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I Can Tell by That Shrieking Alarm

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It's well-intentioned, Dina knows that, but that doesn't mean she has to like or even pretend to like the purple and gold unicorn hat that she's just finished unwrapping. She considers it for a moment, then finished getting dressed after her shower and goes to return it to its owner. The idea of a Secret Santa is a strange one and seems like a throwback to expecting people to believe in a mythical Santa, but Amber had explained that it involves putting into practice a set of very useful skills, chief among them the ability to recognize what a near-stranger might appreciate as a gift.

Given that, Dina thinks she would like to have the feedback if the gift weren't actually liked, and it's equally clear to her that Joyce needs it.

Sarah opens their door when Dina knocks, and Dina does her best to remember what Amber had said and lift her eyes to meet the other girl's as she explains that she needs to speak with Joyce. Given the unicorn hat still in her hand, the reason should be obvious.

Joyce leaps off her bed with a smile that doesn't fade when she takes in the hat, even if her eyes do wrinkle a little. "You shouldn't open it yet, you should save it for Christmas!"

At least Joyce isn't going to pretend that she isn't the person who gave the gift, although the meticulous care of the folding of the wrapping paper combined with the actual patterns on the outside of it had been indicative enough even before Dina had opened it. "Why?" she asks, because it sounds like something Joyce feels strongly about. Maybe it's something that she needs to know, although Dina regards most of Joyce's opinions with a certain brand of skepticism.

Sarah settles into her desk chair, crossing her arms and watching them. Dina wonders if it's more likely that she wants to speak with Joyce once Dina is finished or if she's similarly curious about what the answer is going to be.

"So you can open it with all of your other presents, of course!" Joyce says.

"My other presents are bought by my parents and stored by them at our mutual residence," Dina explains, because there's the slight possibility that this is something Joyce is actually confused about, rather than stubbornly refusing to see the facts. "This was not, and it seems inefficient to bring the wrapping paper with simply to preserve a surprise, when I may decide that the gift is something better kept here anyway."

Joyce is still smiling her too-bright smile, and Dina can't help but watch her speak through it, lessons about eye contact forgotten. "So, do you like it?"

Sarah clears her throat, and Dina's eyes dart at her, but she doesn't say something, which leaves Dina to speak for herself.


Joyce's eyes widen a little, and her lips curl immediately downward. "Doesn't it fit?"

"I haven't tried," because Dina doesn't even want the thing, why would she take off her lovely dinosaur hat for it?

"I thought it might provide a little variation for when you wanted to mix things up."

Dina is sure that Amber or even Sarah could find a kind way to contradict that statement, but she isn't certain what good that would do. "I have no wish to trade an imaginary rendition of a real creature for a fantastical depiction of an imaginary creature."

"Purple goes better with some of your shirts."

Dina hears a snicker from Sarah's direction, but since she can see Joyce slotting a glare in her roommate's direction, Dina has no need to react herself.

"I see. Perhaps you should have gotten me a different shirt, then." Dina offers the girl a smile, figuring that they've reached the end of the disagreement and can start in on reconciliation. She holds the unicorn hat out. "I appreciate the effort, all the same." It's a silly sort of remark, because Joyce had drawn her name out of a hat, the same way that Dina had drawn Sal's out, and they were required to get gifts for each other, but it serves as a neutral way to close the conversation.

"You're giving it back?" Far from seeming pleased by their coming to a mutual agreement, Joyce is clearly starting to get angry. Dina wants badly to look at Sarah to see if she understands the situation, but she suspects that she's still laughing, possibly at them both, and this doesn't seem like the best situation in which to ask for that kind of support.

"It does not suit me and you seem to like it yourself." Dorm rooms are rather small, and Dina really doesn't have the space to store something that she neither likes nor particularly wants to look at on a regular basis.

"You can't do that with gifts." Joyce seems to be more upset the more Dina explains her reasoning, and in retrospect that seems like the sort of thing that Dina should have been able to see coming. She makes a mental note of it, wishing she'd thought to bring her notebook to increase the chances that she would actually remember the fact the next time it comes up. She can put it next to the note that says she's supposed to avoid arguments with Joyce that she's long decided isn't actually possible to follow.

"Because you think I may regret it?" Dina's sure that's not going to happen, but she can grant that that may not be the case for everyone.

"Because I got it for you."

Dina looks at Sarah, who looks like she's decided to busy herself with her studying. Dina should wrap up this discussion soon so that she can concentrate better. "Perhaps there is someone else who would like it," Dina offers, because it seems like the closest thing to a compromise that they're going to arrive at. Having said it, she likes the sound of it, so she nods decisively. "We shall both consider this further. For now it can stay in my care." Since it's very clear that Joyce may care for the hat even less than Dina does.