30/30 – 12 | Payback

Out of the subway and close to home at last, Danny sighs.

It had been a day.

His good friend Ben is usually a great boss to work for, but not today. Danny spent the morning with Ben in a rare ballistic mood over something that was the FUBAR of another department and Ben knew it. Ben just needed someone to yell at and guess whose office is the closest. Yeah. Add the pigeon that took an overhead crap on right on the table in front of Danny, just catching his food, because obviously he really didn’t want to eat lunch today. Suffice it to say he wanted nothing else to eat after that. He then spent the afternoon playing peacemaker and putting out fires from some of the staff that conveniently  and mysteriously did a disappearing act for the afternoon. Though it had not happened in over a year, this was not the first time that some people just bolted when Ben went all ape. He knew he would have to help Ben put out those fires  as well. Now throw in the overtime he put in getting his own projects back on track and he had truly earned his pay in spades today.

Danny had reached the office at 6:30am hoping to appeal to Ben’s good graces and leave work a little early. It was now 7:45pm. Best laid plans my ass he sighs again, trudging up the hill.  He promises the next place he gets will be not be on a hill. Or at least on an incline where he’s walking up the hill in the mornings when he’s rested and full of energy, not in later in the day, when he’s exhausted like right now.  Ben is so going to be paid back for this, he thinks. At least it was Friday and he didn’t have to come in tomorrow.

What the..?

He sees soft light shining on the trees in the back yard. That can only happen if the kitchen light is on and the curtains are open. Two things he knows he did not touch in his rush to get out to work early this morning were the light and the curtains. Did he leave them on last night and just didn’t notice this morning?   It’s just not like him to do so, though. Being raised by a mother with an unhealthy paranoia regarding home break-is, it was pretty much in his DNA now to double-check every lock and make sure every curtain is closed before leaving. But he was so brain-dead at the moment he couldn’t be sure.

He opens the door slowly, looking around carefully in the semi dark before entering and fully closing the door behind him. The moment the door lock engages he’s grabbed hard from behind.

Danny doesn’t even think about it. He just reacts.

His elbow catches the assailant midsection, the deep grunt letting Danny know it’s a male. Danny kicks out blindly and is rewarded with the sound of wood breaking as a falling body crashes into his coffee table when the living room lights suddenly come on.

The sudden light temporarily blinds Danny as a cacophony of voices rise.

“What the hell, Ella!”  He immediately finds his twin sister, the only other person with the keys to his place besides Ben. He was about to say more when he realizes there are some thirty people in his living room.

“I told him not to grab you in the dark! But Mr. Nah, I Can Take Him insisted, yeah great job of that!” Daniela shakes her head, coming to the side of a very confused Danny.

“Uh…SURPRISE?! I guess I owe you a new coffee table dude.”  Ben says sheepishly as others help him up from the remains. “Good thing we put the cake on the side table.”

Cake?  Danny looks around.

Only then does he notice the Happy Birthday streamer overhead.

Ben had him so warped at work Danny totally forgot his own birthday.  He looks around at a grinning Daniela and Ben and the rest of his friends and family in the room.  Exhaustion flies out of the window as he bursts out in laughter at being so perfectly set up.

“Payback is mother dude – you’ve been warned. Get me some damn beer!”

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