Disclaimer: I don't own any part of The OC.
A/N-This was written for the Fireplace Writing Challenge 3: The Butterfly Effect, in which a canon event had to be changed. I used a rather common event to change, having Marissa survive the accident. Thanks to Meg for editing for me.
They all watched through the glass, their faces frozen with fear, anger, sadness, a whole mix of emotions. She lay there, looking lifeless. She was still alive, slowly clinging onto her life, just barely.
Marissa was lucky. Ryan, by some miracle, had been able to get her to the hospital in enough time. The doctors said if it had been just a few more minutes, she wouldn't have lived.
Taylor stepped away from the crowd, feeling slightly uncomfortable standing there. She had been with Seth and Summer, telling them she was no longer going with Sung Ho when they had gotten the call. She had tagged along with them, obviously concerned about Marissa. She just now felt awkward being here with those who were actually close to her. They were all crowded around the window, watching their precious Marissa cling to her life.
She moved her gaze from the group at the window. Her eyes landed on Ryan, sitting on one of the chairs, his head buried in his hands. Sandy was sitting next to him, obviously trying to be a comfort to Ryan.
Taylor felt her heart go out to Ryan. She had never really felt any sorrow for this boy, secretly thinking that he was a bad seed, one to not be associated with. She couldn't help that this is what she had been told by her mother since the time he had arrived. She had always made snide comments about the Cohens taking Ryan in, especially in the beginning. She had, at that point in her life, gone along with everything that her mother had said. This year though, she had learned more about Ryan, though her old thoughts were still kept in the back of her mind.
Today she was seeing him in a different light. She was seeing him as someone who was scared that he was going to lose someone that he obviously loved very much, someone who was guilty, thinking he could have done more.
She didn't know why, but she started to walk towards him. Sandy had moved away, muttering something about going to get coffee, and Taylor took his seat. Ryan looked at her, then continued in his original position. She knew that he thought it was weird that she was sitting there. She even thought it was weird that she was sitting there next to him. She didn't move though. She sat with him, while everyone else watched through the glass.
Taylor bounded into the Cohen's kitchen, her cheerfulness radiating to everyone. They all looked at her, happy to have something happy come into their lives, if only for a brief minute. Seth had been sulking around for the past few days, Summer having gone back to Brown two days before. Taylor coming to the house brought some much needed change in pace, considering that Seth wasn't the only one sulking and wallowing. Ryan was very distant from his whole family ever since the accident.
It had been five months since the accident and Taylor knew that it stayed with Ryan everyday. Marissa was still alive, yes, but she had been in a coma since that day. The doctors had said there was a chance of her waking up, though they didn't know how long that would be or if it would ever really happen.
Ryan blamed himself for the accident and for the inability to be able to find Volchok and kill him, which is what he truly wanted to do. Volchok had disappeared immediately after the accident and Ryan hadn't been able to go and find him.
He had tried to move away from the Cohens and his friends. He had wanted to shut them out of his life. He had told them that if it wasn't for him, Marissa would be in Greece happily with her father.
Somehow Taylor had been able to talk him into going back home. It had happened the day after she arrived home from France, after leaving because of her horribly impulsive marriage. She had run into him at a bar that she had decided to go to, mostly to wallow in her own self-pity, something she didn't do often. He had been working and she had started a conversation with him. Well, it wasn't really a conversation. It was more of a her telling him her life story and him just nodding his head, pretending he was listening when in reality he was thinking of the next fight he was going to be involved in.
Taylor had somehow managed to turn the conversation to all that had been going on his life. He actually started opening up, not a lot, just mentioning a few things here or there. She put the skills that she had picked up from years of therapy to use and talked to him about everything. At the end of the conversation, after three hours of talking, he decided to move back home and to try to move ahead with his life.
Taylor had started spending a lot of time with Ryan. She wasn't in college, he wasn't, Summer was gone, and Seth was just…Sethlike. By default, she needed a friend to tell about her failed marriage and give details of what had happened.
During the times that they had been hanging out, not much had changed. Ryan still blamed and hated himself, still having a difficulty with spending time with his family. Taylor was still her normal self or as normal as she could be considered.
