Spoilers: general Season 5
Word Count: 1,507
Summary: The New And Improved Ryan Howard tries to win Kelly over via voluntary karaoke participation. It doesn't really work.
Author's Note: For amathela's prompt, 'Ryan/Kelly, karaoke.' This got worryingly emotional out of nowhere.
I'm kind of frightened of how much stuff I've written today.
Kelly is disappointed. It’s Do Something That Makes You Happy Day in the office (sometimes she really likes Michael’s ideas, but don’t tell anybody), and so she brought in ABBA karaoke, because she can’t think of anything that makes her happier than Mamma Mia! Not even Darryl, who keeps picking his daughter over her, like, what is up with that? If there’s one thing that Kelly knows, it’s that you have to let your kids go sooner or later. Hi, that’s the whole message of ‘Slipping Through My Fingers.’ She wonders if he has even bothered to listen to the copy of the soundtrack that she burned him. She’ll force him to the next time she sees him, she decides. Even if that means having to take all his CDs out of his truck. And hide his iPod again. How else will he ever develop actual taste in music?
But that doesn’t really help her out now, because now, she’s got ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ all ready to go, but nobody will sing it with her. Jim just made one of his faces at her – like, what, he’ll sing karaoke with Michael, but not with her? Don’t think she doesn’t remember that, Jim Halpert, because she so does – and Andy looked like he really, really wanted to, but he never talks to her anymore, and she knows it’s because Angela told him he wasn’t allowed to. Oscar’s, like, completely useless. He just keeps rolling his eyes. (Why is he even gay?) Michael probably will, and it’s better than nothing, but still—
And then, all of a sudden, Ryan comes up and takes the other mic. Ryan.
He still can’t sing, like, at all. He never used to around her unless he was drunk, and then you just couldn’t get him to stop. Sometimes she used to catch him doing it sober when he was by himself, though, and she’d always come in and giggle about it and he’d get all embarrassed and grumpy, but she could usually get him to crack a smile if she teased him long enough.
She misses that Ryan. This one now, the one that came back, she can never tell if he means anything he does. Once, a few years ago, she got pissed at him for some reason (it’s hard to remember all the reasons now) and threw his Christmas present in the dumpster outside the building, and they both wound up climbing around inside it trying to find it again. For some reason she wound up saying something about dieting, like, asking him if she needed to diet, and he said no. That she was perfect. Now he stands up and says it in front of everybody. She thinks she liked it better in the dumpster.
He sings the whole song with her, and is so not even like one millionth as cute as Dominic Cooper, as if that could even be possible. But, the thing is, he actually makes an attempt to be. He, like, legitimately tries. Michael is watching them and sort of stomping his foot along and grinning, and keeps yelling out stuff like, ‘Oh yeah, it isn’t nice!’ and ‘I’ll tell you where you can lay all your love!’ Kelly thinks he might start drooling any second now. She guesses he has to direct his feelings for Holly somewhere now that they’re all splitsville.
“That was great,” Ryan tells her when they’re done singing, leaning in closer than he needs to so he can sort of say it in her ear. His breath tickles her cheek. “You sounded really good.”
She is about to give him such a talking-to, such a Ryan Howard, don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing because I totally do, you big skeeze, and just because corporate and becoming a drug addict made you all weirdly ambitious about everything doesn’t mean I’m going to ever even touch you ever again, no matter how nice you are to me lecture, the sort of thing that you could put in a movie and finish off with a sassy Aretha Franklin song starting up in the background. But then the phone rings over at the reception desk, and he has to go answer it. So instead, she’s just left standing here by herself.
When she’s on her way out that evening, trying to lug the karaoke machine out of the office and down to her car by herself, he just appears out of nowhere, all, “Need a hand with that?” He doesn’t even wait for her to answer before she takes it, and it’s like, who are you, Stepford Ryan or something? Still, the machine is all heavy and bulky, so it’s like common sense to let him carry it.
She doesn’t say anything, though. They get in the elevator together in silence. It makes a little ding! when the doors shut, and that’s it. No more noise.
Except then he says, “So. Got any plans tonight?”
“Yes,” she replies frostily. “Thank you for asking.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right,” he continues. His voice sounds so nice – like, completely friendly, which is completely wrong for his voice – but his eyes are sort of doing this sly, dancing thing, like he wants to be throwing glances at the cameras even though the crew went home already. “Isn’t Grey’s Anatomy on tonight?”
“Yes it is,” she says.
He waits for a minute, like he expects her to catch him up on everything, like how Callie’s a lesbian now and it’s so awesome that the whole Alex and Izzie thing maybe didn’t get totally dropped after all. Then, when she doesn’t say anything else, he says, “I was thinking maybe this weekend—”
“Ryan, Darryl’s my boyfriend.” God. How many times is he going to do this? Stupid creep.
“I know,” he says, not even shaken a little bit, like he can’t believe she’s suggesting that he’d only want to hang out so they could have sex. “I was just thinking we could get dinner or hang out. You know, as friends. It’s been a really long time. We’ve got some catching up to do.”
“Why the hell do you want to catch up with me? You just wanted me to shut up the whole time we were together.”
“You’re such a fucking asshole, Ryan.” She didn’t mean to say that, but all of a sudden, she just feels so bad, like she just wants to go home and cry or something. It’s just, God, she hates him for doing this. Like she needed another reason to hate him. “Like, even more now. I didn’t know you could be more of a fucking asshole.”
“Whoa,” he says, like he’s all innocent, like he totally didn’t ask for any of this and she’s just going off on him out of nowhere. “I didn’t—”
“You know what, I feel bad for you,” she goes on, because she’s sort of bad at stopping when she starts talking, and besides, she’s been thinking this for a really long time, even if she never really realized it ‘til just now. “Because you used to be such a big jerk, but at least there was, like, something under it. And I loved you, even though you totally didn’t deserve it. And now you’re just a big jerk, and that’s it, that’s all, and you ruined Do Something That Makes You Happy day, and so God, I hope you’re happy, and I’m so telling Michael tomorrow, and you’re probably going to get fired. So there. You just look forward to that, Ryan Bailey Howard. I’m sure your business school education will really impress everybody when you’re like head checkout boy at Wal-Mart.”
“You’re insane,” he says. And there, just for a second, just for a flicker, he’s her Ryan.
“Yeah,” she grumbles, “well, at least I’m not a fucking asshole.”
The elevator ding!s open and he follows her out to her car in silence. He puts the karaoke machine in the back, then starts heading off. She gets inside her car, and Katy Perry’s voice fills it when she turns it on. It makes her feel a little better.
She’s just fastening her seatbelt when there’s the rapping of knuckles against her window.
There he is again.
She doesn’t want to roll down her window, but she does. Like, whatever.
“Hey,” he says, in that stupid nice voice again. “I’m sorry I called you insane. That was totally uncalled for. I really want us to be friends.”
He smiles at her.
She doesn’t even bother to roll the window back up. Just puts her car into reverse and backs up so fast the tires screech against the pavement.
He jumps out of the way before she can run over his feet or anything, but it still totally freaks him out.
She beams, feeling a whole lot better all of a sudden. As she drives out of the parking lot, she turns the volume up extra-super-loud and sings along.