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FIC: A Willing Sacrifice Part 4

FIC: A Willing Sacrifice
Author: Nightrider
Fandom: The OC
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything related to the OC. How sad for me!
Summary: Seth begins to doubt his friendship with Ryan.
A/N: This was written for Brandy’s 15 minute challenge. I was supposed to use a sentence prompt, but it didn’t fit with the story I wrote. It’s rather odd because the quote gave me the idea for the story, but later didn’t fit. Go figure…

This is not betaed. I make a ton of mistakes and they are all my own. Feel free to point the errors out and I'll gladly correct them.

And on a side note, the parental Cohens are a bunch of morons. :)




Part 4

The doorbell rang and Sandy answered it quickly. He had gotten Detective Riley’s call that morning and had been expecting him. Ryan seemed disinterested when Sandy informed him that the Detective was going to stopping by to speak with him about what happened.

Ryan’s only commented had been an offhanded, “I’m surprised it took him this long.” Sandy grasped the Detective’s hand firmly and motioned for him to come inside. They exchanged pleasantries and the Detective handed him a copied DVD.

“Here’s a copy of the security tape you asked for,” Riley stated.

“I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to come down to the station,” Sandy replied apologetically as he set the DVD on the kitchen counter.

“It’s important for you to be with your family,” Riley returned easily. “How are Ryan and Seth doing?” The detective seemed genuinely concerned for both of the boys which pleased Sandy. He’s seen too many hardened cops over the years that had lost their compassion and were in bad need of a career change. It was refreshing to deal with someone that actually cared about the people they were working with.

“I’m concerned about Seth. He’s been wound up since it happened. Kirsten and I are thinking about having him talk to a professional,” Sandy explained as he absentmindedly ran his hand through his hair. Seth hadn’t been able to calm down and it was pretty obvious he hadn’t been sleeping. The most concerning new development was now Seth was tactfully avoiding Summer’s telephone calls. Summer had been the teenager’s world for years, and now he was avoiding her.

“And Ryan?”

“He’s actually doing well. I was expecting him to lock himself in the pool house, but he seems to be handling everything okay.”

“Mmm.” It wasn’t much of a response, but Sandy could tell the detective wasn’t convinced. Oh well. He just didn’t understand Ryan like they did.

Sandy glanced at the closed pool house door before asking, “Have you heard anything about Trey?”

“He’s still on a ventilator. They’re expecting him to recover though. He’s got a laundry list of charges waiting for him as soon as he wakes up. I’ve got two officers at the hospital at all times,” Riley explained.

“I wasn’t aware he was even out of jail,” Sandy mused quietly. It must have been awful for Ryan to have his first meeting with his brother as a free man to turn into a violent battle for his life.

“He got out about a week before he held up the gas station,” Riley returned as he set a recorder on the table and opened a blank notepad. “I’m surprised you didn’t know considering Ryan was the one that picked him up from prison.”

"What?” Sandy’s eyes opened in shock as he stared at the detective. Why in the world wouldn’t Ryan have told them? The realization suddenly hit him like a bad snow storm in New York. Ryan had been borrowing the car that week and was busy with secretive errands. Why the hell hadn’t the kid just told him the truth about what he was doing? He could have helped.

“You sure don’t know a lot about what goes on in your own house,” Riley responded flatly. Sandy, not one to ever back down, glared at the other man. Who the hell did this guy think he was?

“I’ll go get Ryan,” Sandy offered for a lack of anything better to say. He didn’t need some street cop telling him how to be a parent. Truth be told, Riley’s little snippet of information had caught him off guard and he was horribly embarrassed.

He knocked on the pool house door, and Ryan emerged seconds later. He nodded at Sandy and started towards the kitchen.

“I’m going to be with you the whole time,” Sandy reassured him quietly. Ryan glanced at him sideways and shrugged. Everyone knew he hated talking to cops, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t used to it or that he didn’t know how to handle himself. “Just tell him the truth.” What exactly did Sandy think he was going to tell him? The whole thing was captured on video. He couldn’t have lied if he wanted to. Ryan dropped in the chair across from the detective.

“Hi Ryan,” Riley said politely as he reached to shake the teenager’s hand.

“Hey.”

“You obviously know why I’m here so I won’t waste your time by going over it again. I’d like for you to start at the beginning and tell me what happened. If you need to take a break, just let me know. You’re not on trial here,” Riley explained. He already had a few ideas about this kid, and even after pulling his criminal history all of his instincts told him that Ryan wasn’t a criminal. Ryan seemed more a victim of circumstance. He also had a horrible feeling that if some things about this kid didn’t change, he wasn’t going to see eighteen.

