Disclaimer: I don’t own anything. 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.
“Ryan, you’re not going to believe this! After everything we’ve been through, Summer actually had the audacity…” Seth stopped mid sentence after striding into the pool house without knocking. “Ryan? Ryan, where are you?” He glanced around the room noting that the bed had been made and the bathroom door was wide open. Ryan was no where to be found. That was beginning to be a pattern of late.
He walked back into the house and found Sandy pouring himself a generous cup of coffee.
“I’ll take one too,” Seth immediately demanded. Sandy raised a casual, bushy eyebrow in his general direction, but didn’t object as he grabbed a clean cup out of the cabinet. He was used to Seth demanding things.
“Have you seen Ryan?” Seth asked after accepting the offered cup of coffee.
“He asked if he could borrow the car last night; said he had some things to take care of today,” Sandy responded with a shrug. He didn’t notice Seth’s horrified expression.
“Some things to take care of? You didn’t ask him for a better explanation? Dad, this is Ryan we’re talking about here. If Ryan having ‘things to take care of’ doesn’t raise a big, red flashing warning sign, then I don’t know what does.”
“You’re just upset because he didn’t tell you.”
“He doesn’t tell me anything anyway,” Seth muttered with as much feigned disinterest as he could manage. “Just don’t come running to me when the shit hits the fan.” He got up, grabbed his coffee cup, and stomped out of the room.
Sandy watched him go shaking his head sadly.
Seth really had no clue.
“You’re back,” Seth stated as Ryan wandered into the kitchen sometime late in the afternoon. Ryan eyed him cautiously, taking note of the obvious edge in his tone, and nodded.
“Where’d you go?”
“I had some things to take care of,” Ryan said quietly. Seth was beginning to hate that line. There were no bruises marring his face, no busted knuckles, no signs of any disaster he was trying to hide. Ryan seemed to be perfectly fine. For some reason, Seth wasn’t as happy about that as he should have been.
Ryan shrugged and grabbed the stack of take out menus that were lying by the phone. He started shuffling the menus and eventually pulled out the one for Seth’s favorite Thai restaurant. He passed the menu over to Seth hoping he’d take note of the silent peace offering.
“You’re not going to tell me where you were.” It wasn’t a question therefore Ryan decided not to respond. He didn’t know what Seth wanted him to say and he certainly wasn’t going to tell him what he was doing today. Seth was skittish enough.
“So that’s how it’s going to be?” Seth grumbled. “I thought we were supposed to have each other’s backs.”
“It sure doesn’t look like it.”
“Drop it, Seth.”
“Are we really friends?” Seth asked quietly.
“Huh? What kind of stupid question is that?”
“It’s an honest question and one that you apparently don’t have an answer for,” Seth growled. Ryan watched as Seth got up and stalked out of the kitchen. Ryan knew he’d been busy lately. He was actually doing well in school, trying to fit in and trying not to get into any fights. Since the phone call he got the other night he had been a little preoccupied. He also had no idea that his preoccupation would send Seth off the deep end.
Seth could not talk to him for weeks and it was okay. Ryan goes on hiatus for two days and you’d think the world was coming to an end. He just wasn’t sure what people expected from him anymore.
Ryan sighed and leaned against the counter while running his hands down his face. He didn’t need this shit right now. Seth having an emotional temper tantrum was never fun to deal with and frankly, Ryan had more important things on his mind.
Still though, he felt bad. Real bad. Guilty even.
Ryan eventually came to the decision that Seth deserved better and went to his room to find him. He checked his room, the den, the pool house…
“You seen Seth?” Ryan asked as Sandy came down the stairs.
“No, he was looking for you this morning though,” Sandy returned. “Did you guys talk?”
Ryan gave him a funny look which he interpreted immediately. “So he talked and you listened.”
“I think he’s mad at me.”
“He’s trying, Ryan,” Sandy said suddenly which caught Ryan completely off guard. He’s trying? What was wrong that he had to try so hard? Sensing Ryan’s confusion Sandy continued, “He’s still trying to find his place.”
“This is his family. I don’t see what’s so hard to figure out.”
“He’s still trying to find his place in your life,” Sandy said as he reached out and squeezed Ryan’s shoulder. Sandy knew Ryan was always doing little things for Seth, things to show that he cared. Of course he didn’t consider Ryan going to Portland to retrieve his son when he couldn’t a little thing…
Sandy knew Ryan’s background was nothing like Seth’s. Hell, Ryan was nothing like Seth. He knew that too. Ryan wasn’t one to talk about his emotions or feelings. Seth was the type to take everything at face value and since Ryan never explained things to him, he was flying blind and coming up with his own conclusions which usually ended with him being the innocent victim.
