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20 June 2012 @ 10:09 am
The Boy From Chino (The OC; Ryan/Kirsten)  
TITLE: The Boy From Chino
CHAPTER 2: The Anvils
FANDOM: The OC
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: Season 1 (AU)
RATING: PG
SUMMARY: At times, he hated getting stuck closing up the bar with his mother. As much as he loved her, she was too perceptive. And always ready to ask questions.


*****

Saturday nights at the bar were, if possible, even crazier than Fridays. Ryan rarely got a moment to stand still, much less a moment to converse. He often did double-duty on those nights, not only tending bar but also waiting the handful of tables they had scattered around.

Dawn breezed by and reminded him, “Tell Ernesto to hurry with the onion rings. Table six is getting rowdy.”

“Got it,” he said, already on his way to the kitchen.

Once inside, he took a breath, grabbing another crate of glasses. Glancing over at the pair of cooks, he spotted them craning their necks, trying to see over the serving counter.

“Hey!” he shouted, getting their attention. “Back to work, guys, come on! It’s nuts out there.” He gestured to the fryer. “Ernesto, come on and get those rings goin’ - table six has been waiting for fifteen minutes now.”

“Sorry mi amigo,” Ernesto apologized, then gestured over his shoulder with his thumb, toward the place they’d just been looking. “Pretty lady at the bar! Me and Vince ain’t seen a woman like that in here before.”

Ryan rolled his eyes and followed where the cook was pointing, spotting the head of shiny blonde hair immediately. His jaw went a bit slack without his conscious consent. “Kirsten.”

“Ah so you know the pretty lady.” Ernesto grinned. “How about I get those rings done real quick if you go give her my phone number?”

Ryan just smirked, rolling his eyes once more. “Nah, you’ll just break her heart.”

Ernesto grumbled a few phrases in Spanish, but Ryan just chuckled and continued hassling him for the overdue food. When he had caught up on his orders and cleaning up the tables that had vacated, he headed back to the bar.

“Hey Ry, your friend from Newport’s back,” his mother told him.

“Saw her,” he answered, ignoring the curious look she gave him as he headed right toward where Kirsten sat, again at the end of the bar.

She was downing a vodka tonic, tipping her head back to get the last few drops in the glass as Ryan leaned on the bar. “Didn’t think I’d see you again so soon,” he greeted, startling her slightly.

“Ryan, hi!” She blushed momentarily, and again Ryan was left wondering why she did that in his presence. “I, uh... I felt bad that we didn’t really get much time to catch up yesterday. Julie pulled me out of here so quickly...”

He waved away the apology. “It’s okay, I understand.”

Kirsten shrugged. “Julie, she just--”

“Hasn’t changed much, from what I can tell,” he finished with a wry half-grin.

“Yeah.” Smiling, she ducked her head and pushed a slice of hair behind her ear. After a beat, she tilted her head and added, “In some ways she hasn’t, I suppose.”

Ryan leaned his forearms on the bar, frowning thoughtfully. “She got kinda weird though when I told her to say to Marissa. I mean, I know she never liked me, but she at least could’ve offered to--”

“Marissa’s dead,” Kirsten broke in, her voice soft, but heard clearly over the crowd.

He let that sink in for a moment. “What?”

“Yeah. As you can imagine, she doesn’t really like to talk about it.”

Still momentarily stunned by the news he’d been presented with, Ryan leaned back, trying to get his mother’s attention. Briefly, he gestured that they’d be at a nearby table and she nodded, her eyes following them as they sat down at a booth in the far corner of the bar.

“What happened?”

“She, um... overdosed.”

He cringed, and Kirsten nodded in response.

“On a handful of sleeping pills and a bottle of tequila.”

His stomach turned. “So she--”

“Yeah.” Kirsten pressed her lips together, eyes on the surface of the table, almost as if she were seeing through it. “Julie and I were at a spin class when she got the call.” She shook her head. “Worst thing I’ve ever been through, and it wasn’t even happening to me. I... can’t imagine what it was like for Julie.”

“And Seth? How’s he taking it?”

She shrugged. “Good as he can, I suppose. I mean, they weren’t best friends or anything, but he’s known Marissa since he was little.” Smiling softly, she looked at the table as she seemingly recalled a memory. “They used to build sandcastles together when the four of us adults wanted some time to relax on the beach.”

Ryan nodded, getting an image of a curly-haired little boy and a little blonde girl playing together in the sand. Then, inevitably, his thoughts drifted to a bikini-clad Kirsten, lounging in the sun, and he was forced to snap himself out of it.

“Anyway, she... she’s in a better place now. She’d been having kind of a rough time with her parents getting divorced, and her dad’s financial troubles. It’s just a shame that that was how she chose to cope.”

**

Ryan spent the next couple hours in that booth with Kirsten, in between helping out behind the bar and getting food out to the other tables. He told her about his mother; how she had come to retrieve him from juvy and exerted a monumental effort to get her life together. He told her about Trey and his idea to buy the bar; how lucrative a decision for their family it had been.

And she told him about all the drama of Newport: Marissa’s death and then her father’s. Seth’s relationship with a girl from the East coast named Anna, and Julie’s affair with Luke. There was one question still unanswered, however...

“Tell me something, Kirsten,” he said, handing her another vodka tonic as he slid into the booth again.

“Hmm.” She took a long drink, and Ryan watched the motion but said nothing.

