I dedicate this story to my friend, Becki. I promised her I'd write her a Ryan/Summer one shot, so here it is bb! :D I hope you like it.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I don't own any of the characters, not even the adorable Ryan Atwood. The OC universe and all of its characters were created by Josh Schwartz, and he owns them too. Don't sue me, Josh! I mean that! No copyright infringement intended!
A/N 1: This story is somewhat AU, though I think it is realistic and could have been in canon. I guess you can think of it as a few missing scenes from S4 between Ryan and Summer if you'd like. Basically, it takes place on Marissa's first birthday after her untimely death. Things in the story such as Summer dating Luke in the second grade are all part of canon so keep that in mind. Marissa talked about that with Volchok in S3. I added a few things here and there that the show didn't go into detail with, but overall, I think this is true to canon... I hope so anyways!
A/N 2: Assume that this story takes place somewhere in between The Cold Turkey and The Summer Bummer during S4. Also assume that Ryan is not yet dating Taylor and Summer is back in Newport for a few weeks (assuming this takes place before she gets kicked out of Brown). The inspiration to write this was the song "My Immortal" by Evanescence because the lyrics of the song are compatible with how I think both Summer and Ryan may have felt about Marissa after her death. Enjoy!
R/R if you'd like. I enjoy reading reviews and your feedback helps me out with improving my writing for future stories. Thanks!
When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me
"Hey Atwood…" Summer calls out to Ryan as she notices him standing in front of Marissa's tombstone.
He turns to face her and lifts his head, acknowledging her presence and making eye contact with her.
He doesn't say a word, but he doesn't have to. Her friendship with Ryan over the past couple of years has taught her that sometimes silence actually conveys more emotions than words ever could.
As she examines his appearance, a chill runs through her veins causing her to shiver. This is the most vulnerable she's ever seen him.
He is wearing his navy blue Berkeley hooded sweatshirt, and his hands rest in the pockets of his washed out jeans. It is one of those rare, rainy days in Newport, and his steel toe boots are covered with mud. His dark blue eyes maintain a forlorn expression, and his exhaustion is evident from the dark circles that outline them.
"Do you come here often?" She asks.
Again, she gets no verbal response out of him other than a mere nod of his head.
"Not much in the mood for talking, huh?"
Inhaling and exhaling deeply, he shakes his head 'no.'
He removes his hands from his pockets and wraps them around his mid-section, taking a couple of steps backwards away from the tombstone.
"I know the feeling anyway," Summer says. "Seth was trying to get me to talk to him about another one of those Japanese anime movies he made me watch with flying ninjas and daggers and balls of lightning flying through the air… and usually I'm okay with that. It's just…"
No longer able to control her emotions, a few tears escape from her eyes.
"I miss her, and I couldn't stop thinking about her all throughout the movie," she says, walking closer to the tombstone. "I miss my friend," her voice breaks.
Kneeling down in front of Marissa's grave, she rests the left side of her head on the cold marble, closing her eyes shut. It starts to rain again, and she cannot make out whether the liquid forming a puddle around the tombstone is her tears or just raindrops. Regardless, she knows she is crying.
She feels a pair of strong but gentle hands begin to rub circles along her back.
She always knew he was a gentle soul, and right now his comfort is exactly what she needs.
"It's going to be okay," he says. His deep voice is gentle and soothing.
"It's just so hard… you know?" She says—her voice almost at a whisper.
"I know," he answers, and for that moment, that is all she needs. In her heart she knows that he's probably the only one that understands the pain and emptiness that she's experiencing.
"Today would have been her 19th birthday," Summer chokes out another sob and pulls Ryan into a hug, crying into his broad shoulder. The two are now seated near the tombstone on a patch of long, wet grass.
"I know," he answers again, and this time, despite the cold rain that is falling, Summer swears she feels a couple of warm tears fall from his eyes onto the back of her neck.
Hours pass by, but to them it feels like time is standing still.
