Fandom: The OC
Pairing: Ryan/Seth through a conversation between Seth and Marissa. More gen than anything.
Word Count: 996
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and I'm making no money off of this.
A/N: Directly following 2.04 (I think). Inspired by a conversation in comments that I had with thinkpink20. I wrote this as a birthday gift for myself.
Marissa looks at Seth, sitting next to her. A year ago, she never would have believed this either. A year ago, she wouldn't have even let Seth Cohen sit on the same bench, let alone commiserated with him.
He looks so forlorn, and she wishes there was something she could do. Maybe talking will make him feel better. He always did know how to talk.
She clears her throat. “So, you're really upset about Sum, huh?”
Seth glances at her, trying to gauge where she's coming from. Does she actually care? He decides it doesn't matter. “Yeah. I thought I might love her, but… I can't wait around for her forever. I mean, I probably could, look how well, I managed it for most of my life, but, I'm not that patient anymore. Besides,” he adds bitterly, “Why would she want me when she's got the lite version, complete with popularity and a big thumbs-up from The Dad?”
“It's not like that,” Marissa says. “She's had a hard summer. You were all she talked about. I couldn't even get a word in.” She looks down at her feet. “My boyfriend left, too, you know.”
“I know,” Seth says. He's all too aware of that. “Why do you think I left?”
“God, I don't know, Seth. Why the hell did you leave? I'm sure Summer would like to know that. You owed her an explanation, at least, not just a 'sorry.'”
“So?” Marissa prods. “Why'd you leave?” Her tone is no longer accusing, but curious. It doesn't matter to her that he left, what matters is that she and Summer were left behind to pick up the pieces.
“I just couldn't stay here and watch everyone fall apart, or pretend that Ryan never existed, when I was falling apart myself. Newport just felt… claustrophobic without him. I had to get out.”
“So you ran to Luke.”
“Well, it was the first idea that popped into my head, all right? Not all of us have friends in exotic places to visit. Some of us have to settle for our ex-bullies in Portland.”
“You don't have to get all defensive.”
“It was just that… I couldn't think of anywhere else to go.”
“That's how I wound up in Chino, that day,” Marissa says out of the blue, and Seth is surprised that she's opening up to him like this. So is Marissa, when she realizes what she's saying. But what else does she have to lose, and who would listen to her? She and Seth have something in common now, and that makes it possible to talk to him. “I didn't know where else to go. I couldn't be somewhere where… Mom and Luke could find me. I just needed to hide.”
“And you wanted to be close to Ryan.”
“Well, yeah, but it was more than that. I remembered talking to Theresa when she was here and I knew, somehow, that she'd understand if I said I needed a place to stay for a while.”
Seth thinks about this. “Do you still love him?” It's a vitally important question, and he holds his breath waiting for the answer.
“Sometimes… at night, when I can't sleep, I think about him curled into me, his breath on the back of my neck. But then… there's… I don't know anymore.” He can tell by her voice that it's the truth. “Do you ever just feel tired of the whole thing?”
“Yeah, sometimes. I wonder what things would have been like if I'd told Ryan the truth.” Marissa looks over at him.
“That I love him,” Seth says softly.
Oh. That explains a lot. “He's straight, you know.”
“You honestly think I don't know that? God, Marissa.”
“I'm just saying.”
“Sorry.” Her voice is quiet, and they're both silent for a while, staring out at the ocean.
After some time, Marissa speaks again. “I'm confused. I thought you wanted Summer back.”
“I did. I do. You can want to be with more than one person at the same time, you know. Besides, Summer is attainable. Or used to be. Ryan's not.”
“That's why I was with DJ.”
She laughs. “If you ever tell anyone this, Seth, anyone -”
His voice is bitter. “Come on. Who am I going to tell?”
She's quiet a minute. “Anyway, he's the yard boy. We hooked up this summer.” She's startled when Seth starts laughing and won't stop. “What?”
“That's great,” he gasps. “Who would've… Marissa Cooper and the yard boy… are you just trying to rebel against your mom or something?”
“No,” she says indignantly. “He's hot. Even Summer thinks so.”
“Thanks,” Seth says. “Or you could stop rubbing her rejection in my face.”
“Sorry,” Marissa says again. “Besides, like you said, he's attainable. Ryan was gone. I couldn't just sit around and cry all summer.”
“But you could sit around and drink all summer.” Seth doesn't know this for a fact, but he's willing to bet that's what she did. That's just how Marissa deals with things.
“Okay, that was a low blow, even for you.”
“What's that mean? Fine, it was low, but is it wrong?”
She doesn't say anything.
“That's why I left.”
“So why'd you come home?”
“Ryan came to Portland to get me. While he was there, he found out about the baby, and we both just sort of decided to come back.”
“How the hell did you ever decide things before Ryan came along? Ow! Seth! Don't hit me!”
“Sorry,” he laughs.
“So.” Seth stands up. “I'd better get home.”
“Me too. I'll give you a ride, if you want.”
Something's changed, and neither knows exactly what it is, but they're friends now, somehow. They walk out to Marissa's car, not exactly walking together, but not uncomfortably far apart either. In the space of one conversation, Seth and Marissa don't feel like the two loneliest people in Newport anymore.