Ryan broke his mirror.
"I need you here with me. And how my mistakes have made your heart break. Still I need you here with me."--The Used.
An eternity of this damaged heart Ryan will he suffer to compensate for these sins he has so doubtfully created. On the dark of every morning, he fumbles from his bed, where he is fully reminded of that wretched event that happened many infamous nights ago. The stench of stale cologne still remains, but it is more than likely to fade within time, just like those disastrous memories. That's all they were. Just memories. They crawl under your thoughts, popping up in the weakest of moments, but sooner or later, they all wash away. He shouldn't be feeling this helpless. It was merely an accident; a mistake he agonizes every second that matters. But, those times that it pains him the most, is when Helen whispers "I love you" and the inevitable has to occur. Which is that he must reply with the same, even if he is insecure about what he truly feels.
But, they were just words. Only words. They were a sheer translation for the heart; speaking for a mute pounding. Even if Ryan even told Helen about these emotions of his, she shouldn't be hurt too much, right? After all, they were only just words. But never would Ryan ever open up to anyone. And this time, he means it. It won't matter if another girl may come along and be as warm as Helen, he won't allow himself to be sucked into a world of trust. He doesn't deserve it. He was so stupid for thinking he was actually worthy of this so called 'love' and 'honesty'. And after all the work he has done building up his confidence and his trust in people, had been a total waste of time. After just a night of ignorance, he is right back where he started: Cynical and sorrowful.
He went to the bathroom and took a shower, but as he got out, he was repulsed at the monster glaring back at him in the slightly fogged mirror. His hair was wet and his expression was a mockery of malicious mediocrity. He couldn't stand to even look at himself, to see himself stand so inferior against the rest of the world. He was a walking failure. His sincerest apologies to those who wasted their precious faith on him, because they were all proven wrong. Congratulations those of whom expected the worst, George Ryan Ross III is a complete loser.
He was enraged at all of this, at himself. How could he let himself be so open? How could he have built so many bridges?
"So, is this what you wanted Ross? You had everything. And you blew it." he said into the mirror, while gripping the edges of the counter in anger. But, his only response was that of his fierce glares. He suddenly punched his mirror; a shattered reflection tumbling to the ground, as streams of blood gushed from the wounds in his hand.
"Shit!" he cried out in pain, grasping his hand to stop the flow of blood.
He bandaged his hand before doing his hair and make-up, thinking how feminine he was for any average man. Nonetheless, he tied on his Starbucks apron, without cleaning up the broken glass lying on the bathroom tile.
He walked into Starbucks, with the familiar scent of coffee, but there was an additional aroma drifting through the air as well. It smelled like... Cookies. And as Ryan looked to the counter, his guess was right. This scent had brought back so many memories, but one in particular stuck out the most.
A batch of baked dough laid on the counter as black shadow hardened over the cookies in a burnt crisp. Powders of flour and chocolate chips were scattered across the kitchen as a confused Brendon sat in the middle contemplating over a cook book, with smears of sugar and other sorts of baking material splotched against his skin. Suddenly, a clamorous beep shrilled from the oven, startling him from his concentration of how to smith together a simple recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
"Is it... Done?" Brendon asked, bouncing up and down as Ryan laughed at his enthusiasm towards something so simple, yet extremely complicated for Brendon.
"I think so." Ryan replied, pulling on his oven mittens over his powdered hands.
He pulled out the sheet of golden brown cookies, as a gust of heat erupted from the oven, before putting it onto the counter. Brendon suddenly clapped his hands and began squealing things like, "They're done!" as Ryan only giggled.
"It wasn't that hard." Ryan said, as Brendon just shrugged him off and instantly went for a cookie, ignorant of what the consequences might be for grabbing something straight out of a 450 degree oven.
"Brendon, no!" Ryan called out, but it was too late.
Brendon had already snatched a cookie, but only for a split second, before it went flying from his hands and onto the floor, as he screamed out in pain. But, Ryan couldn't help but laugh at his stupidity.
"It's not funny!' Brendon pouted, sucking his burnt finger.
"You don't grab a cookie right after it comes out of the oven. Everyone knows that." Ryan said, giggling.
"Ryaaaaaaaaaaan! It hurts! Kiss it and make it better!" Brendon whined, acting childish on purpose.
So, Ryan gently grabbed his hand and placed a tender kiss on his burnt flesh, causing Brendon to smile.
"You, Ryan Ross, are forever known as my Cookie."
