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22 December 2008 @ 10:26 pm
24 Gifts Of 2008 - #22 - Fixing Ryan  
This one... I wrote the first little section awhile back, and fell in love with it even though it painted such a fractured image of Ryan... and then I wrote the rest tonight. It's angst, and suggests (pretty obviously I think... but that might just be because I know to begin with) what happened to Ryan, but never out right says it. Each of the 5 sections si basically from a different point of view from each of the 5 members of the Cohens+1 (Sandy, Kirsten, Seth, Ryan, and Sophie Rose).

It's sort of gut wrenching, but... hopefully it'll be liked. Don't worry, Ryan isn't dead and doesn't die! lol


Sophie Rose didn't really understand why her brother was so sad, but she knew he was the moment she saw him sitting in the sand behind the beach house they were staying in on their vacation. Mommy had said that something bad had happened to Ryan at school, and he needed some quiet, so Sophie Rose just sat down beside him, mimicking his pose and smiling sadly when he looked down at her. When he lifted an arm, she scuttled closer and curled against his side, holding tight until she heard a soft, sharp, pained sound escape from his mouth, then she loosened her grip and just carefully rested against him, touching but not pressing.

And she pretended she didn't hear his near silent sobs as he almost clung to her, both of them sitting in the sand until the water began to lap at their feet and Mommy came into say they should come in so they wouldn't get sick. Sophie Rose took Ryan's hand and steadied him as he got to his feet, his entire body shaking slightly, and she was rewarded with the soft smile that he'd always reserved just for her, his tiny little sister as he had always teased her.

She knew he was broken, but she, with a little help from Mommy, Daddy, and maybe even Seth when he came, would fix him, because Ryan had always taught her to fix things instead of throwing them away, and since throwing Ryan away just wasn't an option, she would fix him and make him good as new.


At first, Ryan hadn't been sure about Kirsten's idea of getting out of Berkeley and going somewhere else for a while, somewhere quiet where no one knew him or knew what had happened. He'd still thought Taylor would show up and he didn't want to be hidden from her when she did, and he wasn't sure about being somewhere unfamiliar, not to mention the fact that running away would just make people whisper louder when he came back to school. If he came back to school at all.

But when they, just him and Kirsten, had driven north, all the way to Washington state and then gotten on a ferry to this quiet little island and it's quiet little town, he'd almost felt the peace of the place soak into his bones and it had been a relief to feel something other than the tension that had coursed through him for almost two weeks. He liked the little house immediately, greatful that it was small and laid back, not big and exquisite, and the beach right out the back door provided something to focus on instead of the thoughts that otherwise kept running through his mind, the snapshots of what had happened that night.

Three days later, Sandy arrived with Sophie Rose, and his little sister had proven to be just one more comfort that centered him and kept him from slipping into the utter despair that part of him wanted to sink down into. She hadn't asked him questions he couldn't give her answers to, instead just sitting with him in the sand and being a warm presence at his side, one that didn't demand anything and offered nothing but love.

He hadn't wanted to break down in front of her, hadn't wanted to scare her, but for the first time since that first night at the hospital, he felt safe and loved enough to let go just a little bit and cry, using his sister as his lifeline, his reminder that everything was okay now.


Kirsten had been first to see Ryan, not Sandy, but it wasn't their choice. Both Kirsten and Sandy had tried to explain that Sandy was the one Ryan was closest to and more likely to accept comfort from, but a nurse had gently, but firmly, told them that it was Kirsten that Ryan needed, not Sandy. So Kirsten had been the one led into Ryan's room, and she stopped short as she entered and saw Ryan's back.

More accurately, she stopped short when she saw the half dozen or so hand shaped bruises that covered him from shoulders to the sheet that wrapped around his waist, giving him some semblance of dignity. She'd let out a startled, choked, sob and he had turned his head just slightly, eyes meeting hers just long enough for the haunted look in them to register, before turning away again to stare at the floor. Taking a deep breath, Kirsten slowly walked around the end of the exam table and came to a stop in front of Ryan, slowly reaching out and taking one of his hands in her own.

He didn't say a word, just seemed to crumble inward as he leaned forward, sobbing as he put his arms around her waist, clinging as a frightened child would. She tried to find a place to put her hands that wasn't bruised or cut, finally settling for resting them on the back of his bowed head as he sobbed, her own tears silent as she realized how bad it must be if he was clinging to her in such desperation. But this was her son, and she would comfort him, she would make it better and fix his broken world.


