After the Fall

A/N: I read a FF once that said there aren't nearly enough Ryan/Taylor FF out there, and I totally agree. So, here is another one. The beginning of this story is like the S4 episode with the earthquake. Please let me know what you like, don't like, etc.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, and there is no money to be made by me.


Chapter 1: The Earthquake

"I love you. And I don't want to lose you."

Taylor couldn't believe what she was hearing. Ryan-- Ryan flipping Atwood- had actually said it, and meant it. She wasn't drunk, and she wasn't conning him with paid homosexuals. He really loved her. He had admitted as much.

She couldn't wrap her mind around it. Somebody loved her-- Taylor Townsend-- and it wasn't a mistake. Or maybe it was, but she wasn't going to think about that now. She didn't want to kill her high.

Earlier that night, she had her reservations, well more than reservations actually. When she had opened the birthday gift from Ryan and it was a dictionary- a dictionary- her heart broke into a million pieces. Then after their talk, she decided, ok, maybe he did love her, but not enough to go to college with her. To possibly see a future with her.

It was devastating.

So it had been "Happy freaking birthday to her". She wished that she had just stayed home with Sixteen Candles and the Psychic Hot-line like every other year. At least the Hot-line didn't break her heart, well there was that one time, but-- anyway. Maybe she should have called the Hot-line before she went to her party, saved herself the grief and public humiliation.

But now, not two hours later, he was in her room, sitting on her bed, telling her again that he loved her. Her mind told her to be cautious because this could, and probably would, end badly. But her heart wouldn't let her. She was Taylor after all, and she had already planned a future with Ryan in her head despite her best efforts to control herself. She knew Ryan, and she didn't want to scare him off.

So she sat there, smiling a smile that she knew was big and goofy, not knowing what to say. When she told him as much he replied, "That's a first," with a hugely handsome grin on his serene face. He looked happy, and as unfathomable as it was, happy to be with her. It was almost too much for her to take in.

Taylor's mind continued racing, so she allowed her body to take over. If her motor skills weren't going to cooperate then she would have to rely on physical ones. She felt herself lean over and begin kissing him. The touch of his warm lips against hers caused her mind to calm, but her heart to speed up. All of the doubts began to slip away as she only concentrated on feeling.

Her body began to warm as her lips grew hungrier, more urgent for his. Her ears fell deaf as all she could hear was the pounding of her own heart-- and possibly even Ryan's.

Sure, she had been kissed many times... had even been married once, but she had never been kissed by anyone who cared for her before. She had always heard it was like feeling the Earth move, and now, in her one and only experience, she'd have to agree.

It didn't hit her right away what was happening-- that the ground literally was shaking.

It was an earthquake.

She backed away from his kiss and instantly his eyes met hers with the same wild bewilderment. Then she watched as what was happening hit him at the same time as it hit her.

"Get down." Ryan said calmly, without yelling like Taylor thought she would have done. His tone might have been calm, but she could feel his pulse through the death grip he had on her wrist. He was out-right scared.

The room began shaking more and more violently as the seconds stretched on.

Ryan pulled her onto the floor and covered her with his body. She found herself pinned stomach down, unable to see as glass broke and the world fell around her.

She didn't want to be a coward and panic, but she, in fact, wanted to. She'd been in earthquakes before, but for some reason, maybe because Ryan was with her, it terrified her even more. She never had to worry about anyone else getting hurt. Not even her mother, who was such a bitch - Taylor knew she would never die.

"Ryan." The word seeped out in a whisper before she knew it was coming.

"Shhh. Shhh. Taylor. It's gonna be ok." he had his lips to her ear, speaking as soothingly as he could. Taylor didn't buy it, but she wanted too. She knew he was as freaked as her.

"It's almost over. Almost over. Hang on." he repeated in a whisper to her ear as he held her even more tightly. Her mind knew it had probably only been minutes, but it felt like hours. Not able to take any more, she squeezed her eyes shut.

She felt Ryan lift off of her slightly and for a moment she thought it was over. She thought better, when he suddenly slammed himself back down to cover her and heard him yell, "NO!"

She didn't have time to wonder what was coming. She just shut her eyes even tighter, preparing herself for impact. Before she could put her arms up to help Ryan protect her head, she felt an ungodly pain searing through her.

And then her world stayed black.


It took him a few moments to realize that the shaking had stopped. The world was eerily quiet, and a few heartbeats later, the sirens started. He tried to move, but soon remembered that a very tall and very glass curio cabinet had fallen on his back. He struggled to lift it, but it was too heavy for him to budge. He was pinned between it and...


"Taylor?" He asked while easing up as much as he could which was maybe 1/2 inch. "Can you hear me?" his pulse began to speed up again, and he didn't know if his heart could take any more. "Taylor?" he called to her again, not wanting to believe that she wasn't moving. She was as still as a corpse... as still as Marissa had been.

Ryan ordered that comparison out of his head and focused on what needed to be done to help her.

"Wake up, Taylor." he shifted his weight to one hand and used the other to shake her gently.


From the moonlight coming from her window, he could see something glistening in her hair. His stomach lurched as he forced himself to touch it. As he felt the warm, sticky substance he found himself starting to panic.


He figured that he hadn't covered her enough after all and something had fallen on her. He hadn't protected her, but he sure as Hell wasn't going to lose her either. He didn't stop to say anything else to her. He figured it would be a waste of time since she was unconscious. He needed to get her out and get her help… now.

With a new surge of adrenalin, he pushed up with his shoulder causing the curio cabinet to move and an extremely sharp pain in his back nearly took his breath away. He had been so worried about Taylor that he hadn't even taken a moment to survey any potential injury to himself. The pain didn't subside so he assumed that it was bad, probably a cut, but he didn't have a free hand to check.

As the furniture began to move, it gave him just a little more leverage. He took a deep breath, counted to three, and used all of his strength to push it off of them. He was just about to give up when he felt it slide off his back and land on the floor a few feet away. He allowed himself one scream from the pain and frustration, then rolled off of Taylor to the little section of floor between her and the fallen curio cabinet.

Ryan laid there on his side, unable to catch his breath, unable to think for his back. He cut his eyes to the body beside of him. Despite everything, Taylor hadn't moved, hadn't spoken. He willed himself to sit up and even though the room was beginning to spin, he centered himself and instinctively felt behind him where the pain was coming from. When he felt a sharp, large piece of glass sticking out of him, he groaned. He didn't need this right now, not with Taylor hurt.

He made himself ignore his screaming body and focus only on getting her out of there. Taking another deep breath, he picked himself up off of the floor and kneeled beside her. Gently, he rolled her on her back. Her face didn't have a mark on it. In fact, she only looked to be sleeping. Only the blood trickling down the side of her face gave her condition away.

Ryan quickly checked her pulse, mentally cursing himself for not doing it sooner. It was weak, but it was there. He pulled out his cell phone to dial 9-1-1. There was no service. Cursing loudly, he carefully picked her up, his back loudly protesting, and cradled her in his arms as he exited her room looking for help.