He just studied her, watched the way one long, graceful finger dipped into the glass, swirling the ice cubes before she brought it to her lips. “Why aren’t you a Cohen anymore?”

Her shrug was full of nonchalance, but the averted gaze clued him in to the pain in her eyes. They bounced around the bar, looking at everything but him, as she replied flippantly, “Sandy didn’t want me to be one anymore.”

That floored Ryan momentarily. It hardly seemed accurate, from what he remembered of his brief time with the Cohens. Even when his lawyer had first been introducing him to his wife, he looked completely infatuated. It didn’t add up. “But--”

“Sandy gave me a choice,” she told him, a bit cryptically. “It was either him or my ‘bad habit.’” She raised her glass for emphasis and a few of the pieces came together. “I chose wrong.”

He watched her take another long drink of her vodka tonic, watching the ease with which she drank. He watched her hand and spotted the slight tremor, before he lifted his gaze to her glassy eyes. The behavior was easy enough to recognize. “You’re an alcoholic.”

Her eyes snapped to his, the look in them hardening for just a moment before she blinked it away and feigned a smile. “I prefer the term ‘cocktail enthusiast.’”

“Kirsten...”

“Look, I’ve got it under control, okay? It’s a lot better than it used to be.”

Ryan’s brows flew upward momentarily as he wondered how bad it used to be if this was an improvement: drinking alone at a bar miles away from Newport. “Is that why you’re drinking so far from home?” he couldn’t help but press. “Is that why your son had to send your friend to come and literally drag you out of the bar yesterday?”

Her eyes flashed with anger again and she downed the rest of her vodka tonic quickly, standing up on unsteady legs. “Y’know what, I didn’t come here to be harassed. I’m leaving.”

He closed his eyes regretfully and reached out to grab her wrist. “Kirsten, wait.”

But she wrenched her arm from his grasp, threw enough money on the table to cover her tab and then some, before she took off in a huff. He watched his mother’s eyes follow Kirsten out of the bar before they met his own, questioning.

He just shook his head and looked away, internally punching himself for his stupidity.

**

“What was all that about?”

Ryan sighed, studiously filling out their deposit slip for the end of the night. “Nothing, Mom.”

“Didn’t look like nothing.”

At times, he hated getting stuck closing up the bar with his mother. As much as he loved her, she was too perceptive. And always ready to ask questions. “Kirsten just... dropped by to apologize for the way she left last night.”

He watched his mother cleaning off the bar, raising her eyebrows. “If possible, she made an even bigger exit tonight.”

“It was nothing.”

“Ryan--”

“Mom, just drop it.”

And, as she often did, Dawn ended her line of questioning by raising her hands in surrender and saying, “Fine, fine.”

But this time, it broke him down. He huffed and tossed the pen down, slamming the cash drawer closed. “I accused her of being an alcoholic.”

And Dawn’s tone was all sadness as she commented, “You didn’t.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I did. And it was stupid, and I don’t know why I did it, I just...” He met his mother’s eyes. “I know the pattern when I see it. And I don’t want her to go through what...” He trailed off, shaking his head and ducking it as he folded his arms.

Dawn finished the thought. “What I went through.”

Ryan just looked away, jaw clenched.

She studied her son, saw the hardness in his eyes and recognized it as his defense system. She reached out, grasping his shoulder. “Kiddo... I’m okay. I came out the other side just fine.”

“I know,” he muttered, his jaw still tense as he braced his hands on the curve of the bar. “But watching you go through that was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I don’t want that to happen again.” He shook his head lightly again, voice barely audible as he dipped his head again and murmured, “Not to her.”

He missed the look of confusion on his mother’s face at that last comment, but she didn’t question him about it. It had been a loaded statement, one that most certainly would need clarification... but she didn’t press. Instead, she just took a few steps forward, leaning on the bar as she tried to recapture his gaze. “Then is it alright if I offer up some advice, free of charge?”

Ryan looked up, lips pressed together tightly as he nodded.

Dawn placed a hand to her chest. “As someone that’s been through that ordeal, I’ll tell you the thing that really makes you want to change is the genuine concern from people you love.” She shrugged. “If you just come at it from an angle of, ‘This behavior is bad and it needs to change,’ that’s not gonna do anything. What will really help Kirsten is seeing how much the people she loves want her to get better.”

“That already happened. Her own husband wanted her to choose between him and the booze, and she chose the booze.”

“Ah.” She nodded. “Ultimatums aren’t a great way to go either. Here...”

Then she slid a wad of money toward him. Ryan placed his hand over it and looked up, searching his mother’s eyes.

“She left way too much money for her tab earlier. As much as I’d love to keep it all, it just doesn’t seem right.” She gave him a meaningful look. “Think you could get it back to her?”

Ryan picked up on her subtle-as-anvils hint; he nodded, pocketing the spare cash. “Sure, I’ll take care of it.”

“You’re a good man, Ryan.” She smiled, a bit proudly. “I must’ve done something right.”

And he chuckled, “You sure did,” as he silently resolved that in the morning, he would have to return to Newport.



TBC



{x-posted to rystenlove}
 
 
 
thekiller00thekiller00 on June 20th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I wasn't expecting Ryan to return to Newport to 'return some money'. I get the feeling it will be pretty awkward when Ryan shows up to see Kirsten.

Although, I'm wondering if Seth knows who his mother bumped into.
a.regalish on July 10th, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
Hehe, you shall have to see! I hope to post again soon.