“Did you take care of what you needed to?” Sandy questioned changing the subject. He noticed Ryan’s quick glance to the side.
“Yeah, but can I borrow the car one more time tomorrow?”
“Will you tell me where you’re going?”
“I can take my bike. It’s no big deal,” Ryan said he turned to walk down the hallway.
“Ryan, wait, I’d just like to know what you’re doing. You’ve been acting pretty strange these last few days.”
“I’ve had a lot on my mind.” Sandy waited for him to continue, but soon realized that was all he was going to get. “It’s not illegal if that’s what you were thinking,” Ryan added eventually.
“That’s not what I was thinking and I trust you.” Ryan seemed to relax at Sandy’s open admission. Trust went a long way with Ryan. “I’ll leave the keys on the counter for you.”
“You’re welcome, kid.”
“I’m serious, Summer. Something is wrong with him! He won’t talk to me! I mean, really, what’s the world coming to when Ryan can’t talk to me?”
“It’s not like you ever give him the chance,” Summer grumbled. It was the first thing she’d been able to say in the last five minutes.
Seth stopped and leaned over the pier at the churning water below. He had tried to distract himself with a new movie he had wanted to see. All that did was remind him that Ryan had promised to go see it with him.
“”Do you think we’re really friends?” Seth asked softly as he allowed his eyes to focus on the gray water below.
“Of course we’re friends, Cohen. We’re going out, aren’t we?”
“I was talking about Ryan.” Summer rolled her eyes, and shoved him roughly. If she had to sit through one more conversation about Ryan she was going to throw someone over the side of the boardwalk.
“He’s all you talk about! You need to see him and work out whatever the hell is going on between the two of you for ALL our sakes. God, this is like a bad episode of The Valley!”
“If Ryan hadn’t come to live with us, if he was living with someone else in Newport, we wouldn’t be friends, would we?”
Summer stopped and regarded him silently, her earlier anger disappearing in the warm ocean breeze. As much as she hated to say it, he was probably right. Ryan and Seth would never have been friends. Look at Cohen and look at Ryan…
Not exactly two peas in a pod.
“That’s what I thought,” Seth murmured.
“Oh Cohen, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” he said with a shrug. “Come on; let’s go get some ice cream.” He reached out to take her hand, smiled brightly, and together they walked down the pier.
Ryan grabbed the keys that Sandy had left on the counter, a bagel out of the basket on the table, and started towards the door.
“You’re up early,” Seth commented quietly as he appeared on the other side of the kitchen looking disheveled and barely awake.
“Got some things to take care of. I know.”
“Seth, when I get back…”
“We’ll talk, right? You’re going to talk to me?”
“Yeah, we’ll talk.”
“See you later.”
Dinner was a quiet affair to say the least. Kirsten was trying to explain a new project the Newport Group was working on and Sandy was attempting to look interested. It was all Seth could do not to fall asleep in his wonton soup. Ryan seemed to be a million miles away, but manage to clear the table when everyone stood up.
Ryan trudged to the pool house and plopped down on the bed dragging his arm across his face to rest against his eyes.
“So are we going to talk now?” Seth asked from the doorway.
Ryan pulled his arm down, debated sitting up, but decided that was far too much work. He was drained.
“What do you want to talk about?” Ryan questioned as he pushed himself up on the pillows. Seth stared at him through wide eyes.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. What do you think I want to talk about? What the hell has been going on with you the last few days?”
“Seth, I don’t want to talk about it. I’ll talk about anything else you want. What’s up with you and Summer? Are you guys getting along?”
“Why are you doing this?”
“We’re just talking, Seth.”
“No we’re not. This isn’t talking. This is… I don’t even know what this is!”
Ryan sighed and tried to stop the increasing pounding in his head. He knew Seth was upset. Hell, at this point he didn’t exactly blame him. He just didn’t have the energy to spend five hours trying to reassure his doubting friend.
“What do you want me to say, Seth?” Ryan asked finally. “Just tell me what you want me to say.”
“I shouldn’t have to tell you want to say,” Seth spat angrily. “My best friend would know what to say. My best friend would know what the problem was. My best friend wouldn’t go sneaking off without telling me what he was doing.”
Ryan suddenly felt like he was on some silly, teenage soap opera. Things weren’t this hard in Chino. You didn’t have to go around spelling things out for people. If you were friends, you just knew. Things didn’t need a title or a name.
“Seth, I can’t do this right now.”
“Are we friends?” Ryan didn’t respond. He didn’t think it was even worthy of a response. “We’re obviously not brothers so are we even friends?”
