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27 April 2012 @ 11:42 am
The Fall of Camelot [The OC; Ryan/Kirsten]  
TITLE: The Fall of Camelot
PART SIX
FANDOM: The OC
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: Season three AU
RATING: PG-13 (language)
SUMMARY: “‘No sooner had Lancelot beheld Queen Guinevere, then he fell deeply in love with her.’”


*****

A week after that slow dance and Kirsten still felt everything as if it had just happened - the security and comfort she felt with Ryan, the warmth of his body pressed against hers despite the chill coming in off the waves. The thudding of his heart, felt clearly against her fingertips even through the layers of his suit. The look in his eyes just before he broke away from her.

Why hadn’t she just asked him then? Why hadn’t she broached the subject? Part of her wondered if it was because she knew what would happen and she hadn’t been prepared for it.

“Kirsten? Are you out here?”

She straightened at the sound of Julie’s voice, just barely able to call out, “I’m in here,” before Julie made her way to the pool house. The sun had set now. The pinks and oranges of dusk had settled into the periwinkles and deep blues of early night.

Julie stopped in the doorway, assessing her friend. “Why are you sitting here in the dark?”

Kirsten blinked as the lights in the pool house were suddenly turned on, her eyes momentarily needing to adjust. Then she looked down at the bed and drew her arms around herself. “Sorry, Julie. I forgot we were going over the budget tonight.”

Julie narrowed her eyes. “Are you okay?”

“Ryan left,” she explained, knowing she was being vague and yet Julie seemed to understand all the same.

She sat beside her on the bed. “Why?”

Kirsten sighed and then delved into the events of the morning.

**

”I think that’s the last of it,” Seth grunted, setting a box of his things in the entryway, atop an already precarious stack.

Kirsten swallowed hard, knowing that all of this was for the best and that in the future, her son would understand why she had to do what she did. “Do you need help driving this to your dad’s?” she offered.

He shook his head. “Nah, I’ll be fine. You go,” he waved her away, “enjoy your Saturday.”

The comment was made flippantly and it stung. “Seth, I wish things could have turned out differently--”

“Well they didn’t,” he cut her off, his brown eyes hard. “You gave up, so...”

Swallowing the lump in her throat, she reminded him lowly, “There were two people involved in this. I wasn’t the only one that gave up.” Of course she knew that fact didn’t matter. Seth had favored his father over her since he was a little boy, and she didn’t see that changing anytime soon.

She and Seth said goodbye; and though he promised to visit at least once a week, Kirsten knew that wasn’t going to happen. He was going to blame her for this for a long, long time.

Ryan had made himself scarce that morning, only coming out when Seth was about to leave. Their goodbye was awkward, if a little terse. They had each chosen their sides in the downfall of her marriage, and they just happened to be in opposition.

Once Seth had gone, she and Ryan turned to one another. He made his way over to her from the front door while she stood in the doorway to the kitchen. “You okay?”

She nodded even though she wasn’t; it was just instinct, at this point. “Yeah. I mean... not really, but I kinda have to be, don’t I?” She shrugged. “This is all my fault.”

“You’re already beating yourself up? Kirsten...” He shook his head. “This is nobody’s ‘fault.’”

“I could have done so many things differently--” she started.

“Yeah, and so could Sandy,” he shot back, the look in his eyes definitive. “Neither of you did, or wanted to, or whatever the case may have been. The point is, you and Sandy stopped working. It was nobody’s fault.” After a beat, he added, “And if Seth can’t see that, then screw him.”

Her brows raised briefly, surprised by the sudden trace of venom she heard in his voice. “You sound pretty sure of that.”

“I am. I mean, I’ve always liked him, but he gets tunnel vision about stuff like this. Seth’s main concern is Seth. So of course he’s gonna pick sides and act like a brat.”

Kirsten opened her mouth to question his sudden candidness about her son, but before she could, Ryan stepped closer, the two of them sharing the doorway now as he reached out to touch her arms, which she had folded across herself. She looked into his eyes, the blues softening along with his voice.

“My main concern in all this? Is you. How it’s affecting you. I could care less whose fault it is.”

A slow smile spread across her face. “Thank you, Ryan.”

He shrugged it off, a half-smile playing about his lips. “I’m your knight, Guinevere,” he joked. “If I don’t look out for you, then I’m not doin’ my job.”

“Right. Lancelot.” She smiled a little brighter. Then, she tilted her head. “Except, Lancelot was in love with Guinevere.”

