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I originally had Ryan back in Newport at the end of this part, but after a conversation in response to the prologue I rethought my approach and this is the result which, while dragging things out longer, is much better than the original version.


Give Me Love - Part One


Ryan sat on the edge of his bed, phone in his hand, The Cohen's number pulled up and ready to dial. The screen went dark and he tapped it to bring it back up, finger hovering over the button as he thought about what the conversation could entail. They'd want him to go back to Newport, they'd push him to go back even if it meant abandoning Theresa and the baby. They'd say the pool house was waiting for him, and they missed him, and they plead with him to go back. The screen went dark again and Ryan tapped it once more, wanting desperately to call them, tell them everything Eddie had done, ask them to come get him. But he knew he would never forgive himself for abandoning his baby girl, he had given up everything for her and he wouldn't change that even if he'd known what would happen. When the screen went dark this time, he snapped the phone closed and tossed it on the night stand before bowing his head. He couldn't call the Cohens, but he knew who he could call.

Ryan grabbed his phone again, this time finding Summer's number and dialing without hesitation.

"Hey, Chino," Summer said cheerfully, and he could hear laughter in the background that faded then cut off with the sound of a door closing. "What's up?"

"Bad time?" Ryan asked.

"Never," Summer replied, but her cheerfulness was gone. "What's wrong?"

"We kicked Eddie out today," Ryan said.

"Okay," Summer said quietly, the sounds of flip flops on asphalt faintly carrying over the phone for a moment. "What happened?"

"Remember how I said I was locking myself in my room?" Ryan asked. "Well, I forgot to lock the door when I went to shower."

"What did he do?" Summer asked, her tone ice cold.

"He was waiting when I got back to my room," Ryan said, the entire story spilling out as she listened, the only commentary from Summer being the occasional gasp or choked down sob.

"Oh god, Chino," Summer whispered at the end.

"I thought maybe he did love me, you know? He was bringing home food I liked, and playing music I liked, and being nice, and then..."

"He tried to rape you," Summer said quietly.

Ryan froze, part of him wanting to deny the statement, but the rest of him knowing she was right. And if that afternoon had been a rape attempt, what was their first time, when he'd begged and pleaded for it to stop, but Eddie had still gone through with it? The silence stretched on for several minutes, the only sound being waves lapping at the beach on Summer's end. "I thought he loved me," Ryan finally repeated, not even trying to hide the fact that he was crying. "I thought maybe someone did."

"Chino..." Summer whispered.

"I wish..." Ryan started. "I wish I had been the bad boy everyone thought I was. I wish I hadn't cared so much about Seth at that stupid fashion show after party."

"What?" Summer asked, confused.

"Right, you didn't even remember us being there," Ryan said, laughing. "You flirted with me, then dumped a beer on me and copped a feel trying to wipe it off. If I'd actually been the bad boy everyone assumed, I woulda hooked up with you and none of the Marissa shit would have happened. I wouldn't have slept with Tee because I was hurting, there wouldn't be a baby, I'd still be in Newport..."

"But then I'd be trying to get you to agree to a threesome with another hot guy, and those never end well," Summer said.

Ryan laughed again. "Thanks."

"For what?"

"Picking up the phone? Listening to me? Distracting me from a mental breakdown?"

"Anytime."

"You know what I also wish?"

"What?"

"I wish I could go home. To Newport."

"You can," Summer said.

"No, I can't. I can't leave my baby. Theresa promised she'd never let Eddie near either of them again, but... how can I trust her? She let him into our lives, she tried to hand me to him on a fucking silver platter."

"You can't," Summer agreed. "But when the baby's born... The Cohens will help you get custody. You can protect her. You can come home. And you can call me and I will come get you."

"Thanks."

"I know it's not the kind you were talking about, but... I love you, Chino. And the Cohens love you. People love you, and someday you'll find the person that loves you the way you deserve."

"What, no 'Marissa loves you'?" Ryan joked.

"She's screwing the yard boy," Summer admitted.

"Oh."

"She's an idiot."

"Yeah, well... so am I."

"No, you're not."

"I keep thinking people love me when... they don't."

