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26 April 2012 @ 12:15 pm
The Fall of Camelot [The OC; Ryan/Kirsten]  
TITLE: The Fall of Camelot
PART FIVE
FANDOM: The OC
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: Season three AU
RATING: PG
SUMMARY: Her marriage was truly over. In hindsight, she couldn’t believe it took her until the beginning of April to realize it.


*****

As soon as she had said it to Ryan in the kitchen that night, she began to feel it with every bit of herself. Her marriage was truly over. In hindsight, she couldn’t believe it took her until the beginning of April to realize it.

”Ya done lockin’ me out?” Sandy had asked, coming into the bedroom and tossing his briefcase on the bed.

Kirsten nodded, folding the shirts she’d brought up from the laundry room. “Yes, I am.” No sense mentioning that, in her short-sighted plan to agitate her estranged husband, she’d forgotten to leave herself a way back into the bedroom. Ryan had had to jimmy the lock; a skill to which she chose to turn a blind eye.

Sandy nodded back, glancing around the bedroom as if he were in unfamiliar surroundings. He was, in a way, with all his overnights at the office. “So are we good, you and me?”

She looked up at him, fighting to keep the surprise from her expression. “Sandy, we’ve barely spoken to each other in the last two weeks. You’ve been spending almost all of your time at the office.” Glancing surreptitiously outside, she spotted Ryan cleaning the pool and lowered her voice slightly so as not to be heard through the French doors. “I’ve been so upset with you that I deliberately locked you out of our bedroom, and you want to know if things between us are ‘good’?”

He sighed, ducking his head. “Yeah, you’re right.” He threw a glance toward the headboard, their Camelot crowns hanging off each post denoting their side of the bed. “So I suppose it’s time we invest in some counseling of some sort.”

Kirsten studied him closely. “Is that really what you want?” Finishing folding one of the clean pillow cases in the laundry basket, she folded her arms. “After everything over the last few years... after Carter and Rebecca and all the stuff with my dad, and you and Rachel, and... God knows how many other obstacles... do you really think therapy is going to help us?”

He furrowed his eyebrows at her. “What’re you sayin’ here, Kirsten?”

She swallowed, hard, not wanting the inevitable to come from her, but knowing that it had to. “I’m saying that, at this point, I think I want us to separate.”

Things spun out of control quickly from there. The proximity of Ryan just outside the doors and Seth upstairs was no longer a concern as they shouted at one another; Sandy stormed around the bedroom and started throwing some of his things into a box -- some of his casual clothes and a few books, not to mention a couple of trophies he’d obtained in surf competitions several years before.

Kirsten watched as his King Arthur crown became the final piece; Sandy tossed it toward the box and it hooked around the top of one of his trophies like a thrown horseshoe. “Guess it was too much for me to hope we could stick to that whole ‘for better or worse’ thing, huh?” he jabbed, giving her a look.

But she held her ground, arms hugged around her midsection in a subconscious protective stance, her eyes hard as she ground out, “Don’t even try that with me, Sandy. You know as well as I do that there has been a great deal more ‘worse’ lately.”

“So that’s just it, then. It’s done?”

“I think we need to give it a week or two and see,” she told him honestly.

“Fine. You can have your two weeks then,” he huffed, grabbing his box and hoisting it into his arms. The crown teetered precariously on the edge of his trophy as he shifted the box under one arm, turning to her. “Guess it’s sort of ironic, in a way.”

The sudden softness to his voice tripped her up momentarily, particularly after the seething he had just done. “What is?”

“This whole thing.” He nodded at the Guinevere crown, still hanging on its post on her side of the bed. “The Camelot metaphor from Halloween.” He raised his eyebrows. “Arthur and Guinevere didn’t make it either.” As he turned, he added over his shoulder, “But in their case it was because in the middle of it all, she fell for Lancelot.” And then he headed for the door.

Kirsten stared at the crown a moment, Sandy’s last comment hitting her like a ton of bricks, and her eyes meandered toward the French doors as a result. Ryan had paused his cleaning of the pool, looking at her curiously. Her heart skipped and she pushed the feeling away, chasing after her husband.

“Sandy, I hope you know that I still love you.” She met him at the front door.

He nodded sadly. “I know ya do. I love you too.” He shrugged. “And who knows? Maybe a couple weeks is all we need to salvage the kingdom.”

Kirsten nodded, and accepted a kiss on her cheek before he turned to head out the front door. As he did, his crown fell from its perch on the trophy and clattered onto its side on the tile floor, rolling away. But Sandy didn’t turn to retrieve it. Instead, he just kept walking, and the door closed behind him.

She sat down hard on the entryway stairs, watching the crown roll toward the bottom of the stairs, stopping at Seth’s feet. She just stared, a numbness starting to settle over her as her son slowly bent to pick up his father’s crown, examining it in confusion before turning his eyes up to her.

