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FIC: Things Are Not Always What They Seem

FIC: Things Are Not Always What They Seem
Author: NightRider
Beta: None
Setting: Immediately following Anger Management in Season Three
Summary: Seth walks in on Ryan beating the crap out of the punching bag.
A/N: One drunken author who’s been reading beautiful OC fanfic all day.

One drunk author who should stay the hell away from the keyboard when she’s been drinking.

This is a bit darker than what I've been writing. I suppose it's all relative... :)






Left.

Jab.

Pivot on your right foot.

Hook.

Upper cut.

Left.

Jab.

Blood.

Repeat.

“Ryan, I heard what you did tonight! I can’t believe you walked away from Volchok! It seems that Kid Chino has finally put down his fists of…”

Seth stopped as he threw open the doors to the pool house mid sentence and saw Ryan still wearing his dress shirt, sweating, and punching the lifeless bag as if it had just insulted his mother…a mother he actually cared about…deeply.

“Oh.”

Left.

Jab.

Pivot on your right foot.

Hook.

“Ryan, are you okay?”

Jab.

Upper cut.

Left.

Right.

“Ryan, you’re bleeding.”

Hook.

Jab.

Left.

Pivot.

“What the hell, man? Dude, are you listening to me?”

Seth watched as the bag seemed to soak in the blood that was now pouring freely from Ryan’s knuckles. So much for Kid Chino laying down his fists of fury…

Hesitantly, Seth reached out and touched Ryan’s shoulder. He wasn’t sure of the reaction he was going to get so he all but fell over himself to get out of the way when Ryan spoke.

“What do you want?”

It was direct and to the point. His tone couldn’t be confused with friendliness either. Seth was also shocked by the fact that Ryan barely sounded winded. Hell, he might as well have been sitting on his ass studying physics. He found himself wondering what exactly Ryan was capable of.

Ryan never stopped swinging.

Upper cut.

Jab.

Left.

Pivot on your right foot.

“You’re bleeding,” Seth stated finally. He hoped that didn’t sound as pathetic as it did in his head. Marissa was all but beaming as she walked off the pool deck. She mentioned something to him on her way out about the “New and Improved Ryan Atwood.” Seth had to see it for himself.

“I know.”

“Doesn’t it hurt?” Seth asked quietly. God knows he wasn’t one to ever hurt himself. He didn’t see the point. Seth LOVED himself. He might want to hurt someone else from time to time, but never himself.

“Hadn’t noticed.”

Upper cut.

Jab.

Right.

Pivot.

“I thought you’d changed,” Seth said simply. He hadn’t realized he had backed away until he felt the glass door press against his back.

“Some things never change, Seth.”

Jab.

Left.

Upper cut.

Right.

“You need to stop.”

Jab.

Pivot.

Upper cut.

“Why?” Again, he didn’t sound winded. Seth briefly wondered if Ryan could keep swinging forever. He also wondered who Ryan was picturing as his nearly black eyes bored holes in the swinging bag.

“You’re scaring me,” Seth said simply.

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

“Ryan…”

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

“Ryan, please…”

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

“I didn’t fight Volchok,” Ryan muttered as droplets of blood began to slide down bag and pool on the floor.

“I know you didn’t,” Seth responded helplessly. At this point, Seth wasn’t sure why he didn’t. Seeing Ryan like this, so primal and violent, god knows he would have won. There wasn’t a shadow of doubt in Seth’s mind that Ryan would have cleaned the payment with Volchok’s face. Seth had been afraid for Ryan’s safety before…

Now he hoped Volchok had a one way ticket to a private island somewhere far, far away…

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

His movements were erratic now. Painful and unpredictable.

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

“I don’t know if I would have stopped,” Ryan whispered finally as his eyes squinted dangerously at the bag. It was ironic that it took Ryan beating the shit out of a heavy weight bag to finally be honest, to finally open up his mouth and talk.

Jab.

Jab.

Jab.

“Ryan, you’re a different person now. Marissa and I both know that you’ve changed…”

Ryan was laughing now as his fists repeatedly connected with the bloodied bag.

“Different? Does this look any different to you?