They met eyes as his smile faded. Ryan’s countenance was suddenly very solemn, and Kirsten drew in a soft breath.

Slowly, he nodded to her statement. “Yes. He was.”

She searched the blues of his eyes. “But you’re... I mean, you’re not....”

Ryan ducked his gaze a moment, his shoes suddenly interesting as his hands released her arms and he leaned back against the door frame. Softly, he spoke... as if reciting verse. “‘No sooner had Lancelot beheld Queen Guinevere, then he fell deeply in love with her.’”

Kirsten’s heart bounced straight past her feet and back up again, her pulse quickening. She swallowed hard. “That’s... very pretty.”

His brows flicked upward briefly, his eyes still not meeting hers as he commented, “Pretty accurate too. I just... tried to stave it off for the last few years.”

Here it was. The moment she had been simultaneously dreading and looking forward to since this whole Camelot metaphor began, way back in October. The moment they had overlooked several times; a moment occasionally interrupted by reality. She had a feeling her entire world was about to blow wide open.

She searched his eyes, almost desperately, her voice hushed. “What are you saying, Ryan?”

“I’m in love with you.”

His voice had been soft, no emphasis placed on any word, and his eyes had held hers. Kirsten had never felt such a somersault in her stomach. The confession, though partly-expected, still left her a bit breathless. “What?”

But she was afforded no time to assess how she felt about his confession as a third voice abruptly joined in. “What?!”

Startled, she and Ryan both jumped, seeing Seth standing by the open front door with shock all over his face. Ryan ducked his head a moment, cursing under his breath, before he turned to his friend. “Seth...”

“You’re
in love with my mom? What the fuck, man?!”

“Hey! Seth!” she scolded his language usage, but it was futile. Even she had to admit to herself that the situation called for that reaction from him.

“You were like a brother to me.” He stepped up to them, just inches from Ryan looking like he wanted to kill him. “How the hell could you do this?”

“Look, Seth, it’s not like I tried to--”

“Just save it,” he huffed, a disgusted look on his face aimed right at Ryan.

Kirsten swallowed hard as her son gave her a look. “As if I
needed another reason to get the hell out of here.” He then turned tail and left.

And Kirsten was then torn between staying to talk to Ryan, and chasing after her son. She sent an apologetic glance Ryan’s way, eyes filled with tears.

Ryan pressed his lips together in disappointment, arms crossed over his chest, as he nodded his understanding. He looked to the floor then as she turned on her heel and ran for the front door.

She caught him just as he was getting into the car. “Seth! Please, wait.”

“No way. I only came back to grab my skateboard and instead I get to find out my best friend... my
surrogate brother... wants to plow my mother. This is the last thing I need.”

“Look, I had no idea he--”

“Whatever, okay? I gotta go.” He blew her off entirely, throwing the car in reverse and backing quickly down the driveway.

Kirsten could do nothing but watch him go and swallow the bitter taste of bile in her throat. She felt sick; over what, though, she wasn’t sure. Whether it was her son’s venom, Ryan’s confession, or her own tumultuous feelings, she had no idea. She needed to sort it out.

So, after wiping a few stray tears that had escaped, she picked herself up and strode back into the house, heading for the kitchen. “Ryan--”

But she stopped short at the sight of an empty kitchen. Frowning briefly, she headed to the next likely destination: the pool house. When she stepped outside, she noticed that the door to the pool house was wide open, so she headed for it instinctively. What she saw going on inside just made her all the more queasy.

“What are you doing?”

“Packing my things.”


**

By the time Kirsten had finished telling Julie everything, tears were rolling silently down her cheeks. “And then he just left,” she said. “I didn’t even get a chance to talk to him about what happened, or tell him that I--” She stalled on unsaid words; words she wasn’t sure that she felt or if the amalgamation of every feeling of the last few weeks were suddenly tricking her. Defeated, she ducked her head, “I don’t know what I would tell him.”

Julie just kept rubbing her back comfortingly, sweeping her hair out of her tear tracks. “Kirsten, can I tell you something I noticed? About you and Ryan?”

Her stomach somersaulted just at the pairing of herself with Ryan. “Sure.”

“You guys just always... get each other. I don’t know how to explain it, and I don’t know when I first noticed it, but it was a long time ago. And I think at first, I just ignored it. He lived with you guys, he was really great friends with Seth, and he was dating my daughter.” Almost as an aside to herself, she muttered, “Almost wish he still was dating her instead of that walking dive bar she’s making a bad habit of now.”

