Title: Dìa de los Muertos
Author: Regala Electra
Summary: Whatever happens in Mexico stays in Mexico.
Warning: Slash, sexual situations
Spoilers: "The Escape"
Author's Notes: First O.C. fic evah. Molly is a crackwhore with evil intentions. S/R loveissocanon. This is unedited, as I'm just so excited that I finally finished it and I'm positing it right away. Also, while I am half-Hispanic, no one in my immediate family speaks Spanish fluently. Apologizes if the sentence structures are a little off.
It's easy to track Ryan in Tijuana. He doesn't need insider info, a spy network, or even pure luck. He just enters the hotel room and sees Ryan slumped against a wall, a beer bottle in his hand.
The place is trashed, but really, Seth hadn't expected any different. A lamp's knocked over and he can't stop a useless thought: "somebody's going to have to pay for that" from crossing his mind.
The overexposed light is yellow and ugly and Ryan's face is half-cast in a shadow. But even Seth, who first thought, "Marissa's going to be okay" when he saw her in the alley, can't let himself hope for anything positive.
No tears of grief, not a single one, are reflected in Ryan's eyes by the unrelenting light. Ryan sits there, motionless, refusing to look at Seth.
Ryan *had* been too quiet, watching as the doctors and nurses wheeled Marissa into the emergency room, following them but not really there. And he had disappeared before Seth had turned around, abandoning his careful observation of the swinging white doors sectioning off the emergency corridor. Seth stayed as long as he could, finally leaving the hospital a few hours later when there was no hope of finding out if Marissa was going to wake up.
He needs to say something, because he's more afraid of this silence than he is at anything else at the moment. And he hates that it's true, death is easier than Ryan's uneasy silence.
"There's no new information. The doctors...they say it's bad, man. Really bad."
At least, that's what he figures they said to him. His parents would be proud; he'd been running around the hospital, desperate for communication and yes, thanks to his sterling education, he *can* say "una cerveza por favor" but in matters of life and death, that isn't the most helpful thing to be yelling in a hospital.
His first answers from the people he'd questioned (harassed is a better word, but it *was* an emergency after all) had been useless responses in rapid-fire Spanish (although, truthfully, he was so frantic, he'd been quite the ugly American, speaking in rapid-fire English and broken, badly accented Spanish fragments):
"Què? No comprendo."
"Puedes hablar Español, por favor?"
"No hablo ìngles, querido. Necesitas un mèdico?"
And then, one busy, but patient doctor had finally explained in Spanish, "Tenemos nada nueva que decir sobre la situacìon de tu amiga. Para informacìon nueva, visite a mañana por la mañana." After staring at Seth for a while, he had called over another doctor who had repeated it a second time in English.
Bizarrely, he'd felt the need to be extremely polite and thanked her nearly ten times for translating. He thinks she purposely disappeared after that, in fear of him thanking her again.
Ryan finally responds, but not in the way Seth needs him to. He lifts his bottle and takes a long sip, dropping it when he's emptied its contents. It rolls away from him and Ryan bows his head, but Seth has no idea why.
And that frightens him.
"Don't you want to know if Marissa's going to be okay? Don't you care?"
It's a low blow and he prays it works.
Ryan tilts his head to the side, slinking further into the shadows. A smile comes to his face, drawn tight like a skeleton, and Seth thinks that's the scariest thing he's ever seen this night. "Fuck you, Seth."
"We won't know until tomorrow," Seth says, ignoring the sensible danger warnings rocketing in his system. Because Ryan isn't supposed to be acting this way; he's standing now, steady and much stronger than Seth, Ryan's so still, like death, and god...Marissa had looked so...
Seth doesn't let himself finish that thought.
"That's what the docs said? Tomorrow? Hey, didn't you say mañana is Spanish for tomorrow? So that's all they're saying? Mañana?"
He hesitates, fearing the wrong response will end up causing more damage to the trashed room. And he doubts he'll be able to say anything right. His silence is ignored as Ryan moves away.
Ryan stalks over to the lamp, setting it back on the bedside table with a strange reverence. He doesn't bother to put the lampshade back on; it's been mangled beyond repair.