"That's a problem with them, not you," Summer said. "Lack of love is not the fault of the sufferer, but the ones that don't or can't give love."

"Who the hell are you and what happened to the girl who tried to rub my dick dry?"

Summer laughed. "Trust me, she's still here. But like I told you, I'm done being a brain dead princess."

"Good."

"I meant what I said. I'm here for you, Chino."

"Thanks," Ryan said one last time.

~~~

"Daddy?" Summer asked, hovering in the doorway of her dad's home office.

"What's wrong?" Neil Roberts said, immediately getting up from his desk.

"I need some advice."

"Okay," Neil said, gesturing for her to sit with him on the couch.

"What would you do if you knew someone was in a bad situation, and you knew something that would help them, and they knew it too, but they refused to do that something?"

"What sort of bad situation?"

"A... roommate... attacked them. Tried to... force them..." Summer said. "The guy got kicked out, but..."

"You're friend's scared?"

"More than he wants to admit," Summer said. "But he feels like he can't leave, he can't go home, because someone's counting on him and he can't just abandoned her..."

"Does his family know?"

Summer shook her head. "He doesn't want them to know any of it. And I can't tell them, he needs to know there's someone he can trust, and right now I'm it."

"Summer..." Neil began. "Sometimes you can't help until the person is ready to be helped. In this case, when your friend is ready to talk to his family."

"He was crying, dad, and he never cries."

"I think all you can do is keep being his friend, someone he can trust."

Summer nodded. "Okay."

"And if you think he's in imminent danger, tell me and I'll figure something out, okay?"

"Okay."

~~~

In the morning, Ryan made breakfast for them both, and they ate in silence before getting ready for work. Theresa had just pulled up at the job site when she let out a slight gasp, one hand going to her stomach.

"Tee?"

"She kicked," Theresa said.

Ryan smiled and reached out on automatic, then stopped himself. He wanted to feel the kick, like he had all the other times in the last few months, a few times even sharing the moment with Eddie as well, and Theresa had given him blanket permission to touch her belly if she said she felt a kick after getting tired of him asking each time. But after the previous day, he didn't want to touch her, he didn't want to share a tender moment with her, no matter how much he wanted the moment with his unborn daughter. Theresa solved his dilemma by grabbing his hand and pulling it to her belly. He felt the flutter under his hand and smiled again. he looked up at Theresa and saw her smile, her attention, focused on him rather than her belly and his own smile dropped as he pulled his hand back. "Thanks," he said, hurriedly getting out of the car.

"You okay, kid?" the foreman, Caesar, asked. "Nasty gash on your head."

"I tripped over my work boots," Ryan lied, shrugging. "Slammed my head right into the door frame."

"Gotta be more careful, with a kid on the way," one of the other workers, Marco said. "Stop being a slob and leaving your shit around."

"Yeah, yeah, scold the guy with a head injury," Ryan joked.

"Just try to keep that hidden with the hard hat, the big boss is here today," Caesar told him. "Don't want him thinking we're beating up the kiddies."

