"What is with you and gay guys?" Helen asked.
"A penny for your thoughts but a dollar for your insides. Or a fortune for your disaster."--Fall Out Boy.
Helen knelt down and wrapped her arms around Nicole, as her woeful sobs shook with sorrow. Ryan just sort of fidgeted, feeling gawky and inept as the girl dabbed her eyes with a tissue; smears of black staining the delicate Kleenex. Helen gently hushed her as she stroked brunette cascades of hair, her bracelets, again, clinking together, one after the other. Ryan couldn't help but think of what this 'Nicole' character had said.
"Helen. I just know. The perfume on his clothes. The way he doesn't always say, 'I love you' anymore. The signs are there. And it sucks, because I love him so much. That's why I keep coming back, and I know I'm stronger than that. It's just... I love him. And he doesn't love me, "
Ryan couldn't help but to think how similar their situations were. Ryan began to ignore the stench of perfume radiating from Brendon's clothes, or the make-up smears that Brendon had tried to hide. But, he was never very good at keeping secrets.
Ryan smiled at this. He remembered Brendon so well. That Ryan could get any lie out of him, with just the fierce glance of eyes. But, that wasn't always so good. Ignorance was bliss, in Ryan's case. And that's why he refused to believe that Brendon didn't love him anymore, even though Brendon never whispered those three tiny words that seemed like infinite joy to him. He refused to believe the obvious, but when the obvious was more blatant that ever, he had no choice but to believe. And his ignorance had swept from under him in painful whirls. Ryan cringed.
"I just don't understand, though. Am I not enough?" Nicole sobbed, embedding her head into Helen's shoulder.
"Yes, Nikki, you are. He's just a jerk, that's all. Okay? You deserve better than him." Helen comforted, trying her best to sound positive. But, as Ryan looked to her face, he could see those tender eyes of hers, freezing over in rage. As though, she were having visions of murdering both the cheater and the mistress at the same time. Again, Helen became incredible. Ryan never felt empathy for anyone, not even himself. But, as Helen rocked her roommate back and forth in steady motion, he realized she was nice beyond compare. She just didn't help people out, she felt for them too. But how? How could you feel somebody else's pain and worry for them, without doing it for yourself, first? Helen put others before herself, in which amazed Ryan. He always put himself first, and before today, he thought this was an okay thing to do. But, as Nicole silently trembled in Helen's arms, he realized it was rather selfish.
"Men are evil. I'm pretty sure they originated from Satan." Nicole complained, as Ryan was about to retort. But, thought it best if he didn't.
"Nicole. That's not nice." Helen replied, averting her eyes to Ryan in quick movements; thwarting chestnuts.
"What? I'm sick of being nice. I'm sick of always caving in! You know what? Fuck him! Fuck anger. Fuck sorrow. Fuck happiness. Fuck any emotion that I ever felt for him. And more importantly, fuck love! As far as I'm concerned, I'm done with it." Nicole spat, standing up and straightening her Invader Zim tee-shirt.
Ryan blinked from her response. Despite her numerous use of profanity, she seemed more like Ryan than he could ever imagine. That's the exact way he felt when he discovered Brendon's mistress. He felt relieved that he's not the only one who felt that way, yet ashamed that he did. It seemed ridiculous, yet totally right at the same time.
"Nik, that's ridiculous. You can't give up on love!" Helen said, looking to Ryan for support, but he stayed quiet.
"Ridiculous? I've been cheated on so many times. What's the point?" she said, returning to the oven, and placing brownies on the rack, as another fierce growl erupted in Ryan's stomach.
"Ryan, help me out here!" Helen pleaded, but Ryan just sank back, wishing he could sink into the white walls; invisible to the world and himself.
"I..." He started, but couldn't finish. He completely agreed with Nicole, but right then and there, he wanted nothing more than to agree with Helen. He wanted to defend her positive thoughts and he wished he could think the same. Alas, he was just as negative and cynical as Nicole and there was no way to hide it. And, as both eyes were on him, awaiting his response, determining the fate of this situation, his tongue was thirsty for an answer. But, as seconds ticked by, it was left dry of response.
