Dawn blinked the afternoon sun out of her eyes as she yawned.  Jakey was still sleeping, the bastard, but he'd be up soon and hopefully he'd go out for some liquor.  And some more smack, she was running low and if she begged enough, he'd get her hooked up.

Ryan had sounded good.  He sounded happy. 

She shouldn't have hung up on him but maybe he didn't know it was her, maybe her phone got cut off in the middle of the call or maybe the line was bad, he didn't know that she had hung up on him.  That woman would tell him that she called and he'd know that she was thinking about him.

She was always thinking about him.  She'd spent less of her time thinking about him when he was with her all the time. 

He was a part of her.  He was her baby.  He'd always be her son. 

She missed him.  Sometimes when she'd get those pains in her back and legs, she'd think that her body was dying from the lack of her son. 

Dawn sighed.  She should have talked to him.  Told him that he was a great kid, that he was too good to have come from her and Dave.  That she knew that he was better than she could ever hope for.  There were lots of things that she should have told him.

But that chance was gone.  He was better off without her.  She'd done the best thing, giving him to those rich people.  It was best. 

She could lie to herself and say she didn't miss him.  She could lie and say that she hated him for doing so well without her, that she hated him for having the life she deserved.  She'd said it before, she had yelled it at him before, but she didn't mean it. 

She loved the bastard, always would.  Just like his damned father, he was stuck with her forever.  She would always be a part of him, she'd made damn sure of that.  Even though she didn't see him every day or talk to him, she knew that he thought about her.  She knew that he probably loved her. 

He damned well better love her after all she'd done for him. 


He woke up on the couch.  He felt better than he'd felt in days.  He was still stiff and tired but his headache was better and his stomach actually felt like it could handle food.  He stood up and stretched his tired muscles.  He glanced over and saw Kirsten napping in the armchair across from him.  She was still worried about him. 

He never understood how these people could have such an appetite for conversations.  Putting things into words always seemed to fuck him over, there just weren't enough words in the English language for him to usually say what he meant. 

Ryan took the blanket from the back of the couch that he had just gotten up from and draped it across the blonde woman.  She smiled in her sleep and shifted slightly to snuggle under the blanket.

She wanted to take care of him.  It was what he'd always wanted, a real mother, one that actually gave a damn and cared about him. 

But she wasn't his mother.   And no matter how much he wanted her to be, she wasn't his mother. 

And he didn't know if he could be what she wanted him to be.  A good boy that she could be proud of.  A protector of her own son.  A protégée of her husband.  Ryan didn't know how he was supposed to be everything that she wanted.  He didn't know if he would ever really be a part of her family. 

He was already a part of a family.  And he knew that you couldn't choose your family, no matter how much you wanted or needed to.  He was an Atwood. 

He switched the light off and walked out onto the patio.


Kirsten woke up with her husband's kiss on her lips.

"Hey, sleepyhead.  You know, our bed's right down the hall, you must have been pretty tired to fall asleep in the chair," Sandy teased. 

Kirsten glanced down at the blanket covering her and smiled at him.  "Ryan was sleeping on the couch and I must have dozed off."

"How's he doing?"

"Well, he ate a little.  And we talked a little," She sighed. 

"You talked?  That's great, honey…how'd it go?"

She shrugged.  "I don't know.  I can't read him.  But he ate and he seemed…content.  He slept through Seth and Summer's argument over the TIVO but he must have woken up while I was sleeping."

Kirsten wasn't sure how the boy felt about her conversation with him but she felt better for talking to him.  She had to know that she wanted him here and that she accepted him.  At least now she had told him.  Putting it into words had made it real.  She loved the boy and wanted to make his life better.  She could take care of him without compromising her own son's affection.  She would take care of him.