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14 May 2007 @ 09:03 pm
The Break [The OC; Ryan/Kirsten]  
TITLE: The Break
PAIRING: Ryan/Kirsten
SPOILERS: Through "The College Try"
RATING: PG (for now *snick*)


A week had passed and Kirsten was still staying at the hotel. Sandy had enquired a few times on her whereabouts but Ryan, per Kirsten's request, claimed he had been unable to find her and didn't know where she was. For a week Seth and Sandy both did their best to get on without her, but Ryan could tell they were both struggling. He felt awful not being able to let Seth know where his mother was, or to let Sandy know where his estranged wife was, but under no circumstances would he break Kirsten's trust.

She wanted her break from complication and she was entitled to it. And he reassured himself that if Sandy and Seth were completely desperate to see her, they would look for her. Sandy was still struggling with his dealings at the Newport Group in getting a new hospital built, and Seth was grappling with yet another breakup with Summer.

"You're back," Kirsten exhaled a brilliant smile upon opening her hotel door for him.

Ryan couldn't resist smiling back. "Yeah. How was your afternoon?"

He was pleasantly surprised when Kirsten leaned in to kiss his cheek before grasping his wrist and tugging him inside. "I'll be honest, Ryan -- I'm starting to go a little stir-crazy."

"Okay, then... what do you want to do? Do you need a change of scenery?"

She nodded emphatically, clasping her hands in front of her in the way that was so uniquely 'Kirsten.' "I think so. I think that's just what I need. Trouble is, where can we go that won't take you away from school, and won't start up the rumor mill?" She shrugged, her eyes gazing out the window. "I mean, several times today I've considered looking for an apartment somewhere... probably in the numbered streets temporarily, but I don't want anyone to know about this."

Her mention of apartment-hunting caught Ryan's attention, and he had to ask. "This 'break'... exactly how long of a 'break' are you planning?"

Kirsten met his eyes, searched them, before she sighed. "Ryan... I don't want to think about that right now, I really don't."

He shrugged. "Seems to me you've already been thinking about it, if you've considered renting an apartment." He ducked his head to recapture her gaze. "Are you thinking of leaving Sandy... permanently?" When she began to turn away, he boldly reached for her and grabbed her gently by the arms, turning her to face him again. "Kirsten."

"Yes, I am," she finally replied, lifting her eyes to his.

Ryan's brows flicked upward. "Wow."

Kirsten huffed and pulled away from him, going over to sit on the bed. "Ryan, I just... I don't know what else to do."

"I'm no expert, but aren't you supposed to try talking to him?"

"I've tried. And for every time I've tried to get him to come home so we can talk, he has blown me off."


"And this isn't something I've just recently considered, Ryan."

He made his way over to the bed and sat beside her, angling his body just slightly toward hers. "It's not?"

Her eyes were focused on some point on the floor while she shook her head, bracing her hands on her knees. "No. For three years now it's been one rough patch after another. If it's not a somebody getting between us, it's a something."

Ryan wasn't completely sure how to respond to that, so instead he asked, "When did it start?"

Kirsten met his eyes and they locked in a stare for a moment, before she shrugged and ducked her head, shaking it side to side. "It's not important," she mumbled behind the curtain of blonde hair that had fallen forward.

Ryan wanted more than anything to reach out and tuck that thick hair behind her ear. He managed to hold back, repeating a line he'd uttered to her just a few weeks before, in the same gentle tone. "Then you won't mind telling me."

The repeated sentence drew her eyes back upward, and he watched her give in. "It started when he brought you home."

He nodded and began to turn away... then jumped, startled, when her hand found his cheek and turned his face back toward her.

She searched his eyes, her tone low and serious. "Please don't take that as a bad thing, Ryan. I am thankful every day that I have you in my life, because right now? You're the only one that's keeping me level-headed." She shrugged. "Seth doesn't often give me the time of day, and Sandy's involvement in my life has been nil. You're all I've got." She paused then, getting back on track. "But when he first brought you home, there was friction. I expressed my wishes and he ignored them. But then, you were here to stay, and things were good again."

Ryan nodded slowly, vaguely aware that her hand was still on his face but not wanting to do anything about it. "And then what?"

"And then... Jimmy's financial troubles and my past with him got between us. And after Jimmy -- well, around the same time as Jimmy actually -- came Rachel. And then, along with that, came all the stuff with my dad."

"After Rachel?" He centered on her eyes, sensing she was about to close herself off to him again, and tried to convey strength to her through his own eyes.

"After Rachel, we were still dealing with my dad's case, but it was okay for awhile. But then... when you had to leave for Chino..."

He shook his head. "I'm so sorry."

Sandy had once detailed what she had been like after he'd left with Theresa, and the description alone nearly shattered Ryan.