"That's all I could get," Seth says, his eyes capturing Ryan's every move. It's like confronting an animal (except showing his fear is the only thing keeping him from being attacked) and it's nothing like that, it's something worse and if he could understand it, then maybe things would be okay. Seth fears his best friend is dancing on the fine line of crazy and is about to shuffle over the edge, and even he chides himself for mixing metaphors so badly.
"I tried, I kept on asking, but they just said there'll be more information tomorrow. Summer said she called the Coopers and told them what happened."
He wants to go on, but he thinks of the cold efficiency of the hospital and the dread inside of him is curled like a worried ball in the pit of his stomach. Yeah, it's exactly like that: some over-blown hyperbolic image. He's freezing even though it's hotter than even he is accustomed to at this late, dead hour.
Dead. The word clings to his thoughts and he can't shake it.
Ryan freezes, and too calmly says, "She called Marissa's parents."
Good. At least he said her name.
Ryan sits, no falls, on the edge of the bed, his whole body just *slumping* in defeat. His eyes close, but Seth doesn't dare go any further than the inside of the doorway. It's safer there, and if it's any game Seth's mastered, it's the "play it safe" game.
Ryan's mouth stays pressed in a fine, white line for a long time before a word creeps out, bitter and desperate, "Why?"
It settles heavily on Seth's mind. Why.
He doesn't have any answers: why did he convince them to go to Tijuana, why did he and Summer have to fight over control of the car and then crash it? Why didn't they get there sooner, or later? Why did they go into that club? Why did they have to see that and why couldn't they stop her...why couldn't they do anything?
But Ryan's asking: why did she do it?
And Seth will never have an answer.
It's this moment when he feels so incredibly young and out-of-place, like he's finally been revealed. He's just a geek who can master Playstation, explain the finer points of Farscape, and go on a lecture tour about how much ass Episodes One and Two of Star Wars sucked in comparison to how much part one and two of Lord of the Rings kicked ass, but he doesn't get the first thing about life.
"What? You have nothing to say?" Ryan's voice has turned dark and taunting, "You asked me to tell you all about my problems with Marissa and you can't even answer a simple question? Do you even know what happened? Do you, Seth? Or are you hoping that when Marissa's parents come, that'll solve everything? Say something, godammit!"
"I just saw Marissa try to commit suicide."
It comes out even though Seth didn't want to say it and Ryan's suddenly inches away from him, rage making his eyes cold and alien and there's something worse in his face. It looks like - it is - hate, making his face an angry mask. For a moment, Seth wonders if he'll let Ryan beat the shit out of him. A moment later and he knows he'd fight back, even though Ryan'll kick his ass anyway.
"That's not what you saw, Seth. I couldn't feel her heartbeat. She wasn't alive. They had to bring her back. She's dead. She's dead."
And then the tears come, hot and hard, and it's just instinct to hug Ryan, because that's what friends do and he tries to shut out Ryan's repeated mantra, 'She's dead. Dead. She's dead. She's dead,' out of his head, but he can't, and he thinks that sound's going to echo in his dreams for a long time to come.
He feels two sharp tugs on both sides of his collar and Ryan's grabbing fistfuls of his shirt, propelling Seth forward into the room, saying, "Don't you understand? Don't you get it?"
He thinks he does but then Ryan's mouth, hot and messy and not right, attacks his own and he doesn't get it all. It's not what he ever expected, it's not soft and lipstick-tasting like Summer and it's not prickly or rough, well, it's rough, but it's also - good.
This shouldn't be happening.
He tries to push Ryan away, a good "Ryan what the fuck are you doing?" would come in handy, but when Ryan's hands let go of his collar, his arms holding on fiercely to Seth's body and a new thought comes - "This is what friends do."
Actually, that's one of his brain's worst lies. Friends, especially those of the male persuasion, do no make out, in order to feel better. At least, that's what he's assessed over his life, but if he's wrong, it doesn't seem like that would necessarily be a bad thing. And when the hell did he become the judge for good and bad?
During these hurried thoughts, he hears a door slam shut, and Ryan pushes him against the door, saying nothing and saying everything, pulling him close and attacking his mouth. Seth freezes, heart pounding and mind screaming "DANGER WILL ROBINSON" and yeah, that was really fucking helpful.
