Disclaimer - I don't own any characters!
"Ryan buddy just stay with me okay. Don't pass out again"
"I'm with you. I'm okay"
"Ryan I swear that's the like the biggest understatement of the century. Once we get out of here I'll teach you how-" craning his neck slightly he saw Ryan's eyes closed again "Ryan?" he called again. Seth knew Ryan was badly injured. There was blood everywhere and he could barely stay conscious long enough to finish a sentence.
"Yeah man I'm here"
"Okay just stay with me I hear sirens"
"Okay. You okay?"
"I'm fine. It's you I'm worried about. That's a lot of blood"
"It's fine. I'm fine." He knew it wasn't. He could feel himself losing too much to blood. Based on the metallic taste in his mouth he wasn't just bleeding on the outside.
"How did this even happen" Seth sighed
"I didn't even see the other car man I'm sorry" Ryan grunted
"Not your fault. Bright side is now we can so get the rents to buy us a new car"
"Yeah man definitely" if I make it he thought. Ryan's had his fair share of 'accidents', he's been through a lot but he knew what he was feeling wasn't normal. It was surreal. He was in excruciating pain but at the same time he felt nothing. He felt light, like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders
"Listen Seth. If I don't make it-"
"No man don't even start okay" Seth interrupted.
Before Ryan could carry on a voice called beside them "Hey you guys okay in there"
"Yeah just peachy thinking of doing this regularly" Seth answered sarcastically
"Sorry buddy. We're working on getting you of here. It won't take long okay" and before they knew it the man was gone. They could hear the large amount of people outside, there was definitely ambulances, police cars and the fire brigade. Which hopefully meant the man was right and they wouldn't be in here too long.
"Hey guys I'm Stacy. I'm a paramedic. I just want to make sure that before they go moving the car around you guys are stable okay"
"Okay" Seth said
"Good. Now can you tell me your names?"
"I'm Seth. He's Ryan"
"Ryan?" She called
"Ryan!" Seth said realising he hadn't heard from him in a while
"Yeah I'm fine. I'm okay" he said quickly realising they were talking to him
After taking their vitals and placing a neck brace around them she gave the fire brigade a nod to begin. "I'm gonna move so they can open the doors. You guys just hold on okay"
"Stacy" Ryan called
"Yeah" she replied sitting back down
He coughed and blood dripped out of his mouth. He leant in a bit closer to her ignoring the pain "I'm… I'm not gonna make it, okay" before she could cut in he carried on "I need you to make sure he's okay and that he doesn't see me die okay. Promise me" A tear escaped his eyes. If he could move he'd wipe them in an instant
"Ryan listen I know this is scary-"
"Why? What's happening?" Seth said panicking at the whispers
"Nothing Seth I'm okay"
He turned back to Stacy "please" he pleaded
She looked at him with sad eyes "I promise. But you're gonna make it okay." she said confidently and then moved out of the way.
The next 10 minutes were filled with a constant noise of metal on metal and people on both sides trying to open the jammed car doors.
Seth's opened first "no I'm not leaving without Ryan" he insisted
"Ryan's gonna be out any second." The man assured "I need you to just place your hands onto the roof while I cut the seatbelt out and we're gonna get you out okay son"
"Seth I'll be okay" Ryan nodded
Seth hesitated but then nodded and placed his hands on the roof. "I'll see you in a bit" he promised
"Okay man" Ryan said once he heard Seth being wheeled away he let a breath out loud. This was it. He knew it was. He just wished he could have said goodbye to Sandy and Kirsten. Let them know how much they meant to him. How they saved his life, showed him he deserved love. He wished he could explain to Marissa that even though they were broken up and just friends now she would always be his first love. That they had a connection that no one could beat. He wanted to spend one more day with her and Summer and Seth on the beach with a fire and just gaze at the stars with the ocean waves filling the beautiful silence. And with that image he closed his eyes.
Sandy and Kirsten had been up worrying about the boys not being home by curfew "I'm sure they just got held up. We'll just ground them when they come home"
"No sandy something's wrong. I can feel it" Kirsten had felt a tight knot the minute the boys didn't walk in at 11.
"Okay I'll call the girls ask them if they're still with them?" Kirsten nodded as she poured herself another cup of coffee.
