For Sophie. Because sixteen candles make a lovely light- but not as bright as your eyes tonight. -sixteen candles, the stray cats

NOTE: This is a companion fic to "Let's Burn Our Dreams Into The Skyline" - You don't necessarily have to read that one first, but it would definitely help :)

Pairing: Something I wouldn't expect.
Prompts: Someone's birthday, going swimming at night, a combination lock, the end of summer :(

i hope you like it. sorry for the lateness. i'm a chronic procrastinator :P

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SOPHSTER!

ily.


***

we're chasing stars to lose our shadow

***

The sky was like a never-ending palette of inky black darkness and the moon cast a soft glow on the crystalline pool as she gazed up at the stars, warm breeze pricking her bare skin. She was a showstopper- white and gold Greek goddess-inspired robes that, swathed in the silvery moonlight, made her gold skin glow from within- even without the jewel-toned bronzer she had dusted over herself. Cream silk Louboutin espadrilles- that would make even Mischa Barton green with envy- laced up her slender calves and a white gold grapevine twine tiara sat atop her lustrous raven curls that cascaded gently down to mid-back. She was dressed to kill- with nowhere to go.

"Fuck this," she mumbled, clasping the tiara with sense of dejected fury and hurling it onto the marble tiles that surrounded the grotto-style pool.

She couldn't believe her rotten luck.

In a mere three hours, her sixteenth birthday would be gone.

She always pictured her sweet sixteen to be an extravagantly wild affair. She would have it on... a private beach in Cabo. Or a huge yacht on the Atlantic, off the coast of NY. No! The top of a revolving restaurant that had a blissfully romantic view of the New York City skyline. Yes. With a live band. The Jonas Brothers. They'd be playing Fly With Me, and Nick would be crooning "If time was still, the sun would never, never find us..." into the mike. And then a hush would settle on the crowd as she glided into the room, dressed stunningly as a Greek goddess and no one- especially Massie Block- would be able to outshine her. And there would be a gold spotlight that shone on her as she walked in, and all the boys- especially Josh- wouldn't be able to stop staring. He'd break away from Claire Lyons and whisk her into a mind-blowing kiss and Claire would collapse into a puddle of tears but no one would care because Alicia Rivera was the star and that was the way things were meant to be.

Ha. Yeah, right.

Maybe she was being punk'd. Because that was the only plausible explanation for absolutely no one- not even her parents-to acknowledge that today, August 28th, the most freaking important day in the world, was her birthday. Not even a measly "OMG- Hapee Birthdae, Leesh!11!!1!" Facebook message from Olivia Ryan.

At first she thought it was because they were throwing her a surprise party. It would account for her parent's and friends' aloof behavior- no "Happy Birthday, mi amor!" from her mother and father. No all-day shopping sprees in the city with her mother and cousins. No cake, no balloons- no one had even mentioned it. So she had patiently waited in her room, laying out the ethereal Greek goddess dress she had bought from Ralph Lauren just for the occasion, chosen the perfect vintage gold accessories, massaged Moroccan oils into her skin to give it an extra glow and even taken a power nap to look fresh for the night. But the hours passed and at six in the evening, Alicia began feeling uneasy. Just to make sure, she had slipped in that old eighties movie, Sixteen Candles, cranking up the volume until her mother, looking drowsy after her cucumber facial, walked in.

"Alicia, darling, can you turn down the volume on your movie? It's disturbing my Zen. And without the proper Zen, there is no possible way I'll be able to lose those dreadful bags under my eyes. You wouldn't want your mother to look old, would you?"

"You know," Alicia blurted out, panicked. "This movie's about this girl, Samantha. And you know what happens? Everyone, including her parents, forget her birthday. Crazy, right?"

"Whatever you say, dear," her mother replied absently, already out the door. "Just turn it down a bit, alright?"