“Why does everything have to be qualified and quantified with you?”
“I’ll take that as a no then.”
Ryan watched him storm out of the room. He tried to ignore the glassy sheen in Seth’s eyes.
Seth wouldn’t cry over him. That was just too…teenage soap opera.
“So you’re hanging out with Marissa today?” Kirsten asked as she grabbed the morning newspaper.
“Any plans as to what you’re going to do?”
“Have you talked to Seth today?”
“He seemed upset last night.”
Ryan shrugged and replaced the cereal in the cabinet. He wasn’t as hungry as he had originally thought.
“I don’t even get a one word answer?” Kirsten asked with a hesitant smile. It was a poor attempt at a joke, but she was trying.
“I’m sorry,” Ryan began.
“Did you do something wrong?” Kirsten interjected.
“Yes…no…I don’t know.”
“Things have a way of working themselves out,” Kirsten said gently. She placed her hand on his shoulder and offered a reassuring squeeze.
Ryan had no idea how this little catastrophe was going to work itself out. Seth already decided that he hated him, that they weren’t really friends. Ryan wasn’t one for grand gestures either.
He always figured Seth just knew.
Apparently he was wrong.
“You sure you’re okay?” Marissa asked as she fiddled with the radio of her red mustang.
“I’m fine,” he returned.
“You seem distant…more distant that usual.” She smiled at him, and he only shrugged. He wasn’t going to get into this with Marissa. Deciding he wasn’t going to tell her anything else, she changed the subject. “So what do you want to do today?”
“I heard there was a sale at Macy’s.”
Marissa gave him a strange look as if he’d just sprouted a tulip on his nose, but soon started laughing. His statement had its desired effect and he was happy she was laughing. He liked to hear her laugh.
“I want a grab a drink first,” Marissa stated as she pulled into a gas station. Ryan briefly wondered just what kind of drink she wanted to grab. He looked through the large glass windows of the store and reached out grab her shoulder.
“Hey, isn’t that the Cohen’s SUV?” she asked as she pointed to the black Land Rover. She turned when she felt Ryan’s hand griping her shoulder. She followed his line of sight into the store and gasped when she saw a man with his back towards them.
The sun streaming in through the store window’s made the gun almost shimmer in the afternoon sunlight.
“Oh my god,” Marissa whispered as she held her hand up to her mouth.
“Take your phone and call the police. Call Sandy and Kirsten after that,” Ryan ordered as he reached for the door handle.
“Where are you going? Ryan, you can’t be serious…”
He looked at the restraining hand she’d placed on his arm. Why was she trying to stop him? Didn’t she realize what was going on?
“Seth’s in there.” It was a simple statement, but it was all the reason he needed.
He stepped out of the car despite Marissa’s attempt to hold on to his arm. He leaned through the door and kissed her roughly.
“I want you to drive away. Call the police and call the Cohen’s. Now.”
He walked away from her, listened to her speeding out of the parking lot, and reached for the door. He thought he caught the petrified store clerk shake his head at him, but he didn’t care.
Seth was in there.
He opened the door causing the man with the gun to spin around. The gun waved wildly as the man took several steps towards him. The young man’s eyes widened briefly in recognition or fear, his pupils wide and black, as he jerked his free arm across his face. Ryan knew instantly that he was high.
“Who in their right mind would actually go into a store while it’s being held up?” the man screamed.
“Ryan, hi…” Seth waved nervously while his other hand clutched an unpaid for Mountain Dew, his face covered in fear and anxiety. But there was something else hidden behind the feeling of shear terror.
Ryan would know what to do. Ryan always knew what to do. Ryan would take care of him. But now he was also afraid for someone else…
He was afraid for Ryan.
“I want my fucking money!”
The man slammed his hand on the counter as the clerk continued emptying cash into the plastic bag.
Ryan kept his hands raised as he silently stepped around the enraged man to move between the gun and Seth. Seth didn’t move, his body paralyzed, as Ryan reached behind him and moved Seth until he was completely shielded. Seth didn’t even realize what had happened. All he knew was that now he was staring at the back of Ryan’s head.
“That’s it? That’s all the fucking cash you have?”
“That’s all the cash in the register,” the clerk explained, his voice high and panicked.
“Open the fucking safe,” the gunman snarled. “I want all the cash that’s in here.”
“I don’t…I don’t have access to the safe,” the clerk whispered.
The gun was soon pressed against his forehead as the clerk closed his eyes and tried not to pass out. Ryan briefly wondered if the clerk was thinking about his family, if he had children, if he was taking care of his elderly grandmother…
“I said I don’t have access to the safe,” the clerk pleaded softly. “I don’t have keys and the manager isn’t here yet.”