"Fuck you," Ryan said, laughing with the rest of the guys.

~~~

Ryan's stomach twisted when Caesar called him into the office trailer later on, and he hurried over, hoping he wasn't about to get fired. He had a work permit, and he knew Caesar had one to employ him. Yeah, they were somewhat stretching the definition of what he was allowed to do, but he didn't climb up onto girders or anything, he did work on the ground, or occasionally on the second floor if it was mostly done. When he walked into the office, he took his hard hat off on reflex, and was surprised when the man sitting across from Caesar turned around.

"Caleb," Ryan said.

"Ryan," Caleb replied, eyeing him up and down and frowning when he spotted the gash on Ryan's forehead. "What happened to your head?"

"I tripped on my work boots last night at home," Ryan said. "Slammed my head into the door frame. But I'm fine to work."

"Can we a moment alone?" Caleb asked Caesar, who nodded and got up, but gave Ryan a questioning look as he went by. Once the door closed behind Caesar, Caleb stood up. "What really happened?"

"Like I said, hit my head on the door frame," Ryan said.

"And the bruise on your wrist?"

Ryan crossed his arms, hiding the bruise. "It's nothing."

"It doesn't look like nothing."

"I'm sixteen and living with a pregnant girl. She gets..." Ryan lied, though it fell flat and he knew it.

"Unless it's consensual bruising it's still not acceptable," Caleb said.

Ryan looked up at him, then looked down. "Look, I'm not mooching off your daughter. I've barely talked to them since I came back to Chino, and only when they called me. I am working my ass off here, and I didn't know you owned Beacon Architecture, how was I suppose to? So this is pure coincidence, not me trying to steal from you... and I am working my ass off here. I work right up until the 8 hours I'm limited to, and if I could work more, I would. I need this job."

"I use Beacon for projects the Newport Elite would deem... unseemly."

"Like a community center in Chino," Ryan said, nodding.

"Or a domestic violence shelter," Caleb said pointedly.

"Theresa is not abusing me, if that's what you're getting at."

"Someone is."

Ryan looked away, absently rubbing at his bruised wrist. "Look, we had a roommate, helping with the bills. He got... he had a temper, we knew that going in, but he was doing good controlling it, and we used to all be friends. Last night... he stopped controlling it. I got a little banged up. But we kicked him out, so it's all good now." He paused. "Why are you even pretending to care? You hate me. I'm manipulating and trying to con your daughter, remember?"

"Maybe I've seen the error of that thinking," Caleb said.

"Great, you couldn't have done that while I was still I Newport? Maybe I would have made less bad choices of one less person hated me," Ryan commented. "Sorry."

"How's the girl? The baby?"

"They're good. Theresa's at her job, a diner. The baby's a girl, due in two months."

"I remember when my late wife was pregnant with Kirsten. There is nothing like feeling your child kick."

Ryan smiled slightly. "You're right about that."

"Even if you don't love the mother."

"I love her," Ryan protested.

"Is that why you were smiling when you touched her belly this morning, then dropped it when you looked up at her?"

"What? Are spying on me or something?"

"I was on the other side of the street when you pulled up. When I realized it was you, I was surprised, so I stopped to watch for a moment," Caleb defended himself. "My daughter is worried sick about you."

"She shouldn't be, I'm fine," Ryan said.

"Do you even care about them?" Caleb snapped.

"Of course I do!" Ryan replied, angry. "I miss them everyday. I wish I had made better choices, never slept with Theresa, never gotten involved with Marissa... but I can't change any of it. And at this point, even if someone offered me that, I couldn't, because I love my daughter already. I'm trying to do right by her. You have to understand that. I know you love Kirsten and Hailey, so you must understand... right?"

"I do," Caleb acknowledged. "But you should call Kirsten."

"Aren't you scared I'll con her out of money?" Ryan asked.

"Not anymore," Caleb said.

"Nice to know."

"Have you talked to that idiot grandson of mine?"

"Not in a while, he stopped answering my calls after I... I called him a spoiled brat who didn't understand real problems."

Caleb's laugh startled Ryan. "You're right," he said. "Seth is a spoiled brat. So's Hailey, and to a lesser extent Kirsten. As much as I'm loathe to admit it, Sandy was the best thing that could have happened to her."

"And me without a tape recorder to get blackmail material," Ryan said with a slight smile. "But you know I'm gonna have to tell Sandy you said that."

"I can fire you," Caleb said, though he was smiling as well.

"Like I said, good thing my memory is shit," Ryan said. "I should get back to work."

Caleb nodded, but pulled out a business card and wrote something on the back. "If you need anything and you don't want to worry Kiki and Sandy," he said, offering the card.

"What is about creepy old guys giving me their cards?" Ryan muttered as he took it and slipped it in his pocket. "Thanks." Ryan left the office, and went back to where he'd been working before, finding several of the other guys lurking nearby, curious. "Apparently I know the big boss," he said.

"Caesar said first name basis," Marco said.

"Caesar's got a big mouth," Ryan replied. "His older daughter was my foster mom last year, so yeah, I know him. It's not a big deal, he pretty much hates my guts, wanted to interrogate me and make sure this wasn't a plot to con his family out of money."

"Yeah, cause you're not the responsible hard working type or anything," Marco said, nodding.

"Shut up."