The clouds begin to darken, and a storm comes in, but the whirl of the wind and the sound of thunder aren't enough to get them to move so they remain there—two friends grieving together for the first time over the loss of a life they both loved.
After the sun sets, Ryan and Summer leave the cemetery. Seth is working at the comic book store that night, and Summer 's dad is out of town so Ryan agrees to let her come to the pool house since she doesn't want to be alone. Sandy and Kirsten are both out for the night anyway, so he figures he can use the company as well.
"Wow. Nice abs. I approve. No wonder Cohen always cheats on me with you."
Suddenly self-conscious, Ryan hastily pulls on his wife beater and grabs a sweatshirt from his drawer.
"I… uh… Sorry," his cheeks turn pink, and he ducks his head, embarrassed. When he lifts his gaze again, she sees him half smiling. "I didn't expect you to finish showering so soon. I should have changed somewhere else. I didn't mean…" he trails off.
Noticing that his ocean blue eyes twinkle when he smiles, she mentally kicks herself for finding him so attractive. She's really starting to see what Marissa saw in him. He's caring, honest, strong, protective, and sweet, and he has a certain charm that makes him very attractive, but she pushes those thoughts to the back of her mind.
"Don't worry. I'm sure Cohen will forgive you for trying to seduce me," she teases. "Besides, it's not like I haven't seen you shirtless before. Remember the time at the beach and the model home swimming pool a few months ago?"
"Yeah," he blushes.
"Something smells good by the way. Did you cook or something?" she changes the subject, reminding herself again that she is here to be his friend and nothing more.
"Well… kind of. Give me a second. I'll be right back."
He returns holding two cups of hot chocolate and a couple of blueberry muffins.
"You made hot chocolate? And you put marshmallows in it too? Awesooooome! Thanks Chino! You're the best. It's freezing outside and this is perfect," she exclaims as she pulls the warm cup out of his hands.
"You're welcome," he grins as he processes her compliment. "The muffins are store bought, but help yourself; you can have both if you want. I'm not very hungry."
"Maybe I will," she replies, sticking her tongue out at him and grabbing one of the muffins.
Taking a seat across from her on his big bed, he sips on his hot chocolate.
"Those look good on you by the way," he says, pointing to the wife beater and pair of sweat pants she is wearing. She didn't have any dry clothes of her own to change into, and she hadn't wanted to go home to get any so he let her borrow some from his wardrobe. "You look like you're ready to join a fight club or something. Maybe we should cage fight later," he jokes.
"Shut-up, Chino, before I have to hurt you! You might have bigger fists, but I'm driven by rage black outs!"
Ryan puts his cup down and raises his hands in mock surrender. "Hey, I'm not doubting it!" he chuckles and Summer reaches over to set her hot chocolate down on his nightstand before punching him on his right arm.
"Ouch!" he exclaims, pretending to be in pain. Summer throws a pillow at him.
"What?" he asks in a goofy high pitched tone.
"You were mocking me!" She grins at him playfully, but then she notices Marissa's old Harbor sweatshirt hanging from Ryan's closet and suddenly her expression turns sullen—sadness overwhelming her mood again.
"What's wrong?" He asks, concerned, but then he turns his head to see what she's looking at and realization dawns on him. "Oh," he says dejectedly.
"I keep the pink Berkeley sweatshirt I got her in my closet...so I relate," she explains.
"Yeah, I know what you mean," he replies.
"Do you miss her?" She asks.
Ryan nods his head, "Yeah." He takes a deep breath before finishing his statement, "Yeah. I do."
"It's just not the same without her around, you know?" She adds.
"It's not," he agrees, moving closer to her on the bed and squeezing her shoulder to comfort her.
The room remains silent for a few minutes before Summer finally speaks.
"Do you have a candle?" She asks.
"Um… what?" He looks at her dumbfounded.
"A candle… you know… and a lighter…"
"To celebrate Marissa's birthday!"
"We can stick a candle in our muffins… and blow out the flame… and make a wish in honor of her… Then we can reminisce."
