Chapter 1

Packing for a week wasn't too hard. Just a week's worth of clothes, with a few spare in case Flaky ruined an outfit or wanted to wear something different, some soaps and shampoos, and a bottle of perfume. Of course, she also had her work for the week placed neatly in a folder, along with a pencil bag filled with some pens, pencils and erasers.

After making sure everything was accounted for, Flaky grabbed her keys and left her dorm room, making sure the door was locked before going out to the parking lot. Her little moped was still sitting in the spot closet to the school, facing away so she wouldn't have to back up. Flaky's duffel bag wasn't too big, so she simply sat it upright between her legs and started up the moped, putting her helmet on.

The drive back to Happy Tree Town was actually peaceful. The scenery was beautiful and to top it off, there wasn't anyone driving past her. She drove at a slow pace, taking it all in. How long had it been since she had taken a ride like this? A while, she knew that. She had locked herself away in her dorm room, making sure to do all her work and research different recipes to try out to impress her teacher and peers. She worked so hard and stressed herself out so much just to try and be perfect. Maybe she did it because she knew she was meant for the best of the best. Maybe it was because she wanted to show everyone that, past her shy exterior, she was an amazing girl. Or, maybe it was because she wanted to show her parents something. Whatever the case may have been, Flaky was positive that she needed this week away. A week with her friends she hadn't seen in so long.

The same sign hanging above an archway leading to Happy Tree Town still hadn't changed. Granted, it was still old and looked like it was ready to fall any second, but the sight of it made Flaky smile. She was home. The memories of her years living here, in peace- no. There wasn't much peace. Someone was always dying. But, because of the old curse on the town, they always came back. She wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing. Really, she never thought about it while she was in Oak City. It was so quiet and, dare she say, boring there that the thought of the curse hadn't passed her mind.

No one's on the streets when Flaky rides through town. Nothing's changed. The old bakery was still there, though the sign had faded a bit. Same for the floral shop that was close by. Though, both were closed. It wasn't Sunday, was it? No. Then why were they closed? Well, maybe they would be opened later. Flaky did miss the little fruit tarts the bakery had.

No matter where Flaky went, she saw no one. A part of her worried that something had happened on her way over. Quickly, Flaky pulled out her phone and checked her messages. Only one from Giggles, saying to meet her at her house around 7:30. Flaky gave a sigh in relief. It still didn't answer her question as to where everyone was, but at least Giggles wasn't messaging her and telling her that everyone was dead.

Flaky spent her time going back through town, reminiscing about old times. Whether they were good or bad, it's what made Happy Tree Town her home. And when it started getting late, Flaky headed over to Giggles' house. And, surprise surprise, it still looked the same. Unlike the signs outside the little shops Flaky had seen, the home of her friend was exactly the same. It made her smile.

Parking her moped in the driveway, Flaky took off her helmet and hung it on one of the handles before grabbing her duffel bag and making her way for the door. Emotions washed over her. Excitement, anxiety, wonder, fear. She was here for a week to spend time with her friends, but were they still the same like everything else in the town? Or were they the only things that had changed? Did they still even like her?

Flaky hesitated before knocking on the door. She stood out there, waiting for Giggles to answer. Only a soft "come in" was the reply to her knock. Taking a deep breath, Flaky grabbed the doorknob and twisted it, walking in to a dimly lit living room. She frowned, going to reach over and flip on the light.

"SURPRISE!" The outburst took Flaky by surprise, causing her to stumble backwards and fall. Everyone from Happy Tree Town was standing in front of her, looking surprised. Giggles and Petunia were in the front of the group, a large and beautiful cake in their hands, several lit candles on top.

"Are you okay?" Pop ran over, helping her up and looking her over.

"Y-yeah. I'm fine, thanks," She gave him a sheepish smile and looked over the group again. They're smiling now. Everyone she had lived with in town for all those years.

"Happy birthday, Flaky!" Petunia squealed, walking forward with Giggles. Flaky just smiled, leaning forward and blowing the candles out. After these couple years, this all felt familiar. The party Flaky had thrown for Flippy with the same beginning. Wait… where was Flippy?

"T-thank you, everyone," Flaky's voice was softer than she had anticipated it to be, but by everyone's smiles, she was sure they heard it.

The music's on by now, and true to Giggles' word, it's calm and relaxing. They had made plans for this event, too. First, it would be the three catching up, then it would be some cake and ice cream, and finally gift opening. Of course, Flaky could talk to the others if she wanted, before and after everything else.

"So, how's school, Flaky?" Petunia asks as the three of them sit on a couch.

"It's going fine," she answers softly, "How's it for you?"

"The school's great, but everyone's so uptight," she sighs, "I wish you were there with me. At least I would have someone there to hang out with!"