He peered to the cookies, that looked baked in utter perfection. They were in a green box with scatters of any type of chocolate in the golden dough. Plus, a few extra things, like peanuts or raisins. He figured that this was a way to make more cash, considering Elle was trying desperately to earn some more money for the coffee shop. She was always wanting to improve Starbucks in one way or another and sometimes it got a little irritating. But, you couldn't blame her. She absolutely loved this place and probably wouldn't give it up for the world. But, this idea for more money was one that brought nostalgic tears to his eyes. Ever since that horrible night, he kept on having memories swarm his head, reminding him that Brendon will never be his; only there for an hour's romance.
"Elle, I expect half the money when these things sell." Nicole warned, crossing her arms over her chest, causing Ryan to exit his thoughts.
"Half? No way. I'm not even sure if people will buy! And if they do, I'm only giving you ten percent!" Elle shot back, looking irritated.
"Ten percent? These are my cookies. I baked them!" Nicole yelled.
"So what! I could've gotten anyone else to do it for me." Elle asked, clucking her tongue.
"Yeah, but not as good as mine!"
"Not as good as yours? Somebody has an ego..."
"I don't have an ego. I'm just stating fact."
"Nicole, even if a unicorn walks in here and buys one of your damn cookies, you're still just getting ten percent!"
"Fine! But if I take a picture as the unicorn for proof, all the money goes to me."
Nicole just rolled her eyes and walked out the door, after giving Ryan a warm smile.
A few hours later, Helen's lunch break took place, which means she goes through her usual routine. Go to Starbucks, order her usual beverage, and spend her time with Ryan, her boyfriend. But, for the past few weeks or so, there was an addition to this routine: Watch Elle flirt with a particular customer.
He went by the name of Pete Wentz and he usually came a little after Helen. His golden skin gleamed against his numerous tattoos. His eyeliner was traced with utter perfection, just like Elle's and he was just as sarcastic and snarky as she was. He was a little short as well and had more in common with Elle than anyone. Though, he portrayed his flirtations as smooth and slick, they were actually a little corny and overused, but he pulled them off well. But, Elle didn't mind though, she was usually in a fit of giggles or flirting back as well. This Pete was quite the charmer and Elle had been completely allured.
So, he sauntered in, with a sly smile on his plump lips, as he casually walked to the counter and leaned against it, causing Elle to try to hide her smile.
"The regular, Pete?" she asked, as he raised an eyebrow.
"Do you memorize every customer's coffee order?" Pete asked.
"No, just the important ones." she replied, mirroring his flirtatious smile.
"So, I'm important?"
"Whatever Pete." she giggled, making his coffee.
Ryan was taken aback by all of this. He had never seen this side of Elle before. She was usually sarcastic and tough; ready to kick ass at any given moment. Never had he seen her like this before. She was acting girly and giggly; an imitation of a teenage girl swooning over their long-time crush. And quite frankly, it surprised Ryan. He thought this was a perfect moment to rag on her about.
"Well, if I'm so important, how about you let me take you out to dinner. Say... Friday night?" Pete offered, his hope increasing blatantly on his expression.
"Um, Pete... You're really nice, but... I have a boyfriend." Elle replied, causing Pete's face to fall.
"Oh, well. If you're ever free. Here's my number." he said, writing seven digits down on a napkin before handing it to her and exiting Starbucks with his coffee.
Suddenly, Helen and Ryan looked to each other in complete shock. Elle? Boyfriend? Who? When? How?
"Elle! You have a boyfriend?! How could you not tell me? How long have you been dating him? Or do you just not like Pete? If so, how could you not like Pete? He's perfect for you!" Helen gasped, spazzing a little bit.
"Helen, calm down. Breathe. In. Out." Elle said, demonstrating the breathing procedure as Helen followed her actions.
"Well?" Helen said, as Ryan was too, very eager to hear all the gossip.
"Okay, I have a boyfriend."
"For how long!?"
"Few months, I guess."
"A few months?"
"How could you not tell you're best friend you had a boyfriend for a few months?!" Helen cried out, talking frantically with her hands.
"Because! You always disapprove of my boyfriends!" Elle said, pacing behind the counter.
"I do not!"
"Yes, you do. Ask Nicole. You disapprove of her boyfriends, too." Elle said casually, taking a sip of her cappuccino.
"Well, c'mon. You can't blame me there."
"True..." Elle considered.
"Well... What's his name? And more importantly... What does he look like?"
