Title: Peaches

Author: Aimee5

Rating: K+

Category: The OC, Angst, Ryan, Taylor, Seth, Summer, (Marissa); Ryan/Marissa

Spoilers: up to 4x04 The Metamorphosis

Summary: 'They would have made it, New Ryan (Broken Ryan) said. Unsure Seth said he was sure that they would have.'

Disclaimer: They're not mine! Marissa would still be in it if they were.

Author's Notes: Ok, this is weird. I apologise in advance if it doesn't make any sense. Please stick with it until the end, and if it still makes no sense feel free to ask me what on earth I'm trying to communicate with it. I wanted to play around with a new style, so thought why not. Oh, and I do really like Taylor. Honestly, I do. It's the Ryan/Taylor thing I have issues with. Big issues. So this is more anti-that than anti-Taylor. Feedback is always welcome. Thanks for reading!

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She wasn't tall enough. Even in heels (which she had never had to wear) she didn't match his height. Her hair was the wrong colour; the fringe was all wrong. Her style was different, her perfume (she rarely wore any), her taste. She tasted of strawberries, from what he could remember. It was a bit of a blur, or simply blanked out (she had tasted of peaches).

Unsure Seth found New Ryan repetitively punching the bag, the white strips of fabric around his knuckles a deepening red colour. Enquiring what was wrong, the only response he managed to catch involved 'strawberries', 'peaches', and 'wrong'. So Unsure Seth did what General Seth did best, and proceeded to tell New Ryan the story of his travels to Providence, how Real Summer was actually a collision of Old Summer and New Summer, and that he hoped that there was still enough of Old Summer there. He was worried that Real Summer and Old Seth weren't as well matched. He feared that Old Seth wasn't enough for Real Summer; and Old Seth didn't know how to change, or even if he wanted to.

New Ryan wasn't listening. (He was too busy thinking, or trying not to think, about her.)

She came by, again, with another torte (she'd never known how to cook). They were damn good tortes, but that was the problem. He told her he was tired, and trying to limit his intake of sugar. Said he ate enough bad food at work, every meal seemed to consist of tortillas. (He'd give anything to go to the diner again and eat unhealthy chilli fries with her.)

He listened the next time Unsure Seth needed to talk. Seth-Ryan time couldn't really be Seth-Ryan time if New Ryan's mind was elsewhere. He reassured Unsure Seth that Old Seth and Real Summer could still work. (He wished she was still around, even if she was a new-she.)

He ignored the fact that they had been beautifully incompatible. He had always believed that one day, one day, they would finally become compatible. Because that made sense in his eighteen-year-old mind. But he was sure that it would have made sense in his thirty-year old mind (if she had still been around). Now none of it made sense, and he struggled with the reality that his beloved dream of him and her would never lead to they (because she wasn't around anymore). He wondered what would now be in his thirty-year old mind. He hoped it wouldn't involve things like her (instead things like her).

Real Summer mentioned her the other day. And her, for that matter. Apparently she had told Summer about his heroic rescue mission. He didn't need to tell Summer that the only thing that had consumed his thoughts since then was what she would have thought. She wouldn't have been pleased. (God, how he wished she was around to not be pleased.)

She visited him at work the following week. She wasn't having any of his needing to work excuses, and happily sat herself down at the bar, content to yap away at him as he went about his duties. She had no idea. Either that, or she refused to think about how hard it must have been for him to rescue her in light of her. She didn't want to think about that, and so she didn't.

He brushed past her on the way to a table and smelt it – peaches. She smelt of peaches (only she was allowed to smell of peaches). He muttered some words to his boss, hoping that they were the right ones, and ran from the restaurant without a look back. He could hear her confusion.

He found himself at the beach (she had loved the beach). He removed his shoes, felt the gritty sand between his toes. His mind flashed back to every moment he could remember where he had been there and she had been with him. Or the four of them; Old Seth and Old Summer had often been there, too. Walking. Talking. Laughing. Crying.

She had followed him. He told her to stay a fair distance away. She smelt of peaches, he said, and that was wrong. She didn't understand; he'd said that peaches were his favourite fruit. Her face dropped as she learned that she had smelt of peaches, always, and that this was the reason. It had nothing at all to do with the fruit. Apologising, she took a step forward; he took a step back and asked her, as nicely as he could because it wasn't her fault, if she could leave. She did, phone to her ear already – probably calling Real Summer to tell her what a stupid mistake she'd made, not realising that anything he said, reacted to, thought, felt… would almost always come back to her. Real Summer would probably say that she knew exactly how that felt (New Summer never would have; Old Summer wouldn't have had to).

Real Summer must have phoned Unsure Seth, because suddenly he was there, climbing the wooden ramp up to the spot. So much had happened at the spot. So much of it Unsure Seth didn't know about because it was half locked inside New Ryan and half wherever she was now. It was divided, never to be put back together again. This time it was Seth-Ryan time that focused on New Ryan; Unsure Seth still doing most of the talking but very little of it involving Real Summer. New Ryan didn't know how to put in to coherent sentences what his world felt like without her. So he didn't try. Because Unsure Seth knew almost as much as what New Ryan did – which wasn't much, other than that it was wrong.

So New Ryan did what he could – he told Unsure Seth what it was he desperately missed in his life. He missed her voice. He missed eating chilli fries with her; he missed her hair, her laugh, her touch. He missed her smile, her teasing, her ideas, her big plans, and her promises that they would make it. He missed the promise that they would make it someday.

He missed her smell of peaches.

The sun was setting, and it reminded him that her hair had reflected the light as much as the ocean had. Now she was so far away from the sun, he wondered whether the heat even reached her. Unsure Seth sat by him, telling New Ryan (Broken Ryan) stories of how she had embarrassed him, in front of Old Summer no less, involving mentions of a Star Wars convention. Even Unsure Seth would give anything for her to be around to do so again.

They would have made it, New Ryan (Broken Ryan) said. Unsure Seth agreed he was sure that they would have.

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Fin

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