One thing had changed and that had been her feelings for Ryan. She started feeling more than friendly feelings for him after a couple of times of them hanging out together. She had tried to repress them, knowing that he was in no way ready for a relationship, plus she was still going through her divorce. Still, the feelings came and now she found herself head over heels for the boy who she had once thought nothing of.
Despite this, she still went to see him, masquerading as a friend, though wanting to be his lover. It was working, she was almost positive that no one could tell she had feelings for him.
"Good morning Taylor," Kirsten greeted her with a warm smile.
Taylor returned the smile. That was something she liked so much about the Cohen house. They were nice to one another. It was so different than the house that she had grown up in, so it was nice to see that not everyone was like her own family. "Hey Kirsten. Is Ryan in the pool house?"
Kirsten nodded. "Do you think that you could bring him some coffee?"
"Of course," Taylor grabbed the coffee cup that was handed to her and started her short trek to the pool house. She could hear a conversation going on behind her between Sandy and Kirsten and heard the words 'Taylor likes him' being said more than once but was distracted by what she was seeing through the glass of the pool house.
Ryan was sitting on his bed, staring down at his phone. He had a somber look on his face and she knew that something was up. She quickened her pace to get to him.
She opened the door without knocking, anxious to find out what was going on or if anything even was. He didn't look up when she opened the door and she cleared her throat, wanting to make her presence known to him.
He looked up at her, a bewildered look in his eyes for a second. Neither said anything until Taylor couldn't take the long silence any longer (despite the fact that it had only been less than a minute without talking).
"Here." She shoved the cup of coffee out to him. "I brought you some coffee."
"Thanks." He took the cup from her and placed it on the table next to him. He didn't say another word and Taylor realized that she was going to have to pry, though that really wasn't anything new.
"Did something happen? Because from the look on your face and the fact that you are slightly more unresponsive than you normally are total sends signals that something is up with you."
She wasn't finished with her ramble just yet. "I understand though, if you don't want me to know what is going on with your life. After all we are nothing more than friends, something that is very clear to me and to you and to everyone. Sometimes friends want to keep secrets from one another."
"Taylor, Volchok's dead."
This statement even rendered her speechless for a good minute. Finally, she was able to find her voice once again.
"Volchok died of a drug overdose. Julie Cooper just called me. She's had a private investigator tracking him for the past few months and she just got the call that he died."
"Wow. That's…good. It's good right? We wanted him dead."
"The only part that would have made this any better is if I could have had one last go at him before."
Ryan stood up and picked up his jacket then looked at Taylor. She was almost surprised to see a hint of a smile on his face, the first one she had seen since they had started their friendship. She was almost certain that it was the first one in five months.
"Do you want to go with me?"
He didn't have to say where he was going. She knew he was going to see Marissa, he went everyday. It was the first time he had invited her to go with him and something about him asking her made her feel special, like he actually wanted her friendship. It was the first time she was definitely assured of this fact.
"Sure," she replied.
As soon as he heard her reply, he was out the door. She smiled as she watched his retreating figure through the glass. She then followed him to a place she had never gone before.
"No, no, this doesn't work," Taylor threw yet another dress onto the floor. She had never created such a mess before in her life but this was an important day. She was about to go on her first date with Ryan.
Okay, so he had never actually said it was a date. He had just asked her to go with him to some sort of big Newport party. Summer was back in Newport after her expulsion from Brown so he no longer had Seth to hang out with, so he had asked Taylor to keep him company.
She had thought that she had the perfect dress, but then she found a stain in the corner of it, very noticeable. Then she had another one but her mother's voice kept echoing in her head every time she looked at herself, the voice telling her that it made her butt look fat. Fifty outfits later and most had come to the same conclusion as the first ones she had put on.
"Whoa, Taylor, it looks like the mall exploded in here or something." Kaitlin came into the room, already dressed and ready to go to the party.
"Well these things happen when you can't decide what to wear for your first date but not really date with Ryan." Taylor picked up a discarded dress. "What about this one? Do you think that this color washes me out?"
Kaitlin rolled her eyes at Taylor's antics. She picked up a red dress off of the floor and handed it to Taylor. "He'll love you in this and if it is really not a date, then this will have him wishing it was."
