Fandom: The O.C
Disclaimer: If I owned them, I would have looked where I was going.
Summary: Getting caught has consequences.
A/N Written for the Contrelamontre grocery list challenge: 4 yellow items, 3 different types of animals, 2 mind altering substances, 1 pair of high heels,
Ryan could hear Kirsten's high heels clicking on the cobblestones outside the hospital, and see the sun send glancing rays off the water on the reflecting pool. Only in Newport would the Emergency Room have a Zen garden for people to wait in while their loved ones bled. It didn't seem to Ryan that people were being helped any faster than they would have been at the hospital in Chino. The only real difference he could see was that there seemed to be more bagel slicing accidents than, say, gunshot wounds, or broken ribs from "falling" down the stairs.
Kirsten's pale-honey hair, such a vibrant difference from his dull as dishwater blond rats nest, still looked perfect, despite the unexpected excitement of the evening. Her dress was a different story. The bright yellow linen was wrinkled; nearly rent in places where she had twisted it. Along with her mascara stained cheeks, it was one of her few signs of nervous exhaustion.
He knew how she felt. The ripples in the water did nothing to calm his mood, and the giant goldfish - "Koi, Ryan; They're only goldfish when you win them at a fair" - just reminded him of the 'O' of Seth's mouth, opening to kiss him, and closing around his cock. Now, he imagined, Seth's usually mobile lips were still, the ventilator holding them open while the surgeons did their work - work that would have been unnecessary if it hadn't been for Ryan's inability to keep his hands off Seth in the first place.
"Sandy went to get us all coffee," she said, "I think he just wanted something to do."
"I'm sorry, Kirsten." He slowed his pace as she walked towards him, stomping out his cigarette as she approached. "I know. I'm not supposed to be smoking out here." He wasn't really apologizing for the breach in etiquette.
"You're not supposed to be smoking at all. But then, there are a lot of things you weren't supposed to be doing, weren't there?" He couldn't quite look her in the eye.
Kirsten flinched. "Oh, honey, I shouldn't have said it like that. I'm not upset that you guys are together. I'm hardly even surprised. Your timing and common sense left a little something to be desired, though. Why in the world were you in the poolhouse, when anyone at all could have walked in?"
He didn't say anything, just shrugged. Instead, he watched a line of ants, marching in formation, but marring the planned perfection of the scene. Imported fish, and even the family of ducks circling the other pond were fine. The insects slipping through the cracks in the facade were not.
"Do you have another one of those?" Kirsten gestured towards the nearly empty pack he was squeezing in his hand, in an unconscious gesture that nearly matched her own.
"I didn't know you smoked." He lit one for her, noticing the traces of blood and dirt still remaining under his fingernails. He'd tried to wash it off, after they'd taken Seth in for surgery. Emptied his stomach of everything he'd eaten and drunk that day, too. Sandy's grilled tuna. The burger Kirsten insisted she could cook just as well as Sandy: raw on the inside and charcoal burnt crust. The bottle of micro-brew Seth had swiped, and brought back to the poolhouse. The lighter's golden glow wavered in the increasing wind, until he cupped his hand around the flame.
"There were a lot of revelations tonight, then, weren't there?" Kirsten's voice was sardonic, and for a moment, Ryan was reminded that Seth got his personality from both sides. "I don't smoke, not really. Not since my mother... anyway, it's a disgusting habit." She tapped her cigarette into the empty soda can Ryan had been using as an ashtray.
"But not as disgusting as my being with your teenage son," Ryan said, bitterly.
"Is that what you think? Have Sandy and I ever given any indication we were homophobic?"
"Well, no. But Seth thinks -- Seth thought - you'd kick me out if you found out. And he knew you'd be disappointed." Ryan's voice lowered to a near whisper. "I told him not to worry about it. If you wanted me to go, I would. I'm nothing. I don't matter." It was true. Ryan didn't really know what Seth's parents would think, but if his being out of the way would help restore their relationship with their son, he and his bike would be out of there faster than Seth could say, well, anything.
He'd said this to Seth, once, after the first night they'd slept together. Really slept together, not just "Hey, the Cheetos and Playstation are here, mind if I crash, too?" They had done that more times than he could count: videogames followed by making out "Joystick Time," Seth had named it. This had been different. This had been planned. Researched, even. Seth's Internet skills were good for something besides eBaying comic books. Kirsten and Sandy on a weekend away. Naked flesh on flesh, Seth spread under him, finally reduced to wordlessness, if not actual quiet. It had been wonderful, mostly. Except for the feeling they'd gone past some line in the sand, some milestone, and they could never go back. "We can't pretend we're just experimenting anymore," Seth had said.