"It's not your fault, Ryan. You were doing the right thing at the time. I just... I wasn't prepared for how it was going to effect me."

Before he could gather the strength to ask if she'd elaborate on that, she had already moved past it. "And then we found out that Seth was gone, and Sandy just let him go. I expressed to him over and over again that he should try to bring him back, but he ignored me. We barely spoke that whole summer."

Kirsten continued to describe, in vague detail, the rest of her laundry list of problems with Sandy -- more troubles with Seth, and then Sandy's former flame Rebecca, then Carter Buckley, and her father's death, trying to make it through rehab, Sandy's control of the Newport Group and the new hospital deal. Ryan understood now more than ever what had spawned her slow, downward spiral into alcoholism.

By the time she'd reached the end of her story, tears were slipping silently down her cheeks. Ryan put his arm around her and leaned his head on hers. "I'm so sorry for everything you had to go through, Kirsten."

Kirsten leaned on him, drew strength in his embrace, and dropped her voice. "There's, um... there's something else. Something only one other person knows."

Ryan pulled away slowly and met her eyes, a crease appearing between his eyebrows. "What?"

"A little over a week ago, Sandy and I went to this dinner with Neil, Julie, and some of Neil's colleagues. Sandy and I sort of got into a very public spat, and I walked out."


"On my way out, I grabbed a glass of wine, and... I was so upset and stressed that--"

"You drank," he finished.

Kirsten's rambling began to slowly pick up speed. "And I know what you're thinking, that I'm back drinking again, but I'm really not Ryan, I promise you that. I just, it was the stress and the anxiety, and I almost did the same thing while you were in Albequerque but that time I poured the entire bottle down the sink and went to an AA meeting the next day to regain focus. And then, after what happened at the party, I went to AA meetings every single day until I felt like I had it back under control because I really don't want that to become a problem again, I mean I just hated what it did to you and--"

"Hey." He tipped her chin up with two fingers and forced her to meet his eyes.

She did; she searched them and huffed out a sigh, her breath bouncing off his lips and back onto her own at the proximity. She stared into his eyes until she was calm again, then she broke gaze and sighed once more. "Sorry." She covered her eyes with one hand in embarrassment and leaned against him.

"Nothing to apologize for," he replied simply, leaning his head on hers once again and fighting the urge to kiss her hair. "I should've been there for you... both times."

"This will sound callous and I don't mean it to be, but... that's not your job, Ryan."

"Yeah, well, it is now." He gave a half-smile as he pulled away, lifting his arm off her shoulders and bringing it back to his side. "No more drinking."

She attempted a smile of her own. "No more blaming yourself for my problems."

Ryan drew in a deep breath and turned slightly on the bed, bending one leg up beside him so he could face Kirsten fully. She mirrored this movement, and Ryan dared to lightly touch her knee. "I need you to promise you won't drink again, Kirsten." He held her blue eyes with his own. "Do you promise?"

Kirsten nodded, her voice grave. "I do. And I need *you* to stop blaming yourself for what happens to me, Ryan. Do you promise?"

His voice was just as grave. "I do."

She smiled, "Good," and reached out for a hug.

Ryan pulled her against him and held her tight, always able to find brief happiness in that simple embrace they frequently shared. And Ryan was realizing, as he held Kirsten in his arms yet again, that an undeniable addiction was forming. But this was something he didn't mind being addicted to. If it kept him away from cigarettes or kept her away from alcohol...

"I wish you could stay, Ryan, but it's starting to get late. I'm sure Sandy and Seth will be expecting you for dinner."

"Yeah." He reluctantly let go of her and ducked his head, not wanting her to see the disappointment on his face. He squeezed her hand and rose to his feet, heading for the door. Upon opening it, he spun around in the doorway. "But won't you be eating dinner alone?"

Kirsten gave a lovely smile as she blinked slowly. "I'll be fine," she assured him. "But, could you do me a favor?"

He replied without hesitation, "Anything."

Another smile flitted across her lips at the quick response, then... "Would you see if you can grab some more of my stuff from the house?" She winced. "I hate to even ask that of you, but I--"

"It's fine. I'll bring it for you tomorrow. Anything specific?"

She chuckled. "More clothes and shoes, I guess. That's about it."

He nodded. "You got it." He raised his eyebrows and drew in a breath as that familiar, tension-filled moment settled in. Those, too, were growing in frequency. "So, I'll see you tomorrow?"

Kirsten smiled, and stretched up to kiss his cheek again. "Tomorrow."


{x-posted to rystenlove}
(Deleted comment)
a.: R/K; i pushed you down deepregalish on May 16th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Haha! That "I do" was a fluke, I swear ;) Wouldn't wanna horrify you again with another Rysten-marriage :D

Glad you liked it, though!