“You’re not beating his face into the pavement. I suppose that counts as something,” Seth said with a futile shrug. At this point he wasn’t sure if he was doing more harm that good.

Ryan’s fists seemed to slow.

Jab.

Breathe.

Jab.

“I’m not sure what you want me to say,” Seth continued. “You’re not the same kid that dad brought home from Chino.”

The breathing increased as did the intensity of the swings.

Jab.

Upper cut.

Jab.

Hook.

“What was so wrong with that kid? I’d love to know. Was I too dark for you? Do you think this is better?”

“I’m sorry Ryan. I just want to help. I was really proud when you didn’t do anything to Volchok at school. I was damn near thrilled after Marissa told me what happened tonight at the beach. I thought things were different now.”

Seth was looking away now. He couldn’t stand to see the droplets of blood leaking onto the floor. Ryan still hadn’t noticed or if he had, he didn’t care.

Seth wasn’t sure which one was worse…probably the latter.

“Some things don’t change, Seth. Sure, I use my head more now. Yeah, Marissa thinks I acted crazy to stop the fight with Volchok. Truth be told, I would have used that busted bottle. I wouldn’t run away from the fight if he hadn’t let her go.”

Jab.

Left.

Hook.

Jab.

“Maybe I should get dad,” Seth offered after he had all but convinced himself that Ryan was now fighting with broken bones in his hands.

“Leave it alone, Seth,” Ryan growled.

“Maybe he could help, Ryan. You know how good at talking he is. Every once in awhile he even makes sense.”

Jab.

Upper cut.

Right.

“Sandy is busy. I already talked to him about Volchok anyway.”

Pivot.

Upper cut.

Jab.

“I’m sure my dad would love to know about this, Ryan. I’m sure he’d love to know that his old punching bag was being put to go use.”

Seth stopped cold as Ryan reached out and grabbed the swinging bag with both arms. His face was concealed by his quivering arms as his bleeding hands clutched the back of the bag. Now the powerful boxer had magically turned into a scared kid who seemed to be desperately clinging to his only friend in the world.

“What the fuck do you want from me?” Ryan whispered as his chest heaved painfully against the hardened bag. “What do any of you want from me? Fight. Don’t fight. Use your head. Protect Marissa. Save this. Save that. Be what you’re not. Just tell me what you want. Fucking tell me already.”

“Ryan, I…”

Seth watched through wide eyes as Ryan clung to the bag as if he was his long lost best friend. In a lot of ways, Seth figured it was.

“I don’t want you to hurt yourself,” Seth murmured.

“This is therapy, Seth. It doesn’t hurt. If anything, it’s what’s going to keep me sane.”

“Maybe you could wrap your hands next time? For me?”

Ryan pulled away from the bag slightly and eyed Seth from who was shuffling helplessly next to the door. God knows he probably scared the hell out of him tonight and he actually felt guilty about it. He had fought hard to keep this part of himself away from Seth, away from the innocence and naivety that compromised Seth Cohen. He could chalk this up to one more thing he’d fucked up since he’d been in Newport.

He had to throw him a bone or he’d never be able to get him out of pool house.

He wasn’t finished yet.

Far from it.

“Yeah. I’ll try to remember to wrap my hands.”

“Good,” Seth returned enthusiastically while bobbing his head, “because we can’t have Kid Chino messing up his hands permanently. That wouldn’t bode well for the Ironist. Who would defend the honor of Newport?”

Ryan nodded and attempted a half smile. It was pathetic to say the least, but Seth seemed to buy it.

“Well, I’m sure you’re tired,” Seth stated as he kicked at the floor.

“Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Night.”

“Later, Seth.”

Ryan waited until Seth closed the French doors and the light had been flicked off in the kitchen. He walked over and turned off the light in the pool house. He eyed the bed and felt exhaustion creeping into his bones.

Then he thought of Volchok.

Soon his thoughts drifted to Oliver.

Frank.

Dawn.

Trey.

AJ.

Upper cut.

Jab.

Right.

Left.

~Finished~

Comments

beachtree
Oct. 1st, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
Seriously, in beer veritas.

