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12 August 2007 @ 11:27 pm
The Second Time Around [The OC; Ryan/Kirsten]  
TITLE: The Second Time Around
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: None; this is an AU fic


The rest of the day passed in a blur for Kirsten. She and Ryan bantered comfortably, but there was always that one thing -- her marriage, specifically -- dangling between them, making things just a little more awkward than they should have been. And then, that just left Kirsten wondering why it was so awkward. They weren't trying to date each other. And sure, there was an obvious attraction between them, but so what? Nothing was going to happen.

She and Ryan surveyed the land that the new development was to be built on. Her father wanted it called 'Harbor Heights.' She just hoped there wouldn't be a lawsuit this time around like there had been two years ago with one of her dad's developments.

They started discussing plans for the positioning of the houses, cul-de-sac versus street, and what kinds of options they had for square footage. "I've got a lot of ideas," Ryan had told her as they stood side-by-side staring at the land.

She had looked over at him and smiled. "Me too."

He had raised his eyebrows. "Well then we may have a fight on our hands," he chuckled, planting his hands on his hips.

Kirsten, as much as she tried to focus on work, focus on being professional, couldn't help but admire what a truly gorgeous man he was. He was in another button-down shirt, this one a pale blue, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He wore no tie and left the top couple buttons undone; she could tell without seeing for sure that he was probably more than toned underneath his shirt. She had to force those thoughts to the back of her mind, however. They would do her no good in the long run. Ryan was her colleague, nothing more.

On their way back to the car, Kirsten had stumbled on the uneven land and Ryan had caught her arm, chuckling when she started to laugh at herself. "Oh, I'm so embarrassed," she had groaned. She knew what she looked like when she tripped.

Ryan had just smiled. "Don't be. Those pumps don't really look like they're made for off-roading," he'd told her, and nodded at her footwear.

And for the rest of the ride back she marveled at how comfortable he made her feel... and at how her arm still tingled from where he'd grasped it.

The next couple of weeks continued very much like this. Kirsten would indulge her attraction being around Ryan all day at work... and then go home to Sandy, with whom things were less than stellar. Since Sandy had gone into corporate litigation a couple years back he'd been morphing into less and less of the person he had wanted to be. He stuck with the job for the pay; he now had the freedom to do whatever he wanted without leaning on Kirsten's finances. But morally and ethically, he had changed.

And Seth was no longer around to balance them out with him out hunting for a job and spending all his time talking to Summer. So she and Sandy started to fight. It was often just over little, frivolous things that really didn't need to be fought about.

After this most recent time, Kirsten called Ryan in a panic. In the midst of their fight, Kirsten had moved to slam her hand down on the counter, and accidentally slammed it down on the edge of the scale-model home she and Ryan had been working on. It crashed to the floor, instantly destroyed. So when Sandy stormed out, Kirsten's first thought wasn't to go to him as it would have been a few years ago. It was that she needed Ryan's help.

And he had come over in a flash, picking up on her hurried tone. When the doorbell rang, she practically sprinted to answer it.


She pulled him inside and shut the door. "I'm sorry, Ryan, I'm so sorry to call you freaking out like that, it's just--"

"Hey, hey, it's alright," he told her softly. "You said something about the scale-model. What happened?"

"I, uh... I got a little klutzy," she lied as she led him into the kitchen. "I went to put my hand down on the counter, and I... knocked the model over." She stepped aside when they reached the breakfast bar, allowing Ryan to see the damage.

He winced. "Yikes. Um... okay, well, I brought the blueprints. We should be able to build it up again from there."

Kirsten grabbed the glue and they got to work. They worked silently together for what felt like hours; the silence neither awkward nor completely comfortable.

Finally, Kirsten felt the need to break the silence. "We had a fight."


"My husband and I," she confessed, watching as Ryan set down the pieces of the model he'd been holding and focused his attention on her. "We got into this big stupid fight about... I don't even remember, and I went to slam my hand down on the counter, and I slammed it down on the model instead, and... everything went flying."

"Oh." Ryan's attention went back to gluing, then, and Kirsten handed him piece after piece. "I'm sorry."

She furrowed her brows. "About what? It's not your fault."

"I know, I'm just... sorry, I guess. That you're going through this." As if something just occurred to him, he looked up at her abruptly, eyes slightly wide. "He didn't hit you, did he?"

Kirsten smiled and closed her eyes briefly, touching his arm. She met his eyes. "No, he didn't hit me. He'd never do that. But thank you for your concern."

