Ryan/Seth -- sorta
"Go to your room."
Seth flinches at his father's tone of voice. He has experienced ice cream headaches that were more warm and comforting than his father's eyes.
Glancing at his mother, who stands silently behind him in the foyer leading to the living room, is a mistake. Her eyes are blood shot. Seth would guess that she had been crying recently but a sick feeling in his stomach tells him the red quality could be from a hangover. At Seth's imploring look for help her resolve weakens. Seth perks up when she takes a shaky step forward.
But Sandy turns sharply and Kristen stops in her tracks. Taking a solid step back, she focuses her attention elsewhere, refusing to make eye contact with her first born son.
Seth notices his father isn't looking at him either really. He is just yelling in his general direction. The only person in the room who doesn't seem to hate him is Ryan.
Not that Ryan is defending him either.
Ryan stands stoically behind him. He's still carrying all the worldly possessions Seth had taken when he left three months ago.
"Ran away" a self-depreciating voice amends from Seth's psyche. Great, now I can't even stand myself.
"Dad I..." He begins to apologize before Sandy harshly interrupts.
"Seth, your room."
He turns around to take his bag from Ryan, wondering why he ever came home. His parents merely leave the room without comment. Going to storm up the stairs -he freezes when Ryan grabs his wrist.
Seth wonders briefly if he is going to get another lecture. Ryan had been pretty mad when he showed up in Portland. But then so had Seth. He thought they had worked that through though. "WHAT? You gonna give me shit again now too."
Ryan glances around to make sure Sandy and Kirsten are out of ear shot. Raising his hands in mock surrender, he shrugs and backs slowly toward the door. "Hey man, chill, I just wanted to say welcome home."
Seth watches as Ryan retreats to the pool house and remembers why he came back.
And why he left in the first place
"Damn it, why am I still in love with him? How stupid can I be?"
Kicking himself mentally he begins to climb the stairs to the room his father will surely make his prison for many months to come. Taking comfort in the thought that there was still hope.
Summer might still kill him in a rage blackout.
On a normal day Seth is what you would call energetic. Like a live wire, or a hurricane Seth is just a phenomenon that has to be experienced to understand.
Ryan remembers one time at some charity gala Sandy, when talking to some Stockbroker’s wife, used the word "lively" to describe his son. Kirsten had defended Seth by saying he came by it naturally, raising her eyebrows in her husband’s direction. She preferred the term "vivacious".
Ryan just got used to the constant running dialogue. Seth has one of those personalities.
He is always willing to look on the bright side. And despite Seth’s protests of his horrible life pre-him, Ryan knows Seth’s life has been - for the most part -angst free.
He is just a happy guy.
Ryan knows there are just certain things you can expect from Seth. Warm smiles and light banter over breakfast are status quo. Seth doesn’t care that Ryan isn’t a morning person. He never takes into account that Ryan needs sleep because he is working the night shift at the computer lab on campus four days a week.
No, Seth wakes him each morning at 9 when Seth has to set his alarm in order to get dressed for his 10:15 Creative Writing Seminar (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) or his 10:30 Philosophy and Pop Culture course (Tuesday and Thursday, and yeah Ryan doesn’t know how Seth found that odd elective).
Most nights, Ryan is lucky to get 6 hours of sleep.
When Seth’s eyes open wide at the sound of Death Cab coming from the Cd alarm clock he can’t just roll over and silently make his way to the shower. He has to nudge Ryan, trail a warm hand up Ryan’s spine or nibble on Ryan’s ear until he is impossibly awake.
Seth has to wiggle and squirm until Ryan rolls over to physically stop him by wrapping his arms around animated long limbs.
Seth has to describe in detail whatever dream he had the night before, complete with sound effects and the occasional impersonation. Ryan has to listen intently and more often than not follow Seth into the shower to hear the end of the tale.
Those showers while making Ryan more tired and lethargic seem to always have the opposite effect on Seth. He’ll pour cereal and milk into large bowls invigorated and it doesn’t matter how many times Ryan adds one less spoon of sugar in Seth’s coffee and one more spoon into his - he can never keep up.
On a normal day Ryan doesn’t even try, he just smiles and enjoys the whirlwind.
The door to the pool house opened to reveal Seth, fidgeting and uncharacteristically hesitant to invade Ryan’s space. "Hey man -what ya doing? You wanna play playstation?"
Ryan lay on his bed reading. He didn’t look up from his book at Seth’s question. "No thanks."
"I could eat. You wanna eat? Let’s go eat." Seth all but pleaded.
Ryan shrugged and shook his head. "Not hungry."
"We could go steal a car and get arrested." Seth joked lamely in a last ditch effort to force Ryan beyond two word polite responses.
Ryan froze, the finger reaching to flip the page stopping in mid air. He didn’t look up but still managed to shoot daggers with his eyes. "Yeah, only my real brother can pull that one off."
Seth flinched. He knew he deserved it, but the coldness was hard to take. "I said I was sorry dude. I was wrong. Words cannot express how wrong or sorry I am for doubting you. Believe me, from now on, you say someone is psycho I avoid the shower."
Ryan resumed flipping pages. "Don’t do me any favors."
Seth didn’t know what to do. It had been two weeks since the Oliver debacle, two weeks of avoidance and snide remarks. "You are nicer to Marissa."
Ryan finally glanced up, but didn’t truly make eye contact. "What?"
Seth seized the injustice. It made him feel less like the suckiest friend on the planet. "You’ve forgiven everyone EXCEPT me. Why is that?"
Ryan put the book down and sighed. "I’m not with Marissa."
Seth still stood in the doorway, as if waiting to be invited in. "But you talk to her in the hallway. You ate lunch with her yesterday. You won’t even pass me the soy sauce at dinner."
Last nights dinner had been sushi with a side of awkward silence. Everyone had felt it.
"I didn’t hear you." Ryan lied.
Seth laughed. "Over the deafening quiet?"
Ryan sneered. "I never talk."
"Yeah but now I don’t even get indulgent eye rolls or piercing shut up stares." Seth focused on his shoes, not looking up until Ryan began to speak.
Ryan’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. "I could give you one of those stares right now - if it would work."
Seth sighed, not knowing what to say, and for the first time in his life letting that stop him.
"I’ll get over it Seth." Ryan gave in, sitting up and finally looking Seth in the eye. "I’ll get over it. But for the time being I’m going to be doing my Julie Cooper impression. Can you give me that?"
Seth hung his head and knew he had no choice. If he wanted things the way they used to be, he’d have to re-earn Ryan’s trust. "Yeah, yeah, I can."
"Good." Ryan offered dismissively and rolled over to reopen his book.
Seth turned to leave, closing the door behind him with a quiet click.