there is nothing here for death to

"Honey?" Kirsten called. She'd walked outside to check on Ryan and found him sitting in a pool chair, trembling. He flinched at her touch, startled. She sat down beside him. He was so thin…

"I'm okay."

"What are you doing out here?" She asked. "You've been outside for weeks, you need your rest, have you eaten anything since breakfast?"

"I'm okay."


"I'm okay," He repeated, as if he could make it true. Kirsten put her arm around him.

"It's okay if you're not okay."

"Marissa came by. She's drunk. She wants me to forgive her."

Kirsten didn't respond immediately. She was ambivalent on Marissa Cooper. The girl had a lot of problems and instead of dealing with them, she seemed to transfer them to whoever was around at the time. If Ryan hadn't been so caught up in protecting her from that Oliver kid, he wouldn't have gotten in the fight and Sandy wouldn't have been so upset…but it wasn't Marissa's fault. She made a mistake.

Ryan was looking at her. "I'm tired, Kirsten. I feel like I've wasted so much time on things that don't matter…like everything that Marissa and I went through was for nothing because she didn't believe me…"

"Sandy didn't believe you, either, Ryan…" Kirsten said quietly. She knew the boy was torn up, that his mind was full of conflicting promises from people that had let him down. No one seemed to ever come through for Ryan. She wanted to prove to him that she would come through. She wanted him to talk to her and to talk this out.

"But he cared when I was gone…she didn't even know…she didn't even know what happened, she…" He shook his head, torn. "I'm sorry. I'm going to lie down."

"Talk to me, Ryan. Please."

He shook his head. "I'm fine. I'll lie down inside."

She walked with him to the poolhouse. He sat down immediately on the bed and wasn't surprised when she sat down beside him.

"Maybe you shouldn't try to work things out with her, Ryan. What if she's not right for you?"

"She's not right for me. But there will always be something between us…she wants me to call her…"

"Ryan, I can talk to Jimmy…"

"No," He recoiled. "You're going to go to her dad?"

"If she's upsetting you…"

"She's not, you don't have to do that…"

"Okay, honey…I'm sorry, I just…"

"You're trying to help, I know, but…but I can handle it."

"You should tell her how you feel."

"I tried. She doesn't listen…"

Kirsten sighed. "So what are you going to do?"

"I'll try again. To talk to her," Ryan replied.

"Lie down and get some rest. I'm going to make you a snack…"

"I just ate…"

"Three hours ago you picked at some eggs, Ryan," She replied. "You're not eating right."

He lay down on the bed. "Okay."

"Ryan, I want you to talk to someone. Someone…professional. I don't know how to handle this…"

"A shrink?"

"Not really a shrink, but someone that can help you get physically healthy again. A counselor…"


"I'm serious, Ryan. I want you to get well. Healthy first and then everything else we can work out in time."

He nodded silently.


"Okay, Kirsten." He closed his eyes, signaling that the conversation was over.

She covered him with a blanket and closed the door behind her. She walked into the kitchen and started searching through the refrigerator.

"How is he?" Sandy asked.

"Marissa came by. She upset him," Kirsten replied.

"I haven't heard him talk about her in a while. I mean, since he's been back," Sandy replied.

"He's got enough on his mind. He can't save her. He shouldn't try. He needs to rest."

Sandy was quiet. "Can I talk to him?"

She regarded him with gentle eyes. "Can you handle it?"

"I think so," Sandy whispered.

She hesitated but finally nodded. She passed him a tray of fruit. "Try to get him to eat something."

"Okay." Sandy accepted the tray and her gentle hug.

Sandy walked slowly toward the poolhouse. He didn't want to spook the boy, but he had to find a way to work through this. He loved Ryan. And he'd never make it up to him.

He knocked softly but Ryan didn't answer, he simply waved his hand from the bed.

"Hey, kid. I brought you some snacks."

"Thanks," Ryan muttered, sitting up immediately when he realized that Sandy was in the poolhouse.

Sandy wanted to sit down on the bed, but he hesitated.

"What's she feeding me this time?" Ryan asked. Sandy noticed that his voice was shaking.

"Fruit." Sandy sat down beside him on the bed. They both had to get over their issues and face each other

Ryan sighed. He accepted an apple off the tray. "So."


"So we can do this two ways," Ryan said slowly.

"This?" Sandy asked.

Ryan sighed again. "Do you have brothers?"


"Did you fight?"

"Well, yes…"

"And you didn't take it personal, the blows shared between you guys was just family stuff…"

"Ryan…" Sandy whispered.

"So we could play it that way or we could play it that you were punishing me…"


"Sandy, can I say one thing?"

He nodded.

"If you ever touch me again…I'll kick your ass," Ryan said quietly.

Sandy nodded. He kept his eyes lowered. Ryan surprised him by patting him on the back. "You're a good man, Sandy. One I'll always look up to. You made a mistake. It happens. I wish it…I wish you were perfect and it hadn't happened…but it did. But let's get over it. Okay?"


"Now get out of here so I can sleep," Ryan sighed.

"Not until you eat something…" Sandy whispered, stunned by Ryan's words.

"I'll eat this apple as soon as I wake up," Ryan replied.

"Okay, kid. Get some sleep…"

"You, too," Ryan replied.