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FIC: A Willing Sacrifice Part 3

FIC: A Willing Sacrifice
Author: Nightrider
Fandom: The OC
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything related to the OC. How sad for me!
Summary: Seth begins to doubt his friendship with Ryan.
A/N: This was written for Brandy’s 15 minute challenge. I was supposed to use a sentence prompt, but it didn’t fit with the story I wrote. It’s rather odd because the quote gave me the idea for the story, but later didn’t fit. Go figure…

This is not betaed. I make a ton of mistakes and they are all my own. Feel free to point the errors out and I'll gladly correct them.

Thank you to all those who have been patiently waiting for the next chapter. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint. :)




Part 3

“Do you think the boys will be okay?” Kirsten asked as she instinctively pulled the blanket tighter around Seth. She’d been alternating between readjusting his blanket and ruffling his hair for the last two hours.

“With time, I think they’ll both heal,” Sandy returned with a sigh. “I’m more worried about Ryan right now.” He wasn’t trying to negate what Seth went through, but Ryan was the one bleeding several rooms away.

“They both went through a traumatic experience, Sandy. At least Ryan is used to it.” Her words froze on her lips as she realized her own callousness. Had she really become that cold? Julie Cooper would be so proud. “I can’t believe I just said that,” she whispered as she brought her hand up to her mouth.

“Did you mean it?” Sandy asked. He felt as if he was looking at his wife for the first time. He knew she would protect her child above all else, but he didn’t think there was such an obvious difference between the way she loved Seth and the way she loved Ryan. He thought they’d covered that ground over the summer when both boys were gone. It was painfully obvious that she was just as torn up about Ryan returning to Chino. Could he have completely misread her actions?

“I don’t know,” she murmured as her gaze drifted to Seth’s sleeping form. “I know Ryan has had a rough life. I just think he’ll be able to handle this better than Seth.” That wasn’t any comfort to Sandy.

“Did you know that Ryan willingly went into the store after Trey pulled the gun? He wasn’t already in there like Seth,” Sandy explained. They both made a conscious effort to keep their voices down so Seth wouldn’t be disturbed.

“He obviously knew it was Trey and thought he could stop him. Trey is his brother after all. Ryan probably knew he wouldn’t really hurt him.” If you call slamming his face with a gun not hurting him…

“Does that make it any better?” Sandy asked curiously. The idea of Ryan trying to stop anyone with a gun gave him chills. No matter how mature he was, Ryan was a sixteen year old child. He and Kirsten were both guilty of forgetting that. What business did he have disarming criminals? Speaking of which, what business did the same sixteen year old child have sitting in the emergency department alone?

“I’m going to check on Ryan.” Sandy stood up, quickly kissed Kirsten’s forehead, and strode out of the room. He stopped to get a cup of coffee before wandering towards Ryan’s room. The door was open, but he could hear murmured voices from behind the curtain. He recognized Marissa’s broken sobs instantly and the telltale sounds of Ryan comforting her. Sandy found himself wondering just how long Ryan had been taking care of everyone. It seemed Ryan had taken on the role of blessed protector the moment he set foot in Newport. It wasn’t like anyone had tried to stop him either.

“I was so worried about you,” she sniffled. Truthfully, Ryan was glad she had shown up. She provided him with an idle distraction. Comforting a crying girl was something he was good at. Dealing with his own emotional drama wasn’t. Taking care of Marissa had become second nature to him and he did it instinctually. He was able to push everything else aside and focus on her. And if he was going to be honest, he really didn’t want to be alone. Hospitals scared the hell out of him. The fact that Trey was most likely fighting for his life upstairs wasn’t doing a lot to improve his mood either.

“I know,” Ryan returned gently. Sandy mouthed the words he knew was coming. “I’m fine.”

“That guy who had the gun, how did you stop him?” she asked. Ryan paused and he heard the bed shift slightly.

“The police got there just in time,” Ryan returned. It surprised Sandy that Ryan would blatantly lie like that. He supposed that was better than listening to Marissa freak out if he told her what actually happened. “Luckily Seth wasn’t hurt.” Apparently that was weighing heavily on the kid’s mind.

“Yeah, because he’s the only one that matters,” Marissa snapped. Sandy pictured her dramatically rolling her eyes.

“I’m not saying that. I’m just glad he wasn’t hurt. Now we don’t have to listen to him whine nonstop for the next week.” Marissa was soon laughing and Sandy had a feeling that was Ryan’s goal. The kid was a master of deflection. It’s amazing what he was learning just from listening to Ryan talk.

