Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of The OC. They all belong to Josh Schwartz.
A/N: This story takes place in the Pilot episode. It begins when Sandy is standing outside juvie with Ryan, and Dawn arrives to pick up her son. This is written from Sandy's perspective and everything in italics reflects his thoughts.
I wrote this in my head one night when I couldn't sleep. I hope you enjoy the fruit of my insomnia. :-)
The Wake Up Call
"Get in the car, Ryan!"
Sandy winces as he listens to the woman's shrill voice bark out an order to her son.
"Hi, I'm Sandy Cohen."
The Public Defender extends his hand as a friendly gesture to the angry, frazzled woman. He lowers his arm when his civility isn't acknowledged, then glances over at the teenager.
He looks embarrassed, Sandy thinks to himself. Embarrassed about his mother's behavior? He also looks dejected...
"I mean it Ryan! Get in the fuckin' car. Now!"
Sandy watches the boy walk to the car with his head lowered and shoulders slightly slumped; his fists jammed firmly into the pockets of his worn, leather jacket.
"Ryan, here... take my card," Sandy offers, stopping the boy before he gets into his mother's old heap. Sandy quickly jots down his cell number on his business card. "Call me if you need anything."
Sandy notices Ryan hesitate a moment, then the wary teenager throws him a sideways glance as he reluctantly takes the card.
The kid doesn't trust me... and I don't blame him. We just met.
"C'mon Ryan! I don't got all fuckin' day!"
Sandy wants to stop the boy from getting into the car, but he hesitates. What can he do? He's swamped with work. He knows he has a tall stack of new cases along with depositions waiting for him back at the office, and he needs to read through them. All of them. By tomorrow.
Both car doors slam shut. Sandy stands curbside and watches as Dawn guns the engine and peels out into the street with tires screeching. He begins walking back to his car. A feeling of dread suddenly comes over him. Sandy shrugs it off. He's tired. He's overworked.
The kid should be alright...
Sandy arrives at his dark blue BMW, opens the car door and tosses his briefcase onto the front passenger seat.
Then he hears it. Car horns blaring, more tires screeching, followed by the sickening sound of metal crashing into metal.
Sandy quickly shuts the car door and starts walking briskly towards the commotion; his pace quickening to a jog then a full run when he sees Dawn's rusted out sedan crushed by a full-size SUV.
Oh my god...
Police immediately take over the scene. A group of officers begin checking those involved in the accident to assess who's the most severely injured while the others implement crowd control.
The SUV driver, although shaken, emerges from his vehicle with a few scratches and minor bruises. Sandy can hear the man lamenting that the accident wasn't his fault. The sedan blew right through the red light. He couldn't stop in time.
Soon ambulances, with their sirens blaring, arrive from the nearby hospital. Sandy pushes through a throng of onlookers to see what's happening. He needs to know if the kid is alright.
Please be alright...
A fire truck arrives amid the chaos. Firefighters jump from their vehicle and immediately begin activating the Jaws of Life, a large hydraulic tool used to pry open a car when a victim is trapped inside.
Sandy notices the rescuers using the tool on Dawn's crushed car. He wipes his hand over his beleaguered face and waits anxiously for any sign of the boy and his mother.
Sandy sees the rescuers pull Dawn from the wreckage. She's conscious. He can hear her swearing up a storm as the paramedics strap her to a gurney and load her into one of the ambulances.
Then he sees the boy, unconscious and bloodied, and his heart sinks.
No! Oh my god... this can't be happening...
Sandy makes a quick dash towards the ambulance. He's immediately stopped by a young police officer.
"Sir, you need to step back."
"No, you don't understand," Sandy pleads. "I need to be with him."
"Are you the injured boy's father?" the officer asks.
"No, but I know him. When he wakes up, he's going to be scared, confused..."
"Alright, you can pass."
Sandy runs to the ambulance. "I need to ride with him," Sandy pleads to the paramedic.
"Are you family?" the EMT asks.
"No, we're not related, but I know the kid," Sandy replies, his eyes achingly earnest. "Please, let me ride with him. I promise I won't get in your way."
"All right, you can ride with him to the hospital," the paramedic says as he and his partner strap Ryan to the gurney and immobilize his neck with a thick brace.
Sandy jumps into the ambulance and sits off to the side. He can't help but keep his gaze fixed upon the injured boy. He finds himself unable to turn away. The blood. So much blood. Sandy watches as one paramedic places an oxygen mask over Ryan's nose and mouth while the other inserts an IV into his arm.
He looks lifeless... Please, God, you can't let him die...
Sandy listens as the paramedics report approximate age and weight, blood pressure, heart rate and other general health information to the hospital ER nurse. Then they report their ETA. Six minutes. Sandy wishes they could go faster but he knows the driver is going as fast as he can. It would do no one any good if they got into an accident, but still...
Please drive faster...
Sandy hangs onto a straphanger as the ambulance turns a corner. The blaring siren only adds to his mounting anxiety.
The ambulance pulls up to the Chino Valley Medical Center emergency entrance. Within seconds a team of doctors and nurses emerge from the ER. They immediately start wheeling their young accident victim through the doors towards a curtained-off room. One doctor shouts out orders to his staff while another interrogates the paramedics, making sure they have as much information as possible.
Sandy helplessly follows behind. He spots Dawn laying on a gurney being wheeled into the elevator.
"Excuse me, doctor," Sandy says, practically running into the man. "Will Dawn... Mrs. Atwood be alright?"