“Take the money and go,” Ryan stated flatly. Seth wondered how Ryan could even manage to talk. Seth was finding it hard to keep breathing.
The gunman spun around, the gun now pressed into Ryan’s chest. He could smell the stale cigarettes on the man’s breath. He could see the specks of white powder on his nose.
“Are you going to shoot me?” Ryan asked as he raised his arms, his voice dark and unrevealing.
“I…” The gunman painfully shoved the gun against Ryan’s head. “I’m not afraid to…”
“Do you think I’m afraid to die?” Ryan snarled. “Do you honestly think any of this scares me? There are worse things than death. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that.”
“Fuck you,” the man growled as he slammed the butt of the gun against Ryan’s cheek. Ryan stumbled, recovering quickly, and repositioned himself in front of the gun. He had to keep the gun pointed on him. He had to keep the gunman’s attention. The police would be here soon, just a couple more seconds…
“Who are you trying so hard to protect?” the man growled as he moved the gun from Ryan and pointed it over his shoulder. Ryan could feel Seth’s fear. It was damn near palpable…
He had tried waiting for the police. Fucking Newport cops obviously aren’t planning on breaking any speed records…
“How about I blow a hole in your little friend’s chest…” He would have done it too. There wasn't a shadow of doubt in anyone's mind.
“He’s not my friend,” Ryan said quietly.
Seth and the gunman spoke in unison. Ryan almost started to laugh. Too bad none of this was funny.
“He’s my brother.”
That was the split second of confusion that he needed. Ryan dove at the man, driving his shoulder into the man’s stomach, both of them falling to the floor in a tangled heap of punching fists.
“Seth, do not touch that gun!” Ryan nearly screamed when he caught Seth’s movement towards the gun which had slid across the floor. Seth withdrew his hand immediately. He listened to Ryan...because he was Seth and because Ryan was Ryan.
The man was on top of Ryan, his fist connecting with Ryan’s face several times, before Ryan managed to kick him off. Ryan grabbed the man’s frayed jean jacket and used it as leverage to slam the man’s body against the hard floor. Seth felt sick when the sound of the man's head slammed against the concrete.
Reaching back, he swung. Several times. He had lost count now. He could feel the skin on his knuckles splitting. He could feel the wet, warm blood covering his hands…
He heard Seth calling his name. He had heard the police sirens on the distance. He saw the red and blue lights circling the room.
He felt two arms wrap around him. He would have punched him too, but he knew the voice whispering in his ear.
He shook out of Seth’s grasp, and watched as the police filtered into the room with guns drawn. They were too late.
“What the hell happened in here? Are you kids all right?”
The clerk gave a brief explanation. The man on the floor had a gun, this kid stopped him, the gun’s over there somewhere…
Ryan watched the policeman reach down and check for a pulse. Ryan kept his eyes on the man on the floor. He was breathing…barely…
“He’s alive. An ambulance is on the way,” the policeman declared and then pointed at Ryan. “I want you to get checked out too.” Ryan couldn’t figure out why they’d want him to get checked out. He wasn’t the one bleeding on the floor.
“There’s a security camera that should have recorded everything,” the clerk offered. “It’s in the back.” The clerk caught Ryan’s glance and said something, but Ryan wasn’t listening. Anyway, what do you say after something like that? He wasn’t looking for a thank you.
A detective arrived and soon Sandy and Kirsten came hurrying into the store. It was ironic that Sandy and Kirsten managed to arrive before the ambulance. Again, Ryan would have laughed, but no one would have understood the private joke. People really didn’t care about street thugs.
Immediately Sandy and Kirsten went to Seth, their hands and eyes checking him for any injuries.
“Son, are you hurt?”
“Is everything okay?”
This time Ryan did laugh.
Everyone in the room stopped to look at him.
The ambulance roared to a halt in front of the store and two paramedics climbed out. They both dropped beside the bloodied man who was still lying on the floor. Ryan wondered if they even cared. He was just another faceless man with a gun.
“He’s bleeding pretty bad.”
“I think he’s collapsed a lung. He’s choking.”
“We need to get him back to the hospital.”
“Does anyone know this man? Does anyone know his name?”
Ryan walked over the counter; all eyes glued to him, leaned across and grabbed a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He stopped, as if remembering some important detail, reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled five dollar bill and dropped it on the counter.
Ryan stopped, staring down at the man who was being placed on a stretcher.
“His name is Trey,” he stated quietly, “Trey Atwood.”
Three pairs of wide eyes stared in shock as Ryan calmly walked out of the store and lit a cigarette.