Set after "The Perfect Couple"

Set after "The Perfect Couple"

Ryan groaned as his alarm clock blared loudly in his ear, rudely announcing that it was time to start the day. He hadn't slept well the night before, he'd tossed and turned for hours, one minute burning with heat, the next shivering with cold. As he slowly came into consciousness he realized a headache was pounding at his temples. He groaned and sank back into the bed, he was definitely getting sick.

A minute later Seth bounded into the room, "Hey Ryan? You awake yet buddy?"

"Yeah Seth…" Ryan struggled to sit up and forced his eyes to focus on Seth, who seemed even more wound up than usual.

"So Ryan, there's something I gotta tell you."

"What's up man?" Ryan rolled his shoulders, trying to relieve some of the stiffness, but he knew it was a futile effort.

"I don't really know how to say this, so I'm just gonna come with it…" Ryan gestured, trying to speed up the Seth-Cohen-Speech-Process. "Summer Roberts kissed me." Seth broke into a grin, and gave a small giggle, obviously elated.

"Congrats Seth," Ryan smiled, genuinely pleased for his new brother.

"But I mean… there's Anna… And I don't know…"

"Seth? Can we talk about this on the way to school? Maybe after I've had some coffee?" Ryan begged for a respite from the way-too-early-in-the-morning-Seth-onslaught. Even when he was feeling his best he couldn't always handle his brother's energy.

"Right man!" Seth jumped up and bounced at the door. Ryan sighed and tried to get up from the bed, despite feeling like gravity was pulling him back down to the earth. He dragged himself into the shower and let the hot water splash over him, sucking the hot steam into his lungs, it felt good on aching muscles and he wasn't shivering anymore. Maybe he wasn't that sick. He got out of the shower and popped a few Advil, just to be on the safe side.

He was actually sort of looking forward to school, if nothing else, it meant he got to see Marissa. And in a strange way, he enjoyed school. It was a lot of work, but it was nice to be at a school where the teacher's actually cared about the students, and the all the students really cared about their work. Although he was working harder than he had ever worked in school before, it was a new and interesting challenge. He didn't want to miss school over what was probably nothing, and risk falling behind.

He wandered into the kitchen, where Kirsten stood at her usual station, manning the coffee pot. "Hey Ryan,"

"Hi,"

"Coffee?"

"Yes, please…" He took the coffee and settled himself on a kitchen stool, but made no move towards solid food. The coffee didn't taste right, and his stomach rolled slightly. He realized he should probably be drinking orange juice, but knew he would need the caffeinated energy, if for no other reason than to be able to handle the onslaught of Seth-drama he knew was awaiting him.

"Are you feeling okay, Ryan?" It took him a moment to register that Kirsten was talking to him.

"Yeah, fine. Just… didn't sleep well last night." He answered quickly.

"You look sort of pale,"

"I'm fine, don't worry about me." Ryan gave her a half-smile then scooted from the kitchen, and away from Kirsten's questioning gaze. He still wasn't used to parents who wanted to be so involved with his life, who were always so concerned about him. He knew they didn't mean to be obtrusive, and that their interest was actually "normal" parental behavior, but he still wasn't used to it.

"Did Ryan seem kind of quiet this morning?" Kirsten turned to Seth.

"Mom, he formed actual words, some even had more than two syllables. I'd say he was downright chatty."