Title: Hello, Brooklyn
Author: FANG Productions
Dedication: Anna aka Zion's Arcadia. Happy birthday!
Disclaimer: I don't own the song "Hello, Brooklyn."
Summary: Birthday party ingredients- flowers, fear, friends. Sprinkle with flowers. Strike fear in passersby. Share with friends.
Everybody knows there's a party at the end of the world.
"Alright, so who's paying?" I ask as we stampede into a random restaurant. Strangers stare at us. I think we're scaring the waiter.
My friends suddenly freeze at the p-word. We exchange glances multiple times, not really meeting each other's eyes but not mustering the guts to look away either. Then, Anna steps backward. "Sorry, but it's my birthday. I think that automatically excludes me. Tough luck, guys."
That leaves Nat, Uri, and me. Nat purses his lips, his scowl more prominent than ever. Uri shifts his gaze from Nat to me, and just when I think he's about to give in and volunteer, he practically slaps his face and shouts, "Noses!"
I look at him strangely until I realize that Nat's giving me the look, the kind that says wow, you're really really slow even more than usual are you feeling okay?
And then it hits me. Too late. Uri's grinning and I'm not because I just got duped into paying, and my friends eat like horses. I'm totally not feeling the sympathy, so I decide, hey, I'm the youngest out of everyone here. Time to take advantage of it.
"But guys, I'm just a kid. I don't have the income," I whine, trying puppy eyes. I don't know if it's working. I've never tried before.
Uri holds up a hand. "I'm only five days older than her."
We all slowly turn to Nat, who looks kind of pissed off. Except that he always angry, so no one's that intimidated.
"So," breaks in Anna because she doesn't have to worry about it. "We love you, Nat?"
He looks at her like she's crazy. Then he looks at Uri, and the threat is evident in his dark eyes. And finally at me, but the irritation has faded, replaced by resignation. "Fine."
I hug him. "We love you," I reiterate.
The waiter, some brown-haired teenager, looks uncertain about whether he should interrupt and seat us. He mumbles something.
Anna stares him down. "Excuse me?"
He repeats himself, this time in a string of indistinguishable words. When none of us reply, he says, louder, but still reasonably frightened, "Will anyone else be joining you?"
"Oh," says Anna cheerfully. "Nope. Table for four!"
Waiter nods slowly and steps away from the counter. "This way, please."
He leads us deeper into the restaurant. Kind of. We pass four tables, turn left, two tables—
"Here we are," he says professionally as we sit down, placing menus in front of us. I'm next to Anna and across from Uri, who's sitting next to Nat. This way, Uri and Anna aren't adjacent and will find it extremely difficult to scavenge up an excuse to maim the other, especially with Nat and me in the way. "My name is Heath, and I'll be your waiter tonight. Would you like anything to drink?"
I'm not paying attention, but I still manage to determine that Anna and Uri choose the same drink. It's obvious from the way they're calling plagiarism on each other. Heath is trying to break them up – "Er, I don't think plagiarism works that way…" – and Nat ignores them and says he'd like a coffee. I shrug. As long as no knives or nails work their way into the spat, it isn't that bad.
"And you?" Heath turns to me. He really isn't that bad looking, and a grin works its way on to my face as I hear Nat snarl. Teasing overprotective brothers is fun.
"Apple juice," I say.
Anna tears herself away from Uri and smirks at me. "Aw, the little ten-year-old wants her juicy."
Heath steps back, startled, as if he's thinking dang, there's no way this girl is ten. She has to be at least twelve…right?
I roll my eyes. "Anna, I was ten four years ago."
Nat joins in, good-naturedly, of course. "Life isn't logical," he puts in.
"No one asked for your two cents," I mutter.
"Technically, we did, seeing as he's paying for us," says Uri. They're ganging up on me, all of them, and they're wearing identical grins. Heath's face betray his thoughts as he debates over speaking up, but he decides against it. He sneaks away now that he's got the orders.
"Shut up," I sigh, looking around. We're seated next to a large window that displays the night and the empty parking lot. The place isn't really popular, I guess. We're the only customers except for two other families, so there's no one to disturb. Which is probably the only reason we haven't been kicked out yet. "You know, this is kind of a nice place, considering you chose it out of random. Nothing fancy, but cozy."
