Fandom: The OC
Word Count: 1263
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and I'm making no money off of this.
A/N: AU, during "The Goodbye Girl." For pressdbtwnpages.
Betaed by _sybillium.
“A traffic jam when you're already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife…”
-Alanis Morissette, “Ironic”
“Ew, what poor girl is pathetic enough not to have a date the week before Cotillion?”
“At the moment, that would be you,” Anna says snarkily, extending her arm to the short blond boy. Appraising him with her eyes. She can see why the bitchy brunette had wanted him as her escort – there’s something very appealing about the haunted look in his eyes, though she’d probably appraised him for very different reasons. (Anna sighs at the shallowness of this new place she has to live in.)
Of course, she finds out his heart is taken almost the minute after she becomes intrigued by him. Not that that means anything, considering his girl’s boyfriend looks pretty violent, but Anna doesn’t take other girls’ guys, even if they’re not technically together. They are as much as it counts.
Newport teaches her all about disappointment. First Ryan, then Seth. She is genuinely into Seth – she’s just into Ryan more. But she knows how to hide it.
The worst part is that Marissa’s so… nice. Summer she has no problem hating with a passion – Summer does not have a nice bone in her body, and Anna has no reason not to despise her. It would be so easy to be jealous, to hate Marissa with even more vehemence than she hates Summer, if she wasn’t so goddamned nice.
They may hang out as couples – Ryan and Marissa, Seth and Anna, Summer, Luke, and Oliver – but Anna knows who the real couples are, where the real trouble is. The problem is that it’s all a crazy mixed up septangle – or whatever the word for a shape with seven sides is – and there’s nothing she can do about it. Ryan loves Marissa, but she’s seen him glancing at Seth the same way out of the corner of his eye. Marissa loves Ryan, but she’s looked at Oliver occasionally with an interest that, if Anna were her boyfriend, would make her more than a little wary. Seth loves Summer, even though he’s dating Anna – that much she knows, and she knows she’ll break it off soon and spare them all the heartache – but he wants Ryan, too, even though he probably doesn’t realize it. Anna likes Seth, but she wants Ryan, and she’ll never do anything about it, because that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Summer may pretend, but Anna knows she only has eyes for Seth. Luke is a tough one. Anna thinks he still loves Marissa, but he seems perfectly happy for her and Ryan, and sometimes he rushes out early. And Oliver… well, Oliver is another case altogether.
Everyone loves everyone else, but no one has eyes for Anna.
That’s not a complaint. It’s just a statement of fact.
So Anna pretends to be Seth’s girl and watches them like an outsider. She sees the dynamics of the group change as Summer becomes more obnoxious, Ryan becomes more jealous, Seth becomes more distant, Marissa becomes more oblivious (if that’s possible), Oliver goes crazy. She lets Seth go and watches him kiss Summer atop a booth in front of the whole school; she watches Ryan and Marissa break up and Theresa come along; she watches Luke glancing furtively around before driving away, always the earliest one to leave, always looking suspicious.
She watches them, and sees herself constantly fading into the background.
It’s only a matter of time before she becomes invisible altogether, and that’s when Anna knows it’s time to leave.
She finds Ryan at the Newpsie party, talking to Theresa, who’s even nicer than Marissa, which makes the whole thing that much harder.
As she hugs him goodbye, she thinks that this is her last chance. The letter to Seth says simply, I love you. You’re one of the best friends I’ve ever had and one of the only parts of Newport I’ll miss. Don’t you dare lose touch with me, and her email address at the bottom. She’d written a letter to Ryan, but it’s in her suitcase. That one’s far from simple and significantly longer.
I’m not trying to
This is incredibly hard for me. The first time we met, I knew I’d have feelings for you, but after seeing you with Marissa that day, I made sure to ignore them. It didn’t really work, but at least I tried. Don’t get me wrong – I never lied about my feelings for Seth – but they were never quite as strong as the ones for you.
This letter has no agenda. I’m not going to say I love you, because I don’t. But I like you a hell of a lot, and it’s one among many, many reasons I’m leaving. Not the main one, don’t worry.
Now that Theresa is here, too, it’s twice as hard. I don’t want to step in and make the situation even more complicated than it already is. That’s why I’m telling you this in a letter. I don’t want anything. I just wanted you to know.
You’ve been an amazing friend, Ryan. Thanks for always being on my side. I’ll miss you.
She hands him Seth’s letter and leaves. It’s not until she gets to the airport and checks to make sure Ryan’s letter is still there that she pulls it out and reads in her loopy handwriting with bright purple ink: “To Seth.”
Her head pops up. Ryan. Shit.
He runs over, panting. “I thought you said the letter was for Seth.”
“You read it,” she says accusingly.
“Actually, Seth did first. He’s really upset, Anna.”
“Sorry,” Anna mumbles. “He wasn’t supposed to see it. Neither were you. I had another letter for Seth that I thought I was giving you.”
“I figured,” Ryan says, smiling shyly at her. “But I had to follow you. Theresa’s gone and Marissa and I are done. For good. I gotta be honest – I’d never thought about you that way before. But you said something that hit me.”
After a brief moment of silence, Anna speaks. “What?” she ventures.
“You said, ‘thanks for always being on my side.’ And I realized that you’re the only one who’s always been on mine. And maybe this is stupid. Who knows? But, just reconsider this, okay? You don’t have to go.” he whispers.
Anna closes her eyes. This CANNOT be happening. Not like this. Softly, she says, “I have to.”
“No, you don’t,” Ryan pleads. “I thought you were happy here.”
“I was, until – forget it.”
“It’s stupid. And I’ll sound whiny and self-centered.”
“I don't care. Until what?”
“Until you all stopped noticing me,” she whispers, a lone tear sliding down her cheek. Anna is mortified. This is so far from anything she’d wanted to have happen. She doesn’t want to look needy or to have Ryan see her like this. “I have to go.”
“Goodbye, Ryan. I’ll miss you.”
“Anna. What are you doing?”
“Leaving,” she says, staring at her feet and walking forward.
He grabs her arm. “Stop it right now.” His voice is stern, commanding, and she stops, but nothing is different.
“I can’t. This isn’t all about you, anyway. Or Seth. All those things I said to him at school yesterday… they were true. Just not the whole truth.”
Ryan sighs and says, “At least say a real goodbye this time.”
She doesn’t know what to say. Sometimes things are so complicated they’re simple again. Anna leans into Ryan and kisses him. Then she says softly, "Goodbye," and starts walking to her gate.