Sandy remains in the waiting room at the prison, letting Ryan go into the booth alone to speak with his father.
Ryan sits down in the narrow booth and picks up the phone and sets it on the counter in front of him. A few moments later, he recognizes a thinner version of his father sitting across from him.
His father's eyes are the same shade as his own and as they examine him, steadily, Ryan is unnerved. His father picks up the phone.
"Hello, Ryan. You've gotten big."
Ryan hears the words from the earpiece as it is lying on the table. He lifts the phone to his ear. "Hey."
"God, son, it's damn good to see you," His father laughs.
Ryan flinches at his words. "Thanks."
Mr. Atwood loses his smiles, sensing the tension. "You didn't want to see me, did you?"
"I'm here, aren't I?" Ryan counters.
"I heard about your mother. She always was a selfish bit…" He starts, but stops mid-word after seeing the flash of defense in his son's eyes.
"It doesn't matter now," Ryan replies after a pause.
"She'll come around, son…" Mr. Atwood starts.
"Don't call me that. You never called me that before and I don't think you should start now," Ryan replies, quietly.
Mr. Atwood nods, solemnly. "What happened to your arm?"
"Big guy," Ryan replies, flatly.
"Your lawyer says that you were doing well in school…that's good. You're such a smart kid…"
"I'm sorry, but how would you know?" Ryan interrupts, suddenly, regretting that he made the trip. "I haven't heard anything out of you since you started serving your time in this place. I thought I could listen to what you had to say but…"
"Ryan. I just wanted to see you."
"Well, here I am. I'm sixteen, I'm beat-up and I spent the last two weeks living on the streets because my mom left me for the second time in a month. You've seen me," Ryan snaps, standing up.
"Ryan, wait. Please," Mr. Atwood calls, stricken by his son's words.
Ryan steadies himself, hangs up the phone and gives his father a farewell wave before stepping out into the waiting room to meet Mr. Cohen.
"Ryan? That was fast…" Sandy speaks, concerned.
"Can we just go now?" Ryan asks, keeping his face blank.
Mr. Cohen can see the pain in his eyes. "Ryan…"
"Please?" Ryan asks, not meeting his gaze.
"Okay, that's fine. Let's go," Sandy agrees. They sign out of the prison. Sandy's cell phone rings as they reach the car and he steps away to take the business call.
Ryan crouches on the balls of his feet, his back pressed against Sandy's car and lights a cigarette. He hopes that Sandy will be too focused on his call to scold him. Ryan closes his eyes as he inhales the tobacco smoke. He lost it. He couldn't control his emotions long enough to hear what his father had to say. The emotions, the resentment and the pent-up anger toward his father that he thought he had let go of years ago, all that came back to the surface when he heard his father's voice. He should have tried harder. Ryan knows how to keep his emotions in check, so what happened today? Is he like his mother, having no concern for other people's feelings? Why would he let himself cause his father pain…why couldn't he give his father a second chance?
"Ryan?" Mr. Cohen's voice startles him. Ryan stands up, suddenly alert. Sandy is standing beside him, a worried expression on his face.
"You wouldn't answer me. You didn't even realize that I was here. Are you alright?"
"I must have spaced out for a minute. I'm fine. Are you ready?" Ryan recovers, steadying himself.
Sandy glances at him, unconvinced. "You're shaking again, Ryan. What happened in there?"
"Nothing. It's alright, I just wasn't prepared for it. I just want to get out of here."
Sandy nods, unlocking the doors to his car with his remote. Ryan takes a desperate drag off the cigarette and then tosses it into the parking lot.
Once Sandy is inside the car, he turns to question Ryan again but Ryan has his hand across his face, covering his eyes.
"Ryan?" Sandy calls.
"I'm sorry I encouraged you to see him…"
"It was my decision. I just…I wasn't as ready as I thought I was. I'm cool. It's cool," Ryan says, quietly, his voice flat. They ride home in silence. Sandy doesn't even catch a glimpse of Ryan's haunted blue eyes until they pull up to the house.
"Mr. Cohen, can you do me a favor?" Ryan asks, suddenly.
"Sure," Sandy replies.
"Can you tell Seth that I'm tired and that I'll see him later? I just want to go crash…" Ryan sighs.