After a few minutes Sandy sighed "They're not with the girls" he said putting the phone down.
"Sandy I'm telling you. I can feel it. Somethings not right" she knew. It sounded crazy but call it mothers intuition.
"I'll erm ill call bob down at the station tell him to check around" he said knowing not to go against his wife's gut.
It was now 12:30 and they hadn't heard anything "should we call hospitals?" Kirsten asked
"Honey-" just then the phone rang. Sandy jumped up "Hello?"
"I'm looking for Sandy and Kirsten Cohen"
"Speaking" he said putting the phone on speaker so Kirsten could hear.
"I'm sorry to inform you like this but your sons were involved in a car accident tonight. They've both been rushed down to HOAG"
"Are… are they okay?" Kirsten stammered
"I'm not sure ma'am. But you may want to get down there"
"oh god" she whispered
"We'll be right there. Thank you" Sandy called.
In record time Sandy and Kirsten ran into the hospital. "My sons. Erm its Seth and Ryan. We got a call-" he stuttered
"Mum. Dad" Seth called from behind them
"Seth, oh god" Kirsten cried hugging him
"Easy mum" he said wincing at the pain
"I'm sorry. Are you okay? Should you be up?" Kirsten asked
"Yeah they cleared me. I'm fine. I have erm some bruised ribs, a slight concussion and I sprained my hand" he listed sitting down
"Oh honey" Kirsten sighed as they sat opposite him.
"What about Ryan?" Sandy asked after taking in that one of his sons were okay.
"I don't know they said the doctors still with him. He was hurt a lot worse than me"
"I'm sure he'll be just fine" Sandy said in an attempt to ease his own mind.
"They… he erm… when we got out and they… I wouldn't-" Seth struggled
Kirsten got up and sat beside him putting an arm on his shoulder "it's okay. Just breathe"
Seth let out a breath trying to hold himself together "I refused to leave until I saw Ryan out of the car too. You don't understand he was bad like it- he…"
"it's okay baby. It's okay." Kirsten soothed looking up at Sandy. They didn't want to show to Seth but they were both terrified
"I'm gonna- I have to call Summer." Seth said after a minute he stood up and pulled out his phone.
It had been an hour and there was still no word on Ryan. Marissa was with Summer when Seth called so she came along too. And the five of them waited impatiently in the waiting room.
"Mr and Mrs Cohen" a voice called
"about time" Sandy muttered as they stood up.
Kirsten and Sandy walked to the man in the blue scrubs. Kirsten knew it wasn't good news as the knot only got tighter. Behind them Seth, Summer and Marissa stood wide eyed waiting for the news.
"I'm sorry. We did everything we could. Mr Atwood's injuries were too extensive."
Kirsten's and Marissa's sobs filled the silence in an instant
"I mean, what're you saying? That he's dead" Seth asked
"I'm sorry." was all the doctor responded
Seth laughed "No because it's Ryan. I think you've made a mistake." He said confidently
"Seth" Summer said wiping her tears
"No summer" he said shoving her off "no its not him. Ryan's fine. He told me so. In the car. He told me he was okay. I know he's okay" he insisted
Marissa only sobbed harder and Sandy hadn't made a movement since the news. Kirsten cleared her throat as best she could knowing her son needed her "honey the doctors, they tried everything-"
"NO MUM. HE'S ALIVE!" Seth shouted causing everyone else in the waiting room to stare "where is he I need to see him" he said turning to the doctor who was staring at him sympathetically
"He's supposed to be moved to the morgue. But I'm sure I can have you see him beforehand. If you'll follow me"
Summer was practically holding Marissa up at this point and Kirsten had to usher Sandy to move.
Once they reached outside the door the doctor warned them about how Ryan would look but Seth simply pushed passed him and opened the door.
He saw Ryan laying in the bed completely unmoving and pale. Aside from the paleness Seth had seen Ryan sleep like this in the pool house millions of times "you're okay" Seth whispered sitting down and taking Ryan's hand.
"Marissa" Summer shrieked as Marissa passed out and was then escorted out with Summer by her side.
Sandy stared blankly at the body in front him. This can't be Ryan. There's no way the kid I met that day in juvie ended up here. He felt Kirsten's tears soak through his shirt as she cried.
