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Ficlet: Why He Stayed

Ficlet: Why He Stayed
Author: NightRider
Fandom: The OC
Beta: The wondeful souleswanderer who knows nothing about the show, but was nice enough to look it over anyway.
Characters: Ryan, Sandy
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to The OC. How sad for me!
Rating: G
Summary: It's no secret that life is better in Newport, but why does Ryan really stay?
A/N: I've had this idea for awhile now and finally put it down on paper. No one die of shock, okay?

Ryan walked into the lavish kitchen, opening the refrigerator and viewing the ample supply of food. He grabbed the orange juice from the shelf and an apple from the bowl on the counter. He was trying to get used to all the food and he still cringed when the Cohens tossed away far more than they consumed.

The abundant supply of food was nice, but it wasn’t why he stayed.

He glanced at the pool house through the glass doors. A pool house. A freaking pool house. It was incredible – expensive sheets, fancy furniture, and it wasn’t like he had to worry about the Cohens being evicted.

A roof over his head, soft sheets and a place to call his own – it was wonderful, but it wasn’t why he stayed.

He pulled out a chair and dropped onto the seat, pulling his textbooks out of his backpack. A private school and a real chance for college… He didn’t think he’d ever get used it. College wasn’t an option or even a dream. Back in Chino, college was as much an option as sprouting wings and flying to Mars. Still, here he was with his textbooks and new clothes, attending a school that gave him a real shot at getting into a good college somewhere.

It was amazing, like living a dream he never dared to hope for, but even that, as incredible as it was, wasn’t why he stayed.

“Hey, kid,” Sandy said as he walked into the kitchen with his briefcase under his arm.

Ryan looked up, a hesitant smile lifting the corners of his mouth.

“Seth told me you aced your Physics exam yesterday,” Sandy said conversationally, watching as Ryan lowered his head and shrugged. He walked past the table, pausing to rest his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “I’m proud of you.”

Ryan sat perfectly still as the door closed, and Sandy joined Kirsten outside to savor the warm California afternoon.

Ryan smiled, his pencil tapping against the tabletop, as his gaze dropped to the open textbook.

He couldn’t think of any place he’d rather be.




Jan. 5th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
Let's try that again...

Well, Sandy was the one Ryan trusted- and idolized. In fact, I don't think Ryan removed him from the pedestal even when Sandy barely had time for him and seemed to have ceased believing in him. Still, the fact that Sandy had given the indication that he had some/any interest in Ryan and placed some faith and expectations in him at the outset (when no one had and did) would have made a lasting, formidable impression. No matter what, that would have sustained Ryan. A single act, or random, inconsistent demonstrations on occasion would have been the stuff of dreams for Ryan.

I kept hoping we'd have scenes like you described, just so Ryan could hear- and know that Sandy was watching, did care, and was proud. Ryan certainly had enough negativity to believe that about himself instead and to be convinced he was not capable of succeeding, or worth anyone's time or effort. Graduation would have been perfect, since there was a Sandy/Seth exchange and too many Cooper wasted moments. Nada for Ryan/anyone. The closest was his painful party when Sandy relayed that he had told Dawn that she could be proud of Ryan. That wouldn't take much.... ; )

Certainly, unlike most of unapologetic Newport and his very materialistic brother, Trey wreck, Ryan was about the intangibles. That's what he was most starved for despite the other types of wealth that were both overwhelming and underwhelming simultaneously.

That's certainly not one of my more in-depth reviews, but, yes, I did like many things about this vignette.
Jan. 5th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
From where I'm sitting, it's pretty in-depth! :) I can't word things as well as you, but you always manage to capture exactly what I'm getting at.

I can't bring myself to write the cold, callous side of the Cohens even though we all know it existed. I figure Ryan got the cold shoulder enough on screen. I'd prefer to write about the lighter things even though it's more out of character.

Also, I can relate with Ryan having not grown up with a lot of money. Sure, we weren't as desolate as the Atwood family, but the idea of living in Newport in a house like that would floor me. I wouldn't know how to act!

I didn't even know those 'coming of age' parties existed until you told me! ;)
Jan. 5th, 2009 08:30 am (UTC)
I won't deny that we saw plenty of the neglectful and callous side of the Cohens, who didn't appear to want to be sidetracked or inconvienced- especially by Ryan. Having more of it in fic with some actual explanations or acknowledgments from characters is important in many ways, but getting some balance in the more positive and hopeful direction in a realistic manner is necessary too. The trick is not to be over the top with it, and you avoid that pitfall.

Your portrayal and impressions strike me as very real, and that's without considering whether or not Ryan's impressions and perspective were skewed. He would have had zero expectations and the highest tolerance. That alone makes it work. I also would like to believe that there were many moments when he felt what you describe here, if only to offset all he would have experienced and been convinced of prior to Newport- and during that tenure from many sources. I wanted to see it in canon and he definitely needed it- and needed it reinforced. Getting it in any form is a bonus. Don't think I was getting digs in at the Cohens, only longing for scenes just like this. Make sense?

ITA, as you know, that Ryan might not have been attracted to the displays of wealth or impressed in the ways that would have either motivated others around him- or that they would have taken for granted, but he would have been in awe of all the time and energy that went into the glossy image, perpetuating the myth, and maintaining the facade. As much as none of that wouldn't have mattered to Ryan, something which most couldn't consider or contemplate, I'd speculate that his own chameleon act would have been very challenging udder such foreign, alienating circumstances where the consensus was to minimize and dismiss him as lacking and unworthy- something he was all too willing to believe. Even though he would have seen through the veneer, he would have been scrambling to make sense of it all. Some understanding would be necessary to pretend on his own. That is something we also saw at the very beginning, without being hit over the head with the obvious, but, again, it was forgotten. I really don't think it's something that Ryan would have ever become accustomed to; he would have been too well shaped and never would have included himself in that circle with those aspirations or that status. Much of him would have remained on the fringe throughout his life, never really having that sense that he fit anywhere.

How many strange topics did we actually discuss that day?