"Sure. We'll come down and wake you for dinner…" Sandy nods.
"That's okay. I'll come up and get something…I just…" Ryan waves his hand, his mind working too furiously for him to take the time to explain. He walks away quickly before Sandy can stop him.
Kirsten meets Sandy on the porch. "Where's Ryan?"
"He went down to the pool house. It didn't go so well with his father," Sandy explains quietly. He kisses her on the cheek.
"He wouldn't tell me, but whatever it was shook him up pretty good," Sandy states. He follows Kirsten into the house and finds Seth in the kitchen.
"Seth, Ryan's a little tired. He said he was going to lie down a while and he'd be up later when he felt better," Sandy tells his son.
"What happened at the jail?" Seth asks immediately.
"It went smoothly, it just took a lot out of him. He's fine," Sandy assures Seth and Kirsten.
Ryan pulls off his sling, ignoring the piercing pain in his arm and ribs that comes with his roughness. He slides down the wall beside the bed, his face in his hands. He has to calm down. He can't catch his breath. Everything goes dark for a minute and he loses his tentative hold on reality, swirling into darkness.
"Ryan. Ryan, snap out of it, baby…"
Marissa. Her voice breaks through his spiral, pulling him back to reality.
Ryan feels dampness on his face and realizes that she is crying. "Marissa, what…"
"Thank god…" She embraces him tightly and he gasps as she squeezes his wounded ribs. "What's going on? What's happened?"
"Nothing, Marissa…why are you crying?"
"I came over to check on you and found you over here in the corner, you were hyperventilating or something, you were breathing really fast and your heart was just pounding and you wouldn't answer me…" Marissa rambles, panicked.
"I'm sorry that I scared you…I don't know what happened, I just…I lost it for a minute…" Ryan says, his eyes glazing slightly.
"But you're okay? You're not allergic or anything?" Marissa asks.
"This is all in my head," Ryan confesses. "I feel like I'm going to explode…I can't make sense of anything…"
"You're so stressed out, Ryan, you're shaking…" Marissa rubs his arms as if trying to warm him up. "You need to chill out."
"Any suggestions?" Ryan snorts, pulling his knees up to his chest.
"Come on. Put your sling on. I'll call the Cohens with an excuse for you. Let me take you somewhere."
Ryan doesn't argue as she pulls him to his feet with his intact arm and helps him replace the sling. She grabs a jacket for him and as an afterthought, a sweatshirt for herself. They tiptoe from the pool house and sneaks Marissa's parents' truck from the driveway.
"Where are we going?" Ryan asks, speaking for the first time since the pool house.
"The beach, of course. We are in California, you know," Marissa smiles.
Ryan has never seen a place as beautiful as the secluded beach that Marissa leads him to. They sit down on the mossy rocks and Marissa reveals a bottle of vodka. They sit and watch the waves crash against the rocks and cough as they gulp the harsh liquor.
"Thanks, Marissa," Ryan says, finally.
She puts an arm around him, pulling him against her. "Feel better?"
"Yeah. The fog's lifting from my brain a little. I feel like I can breathe again," Ryan replies.
"You went to see your dad, didn't you?" Marissa asks, quietly.
"Yeah. I punked out, though. I couldn't…as soon as I saw him, I remembered why I can't forgive him…" Ryan responds, his voice a whisper.
"You just have to let it go, Ryan. You've got to let go of all of that…" Marissa soothes, planting a vodka scented kiss on his chin.
He closes his eyes and lets himself taste Marissa.
Ryan pulls away after a few seconds.
"What?" Marissa asks.
"I can't handle this right now, can you…can you take me back?" Ryan asks, getting to his feet.
"Ryan, I'm sorry…what…"
Ryan has his back to her. "You're with Luke, Marissa. I can't just…do this with you and forget about it as soon as I see you out on the town. It means more to me than that."
"I was…Ryan…" Marissa doesn't know what to say.
"I'm sorry, Marissa, it's just more than I can deal with right now…" Ryan mutters, covering his face again.
"Okay, Ryan, just calm down and I'll take you home," Marissa says. Sensing Ryan's anxiety.
"It's just been a long day, Marissa, and this…whatever this is that we're doing…it's not good for us," Ryan leans against her truck, trembling with his back against the metal.
