Emily wandered around the Bait Shack trying to escape the watchful eye of her brother. She wanted a drink and they were easy to score if you were a girl and weren't being watched like a hawk. It wasn't even so much that she wanted a drink. She was just getting a little sick of Ryan policing her. Ever since he picked her up at the Fountain Street house, he was just always there. They were only thirteen months apart. It's not like he had all this worldly experience to impart to her. They had had the same crappy childhood and were equally able to handle anything that came their way. In fact, it was just in the last couple of years that Ryan had an advantage over her in a fight. She usually won when they were younger and it wasn't because he let her. She briefly considered picking a fight with him now so she could storm off. She decided against it because he might just drag her home and the evening would be cut short for everyone.
Speak of the devil, she thought as Ryan once again honed in on her in the crowded club.
He handed her a Coke. She glanced in it as he said, "It's just Coke."
"Thanks," she said. He heard the edge in her voice. God, she was in a mood tonight.
"Where's Marissa?" she asked. Marissa would have some liquid fun with her.
"On the wagon tonight," he informed her not giving in to her obvious desire to argue.
"Not what I asked, Ryan." She rolled her eyes at him.
Ryan was not in the mood for a fight tonight. Emily had a quick temper, but so did he and things could get way out of hand rather quickly when the two of them went at it. Fortunately, over the years he had learned to navigate her somewhat mercurial moods.
"C'mon lets try to de-suck this night," he said and put his arm around her to steer her upstairs.
She wrinkled her nose and grinned. "Did you just say de-suck?"
"I'm sorry. Is it un-suck? I always get those two confused."
"Funny. Don't quit your day job, Ry."
He knew if he was back to Ry and not Ryan, she was in a better mood already. They set off to find the others and head upstairs. They caught up with them and the five of them headed up the stairs. At the first landing, they heard Weezer's Beverly Hills. Emily loved this song. She and Ryan thought it was hilarious considering they were from Chino.
She held her hand out to Ryan. He took it and they did a little dance. Ryan was not a dancer and they were in the way so they started back up the stairs, Emily and Ryan in the lead.
"I guess this is your song, isn't it?" sneered Nick Hammond. "You and your slutty little sister."
Marissa put a hand on Ryan's arm when she saw him stiffen at the remark. Nick Hammond was a world class douche and she didn't want him to get in trouble for fighting again.
"What did you say?"
But it wasn't Ryan who spoke.
"What did you say, you stupid prick?"
It was Emily. She was livid.
"You heard me you white trash little bitch," he taunted. His friends laughed.
Without warning, Emily drove her fist into his face. She felt a sickening crunch as he doubled over, blood pouring out. Everything just stopped for a second.
Nick's buddies rushed forward as Seth yelled, "Run!"
The five of them raced down the stairs, shoving their way through the packed dance floor and out the door. Nick's friends were close behind. They hurled themselves into the Range Rover and were pulling the doors closed as Ryan tore out of the parking lot, tires squealing.
Ryan slowed down when he realized they were not being followed.
"What the hell was that?" he yelled, glancing in the rearview mirror at the same time Seth turned to the back and said, "That was awesome!"
Emily flicked her eyes quickly at Seth, but refused to look at her brother. She remained silent. Her adrenaline was still flowing and she was still pissed.
"Do you think she broke his nose?" he asked Ryan.
Ryan shot him a warning look. He was not ready to discuss this with anyone but Emily. And by discuss he meant yell. She just doesn't think.
Emily finally looked up and caught Ryan's eye in the rearview mirror. He was obviously not happy with her and she was just daring him to say something. He drove around for a little while. It was too soon to go home without arousing some suspicion and he was hoping to calm Emily down. After the initial shocked silence, the girls and Seth once again began chattering away. Ryan gave short one word responses. Emily remained silent, staring out the window, wishing she could escape.
Eventually, Ryan turned the SUV toward home. He dropped Summer and Marissa off at Summer's house. He barely had the car in park before Emily jumped out and headed toward the house. Ryan let her go. There was no point in trying to talk to her when she was like this.
Emily entered the house with the boys not too far behind. She was heading upstairs, the boys to the living room when they heard, "Hold it!"
All three of them stopped and turned around to find Sandy Cohen standing there with the cordless phone in his hand.
"Would anyone like to tell me why I just got a call informing me that the Hammond's won't be pressing charges, but I will be getting a bill for their co-pay?" he asked.