Ryan nodded and went back to gluing once more. Kirsten took a moment to watch him, to study his features and recall the way he had looked at her just a moment ago. "You've... experienced that before, haven't you?" she asked, part of her already knowing it to be true.

And Ryan was somehow tuned in to her thoughts -- he didn't need her to explain what she was implying. He just nodded. "Yeah."

"Who?" Kirsten stopped herself and shut her eyes self-deprecatingly for a moment, correcting, "If you don't mind telling me."

Ryan smiled reassuringly at her -- she hadn't stepped over the line -- and told her, "I don't mind at all. It was my parents."


He shrugged. "They just... they both drank a lot, and so when they argued, nine times out of ten it got physical."

Kirsten frowned sadly, seeing a whole new side to him. "I'm sorry."

Ryan shrugged again. "Nothing to be sorry for. Neither one of them ever raised a hand to me or my brother. Just... to each other."

"Do you still talk to them?"

"Not really. Mom's working in some diner in Albequerque and Dad's in prison, so... I don't really keep in touch with them." He tilted his head and glued another piece of the scale-model back on. "And it's better that way. Even my parents agree. My mom told me the last time I talked to her a couple years ago that I was too smart and had too much going for me to be tied to her or my dad. So, she cut me loose. And I took off."

"And your brother?"

"He, uh... he stole a car a year ago, so I think at this point he and my dad might be cell mates."

Kirsten raised her eyebrows, surprised by his nonchalance. When Ryan looked up and caught this, he smiled slightly and gave a facial shrug. "I've learned to sound like I don't care. That way, other people won't care."

"I do," Kirsten said softly, unaware that she'd actually said it until she saw the look that came to his eyes.

They searched each other's eyes for a long moment. Ryan's seemed to be telling her that he was touched... that maybe he hasn't had that many people in his life that genuinely care about him. Finally, Kirsten had to break gaze for fear she'd do something impuslive, like... hugging him or something.

"But anyway..." he continued, a bit awkwardly. "If I act like I don't care, other people won't really care." He smiled slightly when he added, "I have noticed since I've been in Newport that people will stare at you like you're insane if you act like you don't care about something like that."

Kirsten had to laugh. "Yeah, we're all just a little... sheltered here, I guess. No wonder why my son wants to get out so badly." After a moment, she looked up at him, gave him a sideways glance as he worked diligently beside her. "How long have you lived in Newport?"

"About a month. I've got a place in the numbered streets."


"Not nearly as nice as this neighborhood," he grinned, "But I don't need all that much."

"Neither do I, actually," Kirsten chuckled, "Despite what the size of this house might say otherwise." She looked around the kitchen, out into the living room. "It's just... I helped design this house, so... I'm kind of attached to it."

"I can understand that. I'm trying to design my own house, too, but it's..." He chuckled. "It's slow-going."

Kirsten grinned. "Yeah? Need help?"

"Desperately, yeah. I'm getting kinda frustrated actually." He grinned back at her, and again that tension filled the room.

All that Kirsten could think of to say was, "Frustration sucks," while her gaze drifted toward his lips.

"Yeah, it does." She couldn't help but notice that his eyes made the same path toward her lips before meeting hers again.

Kirsten had to marvel at how well they could read each other for only knowing each other a couple of weeks. They searched each other's eyes and she knew full-well that they were both thinking the same thing: What harm would a little kiss do?"

But then the front door opened. Sandy had come home. "Kirsten... I'm sorry, honey. It was stupid of me to--" He stopped in his tracks in the doorway, catching sight of Ryan, standing directly next to his wife. "Hi."

Ryan politely nodded a greeting and looked to Kirsten, who gestured to him. "Sandy, this is Ryan. That new architect I told you about. Ryan, this is my husband Sandy."

The two men shook hands, and Kirsten knew they were instantly sizing each other up. "Nice to meet you, Ryan. Kirsten's told me so much about you. Says you're quite the genius."

Kirsten covered her eyes until she heard Ryan's laugh. "She told you about that, huh? Well thanks. It's really not a big deal. I just... graduated a little ahead of schedule and knew just what I wanted to do, so..." He slipped his hands into his pockets and shrugged. "Here I am."

"Well good for you." Sandy looked to his wife, and Kirsten took the hint -- they needed to talk things out now.

"Uh, Ryan, I'm sorry, but--" She felt herself touching his arm and wincing apologetically.

Ryan shook his head, dismissing the apology. "I understand, that's fine." He set down the glue and grabbed his blueprints, heading for the door. "We can pick this up some other time. On Monday?"

