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"Kids! It's dinner!" Gaige nearly cringed at Erin's cry for dinner.

He was up in his new room, laying on his bed, staring at the ceiling and listening to Snoop Dog's old albums. He knew Erin was mad he had run home instead of taking the bus. She practically threw the new Champion backpack she had purchased at him. And when he informed her he didn't have any homework, that he'd done all his work in class today, she'd narrowed her eyes and looked him up and down like he was hiding something. Gaige heard both the Peterson siblings and his father come in not too long ago.

He tossed plucked his headphones out of his ears -surprised he could hear Erin through his music- tossed his phone somewhere on his bed, and threw his legs over the edge. Eventually, he found himself wandering down the stairs and into the kitchen to see what step-momzilla had prepped today.

But, he first got distracted by a big blue balloon number six floating in the living room. And three wrapped squares on the couch. Gaige furrowed his eyebrows and continued into the dining room where his guardians were smiling at Chester who was bouncing around in his chair like the little kid he was. Krista was slyly texting under the table and Milton was still missing.

"What's with the balloon?" Gaige was scared to sit down next to the little boy who was basically bouncing off the walls.

"It's my birthday!" It burst out of his half-brother, who gripped the edge of the table. Gaige cocked an eyebrow at his father who just chuckled and ruffled Chester's hair.

"Happy birthday, Chester!" Milton gave Chester what Gaige could only imagine was a real smile as he finally slid into the dining table. Chester laughed thanks and looked at his mother.

Erin smiled and took Milton's hand, offering her other to Gaige, "Let us say grace and then we can have dinner, cake, and open presents," Gaige's eyes widen and his stomach flew into his throat.

He hated birthday with everything in him. Well, really, it was everything in his mental illness that hated birthdays. First, the social pressures to see family and be grateful for any wacky present he may receive. But mainly it was all the calories and sweet treats that surrounded celebrations like birthdays. Cakes, sodas, and people liked to give candy as a present. Even if it wasn't his birthday, Gaige was still socially required to be happy, nice, and eat cake like it didn't make his brain explode thinking about all the ways one slice could ruin his life.

And now he was having leftover beef stew while a chocolate frosted cake teased him from the middle of the table. Taunting, becoming darker until his stomach became a black hole and his already present headache was pound efficiently in his head.

He was so entranced in the horror of cake, Gaige missed Erin's before dinner grace.

And then the table was silent again, except for the clanking of spoons against ceramic bowls. Milton rolled his eyes at his bowl, Krista continued to text under the table, and Gaige continuously eyed the round little cake that would -and already was- making his life hell. The cake itself was probably 200 calories in his calculations -if it wasn't chocolate, then it'd be three hundred or four hundred because chocolate always made the calories and carbs skyrocket. He'd have to ask for the smaller slice, and then peel the frosting off, pick at the cake. And then he'd still need to run three miles in under half an hour if he wanted to burn off the calories of just the cake.

"How does it feel being six, Chester?" Erin smiled at her youngest son who widened his eyes and stopped eating his stew.

"I got to pick out of the birthday bin. And now I a shark sticker that changes pictures when you move on my desk. Chelsey said I should have chosen something cooler like the sunglasses but I liked the shark sticker. It even makes a noise if you run your finger over," Chester was pretty satisfied with his story even though it had nothing to do with Erin's question.

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