“I’ll be fine,” Ryan confirmed as he folded his arms on the table and studied his swollen hands. The bandages had been removed yesterday and the skin was still split. Due to the level of damage, he knew it was going to take awhile to heal. He lost of how many times he’d seen his hands like this. Riley started the recorder and offered Ryan a reassuring smile.

“So tell me how you ended up at the convenience store?”

“My girl friend wanted a drink so she stopped there. I saw the Cohens’ SUV parked outside and the man with the gun through the windows. I went inside and tried to stop him.” Ryan kept his eyes glued to his battered hands as he vividly remembered the feeling of knowing that Seth was trapped inside that store. “The police came after that.” Ryan shrugged as he tried to recount any specific details that might be useful. He didn’t think there was a whole lot to say. “I suppose that’s it,” he concluded.

“You said you saw the man with the gun. Did you know who it was?”

“No,” Ryan clarified. He wasn’t sure why that would make any difference. He also wasn’t sure why Sandy was holding his breath. “I only saw him from behind. I didn’t know it was Trey until I was already in the store.” It was hard for him to say his brother’s name. Trey had been his world for years. He was probably the single reason why Ryan had survived his childhood. Ryan would have laughed at the irony because this was how he repaid the favor.

“What did you plan on doing when you went into the store?” Riley asked. Ryan found himself shrugging again.

“Don’t know,” he returned as he rubbed his thumb over a particularly bruised knuckle. He hadn’t really thought that far ahead. “Get Seth out.”

“From the video I gathered that you kept Trey’s attention focused on you. The gun was knocked from his hand when you both fell on the ground. You told Seth not to touch the gun. Why?”

It was all Sandy could to do keep breathing. He should have watched that damn video before this interview. He apparently should have done a lot of things. The idea of Seth holding a gun was just as bad as the idea of Ryan standing in front of one.

“Seth with a gun?” Ryan whispered with a dark laugh. Those were two things that should never go together. “He wouldn’t have known how to use it.” That was a simple enough answer Ryan decided. Did that imply that Ryan knew how to use a gun? That was another question that Sandy had no desire to think about. He was sure Kirsten wouldn’t care for the answer either.

“I doubt that was the whole reason,” Riley mused as he thoughtfully studied the teenager who had yet to lift his gaze from his hands. “It seems that if someone had pointed a gun at Trey he might have stopped.”

Sandy glared at the detective. Was this man actually insinuating that Seth should have grabbed the gun? “Are you suggesting…”

“Seth’s prints on the gun would have confused things,” Ryan interjected softly. Sandy’s mouth snapped closed as he stared at his foster son. “Seth didn’t need to be anymore involved than he already was.”

“Thank you for clarifying that, Ryan,” Riley responded with an even nod. Sandy felt his jaw tightened. The more he learned about what actually occurred at the convenience store, the more ill he felt.

“Will tell me why you didn’t wait for the police to show up?”

“They certainly weren’t breaking speed records,” Ryan muttered. He started picking at the healing skin around his last knuckle.

“There was a possibly that Trey could have taken the money and left,” Riley stated. He kept his eyes glued to Ryan as he waited for his response. He didn’t want to upset the kid, but he knew these questions had to be answered.

“Anything’s possible,” Ryan murmured. He winced as the skin he was picking at tore, and he started bleeding again. “Trey was high. I waited as long as I could.” He felt Sandy pat the top of his hand before pulling it underneath the table.

“You told Trey that there were things worse than death. Would you care to elaborate on that?”

“Ryan was upset,” Sandy interjected. “He probably didn’t even know what he was saying. I’d like you to get to the point, Detective.”

“Have you read my file?” Ryan asked curiously as he lifted his head and met the Detective’s gaze. “All of my files?” he clarified. He was talking about more than just his criminal history. He knew his lengthy child services file could be subpoenaed. Riley nodded as he found himself staring at intense, blue eyes. “Then you tell me. Do you think there are things worse than death?”

Riley held the teenager’s gaze for several seconds. He silently wished he had been the detective assigned to one of the many call outs to the Atwood residence. Maybe things wouldn’t have turned out like this for either of the Atwood brothers. Who knew how things might have turned out if there had been intervention early on?

“I think we’re done for today,” Riley stated as he turned the recorder off. “I appreciate your time, Ryan.” He nodded towards Sandy. “I’ll be in touch if I have any more questions.”

