by Symphonyflute
Rating: G
Fandom: The O.C.
Disclaimer: I don't own the O.C. ........yet. Just give me some time.
Spoilers: Up to The Gamble (season 1, episode 3)

I can't believe Marissa wouldn't come, Seth Cohen thought as he and his mother Kirsten walked up to the doors of Juvie. She really should be here. "Love thy neighbor as thyself my ass," he said aloud.

"Excuse me?" Seth looked at his mother to see her give a reprimanding look in his direction as they approached the large doors of the jail. "We do not use language like that Seth. You know better."

"Maybe we don't, but I do." He argued. He was rewarded with another mean look. "OK fine, Love thy neighbor as thyself my bottom," he looked at his mother with wide, innocent eyes. "Better?"

Any reply she might have made was cut short by the screeching sound of doors that have need needed their hinges oiled for years filled the air. A man wearing a suit had just come out of the building. Seth guessed that he was a public defender like his dad, or at least some other lawyer. The caught the door before it slammed shut again, and walked inside.

"Kirsten and Seth Cohen." Seth glanced at his mother as she signed them in. He then skimmed the room, looking for Ryan. This was easier said than done though, considering everyone was wearing the same blue jumpsuit. Finally spotting him at a table toward the back of the room, Seth hurried over.

"Hey man, what's up?" Seth greeted as he threw himself onto the bench opposite Ryan. He just shrugged in response, not quite meeting Seth's eyes.

For once in his life Seth Cohen was speechless. He didn't know what to say to his friend, feeling guilty enough to apologize, but not sure if Ryan would want him to take all the blame. "Nice outfit," he joked. "Does it come in any other sizes cause I'd love to get one just like it." Ryan just looked at him, silently. "So, you gonna say anything or do I need to use my awesome talking power and keep up a conversation by myself? Believe it or not, I have done that a time or two."

"I believe it," Finally! Seth thought triumphantly, a response. He was getting somewhere. Now he just had to keep up the conversation, but was again hit by a mental block. He hoped that maybe Ryan would come up with a topic to talk about.

Because Ryan must have so much to talk about after being in jail. Oh my god, he realized, I even think in sarcasm.

"Look man," he began, "I'm really sorry about the plan. I thought it was foolproof, but I guess we should have come up with an idiot-proof plan, but who knew Luke was going to interfere."

Ryan shrugged again. "Whatever."

Seth sighed. This was going nowhere. He hated apologizing, the least Ryan could have done was say that he forgave him or something. "So," he began, determined to strike up a conversation, "do you have anything interesting to say?"

"Haaachooo" Ryan sneezed loudly, whipping his arm up to cover his face.

Seth gave him a weird look. "Not quite the 'interesting' I had in mind, but I guess it'll do, " he said, hoping Ryan would laugh. Not even a smile. "So," Seth began again, "When I went to Marissa's to try and convince her to come.....who I probably shouldn't have said but whatever, Summer was there without a shirt on!"

Ryan wasn't listening. He had raised his hands to cover his face and was breathing shallowly while his nose twitched. "Ahtchoo! Hhaaaachoo!"

"Bless y-"


"You done?" Seth asked, surprised. Ryan nodded. "OK, then. Bless you."

Ryan nodded. "Thanks."

It was than that Ryan felt eyes on the back of his neck. He craned his neck to see Kirsten standing against a wall with her arms crossed. He turned back to Seth, but not before the other saw the cut on his neck.

"What happened!?" He exclaimed, not giving Ryan the option to not answer.

"It doesn't matter," he shrugged.

"Yes it does!" argued Seth. Ryan shrugged again. "No, don't shrug. Why are you acting like nothing is a big

deal?""Because nothing is a big deal," Ryan replied. Seth was about to reply, but Ryan cut him off. "Stop acting like this is your fault or something can be changed. This is just the way it is."

Seth stared at him in awe. "I don't think you've ever said that much in as long as I've known you."

Ryan just shrugged. His nose twitched and he brought his hand up to his face to stifle a sneeze. "ixxxsht"

"I don't think you're supposed to do that," Seth warned.

"The other inmates get annoyed if I sneeze too much," Ryan stated matter-of-factly.

"Is that why someone stabbed you with a knife?" Seth gestured to the cut on his neck. Ryan gave him a startled look. "Lucky guess," Seth said proudly.

"Actually it was a fork," Ryan admitted. "And it was for an entirely different reason." His face fell and his nose twitched again. Knowing that everyone could hear him sneezing, he tried to hold it in. "hehh...ehhh..." It was no use. "Hehhcchoo!!"

"Bless you," Kirsten offered, from her spot on the wall.

"Thanks," Ryan rubbed his nose with his sleeve.

"Don't do that," Kirsten ordered. "It's disgusting."

About five minutes and several sneezes later, Ryan and Seth still hadn't had much in the way of a good conversation. Seth talked about Summer for most of it, and Ryan tried to listen, but his nose kept distracting him

"You got a nice swerve on you lady. You fine." There was a guy hitting on Kirsten. I should probably stop him, Ryan thought, he could really hurt her. The guy continued to harass her. Kirsten, starting to get really worried was calling Seth to go. The guy got up and started walking toward her. Suddenly, Ryan felt angry. Really angry. He was a bit put off, considering this was the first real emotion he ha felt in a while. He also felt really protective. I have to stop him, he relized. He attacked the guy, pushing him to the ground. Guards came forward to pull them apart, and one of them stayed so Ryan could finish up his conversation.

"You didn't have to do that," Kirsten told him. "In fact, you shouldn't have."

Ryan shrugged. "isshxxt" His stifled sneeze startled Kirsten. "Are you OK?" she asked.

Ryan nodded, "fine." His nose twitched and he brought his arm up to his face again. "Hachoo!"

Kirsten looked at him and sighed. "Let's go," she ordered. Ryan looked at her confusedly. "I'm taking you home with me," she informed the stunned teen.

"Dude!" Seth exclaimed, "you're gonna come live with us!"

Ryan shrugged again, "whatever" But then he flashed a quick grin at his friend before looking back at the table.

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