Oh, Ryan's tongue, and any objections Seth might have had exit the building along with his sanity as he kisses back, hard, trying to keep up with the pace. He wonders if his inexperience shows and it feels awkward but strangely graceful. He tilts his head a little too much and fixes the problem, finding that it's so easy to fall and for a moment wonders why he can't find a single reason to stop Ryan.
It's like warm alcohol, that's his first thought on the taste, warm and stale alcohol. And Ryan takes Seth's bottom lip in his mouth, biting it and it's just *so* damn right -
Ryan's body comes in closer contact, hot and sweaty, and hard, oh - hard - and Seth reacts instantly, a shock of excitement bubbling all over his body. Ryan's hot and warm and god - he kisses like *that* and Seth knows that is a *guy* kissing him and he's kissing back, and this is really, really happening.
They've both just tap-danced over the edge with a toss of their hats. Because they'd have matching hats, like in a musical. An image of Ryan singing comes to mind and he doesn't laugh.
Seth knows now that he's the one who's losing it.
He nearly bites Ryan's tongue when one of Ryan's hands pulls up his shirt and begins unbuttoning his pants. This is madness.
He should be stopping this. Telling Ryan that this is crazy. It is crazy, and not the funny crazy like a fox and Seth knows it's his job to stop Ryan but he can't. No sane thoughts are crossing his mind. There are feelings and sense memories of a disturbing nature: the feathery sweetness of Summer's kiss (sweet-gentle-warm), the feel of Ryan's body against his side as they played videos games together (hot-different-comfort), and then Marissa, still and motionless.
"Ryan. Ryan," he manages, trying to break away, trying to do the right thing.
"Seth," is the answer and Ryan pulls him to the bed. If Ryan had been gentle before, it ends, his hands are quick and angry but Seth looks at him. It's a moment, one of those Very Special Ones and they can change this, this will keep them from doing something stupid.
And then he sees another of Ryan's smiles, small and slow and it reminds him so much of the Ryan Before, as though there are two Ryans: this Ryan, who frightens him and, the old Ryan, the Ryan B.M.A.S (Before Marissa Attempted Suicide; he'll have to think of a shorter title). It's a small flicker of a smile, a small moment of assurance and it's gone and Ryan strokes his cheek, rubbing a thumb against Seth's bottom lip and how can he stop this?
If he wants to, he can pretend that they're not using each other. That this isn't just a freak moment that will be suppressed by many, many video games and stilted, censored conversations. But that way leads to further complications.
Seth rolls onto his back, pulling off his shirt without a word. Ryan's on top of him, his lower half pressing down *hard* but it feels strangely natural. Fearful of any more Big Moments, Seth winds his fingers through the short hair on the back of Ryan's head, bringing him down for crushing, sloppy kiss that lacks all the skills that Seth's never had the chance to learn.
And Ryan's a terrible teacher. He encourages it, likes it when the kisses are all teeth and tongues, and lips. So Seth doesn't bother trying to hold back, even if he could, it's *Ryan* and he's never felt any reason to hide from his friend.
A flash of thought does cross his mind as Ryan quickly shoves Seth's pants and boxers down, a question about tomorrow.
Tomorrow can go fuck itself is the instant self-reply as Ryan's hand, sweaty and clumsy, takes Seth's cock too-suddenly, the pressure and *feel* nearly causing orgasm. Trying to get the better of Ryan, wanting *more,* Seth bites his way down Ryan's neck, returning back to his mouth for another horribly right kiss.
Curiosity getting the better of him, Seth's free hand travels down Ryan's chest, down the stomach, managing to open the jeans without causing any major accidents, which for Seth is an admitted miracle. Lost in the feel of Ryan's hand (finally) pumping Seth's cock with a gentleness his mouth does not offer Seth, he pauses, leaving his hand fractions away from Ryan's ready (and willing) cock.
Seth can feel the rush coming, that hot, sweaty, tight burning, but he gathers all his strength and lightening-fast, pushes Ryan onto his back.
Something strangled comes out of Seth's mouth, soft and hesitant, his body screaming in protest as he says, "Are you sure?"
Ryan doesn't say a thing and that's the last pit stop, they're fully on their way. Someday Seth will have to learn to stop thinking in pop culture clichés.
He pauses, he's never thought out the logistics, it isn't like anything like how he imagines sex to be: Ryan's not a *girl* and the proof of that is jutting out, needing to be touched. And Seth does just that, curiosity getting the better of him for the moment.
"Fuck, Seth," Ryan hisses between clenched teeth.
"Uh, should I stop?"
Cocking one eye open, pulling down Seth's face inches from his own, he manages, "Don't you even fucking think about it."
Then it's Ryan's mouth again and Seth isn't worrying, although he has no idea what he's doing.
Somehow Seth's on top and god, they're *touching* and he can't help but move against Ryan, and Ryan's hand is suddenly there and oh god, he can't control it any longer.
It's blistering, fast and hot, so damn good, a sensation that burns through his entire body and even though he used to always find the words for the most meaningless of situations, there's nothing. He comes, and says nothing.
When he finally opens his eyes, he's shifted off a bit to the side, his arm curled around Ryan's shoulder. Bringing him closer, Seth says, "I'm sorry, Ryan."
Ryan says nothing, taking Seth's free hand, looking hard at it, as though there's something written on it. Seth holds his breath as Ryan brings the hand to his mouth, lips dry and warm pressed against the back of Seth's hand. Ryan then pushes the hand away, getting off the bed and stripping off his remaining clothes. Not turning back around, facing the other way, he says "We should shower."
Seth stays silent for a while, a thousand discomforting thoughts running through his mind. "I'll take a shower last," he weakly volunteers.
"No," and Ryan's tearing through his luggage, taking out fresh clothes, "you can, uh, you can go ahead."
Fearing what will happen if he stays for a moment longer, Seth bolts into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. His reflection stares back at him and he doesn't recognize that person. Stripping off his pants and turning on the shower, he steps in, when there's a knock on the door.
"Seth? I got you some clean boxers and a T-shirt..." Ryan's voice trails off and Seth wonders if it's from embarrassment or from something else. And if it's something else, it's too confusing for Seth to process at the moment.
Cracking open the door, he fumbles his hand out and blindly takes the clothes, muttering "Thanks," under his breath.
He just had sex with Ryan. His best friend. His buddy.
He really wishes at that moment that he was the type of person who could vent. The mirror would've been shattered by now.
Stepping to the shower, the icy cold blast is alien in this stifling heat and he concentrates on counting the tiles, occupying his mind until his body can't take it anymore. Finally turning off the water, he quickly dries off with a threadbare towel.
Dressing faster than he's ever dressed before, he exits the bathroom with his head ducked down, refusing to meet Ryan in the eye.
Ryan avoids him; Seth can hear the bathroom door click shut and then the sound of water fills the too-small space.
Peeling off the ruined comforter, though it's not as messy as he's expected, he lies down, eyes refusing to close.
He turns slightly, clicking off the lamp.
Ryan opens the door, the light still on, and his face is too shadowed for Seth to see. He flicks off the bathroom light, making his way to the bed in the darkness.
For a moment, Seth thinks that Ryan will ask him to leave and he'll gladly vacate the bed, hell, everything inside of him is shouting for him to leave.
But he isn't. And he won't.
They lie together on the bed, silent. Seth makes sure to leave plenty of space between them. Nervous, he says, "Uh, Ryan?"
Ryan moves closer in the darkness and Seth can't make out anything, not even the shape of him. The heat of Ryan's body is right next to him, and Ryan whispers, "Not tonight Seth. Don't leave me too."
Seth stays awake a long time after that.
He awakes to a blast of sunlight in his eyes and a shadow of Ryan against the open doorway.
He wants it to be a dream, a troubling, disturbing, years-of-therapy type of dream. But he can't lie to himself, not about this and he gets up, trying to make as little noise as possible.
Ryan turns around and Seth can finally read his face. He knows exactly what's running across Ryan's mind.
"Forget it, man," Seth says, swallowing, feeling nothing but a strange emptiness he's never quite felt before, "whatever happens in Mexico stays in Mexico."
Something flashes across Ryan's face, but Seth refuses to understand it. Because it looks too much like regret and Seth knows the score. This was a fluke, a mistake.
It'll stay in Mexico.