“Did you want something Sandy?” Ryan’s soft spoken question jarred him out of his thoughts and he pushed the curtain aside sheepishly. He was about as good as Seth at stealth. Marissa was curled up next to Ryan, her head was resting on his shoulder, and her mascara was smeared underneath her puffy eyes. His arm was protectively wrapped around her quivering body. It was obvious she had been crying. He noticed that Ryan was now wearing a blue scrub shirt and his jeans.

“I came to check on you,” Sandy offered with a smile. He noted that Ryan’s hands and his arm where he had carelessly pulled out the IV had been bandaged and there three steri-strips over his cheek.

“I’m fine.” Sandy should have seen that coming.

“The doctor told us that nothing was broken,” Marissa offered helpfully. “The X-Rays were all negative. He’s supposed to leave those strips on until they fall off.” Sandy found himself appreciating Marissa a little bit more. He’d gotten way more out of her than he’d ever have gotten out of Ryan. “He should be discharged soon,” Marissa added. “The doctor was going to give the paperwork to you once it got typed up.”

“How’s Seth?” Ryan asked quietly.

“He was still sleeping when I left.”

“Good,” Ryan returned thoughtfully. “That’s good.”

The doctor reappeared a few minutes later and gave the necessary paperwork to Sandy. Ryan protested the pain prescriptions, but Sandy sent him a look and he decided to shut up. He wasn’t in the mood for another fight anyway. He didn’t have to take them after all. It was on an as needed basis.

Ryan took Marissa’s hand and eased off the bed. Sandy had gone to retrieve Seth and Kirsten.

“You sure you’re okay?” Marissa asked. He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. It never did anymore.

“I’m fine. I already told you, there isn’t anything to worry about.” He guided her into the hall where Sandy, Kirsten, and Seth were waiting. Seth was rubbing his eyes tiredly and offered a weak wave when he saw Ryan.

“Ryan, before we leave, would you like to see…”

“No,” Ryan interjected firmly. He knew what Sandy was going to suggest and the answer was a big, resounding no. He had no desire to see his brother and it wasn’t just because of what Trey did.

“Are you sure?” Sandy asked. He couldn’t stop the concern from leaking into his voice. Trey was going to get put away for a long time for this escapade. There was no telling when Ryan was going to get the chance to see him again.

“I said no, Sandy.”

Marissa eyed him curiously, but Ryan dropped her hand and starting walking towards the exit without looking back. He’d be damned if he was going to stay in the hospital a second longer than necessary. Walking home was better than standing there justifying why he didn’t want to see his gun-wielding brother. Seth glared at his father, before jogging after Ryan.

“Hey man, wait up!”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Two days later…

“I can’t believe you guys aren’t doing anything,” Seth snapped as he glared at his parents over the edge of a cream cheese covered bagel.

“I don’t know what you’re so worried about,” Kirsten stated as she idly flipped through the newspaper. “He’s been acting fine.”

“He’s actually done a lot better than I thought he would,” Sandy mused quietly. “His bruises are going to take awhile to fade, but he’s acting pretty normal.” Sandy wasn’t sure what he expected after they returned home from the hospital, but he was beginning to think Kirsten was right. Ryan obviously was able to recover from the traumatic event much quicker than Seth.

“And that doesn’t strike you as odd?” Seth asked flatly as he dropped the bagel on his plate and crossed his arms across his chest. “He had a gun shoved in his face and beat his brother into a bloody pulp. Now he’s miraculously fine and you two don’t see the problem with that?” Sometimes his parents could be so damn thick.

“Seth, what exactly do you want us to do about it?” Sandy questioned in his best mediation voice.

“Oh I don’t know,” Seth mused as he casually thrummed his fingers against his chin. “You could always try parenting if that’s not too much of a stretch for you.”

Sandy opened his mouth to responded, but Kirsten beat him to it. “Drop the attitude,” Kirsten stated as she glared at her outspoken son.

“I’ll try talking to him, okay?” Sandy offered. In truth, Sandy had tried talking to Ryan. Ryan told him, of course, that he was fine before launching into a discussion about one of the assigned summer reading books. Sandy had planned on lecturing the kid about initially refusing medical treatment and pulling the IV out of his arm, but Ryan seemed to be doing so well, he hadn’t wanted to push.

“Thank you,” Seth said with a barely satisfied nod.

The patio door was pulled open and Ryan sleepily stumbled inside. He immediately went to the coffee pot and poured himself a healthy cup of steaming coffee.