Ryan just grabbed his broom and zoned out of the girl's endless gossip about Elle's mystery man. He felt a little bad for Pete, who wasted many coffee breaks to come and just talk to Elle while working up enough courage to finally ask her out. And when he did, he was shot down; rejected with a falsely apologetic tone and a sympathized expression. How embarrassed the poor guy must feel; being the topic of everyone's rumored conversations and having the truth revealed between smirks and caffeine induced beverages.
Ryan thought a lot about rejection and how many forms it can come in. Of how there was a hidden elimination buried beneath every let down, every cheating, or every breakup. It was invisible to the victim's eye, but when the obvious occurs, one can only accept the words of who rejects. It was inevitable to turn your back and just run, from the shame or embarrassment. Or perhaps they got the message that they were no longer needed or wanted. He thought of that night when he cheated on Helen, of how that was a rejection to her on all its own. Even if she was still blissfully ignorant of that event, it was the affliction Ryan suffered from knowing that after everything she has down for him, was worthless. It was the consequence for allowing yourself to open up and snuggle your emotions close to someone. It was the burden of promise; a shatter for sheer belief. But, promises could be broken any moment, it would only be your fault to put your faith in it. The delicacy of truth causes honesty to seem not worth it. So, we submit these lies and hope the results won't hurt too much. But hope runs thin when you only have little to spare.
"Well, when do we get to meet him?" Helen asked, eager to see the one who held Elle's heart.
"I think he's coming by this afternoon..." Elle answered calmly, wishing Helen wouldn't act so hyper.
Ryan really didn't care to meet Elle's boyfriend. If he was anything like Ryan imagined, he probably was exactly like Elle. Let's face it, this guy was probably going to be confident and filled with snide remarks, just like her. He probably is tough and intelligent, ready to kick ass. Which sort of scared him, considering if Elle discovered what Ryan had done, he'd be a dead man. Plus, the news would work it's way in a circle. Helen. Elle. Nicole. Elle and Nicole would probably tag team and kill him with anything they could. He could picture it now, Elle with her coffee and Nicole with her spatula. This thought caused Ryan to cringe.
Time passed in blurs until it reached two o'clock PM, where everyone was so patiently waiting the arrival of Elle's man. So much, that Helen was getting a little impatient. Alas, Ryan was still trying to avoid this event.
Well, when is he going to be here?!" Helen asked, fidgeting in her stool as Ryan went into the back to find this new specific cleaner Elle constantly urges Ryan to precisely use for the countertops. Ryan found it rather aggravating to have to use an exact brand of cleaner and take forever to search for it, because she had to have it in a particular spot as well, in which Ryan never remembered where it was. Her need for a perfect Starbucks drove her employees crazy, but they had to live with it nonetheless.
"I said he might come this afternoon. I'm not entirely sure." Elle answered, rolling her eyes.
Suddenly, Nicole burst through the door, with an expectant look on her face.
"Okay, where is he?"
Then, Elle turned to Helen with a spiteful look on her face.
"You invited Nicole?!" she shouted.
"What? She's your friend, too. She should know you have a boyfriend." Helen said.
"He's not here, yet." Elle replied to Nicole, turning to her.
"I knew it was too good to be true. I mean, Elle, having a boyfriend? Please." Nicole spat, giving her a smirk.
"At least I can keep a boyfriend!" Elle retorted.
Just as Nicole and Elle were about to go into a sarcastic banter, Helen cut in,
"Okay, enough you two!"
Suddenly, a rather deep voice startled all three of the bickering girls, as they turned around in surprise.
"Hey, Elle." his masculine voice greeted, as Elle just gave him a hug and enrolled themselves in a sweet kiss.
Suddenly, Ryan came out of the back, cleaner in hand, after mumbling a few curses about Elle's Starbucks OCD until he froze in terror. In his line of vision, was Elle and her boyfriend tangled in a romantic kiss. But, this was just any average boyfriend. No, it can't be him. This was impossible. This was some twisted nightmare.
"Um, Cookie? Are you going to introduce me to your friends?" he asked, causing Ryan's heart to drop.
"Oh right, sorry. Helen, Nicole, this is my boyfriend---" Elle started to introduce, before she was cut off by Ryan.
"Brendon." Ryan finished, as everyone turned to him, with eyes widening in shock and others hardening in confusion.
"Oh no." Helen muttered.
But, nobody else had a chance to respond, for Ryan Ross had high tailed his ass out of there in haste, as he heard Elle say, "What happened?" and a shuffle of gray Converse squeaking against the green tile after the runaway. He couldn't believe that Brendon's slut was Elle. He couldn't believe that he had lost his former love to her. A woman who was the complete opposite of Brendon and who could never love him like Ryan had. Just the repeating images of Brendon climbing on top of Elle, being with Elle, and loving Elle repulsed him.