Anna smirks. "It wasn't random. I chose it because of the pretty purple flowers out front. Anyone who thinks that it's okay to grow flowers like that must be really interesting."
"By interesting, you mean insane?" Uri says. "Well, then you two must be twins."
"Jealous," Anna retorts.
Heath's back, and his calm demeanor once again slips into nervousness. I don't think we're good for his health. He hands out our beverages in clear plastic cups, except for Nat, who gets a mug. Anna and I have a flower floating in ours. I grin and place mine in Nat's drink, saying, "It's cute."
He glares at me and then at the offending flower. He looks like he wants to pull it out, but it's a lot easier to drop something in a steaming liquid than to take it out.
"So, can I take your order?" says Heath. We stare at him, uncomprehending, and he points at the menus we haven't touched yet.
I can tell Uri is sheepish, and Nat's stoic. Anna, wanting to have the last word, says, "I don't know, can you?"
From the looks on all of our faces, she can tell we don't get it, and a joke isn't funny when it takes explaining.
"Never mind," she mutters, opening her menu. She orders the first thing she sees, which is pretty brave. Not to be outdone, Uri does the same thing. Nat pretends he doesn't know the people he's sitting with and orders, deliberately taking his time. I look through and order pasta. Fettuccine alfredo. Mhm.
Quiet. It's too quiet after Heath leaves, taking the menus with him. It's really rare for us all to get together at the same time, though, especially because we're getting increasingly busy, so Uri says, "So, how old are you now, Anna? Fifty million?"
Anna shrugs. "Yup, just a little younger than your mom."
Uri looks like he's ready to burst into another argument, so I break in. "You know, I would've gotten you something if you'd told us about your birthday earlier."
She looks at me like she doesn't believe me, which I guess is true, because I'm known for my procrastination and not-so-good punctuality.
"You are getting me something." She gestures around the restaurant.
"But that's Nat's treat," I say. Anna considers this and grins, slinging an arm around my shoulder.
"Who cares?" I hear Nat let out a disgruntled snort. Which is pretty amusing.
"Then I guess I should tell you early too," he says. "My birthday's in a week."
I blanch. Did he just say…?
"Your birthday is in what?"
"Seven days. March eighteenth…?" he repeats.
"Your birthday is in what?"
"March. Eighteenth. In seven days," Uri whispers in a weird voice, like he's trying to creep me out. Which is impossible because he's not scary. My jaw drops anyways.
"How do I get you something in seven days?" I panic. "Especially with my limited fourteen year old budget?"
Nat shrugs but I really don't care, because at this point, I'm rambling for my own self comfort.
"I thought your birthday was in May! If I were in charge of birthdays, you'd be in May. With flowers and spring and bees. Because you'd definitely look cool in flowers and you're not afraid of bees. But that doesn't matter because I'm not, so you're not, and why is your birthday a full two months in advance? I'm not ready yet!"
During my rant, Heath returns with our food, but my friends are too entertained by my horror to notice him. I'm the first to realize he's been standing there awkwardly.
"Oh, hi, Heath. I don't suppose your birthday is in March either, is it?" I say pleasantly.
"N-no," he stammers. It is quite alarming when a stranger-stalker asks you for your birthday. He mumbles something about November as he places our respective dishes in front of us. I wonder vaguely if the chef has a wife in the floristry business because I've got two flowers in my noodles. I hope they're sanitary. As I reach for my fork, I see Nat and Uri reflexively slide their plates away from me. I grin.
"Seventeen," Anna says through a spoonful of dinner. "You asked earlier. I turn seventeen."
"Old," Uri and I chime. It's an amusing thought that Anna is a year and seven days older than Nat. Now that I know they're both March birthdays, I sort of remember Anna teasing Nat about their age gap.
"I'm sorry I'm not a wittle kiddy," pouts Anna mockingly. She sticks her tongue out at Uri, who is trying to kick her under the table. I know because he just missed and hit my shin. From the way Nat's face twists, I think he kicked Nat too. Uri's screwed.
Instead of punching him and/or experimenting to find out how many toothpicks it takes to make Uri bleed, Nat stands up and goes back to the check-in counter. I blink. Either he's really mad, or he's paying early, or he's gotten a sudden change in sexual orientation and is going to hit on Heath. Either way, he's out of the way. Uri slides into Nat's seat and lands a solid blow on Anna's foot.