In a last ditch attempt to force some sense into her parents, she got completely dressed up- tiara and all- and entered her parents' room. They- thank gawd- looked ready for a night out. Her mother had slipped into a crimson Versace cocktail dress and was applying a jaw-droppingly bright scarlet M.A.C. lipstick, clusters of diamonds practically dripping from her ear lobes, wrists and neck. Her father was spritzing some cologne on, and was already dressed in a stately Armani tux.

"Ready to go?" Alicia asked cheerily, finally relieved. Her parents, confused, glanced at each other before her mother spoke.

"Darling, what are you talking about?" She arched a dark brow and dropped a tiny bottle of Chanel No. 5 into her metallic silver satin Dolce and Gabbana clutch. "You aren't coming with us."

"W-what?" Warm tears stung the back of Alicia's chocolate eyes and she bit her lip to stop her voice from wavering.

"Pumpkin, we're going out for dinner with a couple of my clients," her father said quietly, looking slightly concerned. "Nothing special. I thought you'd be bored. Why don't you just order some pizza and have a movie night with Sonia?"

A movie night. With greasy, oil-soaked pizza. And her cranky, sixty-year-old gardener who refused to watch anything but French soap operas from the seventies. On her birthday.

Someone was most definitely out to get her.

So, as a well-behaved, charming daughter as two of Westchester's most distinguished socialites, she did the rational thing. She yanked off her espadrille and hurled it at the large mirror on the ivory vanity (imported from Monaco- a gift from some sultan or whatever) that sat near the four-poster bed. The mirror shattered upon contact, sending spiky shards of glass into all directions. Her mother began screeching Spanish obscenities and her father just looked shell-shocked. Muffling a broken sob, she turned on her heel and speed-walked (because, puh-lease- no situation could ever justify running and risk ruining her makeup) to her room, slamming the door behind her. She collapsed onto her bed and sobbed into her silk pillows, mascara tracks bleeding into the pale gold sheath. But, despite her outburst, she watched through her tears as her parents slid into their cream-colored Jaguar (after shouting through the door that she was in major trouble when they came back) and sped away.

Which was why she was sitting sullenly in her backyard, bare feet dangling in the moonlit pool, during the last few moments on what should have been the most magical night of her life. Suddenly, her iPhone buzzed with a new text and she eagerly opened it.

massie: hey leesh- just got back from my d8 with todd!! romantic x10!! he was soooo sweet. bought me this ah-mazing pearl necklace. btw- i'm making pearls in again.

Alicia fought the urge to roll her eyes. Ever since that disastrous Fourth of July party, Massie had began dating Todd Lyons- the pervy brat turned Abercrombie god- and wasn't afraid to share every gruesomely intimate detail of their relationship with everyone- Alicia, Claire (who looked understandably green at the thought), the manicurists at the spa, the mailman, everyone. Seriously, enough was enough.

alicia: cool :) hey... are you forgetting to maybe tell me something?

She hit the send button with her last shard of hope. Massie was her best friend since, like, the fetus. Surely she, even in her Todd-induced state of delirium, would remember her birthday. Fifteen minutes passed and Alicia began worrying- what if Massie's phone died before she got the message?

massie: OMG! leesh, i'm so sorry!!

She let out a sigh of relief. Finally! She remembered! Now she'd offer to come over to paint their nails, watch Christian Bale movies, eat fat-free fro-yo. Simple, but anything would be welcome after this awful day. Her iPhone buzzed again and she glanced at the screen.

massie: todd started IM-ing me. thats why i didn't reply ;) anyway- you know that greek goddess ralph lauren dress you have?

Alicia fought the urge to scream. Okay, as her best friend, she'd just give her another not-so-subtle hint.

alicia: you mean the one that i bought especially for my birthday?

If Massie didn't get the hint, Alicia would-

massie: yeah, that one! can i borrow it for my date with todd tomorrow?

She let out a mirthless laugh. Of course.

alicia: you know what, mass? go screw yourself. and no, you can't borrow it.

