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11 April 2012 @ 08:51 am
The Fall of Camelot [The OC; Ryan/Kirsten]  
TITLE: The Fall of Camelot
PART THREE
FANDOM: The OC
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: Season 3 AU
RATING: PG
SUMMARY: Her brain was fried already with thoughts of Ryan, of what had happened. The last thing she needed was her fully-grown son begging for his mommy and daddy to stay together just for him.


*****

“You’re sure?” Seth needled her, yanking her once more from her thoughts.

Kirsten nodded, though she felt as though the nod may have come off a bit manic; a bit too affirmative. “I’m sure. Nothing ever happened.”

Then he asked what she knew had been rattling around in his brain ever since he found out. “Is that why Dad left?”

“No, sweetie,” she told him, her head shaking sadly.

Sandy’s departure had its own laundry list of reasons, but Ryan’s feelings had nothing to do with it. She hadn’t even known at the time; how could Sandy have known?

“Well he had to have known,” Seth insisted, almost as if he were answering her thoughts. “Why else would he leave?”

She sighed. Her son was a lot of things, but perceptive wasn’t always one of them. “Seth... I don’t have the energy to explain all of this to you, I’m really sorry. But to sum it up, your father and I just... reached a point where we couldn’t connect anymore. A point where neither of us really wanted to connect anymore.”

But he shook his head. “No. No, that’s ridiculous, Mom. You and Dad survived, like... everything.

“You’re right, we did. For awhile, we absolutely did. But... you can only fight for survival so many times before you start to wonder what exactly you’re fighting for.”

“For me. Your son.”

“You’re not a little boy anymore, Seth. You’re an adult.” Her voice was growing weary, and her patience was growing thin. Her brain was fried already with thoughts of Ryan, of what had happened. The last thing she needed was her fully-grown son begging for his mommy and daddy to stay together just for him. “And we did try to work things out, we really did. And we did that for you. But that fell apart way too fast, and we had to stop kidding ourselves.” She pinned him with a look. “You would be wise to do the same.”

Seth stared her down, but she held her ground, arms folded across her chest as they stood facing each other in the middle of the now-vacant poolhouse. He had no idea how hard they had tried for him. But they couldn’t keep it up.

Valentine’s Day had been their official “last try.” The final time she and Sandy attempted to work through their issues and reconnect as a couple. But there was the lingerie mix-up. And Matt’s involvement with Maya Griffin. And yet another party on the pier, this time for her new company she founded with Julie.

**

Sandy’s arm wound around her waist as they stood, watching the two entwined hearts light up with pink flame, the logo of her new company, NewMatch. “You throw a great party, babe,” he told her, pecking her cheek.

She smiled. “Thanks, Sandy. I’m really glad you could stick around this time.”

Sandy smiled back, though his brows crinkled in slight confusion. “‘This time?’ What do you mean?”

She shrugged one shoulder, glancing down at the glass of punch in her hand. “Well, I just mean... Matt’s not dragging you away for some emergency, and you’re not running out the door to a last-minute conference call. It’s... nice.” She hoped the sincerity showed in her eyes.

“Well...” Sandy nodded, still looking a bit uncertain. “Thank you. I wouldn’t miss this holiday for anything in the world.”

At that, Kirsten couldn’t help the smirk, rolling her eyes. “Ha, ha.”

“Nah, I mean it, honey. Valentine’s Day is... y’know. The best ever.”

“You’re a very funny man, King Arthur,” she teased, draping her arms over his shoulders and pulling him in for a kiss.

“Thank you, my Queen,” he chuckled, returning her kiss.

Together, they looked around the party, arms around each other securely, that old feeling of familiarity and warmth filling her. A feeling she had been missing for months. “Looks like everyone’s got a match tonight,” her husband commented. “Seth and Summer, Matt and Maya...”

She nodded. “Julie and Neil.”

“Roberts?” Sandy’s arms dropped from her waist as he looked at her in surprise.

“Mm-hmm.” She suppressed a smile at the sight of Julie, giggling like a school girl, next to Dr. Neil Roberts. Leaning close to Sandy, she murmured, “That’s not public knowledge, though, so keep it to yourself.”

“Duly noted.” He glanced around the pier. “And where is your gallant knight this evening?”

“I believe he is busy moving on from the Marissa era.”

Sandy raised his brows. “Really? So they’re really done this time, huh?”

“I think so. He sounded pretty sure of himself.” She remembered her conversation with Ryan, just moments before on the pier; his subtle quest for advice that ended with a soft smile and squeeze of her hand before he left her by the punch bowl. A strange pang hit her, but she did her best to ignore it.

