no matter how hard i fall in love with the OC, and each of the characters in their own way, i just can't see seth/ryan, i said to smallbeer
, not unless it was some kind of AU.
i should know better than to say things like that. especially because somehow it turned out that i could not find -- anywhere -- hookerfic to prove the theorem for me.
so: The OC: Ryan/Seth. AU. You are whoever they want you to be.
Warnings: Hookers. Inspired by "The Girlfriend," but other than some borrowed dialogue, no spoilers beyond the pilot.The Difference Between Breaking the Bank and Just Breaking Even
SUMMER 2003Cut your losses
Cut your ties
Start a new life
Right when it really counts, you find out you don't have a friend in the world. Not a real friend, anyway, not a single person who can spot you one night while you figure out what you're going to do next. Marco's mom found Jesus again and Danny's dad is on a bender and Theresa's aunt and her four kids and their dirty laundry are taking up every inch of space in her house. You call Dina, who you've been seeing sometimes, but her brother kicked the shit out of the last guy to sneak in and even though you're willing to risk it she says no way. Ten years of getting into shit with these people and nobody cares you've got no one else to call.
It's June and it's hot and you can sleep outside if you have to, maybe sneak into the school locker room and steal a shower while the football team runs drills. The shitty, scarred pay phone and the busted up concrete around it smell like the rest of this strip mall, like Chino, like your life. Frying lard and motor oil and day-old beer. There's broken green glass under your boots, like someone dropped a bottle while calling her asshole boyfriend to come pick her up.
The sun beats down and you shrug out of your jacket and sweatshirt and have a go at knocking out the pay phone. You don't give up until your knuckles are good and bloody. Then you lean against the concrete divider at the edge of the parking lot and wonder if it's worth doing something that gets you arrested again just so you'll know where you're sleeping. Your PD was a dumb day-drunk prick who never looked you in the eye or even shook your hand, but maybe you'd have better luck the next time.
An ice-blue fancy car idles at the curb and doesn't move when the light changes. You could steal another car, maybe. If you don't get caught, you could drive out to the ocean and sleep in the backseat at the beach. There's a soft whirring sound that gets under your skin even with all the noise of the neighborhood, the tejana spilling from souped-up cars and two guys catcalling a girl across the street. A gust of cool air blows over you and you squint at the blue car. It's sleek and slung low, the kind of car you only ever see when you're at somebody's house watching MTV.
The guy inside, a white guy who's maybe 25 or 30, nods at you through the open window. "Hey," he says, and his voice twists in on itself at the end, like a finger beckoning you to come closer.
You take three steps and bend down a bit, leaning forward. He's probably looking for dope. Maybe you can go find him some, kick up the price enough to get a room tonight. The interior of the car is all black leather and dull metal and the guy's mouth is half-open in some marriage of smirk and smile.
"You need a ride?" The keys dangle from the ignition and he taps his fingers against his thigh.
"Nowhere to go," you say, your heart thudding in your chest. You rest an arm on the roof of the car.
The guy reaches into his wallet and pulls out a hundred dollar bill, tossing it on the dashboard. You blink at the money lying there, just waiting for a strong breeze to carry it up and out of the car. After a minute, he throws another hundred on top of it. This guy's got money holding down money and a nice car and he's not too built, you could probably take him if it came to that.
You want a place to lay your head, and a way out of this city, and there's no point in sitting around waiting for things to change on their own. You grab your stuff and get in the car.
TWO YEARS LATERThese things -- they can tie you up, weigh you down
Wear you in then wear you out
You did your time on your knees in alleys and hunched over the front seats of cars, but you've also been to some nice places, beach houses and Hollywood mansions and four-star hotels in the desert. Your type is very popular with the soft-skinned money-making type, the type that would have a brunette with long legs if they liked that kind of thing, but never a blonde bimbo. Plenty of them don't like that kind of thing, it turns out, because instead they like you.
You've gotten good at being what they like. They like you to be strong and silent and a little scary, just intimidating enough that they remember they always wanted to be thrown across a bed or a desk or the hood of a car but were too afraid to ask. Money's an excellent equalizer when it comes to fear, you've learned. You're not scared of them, but you want their money, so you come out about even.