"This isn't biology class," Ryan had answered. "I've always known what we were doing." Maybe not physically, he'd had a learning curve there as well as Seth. But he knew how he felt about Seth, and it had little to do with how he'd felt about Marissa, except to show how misguided his feelings had been for her. He'd wanted to save her. Still did, in fact. With Seth, it was different, because Ryan didn't have to be. He could be himself.
In the end, it had been Seth who ran. Grabbed his skateboard and messenger bag, and rushed out of the poolhouse. Caleb's "What the hell are you doing to my grandson, you punk son of a bitch?" still echoing around the space. "Seth, wait!" Ryan had shoved Caleb out of the way, running to the street just in time to see the car speeding towards them, but too late to stop the impact; Seth's skateboard hitting the ground just before Seth did.
He'd been at Seth's side a moment later, hands coming up bloody when he touched Seth's matted curls, Seth's lashes dark on his pale skin. "Oh, Jesus, Seth." Ryan's throat constricted, his voice keening like a wounded animal. Seth didn't respond, even when Ryan squeezed his hand. He looked up to see Caleb, blanched white and statue still. "Call a fucking ambulance!" Ryan yelled, getting his breath back, and Caleb finally moved, reaching into his pocket for his cell phone. Kirsten and Sandy came out while Caleb was still giving their address, the rest of the barbecue's participants following behind them.
The wait for the ambulance had been short, far shorter than any of the times his mother had needed one after one of her boyfriends got violent, or some thieving friend turned enemy had knifed Trey. But it felt like hours before the sirens approached, and days before he could let go of Seth's hand, and watch as Kirsten climbed into the ambulance with him. "There's only room for one of you back there, Ma'am. Perhaps your husband and your other son can follow in your car?"
"I'll drive," Ryan said, sure the several beers he'd noticed Seth's father drinking meant Sandy wasn't equipped to do so. He didn't mention the half a beer he'd drunk fear dissipating any affect it might have had. He reached out a hand for Sandy's car keys. "I'm sure he's going to be all right. He has to be." Ryan wasn't sure of any such thing, but he had to say something.
Sandy didn't say anything until they were nearly there. "You know, he's seventeen years old, and until now, nothing truly bad has happened to him. I guess we should have been grateful he spends so much time safe in his room."
"I thought he was safe with me, too." Ryan tells him, quietly.
"Why wasn't he? Why did he rush out like that?"
Ryan thought about lying. Obviously, in the confusion, Caleb hadn't had a chance to tell Sandy what he'd seen. But he was sure to do so at first opportunity. Hell, he'd probably told the cops it was Ryan's fault his grandson was hurt. Might even have implied Ryan had been hurting Seth himself.
"Seth and I were in the poolhouse, and Caleb walked in on us. There was a scene. Seth freaked and ran out." Out of the corner of his eye, Ryan could see Sandy turn to stare at him.
"You and Seth were ... together... while everyone was at the house? What the hell were you thinking? Were you even thinking? Do you have any idea what a colossally bad idea that was?"
"Jesus, Sandy. Of course I do, now. I just didn't expect anything like this to happen." He gestured towards the hospital sign, as they're pulling into the parking lot. "I was thinking Seth said he wanted to get away from the party, and I never can resist doing what he wants."
"And he wanted you. And what, you didn't mind fooling around? Not like it meant anything, right?" Sandy sounded angrier than Ryan would have expected, but not as angry as he deserved
"No! It's not like that at all. I love him." Ryan can say this to Sandy, even though he's never spelled it out to Seth.
"Does he feel the same way? What about Summer?"
"He likes her, but mostly he wants you to think he's normal."
"He is normal. Being gay wouldn't change that."
"I tried to tell him that. Told him he should talk to you. He was sure you were going to react like Caleb did."
"We really don't know him very well, do we? If fear of our reaction could make him end up here." Sandy indicated the ER's entrance. Kirsten was waiting for them.
"They just took him in to surgery. They have to relieve the pressure on his brain, and they think he's got internal bleeding." Kirsten buried her head in Sandy's shoulder, and reached out a hand to Ryan.
He shook her hand off, and said, "I shouldn't be here. I'm just intruding." He pulled out of her grasp, running to the bathroom, where he rinsed the bile from his mouth, and tried to wash the blood off his hands. He didn't think he would ever feel clean again. Then he walked outside, to smoke, and pace, until Kirsten or Sandy came out to tell him everything would be all right, or nothing would.
He didn't look up until he heard Kirsten's heels, clicking on the cobblestone.