~~~

That afternoon, Ryan waited for Theresa to pick him up as usual. When it got to be a half hour late, he went to Caesar's office and asked to borrow the phone to call the diner, only to find out Theresa had left on time with a bunch of her female friends. When he called the house, there was no answer.

"You need a ride?" Caesar asked.

"No, no, she probably just had some all day sickness and she's running late," Ryan said. "Or her friends took her shopping and she got distracted, she'll... she'll be here soon."

Caesar nodded. "You wanna work some extra hours until she does? I can clock you in for them tomorrow, give you a short day."

"Yeah, yeah, that would be great," Ryan agreed.

~~~

By the time the site shut down for the day, Theresa still hadn't shown up and Ryan was both pissed off and worried. There was still no answer at the house, or at any of Theresa's female friends houses. He had even called Eddie, but hadn't been able to bring himself to actually say anything when the other man answered.

"That offer for a ride's still open," Caesar said.

"No, I'm good," Ryan said. "I... I'm fine."

"It's a pretty long walk, and there's some pretty bad neighborhoods in between," Ceasar said.

"I know, I live in one of them," Ryan said. "I'll be fine."

"Just... give me a call when you get home so I don't worry, since at this point, you could take the day off tomorrow and still get full pay."

Ryan snorted. "Yeah, I will."

"Alright. Be careful, kid."

"Yeah."

~~~

It was long after dark by the time Ryan got home, and when he did it was to a yard full of parked cars and what was clearly a party going on. Ryan tried to swallow down his anger as he walked into a houseful of women clearly having a baby shower. "Oh! And there's daddy!" one of the other waitresses from the diner said, waving him into the living room.

Ryan shook his head. "Nah, I..."

"Oh come on, nowadays guys go to showers all the time! You didn't have to stay away!" the waitress continued.

"Well, if I'd known there was one, I might have come," Ryan said, looking right at Theresa. "If I'd known why Tee never showed up to pick up maybe I would have taken my boss up on the ride home. Instead of calling the house all afternoon in between working a fourteen hour shift because why not work if I'm stuck at the site? Instead of walking five miles home, through a neighborhood where three guys were shot and killed last night, the whole time wondering if I should be calling hospitals to see if she was in early labor or something. But now, I'm exhausted, I smell like I've been working fourteen hours straight and walking five miles in the middle of August, so I am going to take a shower and pretend that it wasn't made very clear today just how little you give a shit about me," he concluded to Theresa.

"That's not fair!" Theresa said, getting up.

"Not fair? I work my ass off six days a week so that you can just work a couple hours a day, four days a week, and we'll still be okay. I do a dangerous, dirty, insulting job where people look at me like I'm nothing, so that I can buy you whatever food your craving. I..."

"I kicked out Eddie..."

"Yeah, and who invited him in the first place?!" Ryan snapped. "I'm not even pissed about a baby shower, fine whatever, saves us some money on getting baby stuff. I'm pissed you couldn't take two minutes to call the work site and say 'Hey, can you tell Ryan I can't pick him up?'. I'm pissed that I gave up being somewhere that I was happy, and healthy, and treated like maybe I was worth something, to come here for you and the baby, and you can't be bothered to even pretend to care about me a little. I'm just a paycheck to you. It's all I've ever been in this place, and it's all I'll ever get to be now. Thanks for making that clear to me." He turned and walked out, slamming his bedroom door behind him and sinking down to sit on the bed.

He grabbed his phone flipping it open and calling Caesar, letting him know he was home, safe and sound, and that Theresa was there and fine, but not giving details. After they hung up, Ryan stared at his open phone for a moment, seeing yet again that there were multiple missed calls from Marissa and an equal number of voicemails that were probably filled with drunken slurring and crying. He considered his options. He could call Summer and vent to her again, but he knew he was putting a lot of pressure on her that she didn't need and might not be able to handle. She was a kid, too, and one that hadn't grown up the way he did and been exposed to the things her had.

He could call the Cohens, let the whole story pour out, beg them to help him get custody once the baby was born and then beg them to let him come home to Newport.