"We're bringing her up to do an MRI right now, but it appears her injuries are non-life threatening; a broken collarbone, mild concussion, broken right wrist and some badly bruised ribs," the doctor replies. "We're running a tox screen. Paramedics reported that they smelled alcohol on her breath. For the life of me, I don't understand why people drink and drive. But, like I said, nothing life-threatening. She'll live."
Sandy hears Dawn scream out a couple of more expletives as the elevator doors mercifully begin to close. He shakes his head in disgust. He knows if he was in a car accident with Seth, the only words that would come out of his mouth would be "where's my son, is my son alright, and when can I see my son".
Sandy immediately returns his attention to the bustling activity in the examining room. He watches as each person effortlessly performs their duties. He sees two nurses quickly remove the boy's clothing with safety scissors; one starting at the ankle and cutting up the legs of his pants while the other cuts through his bloodied t-shirt. Another nurse immediately drapes a white sheet over his body, then proceeds to check the IV line, making sure he's getting the fluids and medication the doctor has ordered.
Sandy listens to the beeping sound and glances over at the monitor. He knows "beeping" is good, but the numbers appear not so good. Blood pressure too low, blood oxygen too low, heart rate...
Suddenly the beeping sound disappears and changes into a constant earsplitting, high-pitched ring.
"We need to intubate!" the doctor shouts. "Where's the crash cart!"
Sandy immediately jumps out of the way as an orderly whisks the wheeled cart past him and into the curtained-off room. He watches helplessly as a young resident inserts the breathing tube down the boy's throat and attaches a bag at the end.
My god... why is this happening?
Sandy watches as CPR is performed. While one nurse squeezes the bag, trying to get air into the boy's lungs, another immediately begins chest compressions. Amid the chaos, he hears the doctor shout...
Instantly, the medical team lifts their hands off the boy and take a step back. The doctor places the paddle electrodes onto Ryan's bare chest. Sandy watches as the doctor releases the voltage into the lifeless boy; his body violently convulsing off the table as his heart is shocked with a bolt of electricity.
The earsplitting, high-pitched ringing continues.
But it should've worked. He's just a kid... he's strong...
Immediately, the medical team resumes CPR while the defibrillator recharges.
Again, the workers lift their hands and take a step back. The doctor places the paddles onto Ryan's chest and again the boy's body convulses up off the table.
And the earsplitting, high-pitched ringing continues...
Please, god... I'm begging you... don't let this boy die.
The nurses immediately resume CPR. And again the doctor yells, "Clear!".
Over and over and over again, the medical team labors to save the boy's life, alternating between CPR and the defibrillator.
"That's enough," the doctor announces wearily. "We've done all we can."
"No!" Sandy cries out. "You have to keep trying!"
"I'm sorry, sir," the doctor says with heartfelt sympathy. "We haven't been able to get a sinus rhythm in over thirty minutes. His brain has been deprived of oxygen for too long."
"But, there must be something..."
"I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry. The boy's injuries... there was too much damage to his organs, too much internal bleeding. There's nothing left that we can do."
Sandy's eyes fill with burning tears as he looks at the tired, dejected doctors and nurses slowly walk away in defeat.
"Time of death, 5:22 pm," the doctor states solemnly for the record.
Sandy stands in a state of shock. The ER has become eerily quiet. All the commotion, shouting and high-pitched noises from the monitor have ceased. He slowly walks over to the table and gently places his hand on Ryan's forearm. He looks down at the lifeless boy; the air tube still in his throat, blood splattered over his face and body. Sandy feels a tear fall from his eye and onto the back of his hand.
I'm sorry... I'm so very sorry...
Sandy blinks away more tears. He leans over and places his weary head upon the boy's chest.
Please forgive me...
Sandy lifts his head up off his desk when he hears his cell phone ring. He notices a pencil still perched between his fingers and the stack of depositions he was reading splayed slightly beneath his hand.
His cell phone rings again.
Sandy runs his hand over his face. His mind is foggy. He then suddenly remembers the accident, the hospital... the lifeless boy...
The phone rings a third time. Sandy glances down and sees "unknown" show up on the caller ID. Normally he doesn't answer those calls but something... he doesn't know what... but something compels him to answer.
"Um... Mr. Cohen?"
"Yes, this is Sandy Cohen," Sandy replies to the soft, hesitant voice. "With whom am I speaking?"
"Um... it's Ryan... Ryan Atwood?"
Sandy darts up from his office chair. "Ryan!" Sandy exclaims with relief, suddenly realizing he had fallen asleep while reading and it was all a bad dream.
"Um... you told me I could call..."
"Yes, of course," Sandy states. "Are you alright?"
"Um... my mom... she threw me out of the house. I don't have anywhere to go..."
"I'll come and get you," Sandy says, grabbing his suit jacket off the back of his chair. "Where are you? Are you someplace safe?"
"Yeah, I'm at a phone booth on Central Avenue just north of the park."
"I know where that is," Sandy tells the solemn boy as he snatches up his car keys off his desk. "You stay put. I can be there in..." Sandy glances down at his watch and sees it's 5:22 pm. A strange feeling comes over him but he immediately shakes it off. "It's rush hour but I should be able to get there in forty-five minutes."
"It's going to be alright Ryan," Sandy says as he leaves his office and walks briskly to his car. "I'm on my way. Just hang tight, kid... I'm on my way."
Everything's going to be alright.