Word count: 1,553
Summary: Well, I don't know about you guys, but I was very confused by about the first ten minutes of "The End's not near it's hear." Taylor was in Paris, Julie was suddenly pregnant and Frank had gone. Well, this little one shot answers one of those... or at least my interpretation of what could have been the reason for one of them.
Sandy had noticed that Ryan had been acting quieter than usual since they had moved into the Cooper mansion. He’d be seen walking silently around the house, a sad expression on his face. He knew Taylor had noticed it too and he often saw a pout on her face as she looked in Ryan’s direction.
Judging by the way raised voices were often heard from their shared bedroom, she was obviously not as hesitant as Sandy was to bring the silence up with Ryan.
Thinking back on it now, Sandy couldn’t believe how naive he had been, how the reason Ryan had resorted back to “old school Ryan” hadn’t come to him straight away.
Sandy had often come downstairs in the mornings to find Ryan fast asleep on the couch. Obviously, Taylor had had enough of his ways. He tried to talk with Ryan but he always said everything was fine and gave him the same shy smile that Sandy used to see on the kid during the first year he was with them, back when he didn’t want to be a nuisance.
Sandy wanted Seth to talk to him, to see whether a brotherly conversation could get the reason out of him but Seth was too busy playing “married couple in a rut” with Summer.
He didn’t want to worry Kirsten with his observations, she was too busy trying to get used to her swelling belly and trying to quell her morning sickness.
It had surprised Sandy, when Taylor’s loud voice had filled the whole house, yelling at Ryan to talk to her and that if he didn’t she would return to France. Obviously, he hadn’t said anything as the next thing they knew, she was coming down the stairs, her suitcase thumping on each step behind her, with a bewildered Ryan trying to keep up with her.
“I’m leaving.” She stated to all the gawping faces in front of her.
“Taylor, look I’m sorry…” Ryan tried to get her to stop but it was no use, she was already ordering Summer to give her a ride to the airport.
She wouldn’t even look at Ryan as she waved goodbye to them all, promising Julie she’d be home for the wedding and wishing both women good luck with their pregnancies.
Just like that, she was gone. Sandy and Seth looked from Ryan’s hunched over form to each other and shared a bewildered look. Julie hurried off to the bathroom, the morning sickness of the day getting too much for her and Kirsten sat with a worried expression on her face.
It was the four of them alone, once again. Sandy stood up and made his way towards where Ryan stood, unmoving, next to the closed door. He knew now wasn’t the time for questions. He put his arm on Ryan’s shoulder and ignored the flinch. It had been so long since Sandy had felt that flinch and he looked worriedly into Ryan’s eyes.
“Sorry,” Ryan mumbled but he wouldn’t look at Sandy.
Sandy guided him over to the sofa where his wife and son were waiting anxiously for them.
“Are you okay?” Kirsten asked quietly not wanting to push too far, but not liking the look on Ryan’s face.
Ryan shrugged, his face impassive.
He looked down at the floor and the Cohens all began talking quietly to each other, filling in the silence as they always did.
It wasn’t till later that night when Sandy came downstairs to get some milk, unable to sleep, when he recognised Ryan’s form asleep on the sofa. He was twisting and turning in his sleep and Sandy thought about waking him but just as he was about to shake Ryan’s shoulder, two blue eyes sprung open.
It took a few seconds before Ryan got his bearings. “Sorry,” he muttered when the blue eyes finally managed to focus.
“Hey, I was just going to the kitchen for some milk, want to join me?” He asked, trying to keep his voice jovial.
Ryan shrugged and sat up in his make-shift bed.
“So, how you doing kid?” Sandy asked gently as he warmed the milk up for the two of them in a saucepan.
“Okay,” Ryan said quietly.
He was so quiet these days.
“Are you feeling nervous about Berkeley?” He asked casually.
“No,” he said monotonously.
“Can I ask what the deal is with Taylor?” He asked, going in for the kill.
Ryan gave a little sigh and at first Sandy thought he wasn’t going to answer.