Ryan chews on his top lip and gives her a quizzical look. "We can look in one of the drawers in the kitchen I guess," he answers.
The two teens maneuver their way into the Cohen kitchen and search through a number of drawers until finally Summer finds what she is looking for. When they return to the pool house, she sticks a candle in each muffin and then lights both wicks.
"There. You blow out the first one and make a wish for Marissa!" She commands.
"Good! Now it's my turn!"
She picks up the second muffin and blows out the candle, closing her eyes and keeping silent for a couple of minutes.
Afterward, the two sit back down next to each other on Ryan's bed.
An hour later, Ryan and Summer find themselves still commiserating over the loss of their friend.
"I still blame myself. If only I would've made better decisions… she'd still be alive…"
His cracking voice is filled with guilt and anguish. Summer can tell that he's still broken and yearns to console him. He's her friend after all, and she hates to see him beat himself up like this.
"Chino, stop it! It's not your fault! None of it is! What's done is done. We can't change the past, but we can learn to live with it."
Her words catch his attention. For the first time, he sees just how wise she really is and feels a growing attachment to her. This is the most he's ever appreciated their friendship.
"I mean it," she goes on. "You can't keep blaming yourself. Marissa wouldn't want you to. She'd want you to live life… to be happy."
"Summer…" Ryan's voice grows passionate and she can sense his gratitude. "Thanks for this."
Unsure of what to say in reply, she decides to answer him the way he has answered her so many times before—through his eyes, body language, and facial expression. Her lips curve up into an adoring smile and her big, dark brown eyes convey respect and understanding.
Searching Ryan's eyes again, this time she finds gratitude in place of despair and guilt. She feels a new sense of purpose from helping her friend. Placing her right hand on his left shoulder, she maintains eye contact with him and says, "Thank YOU, Ryan Atwood."
It is one of the few occasions where she uses his full name, and he knows it's a special moment between them. The two friends acknowledge each other now in a different light—their bond strengthening by the minute.
"I remember when I first met her…"
"Did you think you'd ever date her?"
"No. I mean… I felt a connection with her, but I never thought she'd be interested in a guy like me."
Summer smiles at him sadly and asks, "Why not?"
"I mean… I was homeless. She was this strikingly beautiful rich girl. I thought we were from two different worlds."
"And were you?"
He doesn't answer and instead stares down at the floor and slumps his shoulders. His entire body seems to tense up, and she realizes that it's not an easy topic for him to discuss, so she drops it.
"I remember when I first met Coop too. We were in the second grade. I was kind of shy, and she complimented my Beauty and the Beast backpack so we started talking and… I don't know… we just became friends. We used to do everything together."
He nods his head, taking in everything she's saying, and it is then that she realizes how thankful she is to have a friend like Ryan who actually listens to her intently and never puts himself first. She's not used to that because most people in her life aren't good listeners.
"I had the biggest crush on Luke back then," she opens up to him a little more.
"Really?" He snickers quietly, and she's happy she is able to loosen him up a little bit after how tense and broody he seemed earlier.
"Yeah… we were engaged! He proposed to me with a ring pop from the candy shop!" she giggles at the memory.
"You and Luke, huh? I'll have to tease him about that later. So what did Marissa think about it?"
"She made fun of me for it… in a loving way of course. She thought boys all had cooties or something, but then she started dating him in the fifth grade and made out with him in the back of the bus on the way to the Museum of Tolerance. I was being childish I guess and felt betrayed and we got into a fight. I think it's the only time I ever fought with her other than the time a few months ago that I told you about when she was dating that ass face, Volchok."
He gives her a tiny half smile and says, "She talked about you often, Summer. Your friendship meant a lot to her."
"She told you that?"
"Yeah, she did… a lot."
A few tears begin to fall from Summer's eyes as he shares this bit of information with her.
"Any fond memories you care to share?"
"Well… I remember this one time… Marissa and I… we went to try to get Trey to come home from Chino. We found him at this bar that 'Turo used to work at."