“Where was Dad going? Why did he have a box of his stuff?”

Kirsten opened and closed her mouth, a million half-truths and sugar-coated explanations coming to her at once. “Seth...”

But the look on her face must have been enough. The hand that held Sandy’s crown fell to his side, the gold-plated accessory dangling loosely off the pads of his fingers. “Got it.” He then trudged up the stairs, slowly, as if the gravity of the entire situation had already set in.

She wanted to call after him, but found that she was left unable to speak. Instead, she drew her eyes to the doors past the living room, where she knew she would find Ryan -- and there he was. He leaned on the door frame, arms folded as he regarded her quietly. Sandy’s words rang in her head:
“In the middle of it all, she fell for Lancelot,” as Ryan made his way toward her.

No words were exchanged. Her eyes just followed him as he came to her side and sat on the entryway steps beside her, the two of them sitting in practically the same positions they’d been in in the pool house, after that disastrous dinner at the Yacht Club. Kirsten clasped her hands around her knees, sighing heavily.

Ryan continued to say nothing, instead offering silent support. He rested a hand in the middle of her back and she felt the transfer of warmth, the transfer of strength. Kirsten turned to look at him, their eyes searching... reading... silently conversing as they so often did. She found herself somewhat amazed at the fact that, even after the last several months, after all the ups and downs and backs and forths, he was still on her side.

Without breaking gaze, she found herself asking quietly, “Still?”

And Ryan tuned right in to what was on her mind; he often did effortlessly. So he nodded and promised her, “Always.”


**

Kirsten stuffed her hands through her hair, watching the sun beginning to set beyond the infinity pool. It had been a good couple hours since Seth had left her to herself; a couple of hours she had spent lost in her thoughts, trying to sort out the events of the past couple weeks.

The dynamic in the house had shifted rapidly, almost as soon as Sandy left, and Kirsten was powerless to stop it. Seth had become more of a ghost than usual, spending most of his days (and nights) over at the Roberts house. She and Sandy had tried to speak on the phone at least a couple times every week during their trial separation, but each conversation tended to spiral into an argument; something that had left both of them facing what was now an inevitability: divorce.

And Ryan... well, the shift between her and Ryan landed her where she was at that exact moment: sitting in an empty pool house, staring at the sunset and wishing she knew what she wanted.

**

”Hey, what are you doing down here? I need you!”

The look on Julie’s face was frantic, and Kirsten would have smiled if she weren’t so sad. She gently tugged her silk wrap a little more tightly around her shoulders. “I’m sorry Julie, I’ll just be a few more minutes. I needed some air.”

“Oh.” Reasoning seemed to catch up with her friend. “I guess this isn’t the ideal place for you, with you and Sandy splitting up.”

“Right.”

“I’m so sorry, Kiks,” Julie intoned, tilting her head and wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Here I am getting all excited about this benefit, and my upcoming marriage when yours is falling apart!”

“It’s okay, Julie,” she told her, and meant it. “You have every right to be excited. I’m excited
for you. I’m just...” She sighed, attempting a smile. “Having a hard time getting enthused about setting people up on dates tonight.”

“Are you guys really getting a divorce?”

Kirsten nodded, slowly, watching the waves crash along the shore. She leaned against one of the thick wooden columns under the pier. “Yeah, we are. We talked about it this afternoon. We’re gonna tell Seth about it in a couple of days, and then start moving things forward next week.”

“Wow. I’m so sorry.” Julie stepped forward to give her a hug, rubbing her back gently.

“Well, y’know, maybe this is a good thing,” Kirsten told her, brushing back the hair that blew in her face. “Sandy and I, it’s just been one problem after another, for at least a few years.”

“That’s how it was with me and Jimmy too. And when all the fraud stuff came up, we just kinda reached that point where we had to stop kidding ourselves.”

She nodded. For all of her faults and superficial tendencies, Julie knew what she was talking about in this area. “Exactly. And we just weren’t there for each other when the other one needed, so...”

Julie nodded back. “So maybe it’s time for you both to find someone that will always be there for you, no matter what.”

“Hey, there you are.”

She and Julie turned at the sound of Ryan’s voice above the crashing waves. He stood just yards away, hands in the pockets of his dress pants.

Julie planted her hands on her hips. “And what are you doing down here, Ryan? I thought you were supposed to be mingling with some of the bachelorettes.” She grinned. “There are some very pretty college girls up there...”

He chuckled, “Yeah, I know,” and one hand left his pocket to brush through his hair. “Guess I just... didn’t hit it off with any of them.” To Kirsten, he nodded and told her, “I was looking for you, actually. Wondered where you’d gone.”

“Just needed some air,” she sighed, and watched his expression fill with understanding. “I’m sorry I dragged you to this thing.”

He waved away the apology. “Nah, it’s fine. You need me, I’m there.”

