Fandom: The O.C
Disclaimer: Not my boys, not my concerned father.
A/N: Written for theContrelamontre War Challenge, using the full hour and a half. Sequel to last week'sWalking Wounded: Part 1.
They'd been in the hospital waiting room an hour, and Sandy couldn't stand it anymore. He couldn't just sit there and wait for something to happen. He had to move. Had to go somewhere, find something to occupy his hands and brain, or he'd go mad. Like Seth, Sandy hated sitting still and doing nothing.
"I'm going to get us some coffee," he told Kirsten. She gave him a tremulous, watery smile, and he thanked God again for her love and understanding. Ryan had already left their presence, presumably unable to face them, or the anger he expected to see in their eyes. Sandy could see him pacing down the walkway outside the huge waiting area window, the glow from his forbidden cigarette a tiny orange strobe light weaving through the night.
He should probably go talk to him, but right now, he just couldn't. He didn't trust that he'd say the right thing. More likely he would blurt out something he'd regret; hurtful words he didn't quite mean, but couldn't entirely deny.
"If it wasn't for you, Ryan, my son would be all right." Yeah, like he was before, with no friends, holed up in his room, or eager to escape with his skateboard and comic books.
"Sometimes I'm not sure I did the right thing, bringing you home." He'd never have been able to live with himself if he let Ryan go back to that situation, or worse, end up like his brother.
"I want my son back." That last one was true. But Kirsten would be the first to tell him he'd never really had Seth to begin with. Seth had been in his own little four-color world since he was a ten year old. Ryan was the one who brought him out of it.
Seth was different now. Happier. He had a new confidence, and was growing from a gangly teenager into a fine young man. A mensch, Sophie would say. Sandy had to admit that much of Seth's evolution came from caring about somebody new, someone who needed Seth's affection as much as Seth had bloomed with the attention Ryan had given him. There had been an instant bond.
Sandy just hadn't counted on the boys bonding that way. Ryan loved Seth; just not like a brother. Though with the example that Ryan's delinquent brother Trey had set, maybe that was a good thing. Looking at his son's friendship with Ryan with twenty-twenty hindsight, Sandy wondered how he could have missed it. Seth obviously loved Ryan, too.
He felt bad for leaving Kirsten alone, but knew he wouldn't be much help to her in this state. Besides, they could all use something hot to drink, and some caffeine to keep them alert for what was bound to be a long night. He expected Caleb to show up shortly, and do his best to keep his daughter company. He'd stayed behind to close up the house, saying he'd be at the hospital shortly. Taking action after the fact was the closest Caleb would come to an apology, Sandy knew.
Sandy didn't want to be there when Caleb did appear. He didn't know if he could hold his tongue, or his temper. Sandy knew Caleb had never liked him, and the feeling was mutual. Any fragile truce between them ended the moment the old man's words were thrown out like stones at his grandson and the young man the Cohens had come to accept as family. Already their war had seen its first wounded.
He and Caleb were going to have words, that was a certainty. But it wasn't going to be here, where people were grieving, and fearing the worst. The necessary soft tones and calm words were not conducive to the confrontation Sandy wanted to have with the bigoted, unthinking bastard. It was probably smart that he get away for a while, before he did something he'd regret. Besides, his concern right now was for his son, and the family that cared for him. He only marginally counted Caleb among that number.
He knew this hospital better than he wanted to. Since Ryan had come into their lives, they'd spent more time in the waiting room than they had since Seth was born. Sandy ducked into the chapel before heading into the cafeteria next door. The oak benches were hard, despite the velvet padding, and the simple decor was non denominational and impersonal. Trying to represent every religion made none of them seem quite valid.
It felt nothing like the sanctuary at Beth Emet, but Sandy still got a flash of Seth at thirteen, reciting his haftorah portion just like he and his father had done. He'd worn his new blue suit, and the silk tallis Sandy had worn to his own Bar Mitzvah years before. Seth's grandmother and other New York relatives had been beaming at him from the front row, the California contigent looking puzzled, but proud as well.
Fear that Seth would not live to become a real adult, not just in Jewish law, hit Sandy like the kind of wave that knocked him off his surfboard. The thought that Seth might never be able to see his own child go through this rite of passage made Sandy physically ill.
No longer able to stomach even such small reminders of what they could be facing, he walked out after a moment, and into the cafeteria. Sandy finished his prayer for his family as he loaded a tray with plastic straws and Splenda. It could be hours more before the doctors told them anything solid, but it was long past time Sandy brought his family together to face whatever their future held.
When he got back to their area of the waiting room, things looked better. Ryan and Kirsten were sitting together, heads bent in whispered conversation, Kirsten's arm around Ryan's hunched shoulder. They looked worried, but not defeated. Hearing Sandy's footsteps, Kirsten looked up, and mouthed 'nothing yet'. Sandy sat down next to her, and put the coffee tray on the table in front of them. He handed them each a cup.
When the doors opened, and Caleb came storming in, Ryan's hands squeezed into fists, and he made a motion to leave. Sandy pushed him gently down again. "You belong here just as much as he does, if not more. We're all in this together, son."
"Thank you," Ryan said, relief clearly evident in his voice. Sandy got up to speak to Caleb, and hold off whatever vitriol the man was planning on spewing now. He had a family to support, no matter how different it might turn out to be, and Sandy was not going to let the pathetic old man destroy any of their happiness. He could only pray it wasn't too late already.