"Turo?" Summer inquires.
"Old friend from Chino. Theresa's brother."
"Got it… you can continue now…." Summer replies.
"So Trey was pissed at me because I accused him of stealing this watch and… he wouldn't come back with us so Riss convinced me to stay there for a while to come up with a plan to change his mind. This guy started hitting on her and she seemed uncomfortable so I tried to get him to back off, but he had an entourage with him and they started kicking my ass. Trey came in and bailed me out and the three of us ran out of there. It was a wild night."
"Sounds like it. I think I remember her telling me about that. She was really into you at that time."
"Yeah," Ryan replies. "Those were good times… well… not all good… I mean… the stuff with Trey ended badly, but you know what I mean. Marissa and I were good then."
"You meant a lot to her too, Ryan. I never got the chance to say this to you before, but you need to hear it so… I wanted to say thank you for being so good to her. You lit up her world. You showed her the meaning of love. She told me this several times."
Unsure of what to say, Ryan nods his head slowly—a pensive expression on his face.
"Yeah?" He asks.
"Mmm Hmm," She says thoughtfully.
He smiles appreciatively.
"Hey, do you remember that time we all went to LA?" He asks.
"Yeah! I totally dragged Coop along! She didn't want to go," She reminisces.
"Actually, I think I'm the one that convinced her," Ryan laughs at the memory. "I didn't want her to find out about Luke so I told him to break up with her mom and I tried to get Marissa to go with us to LA."
"She never told me that!"
"Yeah, it was crazy."
"You got kicked out of the club twice!"
"The first time I got kicked out, Marissa pretended I was a celebrity and they let me back in though."
"Oh yeah! I remember she told me about that. No offense, Chino, but you passing off as a celebrity? Not buying it!" She jokes affectionately.
Ryan glares at her and sensing his annoyance, she decides it will be fun to keep teasing him.
"I mean the wife beater and the hoodie… you look hot in it and all, but it doesn't scream out 'teen heart throb.' That bouncer must've forgotten his glasses."
"I'm really feeling the love from you right now, Summer. At least I'm not the one who almost made out with a real celebrity that night," Ryan chuckles.
"Hey! I did NOT almost make out with Grady Bridges, thank you very much! I remember giving Coop hell for not liking him, but he turned out to be a douche anyway. He was so hitting on me! And it turned out April was his girlfriend! I mean… ew!"
"Yeah…" he continues laughing. "I remember when I made Marissa grilled cheese for our first date. I never forgot that night. We almost kissed, but Seth ruined it for us."
"Sounds like Cohen… " She giggles.
"Yeah," Ryan snorts. "We'd gone swimming in the pool and everything. I was trying to help her feel better 'cause she was going through all that stuff with her parents."
"Well I thought it was sooooo sweet when you guys finally kissed on the Ferris wheel!"
Ryan's cheeks turn pink and Summer smacks his arm playfully.
"You're so blushing!" She teases.
"No I'm not!"
"You so are! On a more serious note though… is that your fondest memory with her?" She asks, her expression turning serious.
"Well… that and the times we spent at the lifeguard stand... and the time we kissed on New Year's I guess."
"I think those were her favorite moments with you too," she explains.
"That night when I told her I love her, she gave me this smile. I'll never forget that smile," he says, his eyes becoming watery.
"She had a beautiful smile," Summer acknowledges sorrowfully.
Ryan notices that she's beginning to get teary eyed again so he heads over to the door to lock the pool house and turns off the main light, leaving only the nightlight on. He then walks back to the bed and takes in her appearance. She looks small and vulnerable like a child as she continues to sob into his pillow, but her beauty radiates throughout the dark room, and he wishes he could take her pain away. Blanketing her with his muscular arms, he holds her close and lets her cry into his shoulder again.
They continue to remember and honor their friend until they fall asleep in each others' arms—the emotional day getting the better of them. In the morning they may regret the innocent act, but for now, they have each other, and nothing else matters.