Author's Note: Hi guys, last part of this strange little ride.

Joey and Crash tried to beta and then I changed everything. (Hola crash...hug.)




A Seth POV Concerning the Season Two Finale




Aunt Hailey hisses the word soft and drawn out, as if my name has always been pronounced as a punctuated whisper.

She plunks herself down beside me.

It's nine in the morning and I'm sitting at the top of the stairs, listening...ok, Ryan, Mom and Dad discuss...ok, maybe argue...about Trey's funeral.

"I'm going alone," Ryan mumbles, his voice still scratchy and hoarse and on loan from a ninety-year-old smoker.

I'm having a little trouble, sitting at the top of the stairs like I am, making out what Ryan is saying and he might have said, 'My dog has a bone,' but considering everything Mom and Dad have contributed to this conversation I'm not supposed to be listening to, I'm guessing I'm right about my first interpretation.

They've been at it for ten minutes now, Mom and Dad gently trying to explain to Ryan all the reasons why he needs to allow a 'Cohen Family Funeral' experience and Ryan doing his best not to verbalize why no one but himself can go to bury his brother.

Seriously, if Ryan has uttered more than ten words, I'd be surprised. It's all good though, 'cause Mom and Dad have become pretty proficient at filling in the maddening gaps of silence that now define Ryan's preferred mode of communication.

Yes, yes, yes, sure, Ryan was a bit aloof before his brother died. Granted, maybe not a great orator, maybe a tad succinct and stingy in his use of the English language, but still, Ryan has always been someone capable of maintaining a conversation.

But now, today and yesterday and since the night Marissa shot Trey, Ryan's been painfully withdrawn. I've been sitting near him, these last two days, and next to him, and with him. But I stay just as silent as him, the new me mirroring Ryan's moods instead of trying to force my moods on him.

"How much sleep did you get?" Aunt Hailey whispers at me.

And that's one of the things I love about Hales. Most adults would say something like, 'Seth, you should be ashamed of yourself, sitting here, hiding, listening to a conversation that's none of your business.' Not my Aunt Hailey. She just goes with the deviant flow. If she was a river, she'd definitely be coursing north, fast and crisp with white water lapping frantically on and over sharp rocks.

"Five hours," I whisper back and don't look her in the eye 'cause I know she wants to hear something like, 'Eight perfect hours of uninterrupted sleep, Aunt Hailey.' From the corner of my eye, I see her nod and I suppose that she knows that five hours is better than let's say...three, which is all I managed last night and...NONE...the night before, the night that Trey died and went away and took Ryan's voice and words with him.

She squeezes my shoulder and tells me, "It'll get easier," and I suppose she's right. It will get easier for me, it already has.

I only wash my hands a few times a day now, and I know, really I swear I do, that there's no more blood under my nails.

I understand, logically, that everything is washed clean.

It's amazing, how just a little sleep can act like Windex, and make everything clearer and less blurry and distorted and out of proportion.

Speaking of me and my crawl back to sanity...The Chair and I are in the process of making up.

Ok, scratch that, it's a lie.

I hate that goddamned chair and I'm still convinced that Trey's delinquent little ghost is lurking about and in its butt ugly and scratchy upholstery. I called the Goodwill yesterday and they're coming to pick the fucking thing up Tuesday at eleven. That's the perfect day. Dad's taking Ryan to a doctor's appointment and Mom will be back in rehab by then and only Hailey will be left in the house and something tells me that a truck pulling into our drive-way, taking furniture away and driving off again won't even pique Aunt Hailey's curiosity. Hell, she probably won't even be out of bed.

I'm hoping it will take a while for my dad to notice that the chair's gone, but even if he notices right away and asks me where that chair went and I say, 'Yeah Dad, I had the Goodwill come and pick it up 'cause all I can think about when I see it is Trey sitting there, staring at me, resenting the hell out of the fact that I'm breathing and he's not,' even if I say that, I know my dad will just stare at me and blink and say, 'Ok,' or 'Sounds good, Seth,' 'cause my dad still has a crazy amount of shitty things to worry about and I'm relatively confident that interior decorating is not one of them.