"I'm sorry but we really need to move him" A nurse said after five minutes. Kirsten nodded. She leant forward and kissed his forehead "you're in a better place now sweetie. I'll miss you" she whispered.
Sandy didn't say anything he just carried on staring blankly at the body "come on honey" Kirsten said pulling Sandy out.
Once Sandy was out Kirsten went back in for Seth "Seth honey we have to go" she said putting her hand on his shoulder.
He shrugged it off "I'm not leaving. I need to be here when he wakes up"
Kirsten put a hand on her mouth holding back her cries. She walked up to the nurse "can you give him just five more minutes please" the nurse nodded and they walked out.
"Can you believe they think you're dead" Seth said once the door shut. "I mean you'd never leave me. So you can't be dead" he carried on, placing his head down on Ryan's bed. "Don't worry man I won't let them take you away from me. I have your back. Just like you always had mine."
Five minutes later an orderly came back in "Sir I'm sorry but I'm gonna have to insist on you leaving now"
"He's not awake yet though. I have to be here when he wakes up"
"I'm sorry sir" the man said trying to usher Seth out
"No don't take him away. He's okay" he pleaded "Ryan open your eyes. Show them you're okay"
Summer witnessing this from the doorway sobbed having never seen Seth so broken "Seth, baby, just- why don't you come out. Let them work on Ryan okay" she tried
"They don't have to he's fine. He told me. He told me he was okay!" Another orderly joined them with security behind him "Ryan I won't let them take you away. I won't" he said crossing his arms in defiance
"We don't want to have to sedate you sir. Just please come out" the security officer reasoned stepping forward
"I can't let them take him away. I promise he's okay!" Summer watched as Seth fought as hard as he could trying his best to get away from the orderlies and security, he kept shouting to Ryan that he'll be back that he'll be here when he wakes up.
Kirsten threatened to sue to the hospital for sedating Seth in the manner that they did. Summer had to calm her down and convince her to go home and that she'd take care of Seth.
Seth had been discharged in the morning after waking up from his sedation. He woke up to Summer beside him. After signing the millions of forms they left.
"Do you think he's okay" Seth asked sitting in the car.
"I know. But do you think he's okay"
Summer bit back a sob "I think he's okay. I think he's watching over us saying it's no big deal" Seth just nodded
Seth walked into the house and was overwhelmed by emotions. How was he supposed to live here when it was filled with memories of Ryan. He remembered seeing Ryan place the stocking on their first Chrismukkah. And the boat they both sat on as they plotted to get Summer and Lindsey back.
"Oh honey. Are you okay?" Kirsten said hugging him breaking him from his thoughts
"Where's dad?" he asked
"He's in his office. Hasn't moved since we got back from the hospital last night" she said sadly. Seth nodded and walked upstairs without another word.
Kirsten sighed "it'll take time Mrs Cohen" Kirsten nodded and smiled "are you okay?" Summer asked knowing she was holding it together for everyone
"I'm trying. Need to be strong for them you know" she admitted.
Summer nodded "I'm here. If you need help or a break. It's okay to break down" Kirsten nodded and forced the lump in her throat back down
"Sandy?" Kirsten called walking into his office. "Sandy?" she said once more before realising he wasn't there. She saw the half empty bottle on the table and sighed. If this was two days ago the temptation would be gnawing at her. But now nothing. She walked to the window and saw the pool house lights was on. She desperately wished she didn't have to go in there. Seeing the place empty it'd just be too much. But she had to check on Sandy. She knew how much he was hurting. She walked into the pool house and saw him sitting on the bed with a file next to him and a card in his hand.
"Honey. Why don't you come to bed. You haven't slept" she said sitting down.
"He kept it" he said looking up at her. His eyes were red and puffy from lack of sleep and crying.
He handed her the card "It's the card I gave him that day after juvie. He… he kept it"
Kirsten quickly wiped the tear that escaped "he really loved you Sandy. Trusted you more than anyone"
"And yet he's dead. I brought him here to give him a better life. Make sure he got to live long enough to see that dreams can come true-"
"and you did. You changed his life. I know you did. We saw it. Think about the boy you met in juvie. And then think about all the progress he made"
"And for what. For a stupid car accident to kill him. To take him away from me" Sandy brushed his hand over his face and breathed in.
