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FIC: Playing the Odds

FIC: Playing the Odds
Author: NightRider
Fandom: The OC
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to The OC. How sad for me!
Beta: Nope! Feel free to point out any glaring errors and I'll gladly fix them.
Summary: Ryan needs some encouragement. Naturally Sandy is the best man for the job.
A/N: teachertam wanted someone to play with this idea so this story is dedicated to her. I hope you like it. I have a large, angst-fest story planned for this idea, but I needed something light hearted. Hopefully one day I'll get to it!

This is pretty short, but at least I've written something! That counts, right?

‘We’re cut from the same deck’. How many times had he repeated that sentence in his mind? How many times had he sought comfort in the idea that Sandy saw something in him that he couldn’t see? How many times had he prayed to a God he doubt existed that hopefully there was a chance that it might be true?

He trusted Sandy. He prided himself on his street smarts and definitely didn’t make a habit out of trusting just anyone, but the second Sandy rolled up in his fancy BMW to save a kid he barely knew from being homeless, Ryan knew he was sold. He tried to keep his distance, to feign aloofness, but Sandy managed to cut through his barriers quickly and effectively. He knew Sandy didn’t see it, it was probably better that way, but he’d follow that man to the end of the earth if he asked him to.

Trey had tried to each him to trust no one, to never put himself out there because sooner or later everyone lets you down, and up to this point everyone had. His parents ingrained that lesson in him, not by words but by actions. It’s true what they say; actions do speak louder than words. His so-called parents actions spoke volumes.

Sandy was different. Sandy was better than that. He was a man that went against everything Ryan had seen in his young life. He was funny, caring, and had a passion for protecting the underdog which was something Ryan respected and admired. He had invited Ryan, a complete stranger, into his house with his wonderful family. He had given him a roof over his head, fancy clothes, and a chance at a real future. A real future…

That was something Ryan had never imagined for himself. What was the point of even dreaming about it? College was always out of the question for him. People from Chino didn’t go to college. People from Chino didn’t dream about the future. Staying out of jail and figuring out where he was going to get his next meal was as far as he dared to think ahead.

“Whoa, there’s smoke coming out of your ears,” Sandy commented as he made his presence known. He had been leaning against the door watching Ryan for the last five minutes. It was obvious the kid was deep in thought, and if the classic deer in the headlights glance he got was any indication, he’d just interrupted him mid-brood. “Solving life’s major issues?” he asked conversationally as he plopped on the couch next to Ryan.

“Just thinking.”

“What were you thinking about?” Sandy asked after it became evident that Ryan wasn’t going to elaborate. He didn’t make a habit out of pressuring the normally quiet teenager into talking, but he decided that sometimes ends justified the means. He had learned early on that if he didn’t ask, didn’t provide a little parental pressure, Ryan wouldn’t offer anything freely. It definitely wasn’t malicious. He figured this was the first time Ryan was around people that actually cared to hear what he was thinking.

“Did you mean it?” Ryan asked suddenly, blue eyes rising to meet his gaze.

“Did I mean what?” He racked his mind trying to think of something he might have said that could have upset the teenager. Seth was always so much easier to read. If his other son had a problem, he came right out and said it. Ryan preferred to dwell on it, mull it around in his mind, and if he brought it up at all, it was usually several months after the fact.

“Did you mean it when you said that we’re cut from the same deck?” The sincerity of Ryan’s words was evident in his tone, and Sandy didn’t take it lightly. If the kid was willingly discussing this with him, it was obvious it had been on his mind for awhile. The open question brought up another issue. Ryan cared about what Sandy thought. It was flattering, and it was a great responsibility.

“Of course I meant it, kid. We’ve got similar backgrounds. You know about my father and how he treated us. You know that I left home when I was sixteen and tried to make a life for myself.” Sandy tried to gauge Ryan’s reactions, to see if his words were somehow soothing the hidden fears. True to form, Ryan showed no outward signs of even hearing him, except for lowering his head and studying the carpet.

“What brought this on?” he asked curiously. He said that to Ryan months ago. He didn’t seem bothered by it then.

“Nothing,” Ryan said quickly as he pressed the flat of his hands against his jeans and stood up. “I’ve got some studying to do.” He offered a flippant smile, the one that he uses when he’s trying to act like he’s okay. Sandy learned quickly to recognize that smile, because it never reached his eyes. Ryan’s smile could light up a room; however this smile, the smile that spoke of a child desperately trying to hide his true feelings, made him want to cry.

“You’re going to be just fine,” Sandy stated as if he was speaking the absolute truth. Ryan paused in the doorway, slight tremors coursing through his muscular shoulders. “Trust me, Ryan. Even if you can’t see it, I do. You are going to be just fine,” he repeated in a voice that left no room for argument. If he was a gambling man, he’d put all of his money on Ryan. The kid was a sure bet. Ryan, if anyone, a kid who was loyal to a fault and had a heart of gold despite all the adversity he faced, was going to be just fine.