This is a pretty nice house, for Orange County. The last time you were in a pool with a view this good you were too busy being the designated party favor to really appreciate it. But tonight's an easy gig, just being a date to a birthday party, and not even to the kind of party where people will realize that's what you're there for. There's another party after this, something smaller and gayer and that's where you'll actually get to work.
Gary's a decent guy, he does what he promises and only fucks the talent when they're willing. If he can get you booked for two or three more features, you'll have enough cash to quit, and so if Gary wants you to drink expensive bourbon and smile at society women, that's fine. He thinks he's grooming you to be the new face of Falcon. You're just biding your time.
One of the skinny blonde women married to one of the tall dark-haired men is an old friend of Gary's, and he left you to catch up with her as soon as you arrived. All Gary said in explanation was "Berkeley," shrugging like that meant something to you. You wander off to the bar and a lady with a sagging face-lift asks if she heard you were Kirsten's cousin from Canada. You say sure. The sun is in its last few minutes of free-fall into the ocean and by the time you've finished your drink it's dark. There's not much of a view now. The empty space down the cliff could be a field as easily as the sea.
It's the slow ones who have it easy, the arm candy with breast sizes bigger than their IQ. You got your GED a month after you left Chino and have been working your way through City College since, because you may be a hustler but that only means you're confident you'll hustle your way out of this life, too. People you meet in class think you're an actor or a model. Guys you know from the scene think you're an ex-con and only in this for the money. You don't waste your time making friends, and no one except the family you never heard from again knows you just turned eighteen last month. You don't miss them. Nothing that's happened since you left has been worse than what you left behind.
You turn back towards the house and a tall, skinny kid is staring at you. He looks embarrassed to be caught, covering his face with his hands for a second before flailing his arms around. Then he ducks into the pool house. You aren't sure if he was trying to signal something or having some kind of seizure. Gary's still talking to the blonde.
There are more doors than required for a building the size of a two-car garage. You pick one at random and it's unlocked, which is as good a reason as any to open it. You've never been good at staying out of trouble when there's so little to keep you busy. You got thrown in a pool during a party like this once, and broke a rib to boot. For all the good they do you, you're not so good at getting along with rich people.
The kid is sitting in the dark on a futon on the floor. "Oh," he says. "Sorry, I didn't mean to --" He waves his hand around. "I was just thinking how long it's been since we had someone new at one of these things."
You lean one shoulder against a glass wall. The curtains are all down and it's like a cave. A very expensive cave.
"So, um." The kid shrugs. "Who are you?"
He is wide-eyed and young and sitting with his legs tightly crossed. You are very bored. You pull a pack of Marlboro's out of your pocket and say, "Whoever you want me to be."
The kid laughs and coughs and bends over his knees. He makes another hand motion you don't understand, but he still seems to be breathing. You light up.
"What are you, a hooker?"
You exhale so hard you nearly choke.
"I mean, sorry, obviously you're not, that's just *such* a hooker thing to say. Or so I have been led to believe by Showtime After Dark. We don't actually get a lot of hookers in this part of Newport. Unless you count my grandpa's girlfriends."
"And, hey, I realize I just insulted you and all, but could you maybe not smoke in here? My mom has like a sixth sense about it and she'll just think it's me, and --"
"No problem," you say. You stub it out on your shoe and stash the butt in a potted plant. "But I prefer 'hustler,' actually."
He runs a hand through his crazy curly hair and sighs like he's been left out of the joke again. "Oh, right, whatever. Okay, don't tell me."
You shrug. People believe what they want to. "I'm here with Gary."
"He's not my uncle."
"Well, he's not mine, either." It's just this side of petulant, better suited to an eight-year-old than a teenager. "He's my mom's friend from college."
"Right," you say, pulling out the vowels in your best Steve McQueen drawl. "Berkeley." You cross the room and sit down in a wicker chair next to the kid, leaning an elbow on your knee. "So what's your name?"