With that, she tossed the iPhone into the pool, watching in sardonic pleasure as it smoothly sunk into the water, picturing Massie's furious face when she got the message. She'd probably put her on probation- threaten to take away her beta position, take away her gossip points, or even kick her out of the PC. But for once, Alicia didn't even care. It was the end of summer and school was going to start soon. Massie would be distracted with keeping her relationship with Todd intact- he was heading back to boarding school but promised that they could continue a long-distance relationship- and the start of junior year- a hectic year for grades and extra curricular activities.

"You know, you could have provided a third world country with clothes and shelter for the amount of money you probably spent on that phone," a voice said behind her.

She screamed- almost losing her balance and falling into the pool in the process. After regaining her breath, she furrowed her perfectly gelled brows.

"Plovert? How did you get in here? What are you even doing here? And what on earth are you wearing?" She demanded, crossing her arms across her chest. The often-forgotten Briarwood soccer star smiled at her from the iron-wrought gates that surrounded the backyard. He was wearing an absurd combination of bright yellow rubber-duckie swimming trunks, a stiff Ralph Lauren Oxford, tan flip-flops and an acid green tie wound around his neck. A large North Face backpack was slung across his back.

"Just wanted to say happy birthday," He grinned winsomely and any hostility she felt toward him vanished instantly. "And I figured out the combination for the lock- 8-2-8-9-3, right? Your birthday date- not very original. And well... my little sister picked out the outfit," he added with a nervous chuckle. "I figured she'd know more about fashion than I did."

"Is your sister trying to humiliate you?" Alicia asked teasingly, lifting her feet out of the pool. Plovert shrugged and stuffed his hands into his pockets.

"I wouldn't be surprised," he said in an off-hand voice. "But what does surprise me is that you're sitting in your backyard by yourself on your sweet sixteen."

An unexpected sting hit the back of her warm brown eyes and she looked away, biting her shimmering lip.

"Yeah, well... my parents are douches. And my friends just suck," she spat bitterly, blinking back tears. "I can't believe everyone... wait, how did you know today was my birthday? We don't even talk."

His flip-flops thwacked against the cool, marble tiles as he made his way toward her and sat beside her, a small half-smile on his face.

"Well... Facebook," he admitted, letting his legs dangle in the moonlit waters. He glanced at her from under his fair lashes. "It just seemed kinda... weird that no one had commented about it. Then, um..." His face flushed a bright shade of crimson and he trailed off nervously.

"Then...?" She arched a dark brow and nudged him gently.

"Icamebytoseeifyouweredoinganythingandsawyouthrowyourshoesatyourparent'smirrorandiassumeditwasbecauseeveryoneforgotyourbirthday," he said in a rush and looked down, abashed. She gaped at him slightly.

"Wait, so... you saw what I did to my parent's mirror?" she demanded, a slight blush creeping up her face. "So you've started stalking me, huh?" She grinned, leaned over and splashed a water on him. The smile melted off his face as the water doused his Ralph Lauren Oxford.

"Shit, Rivera!" he cursed, jumping up like he was on fire. "This isn't mine! It's Derrick's! He's so going to-"

She couldn't help but smiling at the way he was gesturing angrily at the shirt, which, when soaked though (she couldn't help but notice), showed some incredible soccer-toned muscles. She wasn't even listening to what he was saying and, getting bored of the mindless flow of words coming from his mouth, she shoved him into the pool, giggling as he comically stumbled and splashed into the azure pool.

"You, Rivera," he seethed when he surfaced, blonde hair plastered to his forehead. "Are so dead."

"Is that a challenge?" She tilted her head to the side and smiled angelically. "Because you'll have to catch me first!"

Plovert let out a growl and clambered out of the pool in record time to chase her. She couldn't bring herself to run, even with the imminent danger, so he caught her within seconds and hitched her into his arms, bridal-style. She shuddered slightly at the contact with his warm hands clasping waist tightly. Slowly, he walked toward the pool, grinning as she thrashed in his arms, trying to escape.

"Let me go, Plovert!" she cried, trying to wiggle out of his grasp. He looked thoughtful for a moment.

"Um, let me think... no."

"Please, Chris?" She widened her kohl-outlined eyes to their maximum extent and pouted. "I'll do whatever you want. Just don't drop me in."

