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12 June 2012 @ 06:00 pm
The Boy From Chino (The OC; Ryan/Kirsten)  
TITLE: The Boy From Chino
CHAPTER 1: The Blonde at the Bar
FANDOM: The OC
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: Season 1 (AU)
RATING: PG (for now)
SUMMARY: He’d always thought she was gorgeous, and had an inkling she thought the same of him. Part of him had always wondered if that was her motivation for getting him out of her house.


*****

He was almost in shock, seeing her sitting there at the end of the bar, hunched over a tumbler of scotch. The wife of his former attorney, the woman whose model home he burned down, and the one whose honor he tried to protect in jail, shortly before she refused to see him ever again.

Of all the details of his brief time in Newport, Kirsten had been the hardest to forget. The moment his attorney introduced him to her, he had thought she was beautiful. She had been proper and stand-offish, but the way she looked at him hadn’t escaped him. She was ice on the outside. And only when he nearly collided with her in the kitchen did he see a glimmer of fire underneath. He remembered flirtatious looks exchanged over candlelight, as well as her adamant refusal to let him stay.

He also remembered the look on her face when he took the punches thrown by the cat-calling inmate, and her expression when the guards dragged him back to his cell. She looked shaken to the core. The final time he spoke with Seth, he had been apologetic when he told Ryan that Kirsten wouldn’t let him visit ever again. Along with that had come the silent implication that Kirsten would not be returning, either.

“Ry?”

He startled momentarily, looking back at Dawn. “Huh? Sorry.”

His mother furrowed her eyebrows, looking at him with an air of concern. “Do you... know her from somewhere?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“She doesn’t look like she’s from around here. Where do you know her from?”

He settled his eyes on the blonde at the end of the bar again, murmuring distractedly, “From another life,” as he made his way over to her.

She didn’t look up; she just kept staring down into her glass, one elbow leaned on the bar with the heel of her hand pressed to her temple, just barely holding her head up.

The fingers of her other hand were gripping the glass of scotch tightly. Carefully, Ryan reached out and grasped the glass, their fingers making contact. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” he asked gently.

“Look, kid,” she grumbled, “I think I’ve--”

And then she looked up. He met eyes with her and her growl of protest stopped mid-sentence. Did she remember him? It was obvious she recognized him, but would the haze of alcohol hinder her ability to place him?

“Ryan?”

He smiled, “Hi,” using her distraction to his advantage as he gently pried the glass from her hand and stashed it on the shelf under the bar.

She blinked, her eyes a bleary, dull blue, as she sat up a little straighter and pushed her hair behind her ear. “Uh... uh, what a surprise.”

“I’ll say,” he chuckled, watching her cheeks flush suddenly pink and wondering why.

“What are you doing here?”

She met his eyes and he watched them attempt to swim into focus. A futile effort, it seemed. He leaned against the bar, a little closer, to make it easier on her. “I work here. My mom owns the place.”

One perfectly-shaped brow shot upward. “Really.”

“Yeah.” He leaned back briefly, gesturing to his mother. “Hey Mom, c’mere. Want you to meet somebody.”

Dawn approached as Ryan turned back to Kirsten. He smiled at the sight of her reaching for the glass that was no longer there, then looking around in confusion subsequently, before finally giving up.

“Mom, this is the woman I told you about forever ago. I stayed with her family for a bit in Newport.” He gestured from his mother, to Kirsten. “Dawn Atwood, Kirsten Cohen.”

The women shook hands, meeting eyes briefly before Kirsten ducked hers away and corrected him, “Uh, Nichol. Kirsten Nichol.”

Ryan gave her a glance of confusion at that, but didn’t have time to question it as Dawn greeted her, “So nice to meet you, Kirsten. I... I feel like I owe you a few free drinks for what you did for my boy a few years ago,” she chuckled.

Ryan ducked his head, tipping his eyes upward shyly to meet Kirsten’s.

She quickly averted her gaze, cheeks pinking once more again. “I’m sorry things didn’t really work out.” She gestured to him. “Ryan is a sweet kid.”

Dawn beamed at him, buckets of maternal pride in her expression. “Don’t I know it,” she returned, and ruffled her son’s hair affectionately.

He rolled his eyes. “Aw stop, you’ll make me blush,” and shot his mom a look that she dissolved into chuckles over.

“Well, at any rate...” Dawn reached out and grabbed Kirsten’s tab off the bar, holding it up. “Tonight’s on me.”

The two women bantered back and forth briefly, polite refusals from Kirsten no match for Dawn’s insistence. Finally, Kirsten relented with a grateful smile.

“Thank you.”

Dawn nodded, giving her a quick wink, and then nudged her son. “I’ll let you two get back to catching up.”

Ryan and Kirsten watched her walk off, then turned to each other, each chuckling a bit bashfully and dipping their heads. He looked up to see Kirsten shoving her hair behind her ear again as she murmured, “I really am sorry for what happened... y’know, with the--”

“Model home?” he finished with raised brows, then shook his head. “You did what was best for your family. You were just looking out for them.”

“Yeah, but... in a way, you kinda did me a favor.” Off his look, she smiled. “That model home project would’ve driven me nuts.”

“Ah.” He grinned halfway. “In that case, you’re welcome.”