"Um, Seth. Cohen. Seth Cohen." He fidgets.
You can't help but smile. "You sure?"
The kid sneers, "What's yours?"
You sit back. "Whatever you want it to be, like I said."
"Look, I don't know if this is some kind of joke somebody's playing or you're just being an ass or what, but you really do sound like a hooker."
Seth stares right at you this time. You don't look away. You never look away.
"Yeah, hustler, whatever." He pushes himself up off the futon.
There's something about this kid, this Seth Cohen, that reminds you of yourself flinching in anticipation, of years spent trying to fly beneath the radar because it's better than the attention you get from being noticed.
Seth's sure no one's got the time for him. You've got nothing but time.
You say, "Bobby."
Seth raises an eyebrow, but he lies back on the mattress again. His eyes trail down your neck, across your shoulders, down your arm. His skin twitches. It could be a shadow, but you'd swear he's trying to adjust his pants.
You stand up. "Got fifty bucks?"
"Do I -- do I have fifty dollars?" You nod. "You need, like, a loan? Is this a party trick? Are you gonna pull money out of my ear? Because I had this really traumatic experience with a clown at my sixth birthday party and so I have to admit --"
You kneel on the futon, first one leg and then the other. Seth freezes. "You ever had a blow job from a hustler, Seth?"
Seth's hands are clutching the futon cover, his knuckles white. "Well, see, I haven't really -- no. The answer would be no."
"Fifty bucks?" You put your hand on his knee.
Seth scrambles into a half-sitting, half-digging-for-his-wallet position and holds up three twenties. "I, uh. I don't suppose you have change."
You pluck two from his fingers and fold the third back into his pocket. "You can decide later if it's worth a tip."
A gentle tap to the chest and he falls back on the pillows, his dress shirt riding up and exposing a pale stomach. You spread your hand wide over the dark hairs, your thumb hooked in the hollow of his hipbone. As you push your fingers into his pants, his eyes flutter closed.
The best advice you ever got was from the guy who fucked you before sending you out for your first date. He said you'd make more if you enjoyed it. You always liked sex, and you like fucking guys more than you'd expected. You get a lot of repeat business and since you got off the street and into house calls, you've gotten in a lot fewer fights.
It's even easier when they're this excited. This kid is so young, so trembling with half-managed restraint. You haven't felt like that since you were thirteen, maybe fourteen, when it was all still new. You still remember the last really great fuck you had before leaving, Theresa's shining eyes and her long dark hair brushing your chest as she leaned forward over you.
You try not to think about Chino when you have some guy's dick in your mouth. Seth is eager and nervous and is going to be a decent lay when he figures out guys will love him for liking it this much. He comes with a low whine and a flailing arm, beating the pillow beside his head. You wait until he opens his eyes to wipe your mouth.
He blushes and clears his throat. "So I guess maybe you weren't kidding about the whole hustler thing."
You smile softly. Something about this kid makes you want to be gentle. You'd even kiss him now but he doesn't seem sure yet whether he wants it.
He props himself up on his elbows. He has dimples cut deep in each cheek when he grins. "Or you just get bored sometimes and offer sex to strange boys for money?"
"I get bored a lot," you say. You pull yourself up his body and come to a hovering stop at eye-level. Your hands are on either side of his ears and he shakes his head, his sideburns brushing your wrists.
"This is really happening," he says. "Nothing ever happens to me. Nothing, in the entire history of the history of the world, has actually happened to me."
You kiss him. He whimpers and pushes his hips up to yours. You bite his neck and he giggles and digs his fingernails into your arm.
"Hmm?" You tug his tie loose and undo two buttons in the middle of his shirt. He's thin and lanky but not bad looking. Good lips, smooth skin and long, dark eyelashes.
"Um." Seth frowns and his voice is high and trembling. "How much is it for me to try that?"
You angle your neck towards his mouth and he darts his tongue out. He licks gently, then harder, and then he fucking bites you, and not gently. "Hey! I charge extra for leaving a mark, kid."