"What's that?" she asked pointing at the file
"you have a file on him?" she asked surprised she'd never seen it
"yeah it's confidential. But I guess it doesn't matter now" he sighed handing it to her.
She flipped through it skimming reports and pictures crying openly now "don't you see Sandy. This file could have got thicker. But you stopped it. The fact that he kept that card proves how much meeting you helped him"
Sandy just nodded numbly "I just wish he didn't have to go through so much. That kid went through too many horrible things. Horrible things he didn't deserve"
"I know honey. I know"
"How's Seth?" he asked wiping his face again
"About the same as us. Distraught. Hurt. I don't how to help"
"you can't. We just have to go through this pain. How about you? I know I haven't been much help"
"No we're all just dealing with it. I just I hope he knew how much I loved him. I know our relationship was iffy at the beginning but I loved him like my own son. I did. I just hope he knew"
"I'm sure he did honey. He's a smart kid. Was" he corrected
"I wish I talked to him more. He was such a quiet kid and I just wish we would have had more time to prove to him that he was ours" She sobbed. Sandy held her letting crying himself.
"He was ours. Still is. Always will be" Sandy said
"I can't believe he's really gone" she whispered.
The next morning came quickly. Kirsten stood in the kitchen and stared at the pool house waiting for it to open and Ryan to come out.
"Mum" Seth said breaking her thoughts
"No. But I'm trying. How bout you?"
"He tried to tell me you know. When we were in the car. He said if anything happened to him but I cut him off. I didn't even want to think of that as a possibility and now I'll never know what he was going to say."
"Oh sweetie. I'm sure it was just how much he loved you"
Before he could respond he looked back at his mother "is someone in the pool house?" he asked seeing something moving inside.
"Your father and I were in there last night" But Seth wasn't listening as he walked out "Seth" she called following him.
Seth walked in to see Marissa asleep on his bed hugging one of Ryan's t-shirts.
"oh" was all Kirsten said before she realised how pale Seth had gotten. Seth looked around and was hit with memories he didn't want. He couldn't breathe there were too many. Too many of him waking Ryan up or Seth/Ryan time.
"Honey just breathe. Seth just listen to my voice and breathe" Kirsten tried.
Marissa had woken up with all the commotion and just stared at the scene in front of her from the door way.
"What's going on" Sandy asked running towards them
"He's having a panic attack"
Sandy nodded and sat down beside Seth "Seth I need you to breathe for me okay. Can you just follow my breathing"
To Seth their voices were muffled and so far away. He tried to focus in on his father's voice and closed his eyes breathing the way they told him to "that's it" his voice came more clearly "Okay. Honey. You're okay." Kirsten soothed.
Seth looked up at them "Okay? None of this is okay-"
"Seth-" Sandy started
He stood up and faced them all "No! how is it okay that I'm never going to see him again. That I will never get to walk in there and wake him up to talk about the most inane things. I will never get to play those stupid ninja games with him or skateboard while he rode that dingy old bike of his. How is any of that okay? He didn't even get to graduate. He didn't- I just" Seth sobbed running out. Marissa cried seeing Seth's breakdown and ran away too after apologising.
"oh god" Kirsten said sitting back down and crying
"Honey. We'll get through this" Sandy tried
"I don't think we will Sandy" she said defeated
"Come on let's go inside" he said. They walked in and he sat her down. Taking in a deep breath to stop himself from breaking down again he poured some coffee in a mug
"oh my god his mother" Kirsten said standing up
"I've already got someone trying to find her and Trey" Sandy assured
"Trey? He tried to kill Ryan why would you call him" Kirsten asked angry
"He's still his brother Kirsten. He deserves to know"
She shrugged not entirely agreeing but she didn't want to fight right now "we have to find him a suit. I'm thinking his cotillion one. It was the first one he bought"
"Okay" sandy said
"and we should call Luke. And Anna. And Theresa. Did he have anyone else in Chino?"
"Honey just relax. Why don't you go and freshen up. And we'll call Seth down and go through all of the arrangements together. as a family okay" Sandy said trying to hold it together as best he could. Kirsten nodded and walked off.
The days leading up to the funeral were a cycle of breakdowns and complete silence. Seth had barely eaten anything and if he wasn't crying he was shouting at someone.