Kirsten allowed a slight smirk at that, choosing not to remind Julie how she behaved in her youth, and instead just listened.

“But over the last few months, whatever that... thing... was between you and Ryan that I first saw... it got stronger. He turned eighteen, him and Marissa were no longer together, and things just... kinda changed. He was there for you, Kirsten. Unfailingly. Every single time that Sandy bailed on you for the Newport Group. Every single time I saw him leaving a party early, the next time I saw you, Ryan would be right next to you, making sure you were okay. He loves you.”

She was practically floored by Julie’s words; this woman, who very often couldn’t see beyond her possessions or her daughters, somehow saw all of that.

“I don’t know how you feel about him, Kirsten, but if the way you’re acting now is any indication... you just might love him back the same way.” Then she did what no one else had. She gave her a little nudge and told her, “And that’s okay.”

Kirsten figured she must have had a fairly surprised expression on her face, because Julie tilted her at her. “Come on, you know who you’re talking to, right? The queen of May/September relationships?” She raised her eyebrows.

Kirsten half-smiled, almost chuckling. “Right.”

“There’s nothing wrong about having chemistry with someone younger than you.”

She sighed. “Even if that ‘someone’ just happened to be under my care until he turned eighteen? And even if that ‘someone’ was my son’s best friend?”

“Well I never said it was a perfect situation. It’s complicated as hell, Kirsten, but it’s not ‘wrong.’”

“I don’t think other people in Newport are gonna see it that way.”

Julie gave her a look. “And since when do you care what the Newpsies think?”

Kirsten ducked her gaze; she had a point. Still... “I just... don’t want to make Seth angry.”

“You won’t.”

She and Julie both startled at the distinctly male voice that joined them, and they turned sharply to find Seth in the doorway of the pool house. They both stood up, Julie watching in trepidation as Kirsten nervously smoothed her hands over her jeans. “Seth, you’re back. I-I wasn’t expecting--”

Seth held up a hand to forestall the rest of her words. “Just let me say what I came here to say, and then I’ll be outta your hair.”

She sucked in a breath, heart in her throat pounding wildly, stomach churning at all the words of disappointment and betrayal about to leave her son’s mouth. What came out instead was a bit of a surprise.

“I’m not angry with you,” he told her, his soulful brown eyes holding her gaze. “I was at first, but... I realized it wasn’t you I was mad at. It was Ryan. So Dad and I went to find him.”

Her heart dropped straight through the floor, and her hand fluttered to her chest as if that would stop the feeling. “You told your father.”

He shrugged. “I was upset. Confused. I didn’t know what to do.”

Lord knew what Sandy had done now. “Your father, he’s--”

“Pissed,” Seth nodded. “And understandably so.”

Julie interrupted then, gesturing to the door. “Maybe I should just--”

Kirsten grabbed her wrist, uncertain she could handle the fallout of this conversation on her own. “Please stay,” she said plaintively.

Julie nodded her understanding, looking to Seth for permission.

He nodded back, blinking slowly, “It’s fine,” and planted his hands on his hips - his thoughtful pose.

Kirsten released Julie’s wrist and trained her eyes on her son once more.

“So Dad and I went to find him. Not too hard to find someone who wants to get away but doesn’t have enough money to go far.”

“The Mermaid,” Kirsten murmured instinctively. The Mermaid Hotel, just on the outskirts of the nice part of Newport.

“Yeah. So we found him. Dad, uh... Dad yelled, definitely.”

“No punches were thrown?” she asked.

Seth raised his eyebrows. “From Dad? I think the most Dad could do is sing Ryan to death.”

“He punched Jimmy once,” Julie pointed out, then off their looks, she held up her hands and added, “But I’m not here. Continue.”

“But no, Dad just yelled at him. Asked him what the hell he was thinking. Ryan said he didn’t plan any of this or think it through, it just happened. He said he was sorry and that he tried to ignore it and fight it as long as he possibly could.” Sighing, he sat down in the wicker chair in the corner of the pool house, near the door. “Dad kinda calmed down after that, and... he just kinda started running out of steam.”

He leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs as he focused on his fingers - invisible lint or hangnails, possibly - and avoided her gaze. “He asked Ryan if he knew what he was doing, telling you how he felt. Ryan said he couldn’t have kept it in any longer, but he didn’t want to hurt anybody and that was why he had to leave.”