And why did he call her Cookie? Why did he give her the nickname that meant so much to him long ago and probably still means the same now? Why does she have his nickname? It's not hers. It's Ryan's. It's Ryan's, goddamnit!
He wanted to puke. But, he was too busy causing a scene and running away from all his problems, just like he always has. He hasn't changed and he never will. He is still cynical, he is still horrible, and he still runs away from everything. There was a cycle of the cheated, Ryan, Helen, Nicole, and now Elle, all forming together with broken hearts and infuriated thoughts. He didn't even know why he was running, he just needed to escape from this place of unwanted memories and surreal realities. He hated Starbucks and everyone in it. He has gotten too attached to everything and everyone there and the only thing he wanted to do was never see any of them ever again. He wanted to start anew and never return to this place that didn't even feel like home anymore.
The rain fell like heartbeats, pounding against his flesh to purify his soul of the dirty deeds he has once committed. The rain was shrieking cold temperatures and thunders, as he thought this is the kind of storm he wanted. Something cold and chilling, to baptize a new Ryan Ross. But, the only thing that made this imperfect for him, was the splashing of Converse behind him, as a female voice called "Ryan, wait!"
But, Ryan didn't wait. He was sick of waiting. That's all he has ever done. Is wait for perfection. This time, he was taking action at what he wanted. And right now, he wanted to be alone in the scenery of a stormy Las Vegas. He just kept running and running, without a single consideration of stopping. He was hoping Helen would run out of breath, but he didn't realize that she was a faster runner than he imagined. Suddenly, Helen's body had crashed into his, sending them both falling to the grass, where their clothes were stained with green smears. She pinned his wrists down to the ground as water droplets poured behind her.
"Get off me, Helen!" Ryan shouted, trying to wriggle his way through her grasp, but she just held on tighter.
"No! You'll run away!" Helen replied, screaming over the thunder.
"Helen, please, just leave. I need to be alone." Ryan said, still trying to escape from her.
"No, Ryan. I won't leave. My boyfriend is hurting and you think I'm just going to leave? Well, think again, Ross."
Ryan just simply shook his head, as tears slithered down his cheeks, as the rain washed them away.
"I'm sorry. If I would've known Elle was dating him, I would've told you sooner." Helen apologized.
"No, you don't need to be sorry. I should be the one apologizing. Not you."
"What are you talking about?" Helen asked, sitting up.
"Just leave, Helen. You are too good for me. You don't deserve someone as pathetic as me."
"Ryan, what the hell are you talking about?! I thought we've gone over this. Remember, everyone's equal? I thought you stopped thinking so negatively."
And there it was. This was the moment. The moment where Ryan had to confess. The moment where he was going to empty his heart out to here and hope for the best, even if the best was a long shot.
He sat up as well and looked to the ground, in terror of what her reaction might be.
"Ryan, what is it?"
He looked to her, with her soaked hair and gray outfit, and big, anxious eyes as he crumbled on the inside. He didn't want to hurt her. He didn't want to break her heart. He didn't even want to confess. But, there was no choice. This was it.
Helen, I slept with Brendon a few weeks ago and I am so sorry and I--"
"Wait, you what?!" Helen interrupted, her anxious gaze freezing over in rage.
"I... Slept with Brendon a few weeks ago. But, I have been feeling guilty ever since and--"
"So, you cheated on me? With Brendon? You're ex-boyfriend?!" Helen cut in, standing up as her fists clenched together.
"Yeah..." Ryan confessed, looking to the ground.
"Fine, Ryan. That's just fine." Helen said, as Ryan looked up in hope, but was soon disappointed as her fierce glare daggered him.
"You can go back to Brendon, who lies and cheats. Because, you are absolutely perfect for him!" she screamed, leaving to Starbucks, with tears cascading in floods of mascara down her cheeks, as Ryan just sat there, in the cold and bitter rain, with a heart that crumbled more than any cookie memory.
Author's Note: Thanks to infinite-oddity, medicatedlives, Life_is_42, MrSz. Or3o, rclukins, xoconverse, eileen162, and Emo_Monkey_ATD for their FANTASTIC reviews.
I really want to thank my beta for saving my ass on this chapter like fifteen million times. I swear to God, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have updated. So, a HUGE thanks to her!
I apologize for the lack of update. I really do. I felt guilty the whole time I was procrastinating. Oh, and I written this when I probably should've been sleeping. It's like, four AM.
Do with it as you like.