I'm not hearing gunshots anymore, although if I squeeze my eyes shut and concentrate, I can still hear them echoing.

"Ryan," my mom says, her voice carrying upstairs much better than the person she's addressing, "Sandy and I feel that it's important to support you through this, just like you supported me and helped me come to terms with my…" my mom's voice falters a second before she finishes with a quiet, "drinking."


Mom's still in the twelve-step program of accepting her role as Newport latest rehabilitating drunk.

I've learned one thing from my mom's miserable experience.

It's perfectly fine to leisurely swim in booze in this town.

You just can't drown in public.

I want my mom to get better but I don't want her to leave again to do it.

I wish detox was an Internet course. I wish Mom could get her rehab degree on-line.

Downstairs, Ryan mutters something in response to my mom's comments of support.

Dad says real nice, not at all smart-ass, "What's that Ryan? I'm sorry kid, I didn't hear you."

And hey, 'bout freakin' time someone told Ryan to pump it up Dad, thanks. I could have used a Ryan volume check ten minutes ago. I'm gonna' need a hearing aid after straining this hard to eavesdrop.

Ryan takes a deep breath, I think, and then talks real slow, as if my parents are that unhappily employed dude, sitting behind the thick shield of protection glass at a gas station in the really, truly bad part of Long Beach, and if you want to deliver a successful message, you have to speak loudly and very, very slowly, as if talking to a two-year-old or my great-great Aunt Myrtle.

Ryan says, "This is hard enough, I don't want you guys see it."

And I wonder what Ryan's talking about, because 'it' is a funeral and my parents go to funerals a lot actually and besides, we all, all of us, Ryan, my parents and me, all just rode in shiny black limos to Grandpa's funeral, and that was ok.

For a funeral, which is, you know, so not ok.

"Ryan, your father may not be able to make it," my dad says softly and it dawns on me that Ryan isn't worried about burying his brother this morning, he's worried about exposing the rest of us to his fucked up family and once again, for the millionth time since this entire insanity started, I'm reminded that Ryan is different from the rest of us. He's young like me, and he's reserved, like Mom can be, and he's always looking out for other people, like my dad, but Ryan is inherently different, different from Mom and Dad and me. The rest of us, we dread bad things, fear them happening. Ryan accepts that bad and awful and tragic are a part of daily life, and balances them, pours them out every morning, like cereal from a box, and counts the pieces and figures out how much he can handle consuming and then stuffs the rest back into the box to worry about another day.

I don't need to be there right now, downstairs, to picture what's happening.

I can see in my head, everything that is transpiring.

Mom is off a little bit, to the side, a part of things but not the center of them and Dad is looking straight at Ryan, wondering if he's not just listening, but if Ryan is actually hearing him, that Mom and Dad want to help him and they don't care what else is involved and Ryan is standing there, with his arms crossed around himself and looking the complete opposite direction of my dad, with his sparkly, sad, water eyes, that never seem to produce any actual tears, and wondering why Mom and Dad won't just fucking back off and let him handle things on his own, like the forty-year-old he thinks he is.

"I don't…" Ryan begins softly, already forgetting the whole, 'could you speak up Ryan' thing, "I don't want you guys there."

And I sit Statue of Liberty still, holding my breath and listening to the silence and waiting for Dad to tell Ryan that he's sorry, but we're all going with him to the funeral, 'cause that's what the Cohens do.

They bury their own en masse.

But all my dad says is, "I ordered a car, it'll be here in a hour."

I may not be down there, but I know what is happening.

Ryan is nodding his thank you and my dad is patting him on the back because, 'I love you' is still too hard of a thing for Ryan to hear, especially when he knows someone means it, and when my dad is done, and steps away from Ryan, my mom will smile at him and give him a hug and then one last squeeze before she lets him go and, as if on cue, I hear her ask, "Do you have everything you need, Ryan? I put a clean suit on your bed this morning."