When Dawn said she couldn't make the funeral Sandy lost it and had a fight with some glass plates and mugs.
Kirsten was trying her best to hold it together but sat up for most of the night and just cried.
Marissa had spent every night in the pool house hugging Ryan's clothing and running out the minute she would wake up.
Summer was trying her best to be there for everyone and so far had held it together better than all of them. She'd sob every time Seth would but she was a rock for the Cohens.
The funeral was filled with a lot of people that Ryan didn't even know. It was surreal and the Cohens barely spoke the whole service. They watched silently as Ryan was lowered into his grave; each one hoping they'd wake up from this nightmare any moment.
Marissa stood at the far end of the graveyard unable to come any closer. Seth numbly went through the motions and tried to comfort his mother and father for a change.
The service at their house was less intense, but Seth wasn't feeling social and chose to sit in the pool house.
"Hey" Marissa said walking in. Seth nodded acknowledging her, she probably came to sleep on his bed again he thought.
"How're you doing?" she asked sitting on the floor near the bed beside him.
"I don't even know" he responded honestly.
She nodded understanding the feeling "God Ryan would hate this" she sighed loudly
"I agree. Which is why we're gonna do this Chino style" Summer said walking in. She was holding four glasses and Luke beside her held a bottle of vodka in his hand.
"I'm not in the mood to drink, thanks" Seth said getting up
"Seth just do this for us okay. Please" Marissa pleaded.
He looked at all of them and sat back down nodding. Luke poured them all a shot "to chino" they toasted and drank.
20 minutes later and half the bottle being empty there was finally laughter in the Cohen house.
"And then he said, what did he say-" Luke groaned trying to remember
"you know what I like about rich kids… " Seth filled in laughing
"Yeahhh and then straight punched me" Luke finished and Seth laughed remembering how awesome that day was.
Luke looked down "can't believe I used to hate the guy. I had him so wrong"
Summer rubbed his arm "he didn't hold it against you. As violent as Chino was he was also very forgiving and sweet you know" she assured.
Marissa started crying again. "I'm sorry coop. I-" Summer tried
"No no its fine I'm okay"
"you okay Cohen?" Luke asked staring at Seth.
"It just feels weird. It feels like-"
"There's a hole" Marissa finished and Seth nodded in agreement. "I mean Ryan barely spoke but he was always there and I just feel like a part of me is missing" She cried "I messed our relationship up so many times. I just hope he knew how much I loved him. That I'll always love him"
Seth moved closer to her "he knew" he said putting an arm around her "trust me from the minute Ryan came here it was always you" Marissa smiled wiping the constant flow of tears.
"Ugh I just don't know how I'm gonna do it" Seth groaned
"Do what Cohen?"
"Live here" he responded "I mean everything just reminds me of him. I swear even though he's only been with us for these three and a half years it feels like he was always here. It's hard to remember him not being there" Seth ranted.
"I could have sworn I saw him you know. Like just a glimpse but I wanted to badly for it to be real" Marissa said sadly
Summer cleared her throat "I erm me and chino weren't all that chummy you know. And if we did talk it was about you guys" she looked up "but even then he was just always there for me, especially after me and you broke up…" she said pointing at Seth "and I showed up here drunk. And I was ranting about the stupidest thing like my step monster and you and he just sat there and listened. And then he put me to bed told me everything will work out and he slept on the couch" She wiped away her tears "I'm gonna miss that guy" she said her voice breaking
"He never told me this" Seth said
"I erm made him promise not to. Guess he kept it" she smiled.
"Okay kids I-" Kirsten and Sandy walked in "Hey! What're you doing?" she asked disappointed seeing the bottle and glasses.
"We're just toasting to Ryan. Sharing some stories" Luke said
"You know what a really funny story was; when-" Sandy started
"Sandy" Kirsten scolded as her husband sat down with the kids
"Oh come honey. Just tonight. For Ryan okay"
She sighed and nodded sitting down.
"Kirsten had just walked in on Marissa and Ryan and I had to give him 'the talk' right"
"oh no" Seth laughed
"You shoulda seen how red that kid got. I don't think he ever got over it"
"oh I remember this one time…" Kirsten began already smiling at the memory.
They all sat there for hours, reminiscing the good times they had with Ryan.