None of the three of them spoke.
"Don't look at me," Ryan answered.
"Yeah," Seth chimed in, "Talk to Muhammed Em-Ali over there!"
Ryan and Emily both glared at him. Sandy looked slightly confused.
"You two," he said to Seth and Ryan, "Disappear."
He pointed Emily in the direction of the kitchen, "You. Sit."
Emily sat on one of the barstools as directed. She looked down at her shoes. Her hand was beginning to throb. She hadn't been in a fight in a while. She forgot how much it hurt to hit someone that hard.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?" Sandy asked reaching into the freezer and handing her a bag of frozen peas.
Emily put the bag on her hand, but remained silent still looking down. Her hair hung in front of her face, so Sandy had even less idea what she was thinking than with Ryan.
"You broke his nose," Sandy continued.
Emily looked up at him, a surprised look on her face. She wasn't sorry.
"I'm guessing he probably won't be telling too many people that he got his nose broken by a girl."
"He had it coming," Emily shrugged.
Sandy wasn't sure how to respond to that. She was more defiant than Ryan, but at least she was honest.
"That may be, but you can't just go around punching people in the nose."
"Because I'm a girl?" she asked annoyed.
"Because it's not right," Sandy was trying not to lose his patience.
"I'm still not sorry," Emily said and hopped off the barstool. "Are we done?"
Sandy sighed and said, "For now. Go on up to bed." He couldn't help smiling to himself at her boldness. And he knew Nick Hammond. He probably did have it coming.
Emily headed upstairs grateful that Ryan was nowhere in sight. She was drained. It was late and the adrenaline had definitely worn off. She didn't have the energy to fight with her brother right now. It could wait until tomorrow. He really could just save it. She knew what was coming. You don't think. You can't punch everyone who pisses you off or say the first thing that pops into your head. Blah, blah, blah. Like he's never been in a fight in his life.
Emily awoke much earlier than she would've liked. She wondered if Ryan was up. They had kept similar hours and shared a room for so many years that it wasn't uncommon for them to awaken at the same time even if they were apart. Emily rolled over and sighed. If he was up, she wanted to avoid him. And the Cohens. And life in general for a while. She pulled the covers over her head and went back to sleep.
Eventually, she had to get up. She sighed as she hauled herself out of bed to brush her teeth and get dressed.
Emily started down the stairs and toward the kitchen. She wasn't expecting to see Sandy on the couch. She frowned a little, but didn't turn back.
"Hey, kiddo, I thought you left with the boys," Sandy greeted her.
"Figured I was grounded," she shrugged.
"Oh, yeah. The nose thing. I guess you probably should be," Sandy smiled.
"So Ryan's not here?" she asked.
Noting the relief in her voice, Sandy replied, "You're avoiding him I take it."
She shrugged again and wondered if she really was grounded or not.
Sandy patted the chair next to the couch. Emily took a seat, but stayed silent wondering if she was about to get in more trouble.
"Why don't we hang out for a while since I guess you're grounded. Consider it part of your punishment," Sandy joked.
Emily hadn't spent much time with Mr. or Mrs. Cohen. She called them Sandy and Kirsten as they had requested, but in her head they were Mr. and Mrs. Cohen. It was less personal. She didn't share much of herself and the only person she really trusted was Ryan. And even he sometimes got the edited version of events.
"I gotta admit when I got the call I assumed it was Ryan. Who knew you could throw a punch like that?"
"I got a lot of practice with Ryan and Trey," Emily said with a small smile.
"I guess you and Ryan are more alike than I thought."
"I'll pay back the money for the co-pay," Emily promised.
"Don't worry about it. I know Nick Hammond. I'm sure he did have it coming. Can I ask what put you over the edge?"
"I don't know," she admitted, "Ryan always tells me I don't think. I guess he's right. He's constantly on my case lately. We were actually having a good time for once. Usually it's Ryan that punches first and asks questions later."
"Ryan is a little overprotective, huh?"
Emily held up her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.
"Getting a bit much at the moment?"
"It's been a bit much for fifteen years."
"He was really worried when we couldn't find you. We all were," Sandy told her.
Emily mulled this over for a bit. It hadn't occurred to her that anyone other than Ryan would ever worry about her. No one ever had.
"I can take care of myself," Emily said.
"I don't doubt that," he answered, "But you shouldn't have to."
She had never thought about that either. There had never been any other options.