He hasn't been to his own room much. They've been having Ryan sleep in their bedroom, so they can hover and monitor and parent. He's still looking like an extra from ER and taking medication and getting headaches and throwing up, especially in the middle of the night and if they can't talk to him about what's happening in his brain, I guess my parents figure that nursing Ryan's body back to health is the next best thing.

Ryan must have left to go get dressed. My mom and dad must be alone because Mom asks Dad, "God Sandy, are we really doing this? Letting him go to his brother's funeral alone."

Dad answers, "I don't know what else to do Kirsten. If we push him too much, he may not go at all."

My dad says it as if it's a bad thing and I'm thinking, maybe Ryan should skip the funeral and stay home with us, his Cohen family, instead of going out and facing what's left of the Atwood one.


I made up my mind five minutes after I got up from the steps that I'm going with Ryan to Trey's funeral, because even if he is Ryan Atwood, poster boy of all things stoic and long-suffering, he's still my best friend, my first true friend, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna' let him bury his brother alone, even if he wants to.

But now that I'm showered and dressed and combed and walking out the front door, I'm wondering how I'm going to talk Ryan into something that my parents weren't even able to.

Then again, like a lot of things with Ryan and me, talking isn't nearly as effective as actions, and I find myself acting like absolutely nothing is more common and everyday than me sliding in next to Ryan in the back seat of a mortuary owned sedan as a very somber dude opens up the door. He's looking a little surprised because no doubt Ryan mumbled something like, "I'm the only one coming," at the guy before entering the vehicle, but he opens the door for me anyway and says very professionally, "Good morning, sir," and I nod at him before glancing hesitantly at Ryan to gauge his reaction to my unexpected and uninvited arrival.

He gives me one of his sideways glares and then stares straight ahead and says, "What are you doing here Seth?"

The old Seth would have said something funny or inappropriate or snarky, but me, the new Seth, I can't think of a single humorous thing to say.

I'm coming up with nothing.


So all I say is, "I'm coming with you."

"No," Ryan answers and I tell him, "I'm coming Ryan. This is insane. You can't go bury Trey alone."

And believe me, my friend, I'm becoming an expert at judging insane.

I watch Ryan, waiting for him to punch me or jet his way out of the car and slam the door behind him but all he does is rub at his forehead and so I pretend that the issue of me coming along or not coming is already resolved and I ask, "Do you need a painkiller Ryan? Did you bring your meds?"

He may be in pain, but he looks pretty good actually. The suit he's wearing is the one Mom bought for him just a few months ago for the Newport Cancer Association charity dance. When Summer saw him in it for the first time, the night of the dance, I remember she said something like, "Damn Cohen, Ryan looks fucking hot. Boy should wear suits more often." And I recall thinking, shit yeah; he does look pretty hot, which still disturbs me, because, yep, there are some things that just shouldn't cross my mind.

He's shaved for the first time in a few days and what with the clean face and the polished suit and sort of combed hair, I'm not actually sure if Ryan combs his hair so much as he lets it dry, Ryan looks like he could just as easily be going on a date as to a cemetery.

Except for the bruises.

The bruises give him away.

And the hollow space that has taken up residence under his eyes.

And the cast, partially hidden under his perfectly pressed suit jacket.

I hear Ryan's door open and I figure he's lost patience with me, but instead, well lookie here who has also decided to come along for the drive. My dad stands at Ryan's door, sporting his own suit, probably the one he wore to Grandpa's funeral, and holding out a bottle of water along with two of Ryan's pain pills.

"I know you're only supposed to take one," my dad says, "but I'm thinking this morning, two won't hurt."

Ryan glances up at my dad, probably wondering the same thing I am, which is maybe that Dad really is clairvoyant, and since when did he become a drug pusher to teenagers. Ryan cautiously takes both pills out of my dad's hand and pops them into his mouth. My dad unscrews the lid off the water and passes it to Ryan and while Ryan takes a sip of it my dad says to me quietly, "Hey Seth." I nod at him and watch suspiciously, cause I know when Sandy Cohen is up to something and obviously my dad didn't put his suit on to go for a surf.