Her son met her eyes again and Kirsten’s heart leapt back into her throat. There was still a slight hardness there, some repressed anger, mingled with some sadness. “And, of course, Dad had to do his lawyer thing and play devil’s advocate. He asked Ryan if he was willing to give up everything to pursue this... whatever... with you. If, on the off-chance you felt something for him too, I mean. He asked if he was willing to just give up all his friends, his connection with me and him, all of it, just for you.”

Kirsten swallowed, unable to look away, unable to stop herself from asking, “And?”

Seth chuckled mirthlessly and looked away. “And Ryan didn’t even bat an eyelash, didn’t even so much as blink before he looked Dad right in the eyes,” he met her eyes again, “and he said, ‘I’d give my entire life for her.’”

She heard Julie’s sharply-drawn breath at the comment. Or was that her?

“Then what?” Julie asked, clearly forgetting her pledge to remain invisible for the duration of the conversation.

Seth pressed his lips together, elbows still on his thighs as he held his palms up in a shrug. “Then we left. Everything had been said that needed saying. I went down to the car, and... Dad stayed behind for a few seconds. I dunno what else he said to Ryan, but then we both got in the car and left. Then he had to meet with the hospital board, and I came here.”

Kirsten nodded slowly, absorbing everything her son had told her. After a moment, she looked up at him again. “I thought you weren’t coming back when you left me in the pool house this afternoon.”

“Wasn’t planning on it,” he replied. “I needed to blow off some steam.”

Gently, Julie asked, “Then why are you back now?”

“Because.” He answered Julie’s question, but kept his eyes on his mother. “Whether it’s twisted, or whether I’m cool with it or not...” As a side comment, he added sharply, “Which I’m not, by the way. Don’t know that I ever will be, and I can say for sure that Ryan and I won’t be buddy-buddy anymore...” Then, he seemed to come back to himself and digressed with a sigh. “But despite all that... if there’s a guy out there willing to die for you, you should at least know about it.”

She took that for what it was; it wasn’t a blessing by any means, but in Seth’s own unique way, it was him telling her that he still did value her happiness. “Thank you, Seth.”

He nodded silently and rose to his feet, hands once again on his hips in a thoughtful pose. He frowned, opened his mouth as if to say something... and then seemingly thought better of it, instead shaking his head and gesturing toward the house with his thumb. “I think there might be just a couple more things upstairs I left behind. I’m gonna go take a look and then head out.”

“Okay.” She hovered just a couple feet from him, suddenly at a loss for what to do. She knew in his current mood a hug wasn’t likely; he was going to need a long time to get over everything that had been thrown at him today.

But surprisingly, Seth stepped forward... a bit awkwardly... and wrapped his arms around her. Kirsten swallowed the sob that tried to creep up on her and closed her eyes to savor the moment. She knew it would be goodbye for a good long while.

After a moment, Seth mumbled into her shoulder, “I love you, Mom.”

Tears sprang to her eyes and she smiled, patting his back. “I love you, too.”

Then Seth took his leave of them, giving Julie an awkward wave before heading out. Kirsten swallowed her emotion as she watched him leave, turning to find Julie dabbing at a stray tear.

“I, um... I should probably get home now, Kirsten,” she told her, clearing her throat to cover the fact that Seth’s goodbye had gotten her misty-eyed. “I have a sudden urge to hug my daughter.”

Kirsten smiled. “That’s fine. Thank you for staying for... moral support.”

Julie hugged her tight. “Anytime.” Pulling away, she held Kirsten by the upper arms, studying her. “What are you gonna do now?”

“Right now, I need to... think,” she replied. “I’m still on information overload from this morning.”

Julie nodded. “Right, gotcha.”

“So I guess I need to figure out how I feel, and...” She took a deep breath, trying to calm the butterflies in her stomach as her eyes settled on something left behind in the back corner of the pool house -- Ryan’s suit of armor from Halloween.

“Then I think I need to go talk to Ryan.”



TBC



{x-posted to rystenlove}
 
 
 
thekiller00thekiller00 on April 27th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Julie hit the nail on the head with what she told Kirsten. You suprised me with Seth coming back the way he did and with what he said.

I'm looking forward to the conversation between Kirsten and Ryan and I'm kind of looking forward to what happens the next time Julie and Ryan see each other.
a.: act | mckenzie & rowanregalish on May 2nd, 2012 01:53 am (UTC)
Thanks so much!! Glad you're still enjoying this.

I am hard at work on the next part! :)