Fandom: The OC
Pairing: eventual Ryan/Seth
Word Count: 1711
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and I'm making no money off of this.
A/N: This is a story I started a month or so ago in the first person. I decided I didn't like it, so it's a bit rewritten and in third person now. Kind of a songfic (ish - not really) to Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." Can't remember the exact dialogue from the Pilot, so this was as close as I could get. I realize it's not entirely accurate. Abandoned WIP.
Chapter 1: The Benefits of Being Invisible
I am sitting at the window in the diner on the corner. I am waiting at the counter for the man to pour the coffee. And he fills it only halfway and before I even argue he is looking out the window at somebody coming in.
There's this great diner on the corner of Beech and Main where Seth goes sometimes when he doesn't want to have to face anyone he knows.
Now is one of those times. He's hiding out in the time between school and six, when he and Ryan plan to study together. Why is he hiding, and from whom?
Seth realizes he's probably the opposite of popular, and sometimes he needs to get away from the bullying and from everyone who doesn't care that he exists. Hence the not wanting to stay at school. Usually, he'd go home with Ryan, who's also very good at beating up his tormentors, but today Kirsten has asked Ryan to go shopping with her for some new clothing, since the clothes he arrived in are getting a bit ratty. If Seth gets home before they leave, he'll get roped into going with. And, shopping? Yeah, not really his thing.
He thought about seeing what Summer's doing, but considering that they've never had a conversation in which she gets his name right, he figures she'd laugh in his face. Or worse. Better not to risk it. You know, it hasn't always been this bad. Oh, wait, yes it has. What is he talking about?
Seth never got picked on in elementary school. It was when everyone hit puberty that the bullying began. At first it was verbal, which, of course, he minded, but he's more equipped to deal with that kind of thing. It was when he started getting beaten up that the trouble began.
Seth is kind of what one might call, well, weak, to be perfectly honest. So when Luke and his lame-ass friends began to have it in for him, there was nothing he could do but suffer through it. Before Ryan, Seth had never really had a friend. He can make snarky comments all he wants, and the water-polo players can still kick his ass any day. And it's always been that way.
He can't wait for college. It'll be nice to start over, where he doesn't have a reputation already. In elementary school, Seth thought he was miserable being invisible. But invisibility is so much better than getting beaten up every day. At least now he's got Ryan here to take care of the people who try anything. But it'll always haunt him. Hopefully, when he goes to college, he'll be invisible again. Seth thinks that's the most he can hope for: to blend in. To not be noticed.
Chapter 2: The Angst
It is always nice to see you says the man behind the counter to the woman who has come in. She is shaking her umbrella. And I turn the other way as they are kissing their hellos and I'm pretending not to see them. And instead I pour the milk.
"You know, Captain Oats, it's really not fair. I mean, I love Summer, but she doesn't even know my name. She's so oblivious... I can't stand it. I was going to start working on her – on the Tahiti plan – but today the captain of the varsity football team asked her out. The captain of the varsity football team. How can I possibly compete with that?" Seth rested his head in his hands for a minute before continuing. "And, of course, she said yes. So now I have to see them in the hallways all the time, cuddling – well, you're right, I guess I don't have to see them, but that would mean not taking the specially designated Summer's locker route, and I don't want to stop seeing her altogether. Even if she is with... Todd or Joe or whatever his name is. He probably has a typical jock asshole name, right?
"It would be so helpful to have a friend right now." Seth sighed.
"Yeah, I know you're my friend, but I mean one who can actually talk back to me and tell me what to do, not just in my head." Captain Oats seemed to look at him, saying Are you saying I'm not good enough? with his plastic eyes.
"Okay, dude, that's a little creepy. I mean, I know you're plastic and all, but, seriously, stop it."
Sandy knocked on his door. "Seth? Are you okay? You've been in there since dinner."
"Fine, Dad!" Seth called, before returning to his one-sided conversation. "I wish he would go away. Parents should not know these kinds of things." A pause.
"No, it wouldn't help. I'm in high school now. I don't need my dad's painful advice anymore." Another pause.
"Well, you're wrong, okay? Besides, they have to break up sometime. I'll keep hanging around and then, when he dumps her, she'll have me to console her." Seth continued talking to Captain Oats until Sandy told him to go to bed.