Poor Ryan.

I wonder if even for a second, he actually thought he would make it out if the Cohen house alone.

"I have to go with you, Ryan," Dad says. "I'm worried about you. Physically you're still not one hundred percent and emotionally, I have to be honest with you kid, you're scaring the shit out of me and Kirsten. I'll stay in the car during the ceremony if that's what you prefer, but whether or not you realize it or want it, you need people with you right now. I'm hoping you'll accept that."

Me too Dad, I'm hoping he'll accept us too.

And he's scaring me too, Dad.

I haven't stopped being scared for Ryan or Mom or me or you or any of us, including Grandpa and Trey.

I'm still wondering, all the time, what happens when you stop breathing.

"I'll sit in the front, Ryan," my dad says, "since you evidently already have company here in the back."

And with that Ryan's door closes and I hear my dad get in the front, along with the driver. There's a dark partition, separating the front seat from the back, providing privacy to Ryan and me. As the car starts moving, soft music comes on, some classical shit, but I'm grateful for the interruption of silence.

I look out my window. It's tinted and dark and I wonder if the funeral home does it on purpose, provides an instant bleak outlook instead of letting the sun in. I suppose, on days like this, most people riding in the back of this car don't want sunshine. But suddenly I'm desperate for some. I want to open my window and stick my head out and point my face in the direction of the sun and soak it into my skin.

I wonder if Ryan wants the same. Wants to make this car maybe go to the beach instead of the cemetery.

We could find a boat and sail and let my dad bury Trey.

"Seth," Ryan says my name softly and I look over at him.

"Talk," is all he says and the one word confuses me, like he said it in a foreign language and I have to find a dictionary to translate it. He keeps staring at me and repeats, even softer than the first time, "Just talk."

I blink and my brain tries to find the purpose of Ryan's words.

With my hesitation, Ryan gives up on me. He shifts his sight to his window and lays his head back, closing his eyes. Maybe the painkillers are already putting him to sleep.

Maybe my dad meant to put Ryan to sleep, and not just numb him.

"Talk about what, Ryan?" I ask, not wanting to lose him, not wanting him to shut down. I think this is maybe the first conversation, if you want to call what we are having a conversation, that he has initiated since Trey's death.

Ryan opens his eyes, rolls his head in my direction and says, slow, like he's in a different dimension than me and his words have to travel slowly and bumpy on a cosmic conveyor belt just to reach me, "Everything is so fucked up, Seth. Just talk."

I stare at him and he stares back at me and inside my brain, little firecrackers go off.

Kaboom, pop, snap.

His request slowly falling back down to Earth, shiny and twinkling.

In an instant, this instant, right now, this moment, I wish I was a photographer and I could capture Ryan's face forever, so I could some day show it to everyone and tell them, this instant, this moment, is the one second that I realized that my friend was still in there, somewhere, deep under the layers of regret and pain and solitude.

Maybe we're gonna' be ok, Ryan and I. Maybe we can still be us. Maybe a little different, maybe not as carefree, but I know now, from Ryan's simple request, that our friendship has a future and that Ryan's gonna' come back to me.

He's gonna' let me in.

He doesn't mind me being around.

He must not hate me, for what I did, for how I contributed, to Trey being dead.

Funny, irony is such a bitch.

I thought I had to be a new Seth to get the old Ryan back. And now it seems, maybe, just maybe, the old Seth is actually, maybe, what Ryan wants.

He's still staring at me.

I clear my throat.

Just talk he told me.

So that's what I do.

"Um, so, do you think Dad got a two for one price on graves? He could bury Trey in-between Grandpa and Grandma. He'll be like the son they never had."

Ryan stares up at me and raises his eyebrows like he does whenever I say something stupid and tasteless. He shakes his head, rolls it back towards his window, and I just know, I'm not sure how, but I just know that he's waiting for me to continue.

And so for the rest of the way to the cemetery, I just talk about everything, and anything, Summer and summer and comics and bad movies.