"Doesn't much matter when there's no choice," Emily replied.
"No, I suppose that's true," Sandy agreed, "But you don't have to anymore, Emily."
"I don't know how to not take care of things myself," Emily admitted. It surprised her that she would even say the words aloud.
"We'll start small," Sandy said, "Have you ever seen The Godfather?"
"No," she said a little confused.
"I was just about to start the trilogy. We're going to spend the day with the mob. See how I just made that decision for you?" Sandy smiled at her.
Emily laughed, "OK."
"You're going to love this. Brando is amazing," he said as he grabbed the dvd.
"Hey, Sandy," Emily said, "I know one way Ryan and I are different."
"Yeah," she grinned at him, "I win my fights."
Sandy laughed and they settled in for an afternoon of couch surfing. After a couple of hours, Sandy asked Emily if she was hungry. He paused the movie to order some food. They were getting back into the movie when Seth and Ryan arrived home.
Sandy paused the movie again, "Hey, guys, food should be here any minute and we're almost to Godfather II. Care to join us slackers?"
"I could eat," Seth said, "Ryan?"
Ryan shrugged and glanced at Emily. She was looking down at her hand. He wondered if it still hurt and felt bad that he wasn't the one to deck Nick. She looked up and caught Ryan looking at her. She crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out.
Ryan shook his head, smiled, and said, "Yeah, sounds good."
The doorbell rang and Sandy asked Ryan to help him grab the food. He payed the delivery man and handed Ryan some cartons. Before they headed back to the living room, Sandy stopped Ryan with a hand on his arm.
"Ryan, listen, it's ok to back off a little," he said.
Ryan looked a little confused at this.
He continued, "With Emily. It's ok. You can let Kirsten and me be the parents."
Ryan hadn't even thought about it before. He had just always looked out for her. That included getting onto her for doing something stupid.
"I guess I have been kind of on her case lately," he admitted.
"The Nick thing is handled. You don't have to worry about taking care of everything anymore," Sandy told him, "Just be her brother."
Ryan nodded and they made their way to the living room. Emily and Seth had gotten plates and they all got busy filling them. Emily plopped down on the floor and sat crosslegged next to Ryan. He nudged her with his elbow. She nudged him back with a grin. The uneasiness that had been between them since Fountain Street was finally beginning to dissipate.
Emily was getting a little sick of the Corleone's, but she was enjoying hanging out with what she was now starting to consider her family. Kirsten walked in to find the four of them sprawled across the living room, empty food containers strewn about.
"Good Lord, Emily, what do these boys have you watching?" she asked.
"The entire Godfather trilogy," Emily said making a face.
"Upstairs, Lifetime?" Kirsten asked.
"Yes, please!" Emily jumped up.
"Women just don't get it," Sandy said to the boys.
Kirsten and Emily both rolled their eyes as they headed upstairs for some girl time.
Later that night, Emily knocked on the door of the pool house and opened the door. Ryan was leaned up against the headboard, book in hand. Emily sat on the edge of the bed.
"Ok, Ry, I'm ready," she said.
"For..." Ryan asked.
"Let's see, how does this usually go," she began, "First, you have to pace for a minute, then when you're back is turned I give you the finger."
Ryan looked at her with a somewhat baffled expression mixed with amusement.
"Just trying to get all the details right," she grinned.
"Oh wait," she said and stood up, arms crossed over her chest, "I have to stand here silently fuming."
"What's next? Oh, I know it's - You just don't think, Em. Why can't you use you're head? You can't just punch every person that says something you don't like. I will roll my eyes at this because let's face it, you've been in way more fights. Then, I will mutter under my breath that at least I win occasionally."
"How am I doing so far?" she asked.
"Geez, Em, am I really that bad?" Ryan asked, laughing at her rather accurate portrayal.
"No. Sometimes you're worse," she smirked.
"Well, maybe if you used your head and didn't punch out jerks, I wouldn't have to be," he teased.
"I take after my older brother. I can't help it," she teased back.
"Are we good now, Em?"
"Yeah, and I'm sorry, Ry," she said, hugging him tight.
Ryan hugged her back and she added, "But not for breaking Nick Hammond's nose."
"I'm not too sorry about that either. Let's not make it a regular thing, though."
"For you, Ry, I can definitely promise a maybe on that."
"You're a real pain in the ass, you know that?"
"Love you, Ry."
"Love you, too, Em."