"Yeah, I hear you," she laughs, looking over at Giggles. "What have you been up to?"

"Oh, nothing really," she replies, smiling at them. "I'm just happy my two favorite girls are back and spending time with me!"

"We should do it more often," Petunia chimes in, "Especially with you, Flaky! Ever since you started school, you haven't been back!"

"I know, I'm sorry," She lets out a sheepish giggle, avoiding their gaze. "I just… got really busy. I'll try to make more time."

"Well, you're here now!" Giggles throws her arms around the porcupine, being sure to smooth down her quills so they wouldn't poke her. Flaky just smiles, hugging her back.

After a bit more talking, the three get some of the cake Petunia had made, along with a couple scoops of ice cream. True to Petunia's word, this was probably the best tasting cake Flaky had ever had. A part of her was jealous. If her cake was good, what did the other food she had made taste like? Could Flaky ever surpass her skills? Sure, she did make amazing food as well back at school, but anytime she tasted it she could only see her flaws. Her teacher and peers always said she did a perfect job, but Flaky always thought they were just saying it. She knew she could improve. Some things needed more vanilla, noodles could have stood to be taken out just a second earlier, her pancakes could have been a lot more evenly cooked. Something was always wrong, but Petunia's baking? It seemed perfect.

The gifts Flaky had gotten was such a surprise to her. Everything was so amazing. She had gotten clothes, jewelry, some paintings to hang on her wall back at school. She had even gotten a couple pairs of heels and scarfs. It made her feel good that everyone had thought of her. And after thanking everyone, she decided to go talk to the others.

"Flaky! Welcome back!" Sniffles' warm greeting made Flaky smile. "Everyone was starting to think you had forgotten us."

"How could I forget you guys?" she giggles, "You're all my friends!"

"I'm glad you still think so," He gives her a smile and they talk a bit more. Sniffles had made a few inventions while she was gone, even though they didn't work. Maybe it was a good thing she had been gone.

It took a couple hours, but Flaky had talked to everyone except one person: Yumi. The varg had actually showed up late and before she could talk to her, someone was always coming up, wishing her a happy birthday.

"Yumi! You made it!" Flaky greets, giving her a friend a hug.

"Of course I would! It's your birthday, after all!" she replies with a smile. Suddenly, she held up a rectangular box wrapped in green paper with a darker green bow.

"Oh, that was sweet of you!" Yumi shakes her head.

"This isn't from me," she tells her, Flaky tilting her head. "I got you that white scarf! This is from Flippy!"

"Oh!" She gently takes the gift, inspecting it. "Speaking of Flippy, where is he?"

"He didn't think coming would be a good idea," she explains, "He knows how he can get and he didn't want to spoil your birthday. But, he wanted me to give you this!"

"Aw. Well, maybe he'll change his mind!" Flaky slowly tears open the gift and opens the top of the box. Inside is a beautiful ruby princess necklace. It takes her by surprise and a small gasp escapes her.

"Oh that's cute!" Yumi comments and Flaky can only nod.

"Thank you, Yumi," she finally says, "For bringing this over and for getting me the scarf."

"Of course! You don't have to thank me," she chuckles, patting her shoulder. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna grab some cake."

And with that, the girl was off. Flaky stayed where she was, still admiring the necklace. The red was the perfect shade and even matched her fur quite nicely. The gift was very sweet, though she did feel a bit bad. It wasn't a secret that Flaky had gained a fear of her dear friend, Flippy, but who wouldn't? One triggering sound and that was it. He would switch personalities and go on a killing spree. But, that shouldn't have kept her from being his friend, should it? No, she supposed not. All she had to do was look for the signs and make sure that whenever he did have one of his moments, she would be far from him.

Putting the top back on the box, Flaky goes over to where she had put her other gifts. Though, before she could set it down, Giggles came over, eying the box.

"Oh! Who was that from?" Flaky jumps at the sound of her friend's voice, turning around to face her.

"O-oh, this? It was from Flippy," she answers, making Giggles light up.

"Oh, really? You know, he's been a lot less… excited since you left," she explains, "Like, for the past couple years it looks like he's lost that pep in his step, you know?"

"Maybe it was because I left without really saying goodbye?" she suggests and Giggles looked at her with a shocked expression.

"You didn't say goodbye to Flippy!" she screams and Flaky shrinks back.

"I didn't say goodbye to a lot of people here!" she replies, but Giggles doesn't seem like she's listening anymore.

"Well then, you're gonna have to go talk to him!" she tells her, turning her heels to walk away. "First thing tomorrow! Since he wasn't here, you should go see him and hang out!"

"Giggles, that's not exactly what I-" And like that, Giggles is gone, going upstairs. Flaky sighed. "had in mind..."

Flaky shook her head, setting her gift down. Apparently tomorrow she was going to go hang out with Flippy.