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15 August 2007 @ 12:08 am
The Second Time Around [The OC; Ryan/Kirsten]  
TITLE: The Second Time Around
CHAPTER 5
FANDOM: The OC
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: None; AU fic.
RATING: PG
SUMMARY:


*****

Kirsten combed her fingers through her hair and huffed through pursed lips, staring critically at her reflection in the mirror. When was the last time she had been so nervous about getting dressed up to go to a Newport social event? Probably not since she was sixteen, and her and Jimmy were planning on telling her father that they were dating.

She pressed her hand to her stomach and told herself to breathe; and for the third time, she examined her clothing choice for the evening. She'd chosen a black, form-fitting dress, with spaghetti straps. The top of the dress cut across her chest in a straight line, giving a hint of cleavage without showing too much. The fabric hugged her curves all the way down to the hem, slicing her just above the knee. She had curled her hair and left it down, foregoing jewelry. All of her jewelry.

After her latest fight with Sandy (which had occured not even five minutes after she'd come home from work), Kirsten had stormed off to the master bedroom to change for the party. She had practically ripped her wedding ring off her finger and thrown it in the drawer of her nightstand. Sandy was yet again spending the evening with Rachel. Only this time they were going to be alone in her apartment. And yet Sandy was concerned about her attending a party with Ryan. The nerve of him.

Kirsten took one final glance in the mirror and decided that tonight, she was up for anything. Her marriage was basically on life support, her son was pretty much a ghost these days, and her work was her life. She was going to have a good time. And if Ryan wanted to take the plunge and kiss her, well... she'd be a more than willing participant.

On the way out, she just barely took the time to grumble in Sandy's general direction, "I'm leaving," before she slammed the door behind herself. Then, she climbed into her Range Rover and sped off toward the Yacht Club.


*****

Kirsten parked a block away (she had no other choice -- the place was packed). She walked along the boardwalk, along the pier, and stopped when she saw a very familiar figure standing by a bench, waiting for her. He was in a black button-down shirt, top couple buttons undone, underneath a simple black sport jacket and pleated charcoal dress pants. He had one hand in his pocket, leaning against the back of the bench. Kirsten was frozen in her tracks by how suddenly GQ he looked. Her eyebrows flicked upward in silent appreciation. "Ryan, hi."

He smiled at her, and she wondered if she'd feel weak in the knees every time he did that. "Hey Kirsten."

She bit her lip softly and glanced down at her high-heeled shoes as she approached slowly. She shifted her pocketbook from one hand to the other and tucked some hair behind her ear. From the way her stomach was somersaulting, it almost felt like a date. Almost. "What're you doing out here?"

"Waiting for you."

Her stomach flipped again and her stance faltered. Ryan took a step forward and she sucked in her breath, noting how his eyes never strayed from hers. "Kirsten, look... about earlier, I--"

She held up her hand to stop him. "Ryan, really, you don't have to apol--"

"I wanted to kiss you."

She blinked; he certainly was blunt tonight. "What?"

"And I'm sorry for that. I know that you're married, but ever since we met, I've been feeling..." He trailed off and looked to Kirsten helplessly.

She nodded and took a few more steps toward him. "I know. Me too." She drew in a breath quietly and told him, "I wanted you to kiss me too."

"You did?" His eyebrows raised.

"Yeah." She stood still as he came toward her, and soon they were standing just a foot from each other, each leaning a hand on the back of the bench. "I can't explain what this is, Ryan."

He raised an eyebrow. "Attraction?"

Kirsten couldn't help but smile. "Well sure. But... it's more than that, y'know?"

He nodded. "Yeah. But..." He tilted his head slightly, and shook it slowly side-to-side. "You're married."

Her voice grew soft and she ducked her head. "Yes."

"So..." His eyes, those clear blue eyes, searched hers back and forth, gentle in the moonlight. "We kind of just have to... forget about whatever this is."

Kirsten sighed and searched his eyes back. She wanted to tell him that she couldn't forget it -- you can't forget something more powerful than anything you've felt before -- but instead, she ducked her head again and murmured, "You're right."

"But..." Ryan shrugged and slipped both hands into his pockets. "That doesn't mean we can't be friends." He tilted his head and gave her a smile, and Kirsten thought for a moment her knees might buckle. "Right?"

She nodded without hesitation. "Right."

"Good." With a broad smile, Ryan held out his arm in a gentlemanly fashion and asked, "Then may I escort you inside, friend? It's kinda chilly out here."

Kirsten giggled and looped her arm through his, touched by his chivalry.


*****

The party was in full swing just an hour later, and Kirsten and Ryan were seated side-by-side at a round table, dining on prime rib while a DJ softly played music in the background. Ryan, being new in Newport, didn't know anyone, so Kirsten took it upon herself to introduce him to their table-mates (while talking him up and bragging about him). She mainly did it to illicit a shy smile from him.

"Are you having anything to drink, Kirsten?" Ryan asked as he took the glass of white wine the waiter was extending to him.

Kirsten shook her head. "No, thank you. I haven't had anything to drink in over a year."

"Really?" Ryan took a sip of his wine.