You've really conveyed the desperate anger, the frustration, the powerlessness that plagued Ryan all of his chaotic life, the futility at being minimilized, discounted and ignored, and the utter lack of being given attention or time and no tools to cope with so many painful, confusing and neglected feelings. I find myself relieving all of this with Ryan as I read your account- and I felt the same way when I first saw him channeling so much hurt on the screen.

While we never witnessed all Ryan endured in terms of the cumulative unaddressed traumas, we'd been given a sense for what his life was like and had watched his struggle to communicate some of that pain and express his very obvious need for some support, guidance and help. When Sandy first took the stance that Ryan needed to "get over this thing with his brother" and focus on what was important- school, I wanted to punch HIM. Great follow up to the "I see the jumpsuit still fits" comment that reminded Ryan where he belonged and then to reiterate that Ryan- or his well-being didn't matter, only what Sandy wanted. That insensitive, distracted, patronizing Sandy who only talked at Ryan when it was convenient had me ready for a punching bag too. For Ryan, who felt the strongest connection to his hero, that had to be a cruel blow that left him all the more adrift and isolated, no matter how abysmal his expectations or self-worth.

As for Seth, he so often echoed Kirsten's first words about Ryan- and an image I don't think she ever fully erased, as well as Caleb's often vocalized one, as Ryan as a criminal. Up until the very end, he still made thoughtless references about "Juvie daycare" as on Ryan's birthday, or called him an 'ex-con', as in Berkeley. That image had to be hurtful for Ryan, yet no one ever censored Seth even when he insulted Ryan publicly. If Seth would say such things, his own thoughts had to be both more idealized and also more tainted too depending on the circumstance.

I love how you've used such a concise, forceful format to replicate and mimic Ryan's own rhythm and measured pace. It makes the impact that much stronger and feels so raw. Like Ryan, you really pack a powerful punch. And how I wish we'd seen not only more of the actual scene, but follow up with at least one member of the household. It's not as if he wasn't in full view. Then again, he always was invisible- and that was so true by this time.

Many thanks!
nightrider101
Oct. 6th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
You know, your feedback leaves me speechless. I've now come to terms with that fact that I'll never be able to write anything as glorious as your feedback. Yep, it's just not possible... :)

I'm so glad you thought that the pace of the story worked. I was wondering if the way the story was set up would be a turn off for some people. I'm so glad it worked for you!

I was going for a more raw feel. As so many of the viewers believed, Ryan was destined to be so much more. He basically changed everything he was after coming to Newport, and that's no easy feat despite what the Cohens might think. Sure, talking helps, but it isn't a damn cure-all. And half the time Sandy didn't listen anyway.

That was such a powerful scene in the show. I just couldn't resist writing a story about it! Thank you SO much for your thoughtful feedback, Beachtree. You're an amazing person.
beachtree
Oct. 8th, 2007 05:39 am (UTC)
Your flattery will get you... something- I just don't know what! Any feedback is wholly inspired by what you write, so you are the one to credit here. I'm merely responding to thoughts and emotions you share with me and trigger as a result. Thanks so much for that.

The format and punctuated, but precise and methodical pace really did work, and only heightened the raw intensity. That set this apart even more and made each line- as written or uttered, even more noteworthy and resonating.

Ryan was most definitely someone who was trapped in a desperate situation and painted with the same brush as the rest of his family- the people he most certainly tried not to model himself after, and of those who made up his world. He would have been guilty be accident of birth, association and countless circumstances he couldn't control or alter. He certainly had the capacity, tenacity and integrity to be far more than anyone had every given him credit for- and to even amaze those with every advantage and opportunity. What he needed was some stability, security, a safer environment and just a little hope. It always bothered me that no one made more of his accomplishments in various facets of his life. With little or no guidance or support most of the time, he found his own way in a hostile, alien world, created bonds, exceeded expectations and brought so many people together. And no one took him aside and acknowledged how much he consistenly overcame, not even after the worst traumas or at his graduation.

This scene was one of my favorites in a pretty disappointing season. Ben did an amazing job with it and I was so disappointed when, once again, there was no follow up or exploration.

Thanks again, and you are amazing!