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17 January 2005 @ 04:51 pm
This is for ctoan, who added me to her flist based on my promise to write her something. I think I hit the things she likes best. :) Unbeta-ed, wrote it in an afternoon, but I swear my spelling and grammar are always perfect.

Title: To Do
Fandom: The OC
Timeline: Between "The Debut" and "The Outsider," Season 1
Rating: G
Word count: 1350

Kirsten tapped her fingers on the steering wheel, ignoring the beat of her Joni Mitchell CD as she waited for the gate to open. She smiled at the guard, drove the Range Rover through into the winding streets of the neighborhood, took a deep breath to shake off the meeting. Thanks so much, Dad. I really appreciate being undercut like that. No, not a problem, not at all, I'm sure I'll be able to make other deals with them where they take me seriously. She took another deep breath and actively unclenched her jaw. She was home early, for the first time in months. She'd relax. Maybe swim. Walk along the beach. What good was it having a home on the beach if you couldn't enjoy it? "Maybe Sandy has it right," she said to herself, and slammed the car door. "I could surf. Learn to surf. Except I never liked salt water."

Inside, Kirsten dropped her keys and meeting folder on the kitchen island, and stood there at a loss. It was too early to eat, and if she started actually making dinner, the entire house would explode. What to do? What did she used to do? Before Newport, what was there?

Well, there was Seth. But Seth didn't need her nearly as much as he did when he was a year old. There was macrame. All those plant hangers she gave away, to people who had no use for plant hangers. They must've thanked God when she finally moved away and there was no more macrame glut. There was housecleaning, but that was taken care of now, and she wouldn't know where to begin anyway—

There was a noise behind her. "Hey, Seth," she said. "Yes, Mom's home, and no, I didn't get fired."

"Oh," said a deeper voice. He cleared his throat. "I wasn't going to ask if you had."

"Ryan," she said, turning around to see him standing in the doorway. "Sorry, I'm used to Seth. I try to head him off." She smiled in a manner she hoped was reassuring.

"Yeah, I get that," said Ryan, smiling halfway. His whole body was tense, each hand balled up and shoved under his crossed arms. "Um, I don't mean to bother you, but have you heard from Mr. Cohen?"

"Sandy? No, not today, why? Is everything okay?" Kirsten frowned.

"Yeah. Yeah, I mean, nothing's happened or anything. I was just supposed to—he was going to come home early." Ryan shifted, clearly uncomfortable. "I have to go downtown, and he was going to take me."

"Downtown where?" Kirsten saw the message light blinking on the phone. "Hang on, maybe that's him." She picked up the phone and dialed voice mail. It was Sandy's voice on the other end:

Hey, everyone. Ryan, if you're listening, I'm going to be late. Things got crazy down here, and I can't break away right now. Go ahead and call to reschedule, and we'll do it another day, okay? I'll be home by dinnertime. See ya.

She held the phone out to Ryan and let him listen. His face was blank while Sandy spoke, and while he handed the phone back. "Okay, then."

"Well, wait, where are you going? I can take you. All afternoon, and I have nothing to do." Kirsten smiled.

Ryan's eyes dropped. "Ah, you don't need to. I can reschedule. I don't want to inconvenience you."

"It's not an inconvenience," said Kirsten briskly, retrieving her keys and purse. "Reschedule what?"

Ryan rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. "Meeting with my probation officer." His voice was quiet.

"Oh." Kirsten stopped for a second, then headed to the door. "What time is your appointment?"

"Four-thirty," said Ryan, looking sideways at her.

"We can make it if we hurry. Come on."


Ryan was silent on the ride down, staring out the window. Kirsten didn't push him to talk. It was awkward enough as it was.

She liked Ryan. She really did. She could see what Sandy saw in him, the intelligence, the vulnerability that would lead a stronger person to take advantage of him. He's not a bad kid, Sandy had said, and Kirsten knew it was true.

But she'd never expected this to happen. Never planned to be driving a child to meet with a police officer, to be responsible for feeding and clothing him and keeping him out of any more trouble. And though Kirsten believed Ryan when he said he was through with that, the fact remained... she didn't know. Not for sure, not like she would have with Seth.


"Do you want me to come in with you?" Kirsten asked as she pulled into the parking lot.

"No, no, it's fine," said Ryan hurriedly. He didn't look her in the eyes. "It shouldn't take that long. I'll come right out when I'm done."

"Take your time," Kirsten called after him, then rolled her eyes at herself. As if Ryan was enjoying this any more than she was. He disappeared into the police station, and she settled herself with some contracts.

It seemed like only a few minutes until he came back out again. Kirsten squinted at her watch. Forty-five? Sandy was right, she must be one of the most boring people alive to become so engrossed in business documents. There was a time she read actual books, had a life outside of work. What happened to that person?

"Everything okay?" she asked.

Ryan nodded. "I'm sorry to have dragged you out here. Traffic's going to suck going back."

"It's fine," said Kirsten. "Honestly. I wasn't doing anything. I'm glad I could help out." They pulled out onto the freeway.

Ryan mumbled something.

"What was that?" asked Kirsten.

"I just... was..." Ryan looked out the window again. "You shouldn't have had to. I'm sorry." He looked back at her briefly, and the shame in his eyes was apparent.

It hit her. Hard. She turned her attention back to the road and tried to think of what to say. "I don't want you to think," she began, "that this—any of this—is okay to just do. Both Sandy and I would be very upset if you did anything else that got you into trouble. Not because it makes us angry, or because it inconveniences us. Because it makes things that much worse for you. That's what we're worried about." She took a deep breath, darted a glance to see how he was reacting. He held himself still.

"If it was driving you to water polo practice—"

"I'm not playing water polo," Ryan interrupted.

"All right, fine, just an example. I wouldn't care if I had to come home early every day to do that, and I know Sandy wouldn't either. So this..." She waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the police station. "This, right now, falls into that category. It won't, ever again, if you do something else that gets you in trouble. But you've assured us that's not going to happen—"

"It's not."

"—and I believe you." Kirsten cut around a Hummer doing thirty. "The cause of this is something that's taken care of. So until probation ends, just think of this as a ride home from water polo."

Ryan was quiet then, and Kirsten didn't know what else to say, so she didn't say anything. They rode back to Newport in silence, Ryan staring out the window. There wasn't a sound until they pulled into the driveway and Kirsten shut off the engine.

"Mrs. Cohen?"

Kirsten paused in the act of sliding out of the car. "Mmm?"

Ryan looked straight at her. "Thank you. For the ride, and—all of it." There was that tentative smile again.

Kirsten smiled back. "It's okay, Ryan. Seth's probably looking for you, and he's probably getting really antsy."

"Okay." Ryan headed into the house.

Kirsten shouldered her purse and followed him. She'd call for Chinese, then call Sandy and tell him everything was taken care of. There were things for her to do. At least one place where she was needed.
Drowned Girl Fuschia: beaten by grr_lizfuschia on January 17th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC)
...but Ryan always takes them very seriously.

I like that a lot, too...Ryan's need for parents/authority figures. Well, you know me... *g*

But, seriously, this was a great look at Kirsten. I love your writing, always look forward to seeing more. *hugs*



Elle: Alienationtheletterelle on January 17th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
I like that a lot, too...Ryan's need for parents/authority figures. Well, you know me... *g*

I do. :) And oh man, you just triggered a plot bunny that's going to torment me all the way home...

I'm so glad you liked it!