Happy birthday, Ryan Ross.
"I used to waste my time dreaming of being alive. Now I only waste it dreaming of you."--Fall Out Boy
Ryan crawled out of bed as usual; sleepy and cranky, swatting the snooze button upon his rather obnoxious alarm clock. It held the digits of sixth thirty, with a dissolving dark blue still oozing from the previous night outside his dark apartment; fading stars and arising sun abound. He knew what day it was, but was rather apathetic of it. He sleepily took a shower and got dressed, tying the ugly green Starbucks apron around his thin waist, before perfecting his hair and make-up. As he was about to leave, his eyes wandered to a certain date dwelling on a dreaded Tuesday, upon a hanging calander. He just left in haste, escaping from the thirtieth. Today was going to be of horror. Today was going to be of groans and frustration. Today was going to be different from every other dreaded day. Today made him one year older. Today was Ryan Ross's birthday.
Ryan was never one for birthdays. Especially not his own. He truly did not see the point or meaning in celebrating his date of birth. It was just one day out of the year. One day out of three hundred and sixty five. One day that Ryan just happened to come into this sick world of murders and despair. One day that he became apart of memories or broken pasts. One day that began his self-hatred. One day that he doesn't see the use for celebrating. But, as another glitter of sunshine immerses the town in gold, without the sorrow of rain sweeping the town in wet misery, Ryan thought that maybe this birthday might be a little better than previous ones.
With his thoughts filled with hope, Ryan thought he could walk to work today. There was a small breeze withering into the weather with beads of dew showering the freshly mowed grass. It was rather cool and lovely out and Ryan didn't get many of those mornings. Maybe today was going to go rather swell after all.
But, that thought was soon forgotten as he entered Starbucks.
He flipped on the light, as three girls instantly bellowed a hyper, "Happy birthday, Ryan Ross!" in unison. He blinked rapidly, trying to regain focus. Oh no. This was a surprise party. A rainbow of balloons flooded the Starbucks, that screeched inflated 'Happy Birthday!'s. He captured a glimpse of a chocolate cake, illuminated with bright frosting and candles, all delicately placed in intricacy, upon a counter, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee. Three gifts were stacked on a table, all wrapped in colorful paper with vibrant stripes and polka dots. He looked to the three deviants, who were all smiling warmly at Ryan, causing him to smile back, despite the fact he hated surprises and birthdays. And mixing both wasn't such a good idea. Alas, he continued to smile.
"You guys didn't have to do this." Ryan said, his eyes roaming the bright scenery again.
He could only narrow down one culprit who would arrange a surprise birthday party. It was Helen. He had only merely mentioned his birthday to her once and it was by accident. They were just cuddling on the couch, watching some chick flick that Ryan had picked out especially, considering that Helen adored cheesy, love movies. And if Ryan were to come over, a corny movie that he would never watch in one hand and buttered popcorn in the other, Helen would adore him even more. It was on his mind and he had to whisper something to her occasionally to prevent himself from either gagging at the cliche quotes from the movie or just falling asleep. Alas, Ryan didn't care that he was watching some stupid movie, he just wanted to be close to Helen; snuggled up on the couch; stolen kisses and affectionate whispers galore!
But, he didn't really expect Helen to remember. It was mentioned once, in a whisper. How could she remember that if he didn't even want to remember his own birthday? Alas, Helen is just wonderful like that, so he isn't too surprised.
She must've been good too, if she convinced Elle to throw this party so early in the morning. But, customers don't start making appearances until about eight o'clock or so. Nonetheless, Elle was certainly not the early bird. She completely hated mornings and cursed a lot while making coffee for herself. But, she was a little better once she had her coffee, ready to serve customers and order other employees around in chipper tones. And the fact that the party was for Ryan made it even more unbelievable.
Oddly enough, Elle wasn't her usual snarky self, with snide remarks and vicious smirks. She was rather calm today and swallowed her sarcastic slurs, replacing them with warm smiles. And quite frankly, it surprised Ryan. It also made him a little sad. She would be the only one to challenge him; always capturing themselves in slanders or arguments. Alas, they both knew it was a little harmless, but always a tad bit fun for the both of them. Elle guessed she could be good for one day out of the year, though.
As for Nicole, she looked rather sleepy as she tried her hardest to not doze off. Ryan could tell she probably didn't get up this early and appreciated that she did just for this stupid occasion. If it were Ryan's choice at all, he wouldn't waste his time for sleep for some lame surprise party. But, Nicole was here. He couldn't help but smile at the fact that she was probably the one who made the scrumptious-looking cake, that caused his stomach to growl. Let's face it, Nicole was a great cook. And Elle wasn't going to make him a damn cake, nor buy him one. Helen wasn't allowed to cook or bake anything, because of Nicole's rules. She didn't even let Helen come close to an oven, in fear of what may happen when Helen was the spatula. Oh yes. Ryan has heard countless stories of how awful Helen's cooking is or how horrible she is when it comes to not starting fires. Actually, Ryan thought it was kind of cute that Helen couldn't cook. She'd always make annoyed faces when ever Nicole mentioned it. Her incompetence with a frying pan made him giggle, causing her to blush wildly.
