NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Characters, etc property of Everwood Utah, Inc and Warner Brothers. Title from the Amy Rigby song. Thanks to Younger, Katie and Amber.


EVEN THE WEAK SURVIVE

When Laynie was in boarding school, she smoked. She never mentioned the Thaw Fest or any Fest at all. She enjoyed Chinese food that didn't smell like lasagna.

She kept a picture of Colin on her desk and another one of the whole family, complete and happy. She was just a baby in the happiest picture she could find. She used to say that to her roommate, complete with ironic laugh at the end.



She gets dumped by the really great guy who made her the mix tape.

She tells Amy about it, one afternoon in Amy's room at her grandmother's house. Amy says "sorry," and looks sad. She gets ice cream from the fridge. Laynie mostly wants a cigarette.



Then Amy says they're not friends anymore because Laynie won't lie to her and Laynie has no one to talk to. At school she sits with two girls whose names she forgets, but they never notice. Girl A is obsessed with some show on the WB. She talks about spoilers and what will happen and how she doesn't get how anyone can make fun of it because that montage with that Sheryl Crow song made her cry like a baby. She says 'like a baby' three times and her voice attains new heights of anger each time.

Girl B seems to have no motivating interests. She talks in the same monotone about TV, music, school and politics. Not that she actually talks about politics, but once she mentions President Bush and Congress. She might have been talking about a class thing that Laynie missed.

Laynie thinks it would be a project to figure out the girls' names without admitting she doesn't remember, but it only takes an hour and one peek at their notebooks. She needs way better projects.



She writes 'alienation' on her math notebook in small letters at the bottom of the last page. She sees it written there when she gets home and starts laughing. Alienation, god, she's been reduced to that. Her father walks by her room and stares, confused, at her laughing so she stops.

She pictures herself sometimes, out of fucking Everwood, elsewhere, and in college and then gone even from there. She'll be sitting there, in that completely different place and drinking coffee and one of her friends will say, "Why are you so fucked up?"

She'll shake her head and do the smiling through pain thing at her coffee and say, "My brother died."



At dinner, her father drinks slowly and talks briefly about work. She really has no idea what he does. She thinks about herself and some coffee shop in the future and thinks she'll say, "My father always wanted to drink himself to death until my brother was a reason not to. Then my brother died." A little time and she'll have a great little story tell. Ironic laugh at the end and everything.

Her mother asks her about school. Laynie shrugs. Her mother asks again. She's trying, Laynie thinks. Suddenly, she's trying. Laynie looks up and smiles and her mother smiles back, just for a moment. If they took a picture, it might even look happy.



At lunch she walks right out of the cafeteria and sees Ephram and Bright sitting at a table, shivering. Both of them too stupid to come in from the cold. She smiles and sits down next to Bright. Bright nods. Ephram says, "And then she said --" pauses, "Hey, Laynie."

"Hey guys. What are we talking about?"

Ephram says, "It's personal."

Bright says, "Ephram is talking about his ex-girlfriend. For the ninth millionth time."

Ephram glares at Bright. Laynie says, "It's the first time for me. Come on, you can tell me."

Ephram blinks. "Okay. Okay, so maybe the female perspective would be nice for a change, would be a good thing, but wouldn't that be sort of awkward? I mean we --"

"Went out twice?"

Whatever face she's making causes Ephram to blanch and start stuttering again. "Okay, not important. So, yeah --"

Bright stands up. "I don't need to be here for the one billionth time. Face it, man, you screwed up. At least you got to screw before that. I'm going to study." He walks back to the school.

"Is he really going to study?"

Ephram huffs. "Three A's last term."

"Wow." Laynie taps her pen on her book. "So, spill. Girl troubles."

"Like you wouldn't believe." Once started, Ephram doesn't stop, even when they're walking back into school. The bell rings as he says, "So you see, I bet maybe I could still fix it, if I could just figure out --"

She pats his arm. "Ephram, sometimes things shouldn't be fixed."

"That's your advice?" He's indignant. It's actually really cute.

"Pretty much."



She's walking to the parking lot with her book clutched against her chest. It makes her think of Rizzo from Grease and watching that movie with her mother and Colin. She's humming the song when she sees Ephram. She walks over humming to see if he's angry.

He glares at her. "What are you humming?"

"It's a song from Grease." Bright shrugs. "You need a ride, Laynie?"

"You recognized it?" Laynie nods and gets in Bright's truck.

"My dad likes musicals."

Ephram gets in next to Laynie and says, "Does he make you sing along?" He's almost smiling. So not mad.



She eats lunch with Ephram and Bright the next two days. They're more fun than A & B, even if they are completely clueless. Ephram takes a solemn vow complete with raised hand and Bright-insisted-upon spitting that he won't talk about Madison anymore, so they talk about school. And Ephram's comics. And movies. And even music. Bright is funny, sometimes even intentionally.

It makes for two good days in a row. And she never writes alienation in her notebook or even thinks about it. She takes the bus home and thinks she's temporarily halted her slide into all-black-wearing-dyed-hair-emo-obsessive-wannabe-poet-scary-girl-dom.

Amy is sitting on her doorstep. She stands up quickly and says, "Okay. Wait one second before you throw me out?"

Laynie sighs and holds her book closer. "I'm hardly capable of throwing you out, Amy."

"No, I was speaking metaphorically. I meant, listen. I have things I need to say to you and I swear they start with 'I'm very sorry' and continue with 'I was wrong.'" Amy does her little smile thing. It's winning, as always. Laynie sighs again, but she puts her book down and sits on the steps next to Amy.

"Okay, talk. First with the sorry."



She pictures herself, out of Everwood, elsewhere, and in college and then gone even from there. She'll be sitting there, in that completely different place and drinking coffee and one of her friends will say, "How do you do it?"

She'll shake her head and smile at her coffee and say something. Something witty and knowing and someday soon, she's going to figure it out.

THE END

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