“Been meanin’ to thank him,” he commented suddenly, drawing her attention.

“For what?”

“I dunno. For everything. Seems like since I’ve been pre-occupied, he’s been takin’ pretty good care of you.”

Kirsten ducked her gaze and nodded, pushing a slice of hair behind her ear as she fought the irrational flush to her face. “He’s been very... attentive. I’ve appreciated his company.”

Sandy nodded, seemingly oblivious to the tumultuous thoughts hitting her brain from every direction. “Seems he appreciates your company too. You guys are so different, and yet--”

“So alike?” She quirked a brow, and nodded when her husband did. “Yeah. I know.”

She thought of Ryan grabbing her hand when everyone else abandoned her home-cooked meal; she thought of him kneeling beside her in his suit of armor, her gallant knight, swooping in to rescue her from her own sadness. She thought of the framed photograph sitting on her vanity table and the way he looked at her as she bandaged his arm.

An involuntary shiver ran through her, her heart beating an unusual rhythm. She grabbed Sandy’s hand. “I think I’m getting tired of this party. Wanna take me home?”

Sandy didn’t hesitate to say yes.


**

Finally, Seth seemed to relent. All of the puffed-up confrontational stuff seemed to drain from him like air leaking from a balloon. He sighed. “Alright. Fine. Whatever. I guess if you guys wanna just throw away twenty-some-odd years of your life, that’s your decision.”

Kirsten huffed, rolling her eyes. “Seth, we’re not throwing it away. Those ‘twenty-some-odd’ years are always going to be a part of the both of us, and you know that. Stop being so dramatic.”

“I just don’t get you, mom. You just... let him go without putting up a fight, and yet it’s Ryan wanting to get out of here that breaks you.” He shook his head.

She ducked her gaze, looking instead at the mattress and Ryan’s crumpled sheets as Seth headed for the door. “I told you, it’s complicated.”

“Must be, for you to get all broken up about Ryan leaving and not even shedding a tear when your husband walks out on you.” Then, it was as if her words and his combined struck something in him. He stopped in the doorway and turned to her, one hand braced on the wooden frame as he regarded her.

She met his eyes, hoping the conflicting thoughts weren’t visible in them.

“I shouldn’t even ask this--”

“Then don’t,” she urged him. He didn’t want to hear it, couldn’t handle the implications if he heard it, and she didn’t think she was ready to acknowledge it aloud.

“I have to.”

“Seth, just leave it alone.”

“So we’re just gonna keep talking in cryptic circles around the elephant in the room?” He threw his hands up.

Kirsten much preferred that to the alternative. “I think at this point, we have to. You can’t handle it, and frankly, neither can I right now. So let’s just let it lie.”

“So it’s true, then?”

She closed her eyes, shutting him and everything else out to the best of her ability as she exclaimed, “I don’t know, Seth! Okay? I don’t know right now. Everything is changing so fast, and-and... I don’t know what I feel or who I feel it for!”

“Well let me know when you figure it out.” With that, he left her to her thoughts in the pool house.

**

”It’ll just be for a few days,” he told her as she stood with her arms folded across her chest.

“I don’t think this is a good idea, Sandy. Look at what they did to him!” She kept speaking in clipped and hushed tones, gesturing to their closed bedroom door, indicating the living room beyond where a bruised and beaten Matt was conversing with Ryan and Seth.

“Exactly. I can’t just leave him in his trashed apartment. What if they came back?”

“He doesn’t work for you anymore, it’s not your problem! I don’t want to invite danger into my home.”

“You were so willing two years ago, how is this any different?”

She raised her eyebrows. “This is not the same as Ryan’s situation.”

“You’re right. Ryan had stolen a car,” Sandy countered. “Matt was the victim in this situation, not the perpetrator.”

“Unwilling accomplice,” she corrected him. Her defensiveness over Ryan was pure instinct at this point.

“I think the point still stands here, dear.”

She huffed and tightened her silk robe around herself, yanking on the satin ties. “Fine. Two nights. Then he’s gotta stay somewhere else.”

Sandy relented with a nod, holding his hands up in supplication to let her know he wouldn’t push for anything more. “Thank you. Thank you. I’ll go let Matt know.”

Kirsten followed him into the living room, the two of them standing near the fireplace as Matt sat on the couch and Ryan and Seth hovered near the kitchen. She felt Sandy giving her a light nudge and she threw him a look, but stepped forward regardless, throwing on her ‘doting wife’ smile. “Matt, we would like you to stay here for a couple nights.”

