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05 April 2009 @ 01:56 pm
Never Again (Chapter Nine)  
Title: Never Again
Author: Mara
Fandom: The OC/One Tree Hill
Rating: R
Warnings: Some violence (Mostly in flashbacks), language, possibly sex
Summary: "You hit me, even once, and I swear to god it'll be the last time you ever lay a finger on me."
Notes: Longest chapter yet! And at the end is a bonus! I was trying to make a new banner for NA and while it doesn't really work for this story, it's too happy, I still love what I made so I'm showing off! lol




Never Again: Chapter Nine


"This is it," Ryan said as he opened the door to his apartment and flipped on the lights.

"It's nice," Brooke said as she followed him in, looking around. "Did you just move in?"

"Like six months ago?" Ryan said, nodding as he hung his jacket on a hook screwed into the wall. He turned towards Brooke, taking in her stunned expression. "I'm a minimalist?" he tried.

"Ry, this isn't minimalist, this is... empty," Brooke said. "Please tell me you at least have food in the fridge," she added, going to check.

Ryan tried not to, but he couldn't help appreciating the view as she bent over to look. "I've got food," he said. "Just not much furniture. Or appliances. Seriously, who needs more than a stove?" he added.

"Human beings?" Brooke countered. "You don't have a toaster?"

"Nope," Ryan said, sweeping an arm around in a gesture to encompass the living room and kitchen. "What you see is what I've got."

"You need help, Hot Boy," Brooke teased, closing the fridge and putting her hands on her hips.

"I don't need someone coming into my home and telling me there's something wrong with me and my life," Ryan said, his expression turning dark. "If you feel that way, get out."

"What?" Brooke asked. "God, it's a joke, Ryan!"

"Well, it's not a funny one."

"What is your problem?"

"Forget it."

"No, I'm serious, why are you so upset..."

"Please, Brooke, just... drop it."

Brooke sighed, but nodded. "Okay," she said. "But, no TV, no board games, what do you do to pass the time?"

"Work and jog," Ryan admitted.

"We're getting you a TV and you're borrowing some box sets."

"I doubt we have the same tastes in TV," Ryan said.

"I have sports highlights," Brooke said.

"Okay, maybe we do," Ryan said, a small smile slipping past.

"Watch yourself, Hot Boy, you're gonna love me, yet," Brooke joked.

"Now you're trying to scare me?" Ryan countered, laughing this time.


Ryan rested his cheek on Brooke's hair as she took a nap against his good shoulder during the flight, her fingers tangled in his under the blanket that she'd tugged up over her shoulders before drifting off. It was strange, sometimes, trying to figure out how he got from where he was when he left Newport to where he was now. He'd been broken and locked away when he'd first gotten to Newport, a single bag of clothes and a couple books his only possessions, and living in an apartment that, at the time, Dr. Roberts was paying the rent on. Dr. Roberts had refused to allow Ryan to take over paying rent until he'd been working a couple months and had a small savings built up, he'd said it was so Ryan had enough to take care of any little things that came up without makings things too tight, but Ryan had later began to suspect it was more about wanting an excuse to check in on Ryan regularly and make sure he was okay.

But not long after Ryan took over the rent, he had met Brooke on the beach. It had seemed like a sign, that he was taking control of his life back from Sandy, like he was proving he could do it, even if he had never planned on meeting Sandy or any of the people from Newport, excepting Dr. Roberts, again. And by then he'd been busted by Paulie about the scars and knew there were other people in his corner, at least to a certain degree, so he'd been able to start gaining the confidence he'd never really had the chance to build before. It had been surreal, no feeling secure in himself and his life until he was 17 and living by himself, but that fit with most of his life. Completely fucking surreal.

Beneath his cheek, Brooke shifted and he lifted his head. "You awake?" he asked.

"Yeah," Brooke said, sitting up more. "Your shoulder's too boney," she added, tugging the blanket tighter around her.

"Gee, I feel the love," Ryan replied.

"You feeling okay?" Brooke asked. "Stomach? Shoulder?"

"I'm doped up and mellow," Ryan assured her. "Looking forward to passing out once we're at Nathan and Haley's."

"I will tape a 'do not disturb under penalty of death' sign on the door," Brooke promised.

"That's my girl," Ryan agreed.

"And I will follow through if anyone wakes you up before you're ready to get up. Other than Jamie, because you can't ask 6 year olds to be quiet constantly in their own home."

"Of course not," Ryan said. "And kids playing is noise I can definitely live with."

"You're gonna be a pretty amazing dad," Brooke whispered.

"Yeah, well, I'll have a pretty amazing mom right by my side," Ryan replied, kissing her forehead.

