Ryan is pleased when Ana gets in contact...
Ryan was sat quietly in the car waiting for Brendon to return. They were driving to a radio station in Vegas for an interview but Brendon had stopped off on the way to get some food and they were running a little late. None of them felt much like doing an interview but they understood it was their job. The Fall Out Boy tour had been a massive success and the guys had been enjoying some time off back home in Vegas.
"Oh man I think I broke the thing." Spencer moaned from the back seat staring at a small MP3 player in the palm of his hand. "It wont play anything." He pulled the ear pieces out of his ears.
"Did you push that button?" Brent asked leaning over to help.
"Do you think I'm a total idiot?" Spencer asked Brent but then he paused a moment. "Oh that one!" Spencer laughed. "Right no I hadn't pressed that one."
"Hmmm." Brent replied sitting back. Ryan smiled at Spencer seeing him place the ear pieces back into his ears and turned back to watch Brendon in the shop. He was standing talking to the girl at the checkout.
"He's hitting on the checkout girl." Ryan pointed out.
"We'll be here all day then." Brent added. "Should I go...." Brent was cut off by the loud ring of Ryan's phone.
"Hello." Ryan said politely.
"Hey Ryan its Ana." The voice was familiar and brought a smile to Ryan's lips. "Pete's friend Ana?" she added.
"I recognised your voice." Ryan told her feeling a swell of his self-esteem.
"I didn't think you would." She told him and again he smiled.
"Yeah of course." Ryan's voice was soft and Ana felt a sense of calm come over her just to hear him. "How are you?" he asked her.
"Yeah I'm ok, how about you? How did the rest of the tour go?"
"Oh it was awesome." Ryan sounded excited and his voice conjured an image in Ana's mind of his beautiful face and those compassionate eyes. "It was so much fun I wish you'd have stuck around."
"Cool." Ana smiled to herself. She kind of wished she had stuck around too. There hadn't been much point going to New York after all, she couldn't track her dad down and she hated it there. "So how is everyone else?"
"Oh the guys are good, we're going to some interview thing now but we're pretty much on vacation for a while."
"Wow vacation." Ana laughed a little. "Now I know when people in bands say vacation they mean they have like one day off." Ryan laughed.
"Yeah well we have a week maybe two; it depends on what other stuff gets changed in between."
"Exactly." Ana replied and it went silent for a second. Ryan became conscious of Brendon returning to the car and he wasn't sure he wanted to continue the conversation with his band mates listening. He also didn't want to be any later to the interview than they already were.
"Where are you?" he asked lowering his voice a little and finding himself turning away from Brendon as he got into the car.
"New York." Ana told him.
"New York?" he said bringing attention to himself and seeing Brendon sat staring at him. "Wow."
"Yeah but it's kind of a shit hole."
"Listen how busy are you later on? Like in a couple of hours?" Ryan suddenly asked her. Ana wanted so badly to talk to him she would have stayed up all night waiting for a call.
"Can I call you back?"
"Yeah I guess if you want." She made it sound so casual.
"I want." Ryan replied and she smiled a real smile for the first time in weeks.
Ryan turned to face the front of the car ignoring Brendon who obviously wanted to know who he had been talking to.
"So we should leave." Ryan suggested.
"It was a girl." Spencer called out.
"Who? What girl?" Brendon asked Ryan poking him in the leg playfully. "Come on, who?"
"Just drive Brendon we're late already." Ryan replied with a slight smile on his face. Brendon started the car and they pulled out of the car park back onto the main road.
"Was it one of those girls from California we met?" Brendon wouldn't leave it.
"Oh was it the chick that gave you that photo of herself?" Brent added and they all laughed.
"No!" Ryan shouted insulted by their suggestions. "Damn."
"Please tell me it wasn't that woman who was trying to chat you up for her daughter." Brendon laughed but Ryan frowned. There had been a woman at their very last show that had cornered Ryan and then spent about half an hour advertising her daughter to him. It still disturbed him to think of that.
"I know who it was!" Spencer suddenly announced. "He asked her where she was." He gave Brendon the clue.
"You really should keep better track of your girls Ryan." Brendon grinned as they pulled up to some lights. "Oh man it was Ana!" he then realised. Ryan just beamed a smile without replying to or looking at his friends. "Wow dude." He turned to Ryan. "She called you."
"I know." Ryan replied happily.
Ana sat on her bed staring out of the window onto the street below. It was cold and her room had nothing but a small electric fan to heat it. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders and two pairs of socks on. She watched some people in the street arguing and she checked the clock on her phone. It was past midnight and still there was no call from Ryan. Ana hated New York and even though Pete had offered to pay for her flight back to L.A she had insisted she was fine. She had this point to make, some kind of point about being independent but it was wearing thin with her at that moment. Did she care that much about seeming to be independent? Enough to freeze to death alone in a crappy apartment block in New York? Her phone rang and she fumbled to answer it nearly knocking it off the bed and onto the floorboards.
"Hello." She said anxiously.
"Hey." It was Ryan, at last he had called and she didn't feel so cold anymore. Ana wasn't clear on why Ryan had made such an impact on her but he had. It hadn't become so apparent to her until she had left them all. She wasn't completely sure what he had done to warm her to him so much but there it was all the same, that warm sensation. "Sorry I haven't had a chance to call you until now."
"That's ok." Ana told him.
"So what you up to?" he sounded so calm she found herself laying back on her bed and relaxing. She could feel the muscles in her body hurt a little because she had been so tense all day. "Causing trouble in New York city I'm guessing." He let out a soft chuckle.
"No." Ana smiled. "Not really." They talked for over an hour about nothing in particular, managing to share stories without telling each other any real truths.