“Really? You’re okay with that?”
“Yes, absolutely,” she lied, flitting her gaze up to Ryan and Seth.

Ryan stepped forward off the look in her eyes, telling Matt, “You can stay in the pool house, man. Should give you some privacy, and the bed’s pretty comfortable.”

Matt had no objections to that, though that left Sandy asking, “Well then where are you gonna go?”

Ryan nodded toward the couch. “I’ll be right here. The couch isn’t bad for sleeping.”

“I’ll get you some sheets,” Kirsten offered, and the sleeping arrangements were set.

Hours later, she found herself staring up at the ceiling fan, watching its lazy revolutions as she willed herself to sleep. But it was useless. She couldn’t sleep with the thought of nameless thugs invading her home, looking to go another round with Matt. Nor could she sleep with the nagging irrational thought that Ryan was just a room away.

Eventually, she gave up on the idea of sleep and threw back the covers, slowly climbing out of bed so as not to disturb Sandy. Padding barefoot down the hall, she threw a glance out the patio doors toward the pool house, noting it was still dark inside. She was halfway to the kitchen when a voice startled her. “Can’t sleep either?”

She jumped, knowing he was there and yet not expecting him to be awake. She turned to spot Ryan propping himself up on the couch. She exhaled a smile. “No. You?”

“The couch may not be as comfortable as I let on,” he smirked, throwing the sheet off himself and rolling onto his feet.

Kirsten watched him stretch his arms over his head a moment, attempting in vain not to focus on the muscles in his arms, or in his abdomen as he did so. “Thought maybe I’d grab a glass of juice or something.”

He straightened his white tee shirt, which had ridden up when he had stretched, and nodded. “That sounds good. I’ll join you.”

He followed her into the kitchen and grabbed the carton of orange juice from the fridge while she fetched a glass for each of them. Then she stood on one side of the island as he occupied the other, filling the glasses she passed to him and then giving one of them back to her for her own consumption.

“So you’re not real thrilled about the new house-guest,” he commented around the rim of his glass, taking a sip.

She smiled briefly; he could read her too well sometimes. “I just think it’s a little unsafe to have him here right now.” Shrugging, she added, “Never know when the ‘hospital mafia’ will make a return visit.”

He chuckled. “Yeah. But, I think Sandy’s still in their good graces, so I dunno. Might’ve been a good move on his part to bring him here.” Off her look, he shrugged. “Just to play devil’s advocate.”

She took a long drink of juice, setting the glass on the counter. “My husband does have a tendency to bring home strays.” She lifted her eyes to his. “And I guess the last time turned out pretty well.”

“Well... in case this one doesn’t, that was why I opted to stay on the couch.” He smiled at her. “It’s my job to protect the King and Queen, after all.”

Ah yes, the old Lancelot and Guinevere metaphor, perpetually dangling in the air between them since Halloween. Kirsten almost couldn’t help herself. “Ryan, about that... there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

“Go for it.” He finished his juice in one last gulp and took the glass over to the sink.

Kirsten’s body twisted of its own volition to follow his movement. “The whole... Lancelot thing. Or really, Lancelot and Guinevere.”

“Yeah...?” he prompted gently.

Carefully, she regarded him, still contemplating how to approach such a loaded subject. “Are you familiar with the story?”

His gaze didn’t waver as he nodded. “Yeah. I am.”

“Oh.” So that meant... “So that means you know that Lancelot and Guinevere were--”

“Sorry, don’t mean to interrupt,” a third voice broke in, startling them both.

They turned their attention away from each other, turning toward Matt who had just entered through the back doors. He pointed to the sink. “I just... wanted to grab a glass of water.”

“Oh!” Kirsten turned, noticing all at once how close she was standing to Ryan. She was thankful for the darkness in the kitchen, hoping her embarrassed flush was well hidden from both of them. “Sorry, we just--”

“Were chatting,” Ryan finished for her. “Kirsten couldn’t sleep, so I was keeping her company.”

“Right.” Matt nodded, though she wasn’t sure if he bought it.

Then she wondered why he wouldn’t. What was so wrong about she and Ryan alone together in the middle of the kitchen? They were just talking.

She kept telling herself that inwardly as she murmured, “I should get back to bed or I’ll be a zombie in the morning,” and bid them goodnight all too quickly.




TBC




{x-posted to rystenlove}
 
 
 
thekiller00thekiller00 on April 11th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
Great chapter. I really like how you write the connection between Ryan and Kirsten in this.
a.: act | mckenzie & rowanregalish on April 14th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really enjoying getting back to that connection; been so long since I've written these two! :D