"I'm sorry." He looks sheepish and annoyed all at once. "I'm sorry, but, c'mon. Kid? What are you, forty?"
You squint down at him. "Twenty-one."
"Yeah, and I’m eighteen. Or I will be. Next week. Month."
You suck on the hollow just under his top button, harder until he moans and you know he'll feel it under his suit and tie for a week.
When you stop, he runs his fingers through your hair and says, "Actually, and I admit I'm surprised I can think clearly enough to remember what I meant to ask you like five minutes ago. But. I meant, how much to, you know." You look at him. "Do what you did."
Oh. You're not the type guys usually pick for their first, or their friend's first, or their gay brother's. You're the type they come to when they've got a good idea how they want it and nobody around who can do it right for free.
Seth is shivering under you, and he can't be cold because everything in this part of the world is climate controlled and you're stretched out on top of him like a blanket. He's nervous. He's a blushing fucking virgin asking if he can pay to suck you and even if you had something else to do it's the easiest work you ever get.
"You got another fifty?" He nods. You touch his face and he smiles like a loon. When you kiss him this time he seems to get the hang of it, to kiss you back, lots of lips and tongue, less biting. You start to roll him over and he surprises you by picking up the momentum and finishing the move himself.
He straddles your chest and touches the tips of his fingers to your lips. His eyebrows are scrunched together and his mouth is open as he fumbles with your shirt. He unbuttons it, sighing in frustration. "More shirts," he says, and pushes your tank top up around your armpits, sucking a line of kisses down your chest. By the time he gets your pants unbuttoned he seems more confident.
Then he stops, on his knees between your legs, and stares up your body. "I don't, um, actually know what I'm doing, you realize." You grunt and slouch down a little more. He doesn't get the point. "I don't want to break something or, like, get sued for worker's comp or something because I'm pretty sure I don't have insurance that covers --"
"Seth." You bend your chin to your chest. "You're doing great. Just -- keep going."
He nips at your stomach and you rear up. "Sorry, sorry." His breath is hot and quick.
"Teeth aren't funny any more," you say. He mumbles something into your pants that sounds vaguely reassuring and pushes your underwear down.
He does a hell of a lot better than you had your first time. He's more sure he wants it, sure enough to pay for it, to ask for it. You hadn't been sure you could choke it down no matter what it was worth, and then you went out and picked a fight with a cross-eyed stranger just to feel like yourself again. It's funny how much you like it now, the taste and smell of cock under your tongue, in your throat. A guy can get used to anything, you guess.
Seth seems to be adjusting quickly. You work hard to make it easy for him, make it fast enough that he doesn't get tired or worry he's done something wrong. You're a professional, after all. It's not your job to make him think this is what it'll always be like, it's your job to make it good. When he comes up for air you tell him, "You can finish however you want," but he doesn't understand or doesn't care or maybe takes it as a dare, because he only sucks you faster and harder.
You reach down and bury your fingers in his curls, trying to tug him up and off. He shakes you away, gagging but going down again. You give up on professional courtesy, closing your eyes and just letting yourself feel it all, his nails on the back of your thigh, his nose up against your groin, his hair brushing over your stomach. You wonder if this is what it would have been like, your first time with a boy, if you'd done it for fun, if you were still just a kid looking for ways your body could get you into trouble. You wonder what kind of guy would have made you realize you'd like this.
You come and he catches most of it on the first try, but then he won't move, won't look at you. You dig your fingers into his armpits and pull him up. Seth's heavier than he looks and hard against your leg. He still can't meet your eye. You kiss the corner of his mouth and say, "It's okay to like it," turning him onto his back. You thrust against him twice, three times, and he shudders and bites down a groan. You hold his shoulders and waist in a full-body hug, and when he blinks his eyes are glassy, stoned with pleasure.
His mouth opens in a loose, satisfied smirk, and you kiss him. For fun.
He touches your face with the back of his hand and says, lazily, at about half the speed of his usual banter, "That was like the complimentary dessert, I hope, because all I have left in there is my dad's credit card for emergencies only, and no matter how desperate I was to get into your pants I'm not sure this really qualifies."