Everything but dead brothers and bloody carpets and itchy nails and haunted chairs and drunken moms and my saintly dad and Ryan's fallen one and girlfriends with guns.

And boys with bad tempers.


There's no mass for Trey, no church service.

We go straight to the cemetery.

Both my dad and I get out of the car and Ryan doesn't argue.

He doesn't seem to care anymore whether or not we force ourselves on him.

It's a little humid, and the cemetery is a vibrant grassy green with Pollack splashes of red and orange and yellow and white and purple and blue scattered about and around tombstones.

Nothing seems real.

It did when we buried Grandpa.

It doesn't with Trey.

There's a tent propped up, flapping in a light breeze, and below it a dozen or so chairs, with a casket in the middle surrounded like a castle with a moat of flowers.

My dad did a good job.

Trey is going out in style.

I recognize Ryan's mom, sitting, her legs crossed, dressed in black, an unfamiliar guy holding her hand. I glance at Ryan but he doesn't look up, doesn't look at his mom.

He's stopped on the opposite side of her, standing.

Trey's casket separating a grieving mother and her live son.

Ryan's mom is crying, soft and desperate with low moans.

She's burying a child today and if I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around Trey's death, I don't have a fucking clue as to how Mrs. Atwood is even gonna' start.

I listen to her controlled sobbing and I feel like an intruder, a spectator who has no business watching any of this.

I understand why Ryan didn't want me here.

I don't want to be here.

A California state police car comes driving gradually down the road leading to the gravesite and Ryan's head pops up, frozen solid on tracking the vehicle and its slow progress.

He grabs my dad's arm and says urgently, "Sandy, I need to get out of here."

I've never heard Ryan this anxious.

I stare at my dad, waiting to see his reaction.

The police car comes to a stop and two policemen get out and Ryan squeezes my dad's arm even tighter, like he's a little boy begging for candy at the checkout line.

"Sandy, please."

He's panicked now, looking wild-eyed as one of the policemen start to open the back door of the cruiser and I'm stunned silent, trying to match up this frantic, pleading Ryan with the confident Ryan Atwood who lives in our pool house.

Sandy Cohen is clearly perplexed. Evidently he didn't have Ryan's nervous breakdown penciled in for the ceremonies.

He's not making a move and Ryan is starting to look more than a little flustered so I step in and tell my dad, "Dad, Ryan wants to leave. Now."

My dad turns his head from Ryan to me and back to Ryan again.

That's it big guy, you can do it. Just do it. Just take Ryan and get the fuck out of here and make up for that night in the hospital when you left for the morgue and came back to find Ryan's hospital bed empty. Because you know Dad, you know as well as I do, that Ryan's asking you to leave but what he's really doing is telling you that's he leaving and you have about what... fifteen, twenty seconds, Dad, before Ryan gives up on you, and just leaves by himself and then God only knows what happens.

Ryan does what he wants and handles things the way he thinks he has to. Nothing will ever change that. Not unwanted consequences or steady parenting or a stable bed or a good school or a pricey address.

Nothing will ever change Ryan's coping mechanisms.

They were branded into his psyche long before he met us.

"Dawn," I hear my dad say, "This isn't going to work for Ryan. I'm taking him home. My entire family is so very sorry for your loss. I think it's best for Ryan if we leave."

Hell yes it is.

Fuck yeah it is, Dad.

Leave his fucked up parents alone to bury their fucked up son and we'll take Ryan home, with us, and away from these people. Away forever if it was up to me. But it's not. I suppose Ryan will have to decide if and when he ever sees them again.

I grab Ryan's left arm and Dad his right and we cocoon him in-between us and head for the black sedan.

"Are you sure this is what you want, Ryan?" my dad asks him, "I don't want you doing something that you'll regret later."

Yeah, like this would be the first time that shit ever happened.

Shall I begin rambling off the things Ryan does and then later regrets?

Never mind.

The walk to the car isn't nearly long enough.

