Disclaimer: I don't own anything OC related.


In just 1 hour they'll be
Laying flowers
On my life, it's over tonight
I'm not messing, no, I
Need your blessing
And your promise to live free
Please do it for me
--Jem


"Ryan? Are you still sick?" Kirsten stepped into the poolhouse and let her concern show. Ryan absolutely hated it when people fussed over him; he never seemed to know how to handle people that were worried about him. But she was worried about him. He'd confessed to her after dinner the night before that he had been nauseous for about a week. He'd been throwing up after every meal and it wasn't going away. He was paler and Seth had told her that he was always tired.

There was no answer. She went to the bathroom and knocked softly. After a moment, the door opened. "Ryan?"

"Still sick," He whispered. Kirsten immediately put her hand against his forehead but he wasn't feverish.

"Will you let me take you to the doctor now?"

"I'm sure it's just a bug," Ryan replied.

"Please?"

"I have a test today in first period. If I'm still sick tomorrow, then…"

"How about I pick you up after your test?" Kirsten asked.

Ryan sighed. "Okay."

"Okay? Okay. I'll go make you an appointment while you're getting ready for school."


Ryan had never felt this badly before. He'd been sick for at least two weeks. He had no strength, he kept getting dizzy and he couldn't eat. Seth and Summer had been watching him like a hawk, they both said it was because he was depressed over his breakup with Marissa but it wasn't. He hadn't thought about Marissa in weeks. He'd felt too badly.

He followed Seth and Summer through the double doors toward their lockers. It was the same routine every day. First they'd stop at Summer's locker and Seth would kiss her goodbye. Next they'd go to Ryan's locker and last to Seth's locker.

Today, he started feeling dizzy at step two. He was standing in front of his locker and Seth was talking in his ear about something totally adorable that Summer had done and the next thing he knew, he was slamming his head against the floor.

"Ryan…Ryan…"

"Ow…" He put his hand at the back of his head where it had hit the floor before he realized that he had passed out.

"Man…are you all right? What happened?" Seth was panicked.

"I just got dizzy…" Ryan admitted. It wasn't the first time. He'd passed out at Luke's last week but had convinced him not to tell anyone. He reached out his hand for Seth to help him up but his friend just shook his head at him.

"No, dude, just stay down a second…" Seth said. He already had his phone to his ear to call his mother.

"I'm fine, Seth…" Ryan said, but Luke and Summer joined the crowd that had gathered and he knew that he was busted.

"Dude, what happened?" Luke pulled him to his feet and pushed him until he was leaning against the lockers.

"I just got dizzy…" Ryan insisted. "I'm fine now…"

"You're not fine, dude. That's the second time you've fallen out in the past week," Luke said immediately.

"Mom's picking you up out front, she's already called Dr. Kim…" Seth said to him before turning to Luke. "You said he's passed out before?"

"Last week at my house. He said he thought he'd gotten too hot…" Luke said.

"Guys. I'm fine," Ryan insisted.

"You're not fine. You just collapsed. You have to go to the doctor…" Summer started.

"Kirsten's taking me after my test…" Ryan protested.

"She's taking you now," Seth responded, pulling him by the arm through the milling crowd toward the door.

"Seth…"

"No. You're going to the doctor. Who's going to have my back if you can't even stand up straight? You're scaring the hell out of me, man," Seth said, stopping and turning to face him. His face was drawn with worry. "This isn't normal."

The Range Rover squealed to a halt in front of the building.

"Your mom's going to kick my ass," Ryan sighed as he started down the stairs. Seth followed him all the way to the street.

"What happened?" Kirsten asked through the open window.

"He fainted…"

"I just got dizzy…"

"He fell out in the floor. Luke said he passed out last week at his house, too," Seth said before Ryan could scold him.

"It's nothing…" Ryan started.

"Get in the truck, Ryan. Now."


Sandy met Kirsten at the hospital. "Kirsten, what…"

"Can you talk to him?" She asked immediately.

"Kirsten…"

"Ryan collapsed at school today. I took him to the doctor and he was fine, he was cooperating, he was being honest but the doctor said he had to send Ryan here for more tests and now…and now he won't say anything…" Kirsten said in a rush. Sandy embraced her while he let her words catch up to his brain.

"Honey, just calm down…what did the doctor say?"

"He said that Ryan's blood tests were abnormal. He's anemic and the fact that he hasn't been able to keep food down has weakened his system…but he couldn't tell me why…" Kirsten said, composing herself. She pulled out of his embrace. "He's so mad at me…"

"Ryan's not mad at you, he just hates having people hovering over him…have you been hovering?"

"Of course I have, you know how I feel about hospitals, I'm not going to leave him alone in a place like this, it's scary…"

"Have you considered the fact that Ryan might be scared, too? Maybe that's why he's being so hard to get along with…let's find out." Sandy followed her down the hall toward a room. "Is he alone in there?"

"The doctor's with him…" Kirsten replied. She knocked on the door and an unfamiliar voice told them to come in.

"Dr. Harris, this is my husband, Sandy," Kirsten introduced the doctor.