He could call Caleb. He didn't know what he'd say to the man, didn't even know for sure why he was considering it, but finally that was the option he chose. The call went to voicemail and Ryan sighed. "Mr. Nichols, it's Ryan. I don't know why I'm calling you except... could you possibly meet me somewhere tomorrow for lunch or something? There's a place like a block down from the work site, good sandwiches... I think I need you to talk me about of begging Kirsten and Sandy to let me come home to Newport. Tell how much I'll just be screwing up their lives and how bad an idea it is. Thanks." He hung up and turned down the volume, then grabbed clean clothes to put on after his shower and headed across the hall to the bathroom, ignoring the angry looks he was getting from the women in the living room.

To Be Continued

Ryan is very close to his breaking point.

Date: 2017-05-30 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cailleachbheur.livejournal.com
Such a quick update and so long too! I feel spoiled, lol. Loved this though, and really glad you rewrote it to take this direction. I think it definitely works better to have Ryan resistant to going back with the Cohens, as bad as he wants it - probably BECAUSE of how bad he wants it. In his experience, the more he wants something, the less likely he is to get it or for it to work out the way he wants, so all his instincts probably have him terrified of how much he wants the Cohens to make everything better here.

Always a bit surreal to see a Caleb who gives a damn about Ryan, but its one of those things where its so nice to see, its like who cares how it happens lol. It is plausible here at least. I could see Caleb taking an active interest in checking in on Ryan if only because he's at a loss for any other way to deal with how obviously miserable Kirsten is with him gone - and as much as he was suspicious of Ryan's motivations in the series, its really damn hard to keep accusing a sixteen year old of being a con artist out to scam his daughter out of her money when said sixteen year old has voluntarily moved out of her house, back to Chino with his pregnant ex-girlfriend and refused to accept any help. I mean, there's long cons, and then there's just....This Makes No Sense As A Scam In Any Way, Shape Or Form. And Caleb is stubborn as hell, but he's not stupid.

I am curious if Lindsay exists in this AU, and if she's still Caleb's love child. In canon, Caleb seemed pretty oblivious to the irony of holding Ryan's getting a girl pregnant against him considering Lindsay's existence, but being forced to confront a kid like Ryan willing to sacrifice everything for his unborn child would lead to a very different perception....so it could be that facing Ryan and his situation is forcing Caleb to confront the what-could-have-beens about his own situation with Lindsay. Perhaps he sees helping Ryan now as a way to make penance for not doing for his own child what Ryan is doing for his? Or, more cynically, at least in part perhaps he's accepted that the truth about Lindsay is going to come out sooner or later whether he likes it or not, and helping Ryan now might help him curry favor with Kirsten when it all comes out? Idk. Lots of different paths to take with Caleb here. I do like Caleb and Ryan seeing eye to eye on Seth here, lol, and not just because who can resist enjoying a little Seth bashing. One of the great tragedies of the series is that due to Caleb's classism, he never managed to see that the little delinquent he raged against Kirsten for adopting (or whatever Ryan's actual legal status was, the show was frustratingly vague on that) was pretty much a made-to-order version of the grandson and heir Caleb had always wanted....like, he couldn't have built a grandson more to his specifications than Ryan actually was, if he'd ever bothered to see it.

I love the Ryan/Summer time here of course, and Ryan's breakdown on the phone was so well written and a long time coming....even if, as you said at the end, he still has yet to reach his actual breaking point. I also love fics where Summer and her father have a strong relationship so I really liked her going to him for advice, but still prioritizing that no matter what, she had to remain true to keeping Ryan's confidences for as long as possible because she knows how much it'll hurt him if she turns out to be one more person he feels he can't trust. And yet at the same time, Summer is a good enough friend that she's prepared to do what she has to in order to keep Ryan safe, even if it ultimately means betraying his trust and losing him. She's the kind of friend who would rather know her friend was alive and hating her than dead or grievously hurt because she wouldn't risk losing him.