"Cash only," you say.
"No shirt, no shoes, no service?"
You suck at his knuckles a little. "Consider that one on the house."
Seth waggles his eyebrows and squeezes your ass. "Beginner's luck, I guess."
"Don't push it," you say, kissing his forehead and getting to your knees. "This place got a bathroom?"
"This place has its own zip code, man." He waves his arm around behind his head towards a half-open door. You pick your way across the darkened room and he calls after you. "You totally overcharged me, didn't you?"
"Looks like you can afford it." Seth's a mess, hair everywhere and a wet spot right on the front of his pants. You don't give a shit about catching flak yourself but there's no reason to leave this kid more vulnerable than you found him. You clean him up as best you can, as much as you can in between him kissing your neck and running his fingers up and down your arm. You stop a few times to kiss him back. "You probably should just leave your shirt untucked," you say finally.
"I never tuck in my shirt."
"So you should be fine."
He leans forward and kisses you again, teasing and chasing your tongue until you are dizzy with playfulness.
You pull away and he sighs. "I gotta go."
"You can't. You have to give me some tips."
"Maybe things work different here, but where I come from you tip the worker, not the other way around."
"No," Seth says. "I think we covered gratuities already, thank you very much. Tips. Advice. The least you could do before you fly off to whatever fantasy world from whence you came is give me some constructive criticism on how to improve my technique."
You stand up and button your shirt so you won't kiss him again for being so cute. "You have a technique?"
"I -- shut up, by the end there I totally had a technique, like, a twisty humming technique thing."
You only have so many buttons. You re-tie your shoes and walk into the bathroom to check your hair. When you come back into the main room he's sitting with his legs crossed in one of the wicker chairs, tie straight and posture casually elegant. "Use your hands more," you say.
"Wouldn't that sort of reclassify it as a handjob? Anybody can do that. I feel like I have it in me to be the king of the blowjob. King BJ. Maybe I can still get it in the yearbook under my picture."
You stand in front of him. "You have a nice mouth." You touch it and damp breath whispers against your palm.
"Thank you," he says, and you bat at his hair.
"I'm not done. You have a nice mouth, and you have great hands. Don't be afraid to use them. Touch him."
Seth swallows and reaches out a finger, brushing your pants just above the knee.
You clear your throat. "Just touch him, hold his balls, use your fingers, rub his ass. Whatever you do that he doesn't tell you not to he's probably enjoying."
"That's, um. Good advice."
You bend down and kiss his cheek. "You're welcome," you say, and walk out the door.
You find Gary and the blonde lady by the grill. Her name is Kirsten, and she smiles warmly and tells you that if you ever want to talk to someone about trying to get into acting, her sister would be happy to have coffee or something. Gary raises his eyebrows at you over her shoulder and you say, "Thank you, that sounds great. And happy birthday."
"Where've you been?" Gary asks, tugging at the lapel of your jacket. It's almost fatherly.
"Just talking to Seth."
Kirsten looks like she wants to hug you. "Oh, really? Oh, that's great. I keep hoping he'll ask some of his own friends to these things, but, I don't know --"
"Mom, if you keep telling people I have no friends, I'm going to be even less likely to subject someone to your crazy inquisitions in the future." Seth puts an arm around her and you realize he's bigger than you'd thought, more solid. She looks tiny inside his embrace. She pinches him in the ribs and he squeals, "Child abuse!"
"Yeah, you've had such a hard life," she says.
"No one has suffered like I have suffered." Seth squeezes his mom and then lets go. "Listen, Bobby, can I talk to you for a second?" He nods towards the house.
You look at Gary. "We've got to get going soon," he says. "I'm just going to go say goodbye to her lesser half." Kirsten waves and tucks her hand in his arm.
Seth is tilting his head and staring at you. "Your name's not really Bobby, is it?"
"No." You've never been a very good liar. Mostly you just keep your mouth shut, but he deserves that much.
His shoulders slump. "Oh, okay. Well, I'll see you around, maybe, or --"
"Here," you say, and hand him one of the fancy cards Gary got you, the thick kind with ridges in the paper and nothing but a number in bold black ink.