We reach the sedan and Ryan leans against the car with his good hand, and breathes deep, calculated breaths, like he's been under water too long and has finally reached the surface. I open Ryan's door and keep it open long enough for him to settle in before I nod and smile at him and gently shut it. My dad tells me he'll be right back and he walks up to the billowing death tent and I watch him switch from Sandy, caring father, to Sandy Cohen, ringmaster of chaos. He goes to Ryan's mom and gives her a hug and I'm sure he tells her again that he's so very sorry about Trey.

Whatever, we all are.




Let's just get the fuck out of here.

My dad hesitates for a second, brushes his fingers through his hair, and then marches purposefully towards the state troopers and the guy I've managed to keep my eyes off of until just now.

I don't want to ogle at Ryan's father out of respect for Ryan but I can't stop myself. I have to look. How can I not stare?

I wish Summer was here.

She'd understand. She'd be just as curious.

Ryan's dad is tall, skinny. It's hard to tell from the distance I'm at, but he looks more like Trey than Ryan. He's wearing a dark suit, which surprises me. I suppose I was expecting something orange or a white with black striped ensemble.

I watch my dad reach out his hand to Ryan's dad, and shake the guy's hand, silver handcuffs and all, and pat the side of his arm, and say something to him, as if this isn't the first time he's met the guy, but the millionth. I wonder what Mr. Atwood must think. Does he even know who my dad is? Does he know that Sandy Cohen is taking care of the sons that he brought into the world? Burying one, medicating and feeding and housing the other. Do my dad's actions make him and Ryan's father enemies or allies?

Mr. Atwood glances around my dad and I don't have to be a fucking Hardy Boy to figure out what he's looking for.

It's windy, but the breeze is carrying sound this morning instead of stealing it away and I can recognize Ryan's name being called.

"I want to see my son," I hear Ryan's dad say angrily and I open my mouth to shout at the dumb fuck, 'He's right there, in that casket,' because when he says 'my son' he must be referring to Trey.


There's more shouting and now everyone's trying to calm Mr. Atwood down, who's still screaming Ryan's name and I just watch it all, clinging to the door handle of the car like it's a floatation device.

Ryan's mom cries louder and Ryan's dad struggles a bit more with his state provided escorts and my dad distances himself from the spectacle, backing off and then turning around and making a beeline for the car.

"Get in, Seth," he orders me quickly and the two of us seem to time our entrance into the sedan with a welcomed moment of silence from Mr. Atwood's belligerent yelling.

Ryan watches me, a little startled, as I trip over myself trying to get into he car as fast as I can and slam the door shut.

The black partition in the middle of the car slides down and my dad stares at Ryan and I do too and we both hold our breaths.

Ryan looks up at my dad.

Tired, he looks so fucking tired, but not angry or shocked and he's giving no indication that he's heard any of the shit going on outside. I listen to my own heartbeat, pounding in anticipation of Ryan reacting to hearing his name being shouted by a man he hasn't spoken to in years. A guy who sounds more desperate and sad than dangerous and I hate that I feel sorry for him because all I want to do is have him remain faceless and soundless and be the scapegoat for everything that was wrong with Trey and is wrong with Ryan.

I don't want to feel sympathy for Ryan's dad.

I want to hate him.

Quiet, it's so quiet in the car.

I understand now, I think, that Ryan probably never wanted to come to Trey's funeral in the first place. That he only came 'cause he wasn't sure if his parents would. That he has to leave because he'd rather abandon Trey's body than deal with the people who gave him life.

And how sad is that.

To be seventeen and have that burden.

"We'll come back, Ryan," my dad tells him, "when you're ready."

Ryan gives my dad a slight nod and lays his head back and I feel myself take a deep, so very freaking relieved breath, as I realize that Ryan didn't hear anything that happened outside.

My dad and I lock eyes for a nano-second and whether or not we ever talk about what occurred out there, with Ryan's father, I know one thing for sure, we'll never talk about it in front of Ryan.


Ryan doesn't ask me to talk on the way home.