"You really think so?" Taylor looked at the red dress doubtfully.
"I know so."
Taylor didn't know why she was taking advice from a fifteen year old, but decided that it was the best idea. Unfortunately, Kaitlin had a lot more experience with boys than Taylor could ever dream of so she was just going to accept it all.
She finished getting dressed and fixed her hair and makeup for the fiftieth time that evening. She was finished just in time, as Kaitlin came to her to tell her that Ryan was downstairs waiting.
"…I think that she might just wake up soon. I have a really good feeling about this." Julie and Ryan were talking about Marissa, as the two usually did. It took a minute for Ryan to realize that Taylor had entered the room, but when he did, he had the reaction Kaitlin had been talking about.
She made small talk with him, Julie, and Kaitlin before they left. She, for once in her life, had nothing to talk about. She wasn't sure what to say to him. She could tell that his mind was wandering too, considering he didn't even try to make it less awkward, which he sometimes did. She wondered if he was thinking about what Julie had said about Marissa before, if he was thinking that it might really be true.
She pushed that thought from her head and decided to just concentrate on the evening ahead of her. She wanted to have a good time and she wanted him to have a good time.
They arrived at the party, mingling with the usual guests. Taylor realized that if this was a date, things were not going so well. They were barely talking to one another and if they did it was just weird. This was not how she wanted things to go at all.
"I'm going to go get some fresh air," Ryan said after awhile of them not speaking.
Taylor shook her head as she watched Ryan walk outside. This night was a complete failure. This just convinced her that she was undateable.
She felt someone next to her and she wasn't surprised to see Kaitlin standing there.
"What do you want Kaitlin?" Taylor questioned.
"How's your date going?"
"How does it look like its going?"
"Yea, I noticed that. I think perhaps talking to him would you know, make it more bearable."
Taylor groaned. "I can't! It's impossible. We are just not compatible or at least he thinks so. I don't know why I ever thought that we could work as a couple."
"Taylor, just go outside and talk to him. He obviously is thinking about how horrible it's going." Kaitlin gestured through the glass, where they could see Ryan leaning over the railing, staring into space. "Just go and talk to him."
She gave Taylor a little push towards the door and she continued slowly towards him. She wasn't sure if she wanted to talk to him or not or if he wanted to talk to her. Kaitlin may have said that he was thinking of her but for some reason, she thought that he might just be thinking of Marissa.
She decided to suck it up and talk to him. He needed to know how she was feeling, something that she hadn't made clear to him at all. She wasn't sure if he wanted to know or if he even cared to know but she was going to tell him.
"Ryan," she got his attention immediately. "Okay, listen. I like you a lot and have for a while. I even, weird as this is, pretended that tonight was a date. And I've pretended a lot of stuff that we've done together was a couply type thing, like when I helped with the insomnia thing a while ago and all the other things. It's because I want us to be a couple. And I was really hoping that you wanted that too and I thought tonight we could take a step in that direction but apparently-"
Taylor was cut off from her rant as Ryan kissed her, taking her completely by surprised. After her initial shock, she kissed him back, finally realizing that something was going right.
"Does that mean that you like me too?" Taylor asked when he had pulled away. "Then was this really a date? And-"
"Taylor. Just stop talking for once."
Taylor nodded her head, smiling at him. "I think I can do that."
Taylor woke up when she felt the shift of weight in the bed. She knew that Ryan had gotten up to go somewhere and she knew where he had gone to.
It had been about six months since they had started to date. It had been an interesting six months, many ups and downs occurring throughout their relationship.
Taylor had realized about three months into the relationship that something was wrong. It wasn't a big thing, or so she thought, there was just something bothering her. Ryan seemed so distant from her sometimes, like his mind wasn't all there.
She finally realized it one time when she went to visit Marissa in the hospital. She had realized then that he wasn't over Marissa, that he still loved her. All the times that he had said he had loved her, there was a possibility he was thinking he was saying it to Marissa instead. It seemed like he wished she was Marissa, that Marissa was the one he was kissing, that Marissa was the one laying next to him, that Marissa was the one he was making love to.