"I can't wait to introduce you to Karen," Brooke said. "She's completely awesome, and she'll love you. She's my main 'mom' role model, anything good about me? Comes from her influence."

"Somehow I think a lot of it was there already, you just needed some help expressing it."

"You are such a suck up," Brooke replied.

"Is it gonna get me some private time with you over this vacation?"

"Tons."

"Then I will keep sucking up."

"Good."

Ryan walked into his apartment and stopped short. There were stools at the counter. There were two arm chairs, and a coffee table, and end tables, and a TV stand, complete with a TV. And there was a woman he'd never seen before putting his books on the bookshelf. "Who the hell are you and why the hell are you in my apartment?" Ryan asked.

The woman turned and smiled slightly. "I'm Haley, Brooke's friend?"

"Okay..."

"She recruited my husband and I to help her get the furniture arranged and neatened for you."

"She... bought me furniture?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah," Haley said.

"I can't believe this..."

Before anything else could be side, Brooke returned with Nathan, each carrying a bag of groceries. "Ryan! Surprise!" Brooke said, smiling.

"Why did you do this?" Ryan asked.

"Because you needed..."

"I didn't need anything," Ryan interrupted. "I... What the hell, Brooke?"

"Ryan..."

"No, I just... Why? If I wanted more stuff, I'd buy it."

"You really think it's normal having your only furniture be your futon/couch/bed?" Brooke asked.

"I don't care about normal! I don't need or want someone coming in and doing this!"

"It's a gift!"

"No, Brooke, call where ever you got it, and tell them to come get it, because I don't want it."

"Why not?"

"Because I refuse to owe anyone else anything," Ryan said.

"You don't owe me anything!"

"If I keep this stuff, I do!"

"No, you don't! People do nice things for the people they care about!"

"Maybe in your perfect little world they do, but this isn't your world, Brooke! This is the real world, this is my world, and in the real world, when people do something for someone, it's because they expect something in return. They want something from you, and if god help you if you can't give it. And I am not putting myself in that position again."

"I'm telling you, you don't..."

"Yes, I will!" Ryan said, smacking his hand against the counter. "Damn it, Brooke, it's happened to me over and over again, and I am not gonna let it happen again. Especially not when I'm still paying back the money that was lent to me so I could get my life together! I still owe him almost $2,000 and I am not getting myself deeper in debt just to make you feel good about helping out a charity case!"

"You are not a charity case!"

"What do you call buying someone an apartment full of furniture?" Ryan protested. "I don't need this stuff, and I don't want it!"

"But I want to give it to you!"

"But I don't want it!"

"Man, she's trying to do something nice for you," Nathan said.

"I refuse to be my girlfriend's charity case," Ryan replied. "I am trying desperately to take care of myself, to prove to everyone that I can do it, that I am not what that son of a bitch said I was, and I don't need someone coming in and basically saying that I'm failing at it!"

"I wasn't trying to say that," Brooke said. "I just know you're trying to save money, and I know you're not gonna spend money on yourself when you don't think you have to, so I was trying to... I was trying to show you that I care and I want to help you have everything you deserve."

"It's too much," Ryan said, some of his anger deflating.

"It's all second hand," Brooke offered. "I went to Salvation army and garage sales to get it. The only things that are new are the toaster and the microwave because food stuff needs to be new, not used. It didn't even cost that much, really, and... and I just wanted to do something nice for you, because... because you make me feel like I deserve better than my parents always ditching me, and you encouraged me to go to college even though I'm not all that smart, and you openly call my mom a bitch, and I really like that."

"It's still too much," Ryan said.

"Then you'll just have to repay me by letting me stay over more often," Brooke said. "Because I can't take it back."

Ryan sighed. "Brooke..."

"I don't expect anything in return," Brooke said. "Hell, I'll sign a statement that you owe me nothing."

"Why couldn't you just ask?"

"Because you would have said no," Brooke said. "Your stupid stubborn pride would have made you say no. So I didn't let it."

"We can attest, Brooke really did mean well," Haley said.

Ryan ran his hands through his hair. "It seems like pity," he told Brooke.

"It's not," Brooke said. "It's... I know you're more concerned about paying back the guy who loaned you money, and saving for a car, and making sure you have some savings in case anything unexpected happens. You're taking care of your absolute needs, I'm just... trying to take care of the not-really-needed-but-still-needed stuff."

"That... is one hell of a run on sentence," Ryan said.

"I was never that good at grammar or whatever," Brooke replied.

"How much did you spend?"