“I’ll show you out,” Sandy offered. He tried to smile at Ryan, but he was looking at a bent head that was once again studying his hands.

“So were you trying to prove a point?” Sandy asked as he opened the front door. He was struggling to keep his voice neutral.

“You were right. Ryan’s a good kid,” Riley responded as he started walking down the driveway. “I’d like him to see eighteen.”

“So would I,” Sandy murmured after the car engine roared to life. He shook his head and closed the door. He walked slowly back to the kitchen and tried to gather his thoughts. He knew he was going to have to go about this carefully.

“How are you doing, Ryan?” Sandy moved around the kitchen slowly and poured two cups of coffee.

Ryan’s gaze flicked towards him before resettling on the table. “Fine.”

“I’m going to be honest with you, kid. I need to know if you meant that. From the way Detective Riley was talking, it sounds like you were trying to kill yourself or that you didn’t care if you died.” Again, Ryan would have laughed at the irony. Still, he knew what to say to get out of this. People didn’t want to talk about child abuse, death, or anything that mattered. Especially people in Newport. He learned that after Oliver and after Theresa lost the baby. Sandy was probably just worried that he had a mental case on his hands.

“I only said that because I knew it would rattle Trey,” Ryan said as he met Sandy’s eyes. “I knew how to get under his skin.” Sandy smiled and reached out to pat Ryan’s hand.

“Glad to hear it, kid.”

People in Newport were so predictable.


Part 5

Comments

beachtree
Nov. 13th, 2007 07:13 am (UTC)
So much for sleep. It's highly overrated, right?

Do we think that Sandy maybe is taking the hint from Det. Riley and Ryan and buying a clue that Ryan might have a tiny issue with complete lack of self-worth here? He might possibly be conditioned to see himself as living in the context of others and as being expendable? Brother or not, Trey would have, and could have done far worse. Again, the light bulb flashed on briefly, but seemed to be extinguished when again, Sandy got what he wanted and needed to hear and ran with it. The skull, it is thick. It makes me dread to think what it will take before Sandy does have the epiphany- or some capable adult does, and begins to act accordingly. How high a price is too much to pay?

Again you've shown us both the dichotomy and inconsistency with how the Cohens perceive and treat Ryan vs. Seth. If Ryan doesn't show them the same outward signs as Seth, they don't respond. Yes, they've raised on kid for sixteen years, but that doesn't mean that all kids are the same- all adults aren't. One would think they might grasp that even two kids from the same parents who spent their lives in the same environment exposed to the same people and things wouldn't be identical, or even too similar, so why would a kid from different parents and surroundings with a history of which they have little knowledge and in which they've shown little interest, be like their own child and respond as he does? Detective Riley can see what the Cohens choose not to.

I had to laugh at the detective's pronouncement that Ryan was not a "hardened criminal" despite his "rap sheet." We know Trey had "quite an impressive record," but Ryan would have had only a misdemeanor offense recorded as the under-licensed-driver-aged passenger and unwilling participant in Trey's latest escapade prior to the armed robbery. If that's Riley's idea of a "hardened criminal," then the residents of Newport really ought to be worried.

Riley does earn points for asking about both boys and for making a point of asking about Ryan when Sandy doesn't elaborate beyond his concern for Seth. He gets more for observing that Sandy is far from involved in Ryan's life without being so bold as to outright call him negligent- which is the case. The bonus comes when he emphasizes the gravity of the situation with his desire for Ryan to live to be eighteen. He's got a better handle on the dynamics at work than those legally entrusted with providing structure and care.

The interview is revealing in a more subtle way than the news about Trey's release. Ryan's reaction to Riley's presence isn't what Sandy reads it as and the detached, impersonal way Ryan retells the series of events, as if it happened to someone else, someone who doesn't matter, speaks volumes. He does emphasize the importance of Seth's protection, innocence and safety. Without stating it specifically, he makes it clear- although not to Sandy, apparently, just what his place and job is.

You end by reinforcing the responsibility, blendability and invisibility factors. Ryan has figured out that it's all about appearances, and adapting to the expectation that everything should be status quo and easily addressed in Newport. There's no room or time for anything else. If no one has the heart for unpleasant subjects or imperfections from the "real" residents, then he, as an outsider on questionable footing, has to be held to an even higher standard. And the game continues with this casualty hurt even deeper and isolated further... Ouch.

Thanks for the disturbing, but very engaging update. I'm not quite sure what to prepare for next...