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. :)
“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.
“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?
“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.