Ryan pivoted on his left foot, his gaze meeting Sandy’s across the room, and he smiled…his smile. For a second Sandy got to rejoice in the small victory.

That smile was worth it every time.




( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
Really, really nice. I can see that smile now. Thanks for writing.
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! There is something about that smile. :)
Dec. 28th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
Jep, " That smile was worth it every time" His smile is so....*sigh* Thanks for sharing. Hugs
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading. :) I'm glad you liked it.
Dec. 28th, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
*claps giddily*

Yep. I totally squee-ed. ("squeed"? I don't know. How about this..."I was totally squeeing!" Yeah. I like that better. *grins*)

You did it! You'd said you were working on this, and I'm so glad to see it. Plus, it's dedicated to me? *grins* Neat. Thanks.

It's so much more of what I'd wanted, when I started my own from this prompt, but mine just went all different.

And the best part is that you have more? Yay!


Thank you.

I hope your Christmas was nice. And I thank you for the story.
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
YAY! I'm glad you liked it! It wasn't much, but I felt like writing last night and my WIP's seemed like too much work.

I've got a long story planned based around this theme. Once I finish some of my other projects I'm going to work on it.

You're very welcome for the dedication. You were the one that asked for it so it seemed fair. :) Thanks again!
Dec. 28th, 2007 05:46 am (UTC)
That smile was worth it every time.

Yes it is, isn't it?
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah! It's definitely worth it. Thanks for responding!
Dec. 28th, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
=) That was really cute.
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
Dec. 28th, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC)
Very sweet. Love his smile!
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
I think we all love his smile. lol Thanks for reading!
Dec. 28th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)

I simply love it when Ryan asks Sandy for advice or guidance.

And his smile? *sigh*
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
I was hoping you were going to read this because I know what a fan you are of the relationship between Ryan and Sandy. I'm glad you liked it!
Dec. 28th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
Hee. Is it that obvious?

I like the relationship between Ryan and Kirsten, too, but Sandy and Ryan just have this very special bond, this deep crucial understanding and trust that I admire so much. And you portray it beautifully.
Dec. 31st, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Damn. LJ just snacked on my comment. Greedy much?

I'll try again after my mandatory errands.

I'll bring extra virtual munchies. A little bribe never hurt...
Jan. 1st, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
I hate it when that happens. Take your time! :)
Jan. 1st, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
Hey, look, real-time! (Almost.)

I might try again in a few minutes, since I'm cruising through between the gym and a feeding frenzy. We'll see how "efficient" I am.

I do love that you wrote about this subject and my two favorite characters and my favorite relationship. (Be clean!)

That means I will be back- and I was very happy to see this story.

Happy New Year! Now, LJ, at least post this much...
Jan. 1st, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Very sweet! Love the Sandy/Ryan relationship. Well done.
Jan. 1st, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Exploring the Sandy/Ryan relationship is definitely something I enjoy writing about. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Jan. 6th, 2008 06:24 am (UTC)
Okay, I'm back to attempt take two. But first, I hope you and your "paw" are doing better. I wish you rapid and painless healing and I certainly hope the offending pot holder has gone to a far worse place.

Thanks so much for this. I held out to the very end in canon hoping to have this touched upon and revisited to sort of give us just a glimpse of what these two were thinking. Sandy's initial comment was a generalization that he should have learned was a true understatement in terms of comparing his childhood to Ryan's, but what becomes of equal importance is the other interpretation that you explore here.

You raise some wonderful points that I've always thought Ryan would fixate on. The most significant is just how grateful Ryan is to Sandy and how in awe he is of the man and of the seemingly incomprehensible act just taking Ryan in has always been in Ryan's eyes. This is a kid who struggled to be merely tolerated by his own family, but was repeatedly minimized and ultimately rejected and discarded. They left him and left him with nothing, yet this complete stranger took him in and gave him... everything in comparison- especially in Ryan's perspective.

That brings up the next point of just what motivated Sandy and just what it is that Sandy saw in Ryan- or sees in him, to prompt such an undertaking. What could Sandy see that Ryan's own family couldn't? And since Ryan idolizes Sandy so much and wants nothing more to emulate him, the idea that Sandy might see some glimmer of himself in Ryan is so overwhelming that it's almost too much to hope for- or live up to. Yet Ryan wants Sandy's approval and acceptance so desperately. I often found myself asking if Sandy had any idea just how much Ryan valued Sandy's opinion, interest, attention and, maybe someday, more than that.