"Mm-hmm. Should you be drinking?" She raised an eyebrow.

Ryan raised one of his own back at her. "I turned twenty-one a week ago."

This widened her eyes. "What?"

Ryan chuckled. "What?"

"I missed your birthday? Oh God, I am so sorry!"

He shook his head and patted her hand reassuringly. "Not a big deal, Kirsten, don't worry."

She squeezed his hand. "But--"

"No, don't worry."

Kirsten sighed, feeling guilty that they had grown so close over the past month and she'd forgotten his birthday. Then she looked down at their hands -- still joined -- as strains of Dusty Springfield singing 'The Second Time Around' floated around her... as she silently admired how easily their hands fit together.

Love is easier the second time you fall...

She looked slowly up and was almost startled to find Ryan's eyes on her, delving straight into her mind. She wiggled her fingers, testing, and his played back. She drew in a breath -- suddenly it was hard to breathe -- and when they heard a fork banging against a champagne flute their gaze and their hands broke.

Caleb and Julie were at the front of the room, Caleb's glass raised in a toast. "I want to thank you all for coming," he announced, "and supporting the Newport Group. We greatly appreciate it. We have been hard at work, creating new developments, showing new model homes. I'd like to thank my daughter Kirsten for all her hard work and dedication..."

Everyone in the room clapped, including Ryan, and Kirsten smiled bashfully, mouthing a thank you to everyone. Her father continued. "I'd also like to thank our newest architect to come on board, Ryan Atwood. His future at the Newport Group is a bright one -- Ryan, thank you for all the work you've put in so far."

Now it was Ryan's turn to look bashful as everyone -- including Kirsten -- clapped for him. He waved briefly. Then attention was back on Caleb as he concluded, "And finally... the person without whom I couldn't have done any of this. She's business-savvy, she's brilliant, she's beautiful... she's the love of my life."

Ryan glanced to Kirsten and leaned over, murmuring sotto voce, "Twenty bucks says he's talking about Julie."

Kirsten rolled her eyes and smirked at him. "Y'think?"

"To Julie Cooper. Our designer and the heart of the whole operation."

While people clapped, Kirsten and Ryan exchanged a look. "Think he's gonna propose?" Ryan queried.

Kirsten immediately reached out and smacked his arm. "Don't say things like that," she hissed playfully. "God, that'd be the worst thing imaginable."

"In fact, Julie..." Caleb went on, and he reached into his pocket.

Kirsten gasped and gripped Ryan's hand again; the crowd fell silent. When Caleb dropped to one knee and opened a velvet ring box, Kirsten's eyes nearly popped out of her head. With her free hand, she reached for Ryan's glass of wine and downed the rest of it. standing up and storming out. She just barely heard her father proposing to Julie as she marched outside and down the boardwalk. A pair of footsteps followed. "Kirsten! Kirsten..."

"God, I had just been joking! You had been joking! This is... this is the worst thing imaginable! I mean... Julie's my age!" She paced back and forth, the wine making her feel slightly heady -- it had been so long since she'd last had a drink -- but she kept going. "My stepmother is going to be just three months older than I am. I can't even... I can't..."

"Hey. Hey..." Ryan reached out and tugged on her hand to bring her closer.

Instinctively, Kirsten buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist, feeling his arms go around her in turn, wrapping her in his embrace. Against him, she took deep breaths, instantly calming. Why was it that only he had the ability to slow her down, to get her to breathe again, to clear her mind with just a touch?

For what felt like hours, they just stood on the pier together, Kirsten wrapped in Ryan's arms, with the evening breeze swirling around them and waves crashing below. When his voice broke the silence, it almost startled her. "You gonna be okay?"

"Yeah," she sighed, and heard a new song floating out from the Yacht Club -- the sound reminded her of rain drops, falling gently. And then the bass line started in, and Kirsten instantly recognized the song. She pulled away and met Ryan's eyes.

He flicked a brow upward, obviously having just been focusing on the song as well. "'With or Without You,'" he murmured. "A classic."

Kirsten nodded slowly and draped her arms loosely over his shoulders, feeling his loosen around her waist. Maybe it was the after-effects of the wine, maybe it was the breeze, she wasn't sure... but right now, nothing felt as natural as dancing with him. They started to sway on autopilot, as if possessed by the slow, hypnotic rhythm of the song.

Ryan searched her eyes. "This is okay, right?"

She shrugged. "Sure. Friends dance."

He chuckled. "They do, huh? Maybe really close friends."

"Isn't that what we are?" she tilted her head, unable to stop her tone from bordering on flirtatious.

Ryan chuckled again, and when his arms tightened around her waist, her heart skipped several beats. "Yeah. Truth be told, you're the best friend I've got here, Kirsten."

"Same here," she smiled. "Nobody seems to understand me like you do."

Kirsten drifted closer to him unconsciously and her arms tightened around his neck accordingly, bringing her closer still. Soon, she had her forehead resting on his shoulder and her eyes closed. Everything seemed to be spinning, but it wasn't like being drunk. It was much more wonderful. "I love this song," she murmured against him.

She felt, without seeing, his smile. "So do I. It's beautiful."