“Mornin’,” Ryan murmured as he retrieved a discarded section of the newspaper and eased in the chair next to Seth. Sandy noticed the careful way Ryan sat down and the way his eyes winced every so slightly. If he hadn’t been paying attention, he never would have noticed the subtle signs of a kid that was in pain and trying carefully trying hide it.

“Ryan, are you in pain?” Sandy asked bluntly. The edge of the newspaper rustled as Ryan kept his face hidden from view.

“No.”

“You looked like you were in pain when you sat down,” Sandy explained as he glanced at Kirsten. Surely Ryan hadn’t been in pain for the last two days and they had neglected to see it? They weren’t that blind, were they? Sandy was certain he was a better parent than that. Kirsten had been shamelessly hovering over Seth for the last two days, but both of them had been attentive to Ryan as well, hadn’t they?

“I’m fine.”

“Sure doesn’t look like it,” Seth snapped as he picked at the end of his half eaten bagel. Sandy reached out and pulled the newspaper out of Ryan’s hands.

“Now maybe we can have a proper conversation,” Sandy continued as his gaze locked with Ryan’s. “Are you in pain?”

“I already told you that I’m not. It would be great if everyone would stop making a big deal out of this,” Ryan muttered quietly. “Why would I willingly allow myself to be in pain?”

“He’s got a point,” Kirsten mused logically. “You’ll tell us if you need your pain pills, won’t you? There’s no reason for you to be hurting.”

“Yeah, if I need one, I’ll ask,” Ryan stated as he stood up, grabbed his coffee, and walked towards the pool house. Three pairs of eyes were studying him as he strode out without a hint of tenderness or pain. Perhaps Sandy had just imagined the whole thing. He knew he hadn’t been sleeping well lately so it was quite possible that his eyes were playing tricks on him.

“I wasn’t done talking to him,” Sandy stated after the door had closed. Lack of sleep or not, he still wanted to make damn sure he hadn’t missed anything.

“You’re going to upset him and there is no reason for it. Obviously he’s doing okay,” Kirsten replied. Seth silently questioned himself. Perhaps he was the one with the problem after all. Maybe his inability of cope with the situation was bleeding over to Ryan? Ugh, psychology wasn’t his area of expertise. He had a mental promise to talk to Ryan about it later. Ryan would have the answer. He always did.

Ryan leaned against the closed door of the pool house and released the shaky breath he had been holding. It had taken all of his energy to walk normally out of the house and now the incessant pain was nearly blinding.

Everything hurt. His arms, his hands, his chest, and his head. He’d be damned if he was going to let anyone know it. This was his problem. It was his family that was fucked up. It was his burden to bear…alone.


Part 4

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
teachertam
Nov. 12th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC)
Jeez, Ryan really is messed up. Poor kid.

The determination to not take the pain pills...is it because he's determined to suffer through, because he's afraid of addiction, because he doesn't want to admit defeat/weakness?

:)

I must know!

You are a terrific writer, and I'm so glad to see another OC story from you.

Thank you.
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm enjoying a long weekend and wanted to update this story because everyone has been so patient.

I'm not sure why Ryan is being difficult. Well, okay I AM sure, but he's just not ready to open his mouth and share with the class. :) It's going to take a team effort to get to the bottom of this...and an unlikely person is going to be the one that does it. Thanks you so much for the lovely review! You're a sweetheart. :)
(no subject) - teachertam - Nov. 12th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC) - Expand
zbyszko
Nov. 12th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
Loved the update. And I also love your Star Wars icon. : )
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 05:12 am (UTC)
Thank you! :) I'm so glad you liked the update.

I'm glad you like the icon. I have to admit, rather shamefully, that it's my only one. I don't have an OC icon. :) One day I'll fix that. lol
60schic
Nov. 12th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
“I know,” Ryan returned gently. Sandy mouthed the words he knew was coming. “I’m fine.”

The kid was a master of deflection. It’s amazing what he was learning just from listening to Ryan talk.

“And that doesn’t strike you as odd?” Seth asked flatly as he dropped the bagel on his plate and crossed his arms across his chest. “He had a gun shoved in his face and beat his brother into a bloody pulp. Now he’s miraculously fine and you two don’t see the problem with that?” Sometimes his parents could be so damn thick.

He’d be damned if he was going to let anyone know it. This was his problem. It was his family that was fucked up. It was his burden to bear…alone.