Ryan was laying flat on the bed staring at the ceiling smiling as he listened to Ana's voice down the phone. Ana was the mirror image of Ryan as she lay on her bed in the exact same position. Ryan liked that her voice had softened the longer their conversation had gone on and that she kept releasing small sweet laughs in response to his banter.
"What are you doing?" he asked her.
"I was just pulling the blanket up." She answered starting to feel the cold again. Ryan went to ask something and stopped himself. "What?" Ana was curious. "Go on."
"I was going to ask you what you were wearing." Ryan admitted and they both laughed. "But then I realised how that sounded." He added.
"I'm wearing a lot." She then said.
"You are?" he smiled. "Why?"
"It's so cold."
"Oh right, ok so what you wearing exactly?" Ana began to reel off the jumper, the trousers, the t-shirts and the extra socks. "Anything else?" Ryan asked her.
"Uhu." Ryan laughed a little. "What kind?"
"You're serious?" Ana giggled.
"Yeah I'm serious. Do you want me to tell you what I'm wearing?"
"Go on then."
"Ok, green t-shirt, black jumper, black pants and grey shorts."
"Are they tight?" Ryan laughed at Ana's question.
"My underwear's red with pink lace trim."
"Hmm." It was quiet for a moment until they both started to laugh at themselves. "I want to see you Ana." He then said.
"I want to see you too." She told him.
Ryan was nervous as he got out the taxi onto the pavement outside a large apartment block. He hadn't seen Ana in months and although they'd been sharing hours on the phone together he still wasn't sure what to expect from her. He looked around himself feeling quite intimidated by his surroundings he knew he didn't belong in a city like New York. He looked back at the driver.
"This is definitely it?" he asked him.
"That's it." The driver smiled as Ryan closed the door. The building was old and needed some serious repair; he could see broken windows, peeling paint work, rotting wood. Ryan hadn't really had any expectations of where Ana would be living but he hadn't expected something so clichÃ©d. Then he saw her open the large door to the apartment and she smiled at him.
"Hey stranger." She called.
"Hey." Ryan made his way up the steps to the door. He watched her fuss with her hair which was wrapped messily and tied with a strip of patterned material. "You look great." He told her.
"Hmm that's debatable today." She answered as they stood opposite one another. Neither of them knew whether it was appropriate to hug or not and so neither of them initiated contact.
"So I'm here." Ryan said looking up to the building. "It's um."
"It's a fucking dump." Ana spoke for him. "I really don't want to take you inside." She then said.
"It's embarrassing." She suggested.
"Oh come on don't be silly." Ryan assured her. "I don't care where you live." He added.
Ana walked him into the building completely aware of how his eyes would see it, just as hers had the first time she walked in. It wasn't easy for Ana to let someone see the truth but if she was willing to let anyone see it, it was Ryan. He followed her up the stairs distracted from the dark dingy corridor with its peeling paint work and dirty floors by the sight of Ana's perfectly formed backside in front of him. They climbed the stairs passed by some screaming children on the third floor.
"Slow down!" Ana shouted at them.
"Fuck off!" one of them shouted back. Ryan raised his eyebrows at Ana shocked by their response to her.
"Wow how old was that kid?" he asked.
"He's a little shit that one." She explained. "He's the one that tries to sell me stuff." Ryan just nodded wondering how in hell she managed to live somewhere like this without going crazy. They reached her floor and Ana stopped outside the door. Ryan had noticed a strange smell and was subconsciously frowning. "It's the woman down the hall." Ana could see from his wrinkled nose that he was trying to work out what the smell was. "She cooks some really strange things and it smells bad." She looked at Ryan feeling sorry for him. "Real bad." She added and he smiled.
"Really really bad." He said.
Ryan felt strangely lost in Ana's apartment and as she got herself ready to leave he felt like telling her to pack everything because he couldn't bear the idea of her living there. He could see mould on the walls which he knew meant it was damp and the windows were cracked which he knew meant it must have been freezing in there. It was tiny with practically no kitchen area and absolutely nothing nice about it. He looked around and saw nothing that he would have called homely, nothing comfortable, nothing nice and it made him feel guilty that he had just spent tens of thousands on a new car for himself.
"I was thinking you should grab over night stuff." He said.
"Over night?" Ana appeared in the doorway of her bedroom. He nodded.
"You might want to stay at the hotel with me. I mean it's an expensive taxi ride from there to here." He saw her eye him suspiciously for a moment.
"Yeah maybe." She said and disappeared into her room again. Ryan perched on the edge of a chair and waited. "Is my phone on the table?" she called from the bathroom.
"Yes." Ryan saw it sat there beside a small clear plastic bag full of white powder. It made him sad to think she was still using that stuff and he was torn between being angry and feeling sorry for her. "Ready?" he asked her smiling at her as she breezed back into the room looking gorgeous and smelling like heaven.
"Yes." She smiled back. "I need to drop in at work and pick up my money though."
"That's cool." Ryan told her.
He was starting to think leaving her in New York was going to be one of the hardest things he had ever done as he watched her arguing with her boss. His instincts told him to stay out of their disagreement but he couldn't help twitching with infuriation every time the guy poked his finger in her face. Finally she cursed one last time at the man and returned to Ryan's side.
"Just five minutes." She smiled and walked off again. Ryan looked around the bar, it was pretty quiet in there, mostly empty tables and chairs except for some serious drunks in the corners. It was an uncomfortable environment for him and he was feeling agitated. He watched Ana slip something discreetly into some guy's hand. The guy nodded and with a fake cuddle handed her something back.
"Let's go." Ana called to him. He knew this was going to be a difficult conversation to have but how could he pretend he never saw any of this? How could be let her end up living this kind of lifestyle when it wasn't necessary?