Ryan glared at them both, clearly upset. "Sandy, can't you please tell them that they're overreacting…"

"Can I talk to him a minute?" Sandy asked the doctor. The doctor nodded and led Kirsten to the hallway.

"Sandy…" Ryan started.

"No. I'm talking first," Sandy said gently, standing in front of Ryan and taking his shoulders in his hand. "You are not okay. You are sick and you have to let the doctors find out what's wrong with you."

"I'm not sick…"

"You're sick, Ryan. You can't eat and you collapsed. Look at me and tell me that you're 100 percent and I'll believe you." Sandy waited for the boy to meet his eyes.

"Sandy…I'll be fine…"

"Kirsten and I are your guardians. We're your parents now and it's our job to take care of you. Let us take care of you. I know you're pissed off that you're stuck here but if it makes you feel better…isn't it worth it?" Sandy asked.

"But…"

"What's going on?"

Ryan sighed as Sandy released him. "I just…I don't want to be here, Sandy…"

"I know. I know you're probably scared, but you'll be fine. You're a strong kid. The doctors just need to run some tests and I'm sure that you'll be back to normal in no time…"

"I don't like this…I know Kirsten's pissed at me, but…"

"She's worried. Please, Ryan. It's for the best."

Ryan nodded and seemed to steady himself before meeting Sandy's gaze again. "I trust you. If you say it's for the best…I believe you."

"Okay. Glad to hear it. And Kirsten and I will be right here, we're not leaving you with the doctors, okay?"

Ryan nodded. "Will you tell Kirsten that I'm sorry?"

"You can tell her yourself," Sandy replied. He wished that Ryan and Kirsten were on better terms but he knew that Ryan was terrified of losing another mother and wouldn't allow himself to get attached to her. Kirsten just couldn't seem to get through to him but Sandy knew that Ryan would do anything for her and that he loved her more than he'd ever admit.

"I'm going to go throw up now," Ryan said after a short pause as Sandy went to get his wife and the doctor.


Sandy was pacing. Kirsten was sitting on Ryan's vacated bed watching Sandy pace.

"Sandy, come here." She patted the bed beside her and he finally stopped and sat down with her. "He's going to be fine."

Ryan had become docile and obedient after his talk with Sandy. He'd apologized politely to the doctor and hadn't complained since. Some orderlies had taken him for some additional tests while Sandy and Kirsten waited.

"What did Seth say?"

"That he should be here. Summer's bringing him. He's pissed we didn't call him when we went to the hospital," Kirsten replied.

"He's protective."

"They both are."

"They're good boys."

"Yes."

They sat in silence. Sandy's hand found his wife's and squeezed it tightly.

The door opened and a nurse pushed Ryan inside. He didn't even complain about the wheelchair and gave them a weak smile. They both stood up.

"How'd it go?" Sandy asked.

"He's a little claustrophobic but he did great," The nurse smiled.

Ryan stood up when she finally stopped by the bed. Once the nurse left he sat down on the bed and looked at Sandy. "They want me to stay longer."

"Well, Ryan, the doctor…" Sandy started.

"They say I have cancer," Ryan added.

"What? Who told you that?" Kirsten gasped.

"The techs in the MRI room. I heard them talking. They were talking about what they were looking for and…" Ryan started.

"Ryan…I'm sure that…" Sandy started.

"I heard them. They think I have cancer…" He whispered. "And…and I really need one of you to tell me that they're wrong…"

Kirsten saw that he was shaking. She stepped over and embraced him tightly. He shook in her arms. "You're going to be fine, I'm sure it's all just a mistake and even if it's not, we'll take care of you, you're going to be fine…"

Sandy found that he couldn't move. He was frozen. Ryan had started to cry and Kirsten was rocking him as he sobbed into her shoulder. Sandy finally realized that he couldn't let Ryan see him upset so he quickly left the room. He stepped into the hallway and leaned against the door as it closed behind him.

"Dad?" Seth's voice was laced with worry.

"Seth…"

"Dad, what is it, is Ryan okay?" Seth asked immediately.

"I need to go find his doctor, your mother's with Ryan, give them a few minutes before you go in…" Sandy couldn't face his son either and started to turn away.

Seth grabbed his elbow. "Dad. Chill. What's going on?"

"I have to find his doctor." Sandy walked away from his son.

Summer took Seth's hand and stopped him before he burst into the room. "I'm sure it's nothing, Seth."

"Did you just see my dad?" Seth whispered.

"I think it's worse…I can hear Chino crying in there…" Summer whispered, leaning her head against the door. "Are you sure we should be here?"

Seth paused and steadied himself. He could hear his mother speaking quietly inside the room. He knocked. "It's Seth."

"Come in, Seth," Kirsten said after a pause.

Seth stepped in with Summer. Kirsten was sitting alone on the bed and he saw the bathroom door close. "What's going on?"

"Ryan just had to use the bathroom…" She responded.

"But Dad is freaked out…" Seth started.

"We don't know anything, Seth. Can you stay with Ryan while I go find your father? I'll be right back…"

"We're not going anywhere," Summer said.