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27 March 2010 @ 11:38 pm
Brothers (The OC/Southland, Repost Of Three Ficlets)  
Originally posted as part of my 'Lyrically Tragic' ficlets series. I decided to post them together since I'm about to post Chapter One of a longer fic in the universe.

swallowed up in the sound of my screaming, cannot cease for the fear of silent nights

Ben was always grateful to his friend's dad for taking him to learn to shoot. He didn't really think, as a kid, that he'd grow up to need to know how, but later it served him well, his one shot taking out a man who otherwise would have been a cop killer. And it eased his nightmares to know he had a way to fight back. It wasn't until he was 12, though, that he first got the idea to be a cop. He was watching TV and saw something about how a police officer in San Francisco solved a decade old kidnapping while working on another case. About how the lost daughter of a family was reunited with her parents and siblings. And all Ben could think of was his own little brother, Ryan.

Ryan had been 4 years old, and everyone had always said that except for the age difference, they look identical. Ben could see it in the photo he kept tucked in his wallet, he and his baby brother, sitting by the pool, both smiling identical wide smiles. The night the men came to the house, when they were done with Mom and Ben, they took Ryan, and no one ever found the boy, though Ben knew at least one detective had told mom to give up, that Ryan was probably in a shallow grave in the desert.

But Ben had a fantasy that one day he'd be in a patrol car and look out the window to see a younger version of him walking down the street, that Ryan would remember him and they could be a family again, reunited after 14, almost 15, years.

What haunted his nightmares, though, was imagined discovers of Ryan's body, buried in a shallow grave in the middle of the city, or under damaged concrete in a condemned building. Nightmares of finding Ryan alive, but being rejected by a brother who didn't remember him, or worse blamed him for whatever hell he'd grown up in instead.

The nightmares still, nearly 15 years later, had him waking up in a cold sweat.

never gonna let you take my world from me

It's almost 16 years later that Ben sees the son of a bitch again. He changed his name, but it's definitely him. You don't forget the man who destroyed your family in one fell swoop. Frank Atwood is definitely the same guy who came into the house that night, and the man clearly knows who Ben is with how he first smirks, asking if little Benny-Boy became a cop because of him, then panicking when Ben put his hand on his holster and asked about Ryan.

"You're not gonna find him."

"Did you kill my brother?"

"He doesn't even remember you," Atwood taunted. "He called me 'daddy' after a couple weeks. All it took was a couple beatings..."

Only Cooper's restraining grip kept Ben from pulling his gun on the son of a bitch and shooting him right there in the holding cell.

It was easy to find Ryan, once Atwood let slip that he'd raised Ryan as his own. Ryan James Atwood was a freshman at UCLA, studying Architectural Engineering. And when they got a hold of a picture from Ryan's own, relatively short, criminal record, Ben knew for sure it was his baby brother.

"God damn doppelganger," Cooper said, letting out a low whistle as he looked at the picture.

"Everyone always said that except for the age difference, we looked like twins," Ben whispered, lifting up the old picture of him and Ryan to compare it, and feeling his heart clench at the fact that the face was familiar, but the twinkle Ryan had as a toddler was completely gone.

He went to UCLA on his day off, wandering around the edge of campus, and finally spotting Ryan heading towards the parking lot, talking to a couple of girls. As the boy split off from the girls, Ben got off his motorcycle and moved to get a closer look, not sure whether he was going to actually say anything or not.

But Ryan solved that for him, looking up at just the right moment and spotting him. Ben swallowed convulsively, expecting confusion on his brother's face.

Instead, Ryan's eyes lit up. "Ben?" he asked.

'cause there are these nights when i sing myself to sleep and i'm hopin' my dreams bring you close to me

Ryan pretended to forget about Mommy and Ben. He started calling the Atwoods 'Mommy' and 'Daddy', and later 'Ma' and 'Dad', even later 'Dawn' and 'Frank', but it was organic, it made sense as to why he did so. But he never forgot his other family, especially his big brother. He would have looked, he wanted to look, but he forgot their last name, he couldn't even remember Mommy's first name. But he always remembered Ben's name.

He used to silently repeat everything he remembered about Ben to himself before he went to sleep, to help him remember, and in hopes of dreaming about his brother and feeling safe and happy for once, even if it always ended.

It took 16 years for him to find his brother, standing in the parking lot not that far from the jeep, swallowing convulsively with a face that looked just like Ryan's whenever he was unsure or scared. "Ben?" he said.

"You... you remember me?" Ben asked.

"You're my big brother, how could I forget?" Ryan replied. "You... you came to see me?" he asked.

"Yeah, Ry, I came to see you," Ben replied, nodding. "We thought... we tried to find you..."

"He took me to Fresno," Ryan said. "And I... I couldn't remember our last name..."

"Sherman," Ben said. "It's Sherman."


"Yeah." Ben ran a hand through his head. "You have time for lunch?"

"Yeah, I've got time," Ryan agreed.

The End
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Third Watch
KLlving_darkness on March 28th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
Omy god how have I never read this before? This is so awesome and angst and woooow. Love. Love this so much!
60schic: target practice60schic on March 28th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
*loves* !