Sandy didn't believe in guns, didn't believe in violence or bloodshed solving anything, but when he'd finally gotten the police to tell them what they'd pieced together about Ryan's attack, he'd been relieved that Kirsten hadn't gotten rid of the gun her father had long ago given to her for protection. It was useless, really, because the men hadn't even taken Ryan's wallet when they were done, so they didn't know his address, let alone Sandy and Kirsten's, and certainly not the address for the beach house in Washington, but Sandy felt better knowing that if anyone dared come after his son in his home, he'd be able to do something to protect the boy.

Ryan was 25, almost 26, and just a semester and a half away from graduating from Berkeley, but he was also a child, Sandy's child, and he was terrified now, jumping at every little noise, and shaking if Sandy stood too close or sounded the least bit angry. He knew not to take it personally, at the hospital Ryan had attacked two male doctors before they'd figured it out and switched to a woman who'd managed to treat Ryan's injuries without incident and female nurses who'd been gentle with him, as though he was an injured animal who would bolt at any time. And the worst part was, Sandy wasn't so sure that was far from the truth.

It hurt not to be the one putting his arm around Ryan to comfort him, to not even be able to touch his son on the shoulder without the kid tensing up and shaking. But at least Ryan accepted Kirsten's gentle hugs, and let Sophie Rose cuddle against his side, seemingly basking in the glow of her presence and taking comfort simply from the child being there. He still wished he could comfort his son in some way except leaving the room if it was just the two of them.

So every night Sandy checked that the gun was still hidden in the fake book on the top shelf of living room bookcase, the bullets nestled beside it because he couldn't bring himself to have a loaded gun in the same house as his children, even if it was out of Sophie Rose's reach. And he reassured himself that he would use it to protect his children if he had to, but hoped he'd never have to go that far, because he wasn't sure if his family could survive more violence.


Seth hadn't expected Ryan to take a swing at him. All he'd done was slap his brother on the shoulder, but next thing he'd known he was on the ground and Ryan was standing over him, eyes wide with surprise and horror. Their parents had run in, and Sandy had asked if Seth was okay while Kirsten gently guided Ryan out of the room, her voice quiet and soothing. Seth wiped away the blood from the corner of his mouth, and asked what the hell that had been about, and Sandy told him bluntly that startling Ryan was a bad idea.

A very bad idea.

Seth didn't get it, but he noticed how careful everyone was around Ryan. Not like they thought he was going to lash out at them, but like they were scared he would break. Sophie Rose stuck close by Ryan's side, not talking a mile a minute like usual but just holding his hand or leaning against his side, quiet and calm. And Seth just didn't get it. He tried pushing Ryan, but just got a glare and a dare slammed in his face, he tried asking his parents and got vague answers about Ryan being assaulted and jumpy because of it.

It was Sophie Rose, in the quiet bluntness she had somehow inherited from Ryan, who explained it.

"Bad men hurt Ry," she said. "He gets scared if there's men around, even Daddy, but it makes him sad that he's scared of Daddy. I think they did the bad stuff Mrs. Hanks says strangers do sometimes."

Seth spent an hour throwing up that night, then quietly told Ryan he was sorry for being a jerk. Ryan just shrugged though and silently gestured at the video game console. Seth agreed and started a game, sitting on the floor in front of the couch. He didn't say anything, or even look, when Ryan sat as far away as he could, posture tense and unsure. They'd fix this. Somehow, he and his family would fix Ryan.

The End
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Tonight Show
chrisearchrisear on December 23rd, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
awesoem..... although I have no idea if the name Mrs Hanks should tell me sth....
but great job
Maramissmara on December 23rd, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Mrs. Hanks is just the name of Sophie Rose's teacher... it doesn't mean anything except that she has a teacher named Mrs. Hanks... lol
jujuberry136: bazooka pmsjujuberry136 on December 23rd, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)

Sad, but oh so hitting too. I love Sophie in this fic, and Kristen, and Sandy, and Seth...and Ryan. Poor baby.

Thanks for sharing
indigorayne: serious s1indigorayne on December 24th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
wow, poor Ryan...great story!
garnigalgarnigal on December 24th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Sophie is fantastic in this. Her explanation brought tears to my eyes.
60schic60schic on December 24th, 2008 10:29 am (UTC)
Ouch. Very painful, but oh so good.

I am slowly working my way backwards on your 'Gifts' series...it may take me awhile......
dogsbody01 on July 2nd, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
You certainly know, how to bring on the tragic.