The table vibrates with the increasing intensity of their kicks. Nat comes back and is not amused. He mouths to me, why didn't you stop them?
I gestured underneath the table. I'd been kicked once already. If he wanted to amputate his leg, he could be my guest. I wouldn't stop him.
"Scoot," Nat commands, and maybe it's because he might be mad, but Uri reluctantly scoots. But not before kicking Anna again. And not before receiving one. Or five. I wince for Uri, but no one else really cares that much.
"Guess what?" starts Anna. Nat raises an eyebrow. "This totally wasn't on purpose, but this dish was the most expensive on the menu." She smiles sweetly like the angel she isn't, and Nat scowls.
"I noticed." He looked at his own meal. "That's why mine was the cheapest."
Since he's distracted, I slip a flower on both his and Uri's plates. They look up in unison, startled.
"Now Anna's got a flower, Uri's got a flower, and Nat's got two to make up for his grumpiness," I announce, making a mental note to check my shoes and bed for any bugs, needles, or toothpaste before using them.
"Thanks a lot," glares Uri.
"Forgive me for not bowing and pledging my undying loyalty," deadpans Nat.
"Forgiven," Anna says immediately.
"Done," I say, pushing my cleared plate away from me. Smugly, I notice that I'm the first. Anna notices as well and begins to inhale her food. Before I look away, she's finished, stacking her plate on top of mine. Nat looks kind of revolted, but then, he might also be looking at the furry thing that just crawled up on the windowsill. I'm not sure if it's a rat or a messed up rabbit or something in between.
Uri finishes quickly and settles down for Nat, who is, again, taking his time. He stares at me, then draws his gaze away and towards Heath. Or rather, towards the counter where Heath was that last time I checked. Now, he appears to have disappeared or been abducted by aliens taking over the world. Darn. And he was a cool waiter.
Suddenly, the lights go out. Or rather, they dim, and I realize in a great epiphany that the other customers have left and that we are the only ones in the restaurant. Anna voices my thoughts. "What?"
Heath enters from a door that I assume leads to the kitchen – the k-i-t-c-h-e-n engravings in the door help a little – followed by a middle-aged man with Heath's brown hair and dark blue eyes. His apron implies that he is the chef, in which case, he is a marvelous pasta cooker. Whatever that's called. I'd have to look it up later.
Heath is carrying a small cake with a candle on it, and Nat nods approvingly. Anna is scrawled in dark brown on top of the pristine white icing, and I can't help but smile at the plethora of flower petals decorating the plates. It would have been exceedingly annoying, but on the birthday cake of my friend, it's adorable. I give the restaurant five stars.
Anna squeals as she put two and two together. That was what Nat had talked to Heath about. The look on Nat's face discourages her from tackling him there, so he's safe. Until we leave.
"We would sing for you," says Heath's dad, "but for the sake of your ears, we won't."
Anna is grinning so madly that I don't think she heard him. Not that it matters, because Uri gives me a look that says sing now.
We burst into a terrible duet, which is mostly my fault as he sings really quickly and I'm trying to squeeze in the cha-cha-cha at the end of every verse. Nat doesn't join in. I can tell by the look on his face that he's thinking hah-no. I don't sing. Ever.
"I love you," declares Anna, not specifying the recipient. "Will you marry me?" She's looking at the cake though.
"Hm?" asks Heath's dad.
"All of you," Anna clarifies. "We're all going to have a huge wedding now and eat cake. And throw flowers."
The cake is set on the table and promptly cut into four sloppy and dreadfully uneven pieces. Anna claims the biggest, Uri the second. Nat offers me the third, but I can't tell if it's because he doesn't like sweets. He seems like the type to not like sweets, but you can never tell with Nat.
"Best birthday ever," sighs Anna happily after the plates have been cleared away.
"Nah, darling," I giggle, feeling the sugar high. "You think that 'cuz you've never celebrated with us before."
She smiles. Uri smiles. Nat smiles, sort of. You can see it if you squint. I'm sure he's smiling inside.
"Too true," someone murmurs, but I'm not sure who because I'm busy immersing myself in the love and friendship and nothing else really matters.