"See? He thinks love is bullshit, too! That's why he can't say anything, because he knows I'm right!" Nicole shouted, as Ryan closed his eyes in embarrassment. He didn't want to look into Helen's pleading and dismal orbs, that were bound to hold an emotion that Ryan couldn't handle right now. Damn it, Nicole.
"I... I'm hungry. Can I have some of that food?" Ryan blurted, instantly blushing from his rudeness.
Nicole looked down at her infinite amounts of food that lied carelessly upon the counter. Her eyes flicked back to Ryan, as a small smile crept upon her lips.
"Sure. Have anything you want." she replied, as she turned to Helen, "I like this kid. He's so straight forward."
Helen just shrugged and grabbed a cupcake from a pan; with a fluff of white frosting that had drizzles of chocolate syrup and sprinkles of rainbow, scattering across the rich canvas of frosting with perfection. The funny thing was, there was all this food, but none of it was eaten.
"So, what's your name?" Nicole asked, sitting on a stool.
"Ryan," he answered, his mouth full of his own cupcake, as he gulped it down, "Ross."
"So, why did you cook all this food?" He asked, sitting down on another stool, feeling comfortable with Nicole. As if she were his long-time friend. Ryan didn't know what caused him to feel so easygoing with her. She seemed like the type of person that actually understood Ryan. That had similar feelings and that she could relate to him better than anybody else. Even if they hardly knew each other, he felt an ease with her.
"Sorry that you had to witness my breakdown. I know it's not a pretty sight to see." she apologized, as Helen took a seat on another stool, concentrating on her cupcake.
"Well, God knows I've had plenty of breakdowns myself."
Wait. He wasn't supposed to reveal any knowledge of weakness. Even if she were so completely similar to Ryan, he still couldn't trust her. He couldn't trust anybody. But, as he found himself getting caught between Helen's world, he discovered that he was losing himself between Helen's optimism, Elle's flirtation, and now Nicole's emotional wreckage. He barely knew any of these people, and he had no idea why he even bothered to come along with Helen.
Nicole cocked an eyebrow, considering this.
"The guy I last dated, he totally broke my heart." Ryan said, wiping frosting from his chin.
Nicole's eyes had widened, and Helen's focus on her cupcake had vanished. Ryan suddenly blushed. He had revealed too much. He knew it. They probably all thought he was emotionally damaged and couldn't handle himself. They probably thought he was just as emotionally unstable as Nicole, and this frightened him.
"You're gay?" Nicole asked, excitement bubbling in her voice.
"Nikki! Don't be rude!" Helen scolded, looking embarrassed.
Ryan seemed confused. They weren't concerned with his past or his emotions. The only thing they were interested in was his sexuality. Ryan sighed in relief.
"Well... Not exactly..." Ryan replied, another blush bepainting his cheek. He started to prepare for her response as he bit his bottom lip.
"Awesome!" she squealed, as Ryan was once again, completely confused.
Ryan couldn't comprehend all the events that had transpired today. He thought he could read people so well, but as he discovered treasures in Helen's world, he found that maybe he couldn't read them after all. That maybe, humans weren't as bad as he thought. Wait, no. What was he thinking Of course, that was absurd. People worthy of trust? Yeah, right. The cupcake must've gotten to him.
"What is with you and gay guys?" Helen asked.
"You know, some people have obsessions with puzzles or music, but you... It's just, kind of weird." Helen said.
"Weird? It's not weird. What, are you homophobic now?" Nicole asked.
"No. I'm saying it's weird you have an obsession with them. They're people. They aren't any more special than us." Helen lectured as Nicole just rolled her eyes.
"Um, why do you have so much food?" Ryan asked, attempting at a needed subject change.
"Oh," Nicole said, looking down at the loads and loads of food on the counter, "I cooked it all. Or baked."
"Why?" Ryan asked.
"She always cooks when she's upset." Helen answered, for Nicole, as she nodded agreeing.
"Yeah. It's just... It keeps my mind off of it. I can create things, and they don't fall apart. And when they do, you can either fix it or start over. Sometimes, I wish reality was like cooking. You know what I mean?"
And, in that instant, he did.
Authors Note: My ultimate gratitude towards infinite-oddity, Panicfantatic08, and MrSz.Or3o for their wonderful reviews.
Do with it as you like.