A month later, Summer broke up with her upperclassman boyfriend.
She never noticed Seth standing there, even though he waited by her locker for at least a half hour every day for the rest of freshman year.
Chapter 3: The Friend
I open up the paper. There's a story of an actor who has died while he was drinking. It was no one I had heard of. And I'm turning to the horoscopes and looking for the funnies when I'm feeling someone watching me and so I raise my head.
"Seth?" Kirsten was in the doorway of his bedroom.
"Your dad –" she sat down on the end of his bed. "Look, we have a guest staying in the pool house. Just for a few nights. I thought you should know in case you run into him."
"Okay... well, who is he?"
"He's..." she sighed. "Your father brought home one of his clients. Ryan. From Chino. He stole a car."
Seth stared at her. "What? How old is he?"
"Your age," she said. "Just... be careful, all right?"
"Okay." Seth was still trying to process this. Kirsten stood up.
"Well, I'm going to go to bed. See you in the morning."
"'Night, Mom." She kissed his forehead and left.
Seth lay there in the dark for a long time, staring up at the ceiling, nervous. Maybe he could use this guy... Ryan... as practice for making friends this year. After all, he was only going to be around for a few days.
He knew his mother was concerned because Ryan was a criminal. But Seth thought it was kind of cool, actually. Dangerous. Exciting.
In the morning, after he ate, he'd go out to the pool house and introduce himself. Maybe Ryan liked video games.
It didn't work out that way. Ryan got up early and came inside before Seth was done eating (in front of the TV, of course). Seth looked up and saw the boy standing awkwardly in the doorway. So Ryan was just as nervous as he was. That made things a little easier.
"Hey." Ryan's voice was deep but gentle. Seth liked him already.
"Do you..." he gestured to the controller he was holding, "... wanna play?"
"Sure," Ryan said, coming to sit down next to him.
Seth had never had a real friend, but he knew what it felt like to really click with someone. Well, he thought he did, anyway. That was what it was like with Ryan. They didn't talk much, but he felt an instant connection. He thought Ryan felt it, too, but he was scared to ask.
Of course, Sandy interrupted them and ruined the moment. But then, that was his dad. Much as Seth loved him, Sandy wasn't the most tactful person. Then again, neither was Seth.
"You guys are inside on this beautiful day? Go do something outdoors!"
Parents. "Yeah, Dad, because there's so much to do around here."
"Come on," Sandy said.
Ryan looked at Seth. "What do you do for fun here?" Instantly, an image of the Summer Breeze popped into Seth's head. But Ryan wouldn't be up for that. Right? He'd probably never sailed before. What if he got seasick?
He glanced at Ryan, who looked so guarded. They had had a definite moment, and Seth didn't want to lose that. He found Ryan incredibly endearing, even though he'd only known him for about an hour.
He sighed. "Come on. I'll show you."
Sailing with Ryan was more fun than he thought it would be. He'd never sailed with anyone before, aside from Chester and a few other students. Sailing was his alone-time activity. Actually, everything was his alone-time activity, but Seth would rather have died than admitted that to Ryan.
Ryan was probably the least judgmental person his age that Seth had ever met. When he told him about Summer, Ryan didn't make fun of him or tell him to get his head out of the clouds. Instead, Ryan nodded, as if Seth's love of a girl who didn't even know his name was perfectly normal and not stupid in the least. Which Seth knew wasn't true, and he appreciated Ryan's response.
Finally, they headed back to shore. Sandy was there when they got back, preparing to surf. When he told Seth that Marissa had invited Ryan to the fashion show, Seth felt a surge of jealousy. "She invited you? Dude, I've lived next to Marissa Cooper my entire life and she's never said a word to me!" Ryan had the decency to look sorry, at least. Even though it wasn't his fault, really.
A few minutes later, when Seth was arguing against going, Ryan said, "Summer might be there."
Seth was astonished. No one had ever paid so much attention to him before. In a twisted way, that was why he rambled: because no one was listening to him anyway, so he might as well keep talking.
"Yeah, she is Marissa's best friend. Maybe we should go."
He ambled back up to the house, thrilled. For the first time in his life, Seth Cohen felt noticed.