Helen was dressed in a blue outfit today. Blue capris, a blue logo in the corner of her white shirt, blue Converse, blue studs in her ear, a necklace with a blue heart, blue clinking bracelets, and a blue hair clip. Despite her blue apparel, her mood was opposite. She was smiling and a little eager for Ryan's joy for the party, causing him to act like he really appreciated the surprise.
Suddenly, Elle grabbed her gift and rushed to Ryan.
"Happy birthday, Ryan!" Elle exclaimed handing him a colorfully wrapped box, causing Ryan to smile.
"Thanks, Elle. But, you didn't have to get me anything." Ryan said, looking at the intricate pattern on the wrapping paper.
"Nonsense. It's your birthday!" Elle burst, whipping her head back to get her bang out of her face.
Ryan just gazed at the gift, not wanting to ruin the perfectly wrapped present. Elle looked to him with eager eyes, causing confusion to swell into his mind. She wasn't usually this chipper to him, despite the fact that it was his birthday or not. There had to be some sort of trick when he opened the box. Perhaps snakes would fly out or he'll get attacked by puffs of itching powder once opened. There had to be some sort of prank that Elle was trying so desperately to pull. He eyed the gift skeptically as well as Elle.
"Well, are you going to open it?"
Ryan looked at the gift, then back at her.
"I don't know. What's the cache?" Ryan asked, making Elle's face fall.
"There's no cache. It's just a gift!" Elle yelled, a little offended.
Ryan slowly unwrapped the box; Elle's eyes shimmering with anticipation. Once he was done, Ryan had to force a smile. He wasn't expecting this, even if he does clean up around Starbucks and such, he didn't think she'd go this far with it.
"A mop! This is, uh... Great!" he exclaimed, trying not to sound too fake so he wouldn't hurt Elle's feelings.
Suddenly, Elle burst out laughing, catching Ryan by surprise. Today was just full of surprises.
"You actually thought I was going to give you a mop for your birthday? I'm not that spiteful." Elle giggled, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a stick of eyeliner, with a perfectly tied green bow.
"Here's your real present." she said, handing him the black eyeliner, causing Ryan to chuckle.
"Thanks. I actually needed a new stick." Ryan said, smiling.
Suddenly, Nicole came to life and screamed, "Ooh! My turn! My present next!" while bouncing up and down, full of bubbly smiles. She grabbed her gift and shoved it into Ryan's hand, as he laughed at how hyper she suddenly became.
He peeled off the striped wrapping paper, revealing a book and CD.
He looked to the back, where a scribble of songs and artists scrawled across the paper in messy ink. It was a list of various songs from different bands and singers, but the song that stuck out the most was the first one: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. He smiled and examined the book, which was a cook book, filled with pages and pages of gourmet dinners and desserts.
"Those are all the songs I listen to when I'm upset. And that book taught me everything I know. Maybe when you're having a crappy day, you could do what I do." Nicole said with a shrug.
"Alright, I guess it's my present now." Helen announced, snatching her gift and handing it to Ryan, in which he was genuinely excited to what Helen could've possibly gotten him. He sort of feared that it might be something a little unwanted, considering that Ryan didn't really want this surprise party in the first place. Alas, he was happy that they threw this for him. It made him realize Helen wanted to do something nice for him and that she was thinking of him, while planning this. It made Ryan feel a little special. Nonetheless, he opened the present and was certainly not disappointed.
In his hands, was a brand new, yellow umbrella, that was just as blindingly bright as Helen's. He couldn't help but smile like a fool at the significance of this gift.
"You know, if you ever get stuck in the rain again." Helen said, causing Ryan's heart to flutter and his stomach to flop with emotions he hadn't experienced before. He was falling for this perfect girl and for some odd reason, he wasn't scared. He already loved the fact that they were dating, which meant they spent more time together than they did when they were just friends. And he could confide in Helen for almost anything, even if Helen didn't really mention her problems. Ryan figured she probably didn't have any. But, his time spent with Helen caused Ryan to change a little, bit by bit. Though he was terrified of that, he could easily see himself changing himself for Helen.
Ryan wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her into a kiss, as she snaked her arms around his neck, smiling.
"Ewe. PDA!" Elle whined, looking disgusted, as the two pulled apart, looking embarrassed.
"Ah, Elle. I think it's rather cute." Nicole said, smiling at Ryan.
"Yeah, whatever. Well, are we going to eat this cake or not?" Elle said, eyeing the cake.
So, they all ate Nicole's cake, as Ryan blew it out the candles, just without making the wish. As cliche as it sounds, Ryan didn't need to. He had everything he ever wanted. A great relationship with the most perfect girl in the world, a cool job where he could drink all the coffee he wanted, and friends who were there for him and who accepted him for his cynical ways (despite the argument with Elle.) He couldn't ask for more. And he definitely wouldn't.