"Shoot. I forgot it's Friday. Can you swing by tomorrow? I'd really like to get this finished."

Ryan smiled. "Sure." He waved at her, then at Sandy. "Give me a call when you want me to come over tomorrow, Kirsten."

"Sure thing."

"Nice to meet you, Sandy!" he called on his way out.

"You too!"

When the door shut, Kirsten schooled her features and turned to Sandy. "So."

"So he seems like a nice kid," Sandy smiled. His thick eyebrows raised, almost teasingly. "Cute, too."

Kirsten rolled her eyes. "Don't start."

"What? I'm just saying--"

"I know what you were 'just saying,' Sandy." She tossed the pieces of the model she'd been holding on to the counter and started striding quickly toward the bedroom. "I thought we were going to talk things out like normal adults instead of reverting back to childish antics."

"You know, you two seem close. Spending a lot of time together?" He followed her toward the bedroom.

"Hah!" She spun on her heel and planted her hands on her hips, in disbelief he'd actually played the 'long hours' card. "How about you and Rachel, huh? Should we talk about how close you two are?!"

That made Sandy stop just feet in front of her. His shoulders slumped slightly and he shook his head. "You're right," he sighed. "We shouldn't do this. I came home so we could work stuff out. Not start fighting all over again." He stepped toward her, carefully as if she'd attack. She wasn't completely sure that she wouldn't. "I'm sorry, okay? Forgive me?"

Kirsten closed her eyes and nodded slowly -- just because it was the easiest thing to do at this point. She let out her breath as Sandy wrapped her in a hug. She rested her chin on his shoulder and rubbed his back gently, wondering to herself just when his embrace -- when their whole marriage -- started to feel wrong.


{x-posted to rystenlove}
thekiller00thekiller00 on August 13th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
THat was a great post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am glad that Kirsten turned to Ryan like that and they talked about things. But I as I read the end of the post, I got this gut feeling that Sandy is going to accuse Kirsten of cheating on him with Ryan, when they really aren't. Then, after he accuses her of cheating, she actually will, then we will find out the Sandy cheated on her with Rachel.

Anyway, I can't wait to see where you take this fic !!!!!!!!!!!!
a.regalish on August 13th, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC)
Re: THat was a great post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks so much, I'm glad you're still enjoying this!

And I've written several chapters ahead already, so I think you'll enjoy what actually goes on :)
login_failed: Rysten 3login_failed on August 13th, 2007 02:02 pm (UTC)
Oh still lovin this. I liked your insight into Sandy. This was something the show barely touched; the transformation of Sandy Cohen into Sanford Cohen, the-almost-magnificent bastard. His character was dead-on, especially his subconscious jealousy that Kirsten makes far more money than he does/did. Seth's in-absentia character was right on the money. It reminds me of the old saying, "Looking out for number one." This one also seems to detail the similarities between Sandy and Seth.
I loved the conversation between Rysten about domestic violence. Ryan's act-like-he-doesn't-care front is still dead accurate, as well as Kirsten's well-hidden empathy.
The "frustration sucks" thing was hilarious and sad, all at the same time. Who in their right mind could let Kirsten become frustrated? (Not Ryan!) The last sentence was, in my opinion, the capstone moment of this chapter. Brings me back to Season 3, when Kirsten commented that she had thought she escaped the "marrying my father" fate that most women encounter. Looking forward to what's next.
a.: R/K; and i'll look after you;regalish on August 13th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so so much! I always love getting your insight on my Rysten fics; you're so observant.

I totally forgot Sandy's full name is Sanford, hahaha. I have now added it to a future chapter, so thanks for that! :D

I've already written through chapter seven so far, so I think you'll enjoy what unfolds pretty soon here. Thanks again!
Jessica28andoccrazy on August 20th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
Still lovin it...
I am thoroughly enjoying this.....and also painfully reminded of what a douche Sandy turned out to be by Season 3. I liked s1 Sandy much better......but enough about him!! These chapters are building up to something so hot and steamy, I'm not sure I'll actually survive!!! I'm gonna save the other chapters for tomorrow, because I need to get some sleep, but I can't wait to see where this story leads our precious Rysten!
a.: R/K; you're the drugregalish on August 20th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Still lovin it...
Ugh, yes, season three Sandy... what a fucktard. HAHAHAHA. New fave curse word, btw. *bounces around*

Heeee, I'm so glad you're still enjoying this! I might have to do many many more AU's, because seriously, the possibilities are endless.

Thanks as usual for your awesomely uplifting comments -- can't wait to see what you think of chapters four throught eight!