting down on her bed and flipping open her new book.

While Blake lost herself in the words on the page, Yang tried to think of a way to find Blake's real birthday. If she hadn't put it on the Beacon application...where could it possibly be?

Operation Figure Out Blake's Birthday was about to commence.

Sneaking another peek at Blake - who already had a content smile tugging at her lips - Yang knew she'd be spending a lot of time trying to pry the information from Blake's steel trap of a mind. When that was unsuccessful - which it would inevitably be - well...they could always celebrate on this day again next year.

Maybe she could convince Blake to tell her as a graduation gift...