And I also like that Neil didn't have a good answer for Summer. He didn't have the magic solution to her problem, as much as he wanted to give her one, because that's reality. And in particular, its Ryan's reality. So many of the predicaments Ryan found himself in just didn't have a solution, an easy way out, a right choice to make. Sometimes there are no good choices, and you just have to pick the choice you can live with, and that's something Ryan's understood from the pilot. He lives in shades of gray, so much of his choices are motivated by being painfully aware that he's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, so for lack of a One True Right Path, he just has to decide which choice is going to make it easier for him to sleep at night. And that's where 90% of his conflicts with Sandy come from because for all his 'we're cut from the same deck' Sandy just DOES NOT GET THAT. Sandy believes in black and white, right and wrong, and his advice is always rooted in his conviction that the path he's picked for himself or the path he's directing Ryan down is honestly the RIGHT path, as though there is such a thing. If it had been Seth that Ryan called with his problems here, and Seth who went to his father for advice here, Sandy would flat out have said he has to tell him what's going on, he's the adult, and that the best thing for Seth's 'friend' is for Seth to tell him everything and let him decide what to do, no matter the consequences. Because Sandy honestly BELIEVES that, he relies on the strength of his convictions and thus he can't allow himself to live in shades of gray that might make him question and second guess himself.

So in light of that, it's refreshing to see an adult/parent perspective from a character who gets that...it's not that simple. He can't make this choice for Summer, he can only be here to support her choices because this is someone's life they're gambling with....but he's not the one with anything at stake here, anything to lose. Too many people in canon decide they know what's best for Ryan and make choices that are supposedly in his name, disregarding the fact that no matter what THEY decide and WHY they decide to do it, HE'S the one who has to live with the consequences of their choices.

Also good to see Ryan venting at least some of his frustrations at the end there, with Theresa and the baby shower. I mean, I want Ryan to be happy as much as anyone, but it's GOOD to have him bitter and resentful in fics because that was something that too often was denied him in canon. It's HEALTHY to be pissed off and angry at people when they screw you over, but like the show barely ever let Ryan stew in his well-earned resentment for longer than like, half an episode. I'm reminded of when he went to Albuquerque to visit Dawn and decide if he wanted to invite her to graduation (after basically being pushed into it by the Cohens) and then that one waitress basically guilt tripped him into inviting Dawn and giving her a chance and treating him like he was an ungrateful ass for being hesitant to do that...with Dawn herself jumping on board that wagon with the 'I get it, you're embarrassed of me' guilt trip, and it was like....no? He's not embarrassed of his mother, he's MAD AT HER. She's let him down an almost infinite number of times, and how many times must someone screw you over before you're allowed to be like...hey, you know what, maybe I'm not okay with giving you a chance to do that yet again. It had literally only been two or three episodes before when Dawn refused to come to his eighteenth birthday party because she had drug and legal troubles, and now Ryan was expected to just ignore all that and give her yet ANOTHER chance, all because the trucker boyfriend who reminded him of all the guys she brought home who beat him turned out to actually be a decent guy she met in rehab, and how dare Ryan assume the worst of a situation that had only ever gone one way for him in the past? LOL.

SORRY. TANGENT AGAIN. I'm like...incapable of resisting them. But point is, I love bitter!Ryan who isn't afraid to let people know that they've hurt him or let him down. It's not true to his canon characteristics, but that's not because its inherent in his character that he can't hold a grudge, it's because the people writing him flat out refused to LET him ever hold a grudge, even against the people who hurt him most....because that would get in the way of their soap opera plots where like, his abusive ex-con father returns and worms his way back into his life and shacks up with the woman who did more to screw Ryan over than anyone else in Newport, and Ryan is inexplicably supposed to care about this and play matchmaker instead of just saying lol fuck you both. (It literally just occurred to me that as much as fandom focuses on how Ryan must have felt about seeing Kirsten and Julie be friends after the S3 premiere, imagine what a gutpunch it must have been to see the father who abused him as a kid have a child with the woman who bribed his brother to have him thrown in jail, and nobody ever wondered how he must feel about that. Like, think about that for a second....Julie's child with Frank is the brother of the guy Julie once tried to get to frame his OTHER brother).

Anyway. Great update! Still loving this, can't wait for more!

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