He stands up straight, a smile creeping over his face, and he taps the card against his fingers. "So it's like, a call for a good time sort of thing?"
He's walking backwards, away from the party, and you follow him step for step. His lips are red and kind of wet and no matter what you say, he's going to keep talking. He's going to eventually talk you into anything he wants.
"You should look into getting, like, a bat signal, you know, or maybe a panic button people can hit when they have some kind of sex emergency."
You've never been this easy. You've never wanted to just be yourself so much, to act your age, to just be a kid at a party trying not to say goodbye.
"Of course then you'd also need some kind of really fast ride, like a --"
You pull him behind a pillar and kiss him hard. He stops wriggling after a second or two and kisses back, greedy mouth and a foot hooked around your ankle.
"Do you want to get caught?" you ask. You don't mind, you just like to know which game you're playing.
"You have no idea how much my father worries I'll never get laid. And I suspect my mother would secretly be pleased. Except for the money part. But she's a businesswoman at heart, so she respects entrepreneurs."
He slides an arm inside your jacket and strokes your lower back. It's maybe the sexiest touch you've ever felt. "I think Gary told her I was an actor."
Seth pulls back and wipes his mouth. "Oh my god, you're not -- like. With my Uncle Gary?"
"No, no. I just. I work for him." You kiss him behind the ear and he paws at your chest in a kind of desperate dog paddle.
"Uncle Gary's your pimp?"
"No!" You try to distract him with your tongue. "It's not like that. He just knows a lot of people in the industry." He's still frowning. "I never slept with him."
He sighs and nods sullenly, pulling away. He's just remembered your job's not a joke. "Look, the reason I came after you -- I know you totally took advantage of my inexperience and all, but I said I'd pay you, and I'm going to." He tucks three twenties into your breast pocket.
You forgot about the money. You forgot.
"You look really hot with your mouth open," Seth says. He sounds sincere and a bit sad. His hand's still pressed to your chest and you can feel your heart pounding against it. His other hand is knocking up against yours, his fingers tracing your palm, stroking the cuff on your wrist.
The second best advice you ever got was not to get too comfortable on your back. You bought a thick leather band with two snaps and a snug fit, and you always wear it on your right wrist. Gary said, "You know guys think that means --" and you just shrugged. You wear it because you know the truth is no matter who fucks who you're the one getting screwed. You don't ever want to like it so much you forget that.
You shrug out of his grip and his face falls. "Hey, thanks," you say, "I definitely need the money."
"No problem." He sniffs and crosses his arms. "Just making a living, I understand."
He's still young and delicate, like he might bruise on the outside when he gets his feelings hurt. "I don't usually hustle strange boys at parties, Seth."
He presses a fist to his mouth and looks at the ground. "Oh yeah?"
You shrug. "Yeah." You edge closer and he drops his hand, letting you crane your neck up and kiss him softly. He's got such a great mouth. "It wasn't just because I was bored."
"Okay," he says.
"I gotta go." You feel for Gary's valet ticket in your jacket pocket. Time to get back to work.
"Okay, yeah." He gives a little wave with your card still in his hand, and you trip over a planter trying to walk away backwards.
Credits: Title & lyrics by Phantom Planet, "Making a Killing." A few stray lines of dialogue are stolen directly from the show. Sinead and I share all the same TV boyfriends, and this one's for her, and for Jamie, who forgave me for not being able to wait. Thanks to Punk and Glace for close reads.assorted self-indulgent notes: nothing like an AU to make you really ponder what are immutable characteristics. so seth never had ryan to make him cool, give him confidence, help him get the girl. ryan never had anyone tell him he was allowed to be a kid a while longer. punk also really got me thinking by pointing out that in many big and small ways, The OC is itself an AU -- it's one long series of vignettes of things that happened to ryan atwood because he didn't stay in chino. i tend to think the deciding factor had less to do with geography, and more to do with sandy.
ETA: There's now a sequel, Everybody's Looking Like the Color of Money