I absolutely cannot believe how well you know these characters! And did you mean for me to want to throttle Kirsten for turning a blind and calloused eye to her not-so-related-son?
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC)
YAY! Thanks for pointing out the quotes that you liked. :) It's always nice to know the specific parts a reader enjoyed or could relate to. :)

I'm thrilled that I've got the tone of the characters correct. I always worry that something will be too OOC and completely throw someone out of the story.

So many times during the show I would stare at the screen and wonder if Sandy and Kirsten were parents or just people who randomly showed up. :) Thanks for the lovely feedback. I appreciate it!
fredsmith518
Nov. 12th, 2007 07:50 am (UTC)
Delighted to see an update (still liking the Who, though:))

You have presented a very plausible scenario. Erm, just considered title - you do know the rule, don't you? That you can't kill Ryan?;)

Seriously, very concerning ending, very well set up for an older Cohen epiphany.
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 02:27 pm (UTC)
hehehe I'm in love with Who. :) I can't deny it. It's beeen fun to jump genres. Truth be told, Who is so demanding that OC is a welcomed break.

I don't think I have it in me to kill Ryan. I'm just not that hardcore. I'm definitely a fan of all out angst though...as long as everything is all better in the end. :) When it comes down to it, I'm a huge sap.

Thanks for the feedback, Fred. I appreciate it!
fifimom
Nov. 12th, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
Yay! I've been waiting and hoping and now here it is and it is really good. I was wondering when Marissa was going to come back into the story. I'm glad Ryan has Marissa here. She actually seems to care about him and he needs her. I could slap Kirsten but I thinks Sandy angers me even more because he pretends to be a good parent to Ryan but he's not really. Seth maybe self absorbed but he loves Ryan and wants someone to be there for him, to take care of him. I'm so glad you came back to this story and I'm so looking forward to more. Thank you.
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks fifimom! :) I know you've been loyally following this story and I appreciate it.

Marissa, despite her many problems, has a good heart. At least in my world. I don't think she was right for Ryan, but she did seem to care for him off and on.

Seth definitely cares for Ryan. He is self absorbed, but most teenagers are. :) Thanks for the lovely feedback! I appreciate it!
brassebouillon
Nov. 12th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah! An update! I can't wait to read the next chapter! I like worried!Brother!Seth!
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it! I thought Seth could definitely be a mother hen if he wanted to. ;) Thanks for taking the time to respond!
smc36
Nov. 12th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
Nope - it doesn't disappoint.
Tugs at the ole heart strings - yip, it does that.
But nope - it doesn't disappoint.
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
A bit of heart string tugging is hopefully a good thing. :) Thanks for responding. I appreciate it! :)
malinr
Nov. 12th, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
This gives me the chills. Sandy and especially Kirsten is so totally clueless. "This was his problem. It was his family that was fucked up. It was his burden to bear alone."
Well the Cohan's are pretty fucked up to at this point :) Thanks for the update and hugs.
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
Yep, they are fucked up. I couldn't have said it any better myself! :) I'm so glad you're still enjoying the story. *hugs back*
j7chick18
Nov. 12th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Great story! I hope that Ryan doesnt do anything stupid!! post soon!
nightrider101
Nov. 12th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
Ryan? Do something stupid? Never! *wink* Thanks for letting me know you're enjoying the story. :)
beachtree
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:33 am (UTC)
Okay, so I'm a little late- and it is very late at night now! I also see that you posted more, but I refrained from peeking. That wasn't easy...

Speaking of easy, you've tapped into something that always frustrated and disappointed me. The Cohens, who were supposedly Ryan's guardians, which should mean the people entrusted with safeguarding him and looking out for his well-being, seemed more focused on what was most convenient for them. Certainly, Ryan enabled that by obliging them, but just how does someone fault a kid who has never been given unconditional love and acceptance and had to find ways to be tolerated? With no self-worth to speak of, and a precarious existence with people who could rescind their connection to him far easier than his own "more-related" family, why would he jeopardize anything by not trying to be low-maintenance, try to minimize himself and any issue related to him, keep his life separate and try to "be whoever they wanted him to be" while telling them what they wanted and needed to hear? What was so tragic, as you show repeatedly, is how readily they went for the quick, easy reinforcement rather than looking closer and not turning a blind eye.

