Disclaimer: I don't own anything OC related.
AN: Okay, folks. This is a dark story, deals with death and loss and general angst. This is just the teaser, I've been posting it on LJ but it's new to ffnet. No flames, please.
If you don't like the direction it's heading in...you might not want to read any more...it's angsty, dammit!! The song playing in the background is Interpol's Stella Was A Diver...


The fire alarm didn't go off until the flames started to melt through the plastic.

Seth's stereo was on, playing the sounds of Interpol as he slept soundly in his girlfriend's arms. Summer wasn't supposed to stay overnight but his parents had already gone to bed by the time he smuggled her in. They'd only recently gotten back together and he didn't want to spend a night away from her now that he'd regained her trust.

Something in the walls of their new family room had started the blaze. Crossed wires too close to the insulation or a spark from something faulty, they wouldn't know until it was too late.

Ryan saw the flames first, the orange flickering catching his attention as he rolled over in his sleep. He closed his eyes at first, thinking that it was a trick of the reflections across the pool but after a moment, his sleepy brain caught up to his eyes and he knew.

The house was on fire.

He sat up with a jolt. The house was on fire?

When she walks down the street … she knows there's people watching…

Sandy woke up mid-cough. He couldn't see his wife beside him through the smoke. Something was horribly wrong, he hadn't smoked since college…

…the building fronts are just fronts to hide the people watching her… she once fell through the street …

"Cohen…Cohen, wake up!" Summer shook her boyfriend roughly. She didn't want to hurt him but there was smoke everywhere and it was only getting thicker and he wouldn't wake up…

…down the manhole in that bad way… the underground drip …it's just like her scuba days…

Kirsten didn't know what was happening, all she knew was that Sandy was holding something over her mouth and she couldn't see him. She started to struggle but his hands held her steady and his voice was hoarse in her ear. "Don't panic, just walk…we have to get out…"

…daze…

Ryan dragged his bedspread out of the poolhouse and dunked it in the pool so it was dripping with water. When he made it to the kitchen doors, he couldn't see inside because of the smoke. He draped the blanket around him and had his collar pulled up so he was breathing through the fabric, hoping that it would protect him from some of the stifling smoke. The heat was devastating when he finally made it inside. He yelled through his shirt, using the deep breath that he'd taken outside.

"Sandy! Kirsten!!" They were on the first floor, they were on the same floor as the fire.

…she was all right cause the sea was so airtight she broke away…she was all right cause the sea was so airtight she broke away …she was all right but she can't come out tonight she broke away …she was all right yeah the sea was so tight, air-tight … she broke away…

"Cohen…please, wake up…I need you to get me out of here…" Summer was sobbing and shaking him and he still wouldn't wake up. She'd gone to the door but it was hot and all those years of fire training in elementary school had taught her that if the door was hot…don't open it. Seth wouldn't wake up and she couldn't breathe…

…Stella…

"Ryan!" Sandy spotted the moving figure in front of him and released Kirsten into his arms, unable to drag her any further through the heat.

"I've got her…we have to get out…" Ryan's voice was calm and soothing and Sandy was grateful for the hand that gripped his wrist tightly.

He needed to breathe but it was still too hot and all he could see was smoke. The grip on his wrist tightened as he heard the breaking of glass and then suddenly, he could breathe.

…bottom of the ocean she dwells …bottom of the ocean she dwells from crevices caressed by fingers and fat blue serpent swells …

Kirsten choked on the fresh oxygen as she dropped the towel from her face and pulled Sandy close to her. They were both gasping for breath and she realized that his skin was hot from the heat…she was hot, too but as long as they were okay, everything would be okay. The house was just stuff…Sandy was alive and she was alive…but she didn't see Seth. She barely registered Ryan's form disappearing back into the broken window he'd just pulled them through.

Stella ... Stella ... oh Stella…

"Ryan, no…stop, don't go back…" Sandy started, but it was too late, the teenager hadn't even acknowledged him before crawling back into the fire.

"Seth's not here…he's not out yet…" Kirsten said, clinging to him.

…Stella I love you Stella I love you Stella I love you … she was all right cause the sea was so airtight she broke away … she was all right cause the sea was so airtight she broke away…

"Summer? Summer…are you all right?"

Chino's voice startled her and she reached out for him immediately, her eyes tearing up due to the smoke. His strong hands gripped her by the elbows, pulling her to her feet.

"No, wait…take Seth, I can't wake him…" she said, shaking his hands off her arms and pushing him back toward the bed.

…well she was my catatonic sex toy love-joy diver… well she was my catatonic sex toy love-joy diver …she went down down down there into the sea …she went down down down there down there for me …

"Oh god, Sandy, where are they? Why hasn't he come out yet? What's taking so long?" Kirsten had quickly recovered enough to panic and despite the sirens that had started to echo through the night, she wanted her son.

"He's fine, I'm sure he's fine…Ryan will get him…Ryan will get him…" Sandy started chanting the words like a mantra, rocking Kirsten in his arms on the front steps of their house. The flames were visible around the side now, the window they had escaped from now blocked with fire.

…right on … oh yeah … right on…

Ryan's blanket was on fire. He knew it as soon as he walked through what he thought was the kitchen. He had Seth's limp body tossed over his shoulder, the closest thing he could get to a fireman's carry with Summer's petite body attached to him. The blanket wasn't wet anymore, just scorched and flames were dragging behind him, literally licking his heels. Summer took every step with him, her arms laced around his waist under the blanket. He couldn't let her realize that they were on fire, just like he couldn't let her realize that he couldn't breathe. She was holding him so tightly and there was no clean air inside anymore but he had to get them out. He had to get Seth out. He had to keep moving…

…There's something that's invisible…there's some things you can't hide…try to detect you when I'm sleeping…in a wave you say goodbye…

"Thank God…" Sandy said, pulling away from the paramedic and hurrying over as Ryan fell to his knees. His boys, his kids were out, they weren't burning like the rest of the house, they were safe…

Ryan was coughing and couldn't seem to stop as he gently lowered Seth's body to the ground. Summer was barely dressed under the blackened blanket and she started to cough, too as the medics rushed over.

"He's not breathing…" Ryan said, his blue eyes wide with panic and bloodshot from the smoke. He turned to Sandy. "He's not breathing, Sandy…"