Kirsten giggled, and the two of them met eyes again. Hers searched him back and forth, still glassy with the haze of alcohol, but a vivid blue. “It’s good to see you again, Ryan,” she said lowly. “You, um...” Her eyes traced over him momentarily and Ryan saw another glimpse of that fire he saw four years ago. “You look good.”

“So do you,” he murmured, trying not to let her see the attraction in his eyes. He’d always thought she was gorgeous, and had an inkling she thought the same of him. Part of him had always wondered if that was her motivation for getting him out of her house.

But he was afforded no more time to ponder that thought as a voice from the doorway suddenly drew their attention.

“Kirsten!”

He followed the blonde’s gaze and saw another Newport figment weaving through the crowd toward the bar, though he couldn’t quite place her.

“Julie?”

Then recognition dawned when Kirsten called to her. Of course - it was Julie Cooper, the Cohens’ neighbor. Ryan vaguely remembered her polished attitude and cold glare.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you! Why aren’t you answering your phone?”

Kirsten glanced absently toward her purse. “Must not have heard it ringing.”

Julie assessed her friend. “How much have you had?”

“‘Bout five scotch-and-sodas,” Ryan answered, having gotten a glimpse at the tab when his mother had grabbed it.

That was when Julie acknowledged his presence. “I didn’t ask you,” she snipped.

Kirsten threw her friend a look. “Julie...”

But the brunette ignored her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and grabbing her purse with her free hand. “Come on, Seth wanted me to come and find you. Let’s get you home.”

Ryan watched this play out, wondering if this was a common occurrence. “How’s Seth doing?” he asked of Kirsten.

Julie shot him another look. “How do you know him?”

Kirsten glanced apologetically at Ryan, then gestured between the two of them. “Maybe you don’t remember, Julie, but this is--”

“The boy from Chino,” she murmured, nodding with recognition. Her eyes flicked over him, lip curling derisively. “Right.”

Ryan couldn’t help but narrow his eyes. “Nice to see you too.” An image came to him, then... the girl at the end of the driveway with large eyes and dark blonde hair, and he couldn’t help but comment, “Say hello to Marissa for me.”

Julie seemed to bristle and startle at the same time in answer to that comment, and averted her gaze. She steered her friend sharply to the door and said shortly, “Come on, Kirsten, we’re leaving.”

Ryan just watched them go, wondering what he’d said wrong as Kirsten glanced at him sadly over her shoulder on the way out.


*****

“So that was Kirsten, huh?” Dawn asked, counting the money in the register at the end of the night.

Ryan paused in the midst of sweeping up the cocktail peanuts and beer bottle labels littering the floor, leaning briefly on the broom handle. “Yeah, that was her.”

“They sure make ‘em pretty in Newport, don’t they?” she smiled.

Ryan smirked indulgently, assuring her, “Still not as pretty as you, Mom.”

She giggled, chucking a peanut at him and quipping, “I’m not giving you a raise every time you say that.”

Ryan chuckled and continued his sweeping. He felt his mother’s eyes on him but he didn’t look up.

“You’ve mentioned her name before, y’know.”

“When?”

“In your sleep.”

He glanced up, watching her shrug, explaining, “When you used to live with me, I’d hear you through the walls. A lot of times it was gibberish, but on more than one occasion I heard you mention something about a burning house, and the name ‘Kirsten.’”

“Oh.” He carefully swept the debris from the floor into the dustpan, still avoiding his mother’s gaze as he dumped it in the trash can.

“Nightmares?”

“Memories,” he returned, wishing to leave it at that.

Predictably, his mother wouldn’t let it lie. “You know, you never did tell me why you ended up in juvy that second time.”

“You never asked,” he replied simply with a shrug. He stashed the broom and dustpan away in the utility closet, reaching for a rag to clean off the bar.

“I’m asking now, aren’t I?”

He paused in the midst of his cleaning, wondering what would be best and easiest. Telling his mother what had really happened in Newport, including the seemingly-mutual attraction between himself and Kirsten, or just giving a vague and cryptic answer. One was best, the other was easiest.

“It’s kinda complicated.” He opted for the easy route.

Dawn nodded. “Yeah, most stuff in life is, kiddo.” Off his look, she held her hands up in supplication. “But fine... that’s fine. You’ll tell me when you’re ready.”

She grabbed the bag for the night deposit off the bar near the register and dropped a quick kiss to her son’s cheek. “I’m off. Lock up when you’re done, huh?”

Ryan nodded and watched his mother leave, his hands braced on the bar. When she was gone, he let out his breath, shaking his head and staring at the spot once occupied by the blonde at the end of the bar.



TBC



{x-posted to rystenlove}
 
 
 
thekiller00thekiller00 on June 12th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
Great chapter. It went different than I thought. I never thought Kirsten would already be divorced, I just figured she was in her drinking stage, trying to drown her marriage and work problems. From the little bit we saw of Julie, she sounds like she has her snobby attitude from season one.

I wonder what Seth's reaction, as well as everyone elses, will be if Kirsten or Julie mention that they saw Ryan.
a.: act | mckenzie & rowanregalish on June 13th, 2012 03:13 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! It is really my hope to take this one to some unexpected places, and the first thing I wanted to do in that respect was have Kirsten no longer be a Cohen. Which I will definitely dig deeper into in upcoming chapters.

More of Ryan and Kirsten (and maybe even Julie!) coming soon. :D