"I'm sorry, Ryan. I shouldn't have done that…I brought you here to calm you down, not stress you out more…I'm sorry…" She unlocks the door.
Ryan perches on the edge of the seat, not closing the door. He takes Marissa's hands, tenderly.
"I'm sorry, Marissa…I'm just…I'm so fucked up right now that I don't know what I'm doing…I'm so fucked up…" He breathes, heavily. Marissa pulls him against her, holding him desperately, trying to calm him.
"Shh, Ryan…Its okay to be fucked up sometimes, it's okay…shh…" She soothes, running her fingertips through his hair.
"Will you just sit with me a while?" Ryan asks. Marissa grabs a blanket from the backseat and leads Ryan back to the beach. She sits down beside him, putting an arm around his shoulders, holding him against her.
Ryan's breathing is shallow and his eyes are glazes. He feels like he's lost control of everything, his future, his family and now his emotions. His father's pitying eyes, Marissa's hot kisses, Kirsten's concerned questions, all these visions flash through his mind. He can hear Marissa's soothing voice and feel her skin against him but he can't find his voice.
"Ryan, baby, look at me okay? Just let me know you're alright," Marissa urges.
"Will you just talk to me? Tell me a story, something…just talk to me, Marissa," Ryan mutters, shuddering despite himself. He finishes the vodka.
"Okay, Ryan…" Marissa just wants him to stop shaking and be okay. She starts to talk quietly about the cheerleading squad that she tried out for the year before.
Ryan's mind races, finally coming to a complete stop on Marissa. Her voice has calmed him and his mind is clear. He looks up at her. she is cradling his head in her lap, supporting his body with her thin legs. She is stroking his face affectionately and speaking to him quietly. He reaches up and pulls her lips against his.
"Thank you," He says before ravishing her mouth. He's beyond control now, he's resigned to his fate.
"You're feeling better," Marissa smiles, relieved.
"Yeah. Are you sure you want to do this?" Ryan asks, between kisses.
"Are you?" Marissa counters, nuzzling his neck.
"It's just between us, okay? I know you're with Luke…" Ryan starts, and she pulls away.
"Ryan…" She sighs, clearly torn.
"It's okay. I'm not asking for anything…but you just, you pulled me back from the edge and you're…you're so beautiful…" Ryan says, running his fingers across her neck.
Marissa forgets about Luke when she looks in his haunted eyes she kisses him and they become tangled in each other's arms and legs.
When Marissa sits up later, it's dark. Ryan is sleeping, peacefully beside her. They had managed to control themselves but there are clothes scattered across the beach. She realizes that she forgot to call the Cohens.
She walks away from Ryan to keep from disturbing him and checks her messages. There is a call from Seth saying that Ryan is missing and that he had lied to his father and said that Ryan was with her. Seth sounded very worried, but remembered the agreement that Ryan would tell someone before he ran off again. Marissa dials Seth.
"Seth, its Marissa."
"Is Ryan with you? Is he okay?"
"I stopped by your house today and he was pretty messed up. He's with me, he's sleeping."
"Thank god. I told my dad that you took him sailing to try and cheer him up," Seth explains.
"I'll get him home, Seth. You want to meet us in the pool house in about an hour? I don't care what he says, I don't think he should be alone. He's really shaken up, Seth."
Marissa returns to Ryan's side, sitting down beside him and looking out at the waves.
"I think I'm rubbing off on you," Ryan speaks, suddenly, watching her from the sand.
"Is that a good thing?" Marissa grins.
"I don't think so. You shouldn't worry about me. I'm okay. Really, Marissa. I'm okay," Ryan says, sitting up and putting his good arm around her shoulders.
"Really?" Marissa asks, unconvinced.
"Really. That you for tonight. I mean it," Ryan smiles. "You're a good friend."
"I'm sure you'd do the same for me," Marissa smiles, grateful to see him closer to normal.
"I hope I never have to," Ryan replies, somber now. "But you know that I'll be there for you."
"You ready to head back?" Marissa asks.
"Not really, but I don't have much choice." He staggers slightly from the alcohol as he stands up. Marissa grabs his arm to steady him and she pulls him against her, impulsively.
She kisses him deeply, indulging herself one more time before taking him home.