He lays his head against the window and closes his eyes. Maybe he's listening to the classical music, maybe he's thinking about Trey, or his mom, or his dad, or Marissa or fuck knows what's going through his head.

I think about Summer and her light-brown skin that's just now getting darker with the change in seasons and how naturally smooth she is, and perfect from head to flawless little toes.

I think about Ryan and Marissa and how he laid his head against hers in Mom and Dad's bedroom and how she held on to him and must have been thankful, so fucking thankful, that Ryan still wanted to love her.

We pull into the driveway and my dad helps Ryan out of the car. They look right together; Ryan and my father, and I linger behind them, staying at the sedan, in a trance, watching the two of them walk side-by-side.

I'm not so angry anymore, I realize. I'm not so pissed at my father or Ryan or Marissa, or my mom or Summer or Trey or myself. I'm not so scared about dealing with life, this new post -Trey is dead because of all of us life, as I was a few days ago.

Maybe sleep has helped or seeing my mom or being in the car with Ryan or watching my dad, steadily, over the past three days, work his ass off to hold things and people, hold all of it and all of us, together.

"Seth," I hear Hailey call my name. I turn my head to her, surprised at her presence on the driveway. She's polishing the passenger side window of the rent-a-car, looking at me with curiosity.

We're back too soon and she wants an explanation.

"Change in plans," I tell her and Hales shrugs, somehow satisfied with those few words.

"You fixed it?" I ask, pointing at the rent-a-car window, a little amazed because I had no fucking idea that Aunt Hailey was, among other things, a glassblower.

"This dude named Clyde owned me a favor," she smiles mischievously.

I'm not sure what I'm more concerned by, the fact that someone named their kid Clyde or the fact that he owes Hailey a favor…for what…I do not want to ever, ever, know.

"I figured it was easier on Sandy if I just got it fixed, rather than make him deal with the fucking insurance company."

I nod, because my Aunt Hailey is, if nothing else, a natural born, 'screw The Establishment' kind of girl and although I know she's a huge pain in my mom's ass, I have to admit that her subversive ways do indeed come in handy.

"You coming inside?" she asks me. "Kirsten ordered take-out."

Well of course she did.

I wonder if any of us besides Hales will eat it.

I tell Aunt Hailey I'll catch up with her in the kitchen and I listen as she opens the front door and I hear my mom say, "Ryan, come sit down."

I tug at my tie.

It's getting hot out.

Summer always is, despite the ocean.

I walk past the rent-a-car and run my fingertips over the new window glass.

It's smooth and unblemished and looks the same as the pane of glass that Ryan broke.

Most people will look at it and never even know that it's a different piece of glass.

Most people will never know that the first piece of glass that sat in the window frame is shattered, now in a million pieces.

Broken and destroyed.

Ryan will know.

And so will I.

It's good though, that things can be fixed and repaired and replaced, even if they can't ever be exactly the same.

I stare at the glass.

I can see my reflection in it, watching me, blinking when I blink.

Hailey left the front door to the house open.

Inside, I can hear movement.

Chairs shuffling, silverware clanking.

People living.

I can't take my eyes off the shiny glass and my image reflecting off it.

I look different in the glass and maybe I am.


I wonder who will be able to tell.

"Hi," I tell the new window.

"I'm Seth Cohen."


The End!

Thanks so much for reading. Heartfelt thanks to those of you who reviewed. I even had a few people nice enough to "nudge" me via e-mail to get this thing wrapped up and get my butt in gear on Best of Intentions. (I AM gonna' finish that story if it kills me!)

My writing is what it is, not the best, I hope not the worse, almost always a little confusing. Wish I had more time to write and of course, that I could write faster. I love my little posse of readers here. You are a patient bunch I and wouldn't trade you guys for the world. I've started a LJ for my fic. It has a few stories not on this website, mostly because of content or because they are one-shots. If you'd like to take a peek, I should have most of the stories unlocked and transferred in a few days. My name on that site is muchtvsocfic. Nothing too earth-shattering, just some experimental stuff. Be sure and check the ratings before reading. I don't want to offend anyone.