It hurt some days to think of it that way. She let it go because then she remembered she was the one with Ryan and she was the one that he had. There were days that she was thankful that another day went by and they didn't get a phone call saying Marissa had woken up.
She hated that she was still competing with Marissa, despite the fact that she was just hanging on to her life. It made her feel terribly guilty that she was even doing that.
She pulled the sheets up, flipping over to her side. She peeked an eye open, seeing Ryan out of the corner of her eye, staring out the open window of the pool house. It was still night and she wasn't sure what he was doing up.
"Ryan," she called softly. She sat up and stared at him. "Are you going to come back to bed?"
"I just got a phone call." His voice was hoarse, almost like he had been crying.
Then she realized. A phone call at this time could only really mean one thing. It had to be something with Marissa. She closed her eyes briefly and feared that something terrible had happened.
"She woke up."
Taylor could hardly believe that these words came out of his mouth. Marissa had woken up. She didn't know how to take this.
"Julie's coming to pick me up. We're going to the hospital."
As he said this, in the distance they could hear a horn beeping. He walked over and gave Taylor a long kiss, then left the pool house.
As she watched him walk away through the glass of the window, she realized that he was not going to be coming back to her. Marissa would always be number one in his life. Taylor had just been the girl who was there while he was waiting for his number one to come back to him. Now he had her back again.
He was just leaving another girl with a broken heart.
Taylor shifted nervously as she walked into the room. This was going to be awkward, this much she knew. All the meetings in the past few months had been awkward, but today was going to be even worse than before. Today she was going to have to see Ryan for the first time in five years.
That night that Marissa had come out of her coma, Taylor had left him. She had gone to France, back to Henri-Michel and back to a life that she hated. She stayed with Henri-Michel for only one reason. She would like to say that she loved him and that was the reason they were still together, but that would be a lie. She was only with him because he loved her more than anything or anyone and would do anything for her.
Today, though, she was not in France with her husband, she was in Newport. It was Seth and Summer's wedding and she was Summer's maid of honor. She was still surprised that she had been picked over Marissa. Marissa wasn't even in the wedding, only for the reason that she was pregnant and didn't want to be in the wedding mainly because of this. There were other reasons, reasons that were not disclosed to Taylor but she was okay with that. She liked to pretend that she was Summer's first choice, she liked to think that she wasn't once again second best to Marissa.
Marissa had attended all of the fittings with them and had helped pick out the dress. Taylor didn't enjoy the time that they spent together, it was weird to her. It was especially weird when she realized that Marissa had no idea that she and Ryan had ever dated. She had cried after hearing that he had never told her, that he pretended it had never happened.
Today she had to face the man she was still in love with for the first time in five years. It was going to be horrible, that much she had known since Summer had called her and told her she was going to be the maid of honor. Taylor had almost wanted to tell Summer no, she had something going on, but she couldn't bring herself to do that to Summer, her only best and true friend.
Now she was standing there, waiting to walk down the aisle, Ryan standing up at the alter. As the music started, she wished more than anything that this was her wedding to Ryan.
The wedding started and Taylor managed to avoid eye contact with Ryan throughout basically the whole ceremony. He caught her gaze once and gave her a smile. She returned it only to be polite.
Once the ceremony was over and the pictures had been taken, Taylor had wanted to bolt. Unfortunately, her plane back to France wasn't until tomorrow. She decided to stay outside for a while in the fresh air.
She looked inside the reception hall and watched the happiness surrounding the group. She saw Seth and Summer, constantly smiling at one another and she was pretty sure that she saw them sneak off to the coat room, which really didn't surprise her.
Through the glass, she saw Ryan and Marissa. Ryan looked at Marissa with complete joy, joy that Taylor wished she was causing. She wished that she was the one sitting in that chair, she wished she was pregnant with his child.
She turned her head away from looking at them and when she looked back, Ryan was staring directly at her. He smiled once again at her and gestured for her to come inside, Marissa imitated his motions.
Taylor got up, but she didn't go inside. Instead she walked away. She was leaving, unable to stay and watch the man that she loved pretend nothing had ever happened, pretend that they were nothing. She was going to go back to France and she never intended to come back.