I like how you shift from Ryan to Sandy and almost surprise the reader as much as Ryan with Sandy's arrival. Then, you take it a few steps further with some insights into what Sandy is thinking and what he has learned. This is the Sandy who watches and listens, who talks with, not at Ryan. He's seemed to have become familiar with some of Ryan's tells and has figured out how to balance patience with gentle encouragement. Ryan wouldn't shy away from answering questions in canon, he just needed to be included. Sandy seems to recognize this important factor here and sees it actually play out in this interaction. Ryan has been taught that no one wants to hear what he has to say, so he has to be introduced gently to a new dynamic and shown- not just told- that his feelings matter too and someone is willing to listen.

As I've told you, this is my favorite relationship among the characters and you've captured the tentative, but evolving bond so beautifully here. There's some awkward circling, but already a real commitment from Sandy as a parent and father figure, not just a legal guardian. Ryan may not express the extent of his emotions or the degree of admiration and trust in so many words, but his non-verbal communication speaks volumes. He conveys to Sandy at least the beginnings of how he sees his mentor, but in true Ryan fashion.

And this is becoming longer than your offering, but thanks again for such a revealing portrait with such engaging dialogue and body language, and such a compelling topic.

Take care!
Jan. 6th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
LOL What does it mean when the feedback is longer than the story? I suppose it means you're the best reviewer around. :)

Ryan was always able to convey so much without opening his mouth. It was obvious how much he respected Sandy. When you look at Ryan's past, a man like Sandy would worthy of being idolized.

I enjoy writing Sandy as the thoughtful, caring parent that we always knew he could be. Of course canon basically threw a wrench in that. That's why we all must resort to writing fanfiction. lol

Thank you so much for the wonderful review. It's always nice to read all of your thoughts.

And the hand is much better, thank you. :D

Edited at 2008-01-06 10:38 pm (UTC)
Jan. 7th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
I think it means I need to be more concise, but it also means that your writing is very layered and insightful and resonates on many levels, right? Work with me here, please!

ITA about Ryan's ability to either be stoic- and obviously so, or to be amazingly expressive, but in a very controlled and precise way that left no doubt, and all without words. Of course that made me find Ryan so compelling and marvel at his self-control while also lamenting what would have inspired or necessitated it, and it made me definitely marvel at Ben's abilities to convey so much so subtly, definitively, and consistently.

I always hoped that Sandy knew just how much Ryan was in awe of Sandy and respected him- and wanted to please him and emulate him. Then I hoped that Sandy would recognize how precious that sort of awe and trust was and what a responsibility he had to protect something so special.

Ryan's past set up to have such abysmal expectations. Combine that with no sense of self-worth and he would have been overwhelmed by any gesture someone like Sandy would have made when someone like Dawn wouldn't even do the minimum- or pretend convincingly. She just plain hurt him without fail. He would never see himself as worthy of Sandy's time, interest, attention or concern and he'd cherish every little bit- just like he'd take any crumb Kirsten occasionaly cast his way and think it was cake.

"Parent" is the key term and "thoughtful" and "caring" are the essestial adjectives here. Canon did throw a wrench in that, but I so desperately wanted it to be true, and to witness it, just so Ryan wouldn't feel so alone and believe he had repeatedly failed- and deserved whatever came his way, or that he was somehow hurting everyone in his path, especially anyone connected to Sandy- the last thing he ever wanted to do. I'm just glad this Sandy is so attuned to Ryan and recognizes he's not a fairer, more musular, quieter, and infinitely more attractive "Seth," but his own person with very different traits and experiences that have shaped him and his perceptions. He deals with him as an individual. And you're so right, canon's infinite oversights, mistakes and disappointments are the fuel of fanfic forever.

I see you posted the next part of another story I love, but I know I won't get to it until tomorrow/later today, but I'm looking forward to it. I've missed that one!

I'm very glad your hand is getting better and you can obviously type- somehow.

Back to business tomorrow/today, huh? Good luck!

Thanks again!

Jan. 1st, 2010 06:33 am (UTC)
And another new year arrives, and I celebrated by picking one of your OC stories at random....

Yes, Sandy could bring out that smile. Canon never gave us enough of these two. I love: "....Ryan knew he was sold. He tried to keep his distance, to feign aloofness, but Sandy managed to cut through his barriers quickly and effectively. He knew Sandy didn’t see it, it was probably better that way, but he’d follow that man to the end of the earth if he asked him to." You sum up this relationship- so rich, so important, in fact crucial, to Ryan, yet so much left unspoken- in these few words. Thanks, dear.

Now fuddy-duddy home reading fanfic on New Year's Eve is off to b
Jan. 1st, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Aww! Thank you so much! You've made my day. :) It's always extra special to get a review on something older that I've written.

Yes, I agree canon didn't give us nearly enough of this relationship. IMHO, it was the heart and soul of the show.

There's nothing wrong with being a fuddy-duddy. ;) I went to bed at 9:00!

Thanks again!
Jan. 1st, 2010 06:34 am (UTC)
-ed. 'Off to bed' I was trying to type. Either LJ or my keyboard is wonky, because I did NOT tell that to post, yet....LOL.

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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