"Okay," He bared his perfect, magazine-cover worthy teeth into a smile. "Say, 'Chris Plovert is the sexiest man I have ever had the pleasure to set my eyes on and I would gladly offer myself to grovel at his extremely hot feet.' And say it like you mean it..." he warned in a mock serious tone.

"Chris Plovert is the sexiest man I have ever had the pleasure to set my eyes on and I would gladly offer myself to grovel at his extremely hot feet," she said in a rush and gave him a winning smile. "Not," she mumbled under her breath but he was too busy filming the moment with his Sidekick.

"A deal's a deal," he said in a resigned voice as he slid his phone back into his pocket, but grinned devilishly and threw her into the pool anyway.

The sound of rushing water pounded in her ears and she felt herself being pulled down with the weight of her silky dress and heavy gold necklace. She quickly unclasped the jewelry and let it sink to the bottom of the pool and resurfaced, raven hair dripping with water. Plovert was watching from the side of the pool, grabbing his abs as he sunk to the tiled ground with laughter.

"You stupid..." She struggled to think of an appropriate insult. "Jerkface!"

"Ouch, Rivera. I'm so wounded. My heart has been bruised and beaten and smashed under your harsh words. Please, take it back... I beg of you!" He sunk to his knees and pretended to grovel, clutching his heart with a somber expression. Alicia smiled in spite of herself and lifted herself out of the pool. She pretended to think as she squeezed the water out of her hair.

"Well... you have to give me something to prove your worthiness," She giggled and cocked her head to a side. He smiled slyly in return and quickly retrieved his backpack. Unzipping it, he pulled out a box and took off the cover. She gasped when she saw a small cake- no bigger than her hand- in the shape of the Ralph Lauren logo covered with navy and white frosting and sixteen pink candles. He grinned at her stunned expression as he pulled out a box of matches and began lighting all the candles.

"Ehmagawd. How did you get that, Chris? I looked everywhere for a cake like that, but..." she whispered reverently and couldn't suppress the ecstatic beam that spread across her face.

"It helps having a sister who worships Martha Stewart," He shrugged. "And now I kinda owe her my allowance for the next two months, but... it definitely was worth it to see your face." He mumbled the last bit and flushed an adorable shade of pink. The combination of his blush and sheepish smile shining under the soft glow of the candles was too much to handle. She tackled him in a massive bear hug, nearly knocking him over, and squeezed him tightly, burrowing her head into his muscled chest.

"Thank you," She gave the most sincere, grateful smile she could muster. "I love it. I absolutely love it."

"Oh, but it doesn't end here, love," He gave her a roguish wink, practically brimming with confidence after the warm response. He reluctantly untangled himself from her grip and pulled out a small iPod dock and skimmed through the songs, before pressing one.

If time were still
The sun would never never find us
We could light up
The sky, tonight
I would see the world through your eyes
And leave it all behind

"Chris... I-I..." She felt speechless as The Jonas Brother's "Fly With Me" began playing from the speakers. How could he have known? This was the greatest possible thing anyone could have done for her.

"Would you like to dance?" he asked hesitantly and she nodded as quickly as she could, wrapping her damp arms around his neck and they began to sway in time with the music, wet skin glistening under the moonlight. She let out a soft sigh, warm contentment filling her slightly shaking body and lay her head on his chest.

If it's you and me forever
If it's you and me right now
That'd be alright
Be alright
Chase the stars to lose the shadow
Peter Pan and Wendy turned out fine
So, won't you fly with me

"I'm sorry if this isn't exactly the birthday you were expecting," he said suddenly, seeing her faraway expression. "I know this isn't anything even close to what you'd normally do, but-"

"Chris," she interrupted, eyes skimming over her jewels glittering at the bottom of the pool, the slightly melting cake, and finally a sopping wet Chris Plovert, looking completely ridiculous in his color-blind outfit, watching her in a way that Josh had never managed to. "This is absolutely perfect."


gahh, sucky cheesy ending. as usual :P

hope you liked it anyway, soph.