He can't stop checking the clock.

It's getting to be a problem, because the only clock in the room is hanging on the wall directly above him, and he's getting a crick in his neck from craning his head around every thirty seconds. The clock itself is even starting to piss him off. It's old, battered, but not in a comforting antique-y way; the casing is yellowed with age and there's a crack running diagonally across the clear plastic face, zigzagging crookedly over the 2 and 3 and 8 digits, giving the whole thing a skewed quality. It's ominous, somehow, and he wishes he could avoid looking at it but it's as if needs to know that the world is still out there somewhere, that time is still passing even though it feels to him as though it stopped in the moment when Ryan cradled Marissa's lifeless form and he had held onto Summer for dear life and prayed to God that this was all a gruesome dream.

According to the clock, they've been sitting here for three hours. Three hours and forty three minutes, to be exact, and that's as exact as he can be because the clock that he is swiftly coming to loathe does not have a second hand. For all he knows, they could have been here for weeks. It's like they stepped into a time warp in that alley, and no matter how many times he cranes his head around to check the clock it doesn't matter, because time just doesn't mean anything anymore.

The waiting room is chilly, and he wonders vaguely whether the AC is in overdrive or something because he knows that outside it is swelteringly hot, the air so thick with humidity you could almost choke on it. He wonders if Marissa felt cold, as she staggered and heaved and crumpled like a paper doll onto the sweaty tarmac, or whether by the time Ryan reached her, she'd been cold to his touch.

He looks over at Ryan, who hasn't so much as twitched since Marissa was wheeled out of their sight and they'd been shepherded into this cubicle of a waiting room. He's motionless, silent, and his eyes are unnervingly blank as he gazes fixedly at a spot somewhere around Seth's left knee. Seth feels a dim impulse to say or do something, ask if Ryan's okay or reach out to him, tell him not to worry, that it's going to be alright. But it's all pointless; Ryan isn't okay, none of them are, and there's absolutely no reason to believe that everything's going to be alright, because just maybe this time it isn't.

Beside him, Summer makes a quiet sound, somewhere between a sob and a whimper. She hasn't let go of him once, not since the alley where she'd clutched at fistfuls of his T shirt and trembled against him as he made the first 911 call of his life. Now she's curled into the chair beside him, gripping his hand so tightly between both of her own that he's lost all feeling in his fingers. And there's nothing he can say to her, because what she needs is comfort and reassurance and all he can bring himself to offer is the truth. Sure, maybe things will all turn out okay, and this whole mess will culminate in a neat, glossy happy ending befitted to the terminal soap opera that is life in Newport Beach; the princess will wake up and the handsome prince from the wrong side of the tracks will have saved her once again.

But maybe they won't. And if it turns out that Marissa is too far gone to be saved, too broken this time for even Ryan to fix her, then he doesn't want to think about what it's going to mean for the people left behind. He doesn't want to think of Summer's face at her best friend's funeral, or of Julie Cooper's flawless icy features crumpled with grief. He can't even bring himself to contemplate what the loss of Marissa will do to Ryan, barely a month after his brother landed him in jail and his mom walked out of his life for the last time.

He can't think about any of it, and he can't look back at the clock and he can't open his mouth to break the silence because anything he says will only make this all real. And so he shifts a little closer to Ryan in his flimsy hospital chair until their shoulders are just touching, and smoothes Summer's hair as she presses her face into the fabric of his already-damp shirt, and he closes his eyes and listens to himself breathe and tries to think of nothing.