- Becoming an EMT. If Taylor wasn't there to snap him out of his post-Volchek funk, I think it would make an infinite amount of sense if he decided to train as a paramedic. He probably couldn't have saved Marissa even with that training, but he could save others. That's what he's tried to do his whole life, isn't it, help people? This is an incredibly immediate way to do that. We know he's good at math; I assume he'd be decent at science. Schoolwork would be good for his focus, with less pressure than a standard 4-year. Community colleges are plain, hardy, functional. They train you, they don't ask you to explore your feelings and discover your identity. And once he got there, the work itself would probably keep him busy enough not to worry about his social life. I do think he's meant to be an architect eventually, but he could do this for a couple of years until he got back on an even keel. And honestly? If he ended up here permanently, I wouldn't be opposed to that either.
- Joining the military. I don't think any of the Cohens would be particularly happy about that, between their liberal leanings/pacifism and general worry about him being killed. I also think there's about a 50/50 chance he'd end up court martialed for insubordination. But tell me it wouldn't be good for him to have to learn to control his temper, and tell me that if he could get through it, he wouldn't be amazing at it? Physically, a walk in the park. Going in with the mentality of making a difference? Again, his life's mission. I also think he'd have the aptitude to rank up, if he so chose. He's pretty good around your typical Typical Man's Man type of guy (there aren't enough of them in Orange County), provided they aren't misogynist a-holes, and it'd be good if he didn't have the options of girls to distract him. (I mean, I realize there are female soldiers, but p. sure the military frowns upon hooking up with them. Besides which, I like to think Ryan is fairly decent at befriending girls with nothing more when there are rules to follow from the start; e.g. Summer, Anna...)
- Of course, there are a lot of downsides to joining the military, not least of which is the obviously increased risk of more loss and a heaping helping of possible PTSD, never mind if he ended up with a debilitating injury. But. My Happy Place gets to promise him only a positive experience with it.
- As previously mentioned, due to that other fic I read: the idea of him being an adoring big brother who dotes on Sophie -- perhaps particularly if it's because he's around every weekend while Seth only sees her occasionally due to being on the opposite coast at school -- calms my heart rate down a lot.
- Part of me thinks he won't be fully settled until he's a father for real. (...which makes me realize I've never seen fic of this scenario, either) But with that whole past pregnancy scare, I also think that has to come when he's fully established in a relationship (like, married-established) and actually ready, and again...I have not come up with the right partner for him, not by a long shot.
- Becoming a foster parent? I feel like that might be tricky between the criminal history and the being a single guy, but decent references ought to help.
- Or at the very least, a Big Brother. Actually, that's a good start to the above, since you have to be at least 25 to actually foster. That's something I think even in a canon-compliant way, he might have done in college as an extracurricular.
- Bonus, this fic was kind enough to be the first to give me an idea of someone I might like Ryan to date in college, even though she's not the focus.
Well, okay then! I'm actually feeling a lot better than I was when I started this. Happy places, confirmed.