Your comment from Kirsten really touched a nerve. I wondered on more than one occasion if she thought that way, but didn't put it into words. Her actions seemed to support it on many occasions. Despite the fact that she, of all people, seemed to operate under the false assumption that Ryan hadn't spent his life with an entire different dynamic, exposed to people and circumstances that scarred him deeply and shaped his perspective and conditioned his perceptions and responses, she applied standards and expectations to justify her behavior when Ryan was insulted, threatened, hurt or traumatized on her watch. She wanted him to instantly look and act the part without mentioning any of the unpleasantness that she found upsetting, but she also kept him at arm's length, admittedly saw him as a danger to Seth, put him at risk with members of his "less-related" family and never fought for him or to see him when he was elsewhere. She seemed to want it both ways, however it suited her, as if admitting he was a kid despite all he'd been forced to take on would mean that more would be expected of her, and she wasn't willing or able to get that close or that invested.

I like that Sandy does call her on this, and that it provokes some thought on his part. However, he is equally frustrating and has his own very obvious shortcomings. What makes his more maddening is that he seems to realize what he's doing wrong and how he's failing, but still doesn't follow through. Sandy is aware at how well Ryan can redirect attention or that he's the caretaker when he's the one who desperately needs someone to look after him, but despite that knowledge, Sandy doesn't act. He knows that Ryan can blend into the background and placate, but he accepts it rather than challenging it. He can see that Ryan is in physical pain, which has to be evidence of emotional pain that is also barely masked as quite the opposite, but he treats neither injury or symptom.

It's ironic that self-centered Seth takes a break from himself to bring up the subject. I'm not sure how much of this is a result of his own current state of mind and his own need for reassurance and how much is from worry about Ryan for Ryan's sake, not for what it means to Seth. Regardless, things have to be critical for Seth to focus on Ryan for a nano-second. It's not that he doesn't care about him, it's more that his world revolves around himself, which is more clear when, despite what he might have said, he then returns to wanting Ryan to typically be the go-to guy.



beachtree
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:33 am (UTC)
You've made so many of the lines of demarkation visible here. Echoing in the back of Ryan's head has to be the admonition that he can't be "trouble," as the Cohens warned so emphaticially when they secured the guardianship. Translation to Ryan would be: keep a low-profile, be responsible for whatever and whomever the Cohens indicated, take care of himself- as he'd always done (and knew no differently), and basically not burden the Cohens in any way that could be avoided. All of that plays out with Ryan as babysitter, sounding board, protector and personal assistant to Seth, protege to Sandy and polite, but invisible houseguest to Kirsten.

The pain he keeps hidden here seems so symbolic of all the hurt that he's kept buried from his first day with them, so as not to disrupt their lives. And, as we saw on more than one occasion, Ryan would willingly endure physical discomfort as his due punishment as he'd been taught (and he would have a tolerance for it after never being attended to) or even expecting it and also using it to numb him emotionally. Sadly, the Cohens let him suffer alone and only make the gap that much wider and deeper.

I'm not sure if I'll get to the next part before lights out, but thanks for the wrenching read!
nightrider101
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
*stares at screen* Beachtree, you really *really* amaze me. I feel like an idiot when I try to respond to your feedback because my thoughts are no where as well put together as yours.

You basically touched on so many things I was trying to get across. Of course you worded it much better than I ever could! ;)

Sandy, for his own right, I do think is trying. I think he's clueless and doesn't know where to make a stand. Kirsten is the Ice Queen in my opinion. The only time I really felt like she showed some emotion was during Season 4 when she told Ryan she had two sons to worry about.

Ryan is content to blend into the background. You're spot on about him always taking care of himself. He's been doing it for so long. Why should now be any different?
(no subject) - beachtree - Nov. 14th, 2007 02:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nightrider101 - Nov. 14th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beachtree - Nov. 14th, 2007 02:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beachtree - Nov. 14th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beachtree - Nov. 14th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nightrider101 - Nov. 14th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beachtree - Nov. 14th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nightrider101 - Nov. 14th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beachtree - Nov. 14th, 2007 03:27 am (UTC) - Expand
muchtvs
Jan. 8th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Okay....now this just took a very very sad turn.

Poor hurt!Unworthy!Ryan, bless his heart. I see a whole lot of canon going on, with Sandy and K skirting around Ryan's issues. Yes, Kirsten...I'm sure he'll be fine, lol. The thing is...the reader knows K is worried...but just like the K on the show...she seems at a loss as to how to deal with Ryan's emotional needs...when he refuses to show any emotions. Sandy can't get through to Ryan. They are both waiting on Ryan to tell them what he needs and he won't admit he needs anything. God, what a mess.

And poor Seth, scrambling around to try and get his parents to take charge, while he is trying to figure out what is going on with Ryan.

I did like the M/R interaction. Ryan wanting to use Marissa's need for reassurance to cover any of his own needs.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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