"Mm-hmm." Her eyes opened slightly, her eyelids heavy, and she moved to press her cheek to his. Chuckling softly, she confessed, "When I was younger, I always had a big cinematic daydream about this song."

"Oh yeah? Do tell."

"Well I always kinda fantasized about the guy of my dreams kissing me at that part where the song swells. Y'know, when Bono goes into those descants?"

"Yeah." This time it was Ryan that moved, dropping his head down so his forehead rested against hers. The song was already at the second chorus. "Y'know, it's almost to that part now."

"Mm-hmm." She closed her eyes and felt his breath against her lips. She shivered unconsciously.

"Are you cold?" he asked tenderly.

She shook her head, her forehead never leaving his as she whispered shakily, "No."

Kirsten felt him blinking, was close enough to practically hear it, and she knew the wheels were turning in his head. When she opened her eyes, his were staring right back at her. They stopped swaying, and Ryan tilted his head. Kirsten tilted hers to the other side to accommodate him and leaned a little closer. Their lips were mere centimeters from touching.

"Kirsten..."

Her knees wobbled at the way her name sounded on his lips, dripping with a mix of love and lust that could've made her combust. Weakly, she responded, "Hmm?"

"If I kiss you I might not be able to stop."

"I know." She didn't care. Part of her didn't want him to stop.

"Okay." His hand came up to cup her face, and their lips were very nearly touching. "As long as we're on the same page."

Then Bono went into those descants and Kirsten had not even a split-second to respond before Ryan's lips finally covered hers. Her knees went instantly weak, but before they could buckle, Ryan's arms locked tight around her and swept her up against him. She clung to him as their searing kiss deepened. Her stomach was somersaulting over and over and Kirsten was positive she'd never felt anything so right in her life. No other first kiss compared to this. And one of her favorite songs was the backdrop.

As the song started to slow and soften, so did their kiss. Ryan was tender with her -- even when the kiss had been hot and aggressive -- he held her gently and cupped her face like a fragile relic. Kirsten felt safe and uninhibited and cherished and a million other things all at once. Sandy never made her feel this way.

And then it hit her. Sandy. Her wedding vows. What was she doing?

She pulled away, panting, as the song started to fade. Unconsciously, she traced his bottom lip with her thumb and whispered, "I can't do this. I'm sorry."

Kirsten tried to ignore the devastated, but understanding look on Ryan's face as she broke free of his arms and ran for her car.



TBC



Songs referenced: The Second Time Around by Dusty Springfield; and With Or Without You by U2

{x-posted to rystenlove}
 
 
 
thekiller00thekiller00 on August 15th, 2007 05:44 am (UTC)
That was a great post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am curious to see what happens the next time Ryan or Kirsten see Sandy or when Ryan and Kirsten go to work the next day !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
a.regalish on August 16th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: That was a great post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hehe, thanks muchly, as usual! ;D
login_failed: Rystenlogin_failed on August 15th, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
This details what Sandy and Kirsten no longer have: a foundation of friendship underlying their marriage. To use terms of a homebuilder, a house cannot stand without a good foundation.
Love is easier the second time you fall...
Perfect and poignant. This can easily portend to either point of view.

Truth be told, you're the best friend I've got here, Kirsten."

"Same here," she smiled. "Nobody seems to understand me like you do."
That is what describes Rysten's natural gravitation perfectly.

Other things I liked:
Kirsten's reaction to the Caleb/Julie proposal and Ryan's comfort.
The kiss and how she thought of Sandy's inability to make her feel this way.
Ryan's ability to understand, even though it hurts.

This one has potential to outdo every other Rysten fic you've ever written. (Including Dream Weavers and Sleepless)
a.: R/K; i need you like waterregalish on August 16th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
Awww, thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one; I almost feel like sometimes I'm skipping over things and summarizing a bit too much just so that I can move forward with the story. I'm thrilled to hear that it's working out a-okay.

I love "The Second Time Around" -- the best version I've heard is the Dusty Springfield one I mentioned. Because the rest are typically sung by men, and for me this was almost a Kirsten song. And it's Kirsten's second time around; which is where the title of the fic came from, hehehe. I listened to that song several times before I really started getting into writing this, and just thought so many lines were so poignant and so perfectly suited to the situation.

So sweet of you to say it can outdo the other ones, hehehe. I'm having a MUCH easier time writing it than I do the other ones, lol! Maybe I needed to branch out a bit -- following the show restricts the Rysten. Their love cannot be bound by frivolous restrictions! Hehehehe.

Thanks again, doll! :D
pipetgirl2pipetgirl2 on August 16th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
Caroline,
The chemistry that Ryan and Kristen have here is undeniable. Not only do they care about each other deeply, but they do seem to really understand each other. Wonderful update.
a.: R/K; we are just the same;regalish on August 16th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Julie! It means a lot to me to get your insights on my fics, and I'm glad to hear you're still enjoying it.

I can't help but showcase how well they understand each other, hehe -- it's what made me fall in love with them! Well, that and let's face it... they look awfully gorgeous together, don't they? :D
pipetgirl2pipetgirl2 on August 16th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, they do look good together.