After that, they had to clean up the party, because customers were coming in. Nonetheless, it was a rather good day and one of the best birthdays Ryan could ever imagine. He actually felt guilty for not wanting the birthday party. The only downside of today for Ryan was that some kid puked after tasting his mother's coffee. Ryan groaned once he saw this, thinking that a little kid shouldn't even be tasting coffee anyway, nor even coming in to a Starbucks.
"That was so gross." Ryan said to Elle, after she got done handing a customer his change.
"Sorry, but you accepted the job. You gotta accept puke, too." Elle said, making Ryan cringe, until he saw Helen walking through the door.
"Hey Ry." Helen greeted, planting a kiss on his cheek, causing him to smile.
"Hey." he said back.
"So, you wanna go get something to eat?" Helen asked; Ryan more than willing to agree, before he realized he still had a couple of hours left of work.
"Um, I can't. I still have to work."
"Eh, you can knock off early. Today has been kind of dull, anyway. I think I can handle it." Elle said.
"Are you sure?" Ryan asked, a little worried.
"Yeah, totally. Go have fun. It's your birthday!"
"Uh, okay." Ryan said, taking off his apron.
So, they left the Starbucks and started walking down the sidewalk with linking hands.
"So... I thought we could take a walk in the park and then go to this small Italian bistro." Helen suggested, making Ryan smile.
"Why are you so perfect?" Ryan asked, making Helen laugh as if this were the foolish observation ever.
"Perfect? Yeah, right." Helen said.
"Ryan, I am far from perfect. I don't know why you think I'm so amazing all the time, because I'm not." Helen admitted, shocking Ryan.
What was she talking about? Of course she was perfect. She had to be. Ryan had no idea she was so insecure.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Ryan, that I'm not perfect or wonderful or amazing or all the things you think I seem to be." Helen said, stopping, on the verge of tears.
"Helen, what are you talking about? I mean, you have no idea how much you really mean to me. You've helped me so much." Ryan said, trying to calm her.
"That's great, Ryan. Really. But, it's just... I don't know." Helen said, sighing, as she sat down on a bench, that was conveniently there in the park.
"What is it?"
"It's just... I used to be just like you. Cynical, negative, the whole works. I mean, for my whole life, my mother told me that I would amount to nothing and that I was worthless. She was always criticizing me. If it wasn't my grades, it was my appearance. If it wasn't my appearance, it was my attitude. If it wasn't my attitude, it was my everything else. There was always something wrong with me. As for my dad, he left when I was about six. So, my mom decided to blame me for that, just like everything else."
Ryan just looked at her. He had no idea there were problems lurking within her soul; piercing insecurities into her heart like dagger. He had so many questions dwelling on his tongue, but thought it best if he just swallow them; saving them for another time. He thought Helen was the very definition of perfect, but as single tears escaped her eyes, he realized that nobody was perfect, despite their warm-hearted ways and optimistic metaphors. And as Helen looked to the ground, in fear of what she might see in Ryan's eyes, he could tell she wasn't any better than him. Just like she said, we were all people. All equal. Nobody was better than anybody else.
"But, Nicole, Elle, even me, they all think you're 'Miss Positive'." Ryan said.
"Don't get me wrong. I am that way now, it's just... I wasn't."
"Well, what happened?"
"Okay... Well, I decided I couldn't take it anymore, so... I almost killed myself." Helen admitted, hitching Ryan's breath and causing his fingers to tremble in shock.
"But, I couldn't do it. I thought I could, but I realized that there was more to life, you know? I needed to stop blaming everything on others and just get over it. So, what if I had a bad childhood? I was able to start fresh when I was out of the house. I stopped thinking so negatively and I realized that not everyone was horrible. It was just my mother. It was like, I finally grew up." she continued
Still, Ryan was silent and astonished.
"And, the reason why I think so positively now, is because I was absolutely miserable when I was so pessimistic. I was always depressed and full of self-hatred. And I do not want to go down that road again. I can't."
This was all too much for Ryan. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Helen attempted suicide once? How could that be? She was the very last person Ryan would expect to do such a thing. But, it made him realize, that despite Helen's broken past and insecure imperfections, she was still absolutely perfect. Well, in Ryan's eyes, that is. Before tonight, Helen was a breathing Barbie. Perfect, beautiful, kind, everything. There wasn't one thing that flawed her. But, even Barbie could have her doubts. And the fact that she did have flaws, made her actually seem human.
Ryan slowly sat down next to her, slipping his hand into hers, as she placed her head onto his shoulder. He softly whispers meaningless words, like, "You're still perfect" or "You're amazing" that made a small smile creep onto her lips. It had suddenly started to drizzle again, but they were apathetic to the weather. Alas, Ryan pulled out his new, yellow umbrella, and sheltered them from the droplets. Suddenly, Helen looked to him with her intense, brown eyes.
"I love you, Ryan Ross." Helen said, startling Ryan.
Nonetheless, Ryan soon replied,
"I love you, too."
Author's Note: Thanks to infinite-oddity, Life_is_42, eileen162, medicatelives, Emo_Monkey_ATD, xoconverse, and xStabxMyxBackx for their incredible reviews.
So, I think this chapter is total crap.
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