A/N: A very dark one-shot. It contains an unconventional couple, though I don't want to reveal what couple it is, as I feel it ruins the effect. It's very short, very angsty, so consider yourself warned.
Rating: PG-13 for sexuality and other bad stuff.
Disclaimers: Don't own anything. Love you, Josh Schwartz.
Summary: It's been one week since the funeral and he hasn't cried at all.
By: Molly 4
It's been one week since the funeral, and he hasn't cried at all. He hardly even remembers the funeral. Just a somber blur of black suits and red ties, unfamiliar faces pasted with the appropriate mask of grief. Fleeting words were spoken. He closes his eyes and tries to remember if it was raining. For some reason he thinks it was.
Seth hasn't left his room in that one week. No music pours out from under his door, no telltale clicking of fingertips on computer keys. Silence. Only the muffled "What?" Ryan hears when he knocks on the door reassures him that his friend isn't dead too. The pile of homework Ryan leaves by his room grows every day, every page untouched.
Kirsten's by the pool, downing another drink. Her tears slip and slide and drop into her bottle. She doesn't move, so Ryan does it for her, gently leading her to the couch. He takes her poison. He throws a blanket over her carefully, hoping she'll find some warmth.
Sometimes he watches her when she sleeps. Memorizes the creases around her eyes and the purple rings she used to hide with her make-up. She doesn't care about make-up or vanity anymore. Ryan looks at her and sees his mother, thinks maybe Kirsten doesn't care about anything anymore.
The pool house is quiet when he drops himself onto his bed. He doesn't sleep. He'd put on some music, but nothing sounds right to him. So he does what he has to do in silence, wondering why he hasn't cried yet.
It's been two weeks since the funeral, and Ryan catches Seth trying to break into the liquor cabinet with a screwdriver. Kirsten's gotten protective of her crutch, and he doesn't have a secret stash like Marissa.
He deflates when Ryan touches his shoulder, and Ryan's arms are out just in time to catch him.
"I can't do this anymore," he sobs onto Ryan's shoulder, and Ryan can't help but think that he's right. They've all lost their stability. The threads are coming loose on all of them.
But Ryan can't say that, so he pats Seth's back and murmurs bullshit about how it's going to be fine and how they're going to get through this and it'll be okay.
And Ryan realizes that he's no longer the brother. That role is over for him. He's the father now. He's always been what Seth needed. This is no exception. He'll be Sandy for however long he has to be.
A Xanax and a glass of water put Seth at relative ease, or at least give him enough of a buzz to lull him off to sleep.
Ryan watches him sleep, rolling the prescription bottle between his hands. He'd finally taken the initiative and brought Seth to a doctor the second time he'd found him hyperventilating in Sandy's office.
He didn't bother to tell Kirsten, knowing he'd end up handling it anyway, because she couldn't, booze or no booze.
Seth looks nervous, even in slumber, and Ryan can't stand to look at his friend anymore. The doctor had deemed him depressed; Ryan thinks that doesn't even begin to describe the hell Seth's been going through. He'd cried at the funeral, broken down in the arms of his grandfather of all people, who held him close with a stony face and dry eyes. And every time he slipped into sleep he awoke screaming.
Every day Ryan wishes he'd been in the car instead of Seth. It wouldn't have been the first time he'd seen someone die. It wouldn't have been the first time he'd felt the crushing guilt that came with living.
But he was making up a chemistry test and Lit mag was on hiatus while the advisor was home with the flu and Ryan wasn't in the car. Ryan didn't have to watch Sandy die and walk away all but unscathed. Seth wasn't talking, but he was sure the last words he heard from his father's lips were 'I love you.' He can see it in Seth's eyes.
It's three weeks after the funeral when Ryan wakes up to find Kirsten standing over him.
The Berkeley sweatshirt hangs loosely on her body and she's not wearing anything else.
Ryan doesn't know what to say, so he does what he does and doesn't say anything. He doesn't say a word when Kirsten falls on top of him. He's not even shocked when she kisses him, only surprised that he's looking into stone sober eyes.
She bites his lip harder than a lover would, and tastes blood in his mouth. He knows somehow that it was no accident. Her kisses are hungry and desperate; her hands try to touch everywhere at once.
He knows he should push her off, but they want the same things, so when she parts her lips he slides his tongue inside and lets her warmth invade his body. Relief washes over him and he feels the tension escape his muscles.
This is familiar. He knows this.
Pretty soon they're both naked and her perfectly manicured nails are tearing through his back. It hurts and there's blood, but it's the first time in three weeks that Ryan's felt alive.
Kirsten's lips are chapped and she tastes like smoke.
Ryan wants to reach inside of her and take all of the pain away. He wants to reach inside and more her whole again.
She moans and writhes when he touches her in all of the right places. He tries not to think about who she's seeing when her eyes close. He pretends it's his name she screams when she arches her back and her whole body shudders. It's easier that way.
It's easier to pretend Kirsten is happy when he can fool himself into thinking he's giving her what she wants.
When it's over and Kirsten's breathing returns to normal, she falls asleep beside him.
Ryan watches her, sees the tiny smile on her lips, the only smile he's seen on her since the day the phone rang and the world was pulled out from under her.
He frowns when he thinks that it's not him that she's dreaming of, and when she wakes up, he'll still be him, and not what she wants.
Ryan knows he should go. He knows that if Seth finds them together he'll skip the liquor and head straight for the medicine cabinet, and it won't be one Xanax he'll be taking this time.
But he can't erase Seth's pain, not even for a minute, but what Kirsten needs, he can give her. He can always give it to her, whenever she needs to close her eyes and pretend that life is still what it should be.
He kisses Kirsten's forehead and begins to cry, because Sandy is dead.