Julie glanced between the two of them and then looked to Kirsten with a very pointed, raised-brow expression. “Well! I suppose I should get back up there... make sure none of those Newpsies have stolen Neil away from me.”

Kirsten was left to wonder about the smirk Julie gave her then, as she was left alone with Ryan. “I really am sorry I dragged you here, though. I know these parties aren’t really your style.”

“Well, they’re not, but... oh well. Free food and all the fruit punch I can drink isn’t too bad a deal.” He gave her a lopsided grin, and she couldn’t help the giggle.

Somewhere above them on the pier, love songs played; glasses were clinking and people were laughing -- Newport’s singles, dancing, drinking, and enjoying the night. But for the two of them below, the enjoyment was a bit strained.

“How are you doing with all of this?” Ryan asked softly, having overheard part of her conversation with Sandy earlier that day.

“As good as can be expected,” she murmured, resting the back of her head on the wooden column.

“Maybe
you shouldn’t have been dragged to this thing.”

She shrugged. “It’s my job.” And again, she tugged her wrap more tightly around her body. “Granted, I’m my own boss, but still.”

Ryan gave her a slight smile. “Well, maybe you can talk to your boss and tell her she should ease up and let you have a little time off.”

Kirsten sighed out a smile. “You’re sweet to look out for me, Ryan. But I’m gonna be okay. It’s...” Her smile turned slightly rueful as she admitted, “It’s just gonna be a little tough being the queen for a bit.”

“Well, feel free to call on your knight whenever you need him.”

She blinked slowly, appreciative of his presence in her life. “Thank you.”

A new song floated down to them and Ryan groaned, closing his eyes. “Ah God, I hate Nickelback.”

Kirsten giggled. “I could tell the DJ to play something else.”

“Nah, it’s alright. Much as I hate them, this song is... actually not terrible.”

She listened for a moment, the lyrics speaking of loving someone all along and being away for too long. “I kinda like it.” She met his eyes. “Maybe a dance would cheer me up.”

He nodded. “Well, there are plenty of bachelors up there.” He made a face. “Some kinda... creepy, but I’ll find you a good one.”

She ducked her head, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear almost shyly. “Well, there’s only one bachelor I wanna dance with tonight, and he’s standing in front of me.”

Ryan raised his eyebrows. “Me? Oh, I dunno, Kirsten.... I’m not, uh...” He looked nervous suddenly, almost skittish. “I’m not a great dancer.”

“It’s just turning in a circle. Come on,” she cajoled, and offered a friendly, if slightly flirtatious, smile. “I promise I won’t step on your toes.”

He chuckled, unbuttoning his suit jacket and raking a hand through his hair again. “Wish I could promise the same thing.”

With a grin, she stepped into his embrace, feeling his right hand settle on her waist while his left hand grasped her right. They remained a good, appropriate several inches from each other, though Kirsten was certain she could feel... something... filling the air between them. Something that had always been there.

The lead singer lamented about asking for one last dance, saying he would “withstand all of hell to hold your hand” as Ryan gently laid their clasped hands on his chest, his hand still covering hers.

“Guess this isn’t so bad,” he commented.

Kirsten rolled her eyes, smirking. “Gee, thanks.”

He chuckled, pulling her a little closer. “You know what I mean.”

Their cheeks brushed and Kirsten couldn’t ignore the way that her heart skipped this time. Nor could she ignore the way the movement of his hand on her back sent up shivers; it would have been easy to blame it on the chilly ocean air and the occasional spray of mist, but she knew that wasn’t the cause.

“You okay?” he asked suddenly, his voice thick with comfort and familiarity.

Kirsten took a deep breath and then nodded. “Yeah. Why?”

“Your heart’s beating pretty fast.”

All at once she realized how close they were. She was pressed against him fully, their cheeks exchanging warmth and joined hands clasped over his heart. She pressed hers to his chest, able to feel the thudding even through his suit jacket and button-down shirt. “So’s yours.”

“I know.”

Tension wedged itself firmly between them, then, as the song faded into a more up-tempo number. They still stood in their slow-dancing position, completely still, each of them pulling back just slightly to search one another’s eyes. Ryan sucked in a breath and Kirsten fought to figure out if they should talk about whatever was happening here or sweep it under the rug.

He made the decision for her when he broke away with a weak smile, telling her, “I think I need some punch.”

And then he left her with her conflicting thoughts on the beach.




TBC



{x-posted to rystenlove}
 
 
 
thekiller00thekiller00 on April 26th, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
That was great. I like how you have Kirsten and Ryan slowly growing closer together. Each conversation they have shows just how much they understand each other and they barely have to talk part of the time.
a.: newport | the secrets we keepregalish on April 26th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I have so been enjoying moving toward where I started the story, and evolving their relationship. I should hopefully have the next part ready soon! :D