"Maybe... a couple hundred total?" Brooke said. "The coffee table? Is this old trunk I found for like $10, and the end tables? Were like $5 each. The stools were $30 for the set of 4, and the chairs were like $25 each, but they are really pillowy and comfy, and one of them is a recliner. And the shelves! They're a bunch of wood crates stacked up and cost me like $35 all together, so that's like... $135 for your whole living room!"

Ryan looked around, shrugging. "I guess that's not too bad," he said.

"And the bed cost a little more, like $50 for the frame, boxspring and mattress, and then $25 for the sheets and comforter set, and like $30 for the pillows... the dresser was practically free because the old perv selling it though I was hot..." She hid her smile as she saw Ryan fighting his laughter. "And the bedside table was like $10, the lamp was $5, and... oh! The desk so you can have somewhere to do your bills and stuff was like $20."

"Brooke Davis went to garage sales for you," Nathan said. "That's major."

Ryan smiled slightly. "Okay," he said. "I... I'm sorry. I just..."

"I know," Brooke said. "I should have gone slow, gotten you a bed only, because that futon is killing both our backs, and then later got you something else..."

"I probably wouldn't have freaked out as bad," Ryan agreed. "And I wouldn't have made a really bad first impression on your friends."

"We'll reserve judgement until after dinner," Haley said.

"I reserved a table at Montenegros," Ryan said. "My treat."

"Isn't that place kinda expensive?" Nathan asked.

"Ryan works there," Brooke said.

"My boss is giving me the employee discount on the whole meal, so... it's manageable," Ryan said. "As long as Brooke understands I'm not taking her out anywhere nice for a couple months after this," Ryan added, teasing.

"I'll try to live with that," Brooke said.


"Brooke!"

Brooke turned towards the yell and squealed. "Tutor wife!" she called, running to her friend.

"It is so good to see you," Haley said, hugging Brooke tightly. When she released her, she turned to Ryan, giving him a gentle hug, careful of his injured shoulder. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Tired," Ryan said. "But really glad to see you again, Haley."

"Nathan wanted to be here, but he and Lucas had to call an emergency meeting with the team because apparently some of the players thought stealing a school bus for a joyride was a good idea."

"Didn't Nate do that Junior year?" Brooke asked. "And almost crash it into a train, if I remember correctly."

"I think I heard about him doing that," Haley admitted. "Though it was 'pre-Naley'," she added.

"He did all the fun stuff 'pre-Naley'," Brooke teased.

"Try to remember we're relying on Haley for a place to sleep, Brooke," Ryan said. "Don't annoy her."

"Don't worry, I'll just make Brooke find somewhere else to stay, we'll still like you," Haley replied. "Let's go get you guys' bags," she added.

To Be Continued...

I wanted the two flashbakcs to express that Ryan was somewhat defensive about his life for a while. In a previous chapter, i think the last one, actually, Brooke mentioned that Ryan had been so closed off when they met, that he didn't want to let anyone in, and these two flashbacks illustrate that, I think. In the first one he was almost looking for a reason to push her away, and in the second he was feeling insecure, like he thought she was just with him out of pity. But, as he told her in that chapter, she fixed him, she forced her way in and she made him let people in.

I was trying to make a new banner and ended up with something that just seemed to happy for the overall theme of NA, it jsut didn't fit, but I still liked it... so for now it's a random Bryan (I like that as the couple nickname better than Rooke, which was my former favorite... lol) banner... the file is named BryanHappyBabyBanner1... lol


I don't know... I just like this... they're happy! And there's a Bryan Baby! And WHY couldn't they have been on the same show? I'll have to try again for the NA banner, because as much as I love this banner it just won't work...
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Beautiful Distaster - Kelly Clarkson
 
 
 
the_dead_dreamthe_dead_dream on April 5th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
What program do you use to make your banners, they're really good.
Maramissmara on April 5th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
I use a program called Paint.NET. It's completely free, and it has a lot of features that come in very handy, including 'layers' so you can gently shade away sections to make them fade into eachother and add a glow effect (both of which I did with the new banner)
jujuberry136jujuberry136 on April 6th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
Love the new chapter- the flashback sections definitely help with showing Ryan's changes from pre-Brooke/post-Cohen life to the present.

The Banner's gorgeous too- now it needs a fic to go with ;D
Maramissmara on April 6th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
Thanks! Ryan took a while to fully feel secure in his relationship with Brooke... for a long time he couldn't help wondering if she was gonna end up being a rehash of Marissa, who wanted him when it was convenient and didn't when it wasn't... his worries were completely unfounded, obviously, but... he was messed up emotionally...

lol... thanks! I love the banner... and it DOES need a fic! but god... it would need a HAPPY fic and I... I don't really do happy that often... lol
fifimom on April 6th, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
Lovely banner, thanks for the update.