After a moments silence, filled with Sandy running a wooden spoon through the milk, he cleared his throat slightly.
His eyes stayed on the milk as he opened his mouth a couple of times before speaking.
“It’s just this house, you know?” He started. Sandy had to lean in to catch what was being said.
“What about it?” Sometimes he could be so clueless.
Ryan moved slightly, looking uncomfortable.
What? Did Ryan think the house was haunted? Did he not like the décor?
“Ryan?” he prompted.
“I just… my room it’s just so close to her room you know?” He looked down guiltily.
Sandy frowned “What Kaitlyn’s room?” He asked wondering what the big deal was.
Ryan looked at him oddly for a moment and Sandy frowned trying to piece everything together.
Then it clicked, Kaitlin’s room had been Marissa’s room.
“Oh, kid…” he began and the look Ryan gave him told him he knew Sandy had finally clicked.
“I’m sorry, we’re so busy with preparing for the baby and finding somewhere to live. We didn’t think of that.”
Ryan raised his eyes slightly and Sandy sighed. He tried to keep Ryan talking. “So what happened with Taylor?” he asked and noticed how Ryan looked down sadly.
“I couldn’t tell her. She kept getting angry because I didn’t want to do anything. It felt like Marissa could see what I was doing, you know? I just couldn’t do anything that might hurt her.”
Sandy mentally kicked himself. “Is that why you’ve been sleeping on the couch?” he asked although he was pretty sure he knew the answer.
Ryan gave a little shrug.
“I just can’t bear the thought of her unhappy.”
“Don’t you think she’d be happy seeing you happy, even if that meant you being with another girl? I mean if, heaven forbid, your roles were reversed. Wouldn’t you want to see her happy?”
“I guess,” Ryan mumbled.
They stood silently as Sandy began pouring the milk into two mugs. He handed one to Ryan.
“So what are we going to do now?” He asked taking a sip from his own and watching Ryan intently.
Ryan gave a little shrug.
“You’re obviously not happy…”
“I’m not… I’m fine… I just…” Ryan stumbled over his words. Sandy saw the panic in his eyes, the panic he used to see when Ryan would feel like he was beginning to be a burden.
“We could swap rooms, you could take our room and we could sleep in Taylor’s room….”
“… but there wouldn’t be enough room for the baby.” Ryan added on.
Sandy sat down and leant back against the back of his chair. For once he stayed quiet.
“Look, I’ll be okay. I just need to get used to it. Besides Taylor isn’t here anymore so I don’t have to feel guilty anymore, right?” he said, trying to at least sound happier.
“Well, we shouldn’t be staying here much longer, just a couple more months. We want to move out before the baby comes so as not to intrude on Julie for too much longer. We have a few months till she’s due. Just, let me know if you feel like this again. Try not to keep it all inside.”
Ryan nodded and ducked his head. He looked relieved at the idea they’d only be there for a few months.
Sandy drained the rest of his milk. “How about we go back to bed… or for you, the couch.” He rubbed Ryan’s shoulder affectionately and Ryan gave a little smile in reply, not a “little boy lost” smile but a “new Ryan” smile.
Sandy’s smile grew as he recognised the new Ryan coming back through.
He stood up and Ryan took his lead. “I’ll take this up with me.” he said, holding up the mug.
Sandy gave a little nod. He’d caught the “take this up,” he led the way up the stairs and Ryan followed. Ryan breathed in as he always did, at the sight of Kaitlyn’s closed door with the little scratch in the paint, which Ryan remembered once commenting teasingly on with Marissa. It felt so long ago now. He gave Sandy a final smile before entering the room.
Sandy gave himself a little mental pat on the back. He still had it in him. He began his journey down the hall and reached his bedroom where he knew his wife would be asleep.
She lay on her back, her stomach showing the signs of his daughter through the blankets. He remembered these times with Seth. Back then, they were in the same position, trying to find a home for themselves and their new baby.
He just hoped the house they